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Home Sweet Home

Quote of the Day

Peanut, "Wow, mom, now we can say we've been to all 50 states! What are we gonna do next?"

25 May 2009

Fifty States of Mind

Wrapping up an adventure like this is bittersweet for all of us. Exciting as it is to have actually accomplished seeing all 50 states, it's going to feel strange transitioning back into real life (with far less eating out and gift shops).

The song, "I'm proud to be an American" has genuine meaning for the kids now. Grandma said a million times, "You just can't imagine this until you see it in person!" Each character we met along the way has had a unique story to tell and for all of you who shared your lives with us, we must express our gratitude. Thank you for being our kids' teachers and thank you for letting us share our story with you as it unfolded.

This trip was made extraordinary because of the engaging guides, curious flight attendants, patient servers, generous B&B hosts, random excited travelers, passionate locals and especially the "Smilers". Pretty early on we incorporated the phrase, "We've got Smilers!" as cars passed us on the highway smiling and waving, and especially those few young adults who chased our car down to tell us about a special road trip that had changed their lives.
And we all got so used to life in the car that a "long driving day" went from a 2 hour stint to a minimum of 6 hours on the road.

The kids became versed in how vastly different American culture is from one region to another, but more importantly, they concluded that kids are all pretty much the same no matter where you go.

Here is some end-of-the-road trivia for you...

Top 3 Questions People Asked Us Throughout the Trip
1. "Do you Home School?"
2. "Well, how will you drive to Hawaii?"
3. "How come we haven't seen you guys on Oprah or the news?"

* We saw all 50 states in a 13 mos. period, specifically spending 5 months on the road.
* Most nights spent were in Hawaii (9), Alaska (8), New York and Texas (7).
* We agree on these favorites: North Dakota, Alaska,
Vermont, doing the entire Lewis & Clark Trail backwards, seeing all 5 Great Lakes, Laura Ingalls Wilder stops.

Additional, specific favorites:
1. Grandma: Outer Banks, NC; Niagara Falls, NY; Alexandria & D.C.
2. Tomcat: Chicago, IL; Savannah, GA
3. CurlyTop: Lake Superior cabin; Echo Canyon, NM; Mystic, CT
4. Peanut: White Sands, NM; Mammoth Caves, KY; Niagara Falls, NY; everything Native American; Mystic, CT
; snorkeling with turtles, HI
5. Little Man: lobster boat, ME; swimming in Lake Superior; (He gave up remembering and said he liked just about everything on this trip!)
6. Doodle: Renaissance Faire, PA

Here's wishing you and your family safe and happy travels!

24 May 2009

Airport Fun

Trying to get out of Florida proved trickier than expected. The entire state is drenched. When the Miami airport closed down we got to hang out in the Orlando airport for several hours. Eventually, we made it to Miami, but missed our connection and got stuck for the night, without our luggage, of course, to keep things mighty interesting.

Fits of giggles ensued when I told the kids they could sleep in their skivvies! We were all out by midnight and now a new adventure begins: mas y mas cafe cubana!

Wish us luck getting into the air today!

22 May 2009

Tooth Fairy Joins us for a #4 Round

Little Man lost his 3rd tooth of the trip -- front and center. This one he actually let me pull out before swallowing it in a hamburger (see other tooth posts).

So, despite the rain, it was a fine day for him. First, he got an exceptional Halloween costume for this year, and now he'll get a visit from the Tooth Fairy! I've had something for him since Kentucky,

when I thought it might come out on this trip. They always take longer than I imagine...

When I was tucking him in tonight he pleaded, "Try to remember okay, mom?" (I have to admit I'm not the most reliable fairy. One morning Peanut came running into my room and said, "Mo-om, you forgot again!" I told her how sorry I was for the 2nd night in a row, but that this Tooth Fairy is exhausted at night.)

So much for the "Sunshine State"

The past few days have had short breaks without rain. In St. Augustine, we splashed through puddles on St. George Street and ate Cuban food. After arriving at the Inn at Cocoa Beach we fought the wind to dip our feet in the Atlantic o n e last time (and scoop our 50th little bottle of state dirt!). Naturally we ate more Cuban food.

Then at Cape Canaveral we stood in the most powerful rain we've ever experienced -- even those from Florida were convinced it was a hurricane on the way.

So, to put it bluntly, we're water logged and ready to get out of this dripping state!

