Road Detours and Farm Memories

I’m behind a couple days, but I will get everything posted. Tonight we’re chilling with movies at the house, and we’re currently watching Cabin in the Woods, one of my favorites. Mom hasn’t seen it, so she’s getting her first viewing in exchange for her showing us the movie Frankie Go Boom. It was hilarious. If you’re a fan of Sons of Anarchy, this will either make you laugh or deeply disturb you. But now, since I’ve seen CitW, I’m going to get the Saturday post up while it’s on.

The drive to Oklahoma was long, as expected, and geocaching made it longer. I welcome the stops to stretch my legs and keep my tailbone from hurting, but sometimes it just makes the day longer.  We started with a DNF, then recovered with 2 finds in Tonkawa.

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Later, after getting on the turnpike, we attempted to find another one (it turned into another DNF). We thought it would take us back to the turnpike, but instead, it took us through a series of small Oklahoma towns. I was a little cranky about this at first, but the random change in route lead is through some great scenery and an impromptu stop for some peanuts at a roadside stand.

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Look at that Oklahoma red clay!
Look at that Oklahoma red clay!

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We tried coated Israeli peanuts that were delicious. We also picked up some buffalo flavored and Japanese peanuts. I’m not a fan of buffalo flavored anything, but I helped put a hurt on those other two.

The wildlife was out that day. We saw a coyote, a deer, and a road runner.  I’d never seen one before, and he was adorable. My mom had seen one that day too, and my grandma said they’d been more social lately. I would have got a picture, but he took us by surprise and was pretty quick.

We relaxed at my grandma’s for a little bit and had some dinner before heading out to see my aunt and uncle on “the farm.” The farm isn’t a family farm anymore, but I have really good memories of visiting there when I was a young kid, of spending time with my great grandparents, helping my grandma collect eggs from the chicken house, and playing with the farm cats that ran around the property.  I remember a mean rooster than attacked me and my grandpa’s cattle dog who didn’t like me very much (though older family members say I wasn’t nice to her as a child, so I think that was probably understandable).

The farm house and several of the buildings are still standing, so we took a walk around to look at everything and take some time with the memories.

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One of the local farmer’s still farms cows in the fields, and we were able to walk right out into the field with them to take some pictures.  Whenever we’d turn around, there was a group of them keeping an eye on us, like they were just daring us to make a sudden move. They were cute.

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We also visited with my aunt and uncle for a long time. Visiting the farm is always bittersweet. There are so many good memories, but they’re of lost loved ones, so with the reminiscing always comes sadness.

After we were done there, we decided to try to find a nearby cache, but like some of the other caches in Oklahoma, it wasn’t as “nearby” as we would have liked. We didn’t end up finding it. It got dark, so we headed back to grandma’s to get some sleep before the drive back the next day.


Reunions, Nostalgia, and Chocolate Shakes

I had originally wanted to get up super early this morning and do some geocaching before we went to Jon’s high school reunion. Unfortunately, that didn’t happen. I hit the snooze for an hour, feeling the need to sleep in. It wouldn’t have been too bad, but we both needed showers and then we were just slow getting around. We grabbed Drew and went to Sonic for a late breakfast, and by the time we were done, it was time to head to the reunion.

It was a potluck lunch, so we stopped and bought two eight piece boxes of chicken at Dillons.  We brought food, but we didn’t actually eat there, which was partially on me because I was having some anxiety. I also just wasn’t hungry due to the late breakfast we had.

The reunion was being held at a large cabin on a farm near where Jon went to high school. It was a pretty area. In hindsight, I should have walked around more, both for exercise and just to enjoy the view.

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Instead, I sat around and visited with the other wives I knew and watched videos of Jon and a bunch of people I didn’t know. Which is really the thing about reunions…if it’s not your class, it’s just kind of weird and awkward. I think I was lucky that I knew a couple of people, but it was still a little bit uncomfortable.  On a more positive note, though, it made me remember my own high school years. Being that I don’t live in Michigan anymore, it’s unlikely I’ll ever get to one of my own reunions, but I still have great memories of high school. Part of me is okay with not going back.  Reunions sometimes dredge up the bad stuff too.  I have such good memories of my four years, and I’d kind of like to just keep those as they are.

We stayed for a couple hours before leaving. The reunion was going to continue at a local bar later that night, but we didn’t end up making it back. After the lunch, we found two geocaches in Derby and grabbed some lunch at Talliano’s. We hadn’t been there since before I moved to Manhattan. It was a buffet, but it was cheap enough for me to justify not eating a whole lot.  After lunch, we headed back to Rose Hill. I had a toothache most of the day and was ready to take some pain killers and curl up for awhile.

