The First Toddler Sleepover


We had the TX grands over for a sleepover this week while their parents were off celebrating their anniversary.  This was the first time that the youngest, who is 2 years old, would be staying overnight with us and I was a bit worried.  Oh, first a disclaimer.  The two older siblings aren’t really a unicorn and a giraffe.  Those were “crafts with Nana” that we had just worked on.  The toddler is the little, mischievous guy on the right.

When it was time for bed, the two older ones went off to my craft room where we have a bunk bed set up for them.  No problem.  I had set up Scooter’s bed in the guest room along with a baby monitor since his parents had told us that he would most likely keep the other two awake if put in the same room with them.

Scooter and “Papa”

Scooter went to bed and with just a little bit of crying, he went right to sleep.  Wow, that went well.  Fairly soon after, Papa and I headed off to bed since I was anticipating that I’d be awakened in the night by the littlest guy.  My son had told me, “He’ll probably wake up in the night.  If he doesn’t go back to sleep, we usually bring him into bed with us.”  So I slept quite fitfully, waking up often if I thought I heard a peep but surprisingly, it was going well.

Around 4:30 a.m., the monitor went off and we could hear Scooter crying for his mommy and daddy.  I stumbled out of bed and went into the guest room.  “Go back to sleep,” I crooned to him.  That wasn’t working.

I could hear him mumbling under his breath.  He seemed to be going through all the names of family, one by one.

“Scooter, do you want to crawl into bed with Nana?” I asked him.

“NO!” he replied and went back to mumbling with occasional cries.  Finally I offered, “Do you want to go sleep in Papa’s bed?”  That did the trick.  Yes, he did want to do that so we both walked back to the master bedroom and crawled into bed.  By the time he was in next to Papa, I had less than 2 feet of room on my side.  “Yikes”, I exclaimed as I tried to roll over and almost rolled off the bed.

Slowly I drifted off to sleep only to come awake with a start as I felt little fingers stroking my hair.  I gently told Scooter to go to sleep.

As I was drifting off again, I felt little fingers touching my lips.  I grabbed his hand, kissed the little fingers, and told him it was time for sleeping.

As I was drifting off the third time, I realized he had stuck his fingers in my nose.  Sigh!

Finally, I thought he had gone back to sleep.  Papa seemed to be sleeping.  Maybe I’d get some sleep after all.

“Ta dah, dah, dee dah.  Ta dah, dah, dee dah.  WAKE UP!”  he yelled.

Oh, man.  Why had I ever taught him that Army bugle call?

We got up. You don’t argue with the Army.

No Hotel for Seasoned Citizens

This Christmas we decided to head out of town for a mini-vacation.  The kids had headed up to Ohio to visit relatives so we were footloose and fancy-free.  I had stayed at an Embassy Suites in Loveland, CO and loved it.  It has become one of my favorite places to stay.  That made our choice of hotel pretty easy – we’d go with Embassy Suites again, this time along the Riverwalk in San Antonio.

Here’s my review:

Parking Valets and Bellhops:  Driving into downtown San Antonio was a bit harrowing (remember, I’m a girl who loves small towns…really small towns).  We found the hotel but had to hunt a bit before finding the valet parking.  Now, I’m used to hotels that have parking lots right near the hotel.  Free parking, right?  Here you had to pay about $30 a night for the joy of having the valet park your car.  They were pretty efficient, though, which was nice.  Also nice was that we were so cheap about not wanting to have to tip every time we would want our car that we ended up doing lots of walking instead.  More on that later.

When the valets took our van, they asked if we would be needing help with luggage.  How nice.  “Nope”, we told them. “Just point us in the direction of the luggage carts and we’ll do it ourselves.”  They quickly took THAT pipe dream away as they told us this was a 4-star hotel and luggage carts were not provided to the guests to do it themselves.  Enter the bellhop!  Again, he did a fine job.

