Quite the change from 80's, sunshine, and calm seas, indeed. But it's beautiful here in Colorado with the snow on the cherry, crabapple, and plum trees. The new green of the aspens contrasts beautifully with the wet and snow, and it's nice to be where it's cold and dry again instead of sticky and humid.
The long drive through Texas put us through three different climates, and we got to see a lot of small towns along US 287, but now I'm glad I'm home planting tomato seeds indoors while the spinach, lettuce, and radishes enjoy the moisture from the white stuff.
a complete map of the end of our journey, including the whole path up 287 through hundreds of small towns. Longview was a very tiny town, where we got off to a pretty good start because there was one of the "Texas' Best" truck stops just right next to the hotel. We stopped there for the bakery, after the boys had actually had their breakfasts at the hotel. John knew the coffee at the hotel just wasn't up to par, so we stopped at the truck stop.
For some reason, I think truck stop coffee is nearly always good, as it's always getting bought so it's fresh. The bakery also had these Danish-like pastries that they called Kalches, along with some meat rolls, like the British sausage rolls, but with the local smoked pork and beef sausages in them! It was pretty impressive for breakfast. Afterward, I limped to the car, took the tiny Ziploc (tm) bag that I'd used for my sandwiches in Biloxi and filled it with ice from the hotel ice machine and stuck it on my knee as we drove away.
That ice bag lasted for the whole trip, and every time we stopped, I'd get more ice from the soda fountains for it, and I'd pack it on the knee whenever I wasn't driving. John was great and did a lot of the driving, but I managed my four to six hours a day. We didn't really push it too hard as we had both Saturday and Sunday to get home before Jet's classes started on Monday.
Most of the drive went fairly fast along the open stretches of road, but we slowed for each of the tiny towns, as we knew that the local police really got a pretty good revenue from the speeders on the US highway.
Jet asked for a complete explanation of the difference between interstates, freeways, highways, and avenues, and it was kind of fun to think about it all, enough to try and explain the anomalies as well as the common bits. It was harder than I liked.
287 also made the whole experience different than it would have been in the Interstates. Lots and lots of tiny towns, and lots of places to stop for small shops and things to do, eat, and see. It also was really different because we really had to slow down for the towns. I got a good taste of just how good my luck was when I pulled into one small town, kept just barely to the limit, just going a mile or two per hour faster in order to pass one car that had been annoying me. Just as I was leaving down, I looked back and saw a black patrol car right on my tail.
Two moments after I spotted them, they went into the left turn lane to make a U-Turn to head back into town. I knocked against my head for the luck of it all. I was just so grateful at that moment that I hadn't done something truly stupid and gotten a ticket. It was surprising how intense the experience was.
Dallas was just covered with mist, just a beautiful, shiny new city all surrounded by the mist of clouds. I just hadn't thought of Texas as cloudy when so little of Colorado is that in any case.
Seeing them and seeing them, I finally resolved that we had to stop and really look at them close up. It took nearly twenty miles for us to find an exit that had a good entrance back onto the freeway which had a huge patch that we could easily get to from a nearly deserted on or off-ramp. In this case, we found them on the on-ramp, and just parked by the side of the ramp and got out and went and waded about in the flowers. Jet was really bemused by our behavior, and stayed in the van, playing his games while we snapped pictures of the bluebells of Texas with bees and ladybugs.
They were really solid flowers, too, built like lupins or other bulb flowers, and so very very blue.
We also stopped at a little pecan candy gift shop, that had bags of pecans in their shell and a sheller the likes of which I'd never seen before. It had teeth and jaws and you used it to snip off both ends of the nuts and two sides. With that much structure gone from the shell, it could be easily peeled off the meats, and the meats would fall out in two complete halves. I've never had that much luck using a nut cracker on pecans and keeping them whole. The traditional nut cracker is great for walnuts and the harder shelled nuts, but pecans have such a thin shell that when it breaks, the nut usually breaks with it. With these snips, they just kept coming out whole.
I was impressed, and bought one of the crackers and five pounds of whole nuts for less than it cost to buy two shelled pound of halves. I also got a few dark chocolate turtles and they were really really good.
We hightailed it for home from there.
It had been so green in Texas we'd been amazed, but the closer and closer we got to home, the dryer and colder everything became, until we rolled home amid high-desert hills and then we got to see the mountains. From that far out, the entire Front Range seemed to be in front of us in pale pale blue frosted on top with white. The drive through Denver was like getting slapped by civilization again, with all the traffic, the cars, and the people after hundreds of miles out in the middle of no where. *laughs*
But it was really cool to get home early in the afternoon, so that we could unpack, get the house aired out, figure out what needed doing and what didn't, and we just flopped into our house and enjoyed a Noodles & Co. meal and got Jet together enough to be able to go to school in the morning.
It was pretty badly sprained, and both Bonnie and Brian worked me over the next week and the week after that, and finally got me back together again. I still remember, before the trip, Brian looking at me and saying, "All right, so you're coming into get fixed so you can screw it all up again?"
I think having Jet along also gave me a completely different perspective about the whole experience. I got to look at a lot of things with new eyes with him along. A great number of the places, people, and foods we ate over the trip really were things that were new to Jet, and he really appreciated them because of the stories we had told him from all our previous trips. For him this was a way to get to see all the things we'd only been able to talk about.
I think that meant a lot to him, but he also realized that the whole thing wasn't fun and games. Not just for pure enjoyment, but that there were hard parts to it all, too, and I'm not sure he would have gotten that without experiencing it. We'll see how it sticks in the long run, but one day on the road, on the way home, Jet suddenly said, out of the blue, "I really liked the whole trip, every part of it."