Friday, December 10, 2010

Ta-da....finally, right?

Well, the sewer hose broke again. It compelled me to finally write y’all an update. Not that I am implying that thinking of you, my treasured friends, makes me think of doodie; but that you have been with me through all the ups and downs of this monumental journey and when this “down” came crashing upon me (literally) I felt the need to reach out to my loyal support network. Thanks for being there, buddies, I feel better already. (Well, that and the shower helped tremendously.) We have been rolling along through the middle of the country since I last posted. I would love to post some pictures to go along with these stories, but my camera is choosing to be difficult again this week. (If any of you would like to pursuade Torben to buy me a new Nikon for Christmas, I would be eternally in your gratitude). We spent some time in one of our all time favorite campgrounds, and while I am opting not to divulge the specific location, I will tell you that we love the open expanse of nature near the heartland of a beautiful welcoming city. (My only clue: if you want really spectacular camping; check out the Army Corps of Engineers sites). In an effort to keep some of the gems of this country underdeveloped and open to the true wilderness aficionados that lurk among us, my lips are sealed. But it was fabulous. We hiked along wooded trails near a huge river. The dogs chased squirrels to their hearts’ content. (Don’t worry, all the squirrels successfully escaped.) Torben and his family have held football season tickets at the University of Florida for nearly 30 years (if not longer). (Secretly, I chose to marry him based on this premise- I love, love, love football.) Being away from the intensity of the Swamp was something that I knew would dampen his spirits come fall. It did not, however, squelch any of his emotional intensity for the game. We have often talked of the pageantry of the college games that we miss attending, but have been EVER SO HAPPY not to be in attendance at this year’s catastrophic games. Some of our friends are a little superstitious and are convinced that our empty seats have mojoed the Gator winning streak. We have the satellite TV package that allows us not to miss a game, but still there is a big difference between watching a game on TV and attending one live. The roar of the crowd, the blare of the band, ninety thousand people cheering in unison, it’s all so much fun to get caught up in. So we ventured to Arkansas State University for some tailgating and football. We parked the bus right in their parking lot, and walked the dogs around the track, which certainly turned a few heads. The tailgating was pretty poor, we were told it was due to the fact that it was the opening day of hunting season (boo!) We did meet some lovely people, who had Allegro Buses just like ours! (Although minus the critters, theirs smelled a bit more pleasant). It was great to be welcomed with such enthusiasm and meet people who love RVing and football as much as we do. We must have rubbed some off that Gator mojo on them, because they didn’t win either. From there we worked our way back up through Kentucky, which I am not ashamed to say always surprises me, it a good way. Being from Indiana I often heard jokes that referenced our southerly neighbors in a non-too-flattering way (think wheat grass poking through the hole in the mouth where the teeth used to be). And, ok, so there is a little of that there, but there is also much more. One of the prettiest state capitol buildings is in Frankfort, Kentucky. The history in this little-big town is overwhelmingly impressive. There is a rather large river that flows (and sometimes floods) through town and an idealic cemetery perched on a bluff overlooking the river and the town. Let me just say, I love cemeteries, some people may find that a bit morbid, but I have always been drawn to the mystery that lies beneath the headstones. Blocks of marble carved with loving sentiments as an ode to the lives once lived, regal names etched in stone that mark the date of their birth and death, and I think, surely that cannot be the synopsis of their lives. What happened in between? Isn’t that the juicy stuff? The things that actually make a LIFE? As a child I was often baffled by this void, so I would make up my own stories about the people whose names I read. I thought that if I audibly spoke their names, that I could somehow evoke an image of their long forgotten lives or in some way pay homage to their everlasting spirit. Childish or not, I loved the connection this gave me to the people of the past. The cemetery in Frankfort is particularly old and all but rolled out the red carpet begging me to explore the dates of the headstones laid across its sloping hills. Guess who we found? In the loveliest of spots, under a blanket fallen leaves and overlooking the westerly river and hills was none other than Daniel Boone and his wife! That was one headstone I didn’t have to make up stories for. No doubt your head is also swirling with images of the rugged and brave frontiersman who helped claim the boundaries of this nation. History is so cool. We often frequent happy hour a local establishments to chat it up with local folks to learn about the area. We struck it lucky at a bar in downtown Frankfort. My mother always told me “you never know who you’ll meet, so be nice to everyone”. Thanks for that lesson