Family

How To Fill A Winter


I’m having one of those “so much has happened since my last update that I feel too overwhelmed to even try to cover any of it, let alone all of it, so I’d rather just not even try” moments.

D’oh.

So here’s my list-y attempt at sharing some of what’s been important in my life since my last post:

Sunset Playhouse - Murder on the Nile

Sunset Playhouse – Murder on the Nile

1. I closed a play. Murder on the Nile at Sunset Playhouse. Gosh what a swell group. I’ll be working with one of my MotN castmates in my next show, I Hate Hamlet

2. I auditioned for a play. I Hate Hamlet, also at Sunset Playhouse. I was cast as Deirdre. I’ll (hopefully) post something or other about it here. At some point. Maybe.

Oh God I’m such a failure at this blogging thing lately oh oh…

3. I auditioned for another play. Talley’s Folly at SummerStage, an outdoor theatre in Delafield. I was cast as Sally. I plan on Instagramming the crap out of the rehearsal and run process. The practice hall and performance space are just so cool.

If you don't watch the show, this will mean nothing to you. Feel free to ignore it; I promise I won't mind.

Meaningless if you don’t watch Hannibal. Feel free to ignore it; I promise I won’t mind…

4. I watched Hannibal an unhealthy number of times. I didn’t start watching Hannibal since my last update, but I don’t think I’ve mentioned it before so here I am. Mentioning it.

Basically: It’s lovely. I mean – it’s kind of horrifying, yes, in that it centers around a guy who eats people… – but don’t let that fool you. It is truly one of the most beautiful shows on television right now. The writing, the visual aesthetic of it all (from the cinematography to the set decoration to the costuming (!!!) to the way the food is displayed (no kidding)), the directing, the performances — it’s an incredible piece of work.

They’re three episodes into Season 2 right now, but for it to really mean anything you’d have to watch Season 1 first. It’s available through Amazon Prime, and then the three most recent eps are available to watch through NBC.com.

Oh man. Just thinking about that show makes me smile. And that’s saying a lot given that it’s, you know, about a people-eating serial killer, right? I’ve watched all of Season 1 six times now, and have no doubt Season 2 will fare much the same for me.

Plus: It stars Mads Mikkelsen. I’m sorry, but there’s just no topping that guy. Like — jumping between stuff like After the Wedding to Valhalla Rising to The Hunt to Hannibal? That’s just — naw dude. You’ve got to like this guy’s approach to the craft of acting. You can’t not.

5. VIKINGS! Speaking of shows I’ve recently started watching, I’m also really digging the History Channel’s show Vikings. It’s worth checking out as well before they get too much farther into their second season.

6. I attended WMSE‘s Rockabilly Chili Cook-Off Fundraiser. Wow, dudes. I ate so much amazing chili that day. No future chili-eating experience could ever compare. I went with some of the kids from Radio WHT, which of course made it extra fab.

My birthday gift from my friend Bob. My friends know me so well.

My birthday gift from my friend Bob. My friends know me so well.

7. It was my birthday on Wednesday! Oh gosh, you guys – this year was just– it was The Birthday That Kept On Giving.

The Saturday before my birthday, my friend Jenny hosted a Supernatural themed party at her house, complete with show-themed decor, and a dinner of burgers, fries, onion rings, and beer. There were games (SPN trivia, and “Pin the Demon In the Devil’s Trap“), episode viewings, and most of the gifts were SPN (or Hannibal! woohoo!) themed.

The Friday after, a bunch of other friends met up at my buddy Spence’s house for games and pizza and couch-sleeping and it was a blast I’mma just tell you.

Then today, my sibs came over with their families (minus my sister-in-law, boo :\) for mom’s homemade pulled pork sandwiches, par broiled ribs, and a homemade ice cream cake. It was *sniffle* magical

8. We got a nice list of roofs to bid on at work. This makes me happy. Not the way that homemade ice cream cake or Supernatural themed birthday parties make me happy, but certainly a kind that is still very much worth feeling. I’m spending the week helping put together bid packages (something that always takes longer than I estimate it will take; you’d think I’d’ve figured that out by now), and daydreaming about road-tripping to the farther job locations if the proposals come through. *dreamy sigh*

9. I went to the gym. I went an embarrassingly small number of times so far this winter, but I did go – and that’s crazy hard for me (because that is the breed of doofus that I am) – so I’m kinda happy about that.

So yeah, man – all told it’s been a pretty sweet coupl’a months.

Time to get in some reading and then hit the sack. Up bright and early tomorrow to spend the day with friends. Yeah – on a Monday. So stoked.

Happy Spring everybody! :D

Road Trip: Kimball and Rapid City


Gonna hit mom’s and my road trip artlessly and list-style because it’s easier that way and — and well it’s easier that way.

Monday, July 8, 2013

The walrus en route to Rapid City

The walrus en route to Rapid City

We left Waukesha, WI and hit the road for Rapid City, SD, with a planned overnight stop in Kimball. We arrived around 7 pm to a town overrun with construction crews and a vague aroma of sweetgrass and pee.

Mmm… Sweetgrass…

Dinner that night was at Doo-wah Ditty’s Diner. The food was decent and the service was friendly, but between the cranked up A/C and the crew of tactless, leering construction doodz at the center table, I was only too glad to get the bill and head on back to the hotel.

Unfortunately the Dakota Winds was all booked up so we stayed in the Super Adequate 8 across the street, where we were checked in against a scrap of paper with room numbers written on it showing which rooms were… or weren’t… or did that one get cleaned yet… available, and checked out by an enormous, but quite docile, German Shepard who trotted over to the desk when we rang the bell the next morning.

Tuesday, July 9, 2014

dfsdf

dsfsdjflskdjfsdfsd…

The next stop on our journey was Wall, SD, home of Wall Drug, a drug-store-turned-tourist-mecca about 50 miles east of Rapid City. I’d been looking forward to a slice of their pie and a cup of their nickel coffee for the better part of a year and a half, but one tuna salad sandwich later I only had room for a cookie. Sometimes life’s hard like that.

Mom and I didn’t spend as much time wandering through Wall Drug this time as we did last time, in part because we’d already seen it all, and in part because it’s tourist season so things were pretty busy. Somehow the prospect of getting one’s picture taken atop a giant jackalope is a lot less appealing when you have to wait 10 minutes for it in the summer sun. Who knew?

While in Wall we wandered into a shop that specializes in Harley shirts, dream catchers, and commemorating animal death.

Neat-o.

