In May we took our FIRST ROAD TRIP…as a family of more than two people. It was a mere 12 hours…regular time…NOT kid time.
Our beginning was rough. With Phil Tessier, the beginning of a road trip occurs several days before the road trip…car inspection.
As it turns out, our family van is NOT road-trip-worthy. Upon discovering this (24 hours before our trip began), we started brainstorming ideas for borrowing a family-sized vehicle. Mini-van doors kept slamming in our faces. Then it dawned on me…we did have another vehicle…our beloved, TINY commuter car. If I had been in charge of packing our car, this would NEVER have worked…but Phil-MacGyver-Tessier packed us with ease…and boy do I mean packed us. Turns out, the girls LOVED being in close quarters with each other and with us. It really was fun…being so intimately confined with those nearest and dearest to my heart. Who knew? Granted, our girls were champ travelers. I think close quarters with screaming, whining children would have been awful. Whew. Glad our kids travel well. Of course, we did not know that would be the case…big leap of faith…graciously rewarded.
So, after doing a Face Book survey of how to travel loooong distances with wee babes, we made a plan: leave at 4:00 a.m., make frequent stops, prepare surprise bags to entertain children. (Eden is still asking for surprise bags-two months after our trip!)
We left in our compact car at 4:00 a.m. Babes sweetly sleeping, hubby softly snoring, and me in heaven…early morning hours, driving under the soft light of the heavenly bodies, giant cup of Starbucks. Ahhh. I watched the stars disappear and the sun rise in the glorious peace of silence…SILENCE. Silence that lasted for three and a half hours…HOURS. (This introverted mama gets maybe 30 minutes of quiet a day…maybe…and it usually happens in the bathroom…if I can outrun the two-year-old and lock the door before she gets to me.)
7:30, the troops awaken! Phil gave Eden her FIRST surprise bag = a breakfast treat and a glowing wand. Big hit. Darling got a bottle. Then diaper changes all around. A mere hour later, we hit Abilene. Abilene has a zoo that opens at 9:00. I love it when a plan comes together! Little known fact, Abilene has an awesome zoo…not just the zoo part, but location, location, location. It is beside an incredible park AND the airport AND the train tracks. Sooo many fun distractions before you even get in to see the animals. I mentioned to Phil, perhaps Abilene would be a good place to settle…not that we are looking to move…but I think we are always hoping to get closer to family…the Crawfords, the Cates, the Coplens, the Becks, the Picciutis, the Tessiers. Sigh.
We hit the zoo til it hit back…about 11:00 and our girls were pooped! Loaded them in the car for a nap, and drove to Lubbock. Halfway there and no meltdowns!
Phil looked up a park near the highway and we stopped to play for an hour or so…and apparently, the “best location” was…um…a bit sketchy. But we’re on an adventure…so we let our kids play at the sketchy-ghetto-playground…once we scanned the ground for used syringes. None…so we felt reasonably safe. Ahem.
Between Lubbock and Amarillo, we had a “holy cow! stop the car! stop the car! poopy-diaper emergency.” And wouldn’t you know it, it happened right outside of Happy, Texas…or, as we will heretofore refer to it, Happy-the-town-without-a-frown, Texas. Those of you familiar with the stretch of road between Amarillo and Lubbock probably realize this, but one of the reasons Happy is a town without a frown is because there are no convenience stores. None. So we did what anyone raised in small-town-America would do…we looked for a church. It was, after all, a Wednesday evening…about 6:00. Bingo! The Happy Methodist church was open for business…and bonus, they had a playground. So yes, we stopped at the church; changed the diaper, availed ourselves to the facilities, and played on the playground for a bit. I gotta say, I preferred the Methodist church over Loves or Toot N Totem, etc and highly recommend it the next time you drive through Happy-the-town-without-a-frown, Texas.
