Archive for the ‘vacation’ Category

Belle, MO

July 31, 2008

SS and I went to scenic Belle, Missouri last weekend to visit our dear friend Chad. We frequently take our children on small trips so we are accustomed to getting lost travelling together and we always have a good time. Even when things go disastrously wrong. (Like the time two guys tried to break into our hotel room, while we were in it! Or the time, leaving a Chicago museum, that we got lost and saw a drug deal go down. Or the time SS hit a post in a parking lot and flipped me off!)

Wow, and I’ve been thinking I have nothing to blog about!

Luckily this trip was highly successful. For example, I caught four large bugs.

I may be driving my friends crazy with my new bug obsession. Truth be told, I’m a big weenie chicken when it comes to bugs. Well, at least I WAS until I started helping Taylor with his freshman biology “bug project.” Now I am like the “Dog the Bounty Hunter” of bug collection.

But taller, without the bad hair, or the propensity to drop the “N” bomb.

And my tools are ziplock bags, rubbing alcohol and my super fast reflexes instead of snitches, handcuffs, and tasers.

Okay, I’ll shut up about the damn bug catching for a moment, because our vacation was a success for other reasons, too. We met one of Chad’s benefactors at the artist’s residency, Katherine, and she was very kind and told us interesting stories about her life. “Interesting” as in, how can so much bad stuff happen to one person, during one life?

We drank Boones Farm wine, a highly sophisticated “apple wine flavored beverage” and played a couple of games of drunken Scrabble. The rules of drunken Scrabble are different in that you can play misspelled words and, also, abbreviations and slang. Naughty, naughty slang.

We went to a mall theatre, that, oddly, smelled like a nursing home and saw “Mama Mia.” It was the gayest movie ever! In a good way.

Then we went to Border’s and Chad talked, several times, to a cute boy, presumably to get directions to our next destination. (An “of age” cute boy, of course).
“How do we get to Missouri Avenue?”
“It’s the street in front of the store.”

Later he had asked again, to clarify:
“How do we get to Missouri Avenue?”
“It’s the street in front of the store.”

We left Border’s and went on a scenic tour of downtown Jefferson City; 6:30 pm on a Monday night is not a bustling time in good old “Jeff City.” (As those “in the know” call it.)

We did find one restaurant open and sat outside, sipping wine and flirting conversing with the waiter, Vince.

At the end of the meal, Chad, as collected and confident as could be said, to Vince, “I’d like to give you my number.”

Wow. SS and I were impressed. He was so casual, assertive, without being overbearing.

We stopped to get gas on our way home, and I caught a bug! Just imagine-middle aged woman, baggy in hand, chasing a large, scooting bug, across a parking lot, while squealing. The other gas pumpers were amused. The one with a car engine possibly on fire, yelled “Eat it!” (Yes, while you are pumping gas hearing the words “Is it on fire?” coming from the car next to you is a bit troubling.)

The next day SS and I had to head home. We had decided to make a pit stop at a St. Louis Trader Joe’s on the way; Mapquest said it only added 14 minutes and a few of miles to our trip. Fourteen minutes turned into three hours, due to an infelicitously placed roadblock, an unfortunate detour through a crowded neighborhood, and a deplorable dearth of restaurants in the area of our destination. We finally found a Chinese restaurant, ate a forgettable meal, and made it to Trader Joe’s.

The rest of the ride to Washington was uneventful. I dropped SS off at home, and headed back to P’ville, passing through awful flashfloods in East Peoria and arriving home to “What’s for dinner?” from my daughter.

A highly successful trip, not only due to the giant cockroach, grasshopper, green shiny beetle thingy, and random smelly bug in my glove compartment, but because SS and I were able to spend a lot of time with our wonderful friend Chad.

Memphis vacation

April 16, 2007

Our Memphis vacation was very nice.  You couldn’t tell it by the sullen looks the kids gave the camera but I think they had fun.

We ate at Texas de Brazil and Dyers.  Dyers is a diner and had a pretty small menu, burgers, chicken strips and shakes.  We ordered and I continued to peruse the menu.  The back had the tale of Dyers “ageless grease.”  They have been using the same grease (strained nightly) for the past 90 years.  Ugh.  I really couldn’t eat much after reading that.

Memphis, TN travel advice

March 19, 2007

Hi. We are thinking of going to Memphis, TN for a couple of days during Easter break.  Any advice on hotels, travelling, and worthwhile or overrated tourist attractions? Thanks, Jennifer

Washington DC trip, part 3

January 16, 2007

The flight was fine, a little turbulent, but not bad. 

