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Posts Tagged ‘serendipity’

Day Four: The Summer of Serendipity

18 Jun

Every good adventure should have a theme. This year, for CMRT 2016: K9 Edition, is seems to be serendipity. The beauty of the unexpected. The utterly random turned into magic. It started with unexpected sandwiches on Day One. And evolved into a summer home drop-in today. But I’ll get to that in a moment.

We started our day in Manhattan. When I woke, Remy was snuggled in tight between Beau and Harper on the floor of the apartment. Like puppies in a whelping box. We managed to all wake, get dressed, roll sleeping bags, and move furniture back to its original position without waking Robyn. Earning us the best compliment that we are “the quietest house guests ever!” Maybe not always true, but we really did try hard this time. Probably also helps that being a long-time Manhattan resident she is used to a lot of ambient noise. While the kids watched a little tv with Robyn, I took Remy down to Riverside Park one last time for another quick, illegal off-leash romp. This time running around with a Labrador for a few minutes, then chasing a stick. Then back up to the apartment to bid a fond and exceedingly grateful adieu to Robyn, and pack the car. As we walked up to Broadway to the recommended bagel shop, Beau leaned into me and said, “You really do have the nicest friends.” Which obviously was a nice compliment for Robyn, but also for me. Made me smile and feel very warm inside. I hugged him to me and replied, “Yes, I do. I really do.” And then, being a mom, I couldn’t resist exploiting the teachable moment, adding, “And you know why? Because I try really hard to be a nice friend myself.” But it is so true that it squeezes my heart (and perhaps makes my eyes tear ever so slightly), I really do have the nicest friends.

At the bagel shop I left the kids on the sidewalk with Remy, and waited in line for breakfast. I am enjoying giving them these small tastes of true independence. Trusting them to behave properly, to assess their feelings of safety, and respond accordingly. It’s good for them, and I really should seek more opportunities to do it. A large sack of bagels and a few bottles of water procured, it was back to the car for the final push. Typically when we leave NYC it is on a weekday afternoon. And that means traffic. A staggering amount of traffic. Not so today as we were rolling out at around 9:45am on a Saturday. And as much as I absolutely adore driving in New York City (and I do! I LOVE it!), I really enjoyed my drive out of the city on the Henry Hudson Parkway today. Very little traffic, everything lush and green, a curving road cut through a beautiful landscape. It was wonderful! And as we cleared NY state and were rolling through Connecticut my dear friend, and inventor of the phrase “Pup Pit,” Jen, contacted me to ask if we were already through CT. Indeed not, dear friend, and why do you ask? Because you just landed in Hartford? What? Jen’s parents, whom I have known since I was 12, have a home in Glastonbury, CT, and which exit was Waze telling me to take to connect from I-91 to I-84? The Glastonbury exit, of course. So, here we are, 1,000 miles from home, and my dear friend from home will be shortly arriving in the little New England town that we just happen to be driving right through. Serendipity. And we may not be hungry at this exact moment, so no sandwiches necessary, but definitely unexpected. And though being fairly road weary, though Maine is now getting close enough to taste, how could I not stop? That would be like spitting in the face of fate. So we changed our destination, and rolled up to the Hughes’ gorgeous home. Remy was certainly happy to run free on their lush, golf course grass lawn, and it was so fun to see Jen and her entire family. The consummate hostess, Mrs. Hughes was insistent on plying us with some food, even if I wouldn’t allow her the time to make us lunch, so the kids munched on fruit, and enjoyed sitting in their stadium seats from Fenway. We had such a lovely visit in their beautiful home with these truly wonderful people, that I was loathe to get back in the car. But what a fun, serendipitous stop. Life really is beautiful if you’re paying attention.

Easy hop back onto the interstate. Thought I had it made with my packed car, and hopped into the HOV lane, only to get stuck for quite some time behind a guy who must have had his cruise control set on the exact speed limit. For goodness sake, if you want to drive the speed limit or under, just stay in the far right lane. Frustrating. Luckily he must have been local, because he got off at an exit, and gave me an open lane of smooth sailing for awhile. Those NY bagels and fresh fruit packed a punch, and it wasn’t until much later that we started feeling hungry.Thankfully we spotted an exit with a Moe’s, and while not necessarily the easiest thing to eat while driving, a burrito really was preferable to more fast food.

