• Tuesday, 1 February 2005


To get the full value of a joy, you must have somebody to divide it with.

- Mark Twain


My husband and I are sharing the excitement and joy of a new adventure together! 


With Valentine's Day just around the corner, this is not your typical tale of romance, but my "Valentine" and I have recently been invited to become members of the Peace Corps.  What could be more romantic?  8-)


We are as euphoric as anyone newly in love has been.  Depsite the obvious challenges and difficulties this adventure will present, we are engaged and excited about the dynamic change in our lives. 


We are moving forward with joy.


Last year as February reared it’s head, my heart felt as though it was trapped in a vice as I reflected back on the days surrounding Caleb’s birth (22 Feb 1976) and his death (25 Feb 2002). 


I feel as though the ice that has covered my soul and spirit has finally melted and the warmth of life and love has resurrected me.  I find myself singing and smiling and even dancing – and giving thanks.


Mark Twain was very wise - It is a joy and a privilege to share this experience with a loved one.  For that I am most grateful. 



  • Monday, 31 January 2005

After the Walk – Ed the Duck goes to Ukraine


Mark wants to take Ed the Duck with us on our Peace Corps tour to Ukraine.


We can take only 100 pounds of baggage and he wants to take a rubber ducky. 


I smile and agree.  It pleases me that he suggested it.


Ed will, of course, have no baggage allowance since we are “smuggling” him into the country with no passport.  He will travel light – Mark came walking in with a tube of metal polish and indicated that this is the sum total of Ed’s luggage requirements, but Ed himself, is rather heavy.  This little guy wears a suit of handmade chain mail.


Ed, the funny yellow rubber duck in his chain mail suit has traveled extensively.  Many years ago, when Ed became our son’s constant companion, he usually rode quite comfortably in the pocket of Caleb’s chain-mail lined field jacket as the two made their way around Boston.  


Caleb would pull Ed from his pocket at times and I would observe that someone wearing lipstick had planted kisses on the bright yellow duck.  Apparently his charms were not lost on the high school girls that Ed had the opportunity to meet back then.


In later years, Ed became a fixture on the dashboard of Caleb’s car.  Wherever the black Jeep went, Ed was there.  There were 4-wheeling adventures and nights on the town.  There were several cross country jaunts in the Jeep, despite the fact it is a ragtop, with no radio or doors.  Once Caleb and Ed got caught in the Jeep during a snowstorm in the mountains of California.  Not a story a mother likes to hear! 


Anyone who knew Caleb, certainly met Ed.


Ed was not along on Caleb’s last trip.  He was safe at home on the dashboard of the Jeep when the motorcycle accident happened.


We drove our son’s Jeep up the mountain to the memorial services for him.  Ed was, as ever, perched on the dashboard.   He was (and still is) a reminder of happier times. 


Ed is also, for us, a reminder to live a full rich life.  He is a reminder to laugh and take a few risks. 


I think about how hard it would be o be a duck wearing armor.  A duck is meant to fly and a duck should be able to swim.  In donning armor, Ed had to give up those pleasures.  For me, Ed the Duck exemplifies what it means to put service before self.  Certainly if he had his choice, he would love to swim and paddle on a pond, to fly over the countryside and view the world from far above, to live the life of freedom a duck is meant to live. 


Somehow this duck has become a symbol to me.  He not only brings back joyful memories of the wonderful son I lost, but he also reminds me of the abundance that is mine and that I can (and should) share my blessings with joy.


So as February rolls around again, we are reminded that this is the month our son Caleb was born (22 February 1976) and died 26 years later (25 February 2002) died (25 February).  We will begin our Peace Corps adventure on that sad date.    We will move forward and engage in a new life.  We will carry Caleb’s spirit with us in our hearts, but Ed the Duck will be in our luggage. 



  • Monday, 31 January 2005

No Starbucks in Ukraine


Sigh, the teasing has begun!  My friend wrote me a note and mentioned Starbucks...No Starbucks in Ukraine...unless perhaps one of us wants to start the first franchise there!  Hmmmm, maybe that could be my secondary project!  8-)  Ha!


I am practicing ordering coffee.  This is part of my survival training!  Here is what the phrase looks like in transliterated Ukrainian (left out the accents): 


        Daite bud laskakavu.  Duzhe dyakuyu


Say that three times fast!  (Until I get the pronunciation down, I will gesture sipping from a cup as I blurt out the above phrase!)


