Summer vacation: Day 1

The month of June hasn’t been as relaxing and blissful as we envisioned. Kates taught summer school this month and my projects have hardly slowed down at work. And we're still not totally unpacked, organized and settled when it comes to the whole new house thing.

Sounds like a good time for a summer vacation.

The mental countdown had been running for weeks, and I glided through my final day of work yesterday with a completely different mentality than the one I felt in the weeks prior. I pumped out a couple news features and come to grips with the fact that I’d finished the work I needed to get done; the remaining projects would have to wait to be picked up when I returned. Even while I sat in on a three-hour policy meeting in the morning and coordinated a news conference in the afternoon, yesterday I felt the weight of the workplace burden leaving my shoulders with the knowledge that I was heading to a much freer place.

Of course, there was plenty left to do at home. After a quick supper, I headed outside into the 90-degree heat and mowed the lawn. After that, we needed to gather enough toys and activities to keep Phoebe occupied during the trip, and pack our own suitcases. It was past midnight when we slipped into bed.

* * *

My alarm sounded at 6:26 this morning. Kates and I had said we were going to try to leave around 7, which clearly wasn’t going to happen.

But we did get ourselves ready to go and the car packed in time for a 9 o’clock departure. Destination: The Farm.

Our trip couldn‘t have been better. A road trip at its finest. I’d refreshed my iPod, removing several songs and albums I’d grown tired of or weren’t deserving to be on it in the first place. Kates stuffed her backpack with books. And she packed a separate bag with a slew of activities for Phoebe -- from coloring books to puzzles, and, of course, the portable DVD player with Phoebe’s collection of movies.

It was Phoebe’s best trip yet. Though she didn’t cave into sleeping until about 20 minutes before we reached The Farm, she was totally content viewing the scenery and watching her movies. We only stopped four times for a total of about one hour -- including our usual halfway stop for gas and lunch in Iowa City -- as the result of an exasperated “I need t’go potty!” from the back seat. … Then there was the moment, about 45 minutes into our trip, when Phoebe sighed and said, “Are we there yet?” “And so it begins,” I said before Kates explained, “Phoebe, we’ve got a long, long way to go.”

We marveled at the serenity of driving through the countryside, the only car on the road for most of our route from The ‘Ville through southeastern Iowa, before hitting the suburbs of Des Moines, Iowa.

From Iowa City, we ventured from our usual route and passed through Dubuque on our way into Wisconsin. Kates and I had a good time reminiscing about the days we spent in Dubuque during our honeymoon. We cheered as we passed over the mighty Mississippi and entered Wisconsin. As we continued, the road cut through canyons and rolling hills, giving way to breathtaking views. We passed through picturesque downtowns and saw parts of the state we either didn’t know about or forgot existed.

Funny how moving away helps a person gain a whole new perspective and appreciation for the place they left. The kind of appreciation that will surely keep us coming back. Already Kates and I are eyeing up possibilities for future adventures.

* * *

As we rolled along Interstate 80 in Iowa, I spotted Dyersville on a sign. Three miles, it read. And that meant one thing: “Field of Dreams.”

“Dyersville!” I shouted.

“You wanna go?” Kates asked.

“Yeah! We should totally go! Why not? We’re making good time, we don’t have anywhere to be. We’re on vacation!”

So we exited the interstate and followed the signs to Dyersville. Three miles actually turned out to be about 20 miles, but it was still so worth it.

We started on to Lansing Drive and approached the field. My heart beat hastened in excitement, and there it was to our left. The big white farm house. The red barn, with the little red gift shop to the side. And the field, with its lush green grass and shoulder-high corn stalks surrounding the outfield.

It was my third visit to the field -- the first occurred in June 1991 and the second occurred in October 2003 during the aforementioned honeymoon. The signs of commercialism that have sprouted up at the field are a little annoying. The rock wall and picket fence adorned with a “Field of Dreams” sign, which now separate the farmhouse from the field, take away from the purity of the original film site. And the infield today isn’t nearly as pristine as it appeared in the film and during those early years.

But its charm sustains.

We retrieved Phoebe’s wiffle ball set from the trunk and set it up at home plate. To her it was no different than playing in our backyard, though I tried to explain to her it was a very special baseball field.

We ran the bases. Stood among the corn stalks. Sat on the bleachers. And ran the bases again, and again.

Our visit lasted only 30 minutes. But it was the perfect diversion from our car ride and a chance to let Phoebe run for awhile. I was just thrilled to visit the field once more.

* * *
We made good time the rest of the way and it took us not even two hours to reach the farm, arriving just before 6 p.m.

It’s worth noting the first song to play on the iPod when we left this morning was Hanson’s “Man From Milwaukee,” where we’re spending the second half of our vacation. Fitting. … The last song to play on the iPod when we arrived at the farm tonight was one of our favorites, Fleetwood Mac’s “Don’t Stop,” the live version from “The Dance.”

“Yesterday’s gone! We’re on vacation,” Kates shouted.

Yes we are. And here’s what we’re looking at tonight ..

1 comment:

Matt and Lynne said...

We went to the Field of Dreams about two years ago. My dad and I just tossed grounders and fly balls to each other in the outfield. Absolutely, one of the best places in the world.
Hope all is well.