“Remember, a Jedi’s strength flows from the Force.” – Yoda, Star Wars VI: Return of the Jedi
We did something tonight that we always do after returning home from a trip, we marked the map with our route using dry erase markers. We keep our US map on the wall next to the kitchen table so we see it often. After marking up this trip, we decided to touch up the routes of previous trips as many of them had gotten smudged (and even almost rubbed off completely) over the years. The updated map can be seen here.
PL marks up the map with our travel route.
Padawan Learner drew out the line as Dad Windu and I recalled the route we had taken. It’s always interesting to look back on our trips with this new piece of information. Somehow it’s easier to put a long road trip in perspective when it’s laid out before you on a map. Not including any of the bits and pieces of extraneous driving that we did for side trips, we learned from Google Maps that we drove 4244 miles point to point, over the course of 18 days. Per PL, that’s an average of roughly 236 miles a day. (I’m not one to miss a chance to throw in some math practice when I can.)
Another friend has a large table in her dining room, so her family keeps full-size USA and world maps right on the table with a large, clear plastic tablecloth over them. Because of this, their meals often have geography content. If one of her sons hears a tidbit about Latvia on NPR, for example, the entire family can find it on the map and understand why Latvians get ansy when politicians in Moscow start reminiscing about a return to “the good old days” of the USSR.
Does your family do anything special with maps?
Luke: ”I’m endangering the mission. I shouldn’t have come.”
Han Solo: “It’s your imagination, kid. Come on. Let’s keep a little optimism here.”
Star Wars VI: Return of the Jedi
Padawan Learner threw his first snowball (more like a snow-lump) yesterday morning before the sun could melt the wee bit of white away. This morning brought more rain and a bone chilling cold that very clearly told us that winter will soon be here. We headed north not knowing if we would be able to stop for the Lincoln Home National Historic Site in Springfield, IL. Fortunately, the rain slacked to a gentle mist so we were able to enjoy a stroll through the 4 block area and take the Lincoln home tour before watching one of the two visitor center movies. I would have liked to see the second one, but we had pushed PL’s lunch needs too long for that.
When a 14 year old boy is really hungry, he’s REALLY hungry. After a quick lunch at The Feed Store restaurant (adequate but, like all places catering to the tourist trade, over-priced) – which sits right across the street from the Old State Capital - where Lincoln gave his famous “A House Divided” speech. We took the tour inside the Old State House (which isn’t really old, but a reconstruction with only the exterior limestone being original to the 1800′s). The tour guides were informative, seemed pleased to have questions asked, and didn’t make the usual “So, no school today” comment which tends to lead to either a “super-genius” or “uber-fundy” expectation of PL – neither of which he tends to enjoy.
The National Surveyor’s Museum, also across the street from the Old State Capital, which was scheduled to open this spring appears to be on perpetual hold due to a lack of funding. Too bad, DW was looking forward to seeing it. DW and PL are continuing to watch WWII in HD (a multi-night program) and it is just breaking my heart to hear it. I frequently have tears in my eyes, but last night was worse. Perhaps I just know what to expect now, because the content is no less heart-breaking. I wonder if FireFly Mom‘s family has been watching it as well. I know her son has a passion for WWII history.
Tonight is our last night on the road. We’re all a little sad to see our trip come to an end, something we looked forward to for so long. But we’re also glad to be getting back to our own beds, our cats, our friends, and our usual routine. Dad Windu is getting apprehensive about what awaits him next Monday, and I must admit that I am as well. He has been watching the schedule from the road (nothing like tech giving you the opportunity to fret while on vacation), and it isn’t encouraging.
I take it back. Tonight is just as horrible as last night. I can’t take listening to it anymore. I’m off to take a bath, with the fan running (loudly I hope) to drown out words that break my heart. I hate what we animals are capable of doing to ourselves and others in the name of power and greed. Safety and peace to you, my military friends and family. May our children, or at least our grandchildren, find a better way to a better world.
“This turn of events is unfortunate. We must accelerate our plans. Begin landing your troops.” – Darth Sidious, Star Wars I: The Phantom Menace
We had rain today. Rain! It took us a few moments to realize what it was when it first hit the windshield. It’s been so hot and dry the past two weeks that we’d kind of fallen into expecting desert weather for our entire trip. Alas, it was not so. As we neared the Oklahoma boarder, the tap, tap, tap of rain began. I guess it was letting us know that we’ve officially entered our third week of the trip, and our time is winding down.
