Friday, October 27, 2006

Dear Peter,

Days 4 and 5 were pretty much "low key" compared to the first three days of vacation. We left the hotel about 8:30 that morning to drive into Oklahoma City. Now, the directions said we were a little over an hour away, from Oklahoma City. We were supposed to meet the nephew's sister and her family for lunch at Pizza Hut in Del City at 11:30 am. We reached Oklahoma City with no problems. Then came the task of looking for 290 to get to Del City. This is where the problems began. Just to insert a little warning here, if you ever need to find 290 in Oklahoma City don't bother, because IT DOES NOT EXIST. Somehow a little elf changed my 4 to a 9. We were supposed to get on 240. I am still blaming it on the elf.

We got half way to Tulsa and pulled over to called his sister for directions. They had no clue where we were. We knew we were on Route 66, and we weren't supposed to be. Oh well, Mom wanted to see Route 66 anyway. So, we turn around and drove back to Oklahoma City. After a few more wrong turns we finally get back on 44 and find 240. Within 15 minutes we are at the Pizza Hut, and guess what time it was... 11:30! :-)

We had a great lunch and enjoyed a nice ride home. We went to the lake close to our hotel to look at the ducks. We went to a grocery store and bought things for sandwiches. We had an early supper, we were all in bed at 8:00 pm, and got up early for breakfast and to head home.

Our plan was to come home back through Witchita Falls and then to Weatherford, Corsicana, Athens and home. We woke up to rain. LOTS of rain. It rained all the way to Witchita Falls where it was raining harder. We called our sister for a "weather report" in Weatherford and Corsicana. She got on the "net" and reported that they too had lots of rain. So, we cut that entire part of the trip and went home the same way we had come up. I was disappointed, but the vacation had been so wonderful we just couldn't be upset for long. We stopped back by Mary's of Puddin' Hill, and stopped at a neat Mexican Food Restraraunt for lunch. Took us about 9 hours to get home, and it rained most of the way, but we sang just as much on the way home as we had on the way up. Mom never wants to hear the "Gas song" again, I am sure. :-)

As soon as we made it home we unloaded, put things away, started laundry, and went out for dinner. We were tired, but so rested and relaxed. It was great!!

I hope you enjoyed hearing about our vacation as much as we enjoyed going. :-)

Wendy Darling

Thursday, October 26, 2006

Dear Peter,

To me day 3 of the vacation was THE BEST. :-) We left Witchita Falls about 8:00 am and drove into Oklahoma. We stopped at the Visitors Information Center to walk a bit, take care of business, pick up some more info about the things we wanted to see, and let the nephew by a t-shirt. This was just after paying the toll. Oklahoma has A LOT of tolls. I don't know how the people who live there afford to travel.

Anyway, we drove on into Lawton and our first stop was the Ft. Sill Museum. Now, I don't know why this did not occur to me sooner, but we actually had to go through a security check point. Not that we minded at all, it's just that it didn't occur to me that we would, even though I knew it was an operating military base. So, after going through security we made our way to the museum. Along the way we passed tanks, rockets, old guns that are on display, the barracks, and the officer housing. It was really neat to see all of that up close, and to hear the tanks and gunfire up close. This is where the army practices there shooting.

The museum was really great. We learned a lot about the original post, Geronimo, the Buffalo Soldiers, ect... David bought some souveniers for his friends, and we watched a 20 minute film about the history of the museum. It was very informative. The lady in the museum told us about the chapel on the base. It is the original chapel, and is the one they still use today. They also have a bell, and if you visit the museum you are supposed to go ring the bell. So, I have a really neat picture of the nephew ringing the bell.

We then made our way into the Wichita Mountains. Our destination, Meers Store; home of the 7" Longhorn Burger. Mom and I split one, but the "men" had their own, and finished it. These burgers are served on 9", tin pie plates, just to emphasis how big these suckers are.

After a very filling meal we drove into the mountains and the wildlife refuge. We saw some buffalo very close to the road. It was awesome to see them that close. We also saw hundreds of prairie dogs. Everywhere you looked there were prairie dogs. We drove into the Holy City of the Witchita's. This is a city built out of stone, and they perform the Passion Play every Easter. It is so cool!! The chapel has paintings of the 12 disciples on the wall, and angels painted everywhere, including the ceiling. Dave laid on the floor to get pictures of the ceiling. :-) After we left the gift shop we continued driving through the mountains, and then made our "treck" up Mt. Scott.

I have to brag on my brother here. The man does NOT like heights, but he drove over half a mile to the top of this mountain, and stopped twice along the way to allow me to take pictures. That's love for your family!!! They trip down was a lot easier. :-)

We then went to our hotel. We decided to just get fast food and call it an early night that night. This day was the most fun day, in my opinion. We laughed so hard that day, learned so much, and the weather was gorgeous. This is one of those days that you had to be there to really understand just how great it was.

