Tuesday, August 21, 2007

Day 3 - Kansas City to St. Louis

Monday August 20, 2007
total miles 303
total travel time 7 hours
states: Kansas, Missouri, Illinois

We took it easy this morning since we stayed up late last night. The kids, of course, were up long before the grownups wanted to be, so I very thoughtfully (do you sense the foreshadowing?) decided to take them all out for a walk so that the other three adults could sleep. Being a police officer, John is very security minded. Quietly I opened the door, and “Screech screech screech!” I set off the alarm. Oy! I am so thankful I have such a loving and forgiving family.

John whipped up some biscuits and gravy for breakfast, which the kids had never eaten, and which they really enjoyed. We left at 11:00, bound for St. Louis. Thanks John and Mel... now it’s your turn to enjoy some Texas hospitality. Come on down!

After getting lost in Kansas City and buying a MOST delicious cup of chai, we found our road and headed east. On the road, we learned about Missouri history, including the Pony Express. We started memorizing state capitals, and launched the license plate game. I started reading The Autobiography of Benjamin Franklin aloud. We stopped in Columbia, MO to give the children a chance to play. Little Guy (with much help from his big brother) had his first big playscape experience:

We drove into St. Louis around 5:15 but it was 6:00 before we reached Stephen’s brother Chris in the suburb of O’Fallon, IL.

We ordered pizza and all fell into bed pretty early.

Day 2 -Oklahoma City to Kansas City

Sunday, August 19, 2007
total miles 387
total travel time 7 hours 45 minutes
states: Oklahoma, Kansas

This morning Jen fried up some more lumpia for us to take on the trip... oh YUM!!! It was SO wonderful to have time to spend with Jenny and her boys; it had been more than 10 years since I had seen her and my kids had never met her! Thanks for your hospitality Jen.. you and the boys are always welcome in Texas!

We left Jenny and the boys at 9:30, later than planned, as we waited for a storm to pass (thank you Tropical Storm Erin).

We have a theme song for the trip, which Stephen played for us this morning as we drove. I love singing with Willie:

On the road again
Just can't wait to get on the road again
The life I love is makin' music with my friends
And I can't wait to get on the road again
On the road again
Goin' places that I've never been
Seein' things that I may never see again,
And I can't wait to get on the road again.

On the road again
Like a band of gypsies we go down the highway
We're the best of friends
Insisting that the world be turnin' our way
And our way
Is on the road again
Just can't wait to get on the road again
The life I love is makin' music with my friends
And I can't wait to get on the road again

North out of Oklahoma City we headed, and on into state #3, Kansas. Here’s what Kansas looks like from the Interstate:

We stopped in Wichita for gas and a lunch break. We got gas at this place; the name cracked me up:

In Wichita we also made a Starbucks stop, went to a grocery store for lunch supplies/ice, and then to a park so the kids could get the wiggles out.

We pulled into John and Mel’s driveway in Kansas City at 5:15pm. John gave us a tour of their lovely home... they have put so much into this house; it’s great! Then we went to Arthur Bryant’s, the famous Kansas City barbecue place. Yum! Here’s Little Guy chowing down on a rib:

On the way there, Stephen saw a brew pub called Granite City, so since he is interested in such places (and collects pint glasses from brewhouses) we stopped. Everyone else went in while I stayed in the car with the baby. After a bit I followed them in. When we came back out to go home we discovered that I had locked the keys in the car, thinking Stephen had taken them with him (he had thoughtfully left them for me in case I needed to open the windows). Thank goodness for AAA!

Here’s my cousin waiting with us to get into the van (and ready to tackle any "bad guys" who might come our way... convenient getting locked out with a corrections officer!):

We really had a great time visiting our cousins. We all stayed up late (John and Stephen until 4:30am) just enjoying each other!

Day 1 - Austin to Oklahoma City

Saturday August 18, 2007
Total miles 427
Total travel time 8 hours
States: Texas, Oklahoma

We finally hit the road, a mere two hours behind schedule (gulp). Between extremely restrained packing and Stephen’s amazing abilities at loading vehicles, we got everything in we wanted to bring, with one exception: Stephen ended up bringing his mandolin except his guitar. He didn’t take the seat out, and we didn’t have to put anything on the roof. It is a bit cramped, but not really that bad. I’ve definitely traveled tighter... I am reminded of a trip in New Zealand on which I had to sit on pillows and couldn’t move my legs... remember that Mom, Dad and Dave?