Kitchenette and office space

Room:  Our room consisted of a bedroom, bathroom, and living area.  It was lovely, at first glance.  However, livability proved to be a different thing entirely.

Let’s start with the couch.  It wasn’t very soft.  There were no cushy pillows for your arms along the side and nothing to cushion your back.  It was also VERY low.  I can’t begin to guess how many times my knees cracked as I tried to get up from the couch.

Footrests or torture instruments?

Next came the footrests or whatever those things were supposed to be.  They were NOT at the level of the couch.  They were higher.  You had to have your legs up higher than the couch which was extremely uncomfortable.  If you kept your legs in that position for any length of time, you’d get an automatic charley horse in your upper thighs when you tried to bring your legs down and stand up, again accompanied to the sound of cracking ligaments and bones.

Sitting Area TV

Now let’s add the TV into the mix.  It sat on top of a high credenza…much higher than the couch.

Angle of viewing

You had to have your head at an unnatural angle to view the TV.  This is not good for older people.  Heck, it isn’t good for any age person.

Ouch, my neck!

I ended up with a crick in my neck for the duration of my stay at the Embassy Suites.

Anyone got a booster chair?

I’d try to alternate between the couch and working on my computer when we weren’t out sightseeing.  Man, the little desk was really high and the chair provided was really low (are you sensing a theme here?).  I had to type with my hands in this position.  I’m a crack typist and I still remember how my typing instructor told me to keep my wrists level to avoid strain and injury to the hands.  Wasn’t going to happen here.

Time for Bed?

The Bed:  Our first night, we got ready for bed and plopped down on the sumptuous-looking bed.  Oh, my goodness!  I practically broke my tailbone.  I’ve never slept in such a hard bed.  The mattress had no give to it at all.  It was like sleeping on a thick board.  My hubby has arthritic hips and knees and mine aren’t much better.  It proved to be agony.  In fact, it was so bad that we barely slept each night.  The pillows were those frou-frou ones that are all downy and have no support whatsoever so that while my body would be lying rigid on the mattress, my head would have sunk down to a strange angle.  I would sit on the uncomfortable couch and get a sinking feeling (everywhere but on the cushion) knowing that I had to face that bed each night.

The “almost” perfect shot

The Stumble of the Alamo: To make matters worse, on the first full day we had to sightsee, we had walked to the Alamo.  As I approached that venerable building, I was looking at my phone as I tried to center the perfect shot when, yikes!  Off I sailed over a very high curb and landed on my arm first and then my hip before flipping onto my back.  As one of my waggish friends said later, “Well, I guess the mystery has finally been solved as to who was the last person to fall at the Alamo.”

Man, I was so embarrassed as big, strong guys came running, a policeman came running and even a park ranger.  I assured them that I was fine (just shaken up) once they got me back on my feet.  However, you guessed it, this did NOT help my aching hips, which were soon joined by an aching forearm with a big knot, a bruised shin, and a back that was complaining about the unnatural twist.  If it could talk, it would have been saying, “I give you a ‘2’ for your landing.”

It now became even more agony trying to sleep on that bed.

The Bathroom:  You guessed it, the toilet was LOW.  I think it was built for a tiny person.  Once you fell down on it, there were no handholds to help you get back up.  I wasn’t going to call a bellhop to help me with THAT!

On the plus side, they had lovely breakfasts included in the price and a manager’s reception each evening that included free drinks and fruit and nachos.

To make a long story short, we ended up cutting our stay short and heading on home a day early.  Honestly, we could not face the thought of one more night in that bed.

The morale to all of this, and yes, there is a point, is that the room (which cost plenty) could have been more user-friendly to seasoned citizens.  We aren’t all 20-something and flexible.  Whoever designed those suites needed to actually try to sleep and live in the rooms for a few days and see what could have been improved.

I’m just glad to be home and boy, am I looking forward to a good night’s sleep on our Tempurpedic and my nice, comfy recliner.  I guess like my namesake, I can heartily say, “There’s NO place like home.”  ZZzzzzzz!



