Friday, September 16, 2011

While We Were Out our Chickens Became Proper Hens

Were to begin?
    I thought, in all honesty, that we would go on this amazing road trip, and that I would blog about it on the way. It was an amazing road trip, but the blogging and picture taking didn't happen as much as it could have... I just have a hard time putting a screen between myself and the actual events.
    Well, we put a little over 5000 miles on our car. Our little Suzuki Reno is now officially no longer covered by it's 100,000 mile power-train warranty. We didn't even notice... until we had gone 700 miles over. I think that might have been somewhere in South Dakota.
    I loaded and unloaded our car so many times that by the end of it I managed to fit our two children, toys, lots and lots of cloth diapers, a double stroller, a doll stroller, two sleeping bags, a four man tent, two quilts, cooking pots, a camping stove, picnic dishes, a cooler, a duffel bag, two back packs, the laptop bag, a CD case, work boots, chain oil and a chainsaw into our car with room to see out of the windows.
    We listened to the entire Chronicles of Narnia from start to finish.
    We crossed the Mississippi river in Saint Louis, Missouri and later on our way to Debuque, Iowa leaving us to wonder where exactly the headwaters of the Mississippi river are. I asked Adam, and both of us were stumped. I looked it up. The Mississippi river starts at northern end of Minnesota.

    Our first stop was a visit with my Oma in Colorado Springs. We rolled in late at night, and spent the next day visiting with this wonderful resilient woman who is taking her life in stride.

    From there we drove through eastern Colorado. I was surprised by the many small fields filled with bent over workers harvesting onions and potatoes. We passed farm stand after farms stand and giant piles of onion.
    We spent a week on my in-laws “farm”. Visiting sheep, the llama, the cows, pigs, geese and chickens.

Sylvan and I spent one warm Oklahoma morning harvesting grapes in the vineyard, while Ivory played with Grandma, and Adam and Grandpa were chainsawing down encroaching eastern red cedars on the Chandler property.
    This was followed by a week in Stillwater for a short stay with my family. My Grandmother and Ken drove down and we all got to visit with each other. We visited all of our favorite places (and walked to most of them): the Stonewall, Aspen Coffee, the Thai Cafe, Redrock Bakery, Mom's Place and the Farmer's Market.

My family was busy with work, school, work and by this point the idleness of being on the road was getting to us. Adam had been working constantly prior to us leaving, and I, well I just keep busy. The heat was getting to us. Nothing to do. And it was hot. HOT.

    We packed everything back into the car and headed east.

    We arrived at my dad's house, not too terribly late at night, and settled in.

We took a walk in the RAIN!!!

My dad gave us rides in “his” airplane. Adam and Ivory visited the Zoo with Hans and Tiphaine and Lauralyne introduced me to some wonderful new dishes: Caramelized Apple Custard Pie and Fresh Tomato Onion Salad.
    Then we all drove north for the grand event, the entire reason behind our crazy trip: My cousin's wedding.

    Ivory and Tiphaine walked down that aisle perfectly, in poofy white dresses and matching high healed sandals, holding hands and thankfully forgetting to sprinkle the confetti. This was much better than the alternative that had been taking place while we were waiting in the hallway, which was Ivory throwing the confetti on the ground and Tiphaine frantically picking up all the little pieces of paper and putting them back in the basket. The ceremony was followed by fabulous food and drinks, followed by more food and drinks, some dancing, and then an entire room filled with desserts that left me wishing I had just skipped all fabulous food and drinks and just waited for dessert.

    The next morning we headed west.
    Our first destination was Chicago.

Our friend Sarah was kind enough to let us crash in her apartment. We rode the L train, visited the art institute, walked along lake Michigan and went to the aquarium. All of those things in one day and then drove on to crash in on another very kind soul, Jessica, in Debuque Iowa.
    After 4 weeks on the road we finally set up our tent in Blue Mounds State Park, Minnesota. Ivory was so excited by the prospect that it took much bribing to convince her to come back out and enjoy the last few hours of sunshine the day had to offer. We cooked over a camp fire and snuggled up.

Our next destination were the Bad Lands of South Dakota.

On the way there were were detoured in Mitchell where we visited the Corn Palace and ate a picnic while gazing at a beautiful Frank Lloyd Wright building that is now open as a hotel. I had to sneak in and at least look at the lobby, with it's beautiful stained glass ceiling.
    The Bad Lands were, well, just as amazing as everyone said they were. The night sky was filled with stars, a bright moon and the landscape just a little eerie. We did every short hike that we could and then drove on.

    We decided, since we were so close anyway, that we should stop by and see Mount Rushmore.  I have to admit, that I was amazed. I was amazed by the guard with the machine gun at the entrance, I was amazed by how many people were there and, yes, I was amazed with the sculpture itself. I was amazed at the skill with which these heads were blasted into the mountain. The blasting process was so perfected that the shapes left behind by the dynamite were within inches of it's final surface.

    We picnicked in yet another city park and then drove on. Adam and I, after hours of driving, scratched the idea of stopping and camping again, and we just drove, and drove. The children slept and we sang along wholeheartedly to oldies on the radio, stopping only for coffee, to switch drivers (complete with an interruption by the police wanting to know what we were doing – “switching drivers, sir, we are on a road trip”) and to use the restroom. At four thirty in the morning we rolled into our driveway, tucked kids in and crashed onto our unmade bed, but we were home.

And now?
    Well, I suppose everything is back to a new normal. Ivory is going to “school” in the mornings.

Adam and I scrubbed the house, and now he is back to work, gone until Friday, and I am using my “free time” with one child to do research and write.
    Our garden is filled with tomatoes and kale yearning to be picked and processed. Pumpkins are hanging on the vines and the nights are much chillier than when we left.

Our chickens are proper hens now and Ivory has been gathering up tiny brown and white and blue eggs out of the nest box.
   Our first batch of harvested tomatoes was turned into a delicious Fresh Tomato and Onion salad with a few fresh leaves of basil thrown in. A memento brought home from our trip.

Fresh Tomato and Onion Salad

2 giant Brandywine Tomatoes
1 medium onion
3 tablespoons Balsamic Vinegar
1 teaspoon mustard

Cut up the tomatoes and hold off eating them if you can. It is well worth it, I promise.
Cut the onion into strips and saute it in butter.
Whisk together the Balsamic Vinegar and the mustard while the onions are cooling. Pour the dressing over the tomatoes, mix in the onions and enjoy.


A note to myself - on our next road trip I will pack: binoculars, a plant guide, a tub and dish soap. 


  1. Heidi this is wonderful! How have I not known about your blog? Great stuff, and I miss you guys, and can't wait to meet your new little one :)

    Bryce & Janina

  2. love the pictures. I would love to camp with you guys while I am still young enough to hike the trails and cook over a camp fire (but not when it's too cold at night).