Back at the house, we watched The Muppets and hung out with Jon’s dad for awhile.  He always makes us choose what to have for dinner, even though we don’t have a preference and we hate choosing because they always treat us and we don’t want to pick something overly expensive. So I suggested we get burgers from the local burger joint and just chill at the house. They seemed cool with that, and I had another meal that wasn’t disappointing.

We went out geocaching again after dinner but got a late start due to having to come back to get a pen and picking up Drew. I thought getting more in the area would be easy, but we had a little trouble. The first one was under a bridge, but there was caution tape all over, so we weren’t sure about going in too far. We thought we saw something, but it would have involved reaching in and grabbing, and with all the creepy crawlies, I wasn’t doing that.  We found the next one, but it was dark by the time we tried the third one, which incidentally was also said to be a tough one. We looked all over and couldn’t find it, so we called it for Rose Hill geocaches, especially because this town is full of nanos, which are hard to find when it’s light out.  We stopped to watch a spider unspinning his web, which was actually a bit of a fascinating process, even though I’m not a fan of spiders.

Drew suggested we take a trip to Derby to get a Braum’s shake. A Braum’s chocolate shake is one of my favorite things. I should be glad we don’t have a Braum’s in MHK, because I’d be out of control with those things.  We took advantage of the extra trip and found three quick LCP caches to add to our list.  Before heading back, we stopped at Dillons for grapes and a package of pens for us to keep in the car so we have them on hand when we go out geocaching.

It’s been a long day and I’m sleepy. We’re talking of trying to get up early again tomorrow to hit some more caches, but not sure if it’s going to happen. Tomorrow is another long day, with a drive home, a Pathfinder game, and handing out con information at a Movies on the Grass event. Hopefully we’ll be home in time to get some good sleep for Monday morning, because I need to get a lot of stuff done this coming week.


Crossing Things Off Lists

In an effort to travel with less stress, I’m trying to get as much done as I can this week to prepare for our trip to Gen Con next week.  I was able to check a couple things off the big to-do list today.

First, we went to a local car wash and vacuumed out the car.  Jon and I have made an effort to keep the car trash-free (yay for adulting), and we decided it was time for something a little more heavy duty, so we vacuumed the floors and the cup holders, which had gotten kind of gross, and then we wiped everything down with cleaner wipes. It didn’t feel too strenuous, and now our car is clean and passenger ready.  I even took an extra step and put a monthly general cleaning reminder on my calendar so we can keep up with that.

Second, we picked up our travel snacks. Originally, we were going to go to Target and use the credit we still have on a gift card. Since we also had a gift card to Menards and wanted to go find a cache there (didn’t find it, but rescheduled only to be stealthier later), we just went ahead and shopped there.  Trail mix, dried fruit, and beef jerky should be good for both travel and for walking around the convention center.  We also picked up some travel toiletries so we could make sure everything was packed and ready the night before.

As far as our GC list goes, that’s about all we got done tonight, but I think it’s going to make a huge difference by the time we leave. Other things we have to do this week include turning in our change for some spending cash, cleaning the house, cleaning out the trunk of the car, and, of course, packing.  My goal is to have everything packed on Sunday night to put in the car on Monday night, so I can get to bed early and be ready to hit the road at 5 on Tuesday morning.

The rest of our evening included some geocaching and dinner out at Cox Bros BBQ.  We also picked up some lunches for this week. I had every intention of getting stuff to make some easy pasta salad and then forgot. I even had a list. I fail at groceries, sometimes.

The big excitement of my night was finding out that another of my favorite webcomic artists is going to be at Gen Con. I’m thrilled, and this means I will have to splurge on a plushie if the artist brings any. Or a book. Or both. I have my priorities.

The last thing I want to mention is something a co-worker told me about today.  It’s a program called Becoming an Outdoors-Woman. Camping that involves sleeping on the ground doesn’t agree with me, but I do enjoy  outdoor activities and would like to revisit some of the things I did in my youth. Plus, I love new experiences.  I don’t know if I can register for the fall one right now, both due to time and money, but I am going to apply for one of their scholarships since this would be my first time going and I could swing the remainder of the cost. If the fall one doesn’t happen, I think I’ll aim to sign up for the spring one, pending our location after the first of the year.

On the whole, it was actually a pretty good Monday.





The Smell of Snowmobiles

Today, I had a scent-memory moment on my way home from work. I was behind a vehicle that had the distinct smell of gas mixed with oil, and it made me remember snowmobiling when I was a kid.

I remembered riding snowmobiles on the acreage owned by various members of our family. I rode with my friends, my siblings, my cousins. I was young, but I could usually handle myself. Unless I got stuck, which happened a few times. Or unless I tipped the snowmobile, which happened a few times. But mostly it was just fun. I’d ride around the property, using the long trails to open it up and go faster.