Hurricane Harvey Aftermath



The entrance into our subdivision

This was my first Texas hurricane.  I’ve only been through one other hurricane and that was many years ago when my children were toddlers and we lived inland off the SC coast.  There was NO flooding involved, just lots of wind.

Our neighbor to our left next to containment ditch

I won’t kid you…I’ve lost track of time and days but somewhere early in the Harvey ordeal, I thought I was going to die.  I remember calling my daughter on the East Coast in tears and feeling so hopeless.  We live in a one story home.  There is NO basement so no tangible place to retreat during tornado warnings.  One of the days, we had 155 tornado warnings.  I finally just went numb on those.  As far as the one-story, there was going to be only one place to go and that was on the roof.  I couldn’t imagine trying to climb onto our roof in the dead of night, in pouring rain, amidst tornado warnings.  Maybe 40 years ago I would have been more confident.  In my late sixties, I knew my limits.

Our home from across the street

One man interviewed on television summed up my feelings at that point exactly.  He said (and I paraphrase) that he felt like someone who has been condemned to hang at dawn and, as dawn approaches, just feels overwhelmed by the sense of dread and hopelessness.

I also felt angry.  Honestly, I was pissed.  I had wanted to evacuate to Dallas back on Thursday before all the craziness struck but my hubby wasn’t convinced it was necessary.  Maybe I’m one of those people who have etched on their tombstone, “I TOLD you I was sick.”  In my case, it would have been, “I TOLD you we should have evacuated.”

Cavalcade of craft on our street by subdivision

As the days progressed and Harvey hung over the greater-Houston area, I began to see ordinary people coming out to help with whatever tools they had at their disposal.  There were folks with Jon boats, kayaks, air boats, canoes, dump trucks, you name it.  I didn’t really see any of those on my street during the brunt of the storm but we did have a helicopter flying overhead.  I’m pretty confident that it would have lowered a basket if I had jumped up and down and waved my hands.  Our Houston mayor (who was pretty awesome during this) kept saying that they were opening shelters within walking distance of all those affected.  It wasn’t until AFTER Harvey moved on that we found out the shelter for our subdivision.  It just wasn’t announced.  That was a scary feeling – not knowing where you were supposed to go.

Home on our son’s street

Our son’s street started flooding and soon only his house and his father-in-law’s home were still water-free.  He texted us that he was moving the kids to the in-laws and helping other neighbors get to that house.  Later the entire street was under water and they had to be boated out.  They were taken to our church were they spent the rest of the storm and several days after until they could return to their neighborhood.  Thankfully, their two houses were still dry.

Flooded containment field

We live one house away from a huge containment field for Clear Creek.  It was that creek that flooded and put over half our town under water.  It quickly went over the banks of the big field and came down our street.  Soon the street was under water and it was inching down our front yard and sidewalk toward the house.

Water up to our stoop – already receding

The first real night of flooding, we were able to contact our next-door neighbor who owns a two-story house and he told us to come over and spend the night on their second floor.  That was such a Godsend, let me tell you.  I can’t say enough wonderful things about our neighbor and his family.  The second and worse night of flooding, George and I were to take shifts sleeping while monitoring the water outside.  I had the first shift and within less than two hours it had almost gotten over our front stoop.  At about 2 a.m. it was decided that I’d wade across to the neighbor’s home with the dog and spend the night at their house while George would stay at the house and see if he could keep the water at bay if it started to come inside.  I found the neighbors frantically moving furniture up higher and carrying pieces to the 2nd floor.  I spent the night in a chair upstairs with the dog on my lap and as soon as it was light enough, I headed home, not knowing what I’d find.  Water was about 8 feet from our garage which sits behind the house, the whole front yard was under water and it was surrounding our house on three sides.  Miraculously, the inside was dry.  As the rain slacked off, we could see that the  water had gotten to within just a few inches of coming in the front door.  If it had continued to rain that day, we would have been flooded.

