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Day Five: Discover the Spirit

12 Jun

Who would have thought that we would find the license plate for the great state of North Dakota in Fairfield, CT? And much less in the kitchen of Chez Tison? Okay, let me back up. Last year we had great success with our license plate game. It kind of becomes an obsession for me. The kids like it, think it’s fun, but I am obsessed. I swear that one of these years we are going to find all 50 plates. Last year seemed like that year. By the end of our week in Maine we had spotted 49 plates. All except North Dakota. (Stupid North Dakota.) But it got to the point that friends who were following along with the trip would text me daily to ask, “Did you find North Dakota yet?” Alas, it was not to be. But this year? This year I don’t even care if I find another stinking license plate. Because I found North Dakota. Tina Tison, hostess extraordinaire, has out done herself once again. Which is really saying something, because every year we come here something happens where I think, this is the best thing that ever happened. But then we had dessert last night. The best. dessert. ever. EVER. Homemade Rice Krispie Treat shaped like in a rectangle and decorated to be the state license plate of North Dakota. Colored icing, personalized to say “CMRT 2014″, even chocolate chips to recreate the bison. It was epic. Truly amazing. And hysterical. I was blown away. It takes a lot to make me speechless. I was speechless. Tina Tison for the win.

Best dessert ever - North Dakota RKT

Best. Dessert. Ever.

But now I’ll back pedal because before we found North Dakota, we woke in midtown Manhattan. Even slept in until about 7:30 (bless you sweet blackout curtains, I’d marry you if I could!) And really nothing cooler than throwing open said blackout curtains to reveal Times Square in all it’s glory; glorious especially from the 32nd floor. We packed up our stuff, and hit the streets, walking around the Theater District, snacking on a soft pretzel (rule of visiting NYC: must purchase food from a cart.) We had pre-purchased tickets for an exhibit at Discovery Times Square. It was the Marvel Avengers: S.H.I.E.L.D. S.T.A.T.I.O.N. It was pretty cool interactive exhibit. Lots of props from the Avengers movies, interactive games and tests of strength. All in all, the kids loves it. For my taste (and outrageous ticket price!) it was too short, but maybe it felt that way because in every room of the exhibit at least one or two of the interactive exhibits was broken. Not great. Especially since we were the first group of the day. Literally four of the first 10 people through the door. Sigh. But the important thing is that the kids loved it. Especially because part of the exhibit was being issued a plastic id card with their names as probationary S.H.I.E.L.D. agents printed on it. Avery especially is excited about this keepsake.

Once we finished there is was almost time for our noon checkout from the hotel, so we grabbed a quick New York slice for lunch. I taught them to fold their slices in half, and not be scared of the grease running out. Now, after almost getting run over by a cyclist yesterday as we crossed the street, and eating a slice today, they are really racking up the quintessential New York City experiences. We pondered other city activities, but really the kids were more excited about getting to the Tisons house, and leaving the city before rush hour appealed to me, so we headed out of the city once the van arrived (with a scratched up passenger side mirror, mind you) from valet. Tina had warned me of lane closures on the George Washington bridge, so I asked Fiona (my GPS) to route us in a way that avoided the GW bridge. This sent us up the west side on the Henry Hudson Parkway. A fortuitous route, because I saw a sign for the Cloisters and immediately exited. Despite multiple visits to NYC, and being a member of the Metropolitan Museum of Art, I had never been to the Cloisters. Medieval art isn’t really my thing, but I adore architecture, I heard the gardens are beautiful, and the location magnificent. This was a completely unplanned, but wonderful stop. It really was quite cool, and definitely beautiful. Now I can check that box. And I love it when things serendipitously fall into place.

Despite the early hour, traffic on 95 in Connecticut, not so serendipitous. In fact it was plain awful. Truly. But at least I wasn’t doing it at rush hour as usual. And fighting 20 miles of traffic is worth it to get to Chez Tison. So, it was a little bleary with exhaustion and frustration that we arrived at 3:48pm. Perfect timing as Samantha had just stepped off the school bus minutes before. The kids rushed out of the car and up the driveway. It was then that I noticed the crack in my windshield. Almost in the exact same spot as the windshield crack I discovered while parked in from of the Tison’s house two years ago, just a different minivan. Sigh. I had a chip in my windshield “repaired” (use of quotes seems appropriate since the repair was obviously an epic fail!) on May 29, just the week before my departure. They said the repair would keep the damage from spreading, and maintain the structural integrity of the windshield. Yeah. Maybe not so much. So, I noted the crack, grabbed the paperwork I was smart enough to stick in my glove compartment, and figured I’d call to schedule the windshield replacement sometime tonight. (Side note: Do they still call it a glove compartment? Or has it evolved to be called what it really is – the car registration and assorted random crap you want to keep in your car box?) Anyway, the kids got right to playing, including a new game that the Tisons gave us as a gift, Qwirkle. I swear I’m going to be pestering my children to play with me any chance I get. I don’t know how I’ve gotten this far in their childhoods without owning this game. (Another side note: At Chez Tison we get gifts for being here. Um, seriously? The mother of all hostesses this girl is. I get a gift for descending upon your home like a plague of locusts? She likes me, she really likes me.) Speaking of gifts, for Crazy Momma herself, Tina gave me a Fairfield Christmas ornament. Which is also epically awesome. Because I collect Christmas ornaments on my travels. There is something so delightful about unwrapping them all and reliving travels and memories, wallowing in nostalgia as we decorate the tree.

When it was time to head out to the local Mexican restaurant for dinner I noticed that the crack in my windshield had grown probably another 6 inches while it was just sitting parked in front of their house. Yep, definitely time to schedule the replacement. Sadly, the first available appointment in this area was Monday, so it wasn’t going to be an immediate replacement. But I did manage to schedule a mobile replacement for Wednesday at our rental house in Maine. Yep, this will now be my second windshield replacement while on vacation in three years. Two separate vehicles. Same rental house. Sigh. If it’s not one thing, it’s rocks on your head…

After our epic dessert – I’m still flabbergasted and amused and grateful – bedtime went smoothly. Trundled all kiddos off to bed and sat on the back patio with Tina and Joe to talk, to relive some of our funnier moments, to craft new euphemisms, and generally enjoy one another’s company the way we always do.

Tomorrow: Chez Tison – Round two. Might take the kids to the aquarium in Norwalk. Hoping the weather doesn’t curtail our annual firepit rendezvous…

Total mileage: 24,280 (1,045 total miles traveled)

** Disclaimer: No editing of this post has occurred. I’m sure it’s rife with typos and grammatical errors. Maybe I’ll correct them later. Maybe I won’t.

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© 2010 Krista Lindsey Willim