Saturday, August 30, 2014

Stupid Labor Day Weekend

First,  Labor Day made a hash of our plan to arrive in Canada a few days earlier than expected, as the ferries were all booked up. Unable to put one and one together, let alone two and two, we did not take any special care with lodgings for August 30.

And so, we have diverted 30 miles off track, to Yakima, to get a hotel room. This this places us a moderately long drive from Burnaby (Aunt Bef) instead of an easy drive. That's not including the border crossing!

Our plan is to check the wait times at the different crossing points when we arrive in Bellingham. Hopefully at least one option will be more or less painless. I don't fancy a multi hour wait with kids in the car.

Friday, August 29, 2014

Chef B

Alice has a cold too!

Alice had a hilarious voice now. She is enjoying it.

Buh-bye bike

Prior to starting our cross-country trip, we went through a tremendous hassle buying a bike rack off of Craigslist (and then buying an additional necessary part at the store) so that we could bring my and Alice's bikes along. Within half an hour of starting our x-country trip, I noticed my bike handlebar bonking the back window. We pulled over and Molitor improvised a rope sling of sorts to keep the bikes steadier. He eventually got it down to a few-minutes' science taking the bikes off and putting them back on, but it just seemed like such a hassle for the little I actually rode my bike. So, in Polson, we delivered both my bike and the bike rack and hitch to the local Goodwill and now we are free! free! free! to open our back hatch whenever we damn well please. And Alice's bike easily fits inside the minivan. When we eventually settle somewhere, I'll get a new, much better bike, which I wanted to do anyway.

My take on Polson and Flathead Lake

Thankfully, Molitor has already found  the wherewithal to update the blog about our goings-on in the last few days, as I certainly didn't want them to go undocumented. Polson, MT and staying on Flathead Lake was just fantastic. The spectacular view from our motel room meant that even if we were stuck in our room (because of naps or sheer lack of will to move), it wasn't wasted time. I could have looked at the view all day. In fact, Molitor and I added this to our list of places to return to some day without children so we can spend all day every day aimlessly wandering, napping, reading, and sitting and staring at the scenery.

The local bakery is known for its doughnuts (our motel offered the doughnuts every morning for breakfast, and we went there each day for a lunch dessert) and is kind of reminiscent of the Yum Yum Shop in Wolfeboro (including the disappointing bread). In fact, Molitor and I spent some time comparing and contrasting Flathead Lake to Winnepesauke in terms of desirability for future family vacations. Flathead is less developed (a plus) and, by some definition, is more picturesque. The lake is more round than Winnepesaukee so from any point you can see more of the lake, and the lake's backdrop are imposing mountains that make for simply amazing sunrises. Winnepesaukee has the upperhand in its warmer temperature (Flathead really isn't swimmable by anyone but temperature-immune children) and, in my opinion, the availability of more private, cozier lodging (like Colonial Pines) because there are so many trees right up to the shoreline. Flathead surroundings are, to a large extent, just fields.

Molitor arranged for me to have a massage while we were there, which was the world's nicest gift. Evidently it was a stroke of real luck to get an appointment because the place is sort of a spa destination and the only available time was due to a cancellation; otherwise all the local massage therapists were booked through September!

We couldn't figure out why there weren't more people around, more boats on the lake, when it was so perfect. Evidently we hit the first nice weather in 2 1/2 weeks of cold and rain. And school started while we were there. This time of year is the shoulder season anyway; the massage therapist said the locals consider this the start of fall. As to why more people don't live in Polson: the winter weather sucks. It is foggy for 6 months and you don't see the sun. Check. Won't be moving to Polson, despite its amazing summer and the fact that it seems extremely walkable! Walked to a full service grocery store, several restaurants, the thrift store, and all of (small) downtown.

Thursday, August 28, 2014

Escape From Montana!

We have finally left Montana after three fantastic days in Polson, and a couple days of travel before that. Montana is ginormous. And attractive.