Kayaking down our 6-lane road

Harvey moved on and we gradually saw the extent of the damage to our area.  We’d already seen plenty of misery on the TV (yup, we never really lost power or cable) but it is different seeing it in your own neighborhood.  Just around the block from us, the entire street flooded and I think all the homes have major damage.  Driving down the street is heart-wrenching seeing all the piles of furniture, drywall, and belongings sitting on the curb.  The other half of our subdivision had major flooding and they estimate about 75% of the homes were damaged.  Two of my knitting friends had to leave their homes as water rushed inside.

Shopping Center next to our street

When you meet friends and strangers now, the first question is inevitably, “How did you do in the storm?”  Everyone has shared this experience and it has made family of us all.

I’m so grateful to have been spared the flooding inside and to still be alive.  I’m achy and can’t sleep well at the moment.  I wake up in the night and think I hear rain outside.  We are all probably suffering from the effects of prolonged exposure to stress and some hurricane PTSD.

Our front yard

I can’t say enough about the wonderful acts of kindness by folks and the heroism of rescuers.  The military folks have really stepped up.  Who would have thought that we’d be excited to see tanks rolling into our town but hey, with Harvey as the enemy?  Have at it!

In my next post, I’ll talk about my “lessons learned” but for now, I’ll just leave you with this little tidbit to digest.  First they said it was a 1- in-500 year event.  Then they were announcing that it was a 1-in-800 year event.  Now the weathermen are saying it was a 1-in-40,000 year event.  All I know is that it was a heck of a storm and not one that I ever hope to go through again.  Give those you love a hug today.  Smile at a stranger.  And remember, life is so unpredictable.  Concentrate on the things that really matter.


Riding Out Hurricane Harvey

Where’s the Bread?

Good morning, all, from the SE Texas Coastal area.  We are hunkered down in our house just south of Houston while Hurricane Harvey sends bands of rain through our area.  This is my first Texas hurricane and I have to admit, I was more than ready to head up to Dallas to wait until Harvey left the area.  However, my husband and son didn’t think it was necessary, nor apparently did our town officials as they sent the residents notices that there were no evacuations in place for our area and to just hunker down.

So the first order of business was to stock up on some essentials, like bread, water, canned goods, and snacks.  I have been getting cases of water on a regular basis and have them stashed all over the house so I wasn’t too worried plus I have a great portable water filtration system I can use to make just about any water safely drinkable.

What every girl needs

The local grocery stores have been doing a great job of stocking and restocking although they were out of most breads when I ran to the store.  Don’t judge me on my choices.  I need my comfort food in stressful situations.  You’ll notice that toilet paper and Blue Bell Ice Cream is missing in my cart.  Yup, I sent hubby back the next day to pick those up when we heard it was now a Cat. 3 hurricane heading our way.

I also have emergency rations I can dip into and a cooking pot (JetBoil) that I can use if the power goes out. That’s been one of my main concerns but except for a short duration the first day of landfall, our power has remained on.

Stocking up on ice cubes

I left the bags of ice to folks who might have more need of them and we’ve just been making ice like crazy in our refrigerator and then bagging it up and taking it out to the chest freezer to store, in case we have to start putting frozen goods in ice chests in the event of a power failure.

I popped up a lot of popcorn the night before landfall just in case our power went out.  I really love popcorn and that’s something I wouldn’t want to attempt in a JetBoil.

I also put critical and irreplaceable photo albums up high, just in case our house would be flooded.  In addition I added my Mom’s ashes (try replacing those!) and several stuffed animals from my childhood, which also couldn’t be replaced if lost to flooding.

Elizabeth and friend

My little Elizabeth (on the right) has been with me since BEFORE I was born.  She was a baby shower present given to my mom and then passed on to me when I was a baby.  We’ve been through a lot together and I’m not about to ignore her at this stressful time.  “Cindy” the dog is another childhood pal.