This is especially upsetting since we intended to
celebrate the culmination of our 50 state adventure by having a pretty extensive Florida itinerary: historical St. Augustine, lunch with an astronaut at Cape Canaveral, swimming with manatees in the Crystal River, Doodle's live mermaid show in Weeki Watchee, Caladesi Island, Sanibel Island for shells and finally a quick stint in Miami for a final Cuban food binge fest.

Ah well, we've promised the kids to come back another time...

20 May 2009

Rain and Disappointment

It's raining BUCKETS again and we've just had a terrible disappointment. In fact, it's the unrivaled error of the entire trip, and utterly upsetting to me.

Following the signs to Cumberland Island National Seashore and the little town of St. Mary's to catch our ferry, everything seemed eerily quiet. I finally slopped through a parking lot to ask some fisherman where the ferry dock was. As it turns out, to travel to Cumberland Island, you have to take the Fernandina ferry, which just happens to be in ANOTHER STATE... 45 minutes away in FLORIDA!!

Tomcat did his best to get us back on the highway, but traffic was horrendous due to the rain. There were spin-outs e v e r y w h e r e. Trying to remain calm, my eyes welled up because I knew we'd never make it to the ferry in time -- and to think we'd just crossed the border an hour before only to U-turn back into Georgia! Arrrrgh.

Just to paint a clear picture of how much tension there was in the car, Grandma puked in the middle of this. Not that she was so terribly upset about missing Cumberland, but rather her allergies got the best of her -- this dry cough has been her constant companion since arriving in Mississippi; the Southeast is experiencing one of its worst allergy seasons in years. We rolled down the windows, handed her a trash bag and wondered what had suddenly gone awry with this trip?

Grandma pulled it together. I pulled it together. Tomcat shook his head and made the call to the Greyfield Inn for me. We decided to forfeit our exorbitant deposit and move on to Plan B. Trying to tell the kids, I was too choked up. Tomcat took over and explained that in this storm we'd miss seeing the wildlife anyway -- yes, even the wild ponies as they'd almost certainly be taking shelter inside the forests. And we wouldn't be able to run in the grass or ride bikes either.

I was simply aching inside and questioning how I could have possibly missed the fact that this island was in Florida, not Georgia. (We'd spoken about coming here to many people along the way, and the mixed up location never once came up!)

Well, I was a wreck and Peanut showed a wee bit of disappointment, but Little Man simply wanted to know when and where we were going to have dinner now that the plans had changed. Typical, huh? And Doodle said it was good it was raining so the flowers could bloom.

Doing our best to be optimistic, I said, "Well, instead of thinking of all the money we wasted, look at how much money I saved us by not having to pay the other half of the bill! Hell, let's get to Florida and go shopping!"

19 May 2009

Georgia - State #49

Our Georgia picture was another miss because Georgia borders South Carolina on a river. Now, I've stopped on dangerous bridges before for a picture with the welcome sign, but this one was simply impossible. We do actually want to make it to our 50th state alive after all.

Today we left for
possibly our most anticipated destination of this entire trip: Cumberland Island. It's only a few miles from Florida, so we quickly crossed over the line (without mentioning it to the kids) and did a U-turn for yet another welcome sign shot in the pouring rain!

In case you're unfamiliar with Cumberland, it's a small island -- almost pure nature -- with only one fancy-schmancy all-inclusive hotel, The Greyfield Inn. I'm a bit terrified about this because it'll end up being our priciest stop on the entire 50 states road trip and the dinner requires men to wear a jacket. Do you get the picture? Honeymooners come here. JFK Jr. was married here.

Kids under 5 aren't normally allowed, and they're making an exception for Doodle which I'm uncertain is warranted. How will the kids handle this? They've sworn to be calm and nearly silent during dinner this one night and to say "thank you" for whatever gets put on their plate. This potentially torturous evening will allow them to enjoy all that the island has to offer: sand, bikes, places to run free, hiking trails, very wild ponies, alligators and countless birds.

Focused on catching our ferry, we had just enough time to pop over for a quick visit to the
Tybee Island lighthouse before leaving Savannah. It happens to be every bit as stunning as those we saw in North Carolina, but unfortunately, it's closed on Tuesdays!

