Saturday, November 27, 2010

Road Trip Roundup

Day 1
We set out on Tuesday night for Colorado Springs to spend the night with Mom and Dad and then headed south Wednesday morning for Dumas, Texas. (Every time I say the name of this town I hear Heywood from Shawshank Redemption trying to pronounce the author of The Count of Monte "Crisco" by "Alexandree . . . Dumb-ass" . . .)

Since my parents were driving down too, the trip there was pretty spacious, since the dogs could spread out in our backseat and Nick could spread out in theirs. We made it through Raton pass before 11:00 and on to our destination by 4:00 that afternoon with only the endless road construction, "safety corridor" speed limits, and potty stops to slow us down.

Those travelling days are always wipe-outs by the time you arrive, so we had dinner early (having skipped lunch), collapsed at the ridiculous hour of 7:00 p.m. and soundly slept for 11 hours. Side note: I am seriously in love with my new phone. Not only can it wake me gently with my choice of music (Hands on the Wheel), it can also keep me asleep until then with the EasySleep app that has about 10 different white noise sounds.

Day 2

The next morning was Thanksgiving, which meant coffee and the Macy's Thanksgiving Day parade. It wasn't until this point that we discovered that Melissa, who was doing the turkey, had spoken with Pop about what time to eat. Rule #1: Thanksgiving "Dinner" is the southern term for LUNCH, which should happen at NOON. I'm not sure where these two come from, but 2:00 is WAY TOO LATE. But by that time, there was nothing left to do but wait as the turkey had to cook.

So in the interim, we visited, played with the dogs, and drove about town to see the sights.

We'd neglected to bring any tennis balls with us, but it turned out that the dogs were just as happy to chase after the fallen pears from the tree in the backyard.

This worked very well until they wanted to take it in the house and continue chewing on them, since the pears got sticky pretty quickly. Still, the joy in these bounding dogs is enough to make you forget how hungry you are for turkey and stuffing at NOON... (this is all to poke at Melissa)

Dad and I drove around town for awhile, which doesn't take too terribly long with a population of around 13,000, even if it is double the size of Navasota.

Those endless Texas skies were stretching out across the plains of the panhandle over the bleachers at the rodeo stadium next to the football field.

And the old high school which must have been built in the 3os is beautifully detailed in Art Deco.

The county seat of Moore, the 1930 courthouse in the center of town also has some fantastic art deco details, more than I managed to photograph, but here's a link to some better pictures.

And being further south also meant there was some lovely fall color still on the trees.

Once we got back to the house, there wasn't a lot to do except visit and watch the squirrels play in the backyard under the pecan trees.

Their window seat is my favorite spot in the house to squirrel watch.

This Thanksgiving is bittersweet as the last one before Nick leaves home. Next year and from here on out, he will be just "coming back" for Thanksgiving. I don't know where the time went.

I still have Sammi for three more Thanksgivings, though. She's already been warned that as an only child, smothering will be the rule instead of the exception.

So while Sammi whiled away the hours on the computer, Nick had football. . .

And we finally got the sweet potato casserole, mashed potatoes, rolls, mac and cheese, and green bean casserole going, as well as tending to the dressing Matt had made the night before. (My mom and dad brought the spiced apples and the pies, so we had an equal balance of sweet to starch.)

Note in the picture below that the foil that has just been taken off the dressing here, coming out of the oven. Mistake #2: the foil should've come off before going in (which Matt's instructions stated). Still tasted very yummy, though.

Mistake #3 was my own (so no picture): never take your eyes off the sweet potato casserole when you are broiling the marshmallows. There is basically a split second between golden brown and burning the house down. Then you will be scraping crispy critters off and trying again. And when you try again, even though you vow not to take your eyes off it, someone will walk in, carrying the long awaited turkey or something similar. And you will burn them again.

But the turkey will be perfect. :)

We ate and ate and talked and ate. Then fell into the inevitable tryptophan coma until dark. And then ate pie in front of the fireplace with dogs at our feet.

THIS is Thanksgiving, even if you do have to wait half the day for it to start ;)

Day 3

Friday morning at dawn, the cold front had taken hold and it was a brisk 13 degrees when I wandered out into the backyard to catch the morning light through the plum tree.

We met up with Mom and Dad at the local diner, Albert's, which makes divine homemade biscuits with gravy as well as green chili omelettes. After breakfast, Mom and Dad headed back for Colorado.

Back at the Masks, Nick picked around on the guitar while we pulled in Nell's Christmas decorations from the garage to set up her tree.

And Pop was more interested in the guitar than decorating, too. . .

He did get into the ornaments for just a bit, though.

Evan has gotten so used to pictures, he tends to happily pose in our group shots, invited or not.

And then, it was time for the other road trip: to the closest Whataburger in Texas, a little less than an hour away in Amarillo. This also happens to be the closest Whataburger to Denver, some 7 hours away. While there are a few tiny pockets in Colorado to locate Bluebell Ice Cream, there is no chance you will find a Whataburger, so once you're within an hour, you have to go.

We did get quite a kick out of the marketing slogan, though.

The rest of the day was another lazy, relaxing one, in anticipation of the road home on Saturday.

Nick did finally get around to making his bread pudding for us, though. Because, you know, we haven't had enough to eat yet.

That evening, Melissa and Heather came over to help us recreate a photo taken on the last Thanksgiving we were all together like this, some 11 years ago. Just a few changes of note:

Day 4

And then Saturday came around too soon and it was time to pack up and head home.

Nick bid farewell to the Texas cow in Dalhart as we set off for the mountains again.

And since Mom and Dad had gone back the day before, that meant we were all in for some serious togetherness for the next 7 hours.


The moon kept us company for a good part of the morning as we made our way across the border into New Mexico (and the endless road work)

Then Katy moved up front under my feet early on and stayed there the rest of the time. Did I mention togetherness? I would also like to take a quick detour here and note that while my mother was aghast that these were the only shoes I brought, I was never accosted by the fashion police because I dared shuffle around in my slippers the whole week.

The antelope were also playing in New Mexico, although I guess the deer stayed back in Texas.

After hours, the first signs of home were visible in the distance:

Entering Raton, should you wish to take a left and head south into the rest of New Mexico, you're just an hour or two away from some amazing spots.

But a right turn north means home to Colorado.

Nick pointed out that the 100 yards or so between the leaving New Mexico sign and the entering Colorado sign must be the twilight zone of the black lines on the U.S. map. . .

And the irony of the very brown picture below is always good for a smile:

But the snow capped mountains were getting larger in the distance, which meant home was not far off. There is something amazing about these mountains and the fresh air that makes you so much more glad to be alive. And there is something even better about leaving them for just a few days and coming back. I suppose that's the best part of all road trips, after all the miles, and the conversations, and that laughter, is having discovered all those wonderful moments on the journey that always leads back home.

All journeys have secret destinations of which the traveler is unaware. ~Martin Buber


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