Monday, June 29, 2009

Road Trip!

It has been an age since we posted, but we have a good excuse - we've been on the road and are currently residing in St Charles, Illinois! Ideally, we would have posted along the way, but the combination of Internet accessibility and family obligations made it difficult. So forgive us and we promise to catch you up the next few days, and bore you with our dronings from the Midwest!

It was not a totally event-free trip. The venerable Ford van, now past 315,000 miles ran great, but had starter issues. This happened once while in Tucson a month ago, and our mechanic thought a new battery ground strap fixed the problem, which it did. But it happened during a bathroom break in MON (Middle of Nowhere) Oklahoma, where even a battery jump wouldn't rile it. After 20 minutes it started on it's own, but a spectre loomed. In a call to my mechanic the next day he was thinking the heat was compounding a starter issue, and a trip to a Firestone dealer in Joplin, MO confirmed that in "failure mode", the starter was drawing a huge 700 amps, so just clicking when trying to start. $200 and 90 minute later it was again roadworthy. Oh, the A/C also failed (it had also been making noises, but according to the mechanic, was working ok), but fortunately, the last leg of the trip occurred in 80 degree temps instead of the 100s 2 days before! Will get that looked at here in St Charles.

On our Midwest trips, we generally stop at the 3-corners area of Kansas, Oklahoma and Missouri to visit Melinda's Aunt Erna. She has been a gracious host to us the past year or two - overjoyed to see us, and even welcoming the cats we've travelled with the last 2 visits. Of late she has been in a nursing home and more recently in a hospital after a fall. Melinda's sister Maj flew down to Joplin to meet us and spend a couple days with Erna and family there. She was frequently in fine form, and reminiscing about the old days brought out a lot of laughs and hugs.

The heat wave broke and the last day's 600 mile trip had perfect blue skies and temps perhaps hitting 80 - a good thing with the A/C out! Leaving the pre-monsoon browns of Tucson and entering the greenery of the Midwest seems nothing short of amazing to me, even after making this trip many times. Arriving home, thanks to Maj, the house was ready for us, the bed was made, even the refrigerator was partially stocked with supplies! We were able to sit down, relax and watch a little TV instead of clean and prep the house. A quick walk around the house this morning (75F at noon) showed a welcoming committee of Canadian Geese with their no-longer-so-little goslings, and even a 16" carp came up to me on the Fox River to say hi. Melinda is here for 10 days, I'll be here for over a couple weeks before heading back down towards Texas, where Melinda will rejoin me for the last swing through that state to visit family and friends. Stay tuned for some of our recent and upcoming adventures!


Andrew Cooper said...

Road trip. There is something I do miss doing. Two hours get me from one end of the island to another on two lane state highway.

I have not even driven an interstate higway in over two years, not sure if I remember how. It will be interesting when I get a chance to at the end of this week. About five hours from Seattle to La Grande, Oregon.

Anonymous said...

Seattle to La Grande is a nice road trip. Did that one years ago when Matt and Mike were young. Just came back from Portland/Beaverton and it's beautiful up there now.

The Columbia Gorge waterfalls are refreshing and Cannon beach/Ecola State Park made for some exceptional photos.

Enjoy your trip. Ps: The rose garden in Portland/Washington Park is in full bloom, hydrangeas, camelias, azaleas, roses, wisteria, wild daffodils, calas, and spruces everywhere. Laurel