there and back

Early Thursday morning we departed for Dallas.  Thirteen and a half hours later, we arrived at our destination.  My husband had a conference to attend, and months ago he’d mentioned it to me, saying the kids and I should come along.  I loved the idea of going, but the closer we got to having to leave, I was filled with my typical traveling dread. It’s like everything about the reality of being there tried to convince me it wasn’t worth going.

We had an incredible time!  We spent three full days at the home of my husband’s sister and her family.  The first day the kids and I were home alone while the other adults were at work and the cousins were in school.  While the kids played games, I called my Grandma that morning to get caught up on her life.  After talking with her I joined in with the kids, until I decided it was time for some normalcy.  We got dressed, tidied up, made beds, and had school.

That afternoon we went for a walk.  When we were here last September, I’d gone for a run with my sister-in-law, who was training for a half-marathon at the time.  She’d led us down a long bring wall, across the road, and left to a small open park near their house, where the trail figure-eights around two small ponds.  We didn’t need coats, though I did make everyone put on long-sleeves.  The weather was considerably warmer, and while I was quietly disappointed by the lack of hoped for sunshine, to breathe the air was lovely.

The next day we went to the zoo.  In the past I haven’t really been much of an animal person, but in these last several years, it seems my fondness for animals has considerably grown.  I can’t help but find myself talking to them, like you would when a baby spontaneously smiles, exclaiming a delighted “Hi!!!” when coming face to face with a giraffe.  It’s like the eye contact we share speaks to me a profound meaning.  The giraffe is not human, yet we can see one another.  We are fellow creatures calling the same planet home.

Some creatures, however, I’d be perfectly content, to never see them up close.  The tiger was terrifying, and the snakes–the king cobras–send shivers down the back of my spine just thinking about them.  While we were gone, the groundskeeper reported to my husband having seen a bobcat in the dumpster.  This would be the third bobcat sighting here in these fall/winter months, two by the groundskeeper, another by one of my boys.

Saturday night we heard an astronaut speak about his time in the International Space Station.  He’s also the author of the book The Work of His Hands that sits displayed in our school room.

“The history of humankind is a history of exploration and discovery.  Think about the voyages of Christopher Columbus, Ferdinand Magellan, and James cook; the expeditions of Marco Polo, Lewis and Clark, Alexander von Humboldt, and Ernest Shackleton; and the Apollo moon missions.  There is something in the human heart that seeks to understand the world around us, to explore uncharted territory.”
~Colonel Jeffrey N. Williams, The Work of His Hands

Sunday night we watched the Super Bowl, of course.  There is something note and party worthy in being part of the gathering together for a national event.  A son observed, “It’s almost like the Super Bowl is a national holiday”, and I told him that, yes, it basically is. Though I never witnessed it myself, the memory of CBS’s “wardrobe malfunction” is never far from my mind when the half-time show starts or the commercials come on.  When it wasn’t the game were were watching on television, I kept my thumb squarely on the remote control “Power” button, ready to charge my hand toward the screen at a moment’s notice.  A few times I came close, but thankfully so, I never felt I had to use it.

The game ended and it was bedtime and the early morning came soon enough again for the trip home.  During the two car rides, I was able to finish two different books–the one I mentioned previously about Lewis and Clark, and A Walk in the Woods by Bill Bryner. The later is a book which tells the true story of two men hiking the Appalachian trail.  I came away from each book feeling such a deep gratitude for the experiences they shared with us.  Colonel Jeffrey Williams writes in his book about how difficult it is to choose one event as “the most memorable moment”, but that perhaps the greatest experience of all of his expeditions is the joy of bringing those moments to others.  I loved this explanation and I understood completely.


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