Petrified Wood

7 year old discovering petrified wood in Arizona

In Arizona, Ada and I were thrilled to find both Kokopelli and petrified wood.  If you don’t have time for the Petrified Forest, don’t worry.  The stuff is everywhere and how cool is it that trees from the Triassic Period were preserved all this time by Nature for us to marvel at or study (depending on your inclination) today and tomorrow, too?

These trees must have been submerged in water or mud before they deteriorated.  The individual cells deteriorated anyway, leaving hollow husks that filled with mineral rich water and when the water evaporated, the minerals hardened in the tree-cells so that now we have rocks that are also trees.  I can hardly stand it, it’s so cool!

By the way, the brown color of the tree cells is replaced with whatever color is the predominant color of the mineral that took it’s place.  Iron is red, for example. Calcium is white.  Some of the trees contain veritable rainbows–shocking color revealed at the slice like a geode!

petrified tree stumps

colors in petrified wood

Columbus Ohio

We went to Columbus to see people we love: Zach (and his new bride Bethany) and Michael. We were only there for two days. We sat together in parks, barbecued in Mike’s yard, withstood a power outage, played music in the Short North, and visited Bethany’s family farm.  It was short and sweet. It was a wonderful benefit to living the nomadic life, because its something we couldn’t do before and lifetime friends are more important to us than routine and stability.

Zach serenades Bethany in the park

David Rosenfield busking in Columbus.
Annabelle took it upon herself to sell Son of Ojito CDs on the street.

Son of Ojito CDs

Mike and Cassidy

Boston

David Rosenfield in Boston MA

Boston was fantastic. The city has a strong and endearing personality and we quite fancied each other. Firstly, these New England cities are not really built for Rvs. The lanes are skinny, the quarters cramped, little parking, few lots, low clearance underpasses, one way streets up and down steep hills with the parked cars on either side threatening at every moment to encroach upon the bit of pavement in between which calls itself a driving lane. Side mirrors beware!

Yet do-able. David drove us to Cambridge the first day and we found a parking spot on the street right away. But after a dead battery, the discovery that AAA in Massachuesetts does not cover Recreational Vehicles (and what’s the point of having a membership that doesn’t cover an RV if an RV is your only vehicle?), paying out of our very slim pocket for a jump start, hurrying up and waiting for the tow truck to arrive to do the jump start so we can then drive Benny to an AutoZone to charge up our batteries before they close in—yikes, 12 minutes!

After all that, and nightfall, David was soured on Boston. Please, I say, we have to at least see where the police and the traffic made way for ducklings! And, sucker for good literature that he is, David agreed and drove us to the Boston Public Gardens and we loved Boston!

Again, we found street parking. It took driving up and down the streets for a few minutes but when we found it, it was just across the street from the entrance with the ducklings—the very corner illustrated in the book. So we enjoyed our day, and drove quite a ways out to find a Kmart we could park in that night because Boston is not the sort of place to have stores with big parking lots and when we did pause in the big parking lot of the grocery store we patronized, signs were posted limiting our stay to two hours, and only because we were customers.

And, while Boston was do-able, we decided to take a bus the next day. We left Benny at Kmart in the prestigious company of Rihanna’s tourbus which had also found refuge in this outskirt of Boston after her performance in the city the night before. And the rest of us hopped a bus into Boston and hopped off in the historical district. It may be worth noting that this was our first family bus ride.

parking with Rihanna
parking with Rihanna

We gave ourselves a tour of sites with historical significance, listened in on some tour guides, read some gravestones, and ate lunch on the grass. A well dressed, older couple were full and gave their last piece of pizza to us and we took it (David and Annabelle split it). How is this different, David wondered, from when the scuzzy guy at a concert offered us the rest of his popcorn and we declined? It just was different, that’s all.

Photobucket

Sitting on Paul Revere's doorstep
Sitting on Paul Revere's doorstep

Photobucket

Photobucket

Old North Church
Old North Church
Garden outside the Old North Church
Garden outside the Old North Church
Ada and Annabelle with Paul Revere
Ada and Annabelle with Paul Revere

Photobucket

Balcony from which the Declaration of Independence was Read
Boston first heard the Declaration of Independence read from this balcony. Can you imagine the chills running up and down their spines?
lunch on the grass in Boston
Ada took our picture

And after all that history, we were ready for the Boston Public Gardens again so we walked to the Gardens and David whisked out his guitar and busked in a thoroughfare while the rest of us played on the adjacent playground and a drizzle joined us. Then we made our way through the drizzle back to the bus stop where we rode the bus the wrong way to the end of the line and back again, safe and sound, to Benny. Rhianna was gone, but we spent a second night, hit Trader Joe’s in the morning, and bid adieu to Boston.