We got into Rapid City around lunch time and met up with my friend Angela who we’d be staying with that night. She took us on a walk through Art Alley

Art Alley

Art Alley

…on our way to the local Rocky Mountain Chocolate Factory shop, where heckyes we bought things, and then on to Who’s Toy House where we got to see their Perplexus, which was particularly cool since apparently there are only three of these in existence.

Um…

Okay, so here’s the thing: Right now it’s four days after all that stuff happened and I’m in Colorado Springs and there’s thunder outside and cool dogs in the other room and I’m with friends and I have laundry to fold and a cider calling my name and just — yeah. Blogging about the rest of the trip so far can wait! Back tomorrow – or Sunday – with the rest of the scoop!

Heading West


Leaving in 30... 29...

Leaving in 30… 29…

Up at 6:30 am on an open Monday morning, bags in the trunk, walrus packed and ready to go. This can only mean one thing:

Road Trip!

The pinniped (pictured right) and I will be heading out the door within the hour, mom in tow, headed for parts unknown.

And of course by “parts unknown” I mean “at least as far as Rapid City, SD because I kind of love it there.”

October 2010 South Dakota Road Trip

October 2011 South Dakota/Montana Road Trip

To tag along on this summer’s road trip, tune in here for daily* updates, or follow me on Twitter (twitter.com/behnnie) and Instagram (instagram.com/behnnie) for the scoop in  real-time.

Anything you think we simply must see during our travels? Tweet me @behnnie or leave a comment here with the details. We’re going to try to hit all the Major Attractions That Responsible Grown-Ups Make Sure To See, but mom and I are more “local flavor” type travelers, so don’t go holding out on us if you have a favorite ice cream place in Kimball that we shouldn’t miss!

Time to throw the stuffed mammal into the car and hit the road. Next stop? Blue Earth, MN

*BAHAHAHAHAHAHAHA!!!

I’m Moving!


Surprise.

Meanwhile in California...

Meanwhile in California…

A few weeks ago I got a call from a friend in LA about an opening for a Social Media Something-Or-Other position at a company he works with. Two phone interviews and a few screen-shares later, and here I am packing to move and start my new gig as Ruth Arnell: Something-Or-Other.

The company is located in Ontario, California, which, near as I can tell, is the West Coast’s answer to Cudahy. They’re just south of Rancho Cucamonga, which I learned last week is an actual place, and about 35 miles north-east of Disneyland.

Now — I haven’t looked into it too much yet, but I’m fairly certain their proximity to The Mouse obligates me to “work from Disneyland” at least once, while spending the entire day Tweeting about how hard it is to type with my fingers covered in churro sugar.

Ain’t even sorry.

Oh man. Now that I just announced my plans publicly I’m panicking that Something-Or-Other HQ is gonna call me up tomorrow and be like “Yeeeeah heeeeey. About packing for that move. Maybe… don’t bother?”

Luckily there’s not a whole awful lot for me to do with them remotely right now, so I figure I’m safe for the time being from them discovering what they’re in for and changing their minds.

Ruth Trio

Namely: Child sacrifice, Snoods, and Citrus Hulk.

And if they did change their minds and I stayed in Milwaukee, it’d just mean I’d get to keep on keepin’ on with all y’all fine folks around here, and that’d be alright by me too!

I don’t have much in the way of a long-term plan beyond:

  1. Move to California with whatever fits in my car.
  2. Learn everything I can about my new job and be awesome at it.
  3. Be a Ghostfacer with Sarah at ComicCon. Or maybe just around the apartment.
  4. Find an apartment.

I do know, however, that I shall miss my family and friends here in the Midwest just terribly, and that I am not above using guilt trips to coerce them into flying out for a visit. So you know – get ready for that. And bring cheese curds.

I’ll be traveling for most of June (stay tuned for Virginia Road Trip pics of my mom and Mimi cementing their spots as The Coolest People Ever!), but will return to the Milwaukee area on the 22nd (exhausted and probably broke). I don’t have a set date for when I’ll be moving, but I’m eager to dive into this new gig. All that to say: My remaining time in Wisconsin is probably somewhat limited.

Want to keep in touch while I’m away, or follow along with my travels? I’ll be blogging about everything from here as usual, as well as posting more frequent updates via Twitter and Instagram. I love reading all of your comments and replies so keep ’em coming!!

Gladys Bentley sings the arcade blues


Thursday night I dreamed I went to an arcade.

Yeah. Me. At an arcade. Me and my total lack of ANY discernible inclination toward attack strategy, and even less obvious hand-eye coordination.

We can’t all be Felicia Day, folks. G’head and take a moment to mourn that fact, and then let’s move along.

Ready?

Okay.

Takes all kinds of game guts to make an arcade.

So Thursday night I dreamed I went to an arcade. I was wandering around by the older games in the back, a twenty dollar bill in my hand. I wanted to make sure there was something I really wanted to play before exchanging my cash for what would be a pretty heavy pile of quarters.

There weren’t many folks actually playing anything. Mostly the place was just one machine after another crammed into the space side-by-side at odd angles, creating passageways through the arcade. I kept thinking how this would probably be a pretty fun dream for, say, Wil Wheaton, and how it was a shame it was being wasted on the likes of me.

I turned to head out when I noticed an open door tucked in a back  corner, and heard laughter coming through in short streams. I poked my head in, and saw the room was packed with rows of folding chairs filled with women watching something projected up on the wall. I want to say it was an episode of M*A*S*H. A few of the ladies saw me, said hi, and waved me over to an empty seat in the back so I could watch the show with them.

We laughed and chatted as the women introduced themselves to me. They were all dressed pretty casually, looking like they’d just left work at jobs where they don’t interact with the customers. One of the women threw an arm around the shoulders of the woman beside her, and I realized she wasn’t the only one doing so. I surveyed the room again, and saw that most of the women appeared to be there in couples.

In that dream kind of way you get where you just “know” what’s going on without anybody telling you, I realized all the gals around me were lesbians, and that this back room at the arcade was where they’d go to hang out and socialize after work. It was their place to unwind and share a few laughs away from the public eye before heading home. But something about it was– well it felt kind of secret, you know? Like they weren’t just hanging out so much as they were hiding out. I wondered if perhaps I wasn’t dreaming of the present day, but of some time in the past when this sort of secrecy would’ve been in all ways necessary.