We're now in Idaho in a campground that somehow rubs us both the wrong way. Bad vibes from the lady who checked us in. It's right next to the highway. I am right now at most 100 yards from a busy interstate and it's loud. The cabin is nice enough but a little pricy. They charged us extra for kids (what?! Seriously?!) Nothing big. The campground itself is nice enough. Not as rich with amenities as a KOA (E.G. no pool) and yet not isolated and in a beautiful spot. Nor is it cheap. Surely it ought to be at least one of these?

As a base of operations to explore Coeur d'Alene, it will be fine though. It's perfectly pleasant. Alice has a bunk bed and a playground and we might even do some splashing in the creek. Maybe.

Poor Baby!

Beatrice has developed a little cold. She's been sniffly a few nights and now has a minor cough. Not enough to really bother her or keep her up nights (actually she's sleeping better than usual, probably because she's a bit sick!)

Adding insult to injury, or if you want to get picky, the other way about, she bonked her head TWICE. Once climbing around in the stroller her giant head pulled her nearly to her doom as she stood up too high. The second time just an hour or two later she managed to climb onto a chair, and immediately fell off ass over teakettle.

She's reached an age where her ability to get in to physically precarious situations far outstrips her ability to avoid disaster.

No serious harm as near as we can tell though! She stopped crying both times in a couple minutes and was her usual jolly self. Albeit with some bruises!

Wednesday, August 27, 2014


We were going to take the 90 minute boat tour this afternoon. We napped briskly, got our stuff together, and hustled over in plenty of time only to find that the boat was chartered for a private party all afternoon and evening.

Here you can see the happy miscreants, or at any rate imagine them, happily boarding MY BOAT.

journal update

Someone's been scribbling and scribbling.

Clearly this person has never been on an extended road trip with children

Motel cooking

We have a habit of eating lunch out at some hopefully local joint, and then preparing dinner for ourselves. A home cooked dinner is partly to save money, partly for health, and partly because taking Beatrice out at dinner time would be too hard.

A motel presents certain hurdles for preparing a dinner. Space and equipment mostly. We've eaten a lot of salads, which are fairly easy (or so it seems as I watch Molitor do all the work) and a welcome relief from our meaty lunches. Last night Molitor elevated himself to a real motel room chef. He cooked pasta and green beans in the microwave. It took a while because we had to feed pasta to 4 and all we had was a 4 cup Pyrex to do it, but it was such a welcome dinner.

Our awesome sheet

We brought a queen size flat sheet with us on our trip. We had already downgraded it to toy status back home. It was our Sheet Car, beach blanket, fort material, etc. It had been So Useful. We have used it as a bottom sheet on KOA mattresses (the cabins come without linens), we've used it for play, we used it to rope off or sleeping area when we were all jammed into Dad's cabin on Winnepesaukee, and we've used it in several motels to separate Beatrice's sleeping area from the rest of us (see below). It doesn't do anything for noise of course, but just having a visual separation is amazingly useful for both her and us.

Random video of kids

This is a typical morning. Beatrice is playing and Alice is watching Spiderman and his Amazing Friends! on You Tube, occasionally commenting on it. Nothing special happens, but you do get a peek at the awesome closet nook in our Polson motel room.

Tuesday, August 26, 2014

Musings on motels

We have spent a lot of memorable time in motels, most of it with young children, which gave us ample time and reason to muse on the motel gestalt.

Wall-mounted soap dispensers. Usually only the cheaper or seedier motels have these. The "fancy" motels (Super 8, Best Western) insist on giving you individual packages of soaps and lotions. At America's Best Value Inn, where we're currently staying, shampoo and soap are mounted on the shower wall, as soap is in a public restroom. It is awesome: so convenient and I assume much more ecologically friendly, as there's much less packaging. And I assume that motels do it because it's cheaper all around. It has so many good qualities, it shouldn't give a negative impression of the motel, but it always does, despite the fact that we prefer it! Our brains work in mysterious ways. I haven't seen Breck shampoo in eons...

