Wednesday, February 22, 2012

The Best Kind of Prize is a Surprise!

(for trip info, check out Over the River

This weekend is my Grandma Rush's 70th birthday...and because I'm working this weekend, I decided to go up on Monday to surprise her for lunch at her favorite restaurant, Abuelos. Thanks to my mom's youngest sister, Robin, I was able to pull off the surprise visit with Grandma not suspecting a thing (which, if you know my Grandma Rush, that's almost mission impossible!). 

The drive up wasn't too eventful...but I will never tire of driving through the Great Smokey Mountains! This time around, there was ice and snow in the trees (just a little bit) on the way up-thankfully none on the roads! Being a bumper sticker collector and avid license plate watcher, I keep an eye out for any interesting stickers/plates on other vehicles. And I was not disappointed this trip! My favorite by far was "Somewhere in Kenya a village is missing its idiot" sticker that I passed near the Junction for Hwy 11 and 25. I also noticed an unusually numerous amount of Pittsburgh Steelers paraphernalia...and not just from PA! 

Another quirky habit I have developed during my travels is finding strange road signs. There are your normal ones: Stop, Yield, Do Not Pass, Pass With Care, RR Crossing, Ped X-ing, etc.  Then there are those random ones that a second after you pass it, you think "HUH?!" Such as: Blind Intersection, Don't Even Think of Parking Here, Caution Roadway Ends, etc. The sign I found on this trip and was able to capture was actually the 3rd in a series of 3 signs found as you drive into downtown Knoxville. The first, "Begin Blasting Zone" was quickly followed by the second, "Please Turn Off Pagers and Cell Phones." The third was about a half mile later (after I had prepared myself to be violently shaken and was beginning to process the second sign) and read, "End Blasting Zone." Say what?! 

Needless to say, I was NOT blasted anywhere. And having had a successful surprise trip, I am now home...fighting a losing battle with allergy/cold junk (as long as I win the war in the end, I shall attempt to bravely take the sound beating this stuff is giving my lungs and perhaps, if I am fortunate, my voice shall return?) and planning my trip for next weekend! 

Thursday, February 16, 2012

Check, Check

Destination: Buy Buy Baby, Columbia, SC
Total Miles: 208
Cost: $25

For those of you who don't know, I am a Certified Car Seat Technician. Basically, I took a class a year ago that allows me to inspect car seats (which, in my line of work, is not an uncommon need). Every now and again, places will advertise for anyone who wants to come have a free car seat inspection done to show up at certain times...and while I haven't done one in a while, when I got an email saying there was one in Columbia, SC and figured I would actually be off work, I grabbed the chance to take Mr. Darcy out for a stroll.

I left Greenville around 7:40am (which, if you know me at all, you know that is very early for me to be up on my day off), and I made it to the inspection site by 9:30am. It's not a bad drive, there and back again...unless, like Saturday morning, it's windy. Driving on 26 when the wind is blowing poor Mr. Darcy around, is not nearly as glamourous as all that. And it kills my gas mileage! I got a pitiful total of 31.9mpg roundtrip (when my normal on the highway is above 38mpg).

It was very interesting, and I learned a couple things that morning. I didn't know anyone there, but enjoyed making new friends. I also enjoyed meeting parents, children, and expecting parents who came for inspections. I really don't know exactly how many I performed, but I did tons of teaching. (you would be surprised at how many people have no clue how to properly install a car seat...let alone know some basic safety measures they can take to insure that their child is not harmed in a MVA-motor vehicle accident).

I also learned (for those of you with kids or for future reference) that recently some car seat companies have crash tested car seats that are secured with BOTH the latch system and a seatbelt. We've learned not to use both, and we now finally have data to back up what we teach...they almost negate each other as far as effectiveness goes! So, for those of you who use car seats for your kids, make sure that you use whatever method is the best for you...and always make sure the seat doesn't wiggle more than 1-2 inches from side to side where the belt path is located. :)

Horatio in his solar blanket
on the ride home
All that to say, because I had to get up so early, I found the drive back to be a little challenging. Thankfully, I have multiple family members whom I can call to keep my mind active.

But it was a fun AND productive little trip. Mr. Darcy and Horatio (who has been rediscovered) kept me company (and also got me some pretty awesome Valentine's Day gifts today).

Having the next few days off, I will be planning my next big trip which will encompass a stop in Virginia, Maryland, and maybe DC!

Monday, February 6, 2012

The Road Goes Ever Ever On...

With the impending departure of 2 of my younger siblings (Will and Christy), who are heading out with the traveling teams-National Hoops and National Goals-this week and next, I reflect on the words of a poem found towards the end of an excellent book...which I confess to having only recently read. Granted, I have read The Lord of the Rings more times than I can remember, but for some reason, I had never been able to make it through The Hobbit until recently. And when I finally did finish reading it, I could not help but wonder why I had never read it entirely before this time! But such is life, and I now have another favorite to add to my library.

So this one is dedicated to Will, who is leaving today (2/6/12)...may your journey be one of adventure and growth!

The Road goes ever ever on,
Over rock and under tree,
By caves where never sun has shone,
By streams that never find the sea;
Over snow by winter sown,
And through the merry flowers of June,
Over grass and over stone,
And under mountains in the moon.

The Road goes ever ever on,
Under cloud and under star,
Yet feet that wondering have gone
Turn at last to home afar.
Eyes that fire and sword have seen
And horror in the halls of stone
Look at last on meadows green
And trees and hills they long have known.

The Road goes ever on and on
Down from the door where it began,
Now far ahead the road has gone,
And I must follow, if I can,
Pursuing it with eager feet,
Until it joins some larger way
Where many paths and errands meet.
And whither then? I cannot say.

The first 2 verses are made up by Bilbo Baggins, a hobbit, at the end of his journeys over the Misty Mountains. The 3rd verse was one I was familiar with, having been stated by both Bilbo and his nephew, Frodo, in The Fellowship of the Ring.  How often in life do our paths seem to stretch out before us, never ending. As you are "pursuing it with eager feet" remember to always seek the Lord's guidance...Proverbs 3:6 "In all thy ways acknowledge Him, and He shall direct thy paths." Psalm 119:105 "Thy Word is a lamp unto my feet and a light unto my path." Proverbs 4:26 "Ponder the path of thy feet, and let all thy ways be established." Psalm 23:3 "He restoreth my soul: He leadeth me in the paths of righteousness for His name's sake."