Summer vacation: Day 1

The vacation beard has commenced.

After a feverish few days of work and just preparing to take a vacation, our annual summer vacation to Wisconsin began today. And this year I’m taking advantage. Two whole weeks – which, aside from paternity leaves, is a record in my professional career.

We’ll spend most of it at The Farm, of course, with Kates’ parents. We’ll also spend a couple days with my parents. And there are a couple Summerfest visits planned. After all, Summerfest annually is the foundation on which we base our summer vacation plans. But more on that later.

Earlier this week, I pledged I would not be up late on the eve of our vacation so I could get a good night’s sleep for the trek north today. But I worked in my office until past 9, helped Kates put the girls to bed and then helped with the packing and worked to take care of some things around the house.

My pledge failed. I headed to bed around 1 a.m. and had to finish packing my suitcase this morning.
Kates and I pressed the snooze on our alarms a couple times and listened to a thunderstorm outside before we finally willed ourselves out of bed around 7:30 this morning. The girls stayed asleep until almost 9, giving Kates and I time to eat some breakfast and finish some of our packing.

By 10, we were on our way. We had sunshine, everyone was in good moods, and everything was great.

As we approached Des Moines, though, the sky had clouded overhead. Kates wanted to stop at Trader Joe’s I still don’t get the appeal – and it was raining hard by the time we pulled into the parking lot there. After picking up a few snacks, we drove across the street to a Chick-fil-a for lunch, and, to quote Kates, “every stay-at-home mom in a 10-mile radius was there with her kids.” The best part, though, was that the restaurant had a playplace where we could let the girls burn some energy – and that means we have a dining spot other than McDonald’s for our Des Moines pit stops. Oh, and Phoebe lost another tooth as dined on her chicken nuggets.

Then things got tough. The rain only got harder as we returned to the road and we seemed to be driving through the center of a thunderstorm, with lightning flashing all around us. There were times I could barely see the road through the pelting rain, and it did not let up until we passed through Dubuque.

Having the windshield wipers brushing so rapidly for so long nearly hypnotized me and made me sleepy. Between fighting that and the noise of the rain beating the windshield, my mind was strained and I fought a good headache for most of the afternoon. The struggle was real.

Around 4:30 p.m., we pulled off the interstate at Marion, Iowa, to fill the gas tank. I was so relieved just to pull under the overhang covering the pumps and have a break of silence from the rain. A smile broke over my face and I could feel a weight lifted off my shoulders.

Before we left the gas station, Kates gave me some Tylenol to soothe my headache. Then she suggested we get some Mocha Moo-Lates from the Dairy Queen across the street. I put some Joshua Radin on the iPod, and we were good to go the rest of the way.

We arrived at The Farm around 7:30 tonight. Grandma S. made some pizzas for supper. The girls put on a ballet show for us. And I even got to watch the Royals beat up on the Mariners, thanks to the wonders of MLB At Bat on my iPhone.

Day 1 of our summer vacation is in the books.

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