Free breakfast. Almost every motel (definitely all the national chains and some of the locally owned) provide free breakfast. When we traveled x-country with Alice, Motel 6 offered only coffee. (When free breakfast isn't available, and sometimes even when it is simply to be nice to our waistlines, we have cereal and fruit in the room.) I've discerned what makes a free breakfast good or bad: the presence of protein. Some of them have 20 different items to eat, but they're all (simple) carbohydrates: waffles, french toast, muffins, bagels, cereal, etc. There is simply no way to feel satisfied after such a meal. The rare motel provides protein. If you're going to get fancy, as the Best Western in Wauseon, OH did, you provide steam-table scrambled eggs and sausage. Or if you're my new favorite Howard Johnsons in LaCrosse, WI, you simply purchase giant bags of peeled hard-boiled eggs (and mine didn't even have a green tinge!) and then dump them into a cold bowl. Now THAT was a satisfying breakfast.

Cost. 4 1/2 years ago when we traveled the other way across the country with Alice, we stayed in motels every night. We stayed mostly in Motel 6, as Daddy is in love with them (no complaints from me, either). I remember paying about $50-60/night. Now, travelling with 2 kids (which means we need more least a king bed or 2 queens, and when we indulge, a suite with 2 separate rooms) and in the Northern part of the country, even the Motel 6 for 1 person is going for $75 sometimes. We are spending anywhere between $80 and $120 per night, depending on how fancy (or desperate) we're feeling.

Rags. Several of the hotels in Montana and Wyoming offer rags to patrons, free for the taking. Evidently to clean either your truck, or your boots and guns.This is a new one for us.

Indoor Water Slides. Throughout the midwest, water slides and water parks (often times indoors) in motels/hotels are a huge thing. Because outdoors is warm enough only 2 months of the year? I have no idea where this comes from. We never did take advantage of it (how much would Alice have loved that?), but there's always the return trip.

Monday, August 25, 2014

America's Best Value Inn is Redeemed!

During our x-country trip with Alice when she was a baby, we stayed in a truly horrid America's Best Value Inn somewhere in Arkansas, I think. Near a nuclear power plant. The room had instructions for what to do in event of an explosion. The room was dark and dirty. The free breakfast was off-brand donettes. Ever since I haven't wanted to stay in that motel again. Until now.

Today we drove to Polson, MT today after a rough night and morning. Mommy was not a happy girl. Molitor was trying to find camping cabins and at last suggested we push on another 40 minutes to Kalispell. I ix-nayed that and said no, I want a motel in Polson. Even an ABVI.

Now we have this view of the lake (happy Daddy with Moose Drool brown ale optional) with a pretty big room with a king bed and a kitchenette and 2 odd closets perfect for Alice.

Sunday, August 24, 2014

The Convenience Lifestyle

When we were at home in Norfolk, we used cloth diapers, bought almost all our foods in their natural form, exercised regularly, etc. And I at least couldn't help but judge a bit the people who did otherwise.

Now that we're on the road, short on time, space, and energy, we don't exercise, we use paper diapers, and almost all the food we buy is a convenience food of some sort: baby carrots, miniature cucumbers, those tiny sweet peppers in a bag, prewashed lettuce, cheese sticks individually wrapped in plastic, etc.

Which makes me realize that in many cases it's not really a choice to have a convenience lifestyle, at least not ultimately. If your life is arranged such that you have no time or energy, then this is the only way to get through. We were able to put more effort into our childcare, food, and self-care because we had the time and energy. Which all feeds into our consideration of our future home and future life. We need to choose a town, choose a job, choose a home, and make other values choices that give us most importantly the time to live the life we want. Perhaps at the expense of money, in fact, most likely at the expense of money, but The Convenience Lifestyle doesn't suit us and, more grandiosely speaking, isn't sustainable. 

Hardin, MT to Butte, MT

Yesterday was mostly just a "Get Some Miles" sort of day. We started in Hardin, in the collection of chain restaurants and motels that you usually find right off the freeway, and headed for Butte. We weren't sure we were going to make it because it was 270 miles. But we got an early start (10 a.m. ... no laughing) and did make it. The two notable parts of the day were the scenery and Livingston, where we stopped for lunch. Montana is just spectacular, and I remember being struck by its Big Sky Indeed several years ago (7!) when we came to Yellowstone for our honeymoon. Driving into Butte, you can see the huge open copper mine, which has been mined off and on for 100 years. Anywhere else it would look like horrible human devastation of the landscape, but after seeing the Badlands and the like, it didn't particularly stand out for its austerity). It rained all day, so driving was a bit slower and more tense than usual, but not terrible.

