Road trip, Runza, Raccoon and Remembering

Tap-tap-tap...is this thing on?


I can't explain it folks, but I have lost momentum in my blogging since my return from way down South. 
And East. 
(and North, but it wouldn't fit)


It has been a vacation-a-palooza this first summer of non-salaried employment. Weird, right? Letting Special Agent carry the load has freed me up to do a lot of touring around, sometimes even with him. I seriously need to stop laying around by bodies of water (both nature and man made) and get to work on something.


Anything.


Oh well, blog it is. Except - I got nothin'. 


Except a lot of crackberry photos and a deep tan and this lonnnng post. I decided that I would let my beloved crackberry tell the tale of the directions I have been going during my hiatus from blog-land. Its a little long winded - please to forgive.


A photo montage, yo. In two parts.


I swear, NO more pictures from the Dominican Republic. The Southern portion of this tour is over.


Let's get started, shall we?


A few weeks after my return from the South, I drove my Mother across several states to say goodbye to my Uncle Hugh, a really special man. 



Dear Uncle Hugh, I'll miss you. 

My mother had just bought a new car and she and I and the baboos hopped in for a thrilling 20 hour drive across scenic Nebraska, Kansas and Missouri. My Mom's new rig was well equipped with a movie player, so traveling with the kids was like traveling with deaf-mutes. Nary a word came from the backseat until I turned the car off and stopped the CD player. I occasionally channeled Clark Griswold, pointing out not very interesting landmarks. 


But no one was listening. (Big Ben, kids...parliament...)


I pointed things out to my Mom, who played along nicely. Even though she has been traveling to this area for at least 40 years.


So.... 

Ahh....the open road. Yes Oprah, I was driving.
Look how straight and empty the road is! 

We are a LOT of bad food on the trip. Traveling the open road is not conducive to healthy eating. By the time it was over I was craving salad. And that never happens. Except taco salad. Yum, taco salad...

Someone INSISTED we eat a "Runza burger" when in
Kansas. So we did. We gave it a thumbs DOWN.
 


This would APPEAR be the same shot as before, but look! 
Construction cones!
Lots and lots of 'em. 

And lots of 'em.....
And...well, you get it.
This was lunch in the Midwest. Not kidding. I stopped at
a roadside clinic for a coronary bypass and liposuction. 

Once in Illinois, we went to my Granny's (My Dad's Mother) house to dump the baboos and I off, so my Mom could help with the arrangements and see her sisters who had also traveled in. The Baboos and Granny and I had a nice time catching up and showing the baboos all of the things I enjoyed when I spent time in the area each summer. Most importantly:


1.  Lightening bugs 

We don't have these in Wyoming,
what a shame





2. Blue eagle-flavored* sno cones

*Not really flavored with eagles.

The next day we attended a few informal events in honor of my Uncle, including a moving, if not pulverizing-ly hot service with military honors. I did not know most of those in attendance, or had not seen them in many years, but I was very proud to say I was Hugh's niece...to 25 people who, after I left said "who the hell was that and why is she so dressed up?"  I did a lot of nodding to strangers who knew me when as my heels sunk into the wet ground and I fanned myself like a crazy person in the stifling heat. The baboos looked like they might pass out. Wyoming kids are not built for humidity. 


In short, we did not "blend".


While at a post-service luncheon at my Mother's childhood church (church ladies put out good grub, yo), a 50 year old group photo from the church surfaced. I enjoyed seeing the faces of my grandparents (who have been gone since the early 1990's), my Mother, Aunts and Uncles. Strangely, none of the family of 8 was standing together in the photo. I believe they must have all rolled out of the service, crammed together on the lawn and had the photo taken. And then I dream that they ate a huge lunch. I  might be having flashbacks from my meal in the Midwest...

Grandpa Arlo, center.
He looks serious, but look closer. There is a smile in there. 
My Mother, on the left. Sassy as always.

Grandma Mary, looking a bit like she was in charge. :-)

The evening service was hosted by some of Uncle Hugh's friends from AA.

Along with his memorable laugh, Uncle Hugh was an accomplished member of AA and spent the better portion of his week driving to several of the little towns near his, picking up recovering alcoholics in his big black Caddy and taking them to meetings. He traveled and spoke at national AA conferences. He worked the program, and truly believed in its success. 

He was proof it could work. 

