Monday, October 6, 2008

Mom and Sara's Trip to Auntie and Uncle's House

Several months ago I had planned on heading down to California in September for a visit with my older brother Pat and sister-in-law Cathie. At first I was planning on making the trip alone until I had asked Sara if she would like to come along with Evan and Eric. She seemed in shock that I would ask such a question and I could almost hear her say, "Travel with BABIES??". I don't exactly remember her reply but I do recall telling her that I had traveled cross-country alone from Montana to California several times with her and her brother when they were toddlers and older.
She said she would have to think about this and talk it over with Bret and she'd get back to me. Weeks went by and regardless of whether or not she came along for the ride, I was heading down for my visit.

Well, on September 24th, 2008 I headed for Sara's in Corvallis, Oregon. The Road Trip was in motion, not only would I be visiting Pat and Cathie but my trip companions would be Sara, Evan and Eric. Bret had planned to come along but was waylaid by his college work program and couldn't join us on our adventure so as their Nissan truck was loaded up I left my car there for Bret to use if he needed to. Another little story there...

I left my house at 4:15 a.m. and arrived at Sara's at 7:45 a.m., we loaded up her new Nissan truck, belted the boys in their car seats, hugged Bret and said our goodbyes and headed south.
Now, if you think about it, traveling 500 miles by car with a two year old and a one year old would just about unravel any normal adult, but I wasn't going to think about it, I was just going to do it and take one mile at a time...
We really didn't have a time itinerary and our plan was to simply stop when we had to, depending on the needs of Evan and Eric. I will say that they were excellant travel companions and really very easily entertained. Sara was the designated driver and Grandma was babysitter, binky finder, map reader and toy picker-upper. The drive down took us about ten hours since we stopped at a few places to stretch our legs and see the sights, there were many view points along the way so we took those opportunities to refill sippee cups and change diapers. All in all, Evan and Eric were troopers and did very well, a few cries here and there but as long as Grandma kept picking up dropped toys and binkys and paid them some attention they did very very well, much better than we had hoped for or expected.

We arrived at Pat and Cathies' a little disheveled and road weary but still holding up pretty well. As we pulled up into my brothers' driveway he came out to meet his great-nephews for the first time. Sara and her babies and Pat and I are all that is left of my family so we hold each other dearly in our hearts, tears came into my eyes as I saw him approach for the first time. Sara and I hopped out of the truck and proceeded to unload our baggage and then the babies and head inside to greet Auntie Cathie.
Usually the boys are in bed by six p.m. but after the days' driving and their routine all out of whack, we all stayed up until about ten p.m., the boys were full of energy but there was no whining or crankiness from either of them.
By 5:30 the next morning we were all up and ready for another day. Sara took one of the boys while I took the other and we sped through diaper changes, got them dressed and out to the dining room table for a breakfast of bagels and cream cheese and fresh strawberries.
While she was busy with the feeding I headed for the shower first, then she took her turn at it when I was finished and I took over the boys. They aren't handfuls by any means but I had forgotten how busy you are at every moment, it seemed as if her shower took forever! It has been 25 years since I have had to have all my radar up and working at full power so by the end of the day, I was ready for bed. It was a wonderful visit, we didn't have to rush anywhere, just enjoy our time together. It truly was the best time to take Evan and Eric since they are not at the stage where we would have to put up with, "Are we there yet??, He looked at me! He's touching me!"..

The weather was great, sunny and warm, and Pat suggested a little drive to the river and a little beach not far from the house.
Kids are so funny and so unpredictable, all part of the fun of having them around. While I held Eric, Sara walked to the river's edge with Evan and without an ounce of fear (I say this because Evan is usually so cautious of heights, loud noises, or "big" things) he walks right to the lapping water and gets his shoes wet. Okay, so off come the shoes and he's laughing and giggling while his toes get wet. Within seconds it was time to remove his shorts, then his little tee shirt came off and finally mommy removed the diaper. There he was in all his blinding-white glory splashing and chasing the water, throwing pebbles in and laughing even more.
After a good half hour Evan was dressed and we headed back home for lunch and naps.
After the boys woke from their naps, we took Evan out in the backyard and removed his clothes and diaper so he could run through the sprinklers, but he wasn't having any of that. Sara suggested just turning on the hose and letting him have a go at that, which turned out to be a great idea and Evan loved it.