Savannah, GA

Atlanta has so much to offer its visitors and R.E.M. is from Athens, but we're continuing down the coast on this trip, starting with Savannah. It's a sister city to Charleston, SC and we expected them to be alike, but there's a very unique history here and it feels special somehow.

First of all, it simply looks more like a modern city

with its wide sidewalks and busy streets. And
it's a bit run-down; River Street is especially in need of some TLC; the 21 manicured, grassy squares, however, with their 200 year old trees dripping with Spanish Moss make the city seem velvety green and lush.

The biggest difference, however, is that Savannah boasts a really fun and interesting

history, full of multi-cultural arrivals, famous speeches, battles and ghosts.
More recently, it's famous for its authors, musicians and movie-making.

We walked River Street from the beginning, all the way to the Waving Girl Statue, then took an evening carriage ride through the historic district, buried under blankets.
Mother Nature continues to driiiizzle, and chill us to the bone.

Our guide was a good
story teller, casually mentioning the local ghost sightings without scaring the kids. For example she explained Sherman's time in Savannah like this:

"They heard he was coming to raid all of the goods from the warehouses, so the people of Savannah set fire to them -- just so he couldn't get them! Then they blamed him for the fires because if he hadn't come to town they wouldn't have burned them down. But Sherman actually never set a fire in Savannah. He stayed in town and everyone wanted him OUT. Well, the good church ladies next door to where he lived, started ringing the bells (over 100) attempting to make him go crazy. It worked, and Sherman was mad so he took the bells! Well, some of the ladies were friends with Mrs. Lincoln up North, and they sent her a letter pleading with her to get Sherman to give them their bells back. He did give them back, but he hung the bells upside down!"

Peanut just died laughing at all the cleverness...

Prior to coming here I'd read that the most important thing to do in Savannah -- and the thing most people forget to do -- is to wander. We decided to take a morning trolley and meander as best we could while shivering to death.

Created to act as a buffer for Charleston, SC from the Spanish down in St. Augustine, FL, lovely Savannah has endured a lot. Still, it remains a
truly pretty, well-designed 1st city in America and we appreciated it. Voting to get off the trolley at the Forsyth Park fountain, the kids got to play chase in the grass and we got to peek into numerous hidden gardens along the street. What treasures!

We also saw the house where colonists used to come out at night just to stare into the windows -- it was the first house lit by electricity! Then the beaming cathedral kept us warm for a bit before going to have lunch at the oldest structure in Georgia: the Pirate's House. It's a Haunted House and still has visible tunnels below ground that connect it to the river. Apparently, people who passed out from too much drinking were dragged to the river to be shanghaied.

And we think the world has become more dangerous! Ha!

We were also told that South Carolina produces more peaches than Georgia; they just think theirs are sweeter. It was fun being a Georgia Peach for a day...

Georgia License Plate

18 May 2009

South Carolina - State #48

As a side note we're having History Overload.

Before leaving South Carolina, I'd like to mention two things that are special to the Charleston area: sweet grass baskets and Lowcountry Cuisine.

Along the road in little shacks, and in every shop, tourist attraction and open market there are African American

women selling and weaving sweet grass baskets. They are lovely! We bought a little one for Grandma, but I never actually found the perfect one for me.

The weaver told me that she had just taught her nephew to weave 2 years ago, and that her family has been weaving for 7 generations. You can find them here, and on the coast of West Africa. That's it.
Prices are high, but I suspect they should even be higher.

We found ourselves wandering around looking for a dinner spot the other night, when we happened upon an intriguing restaurant down a pretty alley. It turned out to be 82 Queen Restaurant where we discovered
Lowcountry Cuisine. This will go down forever as a particularly savory memory for me!

Tomcat and I also had the good fortune of a dinner date (thank you, thank you, Grandma) and we had to find more of this delectably gooey fare which was pretty easy. Describing what makes this food different is tricky but we decided it has to start with some kind of starch like cornbread or grits (which are highly underrated in my opinion), then smothered with a delicious sauce and seafood.

Check out my breakfast this morning: "shrimp and grits" which showed up covered in brown gravy. The server said it was a standard breakfast item; looked bad, tasted deeeelicious.

Crossing into Georgia today, we did a U-turn for our Welcome to South Carolina picture and I said, "Who's crazy enough to get out for a picture in the rain?" As it turns out Grandma is the only sane person we've got with us.