David Rosenfield busking at the Boston Public Gardens
David busking at the Boston Public Gardens

playing at the Boston Public Gardens

playing at the Boston Public Gardens

Coast of Maine

David wearing Annabelle, with Ada in Maine
We loved Maine, and the Wonderland Trail in Acadia National Park was all we had hoped Maine would be:

A trail through the woods is dotted with wild berry bushes but you have to keep a sharp eye out to spot the tiny raspberries, blackberries, and blueberries. It isn’t a feast, but it is a sweet taste, and Annabelle learns a lot about which berries we eat and which are “not for picking.”

I tell her that some of the berries “aren’t good for us, they’re for the birds to eat.” Reliable Ada pipes up with “And the fairies!”

As we get closer to the beach (but don’t yet know it), wild rose bushes become abundant with plump and healthy rosehips mimicking the form of your local innkeeper’s shy but buxom daughter. The bushes are everywhere, as are their hips, and the remaining roses nestle in their leafy nests like pink jewels in a wildwood crown.

And suddenly the woods fall back and you’re on a pebbly beach and the pebbles grow until they are flat slabs and round boulders couching sparkling pools that each forms a whole universe to the seaweed and snails and coral growing there…

Ada builds stone alters while Annabelle climbs, sometimes two-legged, sometimes four-legged, and peers into the pools Pooh Bear style: knees bent, bottom stuck out, leaning too far forward until inevitably becoming a part of the wet landscapes she is observing with a splash and cute red lips making the letter “o” with surprise.  This happens enough times that her clothes are soaking wet and we lay them out on the rocks to dry.

My shoes and socks become equally soggy after the third time ending up in the ocean up to my ankles to snatch at the naked and speedy little imp whose mission has become losing herself in the untamed ocean waves.  So Ada and I take off our shoes and socks, leaving them high enough up on the beach to dry out, only when we come back for them, we’re lucky they haven’t floated away in the rising tide.

David and Cassidy are far off on the rocks that jutt out into the ocean.  I send the girls after them and we’re lucky when our speed reaches snail pace in a forwardly direction, but whenever we’re close enough to shout, David urges me to come see the tremendously beautiful view just around the next bend that outdoes the one I’ve just accomplished.  So we press onward, careful on the wet rocks, and the girls don’t care what’s ahead because they’re loving it where we are.

Plenty of rocks to choose from when I sit down to nurse and when David takes Cassidy out of the wrap, Annabelle is suddenly done exploring and wants to be wrapped up and since we only brought one wrap, we’re just as happy to have the heavy one wrapped, and she stays that way all the way back along the rocks, through the woods, and right into our livingroom parked in the parking lot that is really just a wide shoulder of the road.

Photobucket

Photobucket

Photobucket

beautiful Maine coast

Photobucket

Photobucket

nursing on a rock in Maine

my family on the rocks in Maine

Up With the Sun

Photobucket

We wanted to be on Cadillac Mountain at 5:32am when the sun would rise and hit that point before any other place in the US. Cadillac Mountain is in Acadia National Park in Maine. We, however, were outside Acadia National Park, spending the night in a Walmart 45 minutes away.

So, we woke at 4am, moved the children out of their bed and into ours so that we could dis-assemble their bed to install car seats.

We used the bathroom, nursed the baby, and took down the curtains that cover the windshield at night.

We placed the children in their two carseats and one booster seat, and started the engine before their peeps could become wails.

45 minutes to the park and15 minutes up the mountain, throw on socks and layers and pull our hoods over our ears, everybody grab a child or two and wrap them in your warm arms and out Benny’s door to climb the rocks that jutted toward the rosy sky.

Silhouettes before sunrise on Cadillac Mountain, Maine

If you’d told me there would be 200 people there, I probably would have skipped it. I had pictured a remote and personal moment communing with the wilder, less reasonable elements of nature. Just my family, and maybe a few others, champions facing the goliath of the rising sun, ambassadors representing our species in the greater arena of our solar system.

Instead, as Benny pulled in we saw a rocky mountainside lined with human silhouettes and instead of feeling let down, the sight was welcoming: like coming home to your family, like discovering travelers speaking your mother tongue in a foreign land, or discovering unexpected company at a remote oasis on a wide and empty desert.

And we weren’t champions or ambassadors, but pilgrims, both deserving of and privileged to witness what was both miraculous and mundane and to do so in the company of others who might be making the same discoveries or totally different ones, and without the presence of whom we might not have recognized the magic in the moment. Some stumbled out of cars, some jogged up the mountain. Someone sat on a rocky wall making reverent chords on a guitar, and we could have been gathered on a beach around a bonfire, but we were on a mountain at morning twilight.

