We arrived at my grandparents’ house Thursday night after preparing the hobby farm for our absence. How does one explain to 16 goats, 2 sheep, 2 horses, 11 cats, 4 dogs, a bunch of chickens, a bunch of guineas, a bunch of rabbits and 2 guinea pigs that we would be away for two weeks, not forever, and they were to be on their best behavior for the seven families who were to be caring for them for two weeks. Add to this the simple fact that no one runs our hobby farm quite like me and my well trained two sons (by well trained I mean they have been taught to do things “Mom’s way” and do so quite well) and you have a recipe for quite a bit of worry on the part of this hobby farmer.
We got in late to grandma’s house in Wisconsin Thursday night and I didn’t have time to dash to the grocery store for the boys’ favorite foods. Logical next step? Set my alarm for 4:30am the next morning to run to the 24 hour Super Wal-Mart for things like carrots, goldfish crackers, string cheese, frozen wholegrain waffles, taco shells, chips, lemonade, almonds, and a million other things that no two boys could ever eat all of in a month’s time even. I promise I was not thinking that my grandmother was unable to get these things for our boys. I just didn’t want her to have to be bothered with a big grocery trip on top of all she was already doing for us by watching our kids for what seemed like forever.
I’ll let you in on a little secret (probably quite apparent by now)… I’m not away from my kids very often. We homeschool, they like to hang out at home, and we have many of the same interests so we tend to just be together A LOT! This is the longest Kevin and I will have been away from our kids… ever. I’m not sure how I feel about it as I grocery shop for their comfort food. Maybe they will think of me when they eat string cheeses. For every goldfish cracker my youngest son eats maybe he will feel my loving arms around him. I may be a bit emotional…
Ooh guess what else… I found flip flops! I had looked for cheap plastic flip flops (for shower shoes on the ride, I’m a germaphobe) all over Indiana and Kentucky and found NONE. Guess what I found in that Wisconsin Wal-Mart… FLIP FLOPS! I was ecstatic. Probably more so than anyone in Wal-Mart was prepared for at 5:00am. I also got a big bottle of shampoo and conditioner even though Kevin recommended the little travel sized ones. I may have to sneak these into my bag to avoid a well deserved lecture about overpacking from my very logical (and almost always right) husband.
I got back to Grandma’s at 6:00am and was welcomed with a great pot of coffee (oh how that woman knows me!) and a cheery good morning from Grandma who thought I had just woke up (did I look that rough?). Kevin and I grabbed some coffee, loaded up our bags, hugged the boys and grandparents goodbye and set off to catch the bus in Rockford (hour drive from Grandma and Grandpa’s house).
We chatted in such a gitty fashion and were so excited! We had clipped our helmets onto our carry on gear so they wouldn’t get cracked in checked luggage (I admittedly think air luggage handlers are out to ruin every material item I hold dear) and in hopes that they would be a great conversation start up for folks we ran into along the way (still raising funds for the Arthritis Foundation on the ride and through Oct 31! Donate here! http://ccc14.kintera.org/jhennaconway .)
About halfway to Rockford we realized we were way early, completely excited, and throwing around the idea of just driving down to Chicago ourselves. Kevin didn’t like the idea of me riding a bus back from Chicago on my own on the return trip anyways and the parking fees at O’Hare would only be about $10 more than the cost of the bus tickets to get there so we went for it. ON TO CHICAGO!
Traffic was easy, construction not so bad, and when we got to Chicago we were almost 4 hours early for our flight. I felt like we were on “The Amazing Race” and kept alluding to that fact the whole drive down as an excuse for my slight lead foot. We got to the airport and I wanted to grab our bags and sprint to the shuttle, airport, and to our gate all the while checking for earlier flights (I used to watch A LOT of The Amazing Race). Kevin wanted to take our time, MAKE SURE I knew where the van was parked, MAKE SURE we had everything we needed, MAKE SURE I would remember where the van was parked, and MAKE SURE we weren’t forgetting anything… get my point?
We checked everything twice over and jumped on the shuttle to the terminals. We were so excited! I totally overlooked and forgot the bar of poison ivy soap I had brought for the lovely poison ivy I had all up and down my right arm but wouldn’t realize it until we were getting into the hotel in San Francisco. I blame Kevin LOL!
Check in was a breeze at O’Hare… props to Virgin America, great airline and super nice people. Plus I kinda felt like we were heading somewhere exotic just by the airline name… Virgin Islands, ummmm , can’t really think of any other place that Virgin America reminds me of but Virgin Islands are good enough. We still had just over three hours until our flight left and there was no line for security so we got through quite rapidly.
Kevin kept asking me, “Do you remember where the van is parked? Lot F, S1.” I assured him I had put the information in the notes of my phone because I could NEVER remember it. He seemed content with that.