Spinning through the Storm

I’ve been getting a lot of spinning done.  There is something soothing about having a rhythmic activity to do (especially fiber-related) in times of stress.

Weather Channel

We’ve also been watching the Weather Channel and KPRC News.  This is NOT so relaxing.  After the evening news the day Harvey made landfall, my hubby looked over at me and said, “Time to break out the Blue Bell Ice Cream.”

Drainage Ditch

My main concern in this hurricane has been the drainage ditch that is just one house down from our home.  This is a picture of it after a rainstorm last year.  Now that ditch is over 15 feet deep and as wide as probably 2-3 houses laid side-by-side.  In April ’16, the water came up to the top of that ditch.  Since they are calling for Harvey to stall over our area of Texas into the middle of next week, rainfall could be unprecedented.  Right now they are calling for up to 30 inches of rain in our area.

The other things we did to prepare was to charge up all of our devices and rechargeable batteries.  We filled the bathtub with water that could be used to flush toilets in case of power failure.  My knitting friends have formed an informal text chain to check in with each other as the storm progresses.  Some of them hit the road and evacuated earlier but most remain in the area.   Our children are checking in with us regularly and I’ve been keeping my brother (the survivalist expert) informed on our conditions here.

Despite a plethora of tornado warnings around the area yesterday, we got a pretty good sleep, interrupted only by the nervous licking that our dog was doing that sounded SO LOUD that I finally got up, grabbed the dog and went into the guest bedroom where she could hide under the covers to her heart’s content and I could soothe her if she started up with the licking again.  I actually slept in, only to be awakened by a thunderstorm passing through.

So, it is Saturday- the first full day after Harvey has made landfall and so far we are good.  We have appreciated (and felt) the many prayers of friends around the country.  Continue to keep Texas and its residents in your thoughts and prayers as we go through the weekend and into the next week.  In the meantime, stay dry!


Roads and Rails Museum Visit

Mountain Passes

I’m visiting our daughter and family for our youngest grandson’s first birthday and today we headed out to nearby Frederick, Maryland to visit the Roads and Rails Museum.  If you are at all interested in model railroading, you really should take the time to see this gem, located in downtown historic Frederick.  You can read about it here and take an awesome virtual tour of the place.

Pet Place Building

The attention to detail is amazing.  One of the fun things to do is to pick up their scavenger quiz sheet as you enter and then try to find the items and answers as you look around the layout.

Cows and Eggnog

Drive-in Theater

Look at the little drive-in theater.  It is actually playing scenes from a movie.  How fun is that?

Aliens have landed

Oh, oh…look who has landed at the farm.  Then again, I always suspected that there was more to Holsteins than met the eye.

Visit the Zoo

There is a little zoo in the layout and one of the quiz questions is to find how many animals are escaping from the zoo.

Bed Bug Motel

When I spied the Bed Bug Motel, I had to take a picture of it for my brother, considering our recent “wildlife” adventure on our sibling trip.

What’s in the woods?

Looks like those hobos better look out behind them.  I think something is coming out of the woods to get them.

Fire, Fire!

Look out!  A building is on fire but those firemen seem to be more interested in the hot dog stand then putting out the flames.

Come in for the Show

Along with a Big Top there is also a carny area filled with moving rides that light up.

What Lurks Beneath

Maybe you thought dinosaurs were extinct but they are alive and well under the train layout.

When you get tired of looking at all of the incredible details in the huge layout, walk into the next room and enjoy the LEGO display.

Garden Time


Hulking Out

Robin Hood at War

There are many others scenes set up in the LEGO room but I’ve just wet your whistle with the pictures above.  Once you finish your tour, there are many fine restaurants and quaint shops in historic Frederick so plan to make a day of it.