We stopped in Livingston, MT for lunch. Having an internet connection while driving has been, on balance, very helpful. It is, of course, sometimes very frustrating because the connection is slow or nonexistent, but we can use it to search out not only lodging reservations (which led us to the awesome Rodeway Inn last night) but perhaps more importantly, good lunch spots to stop at, instead of being reduced to eating at Denny's or something. Yesterday we visited Pinky's Cafe in Livingston for lunch. The food was fine (they serve only breakfast on Saturdays; "They serve breakfast for lunch! Can you believe it?!") and the town was adorable: a quite large walkable downtown chock a block with cute shops of all sorts. Also a bit mystifying in its source of economic power. Perhaps it's close enough to Yellowstone to get a large tourist trade. It was also 47 degrees and raining. In August. Ugh. Time to acquire some warmer clothing at least for the kids...

We arrived in Butte by 4, I think, and headed straight for Walmart (already documented). Beatrice and Alice, of course, had a ball in Walmart, playing hide and seek either by name or not. Did you know your choices of pajamas for babies in Walmart are either fluffy warm plastic or thin inflammable plastic? Greeeeaat.... But it did have everything we needed, including a very reasonable grocery selection. Our motel is located in Historic Downtown Butte, which is either on its way up or down the boom-bust cycle of copper mining. The old buildings are largely ornate brick constructions and are simply fantastic.

Saturday, August 23, 2014

Our baby doesn't really need to be warm, does she?

We are now in Butte, MT at the Rodeway Inn. (Suite with a separate bedroom with king bed for us, sofa bed for Alice, and an alcove we're hoping to use our extra sheet to transform into yet another separate bedroom for Beatrice. We think this might in fact be the nicest sleeping arrangement we've ever had, even at home in Norfolk.) We had to hit Walmart today in order to buy Beatrice a new car seat. I finally got around to looking at the max height and weight on her infant seat, and, uh, well, she was a tad over. It was fairly obvious just by looking at her.

While we were at Walmart, we also bought lots of food and also several other items we've developed a need for: footie pjs for Beatrice, socks for Beatrice, wipes, etc. After we'd been in Walmart for approximately 10 minutes (and I might be being generous here), Molitor started wigging out. I basically had to force him to stay because yes, our baby really did need pajamas to keep her warm (47 degrees today at noon in Livingston, MT). And yes, we really do need food. I felt quite smug because usually I'm the one itching to get out of Target or Walmart within minutes of entry, whereas today I Was The Mistress Of My Domain and Molitor a mere novice in the face of The Realities at The Intersection of Parenting and Road Trips. 

Food NOT to buy for car trips

Roasted salted cashews
Because while the kids like them alright, and they do provide nice fat and protein, Mommy and especially Daddy cannot leave them alone.

Friday, August 22, 2014

Best, well, most Awesomely Touristy Day Yet

Well, I typed up a tremendously long post about all the awesome touristy things we did yesterday. And then I deleted it. I can't bear to do it all again, so let's see what justice I can do our day yesterday in many fewer words.

We drove through the Badlands, actually stopping to walk on the formations and take pictures once instead of seeing the whole thing at 45 mph. We ended up at Wall Drug, in Wall, SD, for an early lunch. This thing is a huge tourist destination (you might say "trap," but it is unabashedly so) that is signed along Rt. 90 for well over 100 miles. It was totally worth going to because it was fun, served a really quite special homemade donut, and the Hot Beef Sandwich lunch special was yummy to split with Molitor. It had ridiculous attractions like a 6-foot tall jackalope, fake stage coaches, and a water fountain thingy that delighted Alice.

