Kinda Perfect…

Kinda Perfect…

A couple weeks ago I took James to Perfect North in Lawrenceburg, Indiana. We flew – even though I’m pretty sure once you factor in the layover in the ATL we probably should have just driven. Oh well, what else are frequent flyer miles for.

I’m an introverts worst nightmare on a plane. The more nervous I get the chattier I get and nothing makes me chattier than flying. Oh, and that time I got seated next to my ex-boyfriend and his gorgeous wife at a class reunion…

I was totally bummed though when I got on the plane and saw that there was NO ONE on my row. The one person on the plane that actually wants to talk to people and I’m all alone.

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Perfect North is just west of Cincinnati – super close to the Kentucky border. It’s actually really close to the Creation Museum too but since James and I kind of act like cynical jerks when we get too close to uber evangelicals we thought we should probably steer clear of that. We’re just the worst.

Perfect North was such a pleasant surprise. We went with James’ friend Ryan and his Mom. I was anticipating the skiing being majorly subpar – I’ve only ever skied in the West so I guess I was being a bit of a snob about it. But, I gotta say, skiing down a snow covered mountain is skiing down a snow covered mountain whether you’re in Colorado or Indiana.

Now, at elevation 800, obviously the runs are much shorter than those in the West but they are still really fun.

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And, oh yeah, the snow was…uh…kinda lacking.

James’ friend had never skied before and watching him learn was quite the lesson in parenting. When his Mom was trying to help him he was falling all over the place and getting frustrated. The second she stepped back and let him find his own way he started doing GREAT. Ain’t that just the way parenting goes. Let me tell you, skiing is NOT easy to learn. He handled it like a pro though!

The crazy thing about skiing in Indiana is the lifts stay open crazy late. In fact, they didn’t close until 1:3o in  the morning. Skiing at night is super fun even though there were WAY too many unaccompanied minors around. Er…I guess our boys were unaccompanied minors too because they totally ditched us. Moms are so lame.

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The runs were really good! I promise.

Unfortunately, this was also going down:

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I can say without a doubt that skiing in the RAIN was definitely a first for me. It made for some milkshake like conditions.

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“Alright we took the picture, now we’re outta here.”

Sadly, we could only stay two days and then we had to be out of there too.

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Still…Perfect North was a pretty perfect trip.

Bandaids in Boston

Bandaids in Boston

Before we made it to the Appalachian Trail this summer we went to Boston – just me and Billy and James. It was a crazy few days leading up to it.

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The boys left for Boston a day early. After we saw them off at the airport that afternoon, I tossed five kids into the Black Pearl (our Odyssey), dropped the toddler off at the sitter’s and DROVE the other kids FIVE HUNDRED MILES to Missouri to leave them at summer camp. I made the ‘brilliant’ – and by brilliant I mean ‘asinine’ – decision to stop in Nashville and take the kids to the movies. Afterwards, I drove as long as I could but ended up having to pull into a hotel in the middle of nowhere at two am. Have you tried to carry four sleeping children up to a hotel room at two am with no help? Even the logistics of it…do I leave them in the car while I check in? Should I just wake them up now? Will they have a room big enough for us? Why do we feel the need to send them to camp in Missouri? It was a total mess. The good news is this kind of stupidity is usually when I’m at my best.

The next morning we got back in the car (have I mentioned it was a nine hour drive) so we could make it to camp drop off in time. One child at one camp and three forty five minutes away in the other. Kids are tired and nervous and I’m worried because unless things go perfectly I’ll miss my flight out of Missouri (the last one of the night) to Boston to join the boys. In the end, I BARELY made my flight. But I made it! And they all went to camp. And they all had a great time. And, of course, it was another late night. By the time my Uber got to the hotel in Boston it was one thirty in the morning.

The next morning we went to the park made famous by Make Way for Ducklings. Sheesh…look at me. I look terrible. That was not a happy camper. I mean, I was happy to be with my boys but things were really hard at home with the Waffles  – foster care can be relentlessly isolating and I was feeling…oh, I don’t know…defeated? Which is weird for me because I’m usually a really upbeat person. And I was just tired. TIRED TIRED.

img_0830Oh, well…Mom stays in the picture and all that. 

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Boston was lovely. We took the Revolutionary War Self Guided Walking tour – just used the App – it was great.
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Visited the Boston Tea Party Museum.

And, of course, ate a lot.

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I even went to a baseball game! Even though, we all know, baseball is just the worst.

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Sadly this gigantic milk bottle did not serve creamy dairy treats. Just boring snack food.

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One of the coolest things we did in Boston was go to the flagship Converse store. You could design your own shoe in the store and even get them with the red stripe on the sole. There is a red stripe in Boston on the sidewalks that leads you to all the prominent revolutionary way sights. Just a fun thing to do with a teenager.

