Monthly Archives: February 2011

Day 8 – PEI or Bust – Oklahoma City to Hot Springs, Arkansas

Day 8 57196 odo 8:14 am

As we are leaving Weatherford, OK, the home of astronaut Tom Stafford, it is VERY foggy and overcast. It always takes longer to roust everyone out of bed and into the car than I think it will. It worked so much better when my brother and I drove across country in 2001 and we would get up around 7 and take showers. I would breast-feed McKinley then we would get on the road and drive for an hour before eating breakfast at some greasy spoon. You always felt like you had accomplished a lot before 8 am.

Getting the kids dressed, fed and into the car by 8:14 am should feel better than it does. Now we are headed to Oklahoma City to see the bombing memorial set up there a few years ago. One of the first things we saw was a license plate that said JASPER on it – an old rust colored clunker, like a Dodge Series K car. We see many pick-up trucks and old American cars and a lot of semi-trucks. Not much else on the road once you get outside of the SF Bay Area. We saw our second Mercedes today of the entire drive so far. We saw our first one driving from Albuquerque, which was a candy apple red one headed towards Santa Fe.

Bryce took one of the best sunset pictures from our trip out the window of our car driving into Oklahoma last night. Driving along the highway, you can see lots of funny things (see News of the Weird, below) including a unique guard rail system with poles and steel cable rather than the metal guard rail. I suppose the steel cable system would work just as well if the cables are tensioned properly. But the poles looked like a Semi truck would just take them with the truck and have a new hood ornament in place. Not too reassuring.

Jasper spotted an elk yesterday and a doe and fawn this morning. We saw more mowers today. We saw  signs for the “Canadian Valley Technology Center” about 20 miles outside Oklahoma City – sounded like an oxymoron all the way around to me. We passed towns names Church of the Rock (or maybe that was just a church name – I wonder what they worshipped), Antlers, Atoka, Muddy Boggy Creek. We saw Broken Arrow (instead of Broken Bow, where my Aunt and Uncle live). We passed Daisy, which had a population of 118 and where the Freewill Baptist Church welcomes you. And that’s where everyone was Thursday night.

The Oklahoma City National Memorial was simple, but moving. There is a long pool of water between gates marking the time of the bombing. We were there right after July 4th and saw a woman taking down all of the red, white and blue decorations. She was unceremoniously dumping the wreaths in a box on a cart. There were an amazing amount of tributes to the bombing victims on a chain link fence running the length of the memorial. It was the same way when we visited the Flight 93 Memorial in Southwestern Pennsylvania.

There was a museum at the memorial too. Jasper and Bryce weren’t very interested in going to this one, but by the time we got out of the museum and walked around the copper and glass chairs dedicated to each victim, they were suitably interested. Bryce was very interested in the interaction between your skin, the water and the copper. One of the more moving things at the memorial was the ability to put your hand in the pool of water (about 4 inches deep) and place it on the memorial wall to leave your hand print. It was a nice reminder of how we are all interconnected.

Once we left Oklahoma City, it started raining those Texas-sized rain drops, even though we were in Oklahoma… It started raining so hard, people were hydroplaning about the freeway. I kinda felt like I was back in Hendricks County (Indiana) during one of those freak summer thunderstorms, with hail the size of golf balls. In the pouring rain, we passed the Middle O’ Nowhere Market in Reagan, OK. Somewhere in all that rain, (now I feel like I’m back at home in the midwest and have to talk about the weather), I succumbed to the drive thru at a KFC and A&W RootBeer place to get chicken strips, green beans, a biscuit, and a Dr Pepper that tasted suspiciously like diet coke –  blech – on all accounts! I only made it through the biscuit. Note to self – stick to Starbucks!

Now we are headed to South Eastern Oklahoma and the Chickasaw National Recreation Area. Not so surprisingly, we ended up on the road that was the most expeditious, which was a toll road – the Indian Trail Turnpike; although it was our first turnpike of the trip, it certainly would not be our last. We have somewhere entered into the Chocktaw Indian Nation. After my foray into the Navajo Nation, I’m sticking to the roads that aren’t faint and dotted on the map. I’m stickin’ to those brighter lines!

