Thursday, July 8, 2010

The Great American Road Trip Part VIII:
The Family Circus

After leaving Devil's Den, we headed back to Oklahoma to begin visiting many of our family members. We headed first to Del City to visit with my grandma Charlotte. While at her home, we enjoyed a scrumptious dinner at Ingrid's Kitchen, a German-food joint in OKC. I enjoyed some much-needed catch-up time with my Grandma, who I've always been especially close to growing up. She is such an amazing woman who has truly encouraged me and inspired me over the years and it was a treat to just sit on the back deck at her house and talk for hours. My Aunt Carolyn and her husband, Merle, also stopped by for a quick visit. I'm hoping to make it back to OKC soon to see more of my "Yankee" family. (All Texans regard anyone living north of the Red River a yankee, lol).

After Oklahoma, it was off to my parents' house near Lake Texoma. We enjoyed chillin' on the back patio, feeding mom's giant pet turtles and drinking margaritas from the machine. It was a laid back visit, Aiden wanting to play washers or air hockey or X-box with his Pawpaw--Aiden loves all of Pawpaw's toys!  And it was great to spend Father's Day with my daddy.

The only hitch to this visit: when I called to confirm our furnished apartment rental for the following week, I was told, "Oh, yeah, um, turns out we won't have a place for you after all. Sorry!" So, I spent much of our visit on the phone and internet, trying to find a place to live 10 days before we were to arrive to Killeen. What a mess! 

After a couple of nights there, we headed farther south to Aunt Cathy and Uncle Wayne's house for a quick overnight to pick up our other vehicle, some boxes, and Freckles. Oh, how Aiden had missed Freckles!  He was so happy to see her and throw the frisbee for her. While there, we dined on lamb chops and drank far too many of Uncle Wayne's famous "Cox-mos" in celebration of Brad's birthday. Brad ended up passed out on the bathroom floor and I had to drag him back to bed.

The next day was Brad's birthday, which we celebrated by popping tylenol and drinking a bunch of gatorade (to get rid of the hangovers), packing the car and driving, again: YAY! We headed south toward Killeen to continue our quest for some place to live. Yep, 7 days from our arrival date at Fort Hood and we are completely homeless, with no place to land after a month of traveling. So we drove to Killeen and scoped out a few of the potential places that were available. Option 1: the "model" apartment at a complex that turned out to be a filthy, tiny 2-bedroom on the second floor.Option 2: an orange, yes orange, quad-plex on the corner of a busy street, with no fenced yard, in a fairly sketchy part of town. And Option 3: a nice-looking row house in a pretty good area of Killeen, a 2 bedroom, 2 story unit, with a fenced backyard--but we couldn't see the interior because it was rented. Hmmm.... I spoke to the owner of the third option, and on a gamble, I decided to rent it, knowing we were only obligated to 10 days, and figuring it couldn't be any worse than the other 2 options. Yep, sight unseen, I rented a place, over the phone, for my family and I to live in. Ah, desperation....

While we were in Killeen, we decided to take Aiden on post to show him where we would eventually live.  We drove him past his new school, our neighborhood-to-be, and then we took him to one of the MANY outdoor museums, full of old tanks and cannons and helicopters. Aiden was in heaven, running around and checking out all of the cool machinery. Then we rounded the kids up and headed on to Gran and Gramps' house in Bandera (near San Antonio). We arrived around 7 and shared dinner with them, then had cake and ice cream to celebrate Brad's birthday.

The next few days, we hung out with Gran and Gramps and Mamaw and Papaw and Aiden's cousins. We went swimming in the Medina River, jumping off the big rock and floating downstream on our butts. We took Aiden for a "big boy outing" to see Toy Story 3. Aiden had a sleepover with his cousins and then, the next day, we took Claire, Rachel, Mamaw and Papaw with us to visit Natural Bridge Caverns, a big, living cave full of amazing formations. We spent two weekends at the coast in Rockport, TX, where Gran and Gramps keep their travel trailer and boat. We went bay fishing, where Brad caught a small shark and a big redfish (which was very yummy) and I even caught a small trout. Aiden had a great time fishing, and even more fun scooping shrimp out of the bait well for all the rest of us. While we were there, Aiden taught himself to swim underwater, and even began diving for quarters from the bottom of the pool. On the 4th, Brad and I hit the Rockport Art Festival, drank margaritas on a patio overlooking the marina, and even hit a local wine bar. That night, we all enjoyed fireworks and ice cream from Sonic--although Aubrey wasn't quite sure what to think about the noise and lights, she vacillated between excitement and smile to hiding her face in my chest while sucking her thumb.

On Monday the 5th, we all packed up and headed back to Bandera. We quickly washed our laundry and loaded up our cars, then headed to Killeen on the 6th, where we moved into our new, temporary home. (Luckily, it turned out to be a nice, clean place!) It was the close of our adventure month-long adventure, and although I am glad to be stationary and no longer living out of a suitcase, I have to say, I'm a bit sad that our adventure is over.

In a month, we had driven just shy of 5,000 miles. We passed through 7 states and visited prairies, mountains, hills, oceans and forests. We've seen amazing feats of architecture and awesome natural beauty. We've lived the city life and reveled in the quiet of country life. We've met new faces and visited old friends and loved ones. We've fought, argued and bickered, laughed and smiled and giggled together. It has been a long month, but one that has been full of wonderful memories that I know we will cherish for years to come.

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