It was very moving to hear the others in his meeting group speak very frankly to each other about how my Uncle had stumbled and fell himself, and helped others when they stumbled, dedicated to continuing with the program. They joked he was a great roommate since his hearing loss made a good match for snorers, and they knew all about his sisters. His family was there, among his AA family. We held hands with them and said the AA creed. I shook hands warmly with several when I left.

On the way home I was feeling nostalgic so I wanted to take my children by my Granny's old house so they could see where my Dad grew up and where I spent my summers. The problem is, you can't really SEE-see it from the road. 

So I pulled in.
My Granny was a little mortified.
The Baboos were not surprised. They know me too well.

I met and explained my reason for visiting to a young pregnant woman in the yard, flanked by 2 little boys on bikes and a small girl in a dress and mud boots. All were adorable and had the dirt of the day on them. They were more welcoming than they should have been to two carloads of weirdos in funeral wear, barging into their evening. 

The boys showed up how they used the walk to jump their dirt bikes and I told them about the swing we used to have between the yards in the largest tree (don't use old ski rope - story for another day). 
The back yard where I used to collect lightening bugs and  mosquito bites.



My Dad had kept a raccoon for a pet when he was small and had told me stories of his days with Charlie squirrel and Davy Crockett the raccoon many, many times. So, imagine my surprise when....



Yes. They had a pet raccoon!!!. 
In 2011! 
In the City Limits!



Baboo and Davy Crockett II and his small owners

Amid rabies fears, the Baboos and I held the raccoon, since it was karma-riffic about my Dad and all. I held him against my black dress, my heels killing me and tried not to think about washing all of our hands ASAP. 
I had exactly the same look on my face.
And raccoon stink all over my black dress.

The family had saved him from drowning in a water barrel and he was completely tame. I just *KNEW* my Dad Mick was smiling down on my son holding a probably diseased raccoon. 

Ah, Mick. This raccoon's for you.  

We drove to Granny's smiling and quiet, nostalgic about the great stories shared by Uncle Hugh's friends, and the sweet visit to my Dad's childhood home and the one in my memories.

I felt lucky to get to spend a lot of downtime with my Granny Mae, my Dad's mother. She turned 92 in July, but is running at about 75, I think. She still lives alone and (gasp) even drives her younger neighbors to the doctor. 

She is wise and fun and bossy. We are cut from the same cloth, looks-wise and personality both. Being bossy is something I have inherited from her and when she bosses me around and I boss her around... it makes me laugh. 

Dear Mae. I love you. These will be my hands someday.
Even though my dogs were barking from my hooker heels, and we had decided we WOULD NOT go to church Sunday, Mae woke me at 6 am, telling me her conscience had woken her and she thought we needed to go to church. I tried to explain that we hadn't brought proper Sunday clothes, but she quickly reminded me that I had the clothes and shoes, ugh that I had worn to the funeral. Oh joy. 3 inch heels for a Sunday service. 

Again with the blending. 

My Granny has gone to Epworth Methodist Church all of my life, and I have sat in the pews on Sunday many times, through several ministers...one of whom kissed my father. That pretty much ended the church service visits to Epworth for him. 

Yes, I took a photo during church. So sue me. 
While most of you know that church is not my scene, I definitely get the community aspect of congregations, and this hometown church maintains all of the goodness that one would expect. Many came to meet and greet us during a portion of the service and shook our hands with both of theirs while they told us how much my Granny brings to their group and how much my Dad meant to them and how sad they were that he is no longer with us. They also told us how great we looked, which made my feet hurt a lot little less.  

We think Granny brings a lot to our table too, so we kidnapped her and brought her home to Wyoming with us for a visit. The drive home was a little more grueling, since we had done it once and the novelty had worn off. 

Ok, not all of it. There were a few more sights I just couldn't help but capture... 

This is a FAMILY restaurant, ahem. 
I have never seen such a comprehensive "don't pee in the pool" sign. 
I had to see what "classy restrooms" looked like in a gas station
and I must admit, I felt like a debutante while I hovered.
More of this view...zzzzzz
More oversharing signs, this one for a bathroom in a miniscule town
somewhere on a detoured highway in Nebraska. 
Some pretty views...I felt like Dorothy in the Wizard of Oz.
Some NOT as pretty. 

Road warrior, out.

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