We stopped at the Visitor Center at the Chickasaw National Recreation Area to get our Junior Ranger booklets and go on a hike to explore the hot springs. Who knew there were hot springs in that area. During the torrential downpour that followed us the whole day, we had this amazingly lovely green dragonfly follow us on the trail. Then when we turned back, we spied an armadillo. We watched him for a few minutes – I kept getting closer and closer  to take pictures of him because my “would have been very useful at this moment” telephoto lens was in the truck. The armadillo (which has very bad vision as a species) finally spotted us and turned and waddled off. The boys got a great kick out of seeing an armadillo up close! (It reminded me of my friend Alison’s hilarious story about armadillos, more specifically, as she puts it, “blowing on an armadillo’s bum.”)

Soaked, we still had to pick up a bag of trash each to finish the Jr. Ranger program. I like the Jr. Ranger Programs where the kids have to pick up trash… makes them more responsible! We found about 400 cigarette butts. What a nasty habit! Yuck!!! There were so many cigarette butts that we made up our own game –  if you walked over one and then someone else behind you spotted it, then they could ask you to come back and pick it up. The Visitor Center building had been built by the WPA in the 30’s and felt like the heating system worked like it was still in the 30’s. Once I was frozen from the rain and ancient heating system, the boys finally finished their booklets and earned the Jr. Ranger badge. Outside, we spotted one of the cutest things  of the day: two little girls who laid down their giant golf umbrellas and scooted under them to play while they were waiting.

A few days ago when we crossed the Continental Divide and accidentally hit a chipmunk, I made a joke about road kill and a smart ass remark about it making a good dinner in Arkansas. McKinley didn’t get the joke, so that meant I had to explain it to him. Not good when you have to explain your own prejudicial joke to your child. But it did give us a chance to chat about stereotypes and eating other types of animals that you hunt.

Speaking of animals you hunt, we saw lots of long horns today. We passed a town named Frogville, which made me wonder if they had frog jumping contests like the ones in Calaveras County, CA. Last night when we filled up, we pulled into an empty gas station next to an adult bookstore which had a full parking lot. I always wondered what men did in places like that looking for “books.” I’m still wondering… I was already kind of annoyed from seeing these sexist freeway safety ads – “My daddy works here and will daddy be home tonight? Be alert be safe…” Don’t they have any working moms along the freeway? Probably not – they have better things to be doing!

We discovered that Broken Bow, OK is right next to the North Pole near the corner of Arkansas, Texas, and Oklahoma. Who knew… Once we made it into Arkansas, the bridge surface was lumpy and road quality dropped significantly. Thankfully – that didn’t last the entire time we were in Arkansas. We saw a ton more political and campaign ads in Arkansas – most of them were hand painted or spray painted. I was impressed that people cared enough to state their opinion and put it out in their yard. We passed Wagon Wheel Dance Land, which was a dance hall. Sounded like it might be a fun place to square dance! We passed Cane Creek, Mud Creek, and Rolling Fork River – which made me a little worried about what we might find in Arkansas. Can you tell it was my first time there and that I had a lot of preconceived notions about what Arkansas would be like???

We had called to home to make sure McKinley made it back safe and to cub scout camp and my husband, Greg, mentioned that we should go to the Diamond mine and see what we could find. We briefly toyed with the idea of going to the Crater of Diamonds State Park to look for my retirement package. But since it was so late and I didn’t know if they had a campground, I decided to keep going North and ended up going to Hot Springs instead.

We arrived at Hot Springs at about dinner time – with enough daylight to find a camping spot, see a little of the area, and then make dinner. There were mosquitos galore, rain drops kept falling on my head… it was incredibly humid (and made me very thankful I live in a no humidity area). Once we were done with our preliminary look at the Hot Springs main street, we hopped back into the truck to go find the campgrounds. We then found out that the campground was temporarily off-limits because of some multi-car accident, which was blocking all three entrances to the campground. Hmmm, they weren’t able to give us an estimate of when it would be cleared or even if there were open camp sites. Not a good omen.