Mom, we scored big! After talking football and history with a guy for nearly an hour his wife walks in and tells us about the family bakery. BAKERY? The music seemed to skip a beat and my husband’s sugar radar went bezerk. Charlie and his family have run Magee’s Bakery for several generations and they make the good stuff, all from scratch, the way it all should be. We were invited to stop by the next day for some mouthwatering and assfattening treats. I still salivate at the thought of one of their donuts fresh from the fryer, or better yet their cheese danish…reason enough to return to Kentucky. I am sooo serious. Good ol’ Charlie also pointed us in the right direction to a small city museum where we learned that Frankfort was the backdrop for many a movie and childhood home to Johnny Depp (step off ladies, he’s mine!). Charlie, how can we ever repay you? By the way, have I told you how much I love fall? This is the one season that I have truly missed when living in Florida and I had hopes that we would catch a glimpse of its production this trip. Winter, nope, you can have it. Spring, it’s ok. Summer, well everyone loves summer. But fall, oh glorious fall! When the air turns crisp and it seems easier to breath. When the leaves glow with extraordinary splendor. If I were a tree I would want to be a maple. If I have to go into hibernation each year, as many trees do, I would want to go out with a bang, and a maple does. The pointy spread of a five fingered maple leaf turns from green into a tribute to the colors of fire; ever bold deep red and magenta hues with subtle golden glows. It is one of Mother Nature’s finest performances. I found a spectacular leaf that had every color from green in the center to yellow, orange, red, and purple on the tips. I watched it turn brown before I could photograph it to share, and although I wish I had a visual to make the beauty of the leaf last, the experience of being able to actually watch time pass and the leaf fade reminded me that A.) I need to stop procrastinating, and B.)even our finest moments are passing, might as well give it all we got while we’ve got it. You never know who you may inspire. I love the feeling of connection I get to the cycle of life every fall when I behold the changing of the leaves. Although the leaf will decompose, it will one day become nourishment in the ground that the tree will use to live on…and produce more astonishingly beautiful leaves. It’s the compassionate cycle of time passing. I spent an entire yoga session meditating on just that and was ruptured by the enormous sense of love I felt that God was trying to show us in his display of fall. Did you feel it too? From Kentucky we voyaged on up to Cincinnati, Ohio. I haven’t spent much time in Cincinnati, but I remember it being much more welcoming than it currently is. Sorry, sad but true. It has developed into a strong industrial transportation hub, utilizing its highways, railroads and rivers to disperse goods in mass quantities. We didn’t get the warm fuzzies from Cincinnati. I am sure there has to be something wonderful about it…if any of you know, will you fill me in? We made a quick stop in Indianapolis where I caught up with an old college friend who invited me to a hot yoga class. Ever done yoga? In the heat? I adore yoga, but the element of heat really pushes me beyond what I perceive my limitations to be. If you’ve never done it, I wholeheartedly recommend sweating yourself silly while twisting yourself into a pretzel on the mat. Genuine detox, nothing like it. I could hardly walk the next day, but if given the choice, I’d go back for seconds. After an hour and half of treating my body right I was ready to fill it back with toxins, so we shared some wine and caught up on each other’s lives. She has recently been inspired to write a musical. Who wakes up one day and thinks “I want to write a musical?” Laura, that’s who, and it’s one of the many reasons I love her. She’s a journalist and asked me lots of intelligent questions about our journey. I explained that throughout the trip I kept waiting to uncover some huge epiphany that would change the world, and that while the trip was incredible, I was somewhat disappointed by my lack of an earth shaking revelation. She just smiled and said, “well, maybe that’s the revelation.” Simple clarity. After I caught my breath I chewed for quite some time, and not just over dinner. Here’s a good time for a break if you need one, go to the bathroom, stretch your legs, feed your kids, pretend to work so your boss won’t catch you slacking off, whatever….don’t worry, I’ll hold your place. Here’s my quick and dirty position on the holidays: Christmas is a little too commercialized for my taste (I love the essence, but somehow that seems to be lost in the hubbub of shopping) , Easter is a blessing, but a very subdued blessing. Memorial Day should be somber but ironically we party ourselves into oblivion (to remember or to forget?) The Fourth of July I celebrate as the day I met my husband, not for the independence of our nation (although that’s pretty cool too), Labor Day is under celebrated, Halloween creeps me out, but Thanksgiving! Thanksgiving is by far the best. Think about it, one day dedicated to gratitude for the bounty in our lives, a day to spend surrounded by and actively loving our family and indulging in gluttonous overeating. Add in not having to shop for, buy, or wrap a gift, pure joy I tell