All loaded up and ready to go:

We started by going the back way to the highway so Stephen could show me all the new natural gas pumping rigs that have popped up in our vicinity. This is, as you can imagine, something of a disappointment to us. At this point there aren’t any particularly close to us, but Stephen is worried about the potential for bad smells on the wind.

Little Guy had trouble the last hour or so before we left, and once we started driving fell right asleep. We were only about 45 minutes down the road when The Princess said “Are we almost there?” Stephen and I just looked at each other and laughed. We spent about an hour playing 20 questions. At one point I was thinking “giraffe” and Stephen and The Princess were guessing. They took surprisingly long, but they determined it was an herbivorous animal with horns from Africa that could be seen at a zoo, and at last the questions, “Does it have a long neck?” and “Does it have spots?” were asked. “Finally!”, I thought. Logically the Princess guessed “Is it a reindeer?” More laughter.

We got several hours of road behind us and stopped in West, TX at the famous Little Czech Bakery. I love trying unusual foods, especially when I am traveling, so I had a sausage and sauerkraut kolache, a poppy seed kolache and a cottage cheese kolache. I didn’t manage to eat them all in one sitting, but it was an interesting taste sensation. The rest of the family stuck to the more traditional flavors.

We drove on, with a few more stops for coffee, bathroom and nursing breaks. Little Guy did not sleep in the afternoon, which was a surprise since he seemed really tired. We did have one unpleasant stretch of crying, but he settled after nursing.

At long last we rolled into Oklahoma City, and pulled up to Jenny’s house at 6:00pm. Jenny is my foster sister from the Philippines... this is SUCH a cool story. My mom and dad sponsored her through Pearl Buck when I was a kid, and we wrote periodically. She ended up marrying an American and moving to the states, and became an even bigger part of our family. My mother considers her a daughter, so that makes her my sister!

Now she has two children, ages 16 and 9. It just happened that the 16 year old’s birthday is 8/19, so she cooked a big meal to celebrate. I told her it was like a delicious sampling of all the places she has lived! She made ribs and beef strips and chicken, she made yakisoba (she lived in Japan for 4 years when her husband was stationed there), and she made lumpia, these amazing egg roll-like treats from the Philippines. I ate until I could hold no more!

Road Trip!


It’s 12:38am on Saturday August 18, 2007, and I am sitting at my laptop (I still can’t believe I have a laptop... my birthday present from Stephen) finishing off a pint of Ben and Jerry’s Chubby Hubby ice cream. I am only doing my duty, you know, as mom and wife. In 7 hours and 20 minutes we are leaving on our 4 week American History Adventure Tour, and I’m just trying to make sure I’m leaving things nice and tidy here at home. :-)

We crazy five are heading off into the uncharted wilderness, uh I mean the interstate system, and driving until the children beg for mercy. Well, only a few of the days will be non-stop driving. We are taking a 30 day excursion, schooling on the road and learning about our lovely country. Farmer Boy is studying U.S. History this coming year in our homeschool, so it seemed the perfect time to hit the roads. We’re hitting the books too, of course, since I am the one in charge of planning school and I have a little, um, problem when it comes to books. Let’s just say I heard Stephen talking with someone about bookcases recently and he said “Shhh, don’t let Patti hear you, she’ll just be wanting another one!”

Speaking of books (drool, drool), my neighbor showed up this afternoon with the ENTIRE Cornerstones of Freedom history set to GIVE us! I know you homeschooling moms are jealous now... don’t worry, we have a very liberal lending policy at the Brown Family School Library. Suzanne’s kids have outgrown it and she thought we could put it to use. Oh yes, indeedy! I squealed with glee, let me tell you!

It remains to be seen whether or not we can fit everything into the van. Stephen suggested we take one of the seats out and I think it’s a great idea. We have to fit all the camping gear (tent, stove, dishes, 4 sleeping bags), all the school stuff, clothes for 5 people, guitar, a cooler, and of course, 5 humans! All this in a fairly small mini van with 211,000 miles on it. I told you it was going to be an adventure!!

I know this has mostly been a farm blog. But it is about our adventures (see blog subtitle), and I think this qualifies. It just happens that our adventure for the last three years has mostly consisted of making fools of ourselves in rural Texas. I don’t really know how often I will be able to post the blogs, but I intend to write them every day and post bunches of them when I have access to the internet. Our home access has turned off so I won’t be able to post this until we are on the road.