This morning, the littlest kids awoke before the sun and so we quickly turned on the TV for a few moments of quiet coffee. Henry burst through our bedroom door (yes, we have a door - I'm very fond of doors) and announced, "DAD! There's a grass trimmer you can get for only nineteen-ninety-nine dollars!" and Jane Frances was right behind him, crying, "My show is ov-uh!"
We don't have cable at home, because we are better parents than you and maybe poor-er parents than you, but our kids watch loads of TV anyhow with Netflix and Amazon on the computer. Our Airstream is equipped with a satellite dish and it's amazing. The littlest ones have never seen commercials, and Henry is enamored of them and Jane Frances is infuriated by them. It's darling.
We've had two rough days of white-knuckled driving. Because I am excellent at mathematical calculations, I can report with certainty that Henry talked 94% of the drive, non-stop, almost without breathing, and cried and wailed the remaining 6%. I've broken it down for you here in this highly accurate pie chart.
This particular day (two days ago now - about the limits of my memory) was meant to be a "light driving day", and here below is our route. No big deal. 2 h and 17 minutes.
But it was more like this:
The GPS kept sending us down unpaved, vertical roads that would have taken us straight to the gates of St. Peter. At the second of these suggested Roads of Certain Death (indicated in green above), Stephen and I sat staring. But then I had the brilliant idea to call the Dept. of Transportation. I like Departments. Because, Harry Potter and British people. Stephen discussed routes w/ a lovely lady who directed us to a paved road about thirty miles ahead of our dirt pull-off. We offered her a job inside of our GPS.
Even once we found a paved road, this was an absolutely harrowing drive, and Stephen and I were tense and barking at the kids to "be quiet and stop distracting the driver OR WE COULD DIE." This is truth. The trailer felt doubly massive, the roads were truly tight, and we didn't have high expectations for Glenwood Springs, so the light at the end of the tunnel was about as bright as our flashlights, deep in need of new D-volt batteries and who buys those?
We finally arrive at Glenwood Springs. Glenwood Springs is like Monday, if Monday were a town. My impression of Colorado so far is that it is Utah's older, less attractive sister - still pretty, but not as charming, and bitter about it. I am in charge of navigating (haha) and booking (also haha - I refuse to make phone calls so we are limited to internet bookings only) and I had booked for us the world's most uninspiring campsite. Surprising, because it was directly backing to the Colorado River. This was particularly fabulous, because as we pulled in, we were informed that we were under a tornado warning. A tin box on a river is the perfect locale to ride out terrible weather. And no one had eaten, because our drive took us past nothing at all, so we didn't even unload the kids. We unhitched the trailer and drove into town. Glenwood Springs was twenty miles away, and once there, we ate the world's most uninspiring pizza. And went to Target (always exciting!), where we were those parents you see with kids in stores at ten o'clock at night. And back to camp. I may or may not have cried inside of the uninspiring pizza joint. Kind and pretty Utah, sweet Georgia, I miss you both.
When the trailer was unhitched, I realized that I had felt like it'd been released from my shoulders. I don't like to carry bags - I am always the mom without a diaper who asks you if you've got one - and I like to be unhindered. The trailer felt burdensome and dangerous. For the first time on this long adventure, I wished I could beam myself back home. I called (when I say "called", I always mean "texted") my neighbor for a bit of home-ish-ness, which made me even more sad.
When we get home, we have only a month before we are moving from our lovely spot near Atlanta to a place I cannot complain about in Florida, a historic home very near the Bay and the Gulf, very near my beloved sister and the rest of my coastal family, but I love where I live and don't want to go. Nonetheless, we are going and I am batting off dread and sorrow about it, because who could complain? We'll be renting out the home I love and renting a gorgeous old plantation home, with a wrapping porch with a view of the bay and Spanish moss in the trees. It's the kind of house that might inspire me to write Lucinda Williams-type songs. It should be a year of beach adventure, and I am assured that I can make the call to return at the end of the year should I be unhappy. I am assured that wherever I am, God makes His home with me, and that even alone I am not ever. And if I am miserable, I will choose to not be miserable, and I'll go to the beach.
So. Glenwood Springs.
We had intended to visit Glenwood Springs Hot Springs for a swim, but I am fast learning that Gulf Coast swimming is very unlike northern and western swimming. No offense, West, but your "beaches" are not. And your pools are funny square enclosures that lack charm. And it's cold out here, like March, which is considered too early to swim back home. Because of the location of the campsite (20 miles east) and the check out time (I mean, really, who planned this??), we would have had to book a second night at the unfriendly, tight KOA in Silt, Colorado in order to make the springs work for us. We also would have had to take a shuttle from a far off parking lot. So we skipped it and drove on.
Tomorrow, I promise to be much more positive. When we've told people along the way, neighbors at camp sites or Whole Foods checkout folks, they say "that's my DREAM", and it was always mine, too, and I am most grateful that we've been able to make this strange and crazy idea work. It feels like we are the grown-ups we thought we might one day be. Our new campsite in Chatfield State Park in Littleton, Colorado, is perfect and wide and lovely, and last night we spent time with some of our dearest, oldest friends and their five children, who were fast friends with ours. They hunted toads together and made each other giggle, and it's absolutely moving and inspiring to see the children of friends I have loved for more than half of my life become friends with my own children.
No complaints. Or, just a very few. And minor ones, at that.