So we saw the day begin, and there were families, like us, clutching each other for warmth, and many people were in pajamas, several with blankets wrapped around them, forming peaks over their heads and transforming them into unspecified native people, all natives of earth, all stardust (million year old carbon).

Acadia National Park, Cadillac Mountain twilight

First Sun, Cadillac Mountain

Sunrise!

Photobucket

Photobucket

Cincinnati with Friends

Photobucket

Photobucket

Amanda and Gwydion are two of my closest and dearest friends from college, and now they have spawned a third to create a lovely triumvirate who I wish I could hug daily, but currently don’t.  I was, however, thrilled to get to hug them for a few days, to slip into the old familiarity, banter and laughter, and our families are perfect for each other.  They should get married.  And have children.

Speaking of which, Amanda is going to do that soon, which makes me wonder what the four person version of a triumvirate is?

We were there over the Fourth of July, so of course we did that:

Photobucket

Photobucket

And the park and playground:

Photobucket

Photobucket

And best of all the creek, and our friends Becky and Steve joined us, too:

Photobucket

Photobucket

Photobucket

Photobucket

Cincinnati Zoo

Thank you, John and Christal for the wonderful gift: tickets to the zoo!  Annabelle hasn’t been to a zoo since she was a baby and she LOVED it! We all loved it, but it was Annabelle’s first time seeing animals bigger that a pet–can you say rhinoceros?

Photobucket

Photobucket

Photobucket

Photobucket

Photobucket

Photobucket

And the best part? Ada found flowers named Serena (her best friend)!

Photobucket

Cincinnati with (surprise) Family

David played the Findlay Market Saturday morning which was simultaneously hopping and crawling with Cincinnatians:

Photobucket

When who should approach me but family I didn’t even realize we had!  Buffy’s brother is married to David’s Aunt Holly and way back when I was new in this family, and Ada was new in this world, we had a family brunch at Buffy and Mark’s house at which time I was barely keeping aunts and uncles straight , much less aunt and uncle in-laws, and I honestly wasn’t very clear on who Buffy even was!

After a pleasant exchange of how-do-ye-do, and when David had finished his show, we said goodbye and Buffy turned to leave, then came back and offered to let us stay in their driveway while we were in town!  This was the most wonderful offer as we had not figured out where to stay in town and the prospect of a Cincinnati Walmart appealed to us even less than others.  And Buffy’s offer was rich with generous extras: we could plug Benny into their house for electricity, we could luxuriate in their gorgeous swimming pool, enjoy their huge yard, swing from their trees, draw on their driveway and help ourselves to their many amenities including toilets, showers and a 24 hour laundryroom. It was like a resort vacation.

We accepted and Buffy proceeded to make us a great summer dinner of gazpacho soup (choice of regular tomato OR watermelon) with a delicious berry and fancy yogurt desert, which we ate with Buffy, Mark, and their youngest daughter, Colleen, on the patio.  Mmmm! Oh, and beets, which Annabelle immediately learned how to say so she could request it again and again with her insatiable appetite.  Colleen was so sweet with the kids and they loved her (and so did we)!

Photobucket

Photobucket

Photobucket

Photobucket

Photobucket

Photobucket

Photobucket

Photobucket

Photobucket

Cincinnati with Family

Photobucket

The beautiful home that Jeff and Reda have made in Alexandria Kentucky is an oasis of peace, lovliness, and blooming flowers, conveniently located real darn close to our destination of Cincinnati Ohio.

After a series of Walmart hotels over the prior week, then a couple of hours driving through the serene bluegrass hills, we reached their house where we were so glad to see family and spend a most pleasant couple of nights and mornings, interspersed with days in the more hectic world of Cincinnati.

The first night was the best, when Jeff brought out his gigantic homemade telescope and a little step ladder so Ada could climb up to see what she could see: the rings of Saturn, for one, as well as stars and maybe solar systems.

Photobucket

Ada peers into space.

The next day and even occasionally now, a month later, she was overheard singing a song she wrote about the relative heat of various stars and informed me matter-of-factly that if our sun was the size of Beetlejuice, the Earth would be inside the sun!  And a few days after the telescoping session she drew this picture in chalk on driveway:
Photobucket

Here she is learning how a telescope works:
Photobucket

Thanks for having us, and feeding us, and keeping such a pretty place to be a rest stop on our travels!

Jeff and grand-neph (that rhymes)

West Virginia – Grand View

Photobucket

Photobucket

Photobucket

Photobucket

Photobucket

We had the best time with Robby over several days.  The West Virginia woods were beautiful and astonishing, the company was jovial, the skies clear and the sun bright.  The girls were loving it, Cassidy was still too little to tell us what he thought about it, and the caves were amazing.  The grass was green, the forest shady and dappled, and there was almost no one else around.  Just thinking of it makes me sigh a peaceful sigh.

Photobucket