After a couple days in Boston we took the train to Maine. Trains are great. Wish we could travel on them more often. Yes, yes, I know what I said about the train to New Orleans. Let’s not talk about that – like, ever again.

Were things easier when I got home? Nope. I mean, they are now but the first year we had the new kids? Wow. I knew it would be hard and it certainly met and, hey, even exceeded my expectations.

But Boston and Maine sure were fun. Travel can be a bit of a bandaid, can’t it – provides a cushion for the blistery parts of life, right? Hmm, in that case, bring on the band-aids!

Longing for Summer

Longing for Summer

Mother of Pearl.  I’ll tell you one thing this ridiculously cold weather has done and that is it’s made me positively LONG for the summer. Not only is it painfully cold outside – which makes me daydream about the heat – but there is something else reminding me that Summer is coming.

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All the people heading northbound from Georgia that will try to conquer the Appalachian Trail are gearing up and talking about it on the AT Facebook groups I’m on. Heck, one lady was supposed to start this weekend before the winter storm hit! So, my Instagram feed is soon to be taken over by people posting hopeful pictures on Springer Mountain as they set forth. Hopeful if not totally realistic – only around 20% that set out to complete it actually do. The Southbounders  – those that start in Maine and work their way towards Georgia – won’t start until much later.

Not to wax too poetic…er, did I use that phrase in my last post? Oh well, it’s a free blog, you get what you pay for…Not to wax too poetic about the Appalachian Trail but I’m telling you it positively calls me. It calls me!

You know who else calls me?  These characters.

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So my thru hike dreams are on hold for a long long LONG time.

You know I’m obsessed with it because I’ve blogged about it before. 

Right now, I’m just working on the fourteen state challenge – putting my feet on the AT in all fourteen states. So far, I’ve only gotten Tennessee, North Carolina and Maine. Going to knock out Virginia this summer hopefully.

This guy is doing it with me.

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James, the eight grader. My goodness. Look at the length of his hair! This summer we – okay, for the record it was me and not Billy –  told him he could grow his hair as long as he wanted. He took us up on it. This was only midway thru the summer! He still had almost at entire month of growing to go before he had to cut it for school.

While the younger kids were at Summer Camp we went to Boston and Maine with Billy. After Billy went home we headed inland to pick up the Appalachian Trail at Abol Bridge.

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You should have seen me in that rental car trying to find the trail. ‘Well, you turn up there at the new road but it hasn’t been new for thirty years so it may not look new to you then you take a left at the big tree.‘ Really not sure how we ever found it.

Other things we found: the evidence of beaver activity…

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…and really beautiful scenery.

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Here is what we didn’t see: bears, snakes, moose, or really any kind of wildlife besides birds, fish, and black flies – which I’ll get to in a minute. Believe me – I’ll get to it. 

Because of my Appalachian Trail obsession I read all the trail memoirs I can get my hands on. I even read both the tomes those whiny barefoot sisters wrote. Seriously, they hiked barefoot.

I tried it. The earth didn’t sing.

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I’ll stick to my boots, thanks.

One of the things every single AT book I’ve read goes into detail about is the black flies in the north. I didn’t understand how black flies could possibly be that troublesome but GRACIOUS GOODNESS THEY ARE FROM THE DEVIL. We had the most idyllic AT experience ever until about four pm. Then, it was like a light switched on and these wee beasts descended upon us.

They were relentless. I’ve really never experienced anything like it. I tried to tell a few people about it and they were kind of like ‘uh, sorry the little flies bothered you.’ I guess you just can’t understand until you’ve experienced it. I am not exaggerating when I say I counted twenty seven on James at one point. TWENTY SEVEN. What began as a leisurely walk back to the car ended up as an all out sprint to get there.

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Clearly this was before the black fly invasion. Black Fly Invasion – kinda sounds like a punk rock group, huh. Except these critters were not punk at all. They were bad, BAD I TELL YOU. Even crazier when we got back to our car they followed us – I mean they flew after us for a good mile. Now, we were on dirt roads and weren’t going too fast but still!

Even with the flies what a gift our day was. Any day I get to get on the AT is an awesome day and doing it with James – who is 99% gaming and comic books most of the time – was even better.

One of these days I’m going to do it!

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“Remember that day last week when you couldn’t sleep because you didn’t have your favorite pillow?”

Shut it, kid. No one asked you. I AM going to do it.

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“Will I be joining you on this venture?”

Look, it’s a long term goal. LONG term. Like, the amount of time it felt like those black flies were following us.

Until then, eleven more states to go!