Monday, July 7, 2014

Road Trip!

And we're a herd of turtles through a peanut butter sea!
Wednesday, July 2

I left my house messier than I wanted to, and later than I wanted to, with Olivia (17), Jesse (5), a van full of stuff and the harp that seems to like to spend the summer seeing America. We headed out of town and watched the world get greener. We marveled at the backs of many large trucks through various construction zones which brought us to the customary standstill and added the requisite two hours to our driving time. Jesse was a trooper and we arrived safe and sound at the gracious home of a cousin I hadn't seen since I was a girl of about 8 or 9 years old.

Going 0mph. Good thing Arkansas is pretty.
The greeting was warm, even though the hour was late. Of course there was food, this is the South, y'all. We ate, visited and the old folks (for the record, I am an 'old folk') and little kids turned in while the young folks stayed talking into the night, finding out all of the things they have in common. It was sweet to see Olivia so excited to share her love for music, offbeat comedy, rare words and other quirky things with her newfound cousins and have them share her enthusiasm.

Thursday, July 3

Through the morning and into the early afternoon, I got to know my cousins, one I had seen maybe three or four times in my life, and all of those when I was very young. The other, I'd never met at all. Their mother is my dad's only sister. My dad and aunt lost track of each other after their mother died in the '70's. My uncle never stopped looking for this sister and earlier this year, he found her. She and her daughters live not too far from where my dad and his siblings grew up, just an hour and a half or so from where my uncle lives now. My dad died in 2005, so it brings me a great deal of pleasure and comfort to know where my aunt is and that she is well. My cousins are entirely delightful women, who I long to know more. They are beautiful and funny and kind. Maybe some of it will rub off. There are no photos. I am a loser.

Look! It's the Boxcar Children! A train car is a cool place to spend the night!

We left the comfort of family for the open road, our little band of travelers, and made our way to Chattanooga, TN, to the Chattanooga Choo Choo Hotel, where we checked in to our very own sleeping car for the night. Now that was fun! Our car had a queen bed and a daybed and trundle, with a bathroom and all the other accommodations the three of us would need for the night. It was cozy, and all wonderfully Victorian. We loved it! The bad news was that there was no getting the harp up the steps and through the passageway into the room, so we checked it behind the desk. The good news was that Olivia got to tune and play a little in the lovely and acoustically amazing lobby of the hotel the next morning to a small but appreciative audience.

Friday, July 4

One of the passengers is not convinced
of the safety of the Incline Railway
We took in a couple of the wonders of Chattanooga: the Incline Railway and Rock City. The railway was interesting and fun, Rock City was beautiful with lots of walking up and down steps. The weather was perfect and we had a great time with each other. Jesse was such great little sightseer! He loved everything we saw and wondered at the big and small things around every turn. He asked loads of questions and came up with interesting theories and was just plain fun to be with.

We stayed pretty late, grabbed Krystal burgers (growing up, we called 'em gut bombers - I still love 'em!) on our way out of town, and watched fireworks as we drove a couple of hours through the mountains to Dillard, GA, where we checked in to the Holiday Inn Express just before midnight. As I was checking us in, the desk attendant turned away at least five others looking for rooms. It was Friday night, and a holiday, but this was a tiny town in far north Georgia and she's telling these poor souls that there is not going to be a room for at least an hour in any direction. Grateful for our reservation, I check us in and we move in, settle in and shut it down for the night.

Saturday, July 5

We slept in, took our time getting around and checked out at 11, with a couple of hours to do some last minute shopping and grab lunch before taking Olivia to Rabun Gap Nacoochie School (ever heard of Foxfire magazine? It started here.) for two weeks of harping. Again, no pictures. Worst mom ever. The school is interesting to me, as it is a functioning boarding school and day school in the fall, winter and spring. The notion just gives me such pause. Students from grades 5-12 live there, an idea which, jokes about whether they take mid-year transfers via FedEx aside, is very foreign to my homeschooling mind. It is a beautiful campus, in a beautiful part of the country and my baby will be fine there for the two weeks I'm willing to let them have her, but make no mistake, I will be running back to get her at the end of the session and I will hug her and kiss her and will possibly try to fold her up into my pocket when I get her back. Our world is off its axis when one of our people is missing.

When Olivia was settled, checked in, toured and oriented, Jesse and I left. We drove to Atlanta, left the van in a park'n'fly lot, took a shuttle to the airport, where we caught the sky train to a hotel, checked in and promptly donned our bathing suits because by golly, we had earned ourselves a swim. It has taken him until age 5½, but my Tiny Wonder is getting the hang of swimming and he swam and swam in that pool and I watched him and watched him because Mama does not have any desire to immerse herself in cold water, nothankyouverymuch. Back in the room, he took a bath to get warm and I ordered an indulgent room service bedtime snack of cookies, milk and ice cream. We ate, drank, and slept.

Sunday, July 6

We got up at 5, were out the door just after 5:30 for our 7:10 flight. Back on the sky train to the terminal, we checked in and made it through security. This was Jesse's first experience flying since he was an infant, so he was fascinated and so curious. Seeing this whole process through five-year-old eyes ought to be mandatory for every traveler at least once. We had fun. Every part of the day was interesting and glorious and worth noting and something to be remarked on. This kid has a theory about everything. Many of them are pretty plausible, and all of them are entertaining. My favorite exchange of the day, probably of the trip, was when our plane from Atlanta to Dallas got above the cloud cover:

Me: Look! We're above the clouds! See how the clouds go out as far as you can see? All the people  under there are having a cloudy day, maybe even a rainy day, but up above the clouds, the sun is always shining.

Jesse: That's just like Jesus. Even when we're having a bad time, he's always our Savior and he's always shining.

He gets it.

We landed in Dallas, took the train from terminal A to terminal C, spotted Charley Pride, caught our flight home, Jesse got to sit in the cockpit and I got to take my Sunday afternoon nap in my own bed.

I love road trips!