Traveling with Siblings

My brother and I have survived our summer trip this year, putting over 3300 miles on his Prius and we are still speaking.  What have I learned from this trip?  Well, here are some things.

Lessons Learned:

1.  You are bound to have some blow-ups when traveling with a sibling.  We had our moments.  The “Marinette Meltdown” comes to mind.  Boy, would I love to have been a fly on the wall for THAT one.  However, when you know that these tiffs will happen, you can also know that the storm clouds will blow over and soon things will be back on an even keel.

2.  Eating regular meals helps keep stress to a minimum.  I’m hypoglycemic and my temper flares when I go too long without eating.  It’s good to take the time to stop and stretch your legs and eat something.  My brother was really good about stopping to let us walk when we drove those long stretches.

3.  Don’t expect each other to have the same energy levels or want to do things exactly like you do.  I’m not much of an outdoorsy person.  My brother is much more outdoorsy.  He doesn’t like to sit for long periods of time.  I can sit for hours at a time just happily knitting away or reading.  It’s ok to have differences in this way.  You just have to respect that sometimes you might have to go a bit out of your comfort zone and vice versa.  You also have to respect the fact that your sibling might have a different way of doing things and that is ok, FOR THEM.  It doesn’t mean that either of you have to change. If my brother wanted to go for a walk on the beach, I was more than happy to let him while I relaxed at the motel.  He had to realize that I might not want to trek around and needed more down time.  “Respecting differences” is the key.

4.  Keep daily travel to short chunks, allowing time to decompress.  We had some days that were real corkers, with long distances traveled.  It was wearing.  In hindsight, we’d not go such a distance again without more time spent just relaxing.

5.  Keep your sense of humor.  Siblings are wonderful to travel with.  You have shared experiences and memories.  Sometimes you have to just not take things too seriously and then anticipate all the great experiences you will have to laugh over when your trip is finished.  We had a lot of fun on this trip and are already laughing over some of our antics.  Yes, we had our moments but we had our moments growing up together, too.  When all is said and done, my brother and I are the only immediate family we have and we love each other, quirks and all.  Yes, I’m a drama queen and yes, he’s a control freak but we both love to laugh at ourselves and to eat and to clown around and to honor our roots and our parents by making our treks to the old stomping grounds.

6.  Family is golden.  At the end of the day, family is who you can rely on and who you treasure.  I know there are many out there who have not had great family experiences.  For them, I feel sad.  For those of you who DO have great family memories, go out and make new ones.  Try a sibling trip.  You just might find yourself doing it again and again…and surviving the experience with a chuckle.

Geocaching on the Great Sibling Tour ’17

Recap:  We are two siblings who have driven over 3300 miles around the Midwest revisiting old childhood haunts.  Along the way, we’ve geocached and visited relatives and eaten a lot of good food.

Day 12:  We made it back to my brother’s home, tired but safe and sound.  I thought I’d post some pics of our geocaching adventures along the way.  I won’t tell you where these are located.  That would spoil the fun.

Suffice it to say that we found caches in all sorts of containers and all kinds of hiding places.

My favorite geocache was this one.  What a clever place to hide something.

We are getting better at looking at things and discerning what is out of whack or just doesn’t seem to fit in the landscape.

We’ve rooted around old buildings.

Traipsed through woods.

Climbed down hills.

Peeked into trees.

And sometimes we’ve just been plain stumped.

I’ve learned to bring along work gloves and my trusty knitting needle for when you have to poke around in vegetation.  My brother has learned that it isn’t always wise to wear shorts depending on the terrain you are hiking through.  And always, I’ve learned it is wise to bring along bug spray, a trusty pen, and paper.  The pen comes in handy to sign the logs and if you find a cache that is missing a log, extra paper is always handy to make a new log.

Above all, I’ve learned that geocaching can be fun and is something readily available wherever I find myself.  Happy hunting!