Then on to Mt. Rushmore, which was simply wonderful. I was ecstatic both to see it (it is awesome) and to be able to cross it off my list of Things I Must Do One Day! It's a national monument, but they have conveniently skirted around the National Parks Pass (which we have) by saying that entrance is free, you just have to pay for parking. Hmph. A ton of foreign visitors. Alice really liked two Indian women's saris but was too shy to tell them.

We piled the kids back into the minivan at about 4 pm, waaaay past their nap times. They fells asleep easily (Alice insisted on wearing the Bose noise-cancelling headphones, which really ARE useful when Beatrice is fussing; she wasn't this time so it was just a very adorable affectation), and we did a quick, FREE drive-by of Crazy Horse. We weren't willing to spend the $22 or, more importantly, wake the kids, to see more.

I suggested we push on past Custer, SD, which is right by Crazy Horse to the next town, 30 miles away, Newcastle, WY. It turned out okay, but for a while it looked dicey, because much of that 30 miles was under construction. The driving was breathtaking, though. Classic western landscapes. I think I saw Clint Eastwood in the distance...

Now we're packing up at the Fountain Inn in Newcastle, having spent a pleasant night here. Amazingly, the first motel we tried, the quaint Pines Motel, was sold out! On a Thursday! The Fountain Inn is kind of a relic. There's a defunct giant fountain out front, and also a defunct indoor skating rink on the property, as the front desk clerk told me. I got to explore all of these at 5:45 am as I walked around with a very awake Beatrice. Beautiful morning, though. At 4300 ft. elevation, the sky is spectacular as the sun rises.

Alice and I drove through town to get groceries this morning, and it is a cute, though clearly poor western city. I'd say pretty much everyone drives a Gigantic Truck.


It is not a particularly good commentary on me that, when things go wrong with the car (like our AC system that is spewing water all over the floor of the minivan), my mind goes directly, do not pass Go, to "let's bring it to the shop." Because my lovely husband this morning Googled up how to fix the AC system, spent a few minutes with a screwdriver and a bailing cup, and now our AC system seems to be unplugged and we look forward to a lovely day of no more water spilling onto our feet! And thankfully this climate is So Dry that the carpet should dry out soon.

Thursday, August 21, 2014

Why can't awesome tourist traps have a leafy green-fresh tomato-quinoa salad house specialty?

Today we stopped at Wall Drug, in Wall, SD. They import their young, very attractive employees from the Balkans. At first we were very confused by how this town of 500 people managed to produce So Many Damn Attractive People. Which I'd never heard of, but Molitor had (and Bill Bryson mentioned it in a book he wrote about his cross-country drive, The Lost Continent). And is advertised by about...1...2...a BILLION billboards along Rt. 90. Molitor and I have returned to splitting entrees at restaurants on this trip (we went out to eat so rarely in Norfolk that we got out of the habit), and so we did again here. Their house specialty was Hot Beef Sandwich with mashed potato and gravy. And yesterday when we stopped at Al's Oasis on the Missourri River, we got the house specialty of bison burger with sweet potato fries.

The plates are always delicious (mmmm, salt!) and super fun to eat, and it's great fun to patronize such establishments. But let's just say both Molitor and I were very happy to get to our motel tonight (the pretty umremarkably Fountain Inn in Newcastle, WY) and construct a salad out of romaine hearts, a can of white beans, sweet peppers, and a white wine vinaigrette. Yes, we carry ingredients for a vinaigrette and just make it right on top of the salad (something I learned from Jacques Pepin!).

It's hard to resist getting the house specialty, but what we wouldn't give for one that wasn't beige. 

Admittedly, their homemade doughnut was one of the best I've ever had.

Alice's language

About once a day, Molitor and I stare at one another in pride and bewilderment at something Alice has said. In recent memory:

"If I were a princess, then..." -- How many adults grasp the subjunctive contrary to fact, eh?
"In the process of making <such and such>, I ..." -- Uh, yeah. Again, not many adults work multiple clauses into their conversational sentences.

Miniature golf at the Badlands

This KOA not only has a pool, but it has a miniature golf setup! While Beatrice sleeps and I try to pack up as much as possible (and blog), Daddy is making his elder daughter Very Happy on the golf course.

