July 8, 2010

More Tales from the Trip

There's a Mormon at the Baptist Bible Club
When we were in Pennsylvania at the Gettysburg Campground Andrew came running up to me with a flier inviting him to join the Baptist Bible Club that day for games and activities.  Rex and I chuckled about it but that boy really wanted to go.  When I realized that I could watch them from the laundry room where I was working, I let him go.
They were playing with a huge colored parachute and having a great time.  There were about eight other kids in the group--all regulars with matching shirts--ranging in age from 10 to 18.
Andrew was not intimidated at all.  In fact when I went over to get him, he was talking their ears off.  He started some story about catching fireflies just as they mushroomed the parachute over their heads.  He kept talking even until the parachute had completely melted onto their heads: "And we put them in jars...and we caught like fifty hundred of them...and then we caught some more...and put them in a different jar...and then...
The minute he paused for breath, the group jumped out from under the parachute gasping for breath and looking relieved.  I think they were actually grateful when I carted him away.

A Close Clearance Call
We were planning to take some friends out to eat at a Lebanese restaurant near Washington D.C.  but when we pulled in in the outdoor parking lot we saw that they actually had height restrictions complete with hanging clearance bars! We were way too huge with our beastly excursion and tall car top carrier to ever dream of fitting through.  Fortunately we discovered that the lot directly in front of the restaurant was actually missing its bar.  Lucke-e-e! (Small nod to Napoleon Dynamite).  We happily drove under the empty chains and parked.  As we walked into the restaurant we joked about the bar being replaced while we were eating.
When we came out of the restaurant we were shocked to find workers there with bar in hand.  It was a super close call as we sped past them before they could hang it.

Poison Ivy
We were hiking through a wooded area in New York which we were warned was full of poison ivy.  We were told to stay on the path and I was surprised at how well Andrew followed that rule.  He wouldn't even sit on a log edging the path so I could take his picture.  As we were leaving the area, we saw a huge snake in the bushes and I pulled Andrew quickly away from it.  He pointed at the snake and said, "Mom!  It's the poison ivy!  Thanks for saving me!!"

And with that, the mystery was solved of why he so diligently stayed on the path.

Chicago Storytelling
When we drove through the streets of Chicago we played a game of vocalizing the imagined thoughts of people we passed.  Like I said, "That woman feels like growling in her tiger-striped pants."  And Rachel said, "That guy's worried about being late to the gym, and that guy's thinking about how he needs to go to the gym."
Andrew tried to catch the vision of the game.  He said, "That man's so old he doesn't know if he should go to work or not."
Then he kept going:  "So....he goes to work, but nobody's there!"
And his thought turned into a story with some circuitous plot line which droned on and on in the background.   We kept catching these snatches whenever one of us wasn't shouting out something else...
"Then he decides to go home again.  When he gets home, he sees that all the people are at his house.  And he's like why are all you people at my house?  We should go back to work.  So he goes back to work..."
(I don't think it ever ended.)

Shower Power
One dark and stormy night (with tornado warnings no less), I decided to take a shower at the state park where where we were staying.  While I was in there two women came in and starting using the showers in the stalls on either side of me.  As we were all showering the power suddenly went out.  True to my jumpy nature, I screamed bloody murder.  But we had only about 2 seconds of darkness before the lights came back on.  It was really quiet for a minute and then I said, "Sorry guys."
Fortunately I never saw their faces because I showered as long as necessary for them to leave first.

