Monday, October 25, 2010

Fall Family Weekend

What is it about car trips that makes Cheetos and diet Coke look delicious? Even if you've been on a low-carb/whole-carb eating plan, and you KNOW better? My digestive system is reaping the harvest of my Cheeto-eating, Coke-drinking, road-tripping behavior.

Do you want to know a little fact about Coke and other "brown" sodas? Here is what I learned on the hematology-oncology unit: if your patient has a NG tube, and gets a clog in it, that is what the nurses use to clear the clog! That's right: those corrosive, carbonated beverages clear clogs from tiny tubes ("alot of alliteration from anxious anchormen placed in powerful posts" - can you name that movie?*). I myself have stayed up in the wee hours, working on my sleeping daughter's NG tube, trying to clear a clog so that she did not have to have her tube replaced. I have pumped whatever brown soda pop was available into and out of her tube, and succeeded in clearing it. It was a triumph - the alternative was that they were going to pull it out, and replace it. If you have ever seen an NG tube placement, you know that it's an experience you want to avoid.

So back to the road trip: Gregg and I promised David that we would sell him my car (really cheaply) as his graduation gift. The only stipulation was that we had to find a replacement car for me, before we handed my car over to him. I drive a 2002 Mercury Mountaineer, which has AWD and is very good in snow, mountain passes, has heated seats, room for golf clubs, skis, friends, etc. During the past year, David used it much more than I did, and he likes it very much.

It's taken time to find the right vehicle, with the right features, at the right price, for me. We are lucky to have a kind, honest, calm and knowledgeable brother-in-law who owns a no-pressure, high-quality, service-oriented used-car dealership called Auto Connections East. Stu has been helping us to find the right car. (Stu & Deb's dog, Rusty, helps out with PR at the dealership. He's the greeter, and has his own door into Stu's office.)

Gregg & I are not "car people." Cars are transportation, for us. As we get older, however, a few comforts have become more important: for example, for a menopausal woman, regulating hot and cold is an important comfort. For a menopausal woman married to a "Viking," temperature control becomes even more difficult - and an issue. Gregg and I are rarely comfortable at the same temperature. Having heated seats had to be part of the deal. Since our son is living 5+ hours away from us (most of the year), over a mountain pass and across a lot of farmland and tumbleweed-strewn prairie, all-wheel drive is important. My husband is the only full-time wage-earner in our household, so price was important, as was low mileage and dependability.

EUREKA! Stu found the car for us. He had it serviced and detailed, and loaned it to us last weekend, so that we could test-drive it. We loved it. So we let David drive my car on his way back to school from his visit home last weekend. We returned the new car so that Stu could have a one thing "tweaked" - and in the meantime, he loaned us this baby:
...which was Gregg's dream car, for years. It has a surprising amount of "giddyup," and after I got used to being so low to the ground, it was fun! We drove that for a few days, and then returned it, in order to purchase the "new" car (a gently-used 2003)...
...and to embark on a trip over the mountains to attend Fall Family Weekend at Gonzaga University.
Did you know that there really is a town in the State of Washington named "George?"
...and that in that town, there is a place called "The Martha Inn Cafe?" We Washingtonians have a sense of humor!

It was great to see our young man in his new "home." We took him out to dinner at the restaurant of his choosing, and he spent the night at our hotel with us. After breakfast, we took a drive to Lake Coeur d'Alene (in Idaho), but it was raining... we went to see a movie: the new "Wall Street" film. It was awesome!
We returned to campus and walked around with David, seeing his favorite places through his eyes.
Then we met our cousin, Kim, his wife, Mary and son, Karl for dinner.
Mary (the waiter cropped your head when he took this, Mary!), Gregg, me, David, Karl and Kim...
...David, Karl and Kim. Karl is in college about a half-hour's drive from David.

After dinner, we drove to Kim & Mary's house, and Mary's sister (our neighbor from home), Theresa, and Theresa's lovely daughters joined us. Theresa's older daughter is a student at G.U., and her younger daughter has been a friend of Katie's since birth. We had a great time chatting and watching football until almost midnight. Then we headed back to the hotel for some zzzzzz.

