Wednesday was a travel day back to the cottage and the traffic and weather couldn’t have been better, clear and sunny all the way, all 350 plus miles. It was great going back to the cottage especially knowing Beth and Ivy would be leaving Versailles and travelling north to meet us.
We started later than I wanted because there were a few items I had forgotten when I went to Trader Joe’s, our family’s main grocery supply. While the storm had not affected our home two of the three closest TJ’s were powerless, sadly they were two of the 500,000 who had lost power in Monday’s storm. We have had two big storms blow through our area this summer packing winds of 60-70 mph both times and parts of Wheaton have lost power, but not us. Somehow, I think we are due. Trader Joe’s stocks organic items as well as gluten-free groceries, nitrite-free meat; and generally, they are less expensive than health food stores. We have grown to count on TJs for most of our grocery needs. The kids helped by adding items to the cart they knew would not make it to the checkout counter. We checked out, loaded the groceries, and were on our way.
Once we got rolling, we rolled. I tried to find the Women’s World Cup game on the radio but couldn’t find it so I asked William to call XM and within minutes we were dialed in and listening to pre-game. As I mentioned before, I am not a big soccer fan or even understand the game but this was a big event and I wanted to listen along, mainly to have something to listen to as I drove. Tuesday I had called my mom and missed her, I left message and she called me back. It was great to catch up. I have been mailing letters and postcards but it was great to catch up, talking. I had barely hung up with mom and driven a few miles down the road when I got another call, this one was marked ‘dad’ on the caller ID. My dad passed away two summers ago and I just haven’t changed the name of the number from dad to Julie, my stepmother; it is just one of those things that is difficult to do. I answered the phone and wished her happy birthday. I planned to call her later in the day to pass on a happy birthday, but she called instead. She wanted to find out where we were and where she should mail the letter, she had just finished. I gave her the cottage address, or rather confirmed it for her, and we caught up on what we were both up to. We’ve (rather I) been sending postcards to Mississippi, Sugar Land, and other places, chronicling our summer travels and I have been trying to write more letters this summer. It is difficult to keep up in the school year and I try to write by hand when I can.
After I finished my call, William and I continued our game – the alphabet game and listened to the USA – France World Cup game. We were both stuck on the letter ‘Q.’ The alphabet game is one of the driving games we play when we travel, or simply drive around town. It keeps the kids engaged looking out the window. The game’s object is to find signs with the letters of the alphabet in order, the winner finding all the letters A to Z. Some of letters are more challenging and often we find the ‘difficult letters’ when we do not need them. We have simple rules. Th
- Letters must be located on signs or other cars, the car we are driving\riding in is off limits
- 1 letter per sign or car,
- one sign or car per contestant,
- and, no license plates.
And, that about covers the rules. The game can be very spirited and the difficult letters are where the game evens up and we are often tied, searching for the same letter, usually one of us gets a ‘Z’ and wins by a letter. We both had Y and were looking for Z, when William and found it and won!
I stopped for coffee at the last convenient Starbuck’s and lunch at a Subway and we were all happy. It was quiet in the car. William and I listened to the game, Olivia watched a video, and we all ate. About halfway in our journey, Beth called to check -in and report she and Ivy were on her way. We were all much happier. Beth and I had been apart since she had gone to Versailles to help her mom and dad for her mom’s shoulder surgery in June. It had been 24 days and I think it was our longest time apart since we had been married. There had been a several weeklong trips and once, I think, a two-week trip, but for the most part it is rare for us to be apart. I missed her and so did the kids.
We played another round of the alphabet game and the miles evaporated in front of us. We were quickly parked in the driveway and unloading. Beth arrived a couple of hours later; we helped her unload her car and get Ivy out of her crate. I am not sure which of us more excited to see the other, Beth, the kids, me, or Ivy though Ivy was unable to contain herself jumping, sniffing, and running around excitedly. Anna, Nick and Kris’s mom, from down the lake came to visit and we had a late night visiting in the front yard and deck. I had baked a blueberry crisp to welcome Beth (and make room in the fridge) and we enjoyed a late sweet treat. We were all up late catching up on what we each had been up to and you could feel the energy in the room. Beth fell exhaustedly to sleep and I finally got the kids to bed, but Ivy would not settle down and we stepped out together to let her sniff and do her business before she finally lay down and went to sleep.
It was a great day and it is wonderful to be back together under the same roof. The weather forecast for Thursday is warm and sunny, maybe we will get out on the lake, swim, boat, or ski. Whatever we do it’s got be a million and six times better than driving even if we are playing the alphabet game. Making the Days Count, together again at the cottage. What games do you play with your kids when you are driving?