I'm not sure how it got to be mid-November already, but here we are. The past few weeks have seen birthdays of my mom, granddaughter, grandson and myself come and go. The election and all the nastiness of contentious races on state and local levels is finally, at long last, over–at least for a few months. We've even had our first significant snowfall, at least enough to cancel area schools for a day, the week before Thanksgiving.
If you read my monthly contributions to this paper, you know our middle son relocated to Denver and his family was slated to join him the first of November. This entailed much of my husband's and my free time helping pack boxes, clean up a yard and shed, load a trailer and our truck, all to be ready to roll out on Friday, Nov. 2, to help start them on their new adventure in Colorado.
The patient load at the local office where I work has increased dramatically, seemingly just as all our free time at home disappeared. Although I am thankful for a busy practice and job security, sometimes those days of working from 8 to 6 or later can wear me down, especially when I have dishes to wash, food to cook, bills to pay, a house to clean, etc. Adding in getting the kids ready to go got my old hamster wheel spinning. Weeks later, it has yet to slow down, let alone stop.
My husband and I left for Denver with a truck bed full, pulling an extremely loaded trailer, about 3:30 in the afternoon on Nov. 2. We were hoping to leave much earlier than that, but–as usual with our family–things were not quite running on schedule. We chose to travel Route 36 from Jacksonville as there was no way we could keep up with traffic on I-70. It seemed to be a good choice, at least for the first part of our journey.
Since we were only getting about nine miles per gallon, we had to stop frequently for gas along the way. By the time we got to St. Joseph, MO, close to the Kansas border, we decided to also get a bite to eat around 9 p.m. Guess what? The dining area of the St. Joe's McDonald's closes at 9 p.m., which we discovered after we parked way in the back of the lot and walked up to the door. Going through the drive-through with our load wasn't an option, and we also needed a personal pit stop, so off we went.
We headed to the north side of town as we had seen a couple of eateries posted on the highway info sign before we exited. Guess what else? That side of town was experiencing a power outage. Good grief! Randy pulled across the road into the lot of a former gas station, now closed, thinking he could pull through to turn around. No such luck. With very little light, he began backing and turning the trailer, with me outside guiding him. Unfortunately, neither one of us had seen the piece of rebar sticking out of the ground about three feet until we heard a loud scraping noise.
He yelled out the window, "I think I hit something." Well, not exactly, but he now sports some various size deep scratches on that front fender area of the truck. At least it wasn't the trailer, which was a rental and brand new to boot, or our truck tire, which we had just purchased in mid-October. By this time we both were "hangry" and still needed a pit stop. We finally located a Walmart and bought a sub sandwich and hit the road again.
Kansas–a large expanse of not much to see, even less when it's midnight. And guess what, not too many of the small towns you pass through on the two-lane highway have facilities open overnight. We foolishly passed some up thinking we could stop at the next dot on the map, and I mean map. We were smart enough to take our old road atlas because–you got it–no satellite reception through most of the state to check our GPS and look for gas stations. We were down to a quarter tank about 3 a.m. when we found a local feed store that had two older pumps out front. There was a little kiosk in the center of the two to swipe your credit card and turn the pumps on. You're probably ahead of the story but, of course, our credit card was declined. About the same time Randy got a fraud alert on his phone. Aargh!
About 12 minutes and a couple of phone calls later, we were on the road. I'm grateful that the credit card company is on top of things, but we sure didn't need that speed bump in an already slow, mind-numbing, painfully tedious trip. Sorry, did I say that? Lesson learned with gratefulness that God was watching over us.
Seeing the sights of eastern Colorado in growing light of early morning was nice. Lots of cattle surrounded both sides of the road, along with some buffalo herds, which reminded us that we were really looking forward to breakfast. Finally made it to Denver around 8:30 a.m. Saturday and chowed down at an IHOP before finding Bryan's new home on our GPS.
Bryan, Jessie, Anthony and Harmony had driven all night as well, which probably worked out best as the two kids slept most of the time. The rest of us, however, were exhausted. We spent several hours unloading the trailer and truck before we called it quits for a while. I had booked a hotel room after we arrived in Denver and was pleased that they could accommodate an early check-in for us. Somehow, I ended up purchasing a short vacation in Las Vegas for next year while on the phone with them, but that's a story for another time. Point to remember: don't ever use your credit card when you haven't slept more than 30 minutes in the past 30 hours.