When it was a family thing, we’d end it by watching movies or having a hot dog roast with hot cocoa and marshmallows. On holidays, we’d play games or cards afterwards, but even later at night we’d suit up and head out again for a night ride. I remember one of the coolest things to do was to be able to go riding with my dad and my aunts and uncles. I was a kid, so anytime I got to stuff with the grownups I was excited.

It wasn’t just the good memories that brought about the feels today, but it was also the realization that it wasn’t just summer that gave me great memories. Winter did, too. I just lost them over the years and in the scramble of all my other feelings for winter, mostly ones of hate for the cold, snow, and ice, and in seeing winter as the enemy.

Winter gave me a lot of things to love: snowmobiling, hockey, sleepovers with friends (I remember more winter ones than summer ones) a chance to cool off during college parties. Even remembering snowy nights at college where I stood outside smoking with friends gives me a happy feeling of nostalgia.

I don’t hate winter anymore. Sure, I complain about the snow and ice when it stresses me out while driving, and I’m known to swear at the cold (though I could help that if I’d break down and wear a hat and gloves). But in the past few years I’ve learned to appreciate the beauty of it and the natural order of time that brings the season.

And being able to remember the past happiness winter gave me makes it that much easier.

Ode to a Woodchuck

Okay, this isn’t actually going to be an ode or a poem or anything creative. I just wanted to post a picture of this bottle of Woodchuck Hard Cider (Granny Smith). This was the first of a six pack. I have three left and plan on actually drinking them before they go skunky, something I sometimes forget to do when I buy alcohol.

Woodchuck reminds me of Michigan, but I don’t remember ever drinking it in Michigan. If I did, I never went through a phase. There were other phases: Amaretto and Coke, Amber Bock, Triple sec and OJ, anything with grenadine added. Malibu. But Woodchuck didn’t happen for me until I moved to Oklahoma, and then it only happened once.

I’m still not going through a phase. I just picked this up for drinks and gaming with friends. But that nostalgia is still there. I don’t know where the connection comes from, but I’m loving it. Definitely worth a six pack of good feelings.

Sort of Like Disney…But Real

Today, I saw deer.

Three deer to be exact, and not out in the middle of the woods or in some farm field, but right across the street from where I work.

When I was growing up, deer weren’t a novelty.  I lived in northern Michigan (the northern lower peninsula to be precise), right between woods, farmland, and Amish country, and deer seem to have an affinity for the woods and fresh Amish baked bread.  My grandparents had deer feeders in their backyard so we could watch them at fairly close range (watch the deer, not my grandparents). We always got excited to see fawns in the spring. In the fall, the men folk would go out and hunt. I don’t think it ever crossed my mind that some people weren’t into hunting until I was older because everyone I knew did it.

I went hunting with my dad when I was a teenager a couple times. Got buck fever. Never shot anything, but venison sausage is one of the best things ever. While I like shooting a big gun every once in awhile (not a euphemism), hunting as a hobby never took.

As I grew older, I actually started to hate deer. Oh sure, they’re pretty and fun to watch, but once the “ooh shiny” wears off,  you realize that they’re a  road hazard on four legs.  Michigan deer (and Kansas deer, from what I’ve been told) wait along the highways and byways, edging closer and closer, waiting for their moment to run across the road. If you happen to be the lucky sucker they run in front of, you’d better hope you have good brakes.

Since moving to Kansas, I haven’t seen as many, though they haven’t been completely scarce.  This morning I pulled into my normal parking spot, where I proceeded to enjoy my breakfast sandwich before heading into office monkey territory for the next eight hours. I happened to look across the road, and there they are, wandering the field and checking out the road.

The field is between us and university land. There are apartments and buildings surrounding it, and while there are small trees, it’s not a heavily wooded area. To the north, there is more flatland and woods. These deer had wandered into our area and for a few minutes, it looked like they were going to try to cross. Which made me nervous. After seeing a cyclist down yesterday, I had the feeling that a deer would get owned and own someone’s car in return if they tried to cross the road. In the first place, that’s a busy time of morning between people going to work and students going to school. It’s also at the top of a hill, so someone coming over the hill too fast or not paying attention was going to hit one.

Watching nature is surreal sometimes. All these cars were going past and the deer were still edging up further and further, cautiously, tentatively. In my head, I was thinking “Here it it comes…”

But then, the local ATA public transportation bus drove by and that was it. They turned their little white tails and took off. I’m not sure what it was about the bus…maybe it was the sound or the stronger smell of diesel fumes…but they were having none of it. In fact, it kind of reminded me of this guy from A&E’s “Obsessed” who had a phobia of El Caminos (if I’m coming across as heartless for making fun of a guy with OCD, I’m really not. I loved that guy!).

Obviously, deer don’t do public transportation.

So crisis averted, and I didn’t have to witness a hit and run involving Bambi or his mother.  I am, however, reminded that fall is on the way, so I’d better be a little more watchful in the coming weeks.