Wednesday, May 8, 2019

The Travel Journalist

I’ve had many aspirations over the years, and in my mid-twenties I loved the idea of being a travel journalist. At that time the only thing I had to spend money on was a mortgage for a small home in Greens Fork, dog food, gas to the airport and airline tickets. I traveled often during that phase of life, always with a Nikon camera and journal.

In my mid-thirties I travel with a lot of dry Cheerios, plastic grocery bags for any sort of urgent disposal and a smartphone that typically always runs at 23% battery. 

We went to Kansas last weekend, and I often get asked how long it takes us to travel to the family ranch. We’ve made it there in anywhere from 10 to 12 to 24 (the unbelievable Christmas trip of 2016) hours. This trip was fun because we made the voyage for a family wedding in which Caroline was a flower girl.

Facebook Caroline

Real Life Caroline

She cleans up pretty well for a tot who prefers mud over make-up. She did wonderfully in her dress and fancy shoes, but once we got back to the ranch she found mud and actually lost a shoe in the muck. It was good to have her back. 

Traveling with two under three has its own challenges, but nothing that prohibits me from suiting up to go again; we have airline tickets bought for June. This trip I introduced Caroline to the I Spy game and that was a big hit. Except she would tell me the color she wanted to find, already having her item spotted. It somewhat defeats the purpose of the game, but certainly doesn’t ruin the fun. We found the same orange ink pen clipped to Dad’s visor six times in thirty minutes.

Somewhere in Illinois we passed three school buses full of children and would you believe none of them were on electronics? They actually waved to us as we passed by and this was definitely a trip highlight for a toddler. She asked me where they were going and I told her probably a field trip. This started the “Why” game that lasted until St. Louis. I’ve never been so glad to see the arch. 

It was outside Columbia, Missouri that we stopped in the pouring rain for double diaper changes. I’ve mastered the art of in-truck changes for little Cyrus while he’s still small. Caroline is still curious about this process, but this particular change almost knocked both she and I out. So there I was: a belly-laughing, half-naked 9-month old across my lap, a 2 ½-year-old gagging out the window with the rain coming in our truck and a mess up to my elbows…literally. I wrapped it all up and asked Caroline to sit back so I could throw the mess out the window. Cody was still inside the truck stop, and I’d have him throw it in the trash upon his return. I tossed the 45-pound diaper out of the back seat window of our truck, and then looked across to see a man at pump five watching in disbelief. I wanted to explain myself and that I wasn’t littering, I was trying to save my daughter from throwing up on her brother, but I didn’t have the energy to do so. I just rolled up the window and hoped Cody would return before the judgy guy left. 

We stayed in a beautiful hotel in old town Wichita that was previously a cannery in the 1920s. Both kids slept well and filled up on all the junk food and toys that travel with grandparents they see four times a year. The grandparent’s room was like walking into the aftermath had a tornado hit a toy store and candy store in one swipe. There was a lot of candy wrappers and miscellaneous parts to toys we’ll probably never see again. 

I forgot my razor and had to get one at the front desk. Talk about a massacre. Despite my best efforts, I went to the wedding wearing a leopard print dress and my legs looked like I had to kill the actual animal I was wearing. 

The wedding was beautiful, the flower girls were cute as can be and the reception was a ball. We got a family photo that didn’t show my legs, both kids were well behaved and as I write this column, we’re sitting in traffic on the west side of St. Louis. We should hopefully be home by the time the blog goes live on Wednesday.  I consider all of these things signs of another good trip west. 

I don’t travel much with the Nikon anymore because it just won’t fit in the diaper bag. And I never did see my writing in the magazines they stuff in the airplane seat backs, but sometimes I get into the local Nettle Creek Gazette, so that is something. 

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