you! My family always celebrates this holiday with a passion, well, we eat with a passion, who doesn't? Also my mom’s birthday falls in the same week. This year we planned a week long party to celebrate the queen’s birthday, Thanksgiving, and the third (and final?) of Kelly and Troy’s wedding receptions. (Seriously, how many days does a bride get?) We were so fortunate that we could pull up into my parent’s driveway and hang out for a week, instead of the usual dine and dash we have to employ to get back to let the dogs out. My parents still live in the huge house my sisters and I grew up in, in Fort Wayne, Indiana. The fact that the city actually has an old fort is one of, it not the coolest, of its marketing points. When I was living there, the people on our side of town were outnumbered but the stalks of corn. (p.s. Indiana sweet corn =nothing like it, yum!) And I was happy, yet somewhat jealous that a gas station, grocery store, liquor store and yoga gym opened up within a few miles of my parent’s home. Where was all that cool stuff when I was a kid? (not that the liquor store would have made my childhood any sweeter, but you know what I mean). My parents were so excited to have us all home that they had a special electrical outlet installed so that we could hook the bus up for the week. How thoughtful! It was a busy week. Since the family lives all spread out through the country we try to squeeze as much togetherness as possible into our visits. At times it can be a little too much togetherness, but on the whole, I tried to soak up every minute of it. I was able to hold little Beau again and suck in the sweet aroma of baby shampoo (and of course pass him off when the aroma changed to something else). Four year-old Jack and three year-old Bella were in awe of our “house on wheels.” I think to them it was akin to a tree house. They came prancing out early in the morning, still in their footed-pajamas with wild child bed hair to say good morning and set up their toys in our living room. Torben was in heaven playing cowboys and Indians with Jack while Bella made the rounds loving the dogs, terrorizing the cat and curling up in my lap. Every moment I spend with those kids is a miracle. We pack a whole lot of loving and playing into one day. I’m not saying that I love all kids that way, but if you are an aunt or an uncle you know the unconditional love you can shell out for those little munchkins. Somehow the fact that they are an extension of my sister gives them a direct link to the core of my heart, they automatically get to pass Go and collect $200. Every time we’re home my sister’s and I have a secret tradition. As one of us bids adieu to the rest of the family we sneak up (or down) the back stairs and reclaim them for a special middle of the night celebration, just the three of us. I love my sisters in a way I cannot find the words to explain. I adore their inner beauty, I celebrate their joys, my heart breaks for their pains and even through tears they can make me laugh so hard I nearly pee my pants. This gathering was much like the many from our youth, we laughed, we, cried,…we snuck in and out of the house so Mom and Dad wouldn’t hear us...just like old times. Thanksgiving was full merriment-isn’t it always? I roasted our traditional Tofurkey. What? That’s not traditional in your family? Oh, well, welcome to vegetarian feasting at its best. That would be a tofu turkey, and although not quite as big as the two birds my carnivorous family fried, it provided Torben and I with a fulfilling feast that didn’t harm another creature. In addition, we welcomed some new vegetarians to their first meat-free Thanksgiving. Hopefully my cooking didn’t scare them off. (If you’ve ever tried my cooking you’ll know that it is entirely too possible.) My new brother in law was (a little too) excited to start cooking that morning and came into the kitchen exclaiming with vigor “let’s cook this S.o.b. turkey!”. The penguins of Antarctica could have heard my sister scream as her precious little son skipped around the kitchen singing about the S.o.b. turkey. Whoops. Ah well, no permanent damage (that’ll come with adolescence). The day ended with 13 adults crammed into a bathroom watching three kids play in the bath. If that’s not Thanksgiving, what is? The grand finale of the week was the gala reception party for Kelly and Troy and their friends and family that couldn’t join us in Mexico. It was a fun excuse for Kelly to wear her dress again. How many of you brides got to wear your dress twice? (By the way, there is a new wave of “dress” parties in which all the ladies bring their long ago wedding dresses or bridesmaid dresses out for another whoopla – anyone interested? I’ll rent the margarita machine!) Anyway, she looked beautiful, again. She got a little help from Troy’s cousin who expertly airbrushed her make-up. Yup, I said airbrush. I have to admit I was a little nervous about being airbrushed, with the fear that we could look a little like a ripe orange, but thankfully, no fruit were resembled in the outcome. She did a fabulous job on all of us and I would love to post her contact info, but I forgot to get a card! Also, it was a great reminder of how much WORK it takes to look glamorous and why it is such a rarity for me. The party itself was like reading chapter after chapter from the book of our family’s past. From the O.B. doctor who delivered Kelly into this world to our