Tuesday, November 28, 2006

Thanksgiving Trip to Fort Leavenworth Kansas

Well, it's been awhile since I've had something to write about or felt like writing about what's been going on. This past week though things picked up as we made a trip out to see Jennette, Eric and the grandkids for Thanksgiving.

Tuesday morning the 21st we got up at 5am and were on the road to Fort Leavenworth KS. by 6am. Due to the fact that the van isn't road worthy these days we took Wanda's mustang which didn't have the room we've gotten used to over the years, but did get a heckuva lot better gas mileage than the van ever did. We headed south down 31 in the dark and reached the Indiana border about the time the sky lightened up. we made our way thru Indiana and into Illinois and took route 55 south towards Springfield where we turned and headed west. The drive thru Missouri on route 36 was uninspiring, not much to look at and given the time of year everything was pretty much different shades of brown. Once we got out to North/South route 35 we turned south and ran the last 50 or so miles down to Fort Leavenworth. We had Jen on the phone for the last 10 miles talking us in and we got to the base entrance without any trouble. we figured we have to exit the car and be searched inside and out as we'd been told, but all they did was look at the drivers licenses and told us to go on thru. From the gate we made it to their duplex without any problems and pulled in the driveway about 5pm their time.

After getting the car unpacked and stuff put away we sat down and caught up on things for awhile. Jen was going to make some supper, but then decided to order out for taco pizza's which was fine with us. Eric had to work nights while we were there so by 8:45pm he was headed out the door and it wasn't long after that, that the kids were put to bed and Jen followed close behind because she had to get up at 4:30am to be ready to go when her daycare kids got there. Wanda went to bed soon after Jen, leaving me and chris up to watch the late news and Jay Leno for awhile before we both gave in to the road weary buzz and headed for our pillows. Me and Wanda were staying upstairs in Ryan's room (he was staying in Jas
on's room) on an air mattress which I thought might mean not much in the way of sleep, but once I laid down and closed my eyes I was out for the count and didn't wake up the next morning until after 9am.

Once I regained conciousness I stumbled downstairs and met the daycare kids, a 4 year old and a 2 year old in the middle of the terrrible two's. Not long after getting downstairs me and Jen and Chris all headed down the street to the park so that the kids could all do some playing and get some fresh air. The weather was beautiful, high 60's and sunny and it was pretty much like that the whole time we were there. We spent awhile at the park pushing kids on the swings and throwing the football before heading back to the house for lunch and naptime. Because Eric was working nights he was sleeping during the day so we didn't see much of him most of the day. Wand
a spent a large part of Wednesday baking pies and getting stuff ready for Thanksgiving dinner. The house smelt good from all the cooking going on. We spent most of the rest of the day just hanging out around the house, playing with Ryan and holding and feeding Jason when the need arose. About 5pm we packed up the kids, everybody loaded themselves into their van and we rode around the base for awhile seeing the sights, including the prison where Eric works before heading to downtown Leavenworth to have dinner at the High Noon Saloon and Brewery. By the time we got there I was starving so I ordered a big steak with all the fixings and preceded to stuff myself with it. The meal was excellent and the atmosphere was pleasant. We'd spent a couple hours there by the time we were done. I picked up the tab for the meal with the agreement that Eric would buy me one of their T-shirts. We got back home in time for Eric to get ready to head into work and the second night was pretty much the same as the first night with everybody except me and chris off to dreamland before 10pm.

I managed to sleep in again until almost 10 thanksgiving day and woke up to a house full of good smells. We made another trip to the park for awhile and then pretty much just hung around the house, getting stuff ready for the big meal. About 3pm we all sat down to eat the feast and tried to do it justice. I had my share of sweet potatoes and turkey along with rolls and honey, and white potatoes and gravy. After the feast nobody did much except lay around. Me and Chris threw the football around outside for awhile until dark and I spent awhile sitting out on the porch soaking in the fresh air and the view. Once again Eric had to head into work, Jen put the kids to bed and headed off herself. Wanda went soon after and I sat on the couch in the quiet and watched tv until I dozed off.

Friday morning there were no daycare kids so things were a bit less hectic. I woke up to the smell of cinnimon rolls and after wolfing down 3 or 4 of those I took a ride into town with Jen to the post office and grocery store. Wanda was going to make chili for supper so we picked up all the necessary items for that project. She also drove me around the
base somemore so I could see how things looked in the daylight. When we'd been out the other evening it had been almost dark so it was hard to see anything. We took a ride later in the afternoon too and went out to Kansas Speedway just so I could take a look at it. It's only about 20 minutes from their place. It wasn't much to see really, some stands and a big parking lot out in the middle of a big flat field, next door to the malls. When we got back to the house from that excusion Wanda got the chili cooking and not long after that we all sat down to the table and stuffed ourselves again but this time with homemade chili and bread and butter. The rest of the evening was spent playing with and taking pics of the grandkids and before I knew it everyone was heading off to bed for the last time. I stayed up until just about midnight and then gave it up, knowing that we had a long drive ahead of us in the morning.

It was already light by the time I opened my eyes Saturday morning and knowing that we had a full day of driving ahead I got up quickly and headed downstairs to get things going. It was almost 8am by the time we got the car packed and ourselves ready to go. The most poignant moment of the trip for me was when as we were getting ready to head out Ryan stretched his arms out to me and wanted me to take him. I held him for a couple minutes and then gave him back to his ma, gave her a kiss and a hug, said goodbye to the son-in-law and headed for the car. Jen and Ryan stood in the front door as we headed out the driveway and down the street. We all waved goodbye and then headed down the road and out of the base, back into the civilian world.

We drove for about an hour and a half, got as far as Bethany MO. before we decided to stop and get a good breakfast. we were all starving at that point so when the Country Kitchen sign showed up along the freeway we decided a stop was in our best interest. Once we got our bellies full it was back into the car and North on 35 up to Des Moine IA and then right on 80 for the rest of the daylight hours. It was already dark before we reached the Chicago area. Me and Wanda took turns driving and I took over again just outside Chicago and drove the rest of the way home pretty much on autopilot. We pulled in the driveway a couple minutes before 9pm and were met by a very enthusiastic welcoming committe of 4 shelties. After a couple minutes of much barking and bouncing up and down we all went in the house and sat down for a couple minutes. About 9:30 we headed down to Clover bar for a pizza and to check in with Adam and Ri who were both working. By the time we finished our pizza and got back to the house it was about 11pm. Ri and Adam came by to pick up their stuff from the house and once they headed out that was pretty much it for the day. I went downstairs to listen to some music but didn't get too far before dozing off.

And that's pretty much all there is to say about the thanksgiving trip. It was good to see Jen again and the grandkids. Jason has really done alot of growing in his short 4 months on earth and he's such a beautiful baby....big blue eyes and almost always smiling and cooing.....I don't recall him crying more than once the whole time we were there and a bottle took care of that problem in short order. Ryan is a hoot......lots of energy and always smiling, I believe he's gonna be a keeper for sure. Even though we didn't do much but hang around the homestead while we were there the time went by real quick and here it is now already a week later from when we first pulled in the driveway. It was a long drive out there and back again.....not something that's gonna happen often, but I guess if we want to have any relationship with the grandkids we'll have to figure out something. It would suck just being a vague, abstract figure to the boys as they get older.

You're doing a good job Jen with a busy life and I'm proud of you and hope you're happy. You've got a great little family going, make sure you enjoy everyday because they grow up too damn quick.

love, Dad.