Thursday, October 27, 2016

It's Lobstah, Not Lobster

Ports Head Lighthouse
Oh, hey! Remember me? The one you last saw in this space talking about how much fun it is to travel when the kids are adults? Today allow me to add a category to that "It's so much fun to travel when..." category.

It's so much fun to travel when you're traveling in the fall.

Back in the day, when the school calendar dictated that we schedule our vacations between early June (when it's really hot) and mid-August (when it's downright hellish), we did not let weather or crowds keep us off the road. We packed up the kids and the camper and headed for all the points of the compass, sweating and hydrating and fighting the crowds.

Even then, though, Husband vowed that some day, some glorious day, we would never hit the road when the thermometer hit triple digits. He did not actually use the phrase "AS GOD IS MY WITNESS!" but that was definitely implied.

And so, last year we spent an October week in Michigan and loved it. This year, I had a denominational commitment in Chicago during mid-October and Husband off-handedly said "Would you want to go out to Portland for a few days from there?"

I was packing before he put the closing quote marks on that sentence.

I've only been to Maine twice before, but I purely love it. I love the really, really, really tall trees and the friendly natives. I love thinking "Hey! That's the ocean!" when I see a body of water. I love the flinty granite roadsides, so different from our Midwestern limestone. And after a rather craptastic spring, I was ready for a fantastic fall.

We were gone eight days total, and if we consider one of those days traveling to Chicago, a Chicago day, a second travel day, and a travel day home, we really only had four full days on the coast. But oh, my. What a four days.

We saw lighthouses and islands. We traveled up to Bath and down to Portsmouth. We saw trees with colors so vivid they couldn't possibly be natural. (I'm calling shenanigans on those trees.) We searched centuries-old graveyards and froze our noses on rocky beaches. We ate our way through the state's finest (and not so fine) delicacies.

I am a Kansan, down to my DNA and neutral anchorman's accent. But if I weren't, I think I'd be a Maine-lander.

Especially in the fall.

(Tomorrow: What we ate.)

Wednesday, October 12, 2016

Why Road Trips Are Better Now

Husband and I love to travel, and we've done our fair share of this during the past 33 years. We did not let the ages or dispositions of our Boys keep us off the road because we wanted them to grow up to love travel as well. Our first camping trip, in fact, was during the weeks before Boy#1 had his second birthday and Boy#2 was four months old.

Around the House on the Corner we fondly refer to those 16 days as "The Trip From Hell."

Yes, we do. Because even though we did/do believe that traveling is a wonderful family experience, traveling with small children, as one friend pointed out at the time, is like going fourth class. In Bulgaria.

Last weekend a quick run-out to the Memphis wedding of one of our pseudo-sons reminded me why I love traveling with my family so much more now. We left after work Thursday and met Boy#4 at the halfway point, then arrived in Memphis just in time to meet Boy#2 (who had flown in) at the hotel.

Oh, people. Traveling with grown-up children is so much better than traveling with small dictatorial beings who dominate schedules, conversations, and mood. Why is that?

Well, older children do all the driving while I read books and nap.

Older children are up for interesting food, and are okay with hanging around for an hour waiting for a table to be available at a brunch restaurant where they make lemon ricotta pancakes with blueberry sauce.

Older kids know that Mom is too warm in every single hotel room in the world, and they pack their own blankets instead of whining. Nope, not kidding.

They put up with the elderly members of the party insisting on taking pictures of the "kids" from home who are marrying and being married...

These are not all my actual biological children, but I'd claim any of them.
...although they aren't above 'jacking Mom's phone for a selfie while they wait for the happy couple to get done with the professional pictures.

But the best part comes when they get to choose a day-after-the-wedding activity (because they have endured having the old folks scout out the antique malls) and they choose the lamest Putt-Putt golf course ever.

And when, in the hugest upset in memory, the most unlikely member of the putting party wins the game...

Truman beats Dewey!
...there is no whining, no pouting, no stomping and silent rage. They are happy! They are happy for me!

I do wish Boys#1 and #3 and Lovely Girl could have joined us, but because they are grown-ups they have other obligations. Probably just as well, though; I might not have been able to stand the wonderfulness. 

And we didn't eat a single McNugget.

El Plato Cubano at Ronaldo's in Fort Smith, Ark. Que rico!

Wednesday, October 5, 2016

Why I'm Not a Fan of Efficiency

People, I appear to be cresting a veritable wave of efficiency.

What you see in today's illustration is the photo for my new driver's license, which is the worst picture ever taken of me IN MY LIFE and that is saying a mouthful when you consider my second grade picture in which my mother, understandably overwhelmed by trying to get five kids including an infant ready for school pictures, apparently sent me to school with my hair in I-give-up style.

And I would have guessed that this new photo was also taken with the I-give-up filter as well except that I hadn't given up, I was just surprised.

I've had a new license or ten in my life and I knew that the hallmarks of driver's license examination stations are long lines and crabby employees so I made my plans carefully. Even though my license doesn't actually expire for another six weeks, I'd go today while I had a couple hours of free time. I'd jump in line as quickly as I could, then go to the restroom to fix my hair and lipstick.

That was my plan until I opened the door of the station and there was no one there except two friendly ladies.

"Just stand right there in front of the blue screen and I'll get your picture before we start," Friendly Lady On The Right told me.

That look of surprise in the photo? It's nothing compared to the look on my face when FLOTR did this:

This is my old license, one of my two forms of identification.


With no warning whatsoever Friendly Lady bisected my license, slowing my world to an underwater dream sequence in which I was shouting "NOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOO!!!!!" in a bubbly bass voice.

That's because in exactly nine days, I will be flying to Chicago for a business meeting. Know what you have to have to get on a plane? A driver's license. Know what I don't have right now? The same.

Friendly Lady assured me that there will be no problem using my temporary shocked-looking paper license to fly out of our nearly-local airport, "but getting back might be more of a problem."

So, to recap, I was being super-efficient and renewing my driver's license before it was actually on the verge of expiring. I super-efficiently was the only person in the DMV line, and had everything I needed for the renewal.

Remind me of that in two weeks when I'm living in the Chicago airport, unable to return home. That may be where the efficiency breaks down.