I am writing to friends and family and asking them to send snapshots of family, home, neighborhood, work, church, grocery store, movie rental place and other typical hang outs (Starbucks with a double shot latte)!  I will enjoy them, but my real intent is to share them with Ukrainians so they get a better picture of what life is like here in the USA (Tse moya sim ya...or this is my family...).  When I get really homesick and start missing Starbucks, I will use that photo to transport me to a better place, better time!  8-)   


Ukraine is a tea culture - if we order coffee, we are likely to get Nescafe (INSTANT - sigh...).  We will be taking our tiny stovetop espresso machine or the french press (I think the sleeping bags got vetoed!). 


Miss Zoë is tugging at my shirt sleeves - time to go outside for the morning constitutional...brrrr, it is rather cold today (32 degrees) but at least the ice storm that visited us has blown over ... there is only a little slush on the ground. I NEED to find and buy some waterproof footwear so I can make it through the Spring season slogging back and forth through mud, melting snow and spring rain until May when things dry out till October...by then I hope to acquire some decent, warm boots for winter walking in professional wear.  (When I walked a mile to the T in Boston, I just wore leather boots and an extra pair of socks, but people generally shoveled their walks there...) 


Only three weeks to go!  Despite my humor, I am eager to get there and engage in life as a Ukrainian...no sense in traveling abroad if all you think about is the stuff you leave behind! 


Do pobachennya  (good bye) for now…



  • Sunday, 30 January 2005

Cold feet & size 9 ˝ shoes…

The morning walk was like wandering through a fairy land.  We were surprised to see another dog-walking couple.  It is unusual to meet people walking in this neighborhood, even on days when the weather is balmy and inviting. 


We made a point of walking only in open areas, devoid of trees.  Last year, the ice storm we had did some really significant damage to cars.  Large trees would crash to the ground and fall on unsuspecting people and cars.  Our yard is littered with smaller branches and debris, but we seem to have escaped serious consequences.


Walking in the slush reminds me I must get some kind of footwear.  A challenge anyway, because size 9 ˝ footwear is always hard to find.  This is not because they are so large, but most manufacturers stop making half sizes at size 9 so often I must choose between a 9 or a 10.  Neither shoe is comfortable. The coveted size 9 ˝ shoes disappear from the shelves almost immediately.


It will be worse in Ukraine no doubt, if it is like my experience in Spain.  Women there seemed to cram their feet into tiny shoes as a mater of pride.  Despite the fact that beautiful shoes in larger sizes (including the elusive 9 1/2), are exported to the USA from Spain,  they are NOT available in country.  I had to listen to shoe salesmen direct me to the men’s department for footwear!  Sigh.   During our Spanish adventures, I was very thankful for the JC Penney and Spiegel catalogues and our APO address which allowed us to receive catalog items at a reasonable price. 


So, in Ukraine, I am told that shoe quality is poor and we will not have the luxury of an APO address so shipping a pair of shoes will be done upon request from a dedicated friend or family member.  One veteran PCV advised us to send only one shoe per box since boxes are often opened enroute to the recipient and probably no one would steal just one shoe…hmmmmm?


We will head to Tractor Supply and look for galoshes or rubbers to get us through the first few weeks in Ukraine


·        Saturday, 29 January 2005

The moving sale, ice storms & Ukrainian food….

Pain is as frost is to some plants: it strengthens them. Pain is very important in the transformation of a person.

- Pir Vilayat Inayat Khan
Alchemical Wisdom


Here in the Carolinas we are in the midst of a major ice storm - of course this is the day I had my moving sale planned! 


We got up at 5 AM to be ready, just in case early birds showed up (and in my experience they always do) and sure enough, two old codgers showed up at 6:30 to look and talk and talk and talk.  They finally walked away with an old lawn mower we gave to them for free. 


It is now almost 9 AM and we have had sold a few large pieces, but the living room and front bedroom are full of stuff,  Prospects for more shoppers are slim.  Carolinians are not accustomed to snow and ice.


Outside, ice pellets are falling and not many cars are even out on the street.  This kind of weather usually means power failure and falling branches.  We had a bad ice storm last year and many people sustained damages so this time they are taking the warnings seriously.  The grocery store shelves were empty last night and the parking lots were full as people stocked up on bread, milk, movies, etc. 


Mark volunteered to walk with Miss Zoë this morning.  The weather doesn't phase her.  If anything, she delights in foul weather.  No booties or coats for her - she wears her fur 24/7 and it is designed for snow and cold. 