Great Sibling Tour ’17 Day 11

No More Schloegel’s

Recap:  We are a sibling duo who have been traveling around the Midwest retracing our childhood journeys.  So far, we’ve traveled over 3,000 miles and through 8 states.

Day 11:  We had received a “heads-up” from our cousin that Schloegel’s, a Menominee, MI landmark had closed recently but it was still so sad to drive by it and see the “closed” sign.  The kids are selling the business.  No more wonderful breakfasts of potato pancakes for us there.

Watering the graves

Instead we had to make do with breakfast at the hotel and then it was time to head out of town.  First, though, we swung by the cemetery to water the flowers we’d planted the day before.  Goodbye, Dad, Aunt Violet, Aunt Gertie, Uncle Lester, and the grandparents that we never got to meet.  Until we pass this way again…

Green Bay inlet

We crossed into Michigan and stopped along Green Bay in Menominee to take a few more pictures.  There were folks fishing from the docks and one fisherman was cleaning a huge fish he’d caught.

Looking for the Mackinac Bridge

Driving across the Upper Peninsula, we got great mileage.  It was around 68 mpg in the Prius.  Once we stopped at a gas station, we realized why the mileage was especially good.  There was a very strong tailwind which was probably pushing us along.  It was also very cold—about 63 degrees out.

We always played a game as kids to see who would spot the Mackinac Bridge first.  I’m happy to report that I was the winner this year.

Bridge View park

We got out to take some pictures on the St. Ignace side and marveled at how the temperatures had shot up.  It was now in the 80’s and approaching 90.  The wind was ferocious and I was amazed that they were letting big semi trucks cross the bridge.

Smooth Sailing

It was smooth sailing for us as we went to the lower peninsula of Michigan, only to be buffeted by a corker of a breeze as we toured around.


We did some geocaching and found all three that we had planned in advance to search for.

Injured geocacher

At one geocaching hunt, we had to walk down a trail to the beach and then back up into the woods.  There were bugs everywhere.  I’m convinced there was also poison sumac along the trail.  I tried to avoid touching the leaves and then tried to avoid the bugs, windmilling my arms non-stop as I called out encouragement to John who was digging around in the trees.  At one point, a tree retaliated by giving him a good gash.  He came back to the car with blood running down his leg.

Goofing around

Of course, we had to recover with some Starbucks and of course, there were things in the area that we could have some fun with.

The Great Scout

No major blowups today.  I DID tell my brother over an excellent meal of whitefish, to go ahead and make a comment about my butter usage in advance so we could get it over with.  He didn’t take the bait.  He DID lecture me about hanging out outside tonight.

“You need to go outside,” he said.

“I don’t NEED to do anything,” I told him.  “If I CHOOSE to go outside, I will.  If I want to stay in the motel room, that’s fine, too.”

That was almost the end of it but not before I heard his theory of why bugs go after me (my perfume – which I don’t wear) or my hairspray (which I do use).  He even lectured me on how my body emits an odor when I am afraid that dogs can pick up on.  I’m not quite sure how dogs fit into the bug problem but I’m sure there must be a logic there somewhere.  In the meantime, I’ll just keep my “fear stink” inside and enjoy the air conditioning and the quiet.

Now we have this last night on the road and then, Lord willing, we will be back at my brother’s home tomorrow.  It has been a very LONG trip.  I’m ready to relax, put my feet up, and do some laundry.


Great Sibling Tour ’17 Day 10


Recap:  My brother and I are touring the Midwest on our annual sibling trip where we retrace our family vacation routes that we followed growing up.  We also try to do something different each year.  This year, we’ve been geocaching.