We thought having Evan and Eric outdoors for awhile would surely help them to sleep when bedtime came but we discovered otherwise. They went to bed around 9:00 p.m., still in great spirits and no real cranky times or exceptional whining. All in all, they were doing great and had a great time as well as we did simply enjoying our time together.
Friday came and Sara and I decided we wouldn't push our luck with the good times so we left a day early just to take our time getting home. After breakfast we pointed the nose of the truck towards I-5 to turn towards the coast later on. We drove through the wine country on roads I had never been on before, Cathy suggested a little highway called 16. It was quite scenic; rolling hills, farmland, oak trees, and winding roads with an occasional river alongside. One of our thoughts was to try and go through the redwoods so we could stop at the Paul Bunyon statue and take pictures. I have a photo of my dad and me when I was 2, there is a photo of Sara when she was about two with her dad and we were going to attempt to get one of Evan with his mommy. Alas, we ended up driving past the darn thing sometime after dark, we never even saw it. dark we were ALL ready for a motel with a shower, some beds, rest and something to eat.
Our final stop on Friday night was at a motel in Crescent City after driving through three towns previously where every place was either closed for the season or they were full. Who would have thought? I also noticed that at one place the price of gas was $4.15 while the other 'non-reservation' stations were averaging $3.51. Needless to say, we didn't get gas there. On Saturday morning we were up early, enjoying the benefits of the free continental breakfast with cereal, oatmeal, blueberry muffins and a few apples, then hitting the road again. Since our Paul Bunyon dissappointment we focused on the excitement of enjoying some sandy beach and listening to the surf.

We made it to Brookings, Or., one of my dad's favorite places. The weather was sunshiny and warm as we took Evan and Eric out of their carseats and put on some light jackets. Off to the beach we went. At first, I suppose the vastness of the ocean and the loud noise of the crashing waves had Evan hesitating a bit but after the initial meeting, he was thrilled to run up to the waves that had ebbed, throwing more pebbles and giggling with glee as they disappeared.

Back on the road and heading up towards the redwoods (Ol' Paul was on the Highway Of The Giants), kids all loaded in their carseats and STILL doing so well, to our amazement. We made a few stops at some roadside stands where there were all kinds of redwood statues, birdhouses, windchimes and redwood seedlings for sale. Sara suggested I get two redwood seedlings and plant them in honor of Evan and Eric. I thought it was a great idea but am putting them in pots so that Sara and Bret can have them in a few years when they have their own home. It's pretty likely they wouldn't survive our winters here.
One more stop we had to make was at one of the trees that you can drive through, there is the "Grandfather" tree and there is the Chandelier tree where we stopped and took some pictures. No, we didn't drive through this one since the mirrors on the truck stuck out a bit too far, this was a rather narrow drive-through.
So back on the road, everyone all hitched up and seatbelted and about four more hours of driving. The last stop was a lunchbreak for us, I was pretty done with McDonald's and Arbys and ANYTHING drive-through so having a sitdown meal without a seatbelt on was great. Then it was only two and a half hours after that when we drove up to Sara's front door. We just missed Bret by 30 minutes since he had to work at 4:00 p.m. I helped Sara unload a few things so she could take a quick trip down to visit Bret with Evan and Eric, he was soooo happy to see them! One of his comments over the phone after we left was, "It's so quiet here..."
Sara and I have wonderful memories of a unique and wonderful trip together, lots of pictures and two redwood trees to watch grow.

