cousins 021 (was the answer Sissy gave when we asked the kids how they slept last night)

We’re in Minneapolis at my (other) sister’s house and it is, to our eyes, a Mansion. She assures me, however, that the real mansions are a bit more toward the lake and I can’t wait to see them.

I honestly don’t know where to start; when I get behind in posting it seems like I can never catch up and insurmountable to try. And honestly, it is boring beyond belief.

Grandma Elinor is doing much better and Maca soldiers on. For 96, hell, for 76, she’s a strong woman, and Dan is taking wonderful care of them all. I picked up a breadmaker at the thriftstore in Neenah after pondering the purchase these last two years and decided the $5 and space it will take is worth it. Converseley, it only took me 6 months to decide to spend $250 on a new camera. Once Dan found out that I had a breadmaker, he wasted no time in showing me his baby and he walked me through the making of a loaf of bread. I’m so glad he did, because I would have been lost when I tried at the hotel. It is such a luxury to make your own bread; to know the ingredients are whole and not to have to scour markets for the whole wheat which is not full of crap. We eat about a loaf (or more) a day, and living in the trailer, it was a daily purchase.

The camera! I have been pondering and wondering and hemming and hawing about a DSLR. I have an SLR in the storage unit and have processed my own film so the idea of a DSLR wasn’t daunting, but the pricetag certainly was. So I hemmed and I hawed and I decided to purchase and I reconsidered. I’ve always been very impressed with my sister (in CA)’s S2IS and kept it in the back of my mind as an alternative to a DSLR. I finally decided that the cost of a DSLR and lenses and probably lots of other stuff just wasn’t worth it for the zoom, video and picture capabilites of the S2IS. Thanks to birthday money, I ordered it today and it should arrive before next Monday! So, expect even MORE pictures to come!

We left Neenah after spending a few hours with Grandma Elinor, Dan and Maca to say goodbye and headed for Minneapolis on an unusually warm day. By the afternoon we were all in shortsleeves and wondering what the weather gods had in store for us. Jamie was under the impression that Minneapolis was a mere 200 miles from Neenah, so we readied the trailer, did errands, spent a bit of time in the pool and finally said goodbye to the Days Inn. They really did well by us; we cooked in the room, brought cooked food into the room, parked the trailer in back and ran an electric cord, kept the breakfast bar open for the kids on Sunday and never gave us the impression we were the incredible imposition I’m sure we must have been. We did clean the room each and every time we had the maid come in, as it was almost impassible with kid crap.

Once we hit the interstate, just outside of Eau Claire, we realized that Minneapolis instead lay some 300 miles from Neenah instead of 200. When I noticed an informational sign on the interstate for a Laura Ingalls Wilder Highway Information thingie, I was off the freeway in a flash and heading through Menomonie. It was dark and closed but Jamie finally relented and allowed us to stop for the night. He was very motivated to get to Minneapolis, but it was a very warm night and everyone else needed to get out, stretch, run, move and stop. So we camped at WalMart. I hate WalMart so much that I will not spend the night in their RV-friendly parking lots but Jamie is very nervous about urban boondocking and only feels comfortable at WalMart. So far, I’ve been able to avoid it, but ran out of alternatives that night.

As warm and lovely as that day had been, the next was as windy and cold. We arrived at Camping World, convinced them to work on our trailer (work ethic on vacation?), parked it and plugged it into electricity. Even if they don’t do the work, as long as they don’t screw things up too badly, we’re still out ahead. There is No Way In Hell the trailer would fit anywhere near Michelle and Slade’s mansion (she is going to give me absolute HELL for calling it a mansion :) ) so we really needed a place with electricity to leave it. With nightly temperatures in the 20’s for the next week (or more), Jamie actually headed back up today to winterize it (put antifreeze in the plumbing).

The kids are LOVING their cousins, the enormous rooms, the staircases, the boardgames, the videogames, the luscious food and the incredible hospitality of their family. Michelle and I have walked to the local organic food coop and she has a lovely neighborhood filled with homes that Jamie and I will no doubt be drooling over once the kids give us a chance to get out. But as lovely as Michelle, Slade and their kids are, and as incredible as the house is, I can’t get to warm, tropical, sandy Mexico soon enough.  And my children, my “we must find a stick house to settle down in” and my “I can’t travel any longer” and my “when are we going to settle down” children were SINGING and CHANTING “WE’RE TRAVELLING TODAY!  WE’RE TRAVELLING TODAY!  WE’RE TRAVELLING TODAY!” as we left Neenah.  I think I’ve finally managed to brainwash them with wanderlust.  All but Pikey.  He’s a tough nut to crack.  :)