My daughter had driven all the way from Iowa to Dallas with FOUR children on Monday, April 23.  While she was looking forward to visiting while I was there, she had one primary goal in mind – meeting her baby brother’s baby for the first time.  I wanted to be ready with camera in hand to capture this first meeting.  I knew she would fall in love and she did.  I think it was mutual.  We all had a wonderful four days visit and then began the long drive back to Iowa.  She said meeting her beautiful baby niece was so worth the long, long drive…

 

In a “perfect world”, each of my three grown children and their families would live no more than two hours from me.  We would live in a beautiful area – close to the mountains and the beach and the rest of our extended family.    There would be plenty of time and opportunity for frequent family reunions.  But as my younger son reminds me, I evidently gave each of them “roots and wings” and the two-hour radius is not to be.  They’ve created happy, wonderful lives for themselves and I am glad of that.  However, that means that I must FLY often because I miss my children and my grandchildren!

I flew into the Dallas-Fort Worth airport on Saturday, April 21st.  My younger son greeted me with a hug and a smile.  We then drove to their home where my almost eight month old granddaughter was taking her afternoon nap.  I was preparing myself that she would have grown and changed since I had seen her over two months ago, and she most definitely has.  When she awoke, she greeted me with a big smile and, I think, remembered me.  She is amazing…and beautiful.  Of course.   😉

My daughter and her four children arrived on Monday morning after a very long drive from Iowa.  It would be a week filled with fun activities and enjoying FIVE of my grandchildren in one place!  There would be plenty of time for holding Maggie and playing on the floor with her…watching her crawl and pull up to a standing position.  We also made time for shopping.  I loved this adorable dress we found at The Children’s Place.  It reminded me so much of a “vintage” baby and Maggie looks beautiful in it!

 

My granddaughters and I were spending Friday evening together while their parents had a date night.  We had enjoyed a pizza together and were now all curled up on the sofa watching the movie  Mighty Macs (excellent movie by the way).  During one scene, an elderly nun pasted newspaper clippings of the legendary team into her well-used scrapbook as the camera zoomed in for a close-up of her hands…aged and wrinkled from years of service and use.

I held out one hand in front of me and looked at it for a moment without saying a word.

My ten-year-old granddaughter, who was snuggled close beside me, looked up at me and then grinned.

“Don’t even think about it, Grandmommy”‘ she said.  “Not even close.  Not for a very long, long, long, long time”…..

I have flown dozens and dozens of times – and enjoyed it – until last year when I flew out of a bad storm in Memphis and into a worse one in Dallas.  The DFW airport was closed for a couple of hours and the plane I was on took a roundabout, time-consuming way there.  Needless to say, I missed my connecting flight, but managed to get the last flight to Portland out of Dallas to arrive at 2 a.m. Portland time.  I was in the very last seat next to the window (with some large, mechanical apparatus inches from the window) and the ceiling sloping at an angle inches from my head.  A long line of passengers continued to file into the plane.  At that point, a very large couple sat down beside me.  Suddenly, I felt totally hemmed in and very claustrophobic.  I told the flight attendant that I had to move up or get off the plane…thankfully, I moved up.  There have been a few other claustrophobic flight episodes since then.

I was flying on the morning of April 7th from Portland to Louisville to visit my firstborn and his family.  The only feasible way for me to travel 2,000+ miles.  I was trying not to focus on having a panic episode or any degree of claustrophobia.  I’ve discovered that I do best when I am closer to the front of the plane (though I certainly cannot afford first class), next to the window and in a row of TWO seats rather than three!  And, yes, sometimes there is an extra charge for those seats (don’t tell my husband) but it beats a claustrophobic episode!

Before I boarded the plane, I prayed for someone special to sit beside me on the four hour flight to Dallas, my connecting city.  Someone who would entertain me and keep me from thinking about the fact I couldn’t get off the plane!  God answered that prayer with a special young man.  He’s from Spain and a senior in college there.  He had been visiting his girlfriend in Portland.  He introduced himself first and proceeded to totally entertain me.  He told me all about his life in Spain and his family there.  He works as a ski instructor to help with his college expenses.  I have THREE goats.  His family has 2,000 goats!  They make delicious cheese with the milk from the goats.  He pulled out his phone and showed me pictures of his family and his girlfriend.  We played the game Angry Birds together.  Such a very nice young man and an answer to prayer.  Before I knew it, we were descending into the Dallas airport.  He extended his hand to shake mine and THANKED ME for the visit!  My Heavenly Father doesn’t do anything halfway.  I thanked this sweet young man for making this flight an enjoyable one…

….and I thanked my Heavenly Father for answered prayer.

