Week 37-  May 22 - 28 Week: Not Quite Home

This week began the more than week long journey back to Minnesota.  Everyone has been very excited, an excitement that wasn’t damped by a final technical problem with our slide-out rooms.  We made the decision that instead of trying to find a shop to service them during our last full week on the road, we would live with the rooms retracted.  It is so much more crowded, but we only had four more nights before we would be in Battle Creek at my parents’ home. 

Summer is coming and we can feel it everywhere.  At the Methodist church in Lancaster, New Hampshire where we worshiped on Sunday, the Sunday School class awards and teacher appreciation presentations screamed summer vacation.  Our kids are coming to the end of their math books, and Brenda and I are looking forward to being in our stationary home to enjoy the summer. 

We drove out of New Hampshire on Monday and made it all the way to Corning, New York by late afternoon.  Our Tuesday visit to the Corning Glass Museum was one of the favorites of our trip.  Glass is such a huge part of our lives.  From containers, to windows, to artwork, to the high technology of today’s communications, glass is instrumental.  A highlight for the kids was each of their private glass-blowing lessons, where they made their own blown Christmas ornament!  

We started our daily visit-then-travel pattern that would be our accelerated schedule for the rest of the week.   After Corning we put on more miles before stopping for the night on the shores of Lake Erie in Geneva, Ohio.

After kids enjoyed one last look at Erie the next morning, we drove to Akron and visited the national Inventors Hall of Fame.  The museum includes displays for each recognized inventor over the years, early patent models, and a kids creative area that all turned out to be inspirational.  I so want the kids to pick up Thomas Edison’s attitude that failure is an essential part of success.  Fear of failure is so limiting… Brenda and I both have personal experience. 

Again, late afternoon and early evening Wednesday was our travel time as we made it across the Ohio and Indiana turnpikes to Howe Indiana, just sixty miles south of Battle Creek! 

Thursday morning, we took our final tour of the trip in Elkhart Indiana before starting the family wind down phase of our trip.  We enjoyed a personal tour of the Charles Walter Piano Company where we saw the steps in producing acoustic pianos.  Sadly, there are only five companies left in the US that manufacture pianos.  Gone is the era where every family had a piano, most people could play it, and much of home entertainment was centered around it… one more reason for my distaste for today’s media saturated culture… 

We finally pulled into Battle Creek mid-afternoon on Thursday.  The first step of getting safely back home was achieved!  Our staged reentry would include these three days in Battle Creek with my family, and a couple more days with Brenda’s family over Memorial Day in southern Minnesota before pulling back into our own home! 

Letting my engineering side speak, I have decided that the last part of the week’s journal will be devoted to some trip statistics, for those who might be interested.  If you have any others send me an e-mail and I will try to put together a Part II for next week’s final journal posting. 

Diesel guzzled by Harvey:  2765 gallons

Miles on Harvey:  19,800

Additional Miles on the Van:  18,100

Photos stored:  5,100

Junior Ranger Badges earned:  23

National Park Service locations visited: >40

Favorite museums:  Tucson Desert Museum, Abilene Frontier Museum, Corning Glass Museum

Favorite critters seen in the wild:  moose, black bear, marmot, nutria, elk, wild burro, mountain goats, pronghorn, bighorn sheep, bison, fox, raccoon, skunk, coyote, deer, beaver, otter, seal, sea lion, sea turtle, sand dollar, dolphin, brine shrimp, tarpon, barracuda, parrot fish, sea star, sea urchin, anenome, horseshoe crab, hermit crab, whelk, pink-lipped conch, crawfish, skink, anole, alligator, crocodile, coot, great blue heron, anhinga, turkey vulture, roseate spoonbill, wood stork, brown pelican, bald eagle, osprey, ibis, egret, condor, giant banana slug.

Number of regional supermarket discount club memberships: 6

Average daily hits on website:  ~400

Highest website hit day:  ~30,000 (the day the Star Tribune article ran)

Trip live action movie-  National Treasure.  First seen as a family in a theatre in Alabama, then after visiting all of the sites in the movie while on the East Coast, purchased as a video and everyone enjoyed seeing them again.

Trip animated movie-  Incredibles, in the theatre in Los Angeles, purchased for Nate for his birthday on the road, the flying RV scene being especially apropos

Trip old TV show-  Andy Griffith, including a visit to Mount Airy, NC; the town after which Mayberry was fashioned.

Trip current TV show-  That’s So Raven, kind of a cross between I Love Lucy and I Dream of Genie…

Trip radio dramas-  Adventures in Odyssey, enjoyed on our van day trips, plus our own personal episode that the kids recorded on Kyds Radio at Focus on the Family’s Colorado Springs headquarters.