The boys and I took a little road trip up north recently to visit family (unfortunately, Stephen was not able to come along due to work circumstances). I don’t have many opportunities to see my sister, Katie, and her family, so when I heard they would be in Omaha for the weekend, I decided to make the day’s drive (rather than the two days it takes to get to Wyoming) to see them. A little planning and scheming later, and it turned into a two day drive anyways when we decided to meet up (along with
my mom and Uncle Curt) at my Grandparent’s ranch in South Dakota.
This living halfway across the country from my family thing? Yeah, it pretty much sucks. I hate the way that every time I see my neices and nephews, they are inches (and inches) taller, and that my boys don’t get to have a close relationship with them. I hate worrying about my parents’ and grandparents’ health as they get older, and knowing that it would take me so long to get to them if they needed me. And I hate that I can’t give my sisters a hug through the phone when sometimes a hug can say what no words can. Yet the distance beween us makes me appreciate these precious times that we do spend together even more. We are family, quirks and all, and I love this bunch fiercely.
So up to Omaha we headed, the boys and I, leaving in the wee hours of the morning so they could sleep as much as possible. As much as I missed having a tag-team driver and grown-up conversation partner along, I really can’t complain about the drive. The boys were great, and the long expanses of highway afforded me more quiet time to just sit and think than I have had in a long while. The only hiccup was a bit of car trouble in Kansas City (if you’ve followed me for long, you probably have heard me refer to the “Kansas City Curse,” so this was not totally unexpected.) This time it turned out to be nothing more than an O2 sensor that tripped the check engine light on my 14 year old Subaru (thank you, ethanol fuel). I kept right on going…
We actually made it to Omaha fairly early in the afternoon, and well ahead of my sister who ran into snow along the way. A chance sighting of a road sign for the Union Pacific Railroad Museum (and a little boy who LOVES trains) led us on a mini-adventure in the downtown Council Bluffs area.
The official museum was wonderful (in a really neat old library building), but the Rails West museum was the real hit; a hodge podge collection of model trains and railroad memorbelia in the old station building (with trains flying by every few minutes) and a field full of old train engines and cars in their rusty, crusty, unrestored glory that visitors are free to explore. We climbed all through them- nothing was roped off. The boys got to sit in the engineers seat, ring the bell, sit down for a “meal” in the dining car, pretend to sort letters on the mail car… They loved it!
This is the face of one very happy train-loving little boy.
The next day, we met up with Katie and headed north again, to South Dakota, and to one of my favorite places on earth. Homemade pies, the same old family stories retold for the hundredth time (and embellished a bit each time), afternoon domino and card games, hiking in the gulch with our own resident tour guide… Papa and Grandma’s home is one of my very favorite places on earth.
Grandma sent me home with a few starts from her Christmas cactus (that I will attempt to not kill). According to her, this thing has been blooming for three solid months!
The bowling alley in downtown Huron is charmingly old-fashioned.
And look! I broke 100 and WON! (First and only time. It will never happen again, I’m sure)
And how cute are these two?!? My brother in law and Papa, looking through a box of old photos.
Card games with the nephews.
Spring arrived in the Ozarks while we were away, and greeted us with a bright, warm smile when we returned.
“Mid pleasures and palaces, though we may roam, be it ever so humble, there’s no place like home.”