Breakfast Blowout

Day 10:  We headed off to a restaurant in the Wisconsin Dells that has very good bacon.  The day didn’t get off to a very good start because my brother started in with the “sibling advice”, telling me that I shouldn’t be buttering my hash browns so much.  Oh, come on!  The butter containers they gave me had about as much butter as the size of my little fingernail.  And really, if potatoes aren’t swimming in butter, I have trouble getting them down.  They are simply too starchy for me.  Then John hit “Strike Two” when he decided to chastise me for taking more than a little sample the night before at a buffet “in case you don’t like it.”  It wasn’t like I was loading up my plate.  I might have taken a healthy scoop of the pasta salad, which proved to be almost inedible.    John thought it was, too but ate the whole thing because he didn’t want to waste food.  My philosophy is that I was paying for it and if it didn’t taste good, I wasn’t going to force it down.  So we had words over that and we hadn’t even hit the road yet.


We eventually arrived in Marinette, WI and made a quick pit stop at Mickey-Lu’s for lunch.  We always eat here and love their hamburgers.

The owner and John

Chuck, the owner, came over to welcome us back.  He told us, “Come on, you really didn’t drive 2800 miles for my hamburgers, did you?”

“You betcha!”, we assured him.  John ate 4 for lunch and 3 for supper.  I had 2 for lunch and 2 for supper.  You read that right.  We came back and ate our supper there, too.

Visiting Dad’s grave

After checking into our motel, we went to the local Menard’s and picked up some marigolds for the family graves.  That led to Strike three for my brother.  He was digging up the planting area on all four graves and then I was supposed to get on my knees and plant the marigolds.  Well, darn-nit, it really hurt to be on my knees on the ground planting them.  Somehow we got into an argument about my inability to crawl around between the graves that ended with me in tears and John shouting at me.

“You’re just too sensitive.  You’re SO dramatic!” he shouted.

“You aren’t sensitive enough,” I shouted back, along with some choice words.  I haven’t sworn this much in years.  There is something about siblings that just bring out the worst in me.

“Where’s that other marigold,” he shouted.

I threw it at his head.  It’s a wonder Dad didn’t rise out of the grave and box our ears.

Loose Family Plot

At least the graves looked nice when all was said and done.

Geocaching in Marinette

We calmed down enough to geocache.  John found two and I found one.  We also met another geocaching couple and traded stories with them for a bit by the shores of Green Bay.

Tracing Ancestral Homes

One other thing we did today was drive around Marinette and take pictures of all the places our ancestors had lived in town.  We found all but four out of nine.  Three were now either empty lots or parking lots.  One was on a street which no longer exists in Marinette.  Ancestors of ours lived in the house shown above from 1897-1913.

The “storm clouds” had rolled away by the time we had supper at Mickey-Lu’s and topped it off with a sea salt caramel malt from Culvers.  Who says that food can’t soothe the soul?

Tomorrow we head off to Mackinaw City and the final stay of our trip.  Stay tuned.

Great Sibling Tour ’17 Day Nine

Recap: Total Miles Driven so far: 2,772
Average Miles Per Gallon today: 59.8 MPG
Car being driven: 2016 Prius 4
Miles Driven Today: 263 Miles
Weather: Perfect with temps around 80 today
Weather during the last 9 days on the road: PERFECT between 80 and 96 degrees.
States driven through: Michigan, Indiana, Illinois, Iowa, Nebraska, South Dakota, Minnesota, Wisconsin

A Cousin Reunion

We started our day by meeting one of our cousins for breakfast before we headed off to Wisconsin.  It is always fun to see Jeff and talk to him.  We had quite the lively discussion going at our little table at Panera’s and I’d like to think that we solved some of the world’s problems or at least, enlightened a few of the folks sitting near us.


We did some geocaching while in the Dells and found three.

River Cruise

We bought tickets on the Duck cruises and took the Duck boat ride around the Wisconsin Dells area, including down the river.  What a fun time.

Then we tried to blog about our experiences last evening but our internet was SOOOOOOO slow that we finally gave up.  It really makes you appreciate fast internet service when you don’t have it at all.  We couldn’t even upload one picture.  Ugh!  Thank goodness we have lightning fast internet tonight in the motel.



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