12:30 – We have a fire going in the living room fireplace and continue to hang out in that room as brave souls (or foolish ones) brave the weather and shop the bargains at the Pulver moving sale.  I perch on a footstool in the midst of the sale items and watch a movie between customers.  The few people who come, stay and visit.  That is the nature of yard-salers I think, but the weather makes staying even more attractive.


2:00 – The streets are quiet now as the ice and slush builds up.  Mark and I are at our separate computers working on our language lessons.  A little every day will make a big difference when we arrive in Ukraine and begin the real classes. 


The CD provided by our Peace Corps Country Director includes video and audio clips of a variety of things including scenery and popular music.  Hip hop in Ukrainian is fun to listen to!  (I may share this with the students at Emerald High School when I do my presentation on Tuesday.)


I like to think about the castles and Cossacks of the early days in Ukraine.  There is some history of Gitano (Travelers, Romany, Gypsy) culture in Ukraine too, though they are more prevalent in Hungary and Romania. 


The biggest fear that is emerging for us (besides learning the language and basic adjustment challenges) is the matter of food and alcohol. 


Ukrainians apparently love to be gracious and generous hosts so we know as guests we will be inundated with food.  The foods available are generally high in carbohydrates ad sugar (pork, potatoes, cabbage, etc).  People love to put a dollop of sour cream on things and of course the milk is thick and rich and cheese is very popular.  Vodka is a drink of celebration and it is difficult to decline. 


We also know we will not be as inspired to walk twice-daily without sweet Zoë Mae to motivate us.  Of course the Ukrainian weather will conspire to make us couch potatoes too.  The many pounds Mark and I have shed may creep back.  He will monitor his diabetes and I hope to keep my cholesterol under control.  Neither of us likes to take medications so we are both motivated to monitor our choices and to exercise.




  • Friday, 28 January 2005

Staging package arrived...


 Cherish all your happy moments: They make a fine cushion for old age.

-          Booth Tarkington


Our official staging packages arrived in yesterday’s mail.   We will be arriving at staging in Chicago in just 4 short weeks and will arrive in Kyiv, Ukraine in 1 March 2005. An auspicious date – the start of Peace Corps week. 


The date of our staging weekend also represents another milestone in our lives, and not a happy one.  It marks the third year anniversary of the accident that took our 26 year old son’s life.  It may sound odd, but this coincidence pleases me.  We are moving on to a new, wonderful adventure and somehow I feel as though we are honoring the memory of our son as we take this big step. 


I am not certain we would ever have committed to the Peace Corps had we not been through the growth that comes along with the pain in dealing with death and dying.  This will certainly be an emotional time for us both, but it also makes us stronger as we look past the pain and see the beauty.


We were originally offered a nomination for this assignment, way back when we interviewed.  When I heard the dates, I recoiled and found myself asking for a different nomination. 


Let me recap our experience with placement.   When we applied last year (1 April 2004) and went through the interview process, we indicated we would be available for assignment after 1 January 2005. 


After declining the assignment departing on the anniversary of our son’s death we were offered nomination to what my friend Jim calls the “U-pick-a-stan-lands” in Central Asia departing in March 2005.  When the Christmas season arrived, it did not look like we would be offered an invitation for March departure.  After speaking to a representative at Peace Corps Placement, we surmised we would probably be considered for an assignment in the next invitation cycle so we blithely made tentative plans for our Spring Break here in sunny SC.


Following the holiday season I dropped an e-mail to my placement representative and indicated we were eager to receive an invitation.  Her reply indicated they had an invitation in the mail so on 12 January we were invited to Ukraine.


I know I have written about the logistics already, but I do not think I wrote about my feelings.  When the 25 February assignment was initially offered back in May, I was not able to consider it, but now, nine months later, I am delighted to take the chill off that date by making it a special way to honor our son as we move forward with our lives.


So in less than a month we will be in Chicago getting sworn in as Peace Corps Trainees. 


By 1 March we will be arriving in Ukraine.


Life is good. 


Life is an adventure.


And now, there is work to be done!    




·        Wednesday, 12 January 2005

The Invitation to Serve Arrives…

Last Wednesday seems long ago.  I received an e-mail from our Placement Officer, Sarah Erdman.  She indicated that an assignment was pending for an Eastern European location departing in late February.  Another e-mail arrived later in the day advising us that a FEDEX was enroute to us – our assignment. 


