Post-Trip Wrap-Up

We're back!  Had loads of fun. I'm completely wiped out from the trip and my souvenir head cold. :-b  Here are some of the highlights:

The first stop, after a surprisingly smooth 13-hour drive, was my hometown in west-central Illinois. My class reunion was fun.  It was interesting to see how everyone "turned out".   Most of the guys I barely recognized at first (helped a lot by the fact that many of them have lost a lot of hair LOL).  It was fun to catch up with those I knew better, but I was struck by how many people that other than knowing who they were, I really had no memories of at all.  Not sure if I'd make the trip for another one.  I think my curiosity has been satisfied from this one.  There were a few people I would like to see who weren't there, but I doubt they'd come to a later one either.

The kids got to go to their first parade (we've avoided them here due to the crowds).  And now their definition of parade equals candyfest.  They came away with over three pounds of candy!  The parade was about an hour long and included lots of class reunion hay wagons, lots of politicians, one marching band, two bagpipe bands, various groups, and lots of area businesses, including a garbage truck and a porta-potty.  The finish was a team of Budweiser Clydesdales, which we also got an opportunity to go see closer up where they had them stabled.

The kids had a great time playing games with my folks and my brother and his girlfriend, Cristina.  Cristina also gave Matthew some beginning lessons on my old piano, and he seemed very interested, so now Mark's trying to figure out how we can get the piano down here without spending an arm and a leg.  And Grandpa Jim gave the kids golf lessons in the backyard and bought Matthew his first real club.

The next stop was Mark's dad and step-mom's house in northern Illinois.  Mark took the kids out for a nostalgia tour through the town where he grew up, his old farm, and the farm of a friend of his.  Matthew proved his city-kidness by being in awe of things like straw.  He declared the pigs to be "stinky". LOL

Mark took a few hours to shoot over to the Chicago area and meet up with Marshall Brodien, a magician he'd met in London last summer.  He was Whizzo on the "Bozo's Circus" TV show and is the creator of the ever-popular TV Magic Cards as well as many mainstream magic kits.  Mark had a great time, and came back loaded with free souvenirs to add to his collections.

Mark's brother and his family made it in the night before we had to head out.  The kids loved playing with their cousins, and it was nice to catch up.

Next was Mark's mom's place in Iowa.  Mark took the opportunity to hunt up the gravesite of a famous magician who's buried there (in the town, not his mom's house :-p), but the museum was closed while we were there, so we'll have to catch the exhibit about him next time.  I think the kids will always remember Grandma Jan's house as the one with the M&M's. LOL

Next, we all went over to Mark's grandfather's, which was the shortest leg of our trip at only an hour or so.  For the 4th, the kids got to go to another small-town parade, and came away with another major haul of candy.  In true rural Iowa fashion, the parade was about 75% tractors. LOL  That evening we went to a cookout out in the country at Mark's aunt's place.  The kids had a blast playing on the swings and had their first real smores and first go-cart rides.  They also saw their first small fireworks, and, back at Grandpa's house later that evening, they got to experience their first very closely supervised sparklers, which I think was their favorite part of the day.

Then it was just a long 2-day drive home on the 5th and 6th.  Mark and I both woke up on the 5th with major sore throats, and added in other symptoms as we got on down the road, so instead of pushing through, we stopped in Wichita for the night, which was definitely a wise decision.  

So now we're just home recuperating from the trip and needing a vacation to recover from our vacation.  My sore throat is gone, but the other symptoms are hanging in there, so I feel like I need a new head, and I wouldn't be the least bit surprised if this post made no sense whatsoever. :-p


susie said…
Wow! Sounds intense all around. I'm sure it's one of those big trips that the kids will remember forever -- the "firsts" of parade, sparkler, barn, etc, and all of the family time. It's so nice when we can give them those things at this age.

Here's hoping the colds clear up shortly, and that the rest of the summer is low-key enough to make up for all of that excitement!

As for the piano lessons ... it might cost less to buy a good quality keyboard than to move a real piano. Some of the good ones have very good sound quality (and can be used w/ headphones, so that he could even practice if others were sleeping, or whatever...).
Tania said…
Wow Kim, first of all I'm so glad you're home, I've missed you tons! Secondly, no fun about the cold, traveling while sick is awful. And third, it sounds like you Mark and the kids had a blast, I've never been to a rural parade, tracters how cool! Can't wait to catch up more :D
Francine said…
You're back! :D

The parade sounds great. Clydesdales and so beautiful.

I was LOL at your city-kid description of Matthew. Teehee!
Natalie said…
Hey cool, you're back! Sounds like you had a fine time overall, except for being sick on the way home (that's a bummer, for sure). Like Fransie, I'm LOL at the city-kid description of Matthew! How cool about the piano lesson possibility; I can't see that James would be interested but good grief, Molly would love it...until the day she "had" to take a lesson - and then, it'd be over. She's not one to be forced to do something, even if she previously indicated an interest in doing it. ;) Anyway, I'm glad to see that you're back, and can't wait to see pictures. :D
karin said…
yay! You're back! :O)

I love the city kid description! hehehe

and as far as piano, well, Kendall LOVES it, and had her first recital recently. I am a huge proponent of it!

So sorry about the colds, that is a major bummer! Hope they pass quickly!

Glad to have you back though!