We celebrated Columbus Day at our house like we always do. We gathered as a family around our dining room table, with a fire blazing in the fireplace, and made paper mache ships. We used brown paper, flour and water to recreate the Nina, the Pinta and the Santa Maria, and then we walked into town to trade our handiwork for spices and give speeches on why fresh fruit on long sea voyages was so important.
Or maybe… we just recovered from our long weekend and burned fossil fuels in our Suburban, so that we could hop down to the local Walmart, seeing as how we were out of everything.
And by everything, I do mean EVERYTHING. At one point yesterday, Hubs remarked, “I tried to make a sandwich, but there was mold on the two heels in the bread bag. I tried to pour a bowl of cereal, but there was no milk. So now I’m eating Ramen noodles, like I’m a poor college boy, once again.”
Sometimes life is very hard.
On Friday evening, there was the Homecoming football game. Thing 2 announced his TOTAL DISPLEASURE over the issue of enormous fireworks being set off at halftime. Our preschooler will fight a dragon in head-to-head combat and jump off the tallest piece of playground equipment in the entire state, but fireworks FREAK. HIM. OUT. It’s always a lovely experience, as we end up apologizing to folks around us for the screams of WE’RE ALL GONNA DIE, which are loud enough to rupture the eardrums that the fireworks don’t get to first.
The boys had three days off from school, so we piled ourselves and a couple of suitcases into Hubs’ car bright and early Saturday morning. We ended up meeting Papa and Grammy for a miniature vacation. We drove, and we drove, and we DROVE SOME MORE, and then, when I thought that I couldn’t take any more driving while listening to the noise of The Backyardigans coming from the DVD player in the backseat, we drove a bit more, and then we were there, after crossing state lines and missing turnoffs.
Grammy bought tickets for everyone to ride the REAL TRAIN, from the 1880s, as she was helping Thing 2 check items off of his LIFE GOALS list. Our kid is CRAZY NUTS about trains, and he wanted to ride a real one more than anything.
He spent the entire ride declaring that the train whistle was actually REALLY STINKING LOUD, while he sat exactly like THIS:
I had expected to whiz through the countryside, on a gleaming bullet powered by coal, but what I discovered is that train travel in the 1880s was pretty much exactly as fast as I can pedal a bicycle. In other words, had I boarded in New York City, to ride out to the Wild West, I could have expected to be sitting in that leather seat, staring out the window, for four hundred and twelve straight days.
The train lolled from side to side, and ambled through the hills. It blew its whistle and chugged up mountains and coughed down mountains, and it was all incredibly fun.
We all loved it, and I didn’t suffer a lick of motion sickness, so I’m chalking that up as a Vacation Victory.
The boy rode that train exactly like any teenager from the late 1800s would’ve done. He devoured taffy from a bag his grandmother treated him to and sent out important text messages to friends back home. I feel like Jesse James would’ve been proud of him.
And… since no one had eaten any lunch (unless you count the taffy on the train), we all went out for dinner. Teenage boys can only go three hours, at the max, without refueling with cheeseburgers and salads doused in ranch dressing.
Later on Saturday night, while the rest of his friends were back home, getting dressed up for the Homecoming dance at Small Town High, the boy sat with his family and roasted marshmallows around a campfire at the cabin, where we were staying. I felt badly that he was missing his sophomore Homecoming, but Grammy and I planned this trip a couple of months ago… long before I realized that OH, DEAR! THIS MIGHT CRUNCH THE BOY’S SOCIAL LIFE A BIT.
No matter. The boy said he was having a blast, and he ate four S’mores, after his cheeseburger and dinner salad.
And for those of you who only have daughters, I feel sorry that you’ll never know what it is to turn young pyromaniacs loose near a campfire. Everything must be burned. Every scrap of garbage or anything that could possibly BECOME GARBAGE IN THE FUTURE, must be thrown into the fire. In fact, some things that aren’t garbage at all will even be sacrificed, just to see how they’ll burn.
And yes. We stayed in a cabin. We felt it’s exactly how folks who had just ridden the rails on a coal-powered train would’ve done things. We opted for the rustic experience, as we shook our heads at civilized hotels with room service and indoor swimming pools.
As it turned out, our cabin was IMMACULATELY clean. Surgeries could’ve happened there, and my OCD, neat-freak self was so happy! Plus, we had the little convenience of OH, LOOK! TWO FULL BATHROOMS, WITH SHOWERS AND A FULL KITCHEN WITH A MICROWAVE AND ENOUGH DISHES TO SEE THAT THE DUGGERS COULD’VE EATEN SUPPER THERE.
Oh, my word. I could’ve lived in that clean little cabin forever, seeing as how it had three bedrooms and a deck that overlooked the countryside. The only problem that the boy faced was NO CELL SERVICE.
We were TOTALLY OFF THE GRID, and I’m not going to lie. It was wonderful.
The next morning, we did a little sight-seeing. We bought more taffy, because the boys felt like it was a necessity.
And by boys, I mean Hubs and Papa. Their nicknames are Taffy Addicts.
Eventually, we ended up at a little tourist spot, where the kids could pan for gold and take a tour through a real goldmine from 1886. We told the boy to get busy with the panning, because he’s got to be thinking about college expenses. We felt like this was a prime opportunity for him to find a nugget the size of a loaf of bread and make sure Harvard can really happen in his life.
THERE’S GOLD IN THEM THAR HILLS!!!!
He found just enough gold, that… if he wanted to cash it all out… he could have EASILY afforded to buy himself something small at Starbucks.
Something small, with no extra whipped cream.
Something small, with no extra flavoring.
Something small, like THIS TALL CUP OF HOT COCOA, without that whipped cream on top.
His life was forever changed for the better, when Papa forked over a couple of quarters for him.
And I got to eat at a buffet, which Hubs NEVER, EVER let’s me do, because Hubs insists that only OLD FOLKS WHO TAKE GERITOL AND SEE PODIATRIST FOR CORNS eat at buffets. Personally, I’m a buffet-lover… and I married a man who doesn’t care for buffet restaurants.
Whoever said marriage is hard, wasn’t lying!
But yes! We totally ate at a buffet, and Hubs had to admit that it was INDEED delicious.
The boys had a ball on our miniature vacation, and so did we. We enjoyed just hanging out together and spending a few days with Grammy and Papa.
So that, y’all, was OUR Columbus Day weekend. Have a happy Tuesday.