Sunday, after breakfast, we went for a walk in beautiful Manito Park.
The Japanese garden is lovely. The fall colors were vibrant.
This sunken garden is gorgeous, and peaceful. Imagine what it's like when it's full of colorful flowers!
This reminded me of one of Monet's much-painted scenes (minus us, of course).
I love the name of this rose, and the raindrops "kissing" it.
We took two of David's friends out to eat lunch at an Irish Pub. Then we drove them back to campus, and headed home. The temperature in Snoqualmie pass was 36 degrees, and it was raining buckets. Thank goodness for heated seats and all-wheel drive!
 I hope you had a good weekend, too.

* the quote is from the movie, "Broadcast News."


Jabacue said...

What a busy and full weekend! Your fall colours are just like ours here in Nova Scotia....must be on or near the same latitude.
The Japanese garden is spectacular and the pictures are great!

Kay said...

Fall colors! I love it. Our trees are still green...and its hot today. I've been to Snoqualmie Falls before and it was freezing cold then too. Sounds like you had a great weekend. Enjoy your new wheels! : )

Erin said...

Love all the pictures and your new car! How fun! I agree with you about road trips and snacking. I have a tendency to get car sick on long trips and I have found the cure is to snack! My favorite car trip snack is Tim's Cascades Jalapeno Chips and a big diet Dr. Pepper. You'd think that something spicy would be bad for my tummy....but it's a sure cure every time!

ChiTown Girl said...

The fall colors in these photos make me smile! I especially love the picture of Gregg and David in front of the gorgeous trees! Congrats on the new ride. I'm glad you had such a lovely weekend with your handsome son.

Anonymous said...

Oh my goodness - sooo many memories of clogged NG tubes. Our frig was always stocked with Coke. I used to literally cry when we couldn't unclog it for the trauma it was going to cause. At least they don't have tubes now. Sigh...

Love the pics,

AnnDeO said...

Beautiful weekend, and tender memories. When one of my boys was in the hospital they used milk and molasses for a "clean-out" and leeches for a cousin who needed his thumb reattached. Probably TMI - but happy day anyway.

Jennifer said...

Pretty Peppy Party, Pal!

YES! Shout-out for rockin' the Broadcast News quote, girl!

Speaking of rockin', you are also rockin' that coat -- lookin' fabulous.

The weekend sounded truly wonderful ... some time on campus, and some time away as well out in peaceful, natural surroundings (so important when one is in college!) and a smorgasbord of friends too, old and new.

I was really struck by the brief description of your cleaning Katie's NG tube in the wee hours while she slept. Could not help but see your hands as Christ's hands, his love flowing through them, through you, out to her ... doing the small thing with great love in the hopes of sparing her just one more painful procedure. I don't mean for this to sound romantic; it sounds gritty and painstaking -- and infused with great love.


Karen said...

Your nature pictures are gorgeous. Washington is beautiful (and humorous) and David looks like he is flourishing. What a reassuring weekend for you and Gregg. And I am certain that David is thrilled to finally have "his" car back. I also enjoyed reading your letter to the editor. I hope everyone who needs to read it, will do so and see themselves in it. The sanctuary of Bainbridge needs to be protected.

deb said...

I just love reading and seeing and feeling you and your family here.
The visit looked like it was all you probably expected and more. What a fine son you have there:).

I am not a car person at all at all.. so don't even know what that one is you bought , but I hear on the safety and comfort issues. And the seat warmers. Luv my seat warmers when I do the morning school drive in my pj's at below zero temps.

deb said...

oh, and I don't drink pop... it is horrible stuff.
(don't worry , I have a good long list of vices,just not that one :) )

Elizabeth said...

That sounds like a wonderful weekend. Your son is just so gorgeous -- I'm happy that he is happy in his new digs and that he loved showing you around. I still remember "parents' weekend" when I was in college -- I'm sure he will always remember these times, too.

Thanks for sharing your happy days, Karen, and all the gorgeous photos!

Mary said...

Oh my what gorgeous pictures! I love reading about your visits with David -- I know that Abe will be off in college before I know it and seeing all of you enjoy time together is so reassuring!

Thanks too for your kind comments over at Hopeful Parents! Your words mean a lot to me.

karen gerstenberger said...

Thank you all for the kind comments.
Jennifer and Carin: thanks especially for your words about the NG tube issues.
Jabacue, I would LOVE to see your part of the world - am a Canadaphile (SP) and have heard such great things about NS!