It would be a grind, but it is moving too quickly

Clearly things are moving way too quickly for me to keep up. Let’s take a look at the past three weeks.

The trip to Iowa was awesome, and it moved us deeply. The last time I attended an event with that much family was probably our wedding in 2002. It certainly didn’t hurt that the setting was perfect: Late Summer in the most fertile region in the Universe. High temps in the upper 70s. Farmland and gardens bursting with all manner of produce. One late night rainstorm to freshen things up. Everything was perfect. My family hails from Waucoma, but we made numerous trips up the road to Decorah, and fell in love. Case in point: I was standing in the local food co-op holding two bottles beer brewed in Iowa. An attractive hippie chick (see: food co-op) walked by and said, “That Peace Tree IPA is really good.”

I responded, “Do you carry any other Iowa-brewed beers besides these two?”

“Have you been over to the brewery here in town?”

“This tiny town has a brewery? Of course it does. Where is this brewery?”

“Couple miles that way. It’s called Toppling Goliath.”

Naturally, we rolled over to TG and had a couple. Picked up a growler for the shelf (also because the beer was really good). Atlanta, you are on notice.

I could write a lot more about Iowa, but THERE IS NO TIME. After one trip, I would definitely call myself an RV enthusiast. I have always enjoyed really long road trips, and an RV is obviously an excellent way to really formalize the whole experience. I will say though, trying to cover long distances on a schedule kind of ruins it. RVs are big and slow and meant to be enjoyed. Trying to keep the needle pegged above 70 so you can cover 900+ miles in fewer than 15 hours takes what should be a relaxing meander and makes it just another large task that has to be completed on a deadline, psychological slowdown be damned.

The reason we had to bust it back in a hurry was that I had to be on a flight the morning after we got back. Fewer than 12 hours after arriving at home, I was en route to the mid-Atlantic region. I happened to be driving a rental car on I-476 in SE Pennsylvania when the OH MY GOD EARTHQUAKE hit the area. Because I was driving, I didn’t feel anything, which can only be because I am such an excellent driver.

I was able to shorten that trip from 2 nights to one, which led to 7 full days at home, a welcome respite.

Last Thursday, the Simons and the Vonks piled into the Vonks’ Honda rocket ship and raced down to the FL panhandle for some sort of beach trip [FORESHADOWING]. The six-hour drive with two two-year-olds went as well as anyone could have hoped. They each had brief moments of being totally over it, but, for the most part, they sat in their seats, ate their goldfish, drank their juice, and actually slept for a good chunk of the trip.

Oh, you’re going to the beach this weekend, they said. Yes, we said. You know there’s a Tropical Storm in the gulf right now, right? Yeah, we’ve heard that, but I’m sure it will be fine. How will a trip to the beach be fine with a Tropical Storm bearing down on you? LALALALALALALALA.

It was not fine. The rain had not rolled in on Friday morning, but it was cloudy and windy. We made our way down to the beach to discover that the beach smelled horribly. It was like thousands of tiny fish had taken their leave of this Earth, right on your upper lip. We toughed it out until nap time and headed back to the ranch. Then the rain rolled in and did not roll out. Ultimately, we decided to pack it up a day early and head home. Having two toddlers trapped inside on a rainy day at home is bad enough. In a [smaller] vacation residence is way worse. We opted for, uh, less worse.

As I type, I am 38,000 feet up, headed to Texas. After this, I’m home for a couple weeks before three weeks in a row on the road starting at the end of the month.

I haven’t brewed in months, and there are still some semi-important tasks to complete on the deck. And football season is on us which equals weekend evaporation.

That’s it. I have no witty conclusion. It just keeps going. WHEEEEE!!!

A Pilgrimage

My maternal grandmother is celebrating her birthday this Sunday. I will refrain from divulging her actual number of laps around the sun because I am a gentleman and she gave life to the wonderful woman who breathed life into me and it would be inelegant, insensitive, and gauche to trivialize such an accomplishment by such an inspiring woman. She will be ninety. Holy shit.

Granny (that’s what she insists we call her, dead serious) lives in a small town in Northeastern Iowa. My mom grew up there and Granny still lives in the family house. I’m not sure when she and my grandfather moved there; remind me to ask my mom next time I see her (this Tuesday). When we lived in Minneapolis (where I was born) it was a not-unreasonable drive South to visit. When we lived in Denver, it was a bit of a haul, but one that we made smack in the middle of the Blizzard of ’82.* I remember playing outside in the snow and asking oh god why does this suck so bad and getting the response because it is twenty below, you idiot. What are you, five? Yes.

Because this is the only time Granny will reach this particular milestone, a large familial contingency is congregating in Iowa this weekend for the festivities. Lest the sarcastic tone of this post be misleading, I couldn’t be more excited. I really only remember two trips to Granny’s house: my grandparents’ 40th wedding anniversary in 198x (Mom, help), and my grandfather’s funeral in 1993, when I was 15. That’s not to say I’ve only seen her twice in the past 25+ years–she’s actually traveled to many of our own milestones. Really there are two primary backstory facts here: I don’t get to enjoy my grandmother’s company all that often, and I haven’t traveled to see her at her house since BEFORE WINDOWS 95, so this is a big deal. A bigger deal than it should be because things shouldn’t be like this? Obviously. A big deal nonetheless.

From Atlanta, the least insane way to get to Granny is to fly into Minneapolis, rent a car, and drive just under 200 miles South. Not a crazy trip for adults, but a ridiculous trip for a two-year-old, one of whom we have. To wrangle him for a flight, and then toss him in a rental car for 3 hours, PLUS deal with all of his “accoutrements” is not an insurmountable feat. Nor is strapping him into his car seat in Atlanta and pulling onto the highway, then not pulling off for 10+ hours. It’s just that “vacation time” is such a precious commodity that I am simply unwilling to commit to either of the aforementioned options, significant family milestone or not.

You don’t think this is a just a long, awkward way to announce that we’re skipping, do you? No, silly. The Duke, Mrs. Jazzbone, The Geester, and I are renting a 36-foot RV because AMERICA. The thinking goes like this: We can pack up as much crap as we want, hit the road whenever we want, take however long we want, get there whenever we want, and then sleep in our car, which is arguably more comfortable than your house.

Before any enthusiasts reading this decide I am talking out of two buttholes, I’ll come clean: I have never rented nor spent any significant time in a RV before. I’ve spent hundreds of hours on chartered buses, but, you know, CHARTERED. It might suck, horribly. I’m sure parts of it will. But here are the facts:

  • A week with my parents and Matty
  • Mattias gets to meet his great-grandmother for the first time
  • Plugging hard into the family tree for a few days. My mom’s sisters are rad.
  • America’s bread basket. Late summer.

    Even in the worst of circumstances, I’m hoping the actual circumstances fall by the wayside, as they should always. Based on what I’ve read, RVing seems like a Flanders-modest middle finger to everything that isn’t an RV. If, after this, that holds true, I will buy six of them.

    * This marks the first time I can remember ever referencing something that happened to me, during my life, that sounds like the name of a shipwreck. I have shifted a couple steps closer to something and a couple steps further away from something else.