What a Summer! Miles to drive, Adventures to Greet

Wow! You haven’t heard from me since June 19! What’s been up? I’ll let you know!

First, in my last post (a part of a series addressing my six sailing points on navigating our reading experiences), I addressed points three and four. I drafted a final post on points five and six over a month ago but did not publish it, wanting to revise it more. I think the series has gotten too dense, too heavy. Anyway. . .

Then summer turned into a river of raging rapids, rushing me miles down stream (some hyperbole). Pause, pace.  More roaring rapids are about to carry me away again, but before they do. . .

I’m choosing to postpone the conclusion of my six point series (leaving very few of you in suspense), and I’m going to write about summer. Summer is a time for lightness, for adventure, a time to put aside didactic exposition, a time to storytell! (Lord willing, someday I’ll finish the six point series.)

The summer saga begins. And it begins with the giggles of a three year old fairy. Can you hear her? Flossy blond strands surround blue sky eyes. Sunshine twinkles from her delicate fingers and toes. For six days, she dances with us. Together we laugh. 

Anticipation. For at least four months we anticipated her visit. Not just the fairy. (We’ll  name her KatieLynn for this story, although this is a real girl with a real name.)  KatieLynn flew to Arizona along with her mother. Our daughter, Amanda, joined them on this journey to spend six days with Paul and me in the central highlands of Arizona.

Do you have little ones in your house? We don’t.  It has been a long time. “Children are an heritage from the Lord” (Psalm 127:3). We wondered how this little creature would respond, one who had never met us, who had never flown, who had never been to Arizona. Would she react to all the strangeness with grumpiness? With shrill displeasure? Defiance? Confusion?

No. KatieLynn, an out-of-the blue whirlwind, heavenly delivered to an unprepared, single gentlelady (do not ask the story) entered our home with her mama as if she had always known us, as if our house were a familiar home to her. “Papa O, Papa O! Where are you?” Her soft and trusting voice called to Paul.

I had made a play corner for her in the living room — her own space: floored with a bright, Disneyland comforter once used by our girls, and outlined with pillows, stuffed animals, children’s books, crayons and paper.  She knew it was hers. She knew she was loved and welcomed here. “Nana O, look at me!” she cried happily curled up with the fluffy elephant and soft giraffe.

KatieLynn (in the middle) and two other visiting fairies flutter around our back yard.

 

 

Whatever we did those six days, she flexed without complaint or resistance. I’ve seldom witnessed such a sweet spirited child, yet she was fully a child — romping, singing, playing, running around the house, eating, not eating, swinging with Papa O on the pergola swing, skipping through the yard, sticking her fingers and toes into the pond. . . .  We swam in our Quailwood Community Center pool. KatieLynn took a bite out of my blue, Water Aerobics, exercise noodle, and I’ll smile thinking of her whenever I use this noodle.

Papa O took KatieLynn, her mama, and Amanda on adventures: to Montezuma’s Castle (a prehistoric pueblo dwelling), Lynx Lake (amid the mountainous Ponderosa Pine), and Watson Lake (where huge boulders bubble out of the water). They drove up and over the Mingus Mountains, winding through the Ponderosa Pine in order to explore the copper mining town of Jerome, then on to the red rocks of Sedona. I stayed home but heard good reports of their happy explorations. The three lovely ladies — Amanda, the young mama, and the blond fairy — initiated our summer, blessing us with warm memories!

Father and daugher at Sky Harbor Airport in Phoenix. Time for Amanda to return home to Chicago!

After they left, Paul spent a week as a counselor of teen boys at church camp while I stayed home and tried to write and to prepare for our coming, Colorado road trip. The daughter of a dear friend was getting married. We wanted to arrive a few days early to help with final preparations. Paul, of course, was a big help, and I was a bit of a help.

Paul’s F150. I like the colors. The ride is pretty smooth for me, and I love the roomy back seat for taking naps!

What made the trip itself different was that we were driving our “new” truck, a 2012, F150 which Paul bought in May along with a 2015, 25 foot, Coachmen Catalina travel trailer. (In May, we took the truck and trailer on a practice trip to Flagstaff.) We drove the truck to Colorado, but did not tote the RV, since we had lodgings planned for the nearly two week period.

