Sunday, August 13, 2006

There's No Place Like Home

As originally coined by Miss Dorothy in the Land of Oz, there’s no place like home! After a wonderful two and a half weeks traveling all around this beautiful country of ours, I am so glad to be back in our peaceful little townhouse in Savoy.

Beginning backwards (kind of an oxymoron, don’t you think?), the trip home from Utah was quite a hoot. Brooklyn unfortunately caught a dose of the flu and woke up wailing in the middle of Wyoming. Not knowing what was wrong, we pulled over at a rest stop to let her out of the car. I was carrying her inside when all of a sudden, whoops, she lost her breakfast (and last night’s dinner too, judging by the mushrooms) in a murky puddle on the sidewalk. The police officers walking behind us had to dodge out of the way to avoid the foul danger zone. Yuck! We felt so bad for our feverish little girl who typically has a stomach of steel. Our sympathy was matched only by our gratitude for the fact that the disaster didn’t happen in the car. I feel fairly certain that the stench would have caused pregnant me to toss my own cookies as well.

All things considered, however, Brooklyn was quite a good car traveler. In fact, when we finally arrived in Omaha at 11:00 at night, she whimpered “car, car, car” until we let her crawl back into her car seat. Throughout the course of our long trek, she adopted the Andrus Honda Odyssey mini-van as her very own, and was sad to leave it behind.

Happy car passenger as she might be, I don’t recommend taking Brooklyn for any long trips on the train. Since Christy needed Jason’s help in Chicago, Brooklyn and I took an Amtrak train from Union Station to Champaign. The trip got off to an auspiciously rocky start, to say the least. As the train jolted from the station, Brooklyn lost her balance, fell down, and gashed her eye. As I rushed Brooklyn off to the bathroom to stop the bleeding, I was horrified to discover that I didn’t even have a binky to console her with. After eight hours of car travel, an additional two and half hour train ride can seem like an eternity, especially with a noisy, tired, grumpy, and pained nineteen month old. To get the full picture, you have to understand that every seat on the train was full, and I am getting so large that Jason thinks of me when he hears the “Hippopotamus Rock.” It must have been quite a sight to watch this pregnant lady waddle back and forth along the train, trying to console a whiny blue-eyed blond with a bloody forehead and matted car-seat hair. It was only 6:30 p.m. when we finally reached our destination, but I was exhausted and ready for bed. There’s no place like home!

Well, enough of about our travel fiascos. The truth is that the happy moments far out-numbered the traumatic ones--they’re just not nearly as interesting to write about. Here were some of my favorite parts of the trip:

· Going camping with Grandma Susie and Grandpa Charles up by Bear Lake. We had a fabulous time picking huckleberries in Immigrant Canyon, visiting the newly remodeled Paris Tabernacle, and trekking up and down a thousand stairs in Minnetonka cave. We swam, roasted smores, and even saw “Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat” at Pickleville Playhouse. Brooklyn was mesmerized! We also took a short but beautiful hike to see Paris Springs. The journey was made even more memorable when Grandpa Charles lost his balance (and his hat) crossing the stream. On such a hot day, the icy water must have been refreshing!

· Taking a trip with Susie to visit the dinosaur park in Ogden. Brooklyn thought the life-size dinosaur models were fairly interesting, but she was most fascinated by the dirt along the trails. After throwing it, rolling in it, and building towers with it, she finally resorted to lying on her belly and lapping it up like a cat. Strange child...maybe she needs more iron in her diet.

· Visiting Brad, Eliza, Jane, and Bruce in Provo. It’s amazing how much Bruce and Brooklyn look alike! You know, people have told Jason and I that we look like each other, and we have a very happy marriage. Maybe those two could try it...

· Going on a real date to see “Man of La Mancha” at the Eccles theater. The production was tremendous. Cheesy as it sounds, it truly inspired me to have the courage to pursue my own impossible dreams. (Remind me of that in a few months when I’m in graduate school with a toddler and a newborn.)

· Attending the Logan temple with Jason and eating one of Charles’s famous blackberry shakes. Being far away geographically from a temple has helped us better appreciate the blessings of temple attendance. What a special experience to return years later to the place you were wed, feeling just as in love as the day you were married, and even more certain that the right answer is “yes.”

· Going on morning walks with Susie and picking yummy green beans from the garden.

· Spending two wonderful days in Omaha with Grandpa Kay. Thanks to his bountiful garden which the rabbits have mysteriously shunned this year, we ate lots of yummy gazpacho soup and picked the first pumpkins of the season. We rode the carousel at the zoo, played in the wading pool, saw the new Joseph Smith movie at the Visitors Center, walked through Fontanelle Forest, visited Randy Brown’s monumental home, and ate gyros at King Kong. I even had a chance to pamper myself with a pedicure. Now if only I could see my toes...

As you can see, we truly did have a wonderful vacation. Yet as grateful as I am for all of the wonderful memories, it’s still good to be home.

Here's Brooklyn bonding with the gorilla after enjoying a gyro at Omaha's "King Kong" Restaurant.

Aren't carousels fun? This picture was taken at the Omaha Henry Doorly Zoo.

Brooklyn and Grandpa Charles both thought that breakfast was the best part of camping.

Finally, here's a multi-generational picture taken with great-grandma and grandpa Hansen.