17 May 2009

Battle of Ft. Sumter

Being told there are 3 things a 1st-timer must do in Charleston (Charles Towne Landing, visit a plantation and take a carriage or trolley tour), we were surprised by our spontaneous boat trip to Ft. Sumter today. We're in cahoots that this should definitely be on the list for any 1st time visitor to Charleston!

Peanut and Little Man earned their 7th Junior Ranger badge and they

worked incredibly hard on it. The assignments were complicated and full of meaningless names and dates. We all received a good lesson on flags and cannons, but our goal (with or without earning the badge) was for them to have a good understanding of the basics:

1. There were tensions between the North and South long before the Civil War. (I'd like to note that tensions happens to be a complicated word to understand when you're 8, 6 and 4, along with the labels Union and Confederate.)

2. When Lincoln became president, South Carolina basically said, "We're outa here."

3. Problem! South Carolina wanted Ft. Sumter which they could see from their shore. The North had control of it and refused to leave. The leaders of each side were friends at the time so it was a horrible situation; they tried to be honorable to each other and in the end only one guy died (accidentally from a cannon misfire). The Unionists split.

4. The Battle of Ft. Sumter is important because it
essentially started the Civil War. Also, it was the longest battle in the Civil War (36 hours straight) and among the longest anywhere in modern warfare.

5. South Carolina won Ft. Sumter but the Unionists won the Civil War.

We also had to have a long discussion about the word "us" because the kids kept referring to "us" as the winners of the Civil War. I explained that
kids from South Carolina don't feel like "them"; they feel like "us", too. I knew they meant that we agree with the North, but somehow their use of the word really rubbed me wrong. Maybe it was just the tone?

I continued to explain that the word "us" was incredibly important to President Lincoln and I wanted them to understand why. He wanted the UNION more than anything in his life, and that's why he didn't remove the stars representing the southern states from the flag when the Civil War started. He wanted everyone to believe we could overcome this trial as a country, and continue to be a union despite our differences. This country is called the United States so that we can all be "us". Further more, we weren't even alive then, so we weren't "us" or "them".

Charles Towne Landing

Charles Towne Landing was the original settlement here in 1670, and it's built on high ground (a whopping 10 feet above sea level!); the Europeans settled inland when they realized the natives were hospitable, but the pirates and Spanish were a nuisance to say the least.

The need for trade won out, however, and after only a decade they moved to the current Charleston location -- much of which is below sea level and on the nation's 2nd worst fault line -- both hurricanes and earthquakes can take charge here!

We walked the entire grounds with an audio set, and visited the zoo. It's full of animals that were native to the settlement, but no longer there, like pumas and black bear. Our highlight was definitely the guide on The Adventure, a reproduction boat docked in the marsh.

He was knowledgeable and genuinely into his history, seafaring songs and riddles. When Little Man asked why all the oyster shells were lying on the bank, he responded with, "Well, I ate them!" Then, engaging their noggins he asked, "But why do you think I toss the shells over there?" ((To prevent erosion on the bank and to keep oysters producing!)

He did his best to stay true to the 17th century, but he knew an awful lot about The Hobbit! He got tickled with the kids as we were leaving and the next thing we knew he'd sprinted off the boat and plunked right down on the deck, refusing to let anyone pass until they could answer his riddles. Little did he know, he'd met his match in Peanut!

16 May 2009

Gaters like Sun

Tomcat joined us here in Charleston, SC last night so the kids were wound up from the minute they opened their eyes this morning.

Remember his view of New Orleans was through a window in the E.R. so he really got gypped missing the Honey Swamp Tour
(see Louisiana post). To make it up to him, we decided to try the train tour

at the Magnolia Plantation one more time. Success!

Guess what? Alligators like sun and we saw plenty of them. Birds, too. We even saw two pelican babies duke it out for more space in their nest -- they're located at
1 o'clock in the cypress tree, which happens to be loaded with different types of bird nests.

The guide said that this neighborhood was a tough one.

If one of the birds pushed the other one out, it'd quickly become a gater snack!

Magnolia Plantation

I'm no stranger to the rain... and I'm good at finding shelter in a downpour...

Magnolia Plantation was a rice plantation owned by some Reverend Drayton and his wife, Julia. After the war it became a visiting plantation, which means these people had buckets of money long before they started the plantation. Geared toward the masses of tourists who visit each year,

we happened to pick a day with a big black rain cloud and few people. That should have been a clue.