Lightning storm in the Badlands

As we were going to bed last night (Alice succeeded in not falling off her bunk bed! But only because there was  a big railing there...), Molitor told me to get up and look out the window. We had a distant view of the Badlands, and there was an amazing lightning storm flashing through the formations, which was still going on several hours later when I woke up again. It was awesome.

More fun with old cars

The AC in our car has started dumping water into the passenger-side foot well. I think it's more of an inconvenience than a problem, per se, but I think I see another trip to the car doctor on our horizon. If for no other reason, I'm sure Molitor would rather not have to soak up a couple cups of water with the quick dry towel every day. And in this part of the country, we are definitely working the AC! (But it's dry heat...)

I have already taken the minivan in for an oil change (and, as it turned out, air filter change) in McHenry. 

A minor miracle, grace a Daddy

We have along on our trip our Chromebook, which my brother generously gave to us, um,... about 1 1/2 years ago? It has been fantastic in almost every regard. It has an SD card slot, which we have used a lot to show Alice movies that Daddy has put on the card. The card sticks about 1/4" out of the Chromebook, so back in, I believe, Manchester, NH, during some very vigorous bed jumping, Alice broke the SD card. Not a tragedy, but definitely a hit to our child-entertainment capabilities. Daddy carefully tended to the broken pieces until we got to H's in McHenry, where he finally found some super glue, and glued the plastic case back together. The chip inside was evidently unharmed, and Voila! all our movies are now restored. Yeah, Daddy!

Wednesday, August 20, 2014

KOA Campground near Badlands National Park

We made good time today (relatively speaking) and got all the way to the Badlands National Park. We are staying over night in a cabin at a pretty rockin' KOA campground. Molitor has much experience with KOAs; I have none. I have to say, based on this campground (flies and yellowjackets notwithstanding...which is a BIG "notwithstanding"), I am impressed! It has laundry and bathrooms and shower and dish sinks and all facilities are either new or incredibly well maintained. A pool, a playground, a mini golf, etc. But Best Of All, it has a bunk bed in our 1-room (air-conditioned, thank you) cabin. Alice is over the moon.

Poor Alice got stung by her first yellow-jacket this evening. It was terrible to watch her cry and scream, but quickly applied ice and Tylenol and a story about how Bernard got stung by yellow jackets had her back on her feet in about 15 minutes.

On our drive here, we crossed the Missourri River, and just after crossing we stopped at a gigantic tourist trap, Al's Oasis. A lame recreation of an Old West outpost, but it gave us a damn fine bison burger. We had to drive through part of the Badlands to get to the KOA, though we'll do much more of it tomorrow. They are just extraterrestrial looking. Alice judged them by whether any of the older girls she knew would be able to climb them: Paige and Molly (Finn's sisters) and Emmie and Hayden (Parker's sisters) were all deemed able or, usually, unable to climb certain formations.

Tomorrow we will drive the entire Badlands Loop and then see Mt. Rushmore and Crazy Horse. Still figuring out how to do this while still accommodating the need for afternoon naps.

Tuesday, August 19, 2014

Hormel chili hangover

A while ago we decided to ease the dinner time quandary by buying some dinners in a can and simply heating them on the camp stove or in the motel microwave. This is wonderfully convenient and delicious. Hormel chili, Dinty (Google automatically wrote that as "Dingy" amusingly) Moore beef stew, Chef Boyardee ravioli. We eventually decided to buy canned beans to dilute the dinner, which reduced the bad stuff.

Only problem is that there is So Much Salt it's impossible to drink enough water to match. So the morning after our first Hormel Chili dinner, I woke up with a wicked headache.

Eating out of boxes, cans, and jars to save money and for convenience (and probably to be healthier too, as hard as it is to imagine) gets old pretty quick. Molitor tonight managed to put together a meal with a fresh salad (along with canned soup... There are just some realities of dinner in a motel room). And our on the road lunches of crackers and cheese, raw veggies and hummus, and fruit haven't lost all appeal yet.

