2,200 miles. 6 states. 1 cat and a grabber.

My wife said I should blog again. She’s probably right. Actually, she’s always right. At least that’s what I tell her to keep her off my back.

Remember the pears?

Anyway, here we go. I thought about blogging about being a PhD student but quickly realized that was too boring. In fact, yawn, I can barely stay awake for it myself.

Then I thought I would blog about food. It’s one of my favorite topics after all. But then I realized that since I love mac ‘n cheese out of the box and Dominos pizza, people would probably take their foodie aspirations elsewhere.

Finally, I settled on snakes….*

…which we have had absolutely no dealings with over the past four months except for a brief encounter with a corn snake at the Virginia Living Museum during our big summer trip to Newport News, VA.

Virginia Living group photo

Above: Group photo at the Virginia Living Museum

We got back from this trip a week ago. We stopped along the way in Aurora, OH and Washington D.C. Here a few highlights from the trip:

  1. We learned a lesson from a camping trip a couple months ago to Door County, Wisconsin. We had hoped the kids would remember the s’mores and fresh air. All they remembered was the 4 1/2 hour drive. To save $10,000, I had bought a car without a built-in DVD player, but after our trip to Door County, I was beginning to wonder if I had made the wisest choice. After that trip, whenever we got in the car, our youngest wanted to make sure we weren’t driving to “Wistonsin” again. So to prepare for 14 hours of driving, we bought a car headrest DVD player from Wal Mart. It was a lifesaver and it was $9,930 less than $10,000.
  2. I deeply appreciated hospitality. We were hosted by two families and visited another, and I was thankful for their generosity and warm welcome. It really is a gift to the traveler.
    Ohio group photo
    Above: Fun in Ohio
  3. It’s the little things. Our youngest turned 4 during our trip. We told him we’d celebrate with our friends in Ohio on our return trip. He insisted that he wanted to celebrate early in Virginia because (of all things) that house “had a grabber.” A grabber is a technical term for a plastic picker-upper toy that can squeeze small objects with a robot-like pincer and, well, pick them up. Hence, a grabber. We left the grabber house and a couple days later landed in Ohio for his birthday only to find out that they had just purchased, of all things, a grabber. Happy Birthday. God was listening even if his parents weren’t.
    Elijah Bday
    Above: A birthday to remember, complete with grabber (not pictured).
  4. My kids now want video games. In fact, they’d be happy to get in the car and drive seven hours back to Ohio if it meant they could play them again.
  5. My kids now want a pet cat, also thanks to our friends in Ohio. We’ve explained that our university housing rules do not allow pets (at least we get out of being the bad guys, barely). This has only slightly deterred them. Today they said they wanted to let  a misguided fly stay in our house so at least they’d have a pet fly. I told them I’d kill it.
    Above: The cat in question
  6. Russians, Russians, everywhere. Most of my ESL students here in Chicagoland are Slavic. Nevertheless, it felt a bit odd to be surrounded by Russians at a beach on Virginia’s Eastern Shore. I guess its a sign I need to keep up my language skills.
  7. A bus saved us from our dastardly plans to walk forever in Washington D.C. Although our headrest DVD players work well for long drives, they don’t work at all for long walks. Without Curious George on the screen to distract from the monotony and without AC to beat the heat and humidity, there was nothing to do but trudge and sweat up and down the Mall. (See photo below.)
    Isaiah tired DC
    I even bought snow cones to head off a rebellion (see below), but that was short-lived.
    DC Snow Cones
    When we had made it halfway to the Lincoln Memorial, we were through. I was about to shell out $20 for a bike taxi when my wife had the brilliant idea to catch a bus. Not only was it cheap, but the kids thought it was the coolest transportation in the world. In short, we saw Lincoln and made it back to our hotel while saving our legs.
    Above: The Awesome Bus
    Above: Proof that we made it to see Lincoln
  8. On our last day of driving, we hit thunderstorms, road construction, and traffic. We seemed to inch toward home as the minutes and hours ticked by. I looked at my wife and wondered out loud: “What were we thinking?” I was so tired of driving. But that memory will undoubtedly wear off (vacation amnesia), and next summer we’ll probably find ourselves driving to Quebec or Maine or London or somewhere.


*This introductory section was written maliciously and pseudonymously. I can’t tell you who forced me into this, but her name rhymes with Tabby Need.


2 thoughts on “2,200 miles. 6 states. 1 cat and a grabber.

  1. Vacation amnesia, camping amnesia, pet amnesia…. loved it all! And that is exactly why Grammie and I decided to but the Expedition with a DVD player! I really miss Twenty Questions, sing a longs and Your Story Hour!

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