Almost-summer vacation diary, 2012.
Day 1: Start of semiannual trip (or is it biannual? -- whichever one means every other year) to visit in-laws in Iowa, the lovely land of corn, covered bridges and caucuses. Early June is good time to go. Fewer tornadoes than May. Fewer bugs than July. No presidential candidates around.
Usually do road trip. This time I was convinced (blackmailed) to fly to Chicago then rent a car and drive the remaining four hours to family farm in Columbus Junction (the extra flight is an extra bazillion bucks). Not a fan of flying ("It's a tall bus. It's a tall bus ..."), but the effort would earn me a trip to Disneyland in the fall. No flying? No Disney. Plus spouse would post photo online of me at age 4 in a little Dutch-girl outfit. Agreed to fly.
Day 1, continued: Waiting at SFO. Flight delayed half-hour. Weather in Chicago: 48 degrees and raining. Nay, storming. Nay, assaulting the earth. Reports said a plane skidded off the runway at O'Hare. Now delayed an hour. Nay, an hour and a half. Nay, two. Two and a half. Do I hear three? Sold! Three-hour delay. Became familiar with terminal. Two Peet's within a cacao-bean's throw of each other. Guy at piano bar in celebrity chef Cat Cora's restaurant played "The Girl from Ipanema." Many times. Has other music been written since 1965?
Day 1, never ending: Finally on plane. Watched "Sherlock Holmes 2" and half of "The Muppets" on in-flight videos. Half of
Day 2, but just barely: Midnight at O'Hare. Sleepy. Rented black Toyota Camry and headed down I-294 to I-55 to I-80. Stopped at 24-hour travel "oasis" where there was a Starbucks. Starbucks closed. Went to Taco Bell. Got MexiMelt. Only other customer was skinny guy in cowboy hat flirting with Taco Bell clerk.
Day 2, continued: Arrived at brother-in-law Mike's house at 4:30 a.m. Hit the hay. Not literally. Mike dismayed our plane didn't slide off runway. "Would have made a good story," he said. Sorry to disappoint.
Still day 2 but seemed like another lifetime: Morning on farm. So different from Bay Area. So quiet. You can hear the air. Clouds reflect in pond. Fledgling corn spreads far and wide. Beauty and bounty.
Spouse already working over at mom's farm. Now back, dirty and sweaty. What were you doing? "Cutting up old telephone poles." Of course you were. Where's (sis-in-law) Mindy? "She went to get a goat." Of course she did.
Day 3: Hung out with family around Mom's kitchen table. Played "Paper Toss 2.0" on niece's iPad (it's fun to use the grenade and blow up the office intern). Recalled how co-worker had asked about Iowa: "Are they, like, connected back there?" Why, yes. They all have cellphones and computers. And they even have running water!
Drove the 30 miles to town (Iowa City) for pork tenderloin sandwich at Hy-Vee (their Safeway). Navigated by huge black plume of smoke from weeklong tire fire at the landfill. Later, whole family had a cookout (not over the tire fire). Cookout is Midwest speak for barbecue. Also, lunch is dinner and dinner is supper.
Day 4: Two giant German shepherds, Kahn and Lucy, also live at Mike's house. They are known killers. Their photos are probably up in hen houses all along the Mississippi. They like to roll around on dead possum carcasses. They feign kindness to humans. I gave them lots of snacks so they wouldn't eat me.
Day 5: Mission with Mom and Mindy to pick up three baby geese in Riverside. (Fun Riverside factoid: "The future home of James T. Kirk.") The geese were not baby geese. They were teen geese. Big, awkward, smelly, fussing around in the back of Mindy's Isuzu Rodeo. Spouse named them Breakfast, Lunch and Dinner (make that Breakfast, Dinner and Supper). Mindy gave him the hairy eyeball.
Day 6: Evening. Sitting out back under huge moon. It's always a "supermoon" here. Fireflies dot the darkness. Frogs click castanets. Spanish frogs, no doubt. Fish mouths leave kisses on the pond surface as they try to woo water bugs. We lit sparklers we'd bought at Menards (their Home Depot). Ten bucks go up in smoke pretty quick. Pretty smoke, though.
Day 7: Heading home. Drove four hours to stay at Holiday Inn Express near O'Hare for early next-day flight. Nice hotel. Great until 1:41 a.m., when fire alarm went off like a shrieking harpie. Evacuated to parking lot. Always good to wear attractive PJs. No real fire. Just smoke when some idiot burned something in the microwave on the fourth floor. Not pretty smoke.
Still day 7 but later: On plane. Watched rest of "Muppet" movie, "We Bought a Zoo," and first part of "The Woman in Black" with Harry Potter. Creepy. He doesn't look right without his glasses. Played 141/2 crossword puzzles. Swiped cute little plastic airplane-shaped salt and pepper shaker from in-flight lunch. Got away with it. So far. Let's see them try to catch me in Disneyland.