A nap and dinner later, we went back to help move some bags, boxes and furniture from their garage into the house. When we arrived, Jessie was bathing cats. While exploring their new digs, they discovered the fireplace and decided to climb up into the chimney. Jessie had to stick her head up there in order to reach far enough to pull them out. Curiosity killed the cat; at this point, I think Bryan was ready to follow suit.
A couple of hours later, we said our goodbyes as we had to head out early the next morning for the long, tedious, mind-numbing trip back across Kansas. Did I say that again? Dang. This was a moment I had dreaded for so long, and even though there were tears, I did better than I expected, at least until I got out into the truck and later back in our room.
Parking a long, enclosed trailer isn't an easy task in a busy hotel parking lot. We had lucked out when we checked in by finding four open spots together at the far end of the lot. Coming back around 10 p.m., we weren't as fortunate. Randy checked at the front desk to see if they had anywhere else to park, but the apartment complex next to them that they suggested used a parking garage with ceilings too low for us and the bar across the street was jam-packed with Saturday night revelers.
He finally decided to back the trailer into one spot, unhook it, and park the truck in a separate space. With me directing, again, he cautiously worked the trailer back, a long process with other patrons driving around the front of the truck and me making sure the car next to the spot wouldn't get damaged. At one point, I heard a crunch, but I knew he hadn't hit anything. He heard it, too, and got out to look. All I can say is that it's a good thing I buy my reading glasses for $5 bucks at Walmart. They were toast. He also had to borrow a couple of retaining wall pieces to put the trailer hitch on. Did I mention it was snowing? Good times.
At least we were able to sleep that night. Our hotel offered a pretty decent free breakfast, and after checking out, we went out to hook the truck up to the trailer and inch it out of the lot. Before leaving, I pulled up the GPS directions while Randy checked everything over once again. You knew there had to be another hitch, didn't you? The right turn signal and right brake light on this brand-new trailer wasn't working. He tried a couple of tricks to fix the problem but nothing worked. Guess that long, lonely route through Kansas would be a blessing today. We started our journey back to Illinois with lovely views of mountains to the west, some of them snow-covered.
At least gas stations and convenience stores were open along our way home, but the daylight didn't make the trip much more interesting. I think the big trucks hauling sugar beets were the most exciting view of the day. With sketchy internet coverage, YouTube and Facebook weren't an option. I had a book to read, but since my glasses were crushed, I couldn't do that either. I wasn't sure whether to take a Benadryl and pass out or bang my head against the passenger window. I don't handle long rides well anymore. Our future trips to Denver will be by air.
After arriving home around 12:30 Monday morning, we hit the sack so we could get up and go to work that morning. And the business hasn't stopped yet. Our 15-year-old granddaughter is staying with us to finish up the semester at HHS, and though she is pretty self-sufficient, I do take her to school each morning. I also feel somewhat obligated to have something in the house for her to eat. Randy can survive on peanut butter and jelly if necessary, but I feel she needs more sustenance. At least I get to work on time every morning now.
Between our work, her activities, our church and village responsibilities, doctor and dental appointments, birthdays, upcoming holidays and trying to be good grandparents taking kids to Six Flags and movies, I don't feel like I even have time to think, except during the night when I'm supposed to be sleeping. I know we are supposed to "Be still and know I am God," but I believe it is God keeping me so blasted busy these days, like the other day when I worked straight through until 2:15 p.m., ran to the post office, bank and McDonald's for a diet soda (my lunch–don't judge) before a 2:30 hair appointment. I left there shortly after 4 p.m. to head home for a quick bite of cold oatmeal, a stop at the Taylor Springs post office, a two-minute visit with mom who needed an address, and on to the high school band room by 4:30. Then to a church meeting from 5 to 6 and a food and toy drive meeting from 6 to 7. Then home to wash two loads of laundry, bake a pumpkin bread and pay bills before lights out.
God wants us to be still and be present with Him, but He also knows what we need, and right now, I don't need time to sit and miss my grandkids. He also knew having Paige here with us would be a great blessing in many ways and made me change my mind and agree to have her. Thank goodness He is patient; I have Him on the calendar beginning in January.