Tuesday, March 31, 2009

A Long Drive

*Abject Apologies!* I cannot seem to get my links to work properly, so you may have to "cut and paste" if you want to see them. Again, apologies!

I love blogging! I love finding great ideas from friends around the world and sharing them. That said, I am participating in "Words and Pictures", proposed by Pip at

My Long Drive is actually memories of 2 long drives. The first was when I was seven. My dear aunt had taken a job as a school teacher clear across the country, far from our little spot in the West (where our family homesteaded 100+ years before). So, my adventurous mom took her two oldest children (7 and 6) and her new baby, and drove out with her, so she wouldn't be alone. Traveling with two neat women is still a vivid memory. My dear aunt worried about us being stuck in the car for hours at a time, so every time we stopped at a rest area, she had us take off our shoes and run in the grass. It did feel great!

We stopped at lots of neat places. Many of them are well known--Mt. Rushmore, the Mississippi River, but some of them are not--Historic Nauvoo, Illinois was in the process of becoming a "living history" site, and we found the incredibly charming town of Pella, Iowa


While we were there, we feasted our weary, tired souls on the sights of windmills and the bell tower in the town square, and our weary, tired stomachs on the wonderful baked goods from the Jaarsma Bakery.


I have some very clear memories--seeing fireflies for the first time (they still enchant me!) and crossing the Mississippi during the Mayfly mating season, where the poor corpses were piled in drifts on the bridges--literally higher than the car bumpers.

We returned to the west by train, stopping in Chicago, where mom took us to see the Sears Tower (which was the tallest building in the world at the time--not so good for someone as severely afraid of heights as I am!), and to the Shedd Aquarium--Sooooo cool!

I did not like traveling by train--the constant noise and movement was very hard on me--but I loved the "dome car" with its clear roof on an upper deck--watch the world go by!

This is a "Dome Car" on an Amtrak train

Mostly I loved being with my mom, who always had a gift for making everything fun, and finding hidden treasures along the way.

My second Long Drive, was this past summer--when I was the mom. We loaded up our trusty minivan (the boring-mobile--ours is possibly the dullest manifestation of the least exciting car ever made--but very functional--and paid for!) with LOTS of STUFF, 3 children, 2 adults (myself and my very fun & funny brother), and a fabulous Service Dog, and did basically the same drive in reverse.

Because, life being what it is--I have moved my little Western self, and we live firmly in the East now. But lots of my beloved family is still in the West, so driving 2000+ miles to see them happens occasionally.

I am very fortunate that my children are such good travelers. Part of that is just good luck--No problems with motion sickness, or anything horrible like that. The other part is that they have been "road-trippers" since before they were born. The no whining/ no arguing policy that we have always had is also a big plus (I will discourse on that at some future time).

We traveled a twisty, not particularly direct route, visiting family members and interesting sites along the way.

This is LargeBoy's favorite part of Old Nauvoo--the Gunsmith Shop. I have to agree that it is REALLY cool!

Historic Nauvoo has become SO interesting that we ended up staying for 2 extra days there!


However, our visit happened to be at the exact same time as the historic flooding on the Mississippi, and so several things were closed due to high water, as well as lots of bridges being washed out. We ended up driving a long way north to a reliable bridge, so we totally missed visiting Pella, Iowa again (much to my disapointment!)

This is one of the big kids, on an island in the Mississippi that is normally the side of the road! MASSIVE FLOODING was going on!

Yellowstone Park was probably the single most common vacation of my childhood. We only lived a few hours away, and my dad LOVED it, and if any guests came they HAD to see it, so we would usually go a few times every summer. It is interesting to me to see how it is changing. Some of the things that were SPECTACULAR in my youth--aren't anymore. My particular favorite "Black Dragon Cauldron" used to be a huge, billowing, frothing mass of dark greyish brown viscous muddy water, surrounded by huge billows of hot steam. Now it is an occasional bubbling upthrust in the pool.

However, just as some things have diminished, other things have increased in activity. Biscuit Basin, which used to be (in my young opinion) pretty darn dull, is now a hotbed (pardon the pun!) of activity.

I am still astounded by the way the bison sit in the hot water. There are cracks in the earth with steam coming up through them, and a buffalo is calmly laying there, chewing its cud.

The waterfalls are as amazing as ever.

One of the big kids took this picture of Yellowstone Falls--I was content to stay FAR back from the rim with SmallDaughter! (see notes on fear of heights)

I love to travel, and I really love to travel with my family.

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