Wondering if that was the case, I now felt really clumsy for intruding on their secret spot. Like– what the heck kind of right did I have to know where they’d found to chill out in private if it was, in fact, a secret room? The whole time they’d been totally cool to me- very friendly and welcoming- with not a hint of concern that someone had discovered their hiding place. As such I figured they must’ve just thought I was gay too since I knew about this place, not realizing I’d simply stumbled across it by accident. But I still felt bad for my unintentional intrusion, so I decided to head out. I said my goodbyes, was met by cheerful farewells, and ducked back into the arcade.

Gladys Bentley, an American blues singer during the Harlem Renaissance

As I walked toward the front door to leave, I came upon a family walking in — with speed, with purpose, with furious indignation. First came a husband and wife dressed in all black Sunday-go-to-meetin’ clothes, complete with hats and gloves. They were followed by their two teenage sons, also dressed all in black.

In another flash of dream-knowing I realized I was back a few decades, and that trouble was coming. I knew this family was heading back to the secret room to kick all those women out of it before exposing them publicly as lesbians, with the specific intention of getting them in trouble over it.

I looked at the mother. Studied her face real hard. African American, mid-40s, married, mother of two, and sad. I knew she was sad. I knew the only reason she knew about that hidden room was because it was full of her friends. Her family had no idea, but I knew. I knew her secret. I knew who she really was.

I tried to catch her eye as she passed. Like– what? What did I think I was going to do, you know? Was I going to figure out some kind of coded way to say “Stop!” Some way to say “You don’t have to do this?” Some hand signal, some whisper, some look that would say there was still time to not bust up movie night and get all those women kicked out and sent to jail?

But she would not look at me. She knew that I was on to her, so she kept her eyes up, up, up high over my head, the black feathers on her hat bouncing as she marched through the bells and the whistles and all the lights blinking on and off.

Up


Mom and Alfred, visiting

About twelve years ago I walked into the dining room to find my mother standing on one of the dining room chairs.

“Mom?”

Sometimes,” she said, “I just like to feel tall.

***********

Video Description: Body language affects how others see us, but it may also change how we see ourselves. Social psychologist Amy Cuddy shows how “power posing” — standing in a posture of confidence, even when we don’t feel confident — can affect testosterone and cortisol levels in the brain, and might even have an impact on our chances for success.

Hacia la glorieta


Llama, my neighbor’s dolly. I paid C.O.D. for it– Cookies On Drop-off. Best lease agreement ever.

If you’ve tried getting in touch with me over the past couple weeks via email, texts, Facebook messages, voice mail, game requests, or showing up and banging on my door, there’s a fair chance I’ve pushed your patience to the limit with my lengthy reply times.

Sorry about that. See the thing is: I was busy moving.

Back into my parents’ house.

I wasn’t working, things were tight, and it was downright painful watching one carefully saved dollar after another get sucked up into rent payments. I gave my landlord my notice and spent the next two weeks in manic “cleaning/ packing/ hauling/ unloading/ dragging upstairs/ taking the empty boxes back to my apartment/ repacking them” mode, day in and day out until by the end I was ready to set up a dumpster under my balcony and shovel everything into it just to be done.

When you’re limited to a set number of packable containers and the back of a Toyota Matrix, moving can be a bit of a slow process. But thanks to the help of the fam and my boyfriend (who brought along a rental truck for my furniture; aww baby you get me the nicest things!) I was able to get everything moved out, and moved in, in the span of about ten days.

Dad and Aaron spent an entire Saturday being AMAZING HUMAN BEINGS! But don’t tell ’em I said that or I’ll owe those chuckle heads forever.

Mom even helped with the post-packing clean-up.

Get out of the way, vacuum. You are impinging on mom’s nap space.

And wouldn’t you know this is the sight that greeted us as she and I drove the absolute last carload of stuff to the house:

“Sunshine, cedar shakes, and rainbows! Everything that’s wonderful is sure to come my way…”

I have to say I’m pretty happy about the whole thing. My folks and I get along well so that’s not an issue, and I can’t even finish the sentence “Don’t wait up” without them interrupting to remind me they don’t care and to have a nice time.

Right?!

I’ve moved my bedroom and half my books into my old bedroom in their upstairs, and my living room and the other half of my books into my brother’s old bedroom next door, while the upstairs bathroom now houses the 47,000 bottles of shampoos, lotions, creams, and solutions I’m currently working my way through. I get a spot in the garage, a dog to nap on my stuff, a yard to run around in, a patio to read on in the sun, a kitchen that fits more than one grown adult at a time, my parents’ company (I like ’em, what can I say?), a sizable living space in the basement for the ferrets, and a decided lack of drunk people passing out just inside the front door.

Patches!

While I certainly miss the feeling of autonomy that accompanied having my own place, and while I am more than just a little broken up about not having the ferrets thieving their way in and out of our shared personal space throughout the day any more, I have to say this move seems to have been a GREAT thing for me to do right now and I’m really happy about it.

There’s been plenty more keeping me busy now that I’m moved in and mostly unpacked, but that’s best left for another post as it’s already almost midnight and something about living here makes me ready for bed at awkwardly early hours. (Case in point: I paused to yawn at least five times while writing that sentence.) I’m even taking naps again. It’s like my body realizes my brain feels safe and is ready to get healthy. And I like that.

I like it all.

March Err


When did I get to be such a Lazy Lou about posting regular updates? *tsk tsk* Lest ye think all I’ve done the past couple months was befriend the sad and the sleepy, a March highlight reel…

These are my parents:

Zen and the Art of Taking Mom For A Ride On Dad’s Motorcycle

Aren’t they cute? I love them. I mean: I really, really love them. A lot. They’re a wonderful example of a happy marriage, they’ve been great about encouraging me in my interests and pursuits without pushing anything on me, they give terrific advice, and they both know their way around a birthday cake. And look at how happy my mom looks! I’m hoping we’re able to go on another road trip together some time this Summer.

The other week they invited Aaron and I over for chili cheese dogs. There is always time for a chili cheese dog.

Cue Drool Faucet

There is always time for any kind of dog, really.

That Patches sure likes her some Aaron.

Things there is always time for: Chili dogs, any kind of dogs, books, and ferrets. Or to save time: booksandferrets.

Wesley picking out a bedtime story.

It hasn’t been all high-fat lunches, weasel story-hours, and motorcycle rides, though. I did manage to find time to work (a little) every now and again.

“Hey Ruth! Look over here!” “What? Oh.” *smile* “Okay. Back to work.”

I’ve never owned steel-toe boots and a hard hat before. Had I known sooner how awesome I look in them I wouldn’t have waited ’til I was 30 to start wearing them. Ah the oversights of youth. I’m also really digging the quality and fit of these Carhartt pants, though it’s harder to find appropriate occasions to fit them into my social wardrobe than, say, the hard hat or the safety vest.