Waiting is so difficult.  We had to leave town Friday morning and unfortunately the package did not arrive before we left so we faced a few extra days of anticipation.  When we arrived home Sunday evening we discovered we had missed the delivery by only a matter of minutes.  We pulled out of the driveway at exactly 11 AM and the FEDX truck made its initial stop on Friday at 11:11 AM.  Their second delivery attempt would be on Monday morning.


We spent a restless night waiting.  Monday morning I left the front door open and tried to find activities that allowed me to remain close to the door.  I found myself drifting out onto the porch with my coffee in hand.  I stood looking up and down the street like a forlorn puppy waiting for my master to arrive home. 


Somewhere around noon the FEDEX woman placed a fat package in my hands.  I was eager to talk and told the woman the package contained our Peace Corps assignments.  She smiled pleasantly, but did not seem very interested in the information I was sharing with her, but I rattled on, nonetheless. 


I wanted to tear open the package, but I had promised Mark I would e-mail him at work so he could call me.  Then  I would tear open the package and in this way we could share in the discovery together.  More waiting.  Zoë sniffed the package as if she knew how important the contents were.


In a matter of minutes Mark called and I proceeded to rip open the package. 


There in black and white was our assignment information: Ukraine departing 1 March with staging on the 26 and 27th of February. 


Like the woman who receives a marriage proposal in all the old movies, I had the urge to say, “Oh my, this is so sudden!”  What did come out was, “How exciting!”


I have never liked long engagements.  The courtship period is essential, but the engagement period should be one of enthusiasm and excitement. There should be passion.  In a long engagement there are tedious checklists and lots of “should do” and “must do” items.  In a short engagement, priorities are established by the heart and not the head – the essential self speaks, the essential self, rather than the social self.  I agree with the Little Prince, “What is essential is invisible to the eye.”  


Today we will call and accept the assignment and in the anticipation of saying yes, I feel a strength and joy that I am eager to share!


With approximately 44 days to go, there is much to be done.  There is no time to belabor decisions or second guess things.  We can simply move forward.


Walking Miss Zoë this morning it occurred to me that for those of us privileged enough to live here in America, live like people in a gated community.  The rest of the world stands outside those gates and many of them speculate on what it is like to live here.  We do not see ourselves as they see us.  When we leave those gates behind, we are vulnerable to a variety of responses…people may treat us with respect or they may treat us with disdain or even with violence. 


The opportunity to live in another country is an education worth pursuing.  Will our values and beliefs sustain us when we are faced with others who have different beliefs?  I think much of the world thinks that here in the USA, we are so oblivious of all the blessings, all the abundance, all the opportunities we have.  As a nation, we are complacent and we are in a downward spiral based on consumption and sloth.  I suspect that in our Peace Corps tour we will learn far more than we will teach.


As I watched my Brownie troop work on their badges last night I was reminded that when I was their age (2nd grade) President Kennedy was in office.  It was during the first week of March that he gave his speech introducing the fledgling Peace Corps.  Now many years later, I find myself becoming a member of that proud organization.  We depart for our assignment at the start of the annual Peace Corps Week which commemorates the birth of this organization.  This seems an auspicious start, certainly one I could not have orchestrated myself, but worth noting. 


Ukraine was once part of the Soviet Union – our enemy during the Cold War years that comprise my childhood.  Even in the late 70’s when I was working as an avionics troop on fighter aircraft, it would be unthinkable that we would one day be allies with such a nation.  I am taking considerable delight knowing I will be at home in a former Soviet block country that is quickly getting its sea-legs as a democracy.



  • Tuesday, 4 January 2005

Back into a Routine…


To bring the sublime into the mundane is

the greatest challenge there is.

- Pir Vilayat Inayat Khan

Alchemical Wisdom


I have carved out a clean, or at least orderly, place to spend my morning hours.  While Miranda was in residence, the bright, sunny dining room at the back of the house was her bedroom. 


I missed spending my morning hours in that  space.  It is the bright yellow walls, and the comfort of sunshine that I missed. The golden hue of the oak furnishings and the hardwood floors reflect the light in a way that warms me and revives memories of my childhood in the big yellow house on 8th Street. 


The rest of the house is cave-like.  The rooms receive little sunshine, a blessing in the dog days of summer, but uninviting during the grey days of winter.   


I am glad to have this space to call my own.  I often start my mornings here, tapping away on my laptop.  My morning journal notes spill out. 


My routine begins with a morning walk with Miss Zoë.  When I return, I find a cup of coffee and take my chair at the table under the dining room window.  I write quickly, with few pauses.  The words flow from my fingers.  Often I am surprised by the words that appear on the screen.  I do not try to induce a discipline to this writing, I simply write.  I do not edit.  