Undeterred, I drove back out the way we came in and then to the south side of town to the entrance way on the other side, and waited. Actually, I didn’t wait very patiently,  I parked and got of of the truck to go talk to the Ranger holding up traffic.  I’ve never been one to accept the stock answer that it can’t be done… as I was walking over to the Ranger, what turned out to be the last tow truck, brought out a very mangled car. He yelled something at the Ranger who then opened up the roads — just like that, we were in. We decided to camp in an RV space because the only two tent spaces left looked dicey, as they were next to guys working on their motor bikes and they did not look like they were going to go to sleep too soon even if there were kids next to them.

We figured out their automatic camp site payment machine and then went to find a grocery store to get something for dinner. The boys decided they wanted to grill hot dogs. We learned that you don’t want to raise (or lower) the grill with the hots dogs going the same direction as the grill slats… you end up with hot dogs in the grill, not grilled hot  dogs. Nothing a little water wouldn’t fix… The camp site we picked turned out to be sheltered from most of the rain… I slept a little bit uneasily waiting for the mosquitos to quit buzzing around me – for some reason they really like me – and I was trying to discern if the rain was heavy enough to come through the trees and get us wet enough to hop back into the truck (because we didn’t have a tent). Well, about 7:30 am the next morning, we found out that the rain WAS heavy enough to come through the trees and get us wet. And we also found out that the boys can get dressed, packed up, and back in the truck in 5 minutes flat when it really did start raining on us!

News of the Weird (and fabulous facts):

  • Why is Diamond Bank’s logo a star?
  • A sign rusted so badly that we had no idea what it actually said
  • Gas was $2.49/gal. in Weatherford, OK
  • International Paper in Oklahoma
  • Gas is only $2.34/gal. near Hot Springs, AR
  • Awesome horse farm outside Dierks, AR
  • Amazing white column house and horse ranch outside Pearcy, AR
  • Weyerhauser in Arkansas means tons of logging trucks and mills,
  • McKinley Hardwood truck
  • First non credit card gas pumps I have seen in years
  • Ambush Adventures for River Rafting (not sure that is who I want planning a river rafting trip…)
  • Sign – Do not drive into smoke – what are you supposed to do? Stop and wait? Yup! Too many grass fires to know what you’d be driving into.
  • Sign – Drive Friendly – not sure what this meant? Don’t flip anyone off? Don’t tailgate? Wave to everyone? Find a driving buddy?
  • NM drivers in NM don’t move over, but they do move over in other states.
  • License Plates spotted today – SC MS

Remembering Birthdays and Anniversaries

This blog entry is inspired by my (dear) husband who forgot our 18th anniversary Monday. Our kids and I accurately predicted that this would happen. So, today’s blog is about remembering birthdays, anniversaries and other important dates and how you can help yourself!

Use a Calendaring Program – Using Outlook, iCal or something similar to track birthdays or anniversaries in your calendar is a great start to remembering those important dates. There used to be a plethora of websites to help you remember important dates, but I find that my address book and calendar work just fine together to show those dates. I like seeing those dates highlighted on my calendar  and automatically filled in from my address book. I love having them on Facebook. It makes it so easy to send that special person a message about their special day. It only takes a moment. If you are sending an actual card (or electronic one), you can set your alarms or alerts to remind you a week ahead of time to (get and) send a card.

I loved seeing my step-sister’s message to her mom and my dad on their actual  anniversary last week and I especially loved seeing the comments to her post. It was a sweet reminder that you never know what will work, and a not so subtle reminder that I forgot to send a card 😦 even though our family calendar has their picture squarely on their anniversary date of Feb 4th!