I’ve also been working- unofficially, for now- on making my way through all of Family Ties on Netflix. I’m a few episodes into Season 3 at the moment and am absolutely loving every minute of it. (Speaking of social wardrobes, I’d take Elyse Keaton’s in a heartbeat.) And just to prove I’m taking this job seriously:

“Nah. I don’t think anybody’ll notice ’em.”

See? I’m paying attention.

In conclusion: Yesterday I met a baby duck.

It was 3 days old and its wings were just little nubs of fluff! I was nearly overcome by cuteness!!

Happy trails.

Paraguay Blog #5: Fish Soup


January 16, Monday

Moringa Oleifera: Ooooh... Aaaah... (Click the pic to read about its uses.)

Yesterday was “Tour Itauguá” day, so that’s what we did. Neat little town. We hit up a place I’m sure is pretty popular with all us tourist-types since it had such a wide variety of Paraguayan art and souvenirs, but we were a bit put off by some of the prices so we didn’t buy anything. The guy wanted 300 mil Gs ($65) for an item I wanted to buy for my mom, but that seemed a little high. Christie took us to another place a little farther down the road so we could shop  from a friend of hers, a charming 71 year old woman you’d swear was 10 years younger, who was selling the exact same item for $28. Score!

And because she could clearly be trusted more than Señor Gringo-Tax at the first place, I decided to also buy a bag of miracle tea- she swears by it- from her for a measly $2.60. Because really: What price miracles? I’ll let you know how all of our various ailments are faring after we’ve had a chance to take it for a whirl.

We pressed on in our Itauguá jaunt, stopping for ice cream at a place I’d eat all my meals if I lived near there, before landing in a plaza outside a beautiful white cathedral. It was so nice to be able to sit and people-watch for a bit. Some of the people available to watch actually put on quite the show!

Cool. And also Ouch.

There was a group of about 10 or so young people out practicing flips and handstands and the like on a lawn across from us. You’ve never seen so many double jointed, upside down, spinning sideways in mid-air young people in your life outside of a circus. At which you were hallucinating. Perhaps on Moringa Oleifera. I’m sorry we’ll miss whatever they were practicing for; no doubt it will be awesome.

We got home, did… some stuff… probably… Man I was so tired most of the day I really don’t remember how the rest of the evening played out. Was last night the night I joined Camille by the cancha for a little while to watch the kids play volleyball, or was that the night before? All I know is I ended last night early with a Benadryl for my bites and my itchy eyes, and then a luxurious crawl into bed- –

– -interrupted by an update that the groundskeeper here, a 23 year old charmer who likes to “practice his English” with the interns here, had just brought me a bowl of homemade fish soup.

Fish soup.

It’s cream based, and the fish in it are described locally as being like vegetarian piranhas because they look just like piranhas but they feed on plants.

Fish. Soup.

I just about died laughing. I was so glad I’m sharing a room with Camille (15) and Caroline (13) on this trip because it was such a pleasure being able to share the laughter and ridiculousness of Fish. Soup. with two people I knew would find it as giggle-inducing as I did.

I haven’t tried the soup yet (I was already in bed when he brought it by just after 10 pm, and I had other leftovers to work through today), but I’m told this boy is quite the cook and that his soup is delicious. I guess when you have to make a pot every time there’s a new intern you get plenty of practice…

January 17, Tuesday

We hit the road for Asuncion this morning, with a pre-city stop off in Areguá. It didn’t result in any purchases- that had been the plan; it’s the home of a particular shop I’m trying to find- but it was a nice drive regardless with some great views of the lake and lots of colorful roadside stands to get me thinking on what I might want to take home to the fam.

Somehow I got video of Camille's birthday dance, but no photos. So instead, please enjoy this picture of my fried mandioca.

Back on track we stopped at a cambio house at Shopping del Sol, then went to TGIFridays for their lunch special. $6.50 got me a fried mandioca appetizer, a fettucine alfredo entree, one of their “dessert shooter” things, and a guarana. Bring it on, man. I’m ready! Christie told our server it’s Camille’s 15th birthday, so her lunch concluded with an ice cream and brownie dessert.

And a chicken dance. Of which I have video.

Christie apologized for suggesting American food since somehow we keep ending up chowing down on some pretty US-style dishes. My meals have been more conventionally American over the past week than they probably have been over the past 6 months! But prices like that can’t be beat when you’re trying to find a place to feed five people with different tastes, and it’s not the norm for them, so I hopped right on board! You know me: Always ready to make the big sacrifices. Heh. ;)

Next order of business: The Tour…

A Tour Of Ruth’s Childhood As Dictated By A Google Map Of Uncertain Accuracy

Doesn't that face just scream "Native American"? And "Bookclubasaurus"?

Back in the day my family attended a church in Asunción called Centro Familiar de Adoración, so I added that church to my map of must-sees for this here Paraguayan Adventure. There was a “Parade of Nations” event there one night back then, and all the kids were asked to wear a costume for it representing the native population of their home country, or of another country if there were too many of us showing up in traditional Paraguayan garb. That is how I came to be a representative of the native peoples of the US, in my blonde braids and my fringed dress, accented by an enormous American flag and a Guarani necklace we probably bought from a street vendor at the Expo in Loma Pyta.

We drove past CFA‘s new location first, but not intentionally. It just sorta popped up. We passed by it pretty quickly on our way to see the old location- the one my family went to- but the address I got online for that didn’t turn up anything that meant anything to anybody in the car, so we continued on our way.

The next stop on the TORCADBAGMOUA was the house my family lived in when we first moved to Asuncion in July 1990. It was a little tricky finding the right street- the area has gotten so built up- but we did eventually come to it. And sure enough, there was the house. I wouldn’t have recognized it if I hadn’t remembered the house number and seen it written there out front.

360 Aca Caraya, Asunción, PY

I hopped out and snapped a pic from across the street, then walked up to the front gate to see if I could get a pic of the front of the house through the bars. I clapped to see if the current residents were home; maybe I could step inside the gate, too? But there was no answer. I thought about ringing the bell when I heard a noise coming from the patio area outside the kitchen, followed by total silence. Maybe no one was home and something had simply fallen? No matter. I’ll get a pic from between the bars and be on my way. Caroline joined me outside at that point and rang the bell for me anyhow. Doesn’t hurt to try, right? Yeah… right…

The empleada poked her head out of her living quarters to the right of the car port, and put on her “shocked and appalled” face for the duration of her dealings with me.

