We traveled just shy of 3,000 miles in the past 7 days. From Minnesota to Georgia, from Georgia to South Carolina, and from South Carolina back to Minnesota. Our crew generally travels fairly well, although this particular trip had a few bumps and hiccups. One of the crazy highlights of our drive home was being witness to some sort of police chase. We pulled onto a stretch of road and there were several cops shining flashlights into vehicles and moving people over. We initially thought that maybe they were doing some sort of random check of semi trucks or monitoring a construction zone that was coming up. After at least a half hour of mostly sitting in one lane, not moving, a big grey truck comes flying up the right hand lane (that the cops had moved us all out of) with a cop behind him.
We sit for another half hour or so and when things get moving, sure enough not 10 car lengths in front of us (where the lane finally actually ended due to construction) the truck was over on the shoulder and the driver (I presume it was the driver) was sitting in cuffs in the back of a cop car with a half dozen or so additional cops around. He was all scraped up on his knees and face and I'm kind of glad we weren't further forward for the kids to actually witness what may have transpired as the guy exited the vehicle!
Thankfully the rest of our trip was not nearly so eventful!
On the road. We stopped at a random park in a tiny town for lunch the first day. Kids were glad to play and I had a picnic ready for just that purpose.
We drove by the St. Louis Arch the next day, but didn't stop to actually visit because we were pushing to get to 7:30 daily Mass at the Shrine of Our Lady of Snows. I'm not even sure how I came across this shrine...I think I was looking for things to do with kids that would make good stops and found a note about the playground there? It WAS very cool. There were bible stories in the playscape and the path around the outside went through the 7 days of Creation. We didn't see much of the Shrine itself other than the church because it is very expansive. People apparently drive the stations of the cross I'm told?
We played for just a bit before and after Mass, but otherwise the gift shop and visitor center weren't even open yet so other than some bookmarks I picked up from a closed information station, we didn't learn much. Mass was very pleasant and people were very friendly. That's all I know about the shrine itself. (Well, ok, I also observed that in contrast to our local-ish shrine the church itself is quite modern. Pretty still, but much more modern.)
We spent the next three days in the Augusta, GA area visiting my grandpa who will be 89 this year. He recently moved into a higher level of care facility and is no longer able to visit us in Minnesota like he used to. We had plans to see some historical sites in the area and explore, but since his energy wasn't really up for that we mostly just hung out. We stayed right in historic downtown and were able to walk past many old churches and houses and read some of the monuments, etc as we were walking around. We also explored important places like the laundromat where Lucie took a nap in a tiny chair!
I have a cousin also living in the Augusta area and he showed us a couple parks and introduced the kids to "corn hole" (beanbag toss) and disc golf. The big kids especially LOVED this part of the trip. They pretty much think Max is the coolest. Max is a true southerner and calls my girls sweetie just like his dad, Uncle Gus (despite being a born and bred Iowan) used to call my sister and I. It's a southern thing, I guess, but I find it so endearing.
We knew if we were coming this close to the coast, we'd better make a pit stop at the ocean before heading home. Since it was a Friday in summer, the beach was crazy, but the kids had an absolute blast anyways. Despite the crowds, it was a really relaxing afternoon for all of us. I wish I had pictures of the big three (well four, if you count the big D-A-D) playing in the waves.
Our plan had been to drive through the night from the beach and head straight home but somehow the sunscreen didn't work on me (no one else was burned and we all used the same bottle) and I was really burnt and pretty uncomfortable sitting in the car so we ended up stopping for the night somewhere in Tennessee. The kids were so tired after their day at the beach that even with driving all day they went right to sleep in the hotel and were ready to go the next morning. The drive home was eventful what with car crashes (not us, but we drove past a bad one), police chases (see above) and other funny mishaps but we made it in one piece.
Our garden was ready and waiting for us after 10 inches of rain this month (I forgot to look before we left so I'm not sure exactly how much fell when we were gone). There are rows there, even though they aren't visible any longer!
We have two more trips planned this month and I think it will feel a bit like we are living in various stages of packed for the next few weeks. Next up, we are heading to celebrate the Fourth with my parents as my grandma is visiting from Colorado. Then the next weekend it is time for Tae Kwon Do ATA World Championships again. No one is competing in Top 10 this year, but Caleb will be competing for the first time in the special abilities ring for the new season tournament. Something I will write more about soon.