We had planned to visit Dodge City and Fort Larned today, making a wide detouring curve from I-35 at Witchita to I-70 near Salina. With the pouring rain, however, we pressed on straight north toward Salina instead as all the things we wanted to do in both places are outdoor activities. We ended book 4 of the Percy Jackson series yesterday and started book 5. PL warned us that 5 was pretty much a non-stop battle; he wasn’t kidding. I feel slightly battered just listening to it.
We decided to stop in Salina, KS for lunch and to see the animated A Christmas Carol with Jim Carey. Unfortunately, the theater’s computer system crashed while playing it earlier in the day, so there would be no movie for us there. We did the only reasonable thing, we got back in the car and drove 102 miles further, to the next theater on our route, which was in Topeka. We’ll see A Christmas Carol after dinner.
Just to prove the nicest of random strangers, here’s a picture taken of us back at Bandelier that was emailed to me today.
UPDATE: A Christmas Carol far scarier than I was expecting (DW agrees) – please pre-watch if considering for young or sensitive children.
Luke: “Vader’s on that ship.”
Han Solo: “Now don’t get jittery, Luke. There are a lot of command ships. Keep your distance, though, Chewie, but don’t look like you’re trying to keeping your distance.” [Chewie barks a question] ”I don’t know. Fly casual.”
Star Wars VI: Return of the Jedi
What a strange day. We didn’t see a single amazingly cool thing. Frankly, I’d kind of gotten used to it.
Instead we drove from 10 am until 8:30 pm (552 miles), with a short stop at a rest area for lunch and an hour at a sit-down restaurant for dinner. I even drove for 12 miles today! I haven’t driven a mile (although I have offered) since we left home.
A couple of fun things I did see today were:
PL hanging from the rest stop over-hang
- A Texas-shaped waffle maker at our hotel
Yoda: You must not go!
Luke: But Han and Leia will die if I don’t.
[Obi-Wan's ghost appears]
Obi-Wan: You don’t know that. Even Yoda cannot see their fate.
Luke: But I can help them! I feel the Force!
Obi-Wan: But you cannot control it. This is a dangerous time for you, when you will be tempted by the Dark Side of the Force.
Star Wars V: The Empire Strikes Back
Temped to stay there for.e.ver maybe. Carlsbad Caverns were so beautiful, we stayed for hours and hours. Toward the end, it was awesome overload. I’m running late this morning, so I’ll let the pictures speak for themselves. Be sure to click on the images to get the larger picture.
“I don’t like sand. It’s coarse and rough and irritating and it gets everywhere. Not like here. Here everything is soft and smooth.” – Anakin, Star Wars II: Attack of the Clones
As written by Dad Windu in his journal:
We stopped at the White Sands Missle Base to see the museum. But, since it was Veteran’s Day, the museum was closed. We were able to see the outdoor display of missles and rockets and such though. After this, we went to the nearby White Sands National Monument, which was one of the stops [Obi-Mom] wanted to make. The gypsum sand dunes were beautiful. We walked the dunhes in our bare feet and took lots of pictures. We saw animal tracks in the sand as well, but no actual animals.
Then we headed to Lincoln, NM, which is another old west town. The site of the Lincoln County War. As I sit here and write, we are staying at The Ellis House B&B. This house is the site where the first shot was taken during the 5 day war between the Tunstell faction and the Murphy/Dolan gang. It is surreal to think that this famous set of events happened right outside my window.
Click to see the pictures from Lincoln
“You have allowed this dark lord to twist your mind, until now, until now you’ve become the very thing you swore to destroy.” – Obi-Wan Kenobi to Anakin Skywalker, Star Wars III: Revenge of the Sith
For those of you don’t remember me talking about it before, Dad Windu is passionate about roads. Long, straight roads with minimal changes in elevation. Guard rails and wide, paved shoulders would not.be.optional in his perfect world. Forty-four miles (travel time: 2 hours) of switchbacks up to the Cliff Dwellings of the Gila National Forest and another 65 miles (3 hours) of some of the worst switchbacks either of us has ever seen back out (we had to take a different route out for our next destination) had DW frequently exclaiming, “I hate this road!” Thankfully, we had book three of the Percy Jackson series to keep us company.
But even with all the traveling nastiness (I should admit that I spent my time knitting a slipper, so the drive didn’t bother me at all), PL – riding shotgun – and DW both admit that the cliff dwellings were too cool to pass up. I highly recommend that you all put them on your Must See list. Just bring along the Dramamine.
We met two homeschooling brothers that volunteer at the Cliff Dwellings and a very nice German couple that was absolutely ga-ga over meeting three homeschooling kids in one morning. They asked us about why we homeschool (the other boys live in a very remote area), how we homeschool, the benefits to being able to travel at will, and etc.
Obi-Mom Kenobi, secular homeschool ambassador.