family dentist, all the family friends who inhabited a story of our lives showed up to cast their love and joy upon the marriage. What a beautiful testimony to my sister. And my parents. My parents have amazing friends. At one point I looked around the room and counted no less than four other couples who served as surrogate parents during my youth (you know, the people who disciplined you when you were young and you actually cared what they thought). And of course with that comes the surrogate brothers and sisters that we used to beat up on , or vice versa. My Dad owned that dance floor like nobody’s business. Jimmy can shake it! It was a great band (though my Grandfather would say a little too loud) and everyone boogied the night away. Bella was shy at first, then took to the dance floor like a fish to water. Even after the band had long gone home she twirled in circles and jumped around with the tambourine sashaying across the dance floor. A girl after my own heart! Torben and I crashed after the reception, thankful for the quiet seclusion of our home. The next day I learned that the party continued on well into the wee hours of the morning, my family plotted to hold hands around the motor home and sing kumbaya to wake us up. Ok, now you know where I get my bizarre nature, the apple apparently doesn’t fall far. When we finally pulled the bus out of the driveway I was so full. The tofurkey leftovers packed in the fridge next to my Mom’s mouthwatering sweet potato casserole, and I was so stuffed with love and an abundance of merriment that I thought I was going to burst. Not only from my own immediate family, but from our old friends and our new in-laws (who are way too cool to ever be called out-laws). It’s funny how when you give love it seems to come back to you, only exponentially greater. It’s one of the great mysteries of the universe, which I hope you too may revel in. Oh, I forgot to mention that I caught up with a high school friend, Ryan. She is beautiful, yes she. Every time she calls Torben gets a funny look on his face when the caller ID says “Ryan” is calling. She assured me that that was nothing compared to the fiasco her husband had when trying to plan their wedding (“um, I am sorry sir, but we don’t do those kinds of weddings”)! Good thing she has nerves of steel. We were in gymnastics together, she was infinitesimally better than I and can STILL do back flips, handsprings, and a host of other physically impossible tricks. She now coaches our high school team. It is so fun to see what people from your childhood have grow into! Want another break? You’re half way there (almost). We stopped for a few days in Louisville, Kentucky. Torben got a huge chuckle out of the way we say Louisville, that sounds something like lulvl (with a gag). Some people call it Lou-wee-ville, that’s ok too, but Lou-is-ville is totally unacceptable. Just so you know. Ironic since the voyage of Lewis and Clark started on the river there that separates Indiana from Kentucky. On the Indiana side there is Clarkville, and over in Kentucky, they’ve got Lulvl. (Well they seemed to have missed the boat just a bit-go back to that image of a wheat eating toothless man for reference). We toured the Lou-wee-ville slugger factory and got to see how they make the famous baseball bats. I had no idea that each player who signed on with them had a specially made bat. Who knew bats could be tailored to the millimeter? We also toured a few museums. Actually we toured the gift shops because we were too damn cheap to pay admission to the museum. One art museum let us peek for free anyway. They had a great toy collection on display, and guess who was gushing like a kid? Do I even have to tell you? I nearly had to drag him out like a protesting little half-pint. There was also a whole floor dedicated to the artwork of children with cancer. Much of it was heartbreaking, but there was a photo collage that one of the nurses made. She asked the kids to make a face at cancer and Torben gloriously pointed out the big middle finger that a hairless young lad waved with a smirk of confidence. Take that cancer. We had our first experience with the white stuff in Lulvl. Torben has not been privy to the snow since he was six!! That’s right, six. (Go ahead northerners, curse him to your hearts’ content.) We took the dogs for a walk and the flakes started to float among us. I say float, because it did not fall directly down to the ground, it more swirled around and danced for a while in the air before settling gently on the ground. We practiced catching a few flakes on our tongues. The good times lasted only a few minutes before Torben started to panic about driving in it. The next morning I had to climb on top of the bus and sweep off the snow and ice from the awnings before we could bring the slide-outs in. It was by total accident that a big heap fell right on top of my husband. Hehehe. As if there is any question….we headed further south, stopping to stretch our legs at the Corvette Museum. I am not all that impressed with shiny fast cars, but hey, I gave it a go. The newer cars were just cars to me (sorry, a car is just a car, it gets you from point A to point B) but the older cars were genuine pieces of art. My favorites were from the earliest models in the 50’s. I was surprised to learn that the company hired a team of women to work on the design elements of the car. Not surprised that the women were