Start a Tradition – Traditions are important in helping you remember an event and plan for it – like giving everyone new PJs on Christmas eve, or serving breakfast in bed on your child’s birthday, or having your child (or spouse) wear a birthday crown all day on their birthday. I started a tradition for our anniversary of inviting close friends and those in our wedding party to dinner at our house on our anniversary (or the weekend before or after). This dinner tradition led to some pretty funny stories being repeated year after year – like my husband diving into the pool naked at one of his (supposedly) raucous parties before I met him. (We actually received a card with this picture on it one year for our anniversary, so I know he actually did that, but I’m still not sure about the veracity of the tales about the raucous parties.) One of my favorites was our 7th anniversary dinner where Greg’s best  friend and former roommate, Karl, gave us a meat cleaver with a message carved into it – G & S Happy 7th K & K and on the other side, “The Unknown Future.” The story behind that gift was that Greg and Karl had been roommates for a long time and that by our 7th anniversary, I was now the person who had lived with Greg the longest and the gift was Karl’s way of passing the torch (or meat cleaver in this case) to me. It was a funny reminder, and still is.

My friend Grace has a tradition of skiing on her (January) birthday. One year I played hooky at the last minute, left my house at 7 am, picked Grace up and made it to the slopes by 10 am. This year we had to postpone skiing on her actual birthday, but we did get to have lunch at a very cool place in Half Moon Bay and we will go skiing in a few weeks!

Be Vigilant –  It is important to not forget the little things that may have been started in jest or as a joke or just as a simple reminder of something fun or important. When my parents were married, I never, and I mean never, ever saw my dad give my mom a present. Paula, my dad’s wife (of 27 years now) doesn’t let him get away with that. He even sends me and my kids cards on Christmas and their Birthdays. I love that he does that! Now I just need to tell him that! In our household, my husband (usually) gets forsythia and tulips or freesias for me on our anniversary – these were some of the bulb flowers we had at our wedding. We also planted all of the flowers from our centerpieces at our wedding in our garden. When we moved, we dug up all of those bulbs and planted them at our new house (that was in 1994) and they bloom every year around our anniversary. On Sunday, during the Superbowl, mind you, my youngest child just went and picked them for me and put them in a vase – now that was sweet!

I’d love to hear what others do to remember birthdays, anniversaries and other important dates!

Confession of an iPhone App Addict

I must confess that I had an iPhone for about a year and a half without ever downloading a single App. I  was traveling a lot and just never had the time to investigate the App store. Then I got sick – I was down for the count for two days in a row. I didn’t even have the brain power to sit on the couch and watch TV or a movie. So, I crawled into bed with my magazine reading stack. I started reading through one of my indulgent magazines (Lucky) and I got to maybe page 10 of the magazine before spotting an ad for a shoe finder app. I thought, “Oh, I need to check this out. I love shoes…”

And it was hook, line, and sinker… all the way. I spent the next two days glued to my computer, exploring the App store,  and downloading (free) apps, starting with the Shoe Finder App from Lucky. Turns out, after I was back on my feet, that I had downloaded 96 apps and I had made  a list of 20 or more apps that I wanted but couldn’t find. Turns out some of the apps I wanted didn’t exist yet and had to be written (too bad I don’t know how to write code for these kind of apps). I then spent a lot of time organizing my apps into categorized pages on my iPhone putting like Apps with others that were similar – games, financial, news, fun stuff, food/exercise (I’m still not sure how those two topics ended up together), utility/organization, things to explore, etc. In the intervening three years, I have used many apps, forgotten about others, never opened some, and best of all, I have developed a list of time tested favorites.

My Favorite Apps:

