|Friday was an early start compared with the past few days. We were out the door of the hotel by 7:15ish so we could get through Customs early and get a jump start on the LONG ride home. We didn't make it all the way in one day though. We ended up stopping for a short time to visit Chris' Uncle Joe, Aunt Mary, Cousin Cynthia, Cousin Holly, and her 3 little boys in Mohawk, New York. Hope had met the boys only twice before, but seemed at ease with them. After Uncle Joe fed her cookies and lemonade, she disappeared into the livingroom to watch tv and play with the boys. We stayed for a little over an hour. Uncle Joe and Aunt Mary were gracious enough to invite us out to eat with them, but we knew we had a lot of miles to cover before night, so we said our goodbyes and were off.
Hope has had another growth spurt (this time outwards instead of upwards), and we could no longer button any of her capris or non-elastic shorts. So, we planned our next rest stop for the Wrentham, Massachusetts outlets. There weren't any spectacular bargains this time around, but, Hope's wardrobe was close to being non-existent at this point, so we had to stock up on a few new pairs of shorts, undies, and a new pair of sneakers.
By this time, it was 7:30 PM, so we made the decision to spend the night at Aunt Maggie's house in Leominster, Massachusetts. We had already spoken with family during the day discussing this option, so it wasn't a last-minute decision by all-means. I was slightly disappointed to spend one more night on the road because that meant one more day away from my pets. But, I knew Chris could help the relatives with their pool, Hope would have the opportunity to see Aunt Maggie again (whom she loves to pieces), and we would be able to get out of the car soon.
After helping out with a few tasks at Aunt Maggie's, we drove the last leg home this afternoon (Saturday). The dogs and kitties were very happy to see us; in fact, Bowdoin has hardly left my side since we've gotten home. I've already done 3 loads of laundry, grocery shopping has been done, hot tub has been filled, lawn has been mowed (still need to do weed whacking), and I have started to find my vegetable garden through all the grass and weeds. Tomorrow's tasks include cleaning the fish tank in good shape, continuing with laundry, keep weeding the gardens, and spend some time with my fur babies.
Highlights of the trip:
- Laura Ingalls Wilder homesites
- eating cheese curds for the first time in Wisconsin
- meeting Windwalker, a Native American medicine woman and chief
- watching Hope play on the dunes at White Sands National Monument
- watching the bat flight at Carlsbad Caverns
Lowlights of the trip:
- experiencing tornadoes multiple times (one at our campground in South Dakota, the others while driving in Missouri)
- breaking my finger at Plum Creek while trying to create a POSITIVE memorable experience for me and my daughter
- scratching my rear windshield somehow by having the car backpack scratch against it (we think it happened in Monument Valley due to all the dust/dirt)
- lack of wildlife photography in Yellowstone National Park
States I want to explore more of:
- South Dakota
- New Mexico
States I can take or leave for now:
I am very grateful for having spent so much time with my mother, daughter, and husband. Life doesn't always provide opportunities such as this, so I am glad we were able to take advantage of what started out as a rotten situation. I'm sorry Chris' original plans were ruined and he wasn't able to enjoy the northern portion of the route, but different memories were created for both Hope and myself.
I am also very thankful that I have such great neighbors. If it weren't for them, I never could have left home for so long. Children in the neighborhood took care of my kitties for me, fed my fish, and everyone kept a close eye on the house.
I want to thank my in-laws for driving Chris to the airport, dropping his car off at home for us so we didn't have to drive to Saco to pick it up when we got home, and for watching our dogs over the 4th of July weekend.
And, last of all, I want to thank my parents for watching the dogs the remainder of the time and for checking in on our house periodically. I also want to thank Dad for allowing Mom to come along with us for such a long period of time, and I want to thank Mom for putting up with my crankiness towards the end of her leg of the trip. (a combination of idiot drivers and lack of good sleep/alone time tend to make me cranky.)
I truly am blessed to have so many special people in my life. There are some days when you don't realize how many special people you have surrounding you, but this trip has helped me remember how lucky I am.