View of Denver from Ray and Shirley Wodicka’s house, where we stayed the week of the wedding

 

 

 

 

The bride & groom signing their marriage license.

 

 

 

 

The wedding was amazing, rich in music and meaning: a string quartet, two small choirs, classical selections, biblical richness. Not surprising! The bride, a teacher with a master’s degree in Vocal Pedagogy, knows numerous, excellent musicians! Her mother, an interior designer, poured her heart and energy into sanctuary and reception ambience as well as many other details.

 

 

 

After the wedding, eight of us caravanned in three vehicles to Durango, Colorado (which was half way home for us), and we spent almost a week there in a large, rental house-cabin set in a valley edged by the Rocky Mountains. The views were superb. While I could not participate in all of the adventures (for as you know, I must pace), I was able to join the group to ride the Durango-Silverton, historic train!!! I did it, no problems! What an adventure!

 

The cabin-house where the eight of us stayed outside of Durango.

On the Durango-Silvertain train, cutting through the mountains, riding sometimes next to the Animas River, sometimes riding high above it! We were on the next to last car – with the padded seats and fun, informative docent!

We arrived home Friday evening, July 7. On Sunday late afternoon, our house welcomed four family-visitors for the week. So, the activity rapids kept rolling! I had not seen my second cousin, Rick, in over 13 years! We had never met his children, now eight and six years old! So, our house was again filled with the laughter of children! Again, we were tour guides (mainly Paul), introducing the family to our area. While food prepping in the kitchen, over meals at our dining table (including a High Tea), when grilling and eating on our patio, through stories and singing in our piano room, we shared life. I was very touched by the connection I made with Rick’s wife, Irma.

Cousin Rick with his family, Irma, Andrea Sophia and Alex! Here, we’re in Sedona on Airport Road overlooking the famous red rocks and Coffee Pot Rock.

Irma is from El Salvador. Rick met her there years ago when he was working at the American Embassy in San Salvador. As an American diplomat, Rick is posted at various embassies around the world. They are back in the U.S. for a one year training before they are assigned to a new location. Our week together was joyful, re-bonding with Rick and bonding with his family. Rick was close to my parents. Sharing family stories, when one’s family has become small and physically distant, brings deep satisfaction.

A Midwest Travel Adventure begins for us this week. We are now heading out for a 6-8 week adventure.  We do have friends staying at our house while we are gone, and next door neighbors are overseeing our place, so our home won’t be empty (which is why I can reveal this).

I will be writing to you next from who knows where. Fairy-girl, KatieLynn, initiated our summer adventures with her giggles and dances. Colorado wedding memories play in our minds; the Durnango-Silverton train — rackety-racket, swaying right and left like a cradle — encourages me to take some risks. Rick and Irma’s children, Andrea Sophia and Alex, continued the dance the fairy-girl began.  Now expectations of adventures in Ohio with our own grandsons, ages 8 and 5, delight us with anticipation.

Paul has made reservations at six spots (RV resorts or state parks) along our way to Evansville, Indiana, our first, definite date on our Midwest Adventure. During the week end of August 4-5, we are participating in my graduation events. Yes, I completed my doctorate from Trinity Seminary a year ago, but didn’t travel to Indiana to participate in the ceremony. My sister and brother-in-law will join us for the Friday night banquet and Saturday morning graduation ceremony. Then we’ll travel on to visit family and friends in Ohio and Indiana.

In the meantime, I have work to do, preparation to finish, and as Robert Frost describes,  “and miles to go before I sleep.”*  No, no, that will not work with me!

I may go for a while, but I must sleep! I must pace! A little doing, then a little resting, a little going, then a long stopping. . . .

The summer’s lovely, bright, and sweet,

But I have promises to keep.

(Plans to complete so I’ll not weep.)

Then miles to drive, adventures to greet.

Miles to drive, adventures to greet.

***

  • “And miles to go before I sleep” is the last line from Frost’s poem, “Stopping By Woods on a Snowy Evening.”  (Read: https://www.poetryfoundation.org/poems/42891/stopping-by-woods-on-a-snowy-evening.) Paul and I are not traveling in a horse drawn cart, praise God! We’re not traveling in winter, praise God! We’re not traveling a rapids raging river, praise God! But we are traveling. Truck and travel trailer! “Journey mercies, please, Lord!”
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