  1. Starbucks Mobile Card – I typed in my Starbucks Card #s and can connect to my online account; with a press of a button, I can charge my Starbucks purchases to this card – I don’t have to carry around the cards any longer… and Starbuck’s just installed scanners to read these mobile card versions. No card, no cash needed. This App was the most used app when I drove across country last summer from San Carlos to Prince Edward Island because the App has a store finder built in it too! The only thing I haven’t gotten to work perfectly is the reload $ automatically feature.
  2. Scrabble – I actually paid for this App. We play Scrabble (and Sudoku, Tap Tap, and Dodge Dot) while waiting in lines, in the car when the kids just can’t stand each other any more, at boring meetings, etc. We like to play the live version at home too!
  3. Facebook – I use this Facebook App a lot (and Twitter) when waiting for other things to happen. It is a good way to catch up with friends, see what others are doing you haven’t seen in awhile, and most entertainingly, see what incredible (or sometimes inane) postings people make sometimes! (Related Note – I haven’t made as much use of the Twitterrific one – it is flaky on the iPhone.)
  4. Yelp – I use this to find restaurants (with Urban Spoon as a close second) or stores or other things. I have had the most luck with food related stores and establishments. For, example, I did not have good luck trying to find an orthodontist for a minor emergency while traveling – lots of info was old or out of date. But for restaurants, it works great!
  5. CardStar – I use this App so I don’t have to carry any cards – no hotel affinity cards, no grocery store cards, nothing. You type in your number and up pops a bar code. You can link to the proper website for each card (it is pre-populated with a lot of info for each merchant already). You can also link to your account online for some of the cards. They recently added a coupon feature which can be really helpful if you are looking for a hotel room and there is a hotel coupon waiting for you!
  6. Call a Cab – I used this all over. It uses your location and lists a bunch of cab companies with distances from your current location. Choose one and call it. They will send  a cab for you within minutes. Awesome when you are in a strange/foreign place and need to get back to your hotel in a hurry. Worked great the first time I used it, which was in Honolulu, Hawaii, and every time thereafter. (This one doesn’t seem to be in the App Store at the moment. The developer is Bitfire.)
  7. ShopShop – This App is a virtual grocery list. I no longer carry sticky notes around, stuck to me or my car in various places. You put in the item and it stays there until you cross it off. You can email or text the list to your husband while he is out shopping and can’t remember what you asked him to get 🙂
  8. OmniFocus – this App synchs with my desktop version of my projects, ToDos, and other items of note. I don’t know what I would do without it. Some people like GTD – Getting Things Done, but I found that OmniFocus suits me better. Another possibility is Things, which I am thinking of buying to try out.
  9. – I love this App for its simplicity and alerts. I worked at Intuit for 5 years and they were working on Quicken Online at the time, but when it launched, it was a dumbed down version of the desktop version and never quite worked as robustly as I wanted for an online version. I really just wanted something I (and my husband) could see from anywhere and know that we weren’t going to bounce anything. Intuit has since bought and souped it up a little.
  10. GoBears – I know this one seems like an outlier at first, but I really use it a lot – it has the latest schedule times for Cal Sports (football and basketball) and is great when they make last minute schedule changes. Go Bears! (This one’s for Cal Grad Aaron Rodgers!)
  11. xfinity mobile – this is Comcast’s newest App that allows me to control my voicemail, TV, cable, and internet from my phone of iPad. It’s totally cool! I just forwarded my home phone to my mobile phone and got our home voicemail on my mobile phone. I could go on. If you are a Comcast customer, I highly recommend trying it out. If you aren’t a Comcast customer, try finding one for your own internet/home phone/cable provider.

Please let me know what Apps you totally love (or don’t love so much)…

Just What the Heck is a PractiGal?

Well, to get to the point – PractiGal is the name I have chosen for my personal blog. But, you say still – just what the heck is a PractiGal – well – that’s what the rest of this blog post will attempt to explain…

When I had my first kid, I went out and bought things I didn’t need because these darn baby books had lists and lists of things you needed for a a new baby. Well, it turns out that you don’t really need all that much for a new baby. One example is the giant diaper bag I had bought and used for exactly ONE day. I used it for only ONE day because the latch was flaky AND because it didn’t fit under my stroller in the (very small) basket. So, I went on a hunt for another diaper bag, that would actually fit in the basket under the stroller. More about that diaper bag solution in another blog entry. After a few of these incidents, I told my mom that I wanted to write a book called the Practical Baby so I could tell people what the baby and mom really needed – not all this other stuff. She laughed and laughed, for a long time. When she stopped laughing she said, “There is no such thing as a practical baby!”

Well, she’s right – there is no such thing as a practical baby. But, there is such a thing as a practical mom who can figure things out and make them work better, no matter what the situation. That’s what a Practical Gal is. That’s me, and that’s what I write about.