I have looked forward to having time to myself. The grandchildren filled our lives for five months and crowded out my quiet times.  During the trip to Phoenix I often anticipated writing and painting in this sunny space. 


Somehow though, I feel uninspired these past two days.  I feel a bit blue.  Rather than anticipating the delights ahead, I feel churlish and moody.  I could weep.  This is so out of character.  A look at the calendar reminds me that in 6 weeks it will be Caleb’s birthday and shortly afterwards, the anniversary of his death.  That realization exacerbates this funk I am in. 


I am moody, yes.  I am irritated that my daughter seldom e-mails or calls; I am mindful that other friends and family seldom respond to my efforts to communicate…I do not take it personally.  People are busy and while they enjoy my notes, etc, they do not find time to respond.  Today, I am fighting an attitude – I find myself wondering what it would be like to simply stop writing to anyone. (A variation on the children’s game of “Boy will they miss me when I am gone!”) 


My uncharacteristic moodiness doesn’t stop there, but I will refrain (try to) from itemizing my petty concerns.


The beginning of the year is a time to consider direction and to challenge routine.  What do I want out of life this year?  What path shall I follow?  The list is long – the trick is to discover which items are really meaningful enough to commit to.


(I am tempted to go into a rant regarding New Years Resolutions…people no longer make resolutions.  I think it is sad.  They always say, “I just break them, so why make them.”  As if that matters at all.  Sigh.)


There are things I really want to incorporate into my life:


  • Reading the CS daily lesson
  • Church
  • Regular library visits
  • More reading time
  • Painting
  • Writing – establish a discipline and make progress toward a goal
  • Camping


There are things I want to do someday:

·        Downsize possessions

·        Walk the Pilgrim route to Santiago de Compostella (In 2007 after PC?)

·        Attend the Rose Bowl Parade (2007?)

·        Relocate to dry, sunny place with higher altitude & big skies



  • Monday, 3 January 2005

A New Year Begins…

I begin again.  A new year.  A time to look forward.


But first some details about the Christmas trip to Phoenix.


We swaddle the grandchildren into cozy nests as we load the van in the deepest hour of darkness, between midnight and the dawn.  They dream away the miles, thinking, no doubt of their mother and father and the cats that make up the Howard family. 


They will be glad to be home, though their home will be new to them since their parents have moved all their household goods from the rolling hills near Kansas City, KS to the arid dessert-land of Phoenix, AZ.   It will be a new life for them all.


I slept my way into Alabama and so did the grand children.  We tumble out at the first gas stop and make our way to the restrooms before we even wipe the sleep from our eyes. 


Many people speak of traveling with children as quite a chore, but we found them to be capable travelers. 


Cameron (11) engages himself with reading and seldom spoke for the first two and a half days on the road.  Nose buried in a thick novel, he was quiet and content. 


Miranda (just turned 7) passed the time coloring, cutting and pasting elaborate art projects which she conjured up on her own.  She also maintained a journal.  It was amusing to see her moving her #2 lead pencil across the pages of the spiral bound notebook as she detailed her thoughts and experiences in her first-grade penmanship.  Below the narrative, she drew crayoned pictures to remind her of events or views.  In the early morning hours, I caught her using her flashlight to see the paper as she scrawled her urgent notes. 


Texas is huge.  The first day we cross the borders of five states (approximately 700 miles) while on the second day, we drove for over ten hours and all we saw was Texas; Texas and more Texas.  We started and ended the day in Texas. 


The Interstate highway was certainly a boon to West Texas.  It is hard to imagine how isolated life was before the Interstate and television closed the gaps.  In many ways, times may have been happier when the outside world was still far away. 


Driving through this flat, lonely stretch it was difficult to even find a place to stop for breakfast; particularly on a Sunday morning. 


Where are the small, local cafes?


These days, the truck stops and small diners are gone because people just speed on to the next larger city.  The tiny communities along the highway have let their businesses die.  The “Texas Stop Sign” (as the Dairy Queen is called in this state) is the only food stop to be seen in most towns and even they are closed on Sunday morning.  (I am reminded of Larry McMurty books about west Texas.)


When we near Sweetwater, Texas I remember stories I read about the Women Air Service Pilots (WASP) of WWII.  Over a thousand of these maverick women pilots trained at Avenger Field in this small, dusty, west Texas town.  We detoured off the highway and made a windshield tour of the community.  I played a movie in my head, trying to imagine what it must have been like when all those adventurous young women arrived to start their military careers. 