After lunch we had one final stop to make before reaching the house. Unfortunately, it was discovered as I went to lay out our clothes for today, that Beau had left his Crocs, the only shoes other than running shoes he brought on the trip, back in our hotel room in Pennsylvania. Grrrrr…. He needs to have beach shoes, and thankfully it turns out that there is a Crocs outlet in Kittery. So, about 10 minutes total – off the interstate, to the store, Beau & I hop out of the car, select the right size, pay, back in the car, back to the interstate. Not too long to solve that problem, and we were back on our way. But I would be remiss if I didn’t mention how I feel when the Piscataqua River Bridge comes into view. Before I focused on resolving the shoe crisis, I was feeling that delightful, floaty feeling I get whenever I cross over that bridge. When I see the “Maine State Line” sign in the middle of the span. It just makes me happy. Plus, writing about it gives me the chance to say “Piscataqua”, which is just fun to say. Go ahead. You try. Piscataqua. Yep, just feels good in my mouth, and makes all the love I have for this state blossom in my chest.

Once we had the shoes, it was just about 20 miles to the house. That’s nothing. As we drove through a packed Dock Square, made the turn onto Ocean Avenue, I just felt home. We rolled up to the house, and it was like no time had passed at all. There is comfort in returning to a place known to you, a place that holds happy memories. And just like coming home, it was time to get down to business before we could truly enjoy ourselves! I had scheduled a grocery pick-up from Hananford’s To Go, and I had approximately 45 minutes to completely unpack the car, and get to the grocery store. Side note: Seriously, this Hannaford’s To Go thing is amazing! (Shout out to my friend Mandy for letting me know about it!) I have spent the past three weeks or so compiling my list of two weeks worth of groceries. And all I had to do was press a few buttons, and manage to show up at the grocery store within the pick-up time window. Amazing. I got to the store and grabbed the two or three things I had forgotten to add to the list last week, and checked out, then the wonderful lady at the HTG at the Kennebunk store wheeled out to my car and we refilled the cargo area with grocery bags. Kids helped me unload the bags, I put the perishables into the fridge, and out onto the beach we went. And it did my heart good to watch the kids run off and scamper onto the rocks, watch Remy race around in the mud, splash into the freezing water without a single hesitation. Everyone frolicking, exactly as I hoped they might. This. This is why I do this. This, not Maine, per se, but this feeling of freedom and exploration, this is exactly what a childhood summer should contain. Exactly the kind of magic this KPT Cottage on Turbats Creek can provide.

 

Northbound by the Numbers:

Number of miles driven: 1,425

States traveled through: 14 [FL, GA, SC, NC, VA, WV, MD, PA, NJ, NY, MA, CT, NH, ME]

Number of license plates accounted for so far: 44 [Only missing Kansas, North Dakota (a perennial troublemaker), South Dakota, Wyoming, Hawaii, & Alaska]

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Day One: Unexpected Sandwiches and the Evils of Sauvignon Blanc

15 Jun

The best part about being completely unprepared and having little to no plan? The fact it allows for serendipity. Today’s destination was the lovely Matthews, North Carolina, home of the Taylor family. Seemed like an easy and unexciting point A to point B day with which to start CMRT 2016: K9 Edition. And seeing my anxiety regarding the wild card that is throwing a large standard poodle into the Crazy Momma mix, easy and unexciting was exactly the speed I was looking for. Unexciting, it was not to be. (Thank goodness!)

At 7:46am, with the odometer on my trusty Honda Odyssey (name drop!) reading 68,307, the kids, the dog, and I rolled out to begin this year’s big adventure. Just prior to that, at 7:37am, I received a text from dear friend and former next-door-neighbor extraordinaire, Buffy Smith, suggesting that LMRT make a stop in Columbia, South Carolina. I pondered that kind request as we sat in traffic to get on to I-95, and then as we smoothly sailed on the new 9B North segment avoiding miles of traffic and shaving valuable drive time, and then I pondered it some more as we slammed back into another wall of traffic on 295. As I looked at Waze and realized the expected arrival time in NC was approximately 2 hours earlier than the 4pm arrival time agreed upon, I thought, why not? What’s the likelihood that this equally busy momma with 3 of her own kids was actually going to be home and available for visitors on a random Wednesday afternoon in the summer. Not good, frankly. But, it was certainly worth a phone call to find out. And glory be! Buffy said they would be there, they would love to see us, and hey, why don’t we feed you all lunch while you’re here! Is there anything tastier than an unexpected sandwich with loved ones? Of course, catching up proved to be just as difficult and disjointed as when we were having these conversations in our own driveways – kids have a way of interrupting, especially when there are six of them. But we managed to get through some rather important updates, and there is no better listener in the world than Buffy Smith (she may have missed her calling as a therapist, because she is also unafraid to tell you the truth out of love.) I have missed my rock and confidant of a neighbor, but I am so truly happy to see her and her beautiful family thriving in their new home. Happiness can be a tricky, elusive thing, and I am grateful the Smiths have discovered and embraced it in their new home.

