February 28, 2012

Glory Days and Mayonnaise

I changed my mind - this will be a 3-part post. This is the 2nd part. It should surprise no one that I can take a short story and turn it into a massive novel. Don't you even KNOW me?

Where were we? Right, I just finished outlining the first half of our cross country trip, consisting of Nat'l Park Hopping and ending with a trip to Boulder, where I plan to gorge myself on pasta, burgers and margaritas. (Side note: the margaritas at The Rio are so strong that they will not serve you more than 3 of them. And 3 is about 2 too many.) Let me refresh your memory on the basic route for our long road trip that we'll embark on before The Trip.

After we leave Boulder, we'll head up to Loveland, CO, to visit Tom's sister, Melanie, her husband, Brian, and our two nephews, Simon and Zachary. At this point, I'd love to share a pic of Tom and I with our nephews from our recent visit to CO to visit them earlier this month, but my dear sister-in-law hasn't sent the pics to me yet. (Ahem! This is a not-so subtle hint, Mel.) When we decided to take this trip, we thought about the things we might miss - comfortable pillows, non-mystery-meat, Trader Joe's, my hair dryer. I plan to talk more about these things in a later blog post. But most of all, we thought about the people we would miss, so it's great that we'll get to see most of our friends and family on our cross country drive. (The only close family member we won't see on the trip is Tom's other sister, Zelda, and her husband and our two nieces in Alaska, but we're planning a trip to see them this summer before we leave. We'll tell you all about that and share pics, of course.) Back to Loveland, CO - Our nephew, Simon, is 2 and hilarious. He's super talkative and inquisitive. When we were visiting in early February, Simon was really interested in what Tom was doing. Any time Tom would change activities - leave to get something to eat, start playing with blocks, take out the trash - Simon would ask, "What Tom doing?" in really syncopated syllables. I loved it. Zachary in less than 3 months old. He doesn't do much to entertain yet, but he's very cute and squishy and he let me snuggle him, which was enough.

We'll leave Colorado and make the long, boring drive across Kansas, making a few pit stops - possibly one stop in Wichita to see our friend, JP, another stop near Lawrence to see my Uncle Richard and visit his farm (where I haven't been in nearly 2 decades), a stop in Burlington to visit my Dad's grave (Is that weird to say? Sorry), and a visit with more of my family in Shawnee. The exciting state of Kansas also promises a visit to the Kansas Barbed Wire Museum, the World's Largest Ball of Twine, and the International Pancake Day Hall of Fame. (Yes please!) Then, we'll cross into the superior state, Missouri, and spend a few days in Kansas City visiting my college girlfriends and being hilarious with my BFF, Lauren, who is the funniest person I know, and more family, before we head to my hometown, Pleasant Hill. I love my town. It's so comfortable to me. Not to mention, I hear it has a proud past and an exciting future. That's what the sign says when you enter town, anyway, and I'm highly receptive to marketing messages. My other BFF, Ashley, is family to me, and she lives in PH with her husband, Kail, and their 7 year-old son, Kole (who just got 3rd place in the MO State Wrestling Tournament and is one of my favorite people of all time). Ash and I have been best friends since 5th grade and I can't imagine not knowing her. Quality time with her is always exactly what my soul needs. And I'm excited to show Tom my high school and introduce him to Mrs. Finley, my favorite teacher, and show him off to everyone. He's very cute. I'm always very proud to wave him around like a trophy husband. And I would just die of happiness if things timed up so I could be in PH for Homecoming so I can root for the Roosters and see if the cheerleaders are still doing the same cheers we did 15 years ago. I sure hope so. My glory days were fantastic.
Go! Fight! Win! PHHS!
In related news, I would die another happy death if our next stop in Warrensburg, MO, coincided with another Homecoming celebration at my college alma mater, University of Central Missouri. If the timing worked out, I would guilt all of my college girlfriends and Delta Zeta sorority sisters into joining me to pretend like we're 20 and we'd wear hoodie sweatshirts sporting CMSU, which is what The Home of the Mules used to be called and how we'll always know it. Next, it's down to the beautiful Ozarks in Southern Missouri to visit my mom and grandparents in Shell Knob on Table Rock Lake. I'm sure you've never been there, but HOLY SMOKES, it's beautiful.

And yes, I'm also really happy I'll get to see my grandparents and my mom, who will undoubtedly ask lots of worried questions about our trip and wonder about the safety of EVERYWHERE we're going and then look at us doubtfully with concerned eyes and ask to be shown, again, where Cambodia is on the map, all while she's feeding me various mayonnaise-based salads that I adore. (Don't judge.)

It's right here, Mom.

Then it's up to St. Louis to visit our friends, Kristy and Dave for a night and then we'll drive through Illinois, stopping at Cahokia Mounds State Historic Site, which was one of the greatest cities in the world in 1250AD. Very cool! Even cooler is Ingram's Pioneer Log Cabin Village in Kinmundy, IL, which lacks the authenticity of Cahokia, but comes with costumes, which I can never refuse. Then we'll arrive in Chicago for a few rowdy evenings with a lot of fantastic friends. At this point, I'd say the Midwest portion of our trip is over, but that's because we're headed to Ohio next and I don't think Ohio is part of the Midwest, geographically. I understand this is debatable and, while I agree that Ohio may be Midwest-ish culturally, I stand by my convictions that there's nothing 'Mid' nor 'West' about it. 

Still waiting to hear about Middle Path? That's coming up, next, on the Swain Family Adventure.


  1. Steph~ loving your blog! Going to follow closely. It's so amazing to see you grow into the amazing young woman you have become. It just seems like yesterday we were little girls and your mom was doing our hair during your super cool birthday parties. Love you and so happy for you.
    p.s Homecoming is October 5 :-)

  2. Awww...thanks Nici! I've been reading your blog too! (You haven't posted in awhile!) Many times, talking to Ashley, I've talked about how adorable your kids are. Seriously, they seem like such sweet younguns. Unfortunately, when we decided to move our trip up (leaving SF on Sept 2), it means there's no chance I'll be in town for Homecoming. We leave for India from North Carolina on October 10. xoxo