Heading West, Again


Erin took this picture above, as we struck out from Moline, Illinois, across the Mississippi into Iowa this evening.

It used to be that, around this time of year (and Christmas), we would pack up the car and drive west, crossing the border at the Bluewater Bridge, making it nearly as far as Chicago the first night, then continuing on to Des Moines the next day. For a week, we would head around the midwest, going to Omaha and Lincoln, Nebraska, and heading up to Vermillion, South Dakota. This ritual, which put hundreds of clicks on our car, was so Erin and our children could see their American grandparents and the extended family.

That changed a few years ago. My mother-in-law and her husband immigrated to Canada, and my father-in-law and his wife moved out to Fresno, California. We have flown out to Fresno before, but airfare is a luxury we can't afford, so it has been a while since we've been to California -- or even out to Des Moines.

This year, Erin decided that we needed to visit her father Wendell and his wife Judy. The kids need to connect with all their grandparents. And thanks to the loan of my mother-in-law Rosemarie and her husband Michael's Prius, we can make the trip without boarding a plane. We just have to drive 4,500 kilometers.

In a Prius. With two pre-teen children.

The children, to form, have been troopers about this, and laugh over the statements that, if nothing else, the resulting adventure may be good fodder for a future book.

I write this today in Grinnell, Iowa. We left Kitchener fairly promptly yesterday afternoon, thanks to a lot of help from Michael and Rosemarie in getting the packing ready. We got as far as Kalamazoo before we stopped for the night. Today, we skipped past Chicago, had dinner with old friends of the family Mike and Alice, and continued on into Iowa. We've been through four states in one day, but now the states are going to get kind of long. Tomorrow, we'll take a short day that will get us to Omaha, and after that it's on to Denver. We will meet more friends along the way, see some national monuments, including the Grand Canyon, and we will be sleeping in a tugboat in San Francisco Bay once again. And I'll have some LRT time, as we pause in Salt Lake City, Utah, to gather our breath before we continue on our way. I'll keep you posted as the trip continues.

It has been a busy couple of weeks for me. Two non-fiction writing projects that had been due on July 15th got delayed as we waited on approval for my outlines, and then the approvals came, with the publishing house asking for both manuscripts to be turned around within the next two weeks -- a week per book. It was pedal to the metal for much of that time, but I handed in the second draft manuscript Friday at noon, and now I'm free. I've spent most of the past two days driving, but I've been thinking, and planning revisions for The Sun Runners. Long car rides do give you some time to think, when the kids finally get quiet in the back seat. Unfortunately, you can't stop the car to write down your ideas.

I am exhausted, but I am also excited. This will be an adventure, and it will be something I doubt the kids will ever forget.

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