Sunday, January 10, 2010

Road Tripping

It has been decided. This is the year the kids will meet their father's family. Yes. I said meet. Only the girls have ever met their paternal grandmother (Bella only once, in the hospital when she was two days old, which almost counts) and none of the kids have ever met their paternal grandfather. In fact, I have only met him once, on our honeymoon, camping in the Arizona desert.

Zach's family is a splintered one. I won't go into the details of his parents painful break-up when Zach was just a baby, but the result has been a family spread far and wide across this country. For years this has seemed like a huge obstacle. It's one thing to visit family across country when they are concentrated in one place, but quite another to manage the hassle and financial burden of visiting so many people in so many different places, especially with very small children.

The other day, while I was laying down to take a nap, it hit me. I need to start looking at this as an opportunity. All over this beautiful country of ours there are spare bedrooms, couches and floors waiting to be crashed on with willing, even eager, owners who would love nothing better than the opportunity to put us up for free and show us around their neck of the woods. How is that a bad thing?

So begins a year of grand adventures, starting in February with my first ever solo trip in the 6 years I have been a parent. My mom is using some of her frequent flyer miles to fly me out for a fun filled weekend with her, my sister-from-another-mister Kathy and my actual sister at mom's little bungalow in San Diego. We're going to hang out at the beach, drink margaritas on mom's porch, see the sights and, best of all, sleep in. The whole thing should cost me approximately $20 for a fast-food meal at the airport during my layover. Mom is footing the entire bill for this trip.

When I get home on March 1st I will have exactly two weeks before trip number two, a roadtrip to Arkansas to meet Grandpa Phil. Grandpa Phil is....there are no words. I have a soft spot in my heart for quirky, crumudgeonly old guys and Phil is the ultimate in all categories. As I alluded to in my last post, he is a one time farmer, one time carpenter who now spends his time prospecting for gold and diamonds. He lives on cigarettes and organic green smoothies and won't take any medicine that isn't Swedish Bitters. He's a history buff extraordinaire, an amateur geologist and an opinionated old coot. It's time his grandkids knew him.

Phil lives near Crater of Diamonds State Park, according to their website, the only diamond producing site in the world open to the public, and a "rockhound's delight." I can only imagine the fun Cheyenne and Isabella, who count among their favourite passtimes, digging in the dirt and collecting rocks, will have prospecting for diamonds with Grandpa. the mapquest fuel cost estimator puts the fuel costs at about $200 round trip. Accomodations will be free, except for the one night we will spend in a hotel with an indoor pool for $60 and the $14 we're planning to spend to see an old Native American village.

September brings the family reunion in Indianapolis. Zach's mom has agreed to pay for lodging and gas. This reunion will be big. Zach's mom is one of seven kids, many of whom are already grandparents. Zach's grandma, my kid's great-grandma, will also be in attendance and we will stop on the way in or out to see Zach's 94 year old great-uncle Tom, who apparently still bowls a 250 average. For the record that is about ten times my bowling average, but we'll roll a few balls with him anyway for the fun of it. Nothing like getting your butt kicked by a 94 year old man to teach you a little humility.

Finally, we are traveling to Wyoming to visit Zach's uncle Ward. Ward rocks. Ward sends care packages periodically ranging from a bag of marbles and seven sizes of clips to two brand-new Radio Flyer wagons and a book on the life cycles of the rainforest. He has variously been a pilot, an airplane mechanic, worked on an oil rig and delivered newspapers and his only method of transportation is a semi truck. This will be our most expensive trip because we are staying at a hotel. The words, "I'd love to have you visit. I'll even try to find where I put all my guns so I can lock them up," did not inspire a lot of confidence and as a 72 year old bachelor I think he'll be less stressed out if we get a hotel. Still the meals will be home cooked (probably by me) and the fun will be cheap or free and Miss Cheyenne will finally get to see the city she is named for.

So that is the plan. For the cost of one of us traveling to some packaged resort in some warm and sunny place we get four different adventures and a lot of memories. If this works out we are hoping to follow this up with trips to California, Nevada (Tahoe area) and Alaska in the coming years.


  1. I am cheering for your spirit of adventure and the way you're making something inconvenient into a wonderful opportunity! How great to see the world--or at least the country--this way!

  2. Sounds like the best summer ever!

    Grandpa Phil... I think I am in love! What a riot he will be.

    I can't wait to hear all about it.

  3. Oh wow! What fun and adventure you will have! I cannot wait to read more about the family and all the places you will see. Are you planning any trips to PA???