My daughter’s baby girl turned eight years old yesterday.  I began my morning here on the West coast sitting at my table with a cup of coffee and my iPad…thankful for “Facetime” so I could see her and celebrate this special day with her all the way in the Midwest.  I watched as she happily opened each of the gifts I had sent to her in her “birthday box”.  She was a happy camper.  I so wished I were there for a birthday hug in person.  Those beautiful blue eyes were shining as she said, “thank you, Grandmommy!”   

 

This morning,  the sweet – but not so subtle – note indicated that he was definitely wishing for an apple pie.  Since he had purposely stopped at the grocery store for 8 large Braeburn apples yesterday, who was I to say no?!  😉

 

Tonight’s dessert:  delicious apple pie made from my favorite recipe in “The Joy of Cooking”…

 

Our original destination...I’ve always wanted to see San Francisco…from Fisherman’s Wharf to the Golden Gate Bridge to Chinatown.  And San Francisco was the original plan.  We started out last Thursday morning driving one hour to the Pacific Coast where we picked up highway 101 which hugs the coastline through Oregon and Northern California.  Unfortunately, the weather was clearly not cooperating.  We drove through cold, hard-blowing, horizontal sheets of rain.  The wind wasn’t just blowing hard – it was absolutely gusting.  Occasionally, there were yellow warning signs along the coastline clearly spelling out the danger:  Wind Gusts!  They were right about that!

In one small Oregon coastline town, we stopped (in the pouring rain) at an antique store that we have never actually found open before.  It was open on that rainy Thursday morning.  I found a “4-in-1” Lodge cast iron dutch oven.  I’m not usually a negotiator but I thought the price he had on it was a little high, so I made him an offer and he took it.  It’s in perfect condition and I’m looking forward to cooking with it.  That skillet would end up my souvenier of this trip.

We got back in the car and proceeded on through the rain and wind.  There were times the view of the rocky Pacific coast was totally obscured.  One of the most memorable aspects of the drive from Oregon into California is driving along the magnificent “Redwood Highway”.  The winding road is cut through a dark forest of amazing giants and is called the “Avenue of the Giants”.  We stopped at the “tourist attraction”  Trees of Mystery.  My grandchildren would have liked Paul Bunyon and the Blue Ox!

Not long after arriving in California, we came upon an elk preserve and I finally got to see ELK up close and personal!  Several whole herds of elk.  Unfortunately, it was still raining at this point so my photos are not that great but I loved seeing them.

 

After a long day of driving through rain and wind gusts, we decided we were tired and stopped for the night at Eureka, California.The next morning, we headed down the coast to Bodega Bay, California…the location for the Alfred Hitchcock film, “The Birds”.  It was still raining at this point and, again, we fought wind gusts and deep banks of fog.  We had to get off of highway 101 and onto highway 1 which would take us into Bodega Bay.  We took the Guerneville exit which took us into breathtaking Sonoma County wine country through a serpentine road.  This would have made a great movie!  There were no signs until we finally saw one that said Bodega Bay…23 more miles of winding road!  We spent the night at the Bodega Harbor Inn, an old motor court from the fifties which  has been revamped.  It’s actually where Jacque Cousteau stays when he visits Bodega Bay.  It’s reasonable and felt a bit historical.  Before we settled in and darkness fell, I wanted to see the old school house, so we drove the four miles into Bodega where the school house and the old church are.  It’s a quaint little community with photos from the movie “The Birds” in the stores.  The school house is now privately owned and has been totally restored.  The next morning, we had breakfast at The Tides restaurant (remember The Tides in the movie?).  The original restaurant burned down and was rebuilt.  The dock is still there and the view of the boat ride that “Melanie” (Tippi Hedren) took across the bay.  The Brenner farmhouse burned down a couple of years after the film was made.  Altogether, it was a neat visit to Bodega Bay!

The Bodega Bay harbor dock.

 Remember the Bodega Bay Schoolhouse from the movie? 

The Bodega Bay Schoolhouse…now a private home.

 

A few of “the birds” in Bodega Bay…

 

 

A couple of photographs from the movie “The Birds” on the wall at The Tides Restaurant…

 

The  next morning, the sun was trying to come out through dark clouds, but we had made the decision that we were tired and were ready to head back home.  We also decided that when the time came for us to travel to San Francisco, we would FLY!