South Carolina has an extensive marshland, more than any other coastal Atlantic state and it feels low and swampy, like Louisiana. Just as we were about to board our little train for a tour of the grounds and the surrounding swamp, the rain came. It came down in sheets accompanied by a Rachmaninoff symphony from the sky.
The kids were NOT impressed by nature's display despite my enthusiasm.

Grandma and I taught them the expression It's Raining Cats & Dogs
and showed them how to judge thunder distance by counting slowly once you see lightning. We even bought fried peanuts (you eat the shell and all) to keep us busy while we waited out the storm under a small roof, just like the resident Peacocks.

The storm never did clear, so the shoes came off and puddle jumping ensued. We took a tour of the house -- which was a complete yawn fest. There's always something to be learned, however...

A grandfather clock stood in the house which only displayed hours and tides, but no minutes. Before Greenwich Mean Time was up to speed in 1884, people had no need for minutes! They checked the tide and if it was high, they could get to town on the river in about 3 hours. Useful enough. Who cared if they were 5, 10 or 15 minutes early or late? Doesn't that sound wonderfully appealing? Think what would happen in your world if you dropped the specifics of minutes in your day!

A quick stop at the muddy petting zoo and we were off to Charleston where only 15 minutes away, they hadn't seen a drop of rain all day!

15 May 2009

Our Resident Knight

Whatever memories from this trip actually make it to adulthood, I know for certain that a memory was made tonight: Little Man was Knighted.

There are only a handful of Medieval Times locations and Myrtle Beach happens to be one of them. For the love of my Little Man, we just had to go. Now, it's difficult to describe
precisely what was experienced here; sublime grandeur, fantasy turned reality, something truly magical if you're a 6 year old boy who wants to be Knight when he grows up.

When you walk in, you're given a paper crown, your picture is taken and you're told who your Knight is; you cheer for your own Knight and boo the others throughout the show. It's set up like a tournament, with games of skill, presented to a King at his dinner party.

Before the show began they held a Knighting Ceremony. Little Man was the only one who participated so he was treated rather special -- he even had his name congratulated during the show with commentary about our 50 States Road Trip!

After the show the kids got to meet the big, sweaty Knights (and the princess) to have their pictures taken and get autographs. They were full of questions and awe, and it reminded me of Santa Claus -- their minds knew the Knights weren't real, yet in their hearts they believed they were real.

Apparently Little Man had a serious talk with one of them, because he is dead set on returning here when he's 15 years old to start training!
Keep in mind that these Knights fight with real weapons and armor, and are impressive horsemen.

Dinner incidentally is served during the show, without silverware! Dragon soup made of ears, tails and eyeballs was our first course. Practically an entire roast chicken was plunked on our plates next, along with ribs, bread and some kind of potato. The girls dug in, but Little Man almost changed professions. Almost.

And one final important note: The Medieval Times gift shop reigns superior and believe me, I'd lay odds that I've been in more gift shops than any of you this year. In the end Doodle and Little Man were fully decorated -- and although I never thought we'd top his ukulele (see Hawaii post), tonight Little Man was adorned with his best souvenirs yet.

Resort Life

Aware to some extent of my ordeal on the road yesterday, the hotel surprised us with an upgrade to a suite. We had a view of the ocean and the pool not to mention 3 bathrooms! It was a gift to be sure, and we lounged about and enjoyed the decadence as much as we could in a day.

The pool had a water slide (kids first time going down one alone) and I waited at the bottom to make sure everyone came out in one piece. Peanut came down, happy but cautious. Little Man came down, cocky but cautious. Then Doodle came whizzing down twice as fast as the other two, on her belly, screaming with delight!

We were freezing with the threatening sky overhead, but still managed to get sun-kissed cheeks and the knots in my shoulders relaxed. While it's hard to imagine ever going to a resort for a vacation, today I fully understood those families who do.

South Carolina License Plate

A Night of Blue Flashing Lights

The ferry was 2 hours but it felt like 4. Things got really fun when we all heard a hissing sound in the car -- no, not a snake. We finally realized that Doodle was standing on a bottle of sunscreen, which sprayed goo all over the cds. It reminded me of the old desitin days...