(Not exactly) everything he dreamed of, in Sioux Falls, SD

We splurged on another Best Western suite tonight. We're thinking we'll alternate regular room (cheaper) and suite (separate room which makes bedtime easier). This one has a jacuzzi. I have no truck with jacuzzis or saunas, but Molitor loves them. Somehow I don't think he fantasized about 2 kids and a cheese quesadilla...

"The Real America"

Several times on this trip I have asked a local or proprietor where I can get some groceries, and they've pointed me to the nearest Walmart. It would never occur to me to buy my food there (and back in Norfolk I think only one, maybe 2, of my friends did it on a regular basis), but I'm guessing it's a heck of a lot more common in, say, Sioux Falls, SD.

Fast friend

Before we came to McHenry, Alice said she hoped that H would become her friend, too, not just mine. Yesterday as we were preparing to leave, she asked me, "Mom, can I come back here without you and Daddy when I'm old enough to drive?" Mission accomplished!

Monday, August 18, 2014

"I can't fall asleep!"

Alice has perhaps been spoiled in going to bed for naps or nighttime because her Daddy frequently not only reads to her and tells her a story, but also rubs her until she falls asleep. To be fair, I often "do the sinking into the mattress technique" until she's asleep. During this trip, we have often been too tired to give her the full bedtime routine and so I, at least, will leave her in bed still awake. She will then cry and whine that she can't go to sleep. Sometimes, however, she will actually go to sleep (for a nap) for at least an hour, either in a bed (like at Aunt Eva's) or in the car (like today), wake up, and then start crying piteously that "I couldn't fall asleep!"

McHenry, IL

We just finished a 3-day stay with my old friend H and his friend Hippie who own a farm in McHenry, about an hour northwest of Chicago. We arrived last Thursday evening but H didn't return from work in NYC until Friday evening. Hippie was a very generous host in the meantime (and throughout the duration of our stay). We left this morning, having had the benefit of 3 full days to cook our meals, entertain the kids easily, spend time with H and H, and catch up on stuff that needed to get done, like getting the oil changed. It was a wonderful and rejuvenating stay, and I hope it's not another 7 years until I see H again, as I last saw him at our wedding!

I know H from our time together at an old employer -Thought Works - and Hippie worked there too, but I'd never known him. This was a nice opportunity to get to know him. One thing is for sure: he is excellent with 4 year olds. He led Alice through all the chicken tasks, accepted her help picking greens from the garden, and jumped endlessly in the trampoline with her. Molitor and he could nerd out about computers. And he appreciatively ate whatever I cooked, so... instant ingratiation.

H and Hippie seemed quite willing to do their own thing (seemingly an endless list of farm maintenance... Remind me to never own a farm) during our visit, which was lovely because then we didn't have to worry as much about interrupting their lives. The weather was amazing. I had expected nasty hot summer weather and instead got weather that required blankets at night (except for H, who requires AC when it reaches 75).

And now we are in LaCrosse, WI, in a Howard Johnson's, praying that Beatrice will finally go to sleep so we can too. At the farm, we all slept in the same room (in fact, it was Hippie's room... he slept downstairs on an air mattress... because evidently he's incredibly nice) and it worked fine. It turns out all we need is a separate room to decamp to while Beatrice falls asleep... which is of course what we don't have in a motel. Gonna have to splurge on a Best Western suite again...

On our drive, we toured briefly through Univ of Wisconsin at Madison because both of my parents went there for graduate school and Molitor's father taught there (at the same time my father was there, I think). It was a very pretty area. And you could see enclosed walkways connecting buildings because evidently it's Really F'ing Cold there in winter.

We are now pressing westward pretty aggressively (a relative term when you can spend at most 5 hours driving with the two girls each day) with the goal of getting to Mt. Rushmore, Crazy Horse, the Badlands, etc. And hope to arrive in Vancouver by the end of the first week of September.

And up to date finally!

And this brings us up to the present, journal wise, until some prat write some more.

Further Journal Update

Internet access and time both being somewhat variably available, there gets to be a bit of a backlog. We're still not caught up. Close, though!