Today I joined the 31 Days to Build a Better Blog and my first task is to write an elevator pitch. Now, I’m not a marketing person  by any stretch of the imagination; in fact, my same smart mommy that I already mentioned above, told me I need to take my lawyer hat off when I am trying to write marketing oriented stuff, otherwise I just get in my own way… We’ll see…

Day 1 Task: Write an Elevator Pitch for Your Blog

The practical mom with the unpractical kids and husband

Am I a super hero? Nope, Just a Practical Gal

Am I wonder woman? Hmmm.. more like ElastiGirl…
Or PractiGal – The practical wife, mother, and woman…

Just a woman trying to hold onto a shred of sanity with a job, husband, 3 boys, and many hobbies…

The areas I have/want to write about are:

4 Moms – products, ideas, work, family, me
4 Families – travel, recipes, food, places to visit, national parks
4 Fun – hobbies, books, movies, (and families too)
4 Green – products, ideas, gardening
4 Good – charity, fundraising

So, it seems like I’ve focused on finding a tagline more than an elevator pitch… Let’s try again…

PractiGal is a lifestyle blog focused on finding a practical way of doing things – from traveling with small children to cooking dinner every night to running your own business to planning your next vacation.

PractiGal covers practical advice for Moms, Families, Fun, Going Green, and Doing Good.

Welcome to the PractiGal blog – please share any practical advice you may have!

Day 7 – PEI or Bust – Albuquerque to Oklahoma City (Almost)

Day 7

56728 odo 9:37 am

Off to the airport from our conveniently located hotel – the Homewood Inn & Suites near the Albuquerque ariport. After the kids favorite hotel breakfast of make-your-own waffles, we took McKinley to the airport. We were sending him back for cub scout camp. With McKinley traveling as an unaccompanied minor, we had to wait with him until the plane actually took off. In his case, the plane he was to be on was very late coming in from LA or Salt Lake City. That meant we waited, and waited, and waited at the gate. We played cards, wrestled, played scrabble, wrestled, lost part of my shoe, chewed gum, wrestled some more, separated all the kids, wrestled some more… you get the picture.

Finally about three hours, and many Scrabble games (Jasper won, which is completely unusual) later, McKinley was able to get on the flight and go on his merry way. It seemed like we waited in some weird twilight zone for three more hours before the desk attendants finally told us that his particular plane had taken off and we were free to go. Finally, McKinley was on his way back home to go to WEBELOS camp.

Next stop, back to Frontier Restaurant to pick up some of those famed cinnamon rolls. I sent Jasper in to pick up to rolls because we couldn’t find any parking. He came back with a frozen package of cinnamon rolls… so much for having a cinnamon roll for lunch! OK, the frozen rolls are a problem to be solved later…Next, we visited the Apple store to pick up a wireless keyboard and cover for my iPad. I was afraid they weren’t going to let the transaction go through on my credit card now that we were even further away from home, but it worked. While we were at the giant mall (which was under construction, making parking a challenge) we found lunch at McAllister’s deli, which had semi-healthy sandwhiches and soup. Using my handy dandy iPhone and favorite App – the Starbuck’s finder – we found a Starbuck’s in the mall and were able to get a Chai Tea before heading out of Albuquerque.

Finally, it’s 1:18 pm on we are on the road to TX and beyond, more specifically to Oklahoma City because there is nothing, and I do mean  NOTHING to see in Eastern New Mexico and the top of the Texas! They put curves in the road just to keep you from falling asleep. Once we actually started driving, somewhere in the two blocks between the mall parking lot and the freeway, it started raining, big, fat rain drops. We’ll have to go back to New Mexico one of these days – for many reasons, but one of them is to see the nuclear science museum in Albuquerque.

OK now it’s lightning (Is that a verb?). Not something I really want to drive in. Reminds me of the time Greg and I got caught in a sudden thunderstorm in Indiana right after Jasper was born when the roads flooded, power lines came down and sparks were flying across the road. There was no good way back to my grandmother’s house that day!