Next time, days 4 and 5. That entry will be much shorter. :-)

Wendy Darling

Sunday, October 22, 2006

Dear Peter,

Well, here are the details of day number 2 of our vacation. For the “cliff notes” version I encourage you to read “Cleggy’s” blog at the “White Horse”. :-) Wish I had written those instead. :-)

Ok, so the second day we woke up around 6:00 and got dressed. We put our things together, and ate a so-so continental breakfast at the hotel. We checked out and were on our way at about 8:00 am. I believe it was that day that dear nephew learned to sing “Witchdoctor”. :-)

In no time at all we were in Gainesville. We saw a sign for an outlet store and decided to check it out. It looked pretty cool, but did not open until 10:00 am. They had a huge pond out front, with lots of ducks. It was such a pretty sight that I had to “break in” my camera by taking some pictures. After all, I had a gig scan disk in the camera. It wasn’t like I was wasting film. :-)

It seemed that as soon as I opened my door the “northern” that we had been hearing about decided to hit. The wind was blowing so hard I had trouble putting my sweater, and it felt like the temperature dropped 30 degrees in a matter minutes, literally. I got my pictures, and we decided to drive around the historic downtown area and wait for the mall to open. I remembered that there was a neat train museum, and interesting courthouse/town square to occupy our time.

Turned out we picked the wrong weekend for that. The very next day they were having a “celebration of the depot”, so the museum was closed to prepare for the day. We decided to drive around and sightsee. It was really neat. Lots of big old houses, neat courthouse, lots of old businesses… We even found a pharmacy with an old fashioned soda fountain inside. We decided to wait for it to open. Dave and I got out and walked around the square “window shopping” and taking pictures. I am sure people looked at us and thought “hmph… tourist”, but I didn’t care. :-)

The pharmacy opened and we went inside. It was worth the wait. This place had the old counter, bar stools, Coke memorabilia, and old draft machine, 45s hanging on the wall, etc… It was cool!! We decided to order “dreamcicles”. Vanilla ice cream with orange soda. They were good. :-) Then, we were off to the mall.

Our first stop was the information center where we got a map of all of the stores in the “mall”. We immediately decided on 4 stores we wanted to go to. Turns out 2 of them had closed down, one being the toy store that the nephew desperately wanted to go to, and the other being the Bible store he desperately wanted to go to. Guess it was not his day. We went to the last two stores that did exist, and did a little shopping. It was disappointing, but it was a nice mall, and we had nice, cool weather to walk in.

Back in the car, more singing and laughing, we stopped at a Dairy Queen for lunch. We then made our way into Wichita Falls. Let me interject here how much MapQuest sucks!! The hotel was no where near the directions they gave. Thank God for cell phones! After calling the hotel for directions we arrive at the hotel in about 15 minutes. Good news, the hotel is in the same parking lot as a mall! :-) We decide to go into said mall and look around. We go into a couple of stores, look over the directory to locate a toy store. Finding none we head on to the hotel to check in, only to discover that directly behind our hotel is a Toys R Us. The nephew is bouncing off the walls at this point. Unfortunately, he was down to about $10 left of the days “spending allowance”. I make a deal with him later, and he does get to go to Toys R Us, so for those of you who were disappointed for him, don’t be too upset. :-)

We check into the hotel, eat at Denny’s, and head in for the night. Other than the hotel beds being too small, it was much better than the hotel the night before. We all rest pretty well, and David and I both enjoyed playing the Deal or No Deal game he bought at Toys R Us. :-) So, the day was very relaxing, fun (you just had to be in the car to experience and hear that stuff) :-) and “uneventful”. But we loved it.

More next time
Wendy Darling… “Ooh, eeh, ooh, ah, ah, ting tang walla-walla bing bang”…..:-)

Monday, October 16, 2006

Dear Peter,

We made it back from vacation! :-) It was wonderful, and I will tell you all about it. :-)

On Tuesday I rented a Ford Taurus from the car rental company in Rusk. It was raining on Tuesday, so we took our time packing and set everything in the school room. When the rain “let up” I ran outside to open the trunk. I was very pleased to find it had such a large trunk. We loaded everything we could into it. The only things left to be packed were the things we would need in the morning, such as toiletries. :-)

We left Wednesday morning at about 7:30 am. (In my head I was singing “We’re Gonna Make It After All…”) With a quick stop by the local donut shop we headed out. Our destination was Denton, TX. About a 3 hour drive, maybe. We were prepared. We all had drinks, donuts, the nephew had the DVD player in the backseat, and we were well stocked with CDs in the front. My dear brother made 3 awesome travel CDs. He really put a lot of time and thought into the music he put on these. By the time we returned home our nephew had learned some new songs that we sang when we were his age. :-) More about that later….

