Thursday, June 24, 2010


We made it to the Midwest. Many lovely things about the Midwest: first among them, Steve staring into (and tearing up at) the endless straight road of I-80 in Nebraska looking at farm fields and corn stalks as far as the horizon past the one you can actually see -- al fondo fondo fondo -- and admitting, "I love the Midwest." Second: fireflies. Third: water parks. Being a coastal elite, I'd never heard of water parks before I learned that Iowa was below Minnesota. But, I like water parks and I LOVE the city pools of Ames and I ADORE the newest addition, the Don and Ruth Furman Aquatic Center. It is not a city pool, but an aquatic center. And, its so cool that I don't even mind not being able to call it a pool.

We actually swam a few times in motels en route to Ames. The Lamplighter in Vernon, Utah, near Dinosaur National Monument -- got to touch a dinosaur fossil! and the something-er-other in North Platte, Nebraska. Alas, Teo threw up at 4am in the latter (in the bed, not the pool). Being ill or having an ill child in a hotel room is one of my least favorite activities. But, at least I'm not the room cleaner!

Saturday, June 19, 2010

Don't Get Your Fingers Caught in a Winch

The one thing that makes leaving worthwhile is getting out from under all those leaving tasks! In our case, the feelings of community and associated parties/get togethers were fantastic.

The stacking of things into 4 piles -- going shipping, going in car/plane, staying, and goodwill -- was enough to put us over the edge. The absolute last thing we packed was our printer. We were to leave on Tuesday. On Monday night, we finally narrowed our "going shipping" pile to 36 boxes. I ordered. And waited. And called. And waited. Shipping changed to expedited from cargo because of bureaucratic redtape (whose I do not know). Delayed departure 1 day. House now empty. Kids frazzled. Next morning, I wait. I make friends with Amy and Stacie at International Parcel Shipping. My credit card is rejected twice, caught up in fraud alerts. Not everyone makes $1000s of shipping orders.... Finally, the labels arrive via email. I print them out. The UPS driver comes, and 30 minutes later we are headed to ... CIRCUS CIRCUS.

Yes, Edelwuhs begins with Las Vegas. There is not much there, besides 1/4th of the European population and 1/8th of the American, and one freezing pool. Like most of the pools in Redlands, Circus Circus does not heat their pool. But at $25.60/room, perhaps they can't afford to? In Vegas, Leah from UPS calls. They cannot accept personal belongings. Where is our invoice? She does not know what will happen to our boxes, but she suspects they will linger at Ontario airport. We begin to envision a number of phone calls to our friends, or 4 hours back to Redlands from Las Vegas.

Instead I wrote an email to Amy and Stacie, of IPS, who contracts with UPS, and went to bed. Stacies resolved it (!!), and as of today -- from Vernal, Utah -- our 36 boxes have arrived in Koln, Germany!

We departed for Bryce National Park with lighter hearts, and began to shed stress and anxiety. The deadlines we missed and tasks still lingering (to be done in Ames, Iowa) momentarily disappeared. Instead we enjoyed the hoodoos!
Steve and I did, at least. We tried to Dr. Seuss it up, but mostly we lured the kids with chocolate chip cookies. They did walk over 3 miles though :-)

Lessons Learned:
1. Sometimes the National Park Campsites are full. A 4pm arrival is not early enough to get a first-come first-served spot.

2. Get over the princess phobia (Kim).

3. Batman has a lot of arch-enemies (Kim).

4. The backroads are lovely, but slow. (We learned this years ago, in full honesty.) On UT 10 today we were treated to cattle rustling. After a while, one rider came by to ask if we were in a hurry. They were going to peel off in about 1/4 mile or so. We weren't in a hurry. We liked watching the dogs and horse herd the cows down UT 10 from one pasture to another! Later on, as we went by fantastic scenery on UT 191 ... we wondered about our backroads. But here in Vernal, safe and sound in the Lamplighter Inn, after BBQ and good beer, it was a great day.

View Larger Map

5. Last, on the day we left Redlands, the last email I read before the UPS driver came was from my sister Victoria who has been at sea for 6 weeks in the Atlantic (between the Amazon and Barbados area). One of the zooplankton scientists got his fingers mangled in and torn off by a winch, and had to have them sewn back on. Although he got a cool ride from the French airforce, who the ship had managed to contact, and who sent a plane and then a helicopter, I doubt he'll think it was worth it. Keep your fingers out of the way of winches.