“Is the lady of the house home?”
“No.”
“My family lived in this house when I was a little girl. Can I take a picture of the front of the house from here outside the gate?”
“No.”
“Not even just from right here? I don’t need to come in. I just want a picture of the front of the house. Just by the door.”
“No.”

Why didn’t I take it right away? I should’ve. I was about to! Before Super Commando Mega-Maid came out. Doggonit.

“Thanks anyway…”

Sometimes memories are clearer than reality. Are they better?

And then I snapped a kind of crooked, blurry one anyhow as I stepped away, because I’m a fat, greedy, war-mongering American and we do shockingly and appallingly evil things like take pictures of houses while standing on public property.

The whole thing made me feel all kinds of sad. For 18 years I’ve wanted to see that house again, to test my memory as much as for anything else. And there I was so close to a place I once felt so at home, so full of life, so wrapped up in adventure, and now it’s serviced by a woman who is afraid to let me take a picture of the outside of it from out on the street. I understand. It’s not her house, she has to answer to the lady of the house about the decisions she makes, and I’m just some stranger with a questionable accent.

It was still sad.

Next up we hit the road for our third house on a tiny street off Sacramento between España and my old school, Asunción Christian Academy. There are only two streets that fit that bill, but I didn’t remember which one. It turned out the first one we tried wasn’t it, and the second one has been incorporated into a gated community with a guard house. Oops. So much for seeing house number three!

212 Mandeyupecua, Loma Pyta, PY

Our final planned stop was my family’s second house, in Loma Pyta, and wouldn’t you know it was right where I thought it’d be and nobody came out and yelled at me when I took a picture of it? I didn’t even get an earful when Camille offered to take a picture of me standing in front of it! But all these near-misses on finding places I couldn’t quite map out, and the cool reception at the first house, kept my eagerness at bay, so I refrained from attempting to ask for anything more of the house’s current residents.

Oh but that street! It was just how I remembered it! Right down to the neighbors’ houses alongside and across the street! There was the “overgrown lot” next door, now pared back some, and the house across the way where the man who lived there watered his flowers every evening after dinner, and the despensa where my friend Liliana lived. It was even still the same shade of pre-Tigo blue.

My “known” map points reached, we set off for Shopping Mariano, a relatively new mall there in Loma Pyta a few kilometers past the Expo center. We wandered around in the air conditioning a bit, looked for sneakers for Camille, and picked up a knee brace for Christie.

The food court. *food court... food court...* Echo! *echo... echo...*

It was a lovely mall- albeit a bit deserted- but somehow it felt… awkward? Maybe I’m just used to pushy shop keepers, but the entire time not one store employee said anything more to me than “Gracias,” and that was only after I said it first– as I was leaving. And I lost count of the number I sent a quick “Hola” to on my way in, only to be met by a quickly averted gaze, followed up by looks of either annoyance, distaste, or distracting apathy. Clearly their paychecks are not commission based…

I couldn’t figure out if their responses were the norm or not since only twice were we in stores with other patrons, (Like I said: Deserted.) and those were department stores so I couldn’t make any direct comparisons. And if their responses to me were not the norm, if they really do talk to shoppers, why the cold shoulder no matter how warm or small my own smile? Is it simply a cultural difference and shop keepers at the malls here simply don’t talk to patrons as a general rule?

Whatever the reason, it was unnerving.

But then why do I remember more conversations between my family and strangers? More greetings? More smiles? Surely the fact that I remember so many so clearly means they really happened, right? So where did they go?

Or maybe it’s me. Maybe a big, blonde, North American adult really is that much less welcome a presence than a round-cheeked, blonde, North American child of ten. I mean heck: I’d rather hang out with 10 year old me…

On our drive back home to Itauguá I decided to grab some video footage of Ruta 9 when we stopped at a traffic light and I realized CFA II, my family’s second church in Paraguay, was right there in my view finder!

Centro Familiar de Adoración II, Loma Pyta, PY

I snapped as many pics as I could before the light changed. What a sight to see! My dad helped build that church, joined at one point by a group of his construction buddies from our old church in Chicago. Even my sibs and I got to lend a hand once or twice in splitting tiles, tamping down rocks and dirt– you know: kid stuff.

When we left Paraguay to move back to the States I think the church still had a dirt floor throughout most of the building, the walls were all exposed brick, and there were no lights in the “bathrooms.” But now? Wow how it has grown! And hopefully not just in the areas of flooring, paint, and stucco. ;)

He is just a poor boy, though his story's seldom told...

So here I sit, blogging at the kitchen table of this amazing family, their amazing dog alternately pacing and resting his head in my lap, fans whirring all around me, children laughing in the dimly lit yard outside, a bowl of fish soup waiting for me in the fridge…

…and I don’t know what to think. I’ve forgotten how. I’ve forgotten what it feels like to think ahead, to plan for tomorrow. I’ve lived so long by myself, for myself, with no changes in sight, that even though I have this vague notion that I could really “rise up,” so to speak, with all this at my back, I find I haven’t the faintest idea how to do so.

Or what that would look like.

Or if I even want to.

Writing on the wall and flashing neon arrows welcome.

Paraguay Blog #4: Catching Up


Time to get chronological-y with these posts or I am never gonna get down on paper the kind of memory-prompt record I need. Ready? Here we go…

January 11, Wednesday

Still chilling at the R’s house, we started the day with grits- courtesy of Ken- and orange juice to get our blood pumping red, white, and blue.

Gringo Bait: Potato salad

Around 11:30 we took off for a beach in Bella Vista for an asado and to swim in the Paraná. We were a pretty sizable group, and not just in the “wide and towering North American” sense. It was the Hagermans, the R’s, the Kurrles with Julie’s mom and their friend Michael, and me. An impromptu 15-person asado ain’t half bad!

We set up the food under a thatched roof quincho near the water; burgers, potato salad, sweet bread, and watermelon. Gloooorious. Norberto and J cooked the burgers over a charcoal fire on the ground using a grate borrowed from a nearby group of picnickers. We thought there’d be grills there to use, so when we discovered there weren’t any we decided to use a piece of corrugated metal (cleaned off with a rock) someone had found there on the grounds. What is it about makeshift arrangements that makes things feel more adventure-y?

Sweetest baby you ever met.