The weather continues to deteriorate the further into New Mexico we go. Gusty wind signs actually mean what they say. I might have rewritten the sign to say: (Seriously) Gusty Winds!!! As we passed a place called Clines Corner, we saw snow — I am NOT kidding — snow in July, in New Mexico. Snow in July really threw the drivers for a loop and it took about three seconds to find an overturned truck truck on top of his own trailer. Not a pretty sight. Not a predicament that burly guy wanted to share with his friends – “Huh, huh, huh. My extended cab, double tire pickup truck ended up on top of my race car trailer…”  I called 911, and noted the mile marker, 232, as the dispatcher said the police were only 5 miles away (somewhere in the desert looking for donuts among the cacti- OK, I made up that last part). Unbelievably, it was now 48 degrees in the snow and slush with crazy drivers sliding everywhere, pulling off to the side of the road, generally creating mayhem and making themselves road hazards.

At this point, I am really checking out Toby’s truck – Am I really in 4WD? What do I need to do to get this thing into a lower gear? Should I pull over and drive slower until these crazy people stop driving? Should I drive faster to just get out of that snowy mess? Those of you who know how I drive already know the answer to that one… We took a couple of pictures (not me, I was driving) and kept it to a respectable 70 mph to whiz past all those snow-less experienced drivers. You’d think that was the end of this crazy part of the driving for this day but it wasn’t.

There were two other drivers who had made the same decision I had made  – to hightail it the hell out of there! One was a Subaru from Florida or somewhere else far away (we ended up being driving buddies through the next two states, and I remember thinking he has a long drive home) and the other was a semi driver, with a royal blue soft-sided truck, which is VERY easy to see even in the low visibility impossible weather with rain and snow, and fogged up windows.  (Toby, I hope you aren’t reading this!) OK – I thought slowing it down to 70 was a prudent way (read: fastest) to get through the snow and crazy drivers. But, these two drivers weren’t interested in slowing down at all – they had obviously done this before or just didn’t care. So, they proceeded to tail gate me and try to pass me on the right, even when there wasn’t a smidgen of space for me to get over safely to let them PASS me. Once I found a space big enough of me to get over and let them pass, most of the snow and crazy pulled over or slow drivers has subsided. Whew! And to think that only 20 minutes later it was 84 degrees and beautifully sunny, like we had dreamed up all of this snow stuff…

56889 odometer as we filled up at a dubious truck stop called Love’s in Tucumcari, NM. (say that three times fast). Sounds like a recipe for nothing good to happen. Well, we did find that they served Dairy Queen cones of soft serve ice cream (a treat we would proceed to find many times on our trip.)

Now entering Texas – One of the things I am amazed by during our drive thorugh Texas is the junkers we see sitting in the yards and farms. You always see stories at the Pebble Beach Concours d’Elegance about finding a Mercedes, Gull Wing or  Dusenberg or Model-T in some barn in the Midwest that has been restored to a pristine condition. Well we saw quite few interesting ones in front yards along the highway – including a 57 chevy and a model t or at least what looked like a Model-T. But these “finds” were all rust, which seemed to make them better candidates for pimp my ride, rather than concours restoration.

We used my favorite app to find the closest Starbuck’s and while we were getting a snack, we found out that McKinley made it home, but not his bag…that’s why I never check a bag!!! I did bring a bigger bag on this trip and a couple of others for games and computers so no one was dragging all of this as a carry-on (more on that in a later blog).

Driving through Texas, it started raining on us again. These raindrops were the size of Texas! Or at least apricots and nectarines, still pretty darn big! We even say guys fixing antenna towers that were 7-10 stores in the air. Not a place I would want to be in this type of rain that sounded like paint balls hitting the car. This all happened as we passed the biggest cross in the nation. Not sure if Bryce got a picture of it, but I did get a picture of it when Shane and I drove across country in 2001.

Driving through the top of Texas didn’t take long, now we are into Oklahoma, where the wind comes roaring down the plains. One thing we have learned besides Oklahoma is very green in this part is that merge doesn’t just mean merge in Oklahoma. Merge really means “merge now” not when you see the barrels ’cause by then that’s too darn late . They only give you 20 feet of diagonal barrels to move you over. I guess that will keep you alert.