A wonderful breakfast at the airport Wolfgang Puck hit the spot though I kept thinking they were hiding bacon somewhere in my Belgian waffle that would assuredly send me intio anaphylactic shock and my epi-pen was in my checked luggage (once again I blame Kevin for not insisting I put it in my carry on). Oh, actually, I think we both decided I might get in trouble in security for my obvious intent of taking over the plane with an epi-pen.
We walked around the terminal, looking in shops, realizing there really are few magazines we are really interested in anymore and thinking people MUST BE CRAZY to pay $5 for a little bag of about 15 almonds. We chatted, messed around on our phones, double checked I had the van parking information in my phone at the insistence of my sweet husband, chatted some more, checked online to see if our bikes had been delivered to the hotel (FedEx tracking confirmed they had), walked some more, called the Sheraton to see if our Amazon.com boxes had arrived (I eventually hung up after being on hold for 45 minutes while they checked), and finally were ready to board the plane. San Francisco here we come!
I don’t do well on flights. I’m not scared I just have the attention span of an ADHD squirrel. I like to drive so I can stop when I want (seldom do but the option is still there), go as fast or as slow as I want (always fast… grrr that lead foot), and can pull through a drive through whenever I get hungry. Flying limits my options way more than I am comfortable with and I just get bored. I couldn’t sleep because I was too excited and so I resorted to watching Judge Judy and Law & Order: SVU on the neat little individual video screens each seat had. Kevin’s was on a picture of our flight path and the plane seemed to move at a snail’s pace across the midwest, west, and California. I took pictures (of his screen) when our little plane was shown over Nebraska (our youngest son’s birth state) and entering California (our oldest son’s birth state). These of course were for their awesome scrap books that I haven’t quite started yet.
We arrived in San Francisco right on time and my Amazing Race dream jumped back into full swing as I begged Kevin to sprint off the plane and through the terminal with me… he refused. To the baggage claim we went at a normal pace (grrrrrrr!) and picked up our large hiking backpacks (mine had miraculously stayed together even with the ripped seam). Mine was crazy heavy and Kevin kept asking me what all I had in there. I admitted to the large bottle of shampoo and conditioner somehow rationalizing that those were the sole cause of the seemingly 400 pound pack. My stubborness and pride took a front seat and I insisted on carrying my own pack out to the area where we were to catch the shuttle to the hotel by the airport. Kevin said, “Fine” and I knew to not mention that we should sprint out to the shuttle spot like we are in The Amazing Race.
It was warm but windy. We waited and waited for what seemed like hours (in reality it was in total about 30 minutes) and I made several calls to the hotel who assured me the shuttle was making its regular rounds and would be there soon (should I tell them we are on The Amazing Race?). It was. We hopped on the shuttle for the hotel and again were excited beyond measure. “Do you remember where the van was parked?” Kevin wanted to know again. I chuckled and said “I have no clue, I guess I’ll be hitchhiking out of Chicago.”
We chatted about things of the ride… what we were excited for, nervous about, how often we would stop to take pictures, what ifs, and of course memories that Kevin had of the ride eight years before. I was nervous about my bottom getting sore and Kevin was nervous that I wouldn’t clip out of my pedals at stops well and would be falling left and right taking out other riders as I went down. His concern was valid.
We arrived at the hotel and it was lovely. We took all of our stuff up to the room and relaxed for all of 2.5 minutes before I was asking Kevin if he wanted to go for a walk, get something to eat, anything to move my legs and calm my racing mind a bit. We went down to the hotel restaurant and had a great dinner. He had sea bass with rice and veggies and I had salmon with some pasta and yummy potatoes which I checked over several times for any signs of mammal product (I’m allergic to mammal meat… not fun). I really hate that I am so overly concerned with the fact that every chef is secretly trying to kill me with mammal products, ugh!
We talked about the time difference (the fact that California is 2 hours behind the midwest) and the fact that we better get a “good night” call into the boys as it was already 9:00pm their time. We chatted with them, all was well, they were fine. Grandma and Grandpa were also doing great and Grandma made me promise that I would be coming at some point to get my children (the amount of clothes and food I had brought for them had her concerned lol).
We headed up to our room with full bellies and excited nerves. Have I mentioned we were SO EXCITED! Yup, we were. I looked for my poison ivy soap to give relief to my very itchy arm and realized I didn’t have it! Ugh! I tried to call the Sheraton again to check on our bikes and Amazon packages (tent and sleeping bags) and they told us all bikes were locked up in a separate room and they would have any packages for us at check in. I drifted off to sleep that night slowly while Kevin did some reading. We joked about how this was our honeymoon (we never had one when we were first married) and how totally unromantic we would feel each day as we finished many miles on our bikes. It was good to be on this journey with my husband of 17 years, even if he wouldn’t play The Amazing Race with me… maybe tomorrow.
Join me tomorrow for Day two of this adventure. Remember how I was talking about exotic destinations? Crazy at it may seem, we actually got to see Jamaica, so cool!
Ta ta for now,