We traveled back through beautiful Napa Valley and, once again, saw one amazing vineyard after the other.  It was our anniversary and St. Patrick’s Day, and we were seeing beautiful countryside.  We drove through Old Sacramento and decided that Sacramento would be a future fun Amtrak trip.  We spent the last night of our trip in Redding, California.  The next morning we headed home over five snowy mountain passes…with  my favorite being  Mt. Shasta.

We arrived safely home and, thankfully, found ten hens and three Boer goats waiting for us…unharmed by the local cougar wildlife.  I rang their little cowbell and the goats came running from the lower pasture…as if to say “what took you so long?”

All through the night, the wind howled across this mountainside and the cathedral chimes on the front porch danced wildly in tune.  Snow again this morning.  It is beautiful but I know it won’t last long.  I will enjoy the brief visit.

I’ve spent the last two weeks fighting a cough and trying to regain my mojo.  A prescription of Azithromycin seems to be helping and I’m getting some energy back.

That’s a good thing since we’ll be traveling to San Francisco later this week to celebrate our anniversary.  We will drive a little over an hour to the Pacific Coast and pick up Highway 101 – the Pacific Coast Highway (PCH).  Not long ago, we drove all the way down to Gold Beach, Oregon, and enjoyed breathtaking scenery along the way…as the PCH wound along, hugging the coast of the beautiful, rocky Pacific.

On the way, we will visit the Redwoods near Brookings, Oregon, and Bodega Bay, California.  Did Bodega Bay sound familiar?  It should.  If you’re an Alfred Hitchcock fan (I am), that’s where “The Birds” was filmed.  I’m looking forward to seeing the schoolhouse and a few other sites there.

Then it’s on to San Francisco.  There we’ll tour Chinatown, ride a trolley car (I’ve always wanted to do that), visit Fisherman’s Wharf where Jim will enjoy Clam Chowder, check out the antiques along the way…and whatever else sounds interesting.

Any suggestions for what to see and do in San Francisco?

After an almost four hour layover in Denver, Colorado, I boarded the plane for Portland at 5:30 p.m. on Tuesday evening.  What I didn’t realize at the time was:  there was a storm over the Rockies…and we were headed right into it.  Not sure what the pilot was thinking but as he tried to climb above the storm, the plane rocked furiously from side to side and up and down…much like a toy plane would do in the hands of a three-year-old.   The young woman seated beside me commented that she hoped she didn’t throw-up.  I replied that I hoped she didn’t either.  (Although I’ve been a Registered Nurse since 1978, I still don’t do throw-up very well)!

It was taking everything I had to manage my recently acquired airplane anxiety and I was not enjoying the scenario.  Passengers began pulling out cell phones although I didn’t see anyone turning them on.  I contemplated doing the same.  I wanted to be prepared in case I needed to say goodbye to loved ones…although I prayed it wouldn’t come to that!  I live a three to four day journey by automobile to all three of my grown-up children and their families, so I must fly.  My next journey is April 7th when I will fly to Louisville, Kentucky, to visit my older son and his family…and then, from Kentucky, on to Dallas for a visit with my younger son and his family.

Let’s hope I’ve forgotten this recent flight by then!

Today is my last day of a two and  a half week wonderful visit with my daughter and her precious family.  We’ve had such fun and made so many great memories.  I miss them all already.

This afternoon, we will drive one hour North for my oldest grandchild’s swim meet.  I am happy that I will get to see him swim.  I saw my oldest granddaughter swim in practice.  I’m amazed that they are such fast and strong swimmers as are my oldest son’s daughters.  They didn’t get that from me!

I fly back home to Oregon tomorrow…via a long layover in Denver.  I suppose an almost 4 hour layover is better than a 1 hour layover when the plane is late and you’re in the back of a large jet and it takes 30 minutes to deplane!  I shall be thankful and take advantage of the long layover to have an actual meal at the airport instead of a snack on the plane.  I will not arrive into Portland until 10 p.m. Iowa time and that will make for a very long day.  The macho logger tree farmer will be waiting for me…

It has snowed twice now on the tree farm in the Callahans and I have missed both of them.  The first time I was in Dallas having a wonderful visit with my younger son and his precious family.  It snowed again on the farm this week.  Not to worry though, it has snowed twice here over the past two weeks, and I did have fun playing out with my grandchildren.  But I have missed my macho logger tree farmer and it is time to be home!

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My Southern Heart...the Stories blog is about my life growing up in the South in the fifties and sixties. It was an amazing time...a time of falling in love, getting married, having a family. A time of history in the making, political unrest, rock and roll. Come along on my life's journey. It's a chronological story, so be sure to start at the beginning. It will make a whole lot more sense that way. Check out: My Southern Heart...the Stories