designers, puh-lease, surprised that in the 1950’s women were given such reverence in the origination of something so iconically American (and actually given credit for their work). We happily set up camp in Nashville, TN for a few days. As one of my friends called it: Nash-Vegas baby! And it totally is. I have been to Nashville on many occasions to visit my friend Jaime, but we mostly spent our time drinking chai lattes and catching up on each other’s lives. Torben was determined to see the real deal this time. Some of you may remember that when we first pulled through Nashville somewhere at the beginning of our trip the city was flooded. It was a horrible natural disaster, and the city is still only now coming back to life in the most heavily flooded areas. We toured the state capitol (with a private tour courtesy of our friend Wade, who happens to work for the state). Upon hearing of the famous bathroom in the Heritage Hotel we of course had to tour that too. Who knew a bathroom could draw such a crowd? It was the men’s room, and it is still in use, but y’all know I have no couth. ( I have a great picture for this one! Damn!) Nashville has a pulse. A great current of music and everyone seems to walk to the beat. The vibe is very contagious. We traveled to a groovy little bar where one of Torben’s high school friends was performing. Will Barrow was really good! We had a few drinks and got his CD for later listening. We also managed to score floor tickets to the Grand Old Opry. We were so close that if one of the singers sneezed, it would have sprayed us (thankfully no one did). The Opry is still the longest running radio show on air. It was funny, during the show the performers had to pause for commercials. We saw several older performers whom I am sure were something in their day, unfortunately that day was long, long ago. But some newer artists also made their debut. Newer artists like Bo Bice (I admit it, I am an American Idol junkie) and a jamming family band called Cherryholmes, who are up for a Grammy nomination. And I was given the gift of being able to fill an entire day with Jaime, drinking chai tea and catching up on each other’s lives, which in my opinion, was by far the best part of Nashville. I am a firm believer that a good friend is worth more than her weight in gold. She’s one of those authentic gems who isn’t afraid to tell me the truth about myself, and love me in spite of it. We’ve been best friends since the first day we met. I love it when our lives overlap for a day or two, even though it never seems long enough. Her daughter Ruby is adorable and undoubtedly the most well behaved three year-old on the planet. I am infinitely amazed at the work and dedication it takes to raise a well rounded child in today’s world. When we talked about all the influences out there and how to teach a child right from wrong it dawned on me that parents have to become super heroes with a larger than life sense of morality, acting twice as good as they ever were in hopes to raise a child that is a least half as good as their highest expectations. It has to be exhausting. I am not sure I could outthink a three year old every waking moment of the day. My hat goes off to all of you Moms and Dads. I was given the trusted (and awesome) job of “tubby time” with Ruby. If you haven’t played with a child in the bath recently, you really ought to (well, get permission from their parents first, otherwise that would be a little weird). Ruby and I splashed and played, tossing her dad’s poker chips into the water for full splashing effect (hey, whatever works). Every time she squealed with glee it made me want that moment to last forever. After we dried off (how do you parents keep from getting soaked too?) we curled up for story time and turned on the most awesome display of nightlight projections I had ever seen. Being a kid today is padded with some really cushy stuff. The threat of snow moved us out yet again. We happily loaded up our crew and moved further south. With cold snowy weather on the way there is only one place to go: Florida! We held hands as we crossed the border to the great Sunshine State. I was all smiles as we pulled into the Williston Crossings RV Resort and hooked up our rig. The park is complete with tennis courts, a dog park, hiking trails, fire pit, shuffle board and if that's not enough; we plan to have our first line dancing class on Monday morning. Yeah, I feel a bit like the retired gray hairs that descend upon the state every year, but it’s a pretty good life. We’re headed over to Mama Madson’s house for a happy home cooked southern meal. My stomach can hardly wait. We plan to spend some time cleaning out the car and the bus. Somehow the pizza boxes have piled up and I am pretty sure there is something growing in the back seat since Kentucky. We’re gonna take a respite from our travels for the holidays….maybe. It will be interesting to see how long we can sit still. We'll probably then head up the eastern seaboard and explore the outer islands of Georgia. Wanna come along for the ride? Love and kisses, Sarah


  1. Your the ish girl! So happy 4 that experience for you :)

  2. Sounds like you had a wonderful Thanksgiving holiday, family and friends always makes it complete. I love reading your blogs and I am so very happy for you both on your travels. I hope you Christmas and New Year's celebrations are just as special. I wish you a safe trip on your journey!!