Our first stop was in Greenville, TX. We stopped at the Audie Murphy/Cotton Museum. if you ever get to Texas I highly recommend a stop here. We learned so much, and it was such a neat experience. Of course, the nephew was ready to leave before we were, but we still enjoyed it. I learned a lot about Audie Murphy that I did not know. I never knew he was a successful songwriter.

As the sign at the museum says we also learned about cotton, “from plant to fabric”. The “homeschool teacher” in me took over, and a lesson was “taught”. Maybe not learned as completely as I would have liked, but it was taught. :-)

We then drove to Mary of Puddin’ Hill. It is a candy store. HEAVEN!! We sampled fruit cake, fudge, peanut brittle and cranberry butter. It was fantastic. I bought 1 piece of toffee candy, for $1.23, and I enjoyed it. :-) If you ever get to go there I encourage it. They do have sugar-free candy as well. :-) We got to watch them make candy through the “viewing window”. They even have a picture of “Lucy and Ethel” in the famous “candy wrapping scene”. It is so neat. They also had a carrousel and doll house made completely out of chocolate. (see pic above) COOL!!

After leaving Greenville we were on our way to Denton. Around lunch time we decided to stop at a grocery in the next town and find a park to eat lunch. We stopped and purchased pimento cheese, chips, rolls, dip and drinks. We asked the cashier about a park, but she only knew of one, in the opposite direction we were headed. We figured there had to at least be a roadside park/rest area up ahead so we journeyed on, keeping a close eye out for somewhere to enjoy our lunch. A few miles down the road we saw a sign for two parks, in the same direction. We tried to find the first one, following the signs. We ended up on some dirt road. After a few miles we realized that even if we did find the park we didn’t want to eat there. So, we made our way back to the “main road” and turned to go to the other park. We are so glad we did. We ended up at a big picnic/park area. The kind that people rent for large functions. There was a gazebo, pond, ducks, etc… It was NICE. There was even a small house/office. NO ONE else was there. To make ourselves feel better (okay, make me feel better) Dave went to the office and asked if we could picnic there. They were very nice and said yes. So, we unpacked our “stuff” and enjoyed a nice picnic.

It was so nice not being on a “schedule”. We just relaxed and enjoyed every moment. And took LOTS of pictures. Have I mentioned how much I love my digital camera? There was only one “scary moment”, and that was when the nephew dropped my camera. My heart went in my throat!! It is fine, so don’t worry. But, that was a very scary time for me.

We then got back on the road and went on to Denton. Turns out that MapQuest is not very good at giving directions. It gave us the directions for the where the hotel used to be, two years ago. Thank God for cell phones. :-) I called the hotel and got the right directions. We got back on the road and were soon at the hotel. :-) We checked in, put out things in the hotel, rested and then went to a book store. It was pretty cool.

We went back to the hotel. I took the nephew to the pool. We ordered pizza for dinner. Dave and the nephew went to the exercise room and enjoyed that for awhile. Mom and I took our showers. They came back to the room and took there showers, and then it was time for bed and TV. You would think this was really late in the day by now wouldn’t you? NOPE, it was about 8:00 pm. I fell asleep halfway through MythBusters. :-)

When we were little one of the things we loved about vacation was staying up past our bedtime. On this whole vacation we never stayed up passed 9:30 pm. And that was only on one night. :-) Man, I am old, but well rested. :-) So, I went to sleep with the sounds of the day(laughter, music, singing songs such as The Purple People Eater, The Partridge Family, Disco Duck, etc…) playing in my head. It was a great start to a great vacation.

Day two next time…. :-)

Wendy Darling

Monday, October 09, 2006

Dear Peter,

I hope things are going well in Neverland. :-) Remember awhile back when I quoted the Mary Tyler Moore theme? (insert song.... "we're gonna make it after all") :-)

Well, looks like we ARE going to make it. Vacation is 2 days away!! I have informed my family that I will not be 100% convinced until we pull out of the driveway Wednesday morning, but I am 98% there. :-)

I go to rent the car tomorrow. All hotel rooms are booked. Money is in the bank. Packing list is made, and has been triple checked. Road trip snacks have been purchased, and others will be made tonight and tomorrow. CDs for the road trip are being made, others have been picked out, and everyone has chosen the outfits that need to be packed for tomorrow. The itinerary and all brochures, maps and confirmations have been placed in a vacation folder. Substitutes for the nursery and my classes have been booked.

OK, does the word "anal" come to your mind? I know, but this is the first vacation we have had in so long, and I just want to make sure that nothing goes wrong, and we have a wonderful time. :-) We're really going to get there this time. Can you tell I'm excited!! :-)

Talk to you when we get back. :-)
Wendy Darling