Oh, how we longed for
the slick ferries in Puget Sound with their comfy chairs and their full galley. Processed food from a vending machine for dinner was a first; they each chose some version of cracker, with their penny sticks for dessert. Grandma and I skipped.

The marshes on the North Carolina mainland were absolutely breathtaking at sunset, but I was so nervous about driving in the dark on these winding roads that I just stayed focused on getting to the main road, Hwy 17. Grandma was shaking her finger at me to slow down... so you all know what happened next.

The North Carolina cop was really nice and swift. I told him why I was hurrying and he told me that was no excuse (slap!) and to slow down. No ticket. I got gas, and some bottles of water and we were off again.

Still, it seemed next to impossible to only go 45mph on these roads. I guess the speed limit is so low because every now and then there's a little town with a stoplight. Consider this extreme torture for someone who learned to drive in Texas.

(We crossed the state line into South Carolina, skipping the picture since it was pitch black outside. We'll do a U-turn with Tomcat when we get to Georgia.)

About 10 minutes into South Carolina, those familiar flashing lights reappeared in my mirror again! I looked at this new cop, questioning, and he said, "The speed limit is still 45mph here." ARRRRRRRRRRRGH. Panic set in when I couldn't turn up my wallet to show him my license. Naturally, I wanted to avoid telling this cop, "Well, I just had it 20 minutes ago when the North Carolina cop pulled me over." And the thought of driving BACK to retrieve my wallet was simply unbearable. Suddenly, I had a thought and asked the cop if I could get out and check the back. Sure enough, my wallet was nestled right in the middle of the bottles of water. Whew.

No ticket again, and I can't explain it. Personally demoralized, I felt like I was crawling my way through traffic but apparently it was an illusion. Blue flashing lights one more time. I wanted to cry. The cop pulled up along side us, gave me a scowling face and the hand motion to slooooooow down. After that, I hid behind the slowest car I could find.

If the Las Vegas Strip had a beach, it'd be called Myrtle Beach. We were totally unprepared for the neon, smut and fancy resorts. Still, it was just nice to finally be here and out of the car. We were all asleep by midnight and I was dreaming of a day off.

14 May 2009

Captain Blackbeard and Ocracoke Island

A 45 minute ferry ride and we found ourselves in the very inviting village on Ocracoke Island. It hosts the oldest lighthouse in North Carolina, which is still fully operational by the Coast Guard -- that's code for "no climbing allowed".

Our destination, however, was specifically geared toward

Captain Blackbeard. Charming with the ladies, he was likely from a noble family, but a blood-thirsty pirate none the less. He desired a menacing look so he'd weave hemp into his braided beard, light the strands and then blow them out causing his head to "smoke". Imagine?

After 2 years of terror on the seas, he was finally captured here on the island, and it was such a

momentous occasion that they severed his head and tied it to the bow of the ship. The rest of his body was tossed overboard where legend says "the body continued to swim around the ship 3 times". Blackbeard's ship, the Queen Anne's Revenge, was actually discoverd at the bottom of the sea several years ago and they're still bringing booty up today. Need I mention the gift shop thrill Little Man experienced here?

Yesterday Pilot had shown us the roof of his favorite place to eat on Ocracoke, the Jolly Roger. We found it easily enough and ate a leisurely lunch outside on the deck, watching pelicans fish. We chatted about how if Tomcat were with us, we'd probably choose to stay here -- the town was just so cute. I loved the feel of the place, but we had to get moving as we had a 2 hour ferry ride ahead of us and a 3-4 hour drive beyond that.

Meandering over to the ferry dock, we were stunned to find we'd missed the 2 o'clock ferry by 5 minutes and the next, final ferry was at 5 o'clock. The other ferry came every 20 minutes so we assumed this one would be the same. Bummer, bummer, bummer! Simply staring at the man in the ticket booth, I begged his forgiveness while I calculated the math: arrival time in Myrtle Beach is now 11pm and I'm already tired. What could we possibly do for 3 more hours -- the sun was hiding behind rain clouds again -- that we had't already done?

Well, we did visit the oldest lighthouse in North Carolina; we drove to some wild ponies; we ate ice-cream; we ate fudge; we lingered in the General Store; we bought souvenirs for Peanut's class; we wandered through a few art galleries; we picked up some penny sticks for the ferry ride; and then we waited... and waited... and waited... for what would turn out to be an e t e r n a l night on the road with more flashing blue lights in the rear-view window...