We are now in the Cheyenne Nation. We keep seeing a lot of truck advertising. I guess marketers are getting more and more creative about where to place ads. We found a “Three a day” slogan on truck flaps – milk, cheese, yoghurt. We  also saw a giant flap between trailer axels the entire length of the truck at car level with ads on them. I guess the advertisers don’t want the driver to have to look up to see the side of the truck! We say many, many “how’s my driving” signs. I wonder if any one actually calls them? And what, if anything, happens to the info when you do call one of those #s. You could spend your whole day calling those #s or maybe it is a secret porn network?

Last bit of randomness for today – McKinley called Jasper a “Great Dane” today and not in a nice way. (that was before we sent him home on the plane by himself… that’ll teach him!) The sunset in Oklahoma was amazing tonight. I love to see the sun streaming through the clouds after a huge rain storm. Dang gotta watch for those left hand exits in OK. I think Bryce and Jasper watched 14 movies today and were bummed that they forgot to send the viewed movies back with McKinley. Now they’ll have to take them back when they go home for boy scout camp. We saw a sign for Memory Lane Antique Mall in Clinton, OK. That’s a B. K. activity, (Before Kids). HAven’t done much of that lately and we don’t have any space to put really big, lovely furniture anyway:(

We stayed the night in a small town about an hour outside of OK City. With the time change, we weren’t going to make it to OK City, find a place to stay, find dinner and cool off in the hotel pool, so we stayed in the hometown of some astronaut – at least that’s what the sign on the Highway said. The hotel pool was very nice, but not the big bugs that came with the warm OK night air. The cinnamon buns (from Frontier restaurant this morning) made a good dinner…

New of the Weird (Or things you should be concerned about…):

  • One of those fabulous facts – its 373 miles across NM which is almost equidistant with Arizona.
  • Would you eat at some place called Squawkers???
  • Two trucks carrying huge things with 6 ribbed nozzles on them.
  • Truck carrying three RV trailers in small, medium, and large. I wonder what kept that last one on the trailer .
  • Mowers all along the highways in Texas in threes, usually.
  • More cows in the first 32 miles of Texas than we saw in all of NM. And horses too.
  • Round bales lined up with phone # on them $125 a ton for hay.
  • Gas is $2.75 in TX.
  • Wildorado is pretty run down; even the silos are rusty.
  • Rodeotopia  – is that a cowboy’s utopia?
  • Happy Tracks Horse Motel across the road from Love’s travel stop on Arnot road – makes me want to say “are too…”
  • Huge flame near Exit 53 like a natural gas flame outlet. (Have to google map that.)
  • Truck with three pod campers on the back. This one was similar to the small, medium, and larger trailer, but these were tear drop camper pods.
  • Now my hand and shoulder are cramped from text/typing.
  • Lots of lonely windmills in the fields along Hwy 40.
  • A truck full of train axles.
  • Gas is similar price in OK ($2.59.)
  • It is sooo green everywhere in Oklahoma.
  • A sign For Hext – is that next to text? Nope, it’s next to Sayre.
  • Elk City is the home of Miss America Susan Powell

We always play the license plate game in the car – spot the 50 states, each letter in order, etc. I usually have a laminated map and dry erase marker so the kids can keep track or road sign bingo cards etc. But, driving someone else’s car across country means you don’t have all of your own things in the car. However, the laminated map was not one of them; I had made a point of bringing that. It is an endless source of entertainment with state capitals, bird, trees, etc.  This trip was no excpetion. The day we played state mottos was very funny – mostly we made up what we thought the state mottos should be (it seems like the Economist cover renaming all of the states – like Califorclosure, for example.)

Personally, I like the veteran and military license plates, the purple hearts, etc. because it is a small way to honor people who deserve it, even though they rarely are recognized for it! My other favorite license plate — for a couple of reasons: 1)  becuase you rarely see it, and 2)  because if its bold and audacious slogan, is New Mexico, The Land of Enchantment. What does that slogan mean anyway? It’s desert, and mountains, dotted with casinos alternating with extreme poverty. With snow in July, and 20 minutes later its 84 degrees – this is enchanting?

License Plates spotted today:


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