Tuesday, November 17, 2009
More Traveling and More MIRL - Part I
I've been trying to get here to update, but have been having a hard time even getting the laundry done, the house put back together, the bills caught up - plus, the little rascals do take a lot of time and energy! I am going to do an update on them soon - fun times with them.
We returned Monday evening from the second long week-end trip. I had been planning the Homecoming trip for a very long time, and the fact that the opportunity to visit Maine butted up against that first trip was surprising and a bit serendipitous.
When I became acquainted with three women from Maine over the last 3+ years, I never ever dreamed I would get out there and that things would work out to meet all of them. They all went to great effort to arrange it so that we could connect.
Over the last two week-ends, I have flown on 8 different airplanes and been in 6 different airports. What are the odds that you can experience no delays, lost luggage, bad weather, crying babies, seatbacks in my lap?? I did sit by a little guy who got fussy for a few minutes and let out a pretty good scream or two, but I started playing peek-a-boo with him and it seemed to help. In fact, on the flight from Denver to Detroit, early in the morning, the plane was sparsely booked, so we each had a row of seats to ourselves. I slept most of that leg, so it went really fast.
American Airlines doesn't even give a peanut or a pretzel. Delta gives you a tiny package of very tasty snack mix and a package of cookies, and Continental gives you mini pretzels. Continental actually has a sign in the walkway from the plane to the terminal that states they serve free meals during "mealtime." I asked a flight attendant, a male with a great sense of humor, if we were flying at the "right time." I figured 6:00 p.m. was prime dinner time, but it turns out that we were about an hour off. He said they were all starving too. I realized that you can fly from hither to yon and never once hit an actual mealtime in any given airport. So we had lunch at 10:00 a.m., dinner at 4:00, breakfast whenever.
The one thing I regretted - I have all these new socks I've just recently purchased, and wouldn't you know, I'd put on an old sock with a small hole in the toe (well, it WAS 3:00 a.m.!), and didn't realize it. Oh, well, I'm sure they've seen much worse.
Every time I rent a car, I learn something new to never do again. The lesson I learned in Oklahoma City is to never link to a car rental from Travelocity. You can get a much better price if you just log onto the rental agency yourself. AND - never rent a car from the airport if you can help it. They add so many fees it is unbelievable. In OKC, I paid 11% "airport access fee." In Portland, Maine, we spent $6.40 to get to Enterprise 3/4 mile from the airport and saved probably 4 times that much by doing so. Then they took us back to the airport when we turned in the car. Turns out that if they'd have come to pick us up when we arrived, we'd have still had to pay the airport fee. This was all information I got from the rental agents at both locations.
We took our GPS with us, put in Groovy's address, and headed from Portland to her home, about an hour away. She lives out of town a fur piece, on a dark country road. We were very thankful for the GPS. But we arrived safely and were so delighted to meet Groovy, Mulletman, Girlie-Girl and Silly-Head. The girlies are beautiful and sweet (and a bit shy). Mulletman and DC had a great time together, which was such a blessing. It's great to have husbands who are tolerant of our blogging obsession!
It was wonderful to sit down at the table and break bread with new/old friends - true friends I had made through cyberspace - who would have ever believed this a few years ago?? We had delicious enchilada casserole, wonderful applesauce Groovy made that day, yummy squash, corn, and ice cream for dessert.
Even though we'd been on the go since 3:00 a.m., mountain standard time, we sat and talked until 10:30 or 11:00 (which of course was 8:30 or 9 on our body time). Mulletman and DC enjoyed talking about geographical topics, thus the road atlas in MM's lap.
But eventually, after learning a lot about each other that we didn't know before, DC and I headed up the steep Maine stairs to a comfortable place to rest. There we found a lovely display of gifts for us - all very thoughtfully Maine-appropriate -- two blueberry scone Yankee candles with a little ceramic bowl done by a local potter, maple syrup candy, two coconut candies, an adorable lighthouse Christmas ornament, and delicious blueberry spread - from Groovy's mom, whom I never got to meet. She loves Teen Challenge, so wanted to share with us as we came to visit Kev at TC. What a blessing all of these specially chosen gifts were.
We had delicious Blueberry Buckle for breakfast the next morning (oh, my goodness, it was good!). I love this shot of Groovy's family before we headed out for lunch with yet another blog friend - Maine Mom.
Joey and her mom headed down from Bucksport to meet with DC and me in Augusta at the Ground Round. They were going to do some shopping afterwards, so I felt good that I was able to facilitate a day with her mom and a day off from her six kiddoes. We had such a delightful time together, and a delicious lunch.
Joey has six beautiful children and they made me the most adorable card. If you can enlarge it, you can see that the kindergartener, Eleanor, wrote "My kids vare nis (are very nice). So cute!
Kev's Maine location is outside of Augusta, in a rural area near Winthrop. They are on 600 wooded acres, which has been donated to Teen Challenge. They live in a very old, once beautiful Civil War-era house, which had been owned by the original owner of Doan's back pill company (which seems to be a very controversial company right now, when I Googled it).
The guys spend a lot of time working outside on the property - tearing down one building all by hand since he's been there, clearing of trees, cutting them into fire wood - the pile shown below is just a fraction of what they've done in the last six months - they'll burn it in the 3 fireplaces.
This view from the back of the house gives a glimpse of Mount Washington in New Hampshire (immediately to the right of the bush). According to DC, who is a veritable encyclopedia of knowledge that he can bring up on the spur of the moment, the top of this mountain has the most inclement weather anywhere in the US. It's not high in comparison to the mountains here in Colorado, but it sounds like a place I do not want to visit.
We got the grand tour of the house, meeting his dozen roommates and fellow students, as well as staff members. The students are divided into two not-very-large bedrooms with 3 hand constructed bunk beds. He did share with us that first night that it gets a bit tiresome being surrounded by people all the time. But they're doing well together. In this shot, Kev was lying on his bed, looking at the pictures he has taped on the slats above him. That window right by his bed has him a bit freaked out for coming cold weather - so we got him a warm comforter when we were out and about those two days we were together.
These guys eat very well - he gained a lot of weight when he first got there, in spite of all the physical labor. He's been working hard at getting back down to a more healthy weight, and is doing well at that.
I got a bang out of this sign in the bathroom - apparently they have quite a bit of trouble with their well and septic system~~Kev says they don't follow the rule too much!
When we got there, he wasn't quite ready to go with us yet - they were rehearsing their choir numbers for that evening's banquet. We went into the room they use as a chapel and sat listening to the rehearsal - we were blessed with the sounds of these men's voices, as they all look to Jesus for release from the demons that bind them with drug addiction. I actually shed a few tears as I listened to them, and looked forward to the evening's activities.
STAY TUNED FOR PART II - the banquet, the trip, another blog friend meeting, and more!