And finally, fourteen hours after leaving San Antonio, we arrived at our evening’s destination…Amarillo, Texas…home of beloved childhood friends Ginger and Kevin. They had Pei Wei awaiting our arrival. Always, so sweet being with Ginger…the years melted and I was with my childhood buddy…the one who knew me…loved me…blessed me. Sigh. Such a sweet blessing. That God…to give me such a faithful sister.
We met Dad and LuLu in Borger for lunch, then on to Spearman. Then we slept…and slept…and slept. All day in the car is a bit tougher than I remembered.
Day 3 (BIG DAY)
Saturday morning, unbeknownst to us, the travel gods were smiling down mightily. When we hit Spearman, my beloved hometown, we hit it on the weekend of the annual Heritage Day parade!!! My cup runneth over and over and over! I got to take my girls and my guy to one of my FAVORITE Spearman events…next to a Friday night football game (cause really, in small-town-Texas, NOTHING beats a Friday night football game.) There were floats, horses, tractors…and lots and lots of candy. We “sat” in the grass (i.e. tried to keep Eden from running out in front of the floats in order to grab candy…the girl likes candy…and floats apparently!) Yep, my cup was utterly inadequate to contain all the goodness Spearman had to bestow.
We cleaned up and headed to Beaver, Oklahoma…home of the Beaver Dusters…for the graduation of our niece, Madison. The ceremony was intimate as the class was a mere 22 students. At one point, the graduates delivered roses to their loved ones out in the audience. As Madison gave a rose to her mama and hugged her, I couldn’t help but pull my two a bit closer to me. Here it was…Madison…all gown up. Just like that. And I knew right then, this is gonna fly…God help my poor, feeble heart…this is gonna fly.
Afterwards, we descended upon the Cates Ranch for a BIG barbecue down by the creek. One of my favorite moments was seeing my precious Aunt Janie–beloved sister of my mama…these two used to have notorious laugh fests…loved being around the two of them…but I digress. Darling was held and adored by my aunt, my sis, my brother-in-law, my dad…all the family agrees, Darling is a keeper. Eden got to meet the border collie that would soon become her “favorite best dog”…Clancy.
Eden spent the morning with the boys (Jake and AJ Huddleston), Uncle Read, and Uncle Jarod…our girl, just hanging with the boys. They rode a tractor…a semi…and basically ran about the farm. It made this mama’s heart soooo happy to see her fully embrace all the farm had to offer. After all the boy stuff, Eden cuddled up with Uncle Read for some stories. She does not cuddle up with anyone for book reading…nope…only Uncle Read. He read SIX books to her. SIX. I cannot get her to sit with me for the reading of “Goodnight Moon.” That Uncle Read has the touch…could be his upteen years working in elementary schools. Eh.
We tore Eden away from the farm and headed back to my beloved Spearman…where Papa and LuLu awaited our arrival. I believe it was this night that Eden claimed Gracie, Dad’s cherished golden retriever, as her own…”my dog.” She snuggled right up with Gracie, arm flung across the beast’s back, and watched TV. Now, my dad loves Eden…but that dog is his…for better or for worse. I have a feeling this will be a life-long battle between the two.
Eden, Darling, and I went to make a very precious call on my favorite English teachers…Mr. and Mrs. Mitchell. Such a sweet time. Apparently I have lost my accent. Mrs. Mitchell noted that I actually say my “ing’s.” Must be all the years in San Antonio.
That night we explored the wonders of LuLu’s house. She keeps a box o’ toys…much to Eden’s delight. Darling tried her hand at mashed potatoes…her very first table food.
We left Papa, Lulu…and Gracie. Sniff, sniff. Then we drove, drove, drove to Midland…using surprise bags with abandon to appease our traveling companions. Now, none of use has ever been to Midland before…and no…it’s not really on the way. BUT, we made the trip to reconnect with a friend from college. We lost touch…and twenty years passed. She did some handy-dandy detective work and found me! Such a treat, meeting her boys and introducing her to my girls!
Home sweet home!