Washington DC was grey and rainy.  Our charter bus was waiting and we headed to the Reagan building for lunch. It was the first of many food court meals.  The boys mainly ate nachos, pizza or chinese. We tried some gelato, yummy, and then headed out to Arlington Cemetary.

Still raining

Taylor had been picked to help lay the wreath at the tomb of the unknown soldier.  He was really excited about this and looked very handsome (as did the other 3 boys) in “dress” everything-shoes, shirt, slacks.

The linear white rows of tombstones were a visual spectacle that is hard to put into words.  Imaging each as the life of a young man who died an unfortunate, early death and the family that surely missed him was quite sobering.  The rain, though cold and bothersome, seemed somehow appropriate.

 The soldiers at the tomb looked unbelievably young, somber, erect and disciplined. The boys in the ceremony did fabulously well. 

After the ceremony we saw the burial sites of JFK and RFK. 


Washington DC trip, part 2

January 12, 2007

I was seated on the bus directly behind the driver, Jesus.

The teacher that coordinated the trip sat on the floor next to the driver because he needed directions; yes, the professional bus driver needed directions to CHICAGO, the largest city in our entire state.

Despite running seriously late our driver drove at a very, let’s say, methodical pace.  Until we reached a nearby downtown area and he decided to pass a semi by driving in the oncoming lane;  I think this was the first time I screamed.

The next hour or so was uneventful.  We drove with the increasing traffic on the interstate between central IL and Chicago.  Approaching the suburbs the traffice became much more congested and eventually traffic was at a standstill.  Curiously there were several traffic type helicopters hovering.  The clock was ticking and the adults on the bus were increasingly worrying that we were going to miss our flight. Calls were made to the tour company; the kids were clueless; the adults anxious.  Jesus must have picked up on the buzz and decided to leave the highway and drive on the shoulder of the road, where the click-click-click indentions are.  It was incredibibly terrifying; especially when the shoulder would turn into part of an on/off ramp (for the interstate) and we would almost collide with cars attempting to merge onto the actual road. Oh, and at one point a semi driver apparently pissed off by our bus “cutting in line” attempted to force us off the shoulder of the road. Another semi wouldn’t let us back on the freeway when we came to the end of the shoulder.  All the while time was ticking; we had less than a 1/2 an hour until our plane was due to take off. 

Eventually we saw the cause of the back-up. Imagine a big-cabbed truck trying to use a large, perpendicular overpass support as a ramp (like a skateboarder); the truck was in such a position and condition that the driver couldn’t have survived.  It was awful, sobering.  We were all on our cozy bus (with our crazy driver) going on a trip, worrying about missing a flight, when some poor schlub had lost his life. 

A mile or so later we saw a car on fire; probably overheated from the wait.  Finally off the interstate and  another visible traffic accident.

We arrived at Midway a few minutes past the time our flight was to depart.  The tour group had convinced the airline to wait for 20 minutes but we still had to unload the kids, check our luggage, wait in line, go through security and make it to our gate. 

The line was huge. 

Security was tight; we had to take off our shoes; belts set off metal detectors; kids had to get wanded. 

Our gate was far away (B-14?).  We ran to it carrying our shoes; not sure who was where (we split up into several security lines); many of the kids had never flown and didn’t even know what a gate number was.  Tay and I got split up. 

Getting to the plane was a victory; everyone made it; the passengers cheered.  (I think more for the fact that the plane could leave then they were overjoyed at travelling with a large group of tardy middle schoolers and their obviously insane chaperones).



Washington DC trip, part 1

January 12, 2007

This last fall (Oct 2006) I went with my son’s middle school on a trip to Washington, DC.  It was interesting, exhausting, wonderful and exasperating, all at once.

A few facts: There were 33 seventh and eighth grade students and 12 adults (only two men) on this three night, four day trip to Washington DC, the Naval Aademy in Annapolis, and Baltimore, MD.

The first day began at 1:45 a.m. with a calling tree to make sure everyone was up.  We met at the school (outside in the cold) at 2:30 to meet our charter bus to Chicago Midway; unfortunately our bus driver was an hour late. 

My wait was highlighted by an interesting conversation with one previously unfamiliar 7th grade boy. 

Me:  “I’m hungry; I wish I would have had time for breakfast.”

Boy:  “I didn’t eat.  I didn’t want poop to come out of my butt on the bus; I don’t want to have to go to the bathroom on the bus.”

I can’t imagine what the look on my face must have been at this point.