While most of the group headed down to swim, I stayed at the quincho with Christie, A, and baby F. It was up around 110° F (43° C) and breezeless, but I just wasn’t feeling the “jump in the river” urge. Or maybe I just wasn’t feeling the “change into my bathing suit in a 120° outhouse with its accompanying baked aromas” urge.

On our way back to the R’s that afternoon we stopped at a roadside shop with a giant US flag painted on the front. They get in shipments of used goods from the States and sell them for the most random prices you’ve ever seen. Ken found a Star Trek mug there for me. Somehow it just doesn’t feel right that my second souvenir purchase was a $1 mug from the States. I calmed my uneasiness with a second helping of Camille’s chicken and pasta dish at dinner that night.

January 12, Thursday

We took off that morning for Jamie and Marion Lee’s house in Ciudad del Este. Their gig primarily involves working with kids there in CdE, and painting these giant boards with a verse and an image from the Bible and then donating them to schools, hospitals, and the like. The boards are pretty awesome, especially when they end up in places with no real color to speak of; a bare-walled elementary school, the children’s ward at a hospital, etc.

Jamie and Marion, both from the London area, are also pretty awesome.

When we got to the house we were greeted by Marion, a dog named Cheeky, five tortoises (two of which were at least a foot long), and a steaming pot of bori bori (a kind of meat and dumpling stew). Paraguayan food– at last! After lunch the girls and I took a dip in the pool. Naturally the rain came five minutes after I got in. ;) It’s all good, though. Much of the country has been experiencing a terrible drought so the rain was welcome.

Brit Art

While staying there I was treated to my own room, which rocked a great deal. Thank you Marion for being willing to give up your office for three days! I had my own bed, a desk with a chair, and an air conditioner. I could live with just that for the rest of my days and be blissfully happy. Having Jamie’s colorful prints hanging on almost every wall of the house was the icing on the cake. The experience made me want to start looking at houses I could buy back in Milwaukee just so I could finally have colorful walls of my own. ;)

After lunch Ken and Jamie stayed at the house doing boy stuff while Marion took Christie, the girls, and I to a salon so Christie could get a 35,000 G ($7.58) haircut. While waiting I watched the city’s trash floating downhill outside in the floods of rainwater filling the streets. I guess the moral of the experience there was that if you’re moving to CdE, aim for the high ground.

KUAT!

A few hours later we all hit the road for a shopping mall across the Brazilian border in Foz so we could eat at a Subway there in the food court. I ordered the  frango with azeitona, tomate, and alface. You know– because I needed another language to struggle with on this trip. Gah! Incidentally: Fast food cashiers in Brazil quietly speed-mumble just as much as fast food cashiers in the States. Nice to know some things stay the same no matter where you find yourself.

On our way to Foz, Marion pointed out the trash covering one of the roads we were on. I figured it was what had collected there during the day’s rain, but Marion said the place we were driving through- deserted at the time- was  actually where the smugglers remove the packing from the goods they’re going to ship to save weight and space, before wrapping everything up in black trash bags before moving it across the border.

Oh.

We finished up the night listening to the story of how Marion and Jamie got together, and about the time Marion’s brain broke and she went to heaven– like y’do. It’s a pretty incredible story. If I could come back here and record one story to share, it would be this one. She’s a powerhouse, that one is. A powerhouse, and one half of a kickass comedy team. Seeing the two of them playing off each other so well renewed my belief in the “there’s somebody just right for every one of us” idea.

January 13, Friday

EMPANADAS AT LAST!!

The next day brought a leisurely morning for all, followed by a lunch of chipa guazu, empanadas, milanesa, and salad from Ña Morocha, a local eatery Marion loves. One bite into my long awaited ham and cheese empanada was the “proof in the pudding” for how this place has become such a favorite in the Lee household. Man oh man was that some good eatin’!

A little while later we were treated to afternoon tea, complete with tea kettle, cups and saucers, and cookies biscuits with the Union Jack stuck in ’em on toothpicks. You know– just to make sure we got the full British experience during our stay.

Good grief. You’re going to think all we did was eat on this trip. I promise that’s not the case, it’s just that every visit took place during a meal. A really, really good meal.

Christie and Marion at tea time. Doesn’t a laugh like that make you want to smile along? :D

That evening we headed over to Clint and Rita Vernoy‘s house to have dinner- hot dogs and chocolate chip cookies!- with them, their daughters Jewel and Jade, and Janice their Great Dane, at their house on the edge of town there in CdE. Rita? You serve up one heckuva hot dog. Clint and Rita lived in Venezuela for a number of years, then moved on down to Paraguay, spending most of their time living in this, that, or the other jungle.

Back to Jamie and Marion’s to chill with Camille and Caroline for a bit before rejoining the big kids for a few relaxing hours of conversation in the living room. Man. What a neat couple. They’re both neat couples. What a great trip!

Ate turrón #6 that night. Merciful heavens was it good.

January 14, Saturday

Dulce buckets? Commence drooling!

Jamie and Marion sent us on our way with a bag full of goodies: bananas, rolls with dulce de leche, and cups of yogurt. It blows my mind how some people have such a gift for hospitality that its impact carries on even when you’re not around them any more.

Tooling along Ruta 2 we stopped at Lactolanda, home of 11 lb blocks of butter for $7.58, and 55 lb tubs of dulce de leche for $64.94. We left with a single cup of $0.22 coconut yogurt ’cause I needed to relive a memory. Dad and I used to buy that stuff at the co-op where we’d get our bread and eggs and all that. Mm-mm was it good. It’s not like US yogurt; it’s thin and drinkable. And ooh is it sweet! Good times.

We went to Viva el Sabor for lunch. More ham and cheese empanadas with a guarana? Don’t mind if I do!

Shortly thereafter we passed by an Arnell family favorite from back in the day, La Casa del Mani. We used to stop there for thinly sliced roast beef sandwiches and soft serve ice cream back in the day on our way out to the Teen Challenge camp in Pirareta. At that time the camp was still under construction, so it often served as a camping spot for folks from the mission who were looking to get out of the city for a bit, and who didn’t mind bucket-flush toilets, no electricity, and fire ants. On our way out there we’d enjoy one last luxury of civilization: Casa del Mani, home of what was then the only soft serve machine in the country.

La Casa del Mani (The Peanut House)

From there it was only a half hour or so back to the Hagerman’s home in Itauguá. We unpacked, sweated, napped, sweated, swatted giant flying insects, and sweated until evening when Christie and Ken took Caroline to the hospital to make sure she hadn’t come down with something weird. Poor thing’s eye was all puffy and oozy, she had a headache, joint pain, arm rash, swollen glands– the works. When you come down with symptoms like that after taking a dip in the Paraná, source of more than one case of leptospirosis in the past few years, it’s better to be safe than sorry! Turned out she has pink eye and the flu. Poor girl. She’s taking it all in stride, though, and handling the whole thing very well. And luckily she’s still got three and a half Harry Potter books left to keep her company while she recovers.