I didn't take any pictures of Cathie since she is still in a mild state of depression concerning her progress of recovery. Even though the doctors tell her she's doing remarkably well, we know that things don't go as fast as we would like. I thought she looked pretty good and she even had three inches of hair so she wasn't bald. She still has some swelling around her throat and her skin still looked very red but as far as everything else, I thought she was doing great, too, and I made sure to tell her that.

Sunday, October 5, 2008

A Great Summer

It has been a wonderful summer, one of my best in a long time. I
can look back at all the time I have had off, good long stretches to
play with Kevin or get things done around the yard, even take a trip
with my daughter and grandsons...

This year Kevin and I managed
to get quite a bit done on the yard, notwithstanding our--okay, MY,
battle with all the critters and varmints. It began with a few
squirrels who have a nasty habit of peppering the ground with broken
branches andpine cones as they prune their wooded high rises . If they
are the least bit bothered with your presence, they will pelt you with
their trimmings. The old adage, "Don't look up" works well in this
case, too. Along withlilliputian -sized potholes dotting the front
acre, we discovered they were also stripping the aspen saplings of
their leaves! In the last two years I have nurtured and nursed, trimmed
and weeded, barricaded and sprayed offensive natural ingredients on
those trees to keep the deer away and the trees and most of the bushes
have survived the larger animals. It will be a challenge to figure out
how to outsmart the squirrels with their bark-stripping and leaf
eating. Now I have a new adversary no bigger than a cell phone; it is a
7 stripe ground squirrel, alias; Timber Tiger, look-a-like to our
beloved Chip and Dale
Oh they are so cute and lovable
looking as they dart from hide-out to hide-out, bomb craters they have
lovingly and tenaciously dug out as refuge from hunters on high or
their larger tormentors, the gray squirrels. They WERE cute until my
bulbs began to disappear, they WERE cute until my rock garden looked
like the Smurfs used a rototiller on it, they WERE cute until my ground
cover garden showed up with tunnels.
I know, I hear the words, "They were there first and you moved into THEIR territory".
I have always been one to say those very words myself, until they
became MY problem. So my solution for next year will be to lay down
chicken wire, then we will all be happy.
There have been a few
freezing nights now, the leaves on the aspens are turning that
wonderful lemon yellow and wood smoke wafts through the air fromwood stoves. The aspens have grown enough to finally "shhhhh
" when there is a breeze, one of my favorite sounds and the bucks that
pass through every night have lost all their velvet. They've left
pieces of it on the smaller pine trees they've been battling. They are
just now in the early stages of pretend fighting and so every now and
then we can hear the click-click-click of their antlers as they test
their budding prowess in the arena of life.
This year we splurged
on ourselves and bought two kayaks so we could explore the 50+ lakes
and ponds in our area. Our first adventure took us to Devil's Lake,
only about 9 acres and 12 feet deep at the most, but a lake that is so
clear and refreshing from one end to the other with most of the color
being that alpine blue-green. We tested our kayaks for several hours,
stopping for lunch and to tether ourselves to a large boulder in the
water. Shortly after that we headed for the loading area, ready to head
home after such a wonderful lazy day. Kevin noticed that my kayak
seemed a bit heavier than his and that quite a bit of water was
dripping out from the dry storage area in the rear. When he popped off
the seal to look inside he discovered about ten gallons of water that
had seeped in during our time on the lake. I know now that when Kevin
gets silent, something is in the works. Twenty minutes later we were in
the parking lot atREI, unloading both kayaks when Kevin says, "Well, do you want to stay in the truck or come in with me?" Hmmm
, I think most women will understand why I chose to stay out in the
truck. Needless to say, about an hour and a half later there were two
new and better quality kayaks in the trailer as we headed home. The
very next weekend we were able to take out the new ones back at Devil's
Lake and this time not only did they perform better and with more ease,
they didn't seem to absorb any water.