We stop for gas in President G. W. Bush’s hometown.  Being born in such a place would certainly influence how you see the world.  A sign indicates that the community is considered a garden-spot and an oasis.  If one never left west Texas they would have a unique perspective on what the world is like.


A coyote races across the highway in front of us.  We look for the roadrunner, but do not see him. 


El Paso looks wonderful at sunset.  The valley sparkles with lights and the western sky is streaked with reds, purples and yellows.  The sound of lively Mexican music carries in the cool evening air.  Restaurant smells waft by carrying spicy scents. 


This is the third day.  After about 1,600 miles of travel and 3 days of 24/7 togetherness, the children begin to interact a bit.  We have been lucky!  They begin to play the traditional games of “He’s Touching Me - She’s Looking at Me” and I demonstrate some of my military training as I bark like a drill sergeant a few times.  (Even Mark sits up straighter!)


New Mexico is quickly behind us and Arizona passes by. We stop for a drive through the old downtown of Tucson before we finish the last hour drive to our destination.  The Saguaro cactus and palm trees delight us all.  The abrupt mountains capture our attention. 


We find the Howard’s apartment complex with no difficulty.  We do not, however, have the correct building address.  No problem right?  Mark goes to the leasing office and explains the situation. 


A surly woman agent says “No, we can’t help you.  It is a security issue.” 


Moriah and Chip should arrive home soon, so if all else fails we will wander through the complex and find their car.  This is not too satisfactory since the complex is really large, so we decide to see if the folks in the leasing office will let us use the phone to leave a message for Chip and/or Moriah letting them know we are in the leasing office waiting with the two kids. 


The man who waits on us this time empathizes and lets us use the phone. After a few moments conversation, he looks over his shoulder to ss if “that woman” is around, and then says, “You didn’t hear it from me, but they live in building # XXX.” 


Perhaps he was not eager to have two wired-up children and their tired, smelly grandparents lingering in the lobby or perhaps he really is just a nice guy.  I suspect the latter!


We walk to the appropriate building and arrive just as the senior Howards pull up in their Jeep. 


A happy reunion ensues.


The next few days are filled with visiting friends and family.  We shop and enjoy dining out.  We spend time with the senior Pulvers and hear about Lou’s Mayo Clinic adventures. 


Christmas is a flurry of unwrapping, cooking and eating.  We watch movies and put together puzzles.  We drive to Tucson to visit one of Caleb’s organ recipients.  There is a leisurely day at the zoo with Art and a traditional Mexican meal with Michelle and her Mom.  We take a trip up to Caleb’s cross on the hillside outside Payson.  Mark prepares a meal of Chinese food for a crowd and before we know it the visit is over and we load Zoe and Bubbah into the van and head out toward home in SC.


As the sun peeks over the horizon, we drive north intending to visit Prescott.  We miss the turn and decide to just press on. Out the window I catch a glimpse of several large elk on the edge of a forest of conifers. 


We breakfast in Flagstaff and hear the weather forecast: 10-12 inches by evening.  We decide not to linger. 


We follow Route 66 across Arizona and talk about Mark’s family.  There are ties with the Atchison, Topeka and the Santa Fe Railroad so there are family stories of stops in various towns including Winslow where the song says “…there’s a girl, my Lord, in a flatbed ford, slowing down to take a look at….” But not much else. 


We stop in the petrified forest and examine artifacts at an outdoor pioneer museum and then lunch in Grants, NM.  My Uncle Gene used to live there so I was interested in looking around a bit.  The local arts council was a good diversion.  We pressed on to Albuquerque and as night fell, we walked Miss Zoë, through the charming streets of old town and imagined living there.   


The second day we ate a breakfast of potato burritos and beans and then began driving.  Behind us were stories of snow storms, but the weather ahead was bright and clear.  We finally stopped at 8 PM just outside Little Rock, AK.


In the morning the van did not stop.  AAA arrived and jump started the car.  The headlights were in the on position.  Bubba, our big orange cat, had spent the night in the van so he gets credit for hitting the on switch sometime during the night.  


On Thursday, the third and final day of the trip, we just drove. A slight miscalculation in mileage and plans, plus the time change made the day seem long.  We ate sandwiches out of the back of the van when we stopped for gas and did not sightsee.  We arrived home about 10 PM.  Each leg of the trip was over 2,000 miles – six long road days but a satisfying trip.