January 15, Sunday

The view from Viva el Sabor

I’m sitting here with the remains of a cup of coffee (Who knew I could drink coffee on 100° days??), having just finished a waffle with homemade syrup. The family’s boxer, Nico, is asleep on the floor next to me, the fans are spinning away, the birds outside are singing like they’re getting paid for it, the sun is shining, and I’m not sweating yet.

Amen amen amen!

Roads Trip


I’m gonna give that walrus some crackers. Walruses love crackers…

(This is Part 1 of my road trip. Click here to read Part 2.)

I’m on a road trip with my walrus Alfred.

I’d say I’m on a road trip with my walrus Alfred “to Missoula, Montana” because that’s how this thing started, but that doesn’t appear to be how it’s ending.

I’ve wanted to visit Missoula for two years now, and have been planning this trip since last winter. But 600 miles into turning that 1,500 mile “want” into a “reality” I find myself a bit off course.

Intrigued? With an intro like that who wouldn’t be!

The good times: Let ’em roll…

A History

One of my favorite things to do when I was little was to ride along with my grandma- we call her Mimi- on her Chicago-to-Michigan treks to visit her family there. Every time before we’d set out, she’d say a little prayer for “angels in front, angels behind, and angels on both sides of the car.”

I always liked that prayer.

I always used it, too. Every time I’ve ever gone on a long car trip I’ve said it. Out loud or in my head, it’s borne repeating before my drives to and from Keturah’s in Michigan; to and from Josh and Liz’s in Ohio; to and from LA; to and from Rapid City last October; to and from… Missoula…

The good times: Let ’em hang tight real quick, eh?

Total Lack of Facial Control

So I said my Mimi Prayer this morning and I hit the road. God it was awesome. The freedom of a full gas tank and nowhere to be – there’s nothing else like it.

Tooling along today I kept realizing I was grinning like an idiot to myself alone in the car, all hopped up on the sight of I-90 stretching to the horizon. I couldn’t help it. My mouth just lifted right on open like my teeth were trying to expand into space.

All those beautiful hills rolling past covered in red and yellow trees, a clear blue sky melting into patient gray, acres of cattle and horses, creeks winding through scrub brush gullies, windmills towering over the landscape like alien bird talons, 75 mph speed limits… There’s just an awful lot to grin at between Milwaukee and White Lake, SD. The real trick is in calming your smile back down!

CHS Farmers’ Alliance, White Lake, SD

White Lake, 1st and Main

Ah White Lake. White Lake, South Dakota. Comfortable home of Ehler’s General Store, the CHS Farmers’ Alliance, and not a whole heck of a lot else you can see from Main Street. How’d I come to find myself in White Lake? Well I’m glad you asked.

Y’see, I needed gas. I knew from where the needle was on the gauge that I still had another 40 miles left in Joy, my 2005 Toyota Matrix, and GasBuddy told me there was a Cenex 4 miles away in White Lake, so I pressed on.

As I drove, I came up behind a slow moving cattle trailer, so I got in the left lane to go around him, then almost immediately saw the sign announcing my exit was coming up in 1 mile. You cover a mile pretty fast doing 80, and when the truck you’re passing opts to speed up so you can’t get back over…

Guh.

Speed speed speed, zip over close in front of the semi, and phew! I made my exit!

The thrill of escaping death with my sweet driving skills was destined to be short lived, however, as a half a block off the exit I heard Joy make a noise I’ve never heard her make before. It was this scrapey, thuddy “buh-buh-buh-buh-bump” that built in volume as I slowed down, followed by a loud THUD as the car came to a sudden and total stop.

I’m no rocket surgeon, but I knew that was probably a bad sign.

Pleasant Hunter

I had just circled the vehicle for a visual inspection when a car drove past. Idea! Why walk two blocks into town in overcast 40 degree weather when you, a woman traveling alone, can hitch a ride with a total stranger?

I flagged down the next vehicle that passed, a big green truck, belonging to one Mr. Dan The Pheasant Hunter. Rifles filled his back seat, boxes of shells occupied the front. And there in the driver’s seat was Dan, pleased as punch to meet me.

Dan the Pheasant Hunter

He’ll never forget the time, he says, when it was 10 below and his car broke down near where mine had and no one would give him a ride into town. It shouldn’t be that way, he says. Folks should help each other out if they can.

Can’t argue with you there, Dan.

He drove me the two blocks into town, passing the gas station I would’ve tried coasting to, explaining to me that it doesn’t have gas right now. Neither does the one across the street from it, he laughs. But the CHS Farmers’ Alliance with it’s two quad-pumps does, so we pull in there.

I priced gas containers inside so I could fill one up and carry some fuel back to Joy and Alfred where I’d left them just off the exit. But $11.89 for a 1 gallon plastic jug? My gut cringed, but it didn’t phase Dan any. He just walks on in through the shop door, finds the owner in the back, and asks if he can borrow a gas can to help me out.

“Did you tell him about the girl from out of town who let herself run out of gas?” I laugh.

Dan and the owner then proceed to regale me with tales of their own “out of gas” stories as Dan and I hop back in his truck so I don’t have to walk with the filled gas can, which he pours into the tank for me before waiting to make sure my car starts.

You’re alright, South Dakotans. You’re alright.

Except that– the car kind of doesn’t start. I mean, it turns over, but it won’t move. Maybe I’m just stuck in the gravel? I give it a little more gas, all the time wondering if a low tank was really the problem, when Joy finally jumps forward and I buh-buh-buh-buh-bump back to the CHS, popping to a stop in front of the gas pump.

After a quick call to dad, and an onomatopoeiacally descriptive conversation with the shop owner, we decide the problem is most likely the transmission, which can’t be fixed there in town. Closest help is 12 miles forward in Kimball, or 35 miles back in Mitchell of “Corn Palace” fame. The girl inside the CHS tells me she just had her transmission replaced for $1,800.

I mull this over while waiting for Joy’s ride to Kimball to show up. We will move forward, Alfred and I.

Doggone it…

“Like a band of gypsies we go down the highway”

Joy Ride

After a brief tour of town- itself rather brief- a big red tow truck shows up to lug me into Kimball. Duane’s the fellow behind the wheel. Drive’s part time for his son, Dan Overweg of Overweg Repair.

