Tuesday, April 03, 2007

Road Trip!

Well, John and I (and the girls) have completed the first day of a three day road trip from the northwest corner of Iowa all the way to Richmond Virginia. We actually had a pretty good day, though it did not start out so well. John was up super late doing emails and urgent office work last night, and that was after we had already stayed up late unpacking from our Minnesota trip and repacking for the next 3 months. So we were a little short on sleep to start out. And then we had some details to take care of--we rented a car to get from Iowa to Richmond, but first had to turn in our loaner car that we've had for the last month. So John packed the loaner car full, only to arrive in Sioux Falls at the airport, get our rental car, and unpack and repack everything so that we could return our loaner car. Though we intended to get an early start, by the time all of that was done it was after 11am. Chloe was crabby, wanting her morning nap, and we were trying to decide if we should just have a good lunch first and then get on the road.

Now, you should know that John and I love road trips. There is something refreshing about being in your own car, setting your own pace, having time alone to talk, read or listen to music or books on tape. Road trips are especially fun when you have a nice car to drive! So we were looking forward to today and the nice rental car. It is a 2007 model, a Chevy Impala (I think, I'm not too clear on that stuff) and it has lots of space, lots of power, and drives really smoothly. There are other bells and whistles, too, but the newest fun "toy" that we had never used was a Global Positioning System attached to the front dash. Then John had a great idea, let's look for a Pizza Ranch nearby and have lunch before we get on the road!
Now, you should know that eating at Pizza Ranch is one of my very favorite things to do. Their pizza is better than any I've ever had--the crust is somewhat chewy but not too thick, not greasy at all, and they are super generous with the cheese. I love their "Ranch Sticks" (cheese bread) which they serve with lots of marinara sauce. They also have this really tasty broasted chicken (not exactly fried, but I'm not sure how they prepare it--it has crispy skin) that I love, as well as dessert pizza. Basically, I love it all. And it's a great deal to eat their lunch buffet--only about $6 for all you can eat and drink. I also especially love Pizza Ranch because I have lots of nostalgic memories of eating there in high school after basketball games, after school with my friends, or whatever. The original Pizza Ranch was in the town where I went to high school, and now they have expanded all over the upper midwest, so I guess I'm a bit biased for the hometown brand, too.
So before we came back to Iowa we taught Clara Anne how to say "Pizza Ranch." She now knows their logo and as we've been driving lately through small town Minnesota and Iowa, she has actually recognized a Pizza Ranch out the car window and informed me, "Mama, there's Pizza Ranch! I found it! Let's go there! I'm hungry!"
Back to my original story (I think I have chased a few rabbits tonight!), we decided that since we had this new GPS, we could just use it to help us find the nearest Pizza Ranch and eat there for lunch! The only problem was, we couldn't figure out how to use the thing. At first it seemed like it was working, but it wasn't giving directions! We drove around a few blocks trying to get it going, and finally discovered our mistake. AHA, now we had it! Pizza Ranch, here we come!
We started following the map and the verbal directions (it was in the general direction we had to go, anyway), and soon found ourselves on the edge of town. Hmmm, that seems strange. Wonder where it could be out here? We even were directed to take a gravel road! That seemed really strange, but then we remembered selecting "fastest route" and so thought maybe the GPS was directing us down that road for speed purposes.
Finally, we turned down another gravel road as the GPS was saying we were only .2 miles from our destination, then we were directed to make one more turn, and . . . I'm sorry to say that it led us into the midst of a rural housing development! We were literally out there in the cornfields with these newly built homes here and there. This was not a happy moment.
John is frustrated because the stupid gadget led us wrong, Clara Anne discovers that we are not immediately arriving at Pizza Ranch and begins to wail "Pizza Ranch, Pizza Ranch!," and Chloe continued the screeching that she had been doing for the last half an hour as we were trying to find this nonexistent Pizza Ranch. I didn't know what to do and was about to cry myself when John took charge of the situation, thankfully. The thing is, with the girls in their carseats and the car packed so full, I can hardly reach them back there, so we had to stop the car, John held Clara Anne while looking at the map, I nursed Chloe and she settled down, and then we finally got on our way.
We did stop at a Pizza Ranch a few towns further down the freeway, and then were able to do the entire rest of the trip with only one quick potty/nursing break. And even as I write, the girls are asleep, so we can all get some good rest before continuing our journey tomorrow. Happily, the GPS has not led us astray again--I don't have any explanation for what happened that time, but hopefully it was just a fluke.
I'll leave you with a few recent pictures--I have lots more but blogger will not pull them up for me tonight, so they'll have to wait. This first one is Clara Anne talking on the phone to John when he was gone for a week, speaking at a conference. She liked to sit in her rocking chair and cross her legs (like Mommy does) while on the phone. I often prompted her to say "I miss you Daddy," but that has come back to haunt me: now in random circumstances she will go up to John and say, "I'm sorry Daddy. I miss you." We are not sure why she put those two sentences together, but my best guess is that she doesn't really understand the "miss you" concept.
And this is a scrapbooking photo. We can really make a mess, can't we?! Clara Anne loved to "help" so I would give her some extra pictures, scraps of paper, and stickers, and she had a great time. Thanks again to my mom for all her hard work on our album!
And now, it's time for me to catch up on some of that sleep I missed last night. Good night!

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