Our roll up the interstate to Columbia, once we’d broken free from Jacksonville traffic, was an easy and unexciting one. And the dog, over whom I had much anxiety seeing as though he used to not be such a great traveler due to his own anxiety, has been an absolute gem so far! (Knock wood, it’s still early days) There were a few instances where his big ol’ head blocked the pull-down video screen while the kids watched a movie, and there is the fact that he absolutely refuses to claim or apologize for his flatulence, but overall he’s been an excellent road trip companion.  His “hammock” (cleverly nicknamed by my fabulous friend Jen as the “pup pit”) shares the first row of seats with my most amiable child. Sweet Avery, and her propensity to make the best and see the sunshine in everything. She interacts with Remy while they ride, sometimes just snuggling her head down on his prone body, and other times talking to or engaging with him. About 2 hours or so into the trip she imparted this nugget of wisdom: “Here’s a little bit of advice: If you invite your dog to play cards, get ready to play his turn for him.” Hard to argue with logic, and good to know the limitations of your playmates.

With careful planning of Crazy Momma’s cockpit, I had everything necessary in easy reach, so I was able to hand out snacks, as well as pass back the wireless headphones before starting a movie. This made it possible for us to get 4 hours up the road before our first stop. Unprecedented! And completely unexpected. And we passed our first test of traveling with dog with flying colors. A buddy system had the baby & I running in to the convenience store for a quick bathroom stop and to purchase a few bottles of water, while the older two stayed on the grassy patch by the van with Remy on a leash. As we came out of the store I watched someone approaching the kids, obviously interested in petting the dog. I bowed up slightly, but I was very interested to see how they handled this encounter without me being standing beside them. Another test passed with flying colors. The kids were polite, but aware, and the man petted Remy for a moment and moved on. Then it was their turn to run into the store, and we were back on the road in really no time at all. Almost funny now how concerned I was about how these stops would go, logistically speaking. Fingers crossed that my luck holds on that front.

So, after an easy drive, and a delightfully serendipitous lunch stop, we arrived at the Taylor’s house at 4:05pm, with the temperature gauge on the van reading an exact 100 degrees. In the delightful way of children who have missed their old friends, the 5 combined Willim & Taylor children scampered off up the stairs to play, leaving the grown-ups to catch up. And, since it’s Tony Taylor, drink some tasty local craft beer. We had thought we might head off to their amazing neighborhood pool, but hovering thunderstorms took that option off the table. But one addictive board game, and enough personal electronics to make for a linked Minecraft session proved enough to keep them entertained until it was time to eat the largest pizza ever delivered to a private home! Seriously. This thing was massive. I believe it was referred to as a “sheet” pizza. I’ll assume that was a reference to it being square, and likely baked on a cooking sheet. It might also have been a reference to it being approximately the same size as a bed sheet. With the added bonus that it was sooooooo good. Very flavorful. (It was no competition for DaVinci’s in Smyrna, GA, which I consider the second best pizza I’ve ever eaten – second only to DiFara’s in Brooklyn – but this was still vastly better  than your average chain delivery pie.) And by the time we had finished dinner, along with the salad, fruit, and veggies supplied by our healthful and thoughtful hostess, Karen, the skies had cleared enough for us to head outside for a corn hole show-down. Unfortunately, these pesky kids wanted to play too, so Tony & I were not able to have it out head-to-head. (Not sure if he remembers exactly how badly I crushed him last time I visited, but luckily I can report it here to remind him.) And I couldn’t very well insist on defending my title when he was actively participating in the first documented near death experience of CMRT! I’m telling you, beware the sauvignon blanc! Especially the sneaky Chilean variety. It’ll make an attempt on your very life. Luckily, Tony was able to come back from the brink of death to participate in an adults vs. Harper baggo smack down. Huh, I wonder where that middle child of mine gets her competitive streak?

Overall, it was a lovely day, and a positively perfect start to CMRT 2016: K9 Edition. We were loose with our plans, and a delightful visit fell into our laps. We connected with friends – both mine, and my kids’ – which is such a wonderful way to spend time. And we have nothing to do tomorrow but drive to our next destination, a hotel room in Pennsylvania. Leaves room for a lazy morning, and maybe we’ll get to fit in that pool visit after all…

 

Day 1 by the numbers:

Miles driven: 416

Number of states found (you didn’t think I would forget about my license plate game, did you?!?): 32

Proof-reading/editing done to this blog post: zip, zilch, zero (I’m sure my OCD will require I come back & edit later!)

 

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© 2010 Krista Lindsey Willim