Let me tell you: If you break down in South Dakota, you want to break down as close as possible to these guys.

Nicest most helpful bunch of folks you ever met. Duane’s a semi-retired antique tractor restoration hobbyist with 30 years of towing behind him. (Zing!) Dan and his wife Corinne raised three kids while managing the sharpest business in town. And while Duane is towing Joy and me the 12 miles over to Kimball, Corinne is on the phone trying to find me a room for the night. With all the pheasant hunters in town for the season, apparently, lodging is mighty scarce. Dan says not to worry, though, because if there are no rooms left for rent I’m welcome to stay at his and his wife’s house.

You could hug a family like that. You really could.

But Corinne did end up finding me a room. The last one in town. The room at the end of the row at the Dakota Winds Motel directly across the street from Overweg Repair and for a discounted rate. Perfect! And the best part so far was the 5pm check-out time at the DWM because I’m an Overweg customer.

You could hug a town like that. You really could.

Doo-Wah Ditty’s Diner, Kimball, SD

So I haul my bags and my walrus over to the motel and check in with Nathan, the manager. Nice guy. Real friendly. I tell him what happened and where I’d been headed, when he tells me a friend of his just moved here from Missoula about a year ago and ‘too bad she’s not here or you could talk about places to see there when your car gets fixed.’

I head over to my room. Two double beds, TV, microwave, mini fridge, table, strong wifi signal, clean, warm. Score! A quick unpack, then I’m off to Ditty’s Diner across the street for a 9pm dinner of a sandwich and a Diet Coke. It was positively idyllic, except for how the decidedly “Murder, She Wrote” travel-episode-vibe I was experiencing had me wondering if I was about to observe a quaintly bloodless murder I’d get framed for before being bailed out by a retiree in pearls and an argyle sweater.

Fortunately the experience was limited to just the sandwich and the Diet Coke.

I’d just returned to my room when the room’s phone rang. It’s been so long since I heard a land line ring I didn’t realize what was happening at first. And who knows I’m here to call me? I pick up and it’s Nathan, the motel manager, saying his friend from Missoula just showed up with a bottle of wine and they’re going to play Super Mario and do I want to come over?

Heck yeah I do!

He lives on site with his wife, Theresa, and their gorgeous boxer, Baxter, so two minutes later there I was next door, cozied up on the couch with my shoes off and a glass of Moscato in hand, laughing my head off with three strangers at a motel in Kimball, SD.

Roads Trip

I fully accept the fact that tomorrow I may be asked to shell out a pretty penny on some major auto repair work. I fully accept the fact that said repairs may keep me in town a few more days, and that I will no longer be able to continue on toward Missoula as transmission work tends to be a bit of a bank buster. I fully accept the fact that this is still a fantastic trip, better than anything I had planned.

Why? Because this is my trip now. This is my adventure. These are my people I needed to meet. These are the provisions I needed to see God make in big and small things every single step of the way during a difficult situation. Good people are everywhere. Adventure is everywhere. God is everywhere.

My pad at the Winds. Stop by any time.

When anything in an engine is gonna go, it’s gonna go. 10 seconds made all the difference between stopping safely, and grinding to a sudden stop in front of a semi on the freeway going 80 miles per hour. That’s timing I can sure appreciate. Then there was the kindness of Dan the Pheasant Hunter in town for the day; the generosity of the guy from CHS; the gentleness of Duane with a poor kid stranded out of state with an unknown car problem; the above-and-beyond helpfulness of Dan and Corinne Overweg helping me find a room and offering me one in their own home; the hospitality of Nathan the motel manager; the warm welcome from him, Sarah, and Theresa; and the absolutely delightful hominess of ending a long, crazy day with a dog resting its head on your leg. More blessings, big and small, punctuating an unexpectedly eventful day.

I’ll know more in the morning as far as what will happen next with Joy, but I’m thinking this will be as far west as I go on this particular road trip. And that’s okay. Because it was still an adventure. I still saw and did what I needed to see and do. I still had God time. I still had New People time. I still had Writing time. I still had Me time. No matter what the financial cost tomorrow: I have no regrets.

Except for Wall Drug. That I will regret missing. I guess it’s time to plan another trip…

******************************

Goodbye for now, good ol’ White Lake

ETA (Edited to Add aka Edited to Awesome)

The next morning has arrived- much as expected- and I’m having one of those moments where I’m incredibly glad I didn’t freak out last night or right now I’d be stuck eating my words.

That’s right! My car? It’s fixed!

It turns out a bolt came loose on one of the brakes and fell off and… and that’s it. It was just a bolt. It was just a bolt! I don’t know what my total costs will be, but I do know they won’t look anything like transmission repair costs because IT WAS JUST A BOLT!!!!!

Wall Drug coffee: Here I come!

And I’m gonna take my time making that drive, drinking that coffee. I’m not going to skip the beautiful Badlands as I’d planned. I’m not going to skip Custer State Park as I’d planned. And I’m keeping handy the resolve I developed yesterday that I just might not see Missoula on this particular trip.

I mean– now I really could get there, but if I’m enjoying myself elsewhere, seeing and doing what I needed to see and do on this here drive, then I don’t mind saving the money that longer leg would cost me. I’m already getting in Kimball what I intended to go to Missoula for.

And anyhow it gives me a reason to plan Trip #3 out West, and maybe next time I can bring along a buddy…

“Like a band of gypsies we go down the highway
We’re the best of friends
Insisting that the world keep turning our way
And our way is on the road again.
Just can’t wait to get on the road again.”
– On the Road Again, Willie Nelson

Wednesday (Eventually)



The view from our hotel room window (White House Resort, Keystone, SD). Yes, there are people climbing the view.

 

I have one more day to talk about from my mom’s and my South Dakota road trip, but it is COLD at the library so it looks like the post on the remainder of Tuesday is all I’m going to be able to get to today.

Whenever I get around to posting about Wednesday, it will include:

  • Our drive on Iron Mountain Road (It’s very bendy and full of trees.)
  • Our drive through the Black Hills National Forest (It’s also very bendy and full of trees.)
  • Custer State Park (Buffalos! Donkeys! More trees!)
  • Needles Highway
  • The Corn Palace (Total rip-off. </spoiler>)

You just can’t wait can you?

“Coming home from very lonely places, all of us go a little mad: whether from great personal success, or just an all-night drive, we are the sole survivors of a world no one else has ever seen.” John le Carre