The GCSP was a lot of fun this year! It was different than the previous years that I've been there (this was only my fourth). First time we've had clouds - but managed to get some good things for people to see anyway. First time I've set up my telescope there - the first night was filled with frustrations as the new star pointer wasn't aligned even close to the telescope. Once that was remedied it was great, though! First time I haven't "worked" the star party (no digging in the van for t-shirt boxes, no moving pylons at the end of the night, etc.). First time we weren't camped with the rest of the group - and I missed them! It was a lot of fun though, and was especially exciting when we saw the deer and elk roaming around! It was sad to leave the group early, too. I think Dean and I both felt that. Both ends of the trip were marked with dining at the Polakis home - breakfast at the start, dinner on the return home to Tucson. It's always good to visit with Tom and Jen!
After the star party it was home to a few nights of work, then pack up and set the course for Illinois! We did a commendable job in getting on the road, this past Wednesday. I got home from work (hadn't packed yet), and we still were pulling out of our driveway by 12:30pm! I dozed in the car for a while, but perked up as we neared White Sands in New Mexico. We arrived there in time for sunset, and enjoyed every minute of climbing on the beautiful white sand dunes and enjoying the quietness. Standing on top of the dunes I was reminded of the book, "The Little Prince". It was a nice break from riding in the car, as well! From there we hit Alamogordo, NM to spend the night. The next morning, feeling refreshed and ready for a long day on the road we grabbed some breakfast and took off. We stopped, however, to visit the Valley of Fire recreation area, just north of White Sands. It was incredible to see the white dunes on the distant horizon, and yet be standing in an area of black lava flow! Typically, we have done most of the driving through New Mexico at night, so this seems like it was the first time I've seen much of it during the day. It was great! After a very long day on the road we arrived in Tulsa, Oklahoma - our goal city for the night. Oklahoma is a very pretty state - coming from the midwest, as we do, we enjoyed seeing the fields of farms blowing in the breeze - the very hot breeze, I might add. I will also state that Oklahoma has the best vistor/welcome center of any place I've ever been! Leather couches....huge, clean, bathrooms...it's great! All through our drive we were touching base with sister, Maj, as her husband was flying her to Joplin, Missouri to join us in our visit with our Aunt Erna. Aunt Erna, who we have stopped and visited a couple of times in the past year, is having health problems and is currently in the hospital. Our timing was perfect on arrival in Joplin on Friday morning, as we were a few miles from the airport when Maj called to say that she and Jeff had landed! We picked her up and Jeff was on his way back to Illinois! It's always bitter-sweet when visiting an older relative in the hospital. There is the fear that this will be the last visit; and this was no exception. We spent a lot of time sitting and talking with Aunt Erna; spent some very valuable time with 4 of her 5 children; and while we hated to say good-bye, we left with even more wonderful memories than we already had. We stayed in Joplin until Sunday morning, when we hit the road early for Sugar Grove and St. Charles, IL. That leg of the trip was punctuated by the a/c in the van quitting! Fortunately, for us, it had cooled off and was a delightful day to drive with the windows open! We had breakfast in Springfield, MO and lunch in Springfield, IL (we didn't waste much time, in otherwords!). After dropping Maj at her home in Sugar Grove, we pulled into our little oasis on the Fox River around 8pm! Ahhh!!! The time is already going too quickly here! Today I did a little bit of work in the guest room (soon to be the master bedroom) while Maj and Dean cleaned out the shed - getting rid of what we no longer need. Dean is also having that a/c in the van fixed today. It will be a long hot ride back to Tucson if he doesn't!
Last evening I was invited to join 4 of my Nurse friends for dinner, a "girls only" event. We enjoyed talking "Nurse talk", and catching up. This evening is the last night of "Dollar Burgers" at our favorite, Rookies, so we are meeting a group of friends there for dinner! Our friend, Roger Ceragioli will be arriving from Vancouver on Thursday, and will visit with us for 6 days; and we will be spending the July 4th holiday with our Iowa family! It's so nice to be back with the family for a while!