Gas Station Gourmet
For our nights of camping I decided to buy easy processed cheapo meals that require only hot water to prepare.  My cousin told me that every gas station has a microwave so I decided I'd warm the food there.
The first meal consisted of six cup-a-noodles.  I went in the gas station which did not have a microwave (that blows that theory, right?) so I asked instead for some hot water.  The lady heated up some water in a coffee pot and I poured it into the six cups avoiding the coffee grinds while fielding questions about where we were from and what the heck we were doing so far away from home.  In the end we walked happily out of the gas station with our $2 meal to feed our whole family.  
On our night in Nauvoo I had decided to try out the personal-sized Easy Macs macaroni and cheese.  I took them into the gas station and asked if I could use some water and a microwave.  The three ladies set me up and then watched amused as I "made" dinner.  It took me about 10 minutes just to get all the layers of packaging off or open.  Then I had to heat each of the six containers for 3 minutes each.  So I was in there for over half an hour to make my oh-so-simple meal.
When I opened the containers I was surprised to see how empty they were.  There were like 10 noodles in each one.  I tried to convince myself that they would expand with water and heat, but they barely filled half of the tiny container when I was done.
And while I was "cooking" Andrew ran up to me about 20 times asking for different candy purchases.  The lady at the front counter burst out laughing in amusement at my life.
Finally, I headed out to the car with my sorry half-empty bowls of noodles.

But the kids claimed they loved them and that they got filled up.  I think I'll keep those kids forever.
The third gas station moment was scary.  When I walked in, I noticed that the lady at the front counter was protected by bullet-proof glass.  As I worked on my insta-heat noodles I wondered how safe I was without protection.  Was it my imagination or did everyone look like they wanted to kill me?  And the view wasn't very nice either.  One guy walked in with only the top two buttons of his shirt buttoned.  The bottom of his shirt hung open, framing his hairy beer-belly.  Ni-ice.   

Amish Questions
In response to popular demand (well, like two people) I will tell you some of the not so funny, but kinda interesting info I gathered from the 15 hours I lived among the Amish...
  • A new buggy large enough to fit our family of 6 (a 2-seater) would cost $4,500.  The buggies were all black where we were but in other communities they can be gray or yellow.
  • Amish get married only on Tuesdays and Thursdays.  We were there on a Thursday and could hear the wedding bells chiming.
  • Men are clean-shaven until they marry and then they grow beards (no mustaches though).
  • Amish children are only educated until the 8th grade.
  • Their horses have to be shod about every 6 weeks. 


    1. lots of chuckles jenny! and i can't believe you drove so close to us (gettsyburgh is just a couple hours away) without coming to stay! next time come visit or i'll take it personally.

    2. Nice! I'm starting to laugh when I see you have a new post, before I even click over to read it. And I read them out loud whenever possible so my hubby can hear them too. We really enjoy them. Thank you!

      We spent last summer in Philadelphia and have enjoyed Amish Country, Gettysburg New York State & D. C. too. I wanted to ask questions of the Amish but wasn't brave enough. So, thanks again.

    3. I laughed! You are such a great story teller. You really put us in your shoes. I'm so impressed with your thriftiness! That takes discipline when it would have been so easy to do the drive through. I get meltdowns over happy meal toys and your kids were so grateful for their noodles! They are neat!

    4. Great post! Your vacation needs to get turned into a book:)

    5. I can't wait to see your trip slideshow, you are going to make one right?
      You are proof that frugal vacationers have the most fun... and the most interesting adventures!

    6. ha! i love the game of guessing what the chicageans are thinking. or in andrew's case - the game where you make up an story with intricate details about ... person. the lucky guy who got a whole story! the black out shower story was funny - especially since i've witnessed your jumpy nature. very comical - the blood curdling scream, followed by a sheepish - sorry guys. oh man, i could go on and on. thanks for letting us in on those cool amish facts. interesting that they only go til the 8th grade.

    7. Loved the extra trip details. I hope all your kids keep journals.

    8. Oh I loved these stories! I am still laughing! BUT now I know why you are so skinny. All you ate for dinner was a cup of noodles (under 100 calories, i think) and the next night only ONE microwaveable macaroni and cheese???????? HOLY COW WOMAN. I would be starving!! Good thing I did not go on that vacation with you. I'd be at Carl's Jr ordering a Number 1, medium sized, and a Coke!!!!! :)