When Shopping Is a Road Trip

041My oldest granddaughter is getting married in May.  She is borderline between “thrifty” and “Scrooge.”  My beautiful twenty-something single mom has begun to sound like a baby-boomer when she complains about the prices of everything from a cup of coffee to nice clothes.  This is the same girl that used to buy $50 flip flops because they had the Nike logo on the sole.   Of course, that was before she spent the last couple of years surviving on her own.  

Her plan was to find a dress online and order it.  Her mother, knowing how unlikely that was to fit properly, drafted me to help her figure out the size.  I thought, knowing that “off the rack” probably would need altering, it would be better to buy something at a local establishment where they would be able to make any necessary adjustments.

I looked online and found a formal/wedding shop in Richmond, KY where she lives.  I called them before hand and was assured that they had wedding dresses starting at around $100 and did alterations in the store, plus everything was supposedly “on sale.”  The person on the phone said, if we came in right away, there would also be time to order a dress, if they didn’t have anything she wanted in stock.  

I made an appointment and we planned the day.  Jim and I would drive from Madisonville to Richmond (about a four hour trip each way), pick her up from work and make an afternoon of it.  First the wedding dress, then to Peddlar’s Mall  to look for a crib, and Walmart for a high chair.  Unfortunately, it turned into a “God laughs” situation.  

The sales person, in the wedding store, said it was too late to order and be sure of getting it in time for May.  I know I had told the phone person the wedding date before she mentioned the possibility of ordering, but I neglected to get her name, so I let it slide.

Next, we’re told, they can’t, presently, do alterations in the store because they are too busy.  Instead, we were given a flyer for someone they recommended.  Ok, she comes recommended and the flyer says she had 30 years experience.  I can deal with that.

560225_10203771544665184_8052715402096696104_nDiscouraged, but determined, we navigated to the wedding dress area, two walls lined with white dresses in plastic bags.  They were sorted by size and her section was about 6 foot long.  There was nothing on a manikin, just wire hangers on a rod.  Her long suppressed inner snob rose to the surface, “This looks like they brought them down from someone’s attic and put them out for a yard sale.”  

We found nothing for less than $350, most of them were in the $1000 to $2000 range.  Our price range did not extend that high.  We were prepared to spend $300 or $400, maybe even a little more, but the dresses for that price were short and my baby girl had set her heart on a full length one.  

Maybe she would have been willing to compromise if she hadn’t already seen one online that she loved for less than $200.  Our concern with ordering it had been finding someone reliable, locally, to do any necessary alterations.  At least, that was solved.  We had the phone number and information of the Alteration Lady.  

The online store said the dress would arrive by the middle of March, if ordered within the next twelve hours.  The Alteration Lady’s flyer said she needed, at least, 30 days to avoid “rush job” fees.  We decided to take our chances on everything coordinating and fled the “yard sale presentation” store.

At Peddler’s Mall, where we had bought a bassinet and several other baby type items on previous occasions, we found no joy either.  Other than a couple of antique wooden high chairs without trays, the only baby equipment they had, at present, was strollers.  This didn’t seem like too big a deal, the crib isn’t really urgent, it was just frustrating.  

That’s when things really “went south.”  Walmart, the mega-have everything, one stop shopping “big box,” was out of high chairs!  This was, more or less, urgent since it was to be a birthday present for her little girl.  I had promised to buy it and I wouldn’t be back before our Journey turned one.  

Meijer’s saved the day.  They had a good selection and we found one that satisfied both sides of her personality, practical and not overly expensive, but still nice and suitable for a boy or girl.

The high chair was bought and we had also found a pair of boots for little girl.  There’s still lots of shopping and preparation to do for the wedding but, once I found and ordered a veil online while driving home, the most important part is underway.  I’m sure the process will require more visiting back and forth, but it will all be worth it.


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Catching up…

April and Jim at the Combat Camera Reunion Banquet. - Photo by Ken Hackman

April and Jim at the Combat Camera Reunion Banquet. – Photo by Ken Hackman

We’re not doing a very good job of keeping our roadtrip blog updated and I for one will attempt to do a better job this year.

Our major trip last year was a 30 day cross country trip to my Combat Camera reunion in Ontario, California in September. This is the fourth year in a row we’ve made the reunion into a road trip and as usual we had a great time. The trip was long and when we got back home we both were tired and glad to be back. I think we went beyond our budget, but that’s the way it goes sometimes.

Jim, Kimmy, Emily, Brad, Brad, April and Lexie at Canyonlands National Park. - Photo by Jim Pearson

Jim, Kimmy, Emily, Brad, Brad, April and Lexie at Canyonlands National Park. – Photo by Jim Pearson

I think the major highlights of our trip to me were spending time with my nephew Brad and his family. We rented a condo at Moab, Utah. We’ve both been here before and wanted to make another stop as there’s so much to see. It was great to see Brad, Kimmy, Lexie and Emily as it had been way too long. Brad is stationed in the Air Force in Colorado and we joined up with them after visiting a couple days there.

Canyonlands National Park, Utah. - Photo by Jim Pearson

Canyonlands National Park, Utah. – Photo by Jim Pearson

One of my favorite new places there was Canyonlands National Park. What a impressive place to visit! We went separate from the kids as they didn’t want to get up and out quite as early as we did. We did meet up for a picture there and it’s one of my favorites from the trip.

Dinner in the French Quarter. - Photo by our Waiter!

Dinner in the French Quarter. – Photo by our Waiter!

We stopped a lot of other sights along the way of course ranging from seeing the Space Shuttle in LA, the stars at night in Joshua Tree National Park, The Alamo in San Antonio, Texas and the French Quarter in New Orleans, Louisiana, just to name a few of the major highlights. When traveling we try to keep our drives to about 350-450 miles a day to give us plenty of time to take pictures and see the sights along the way.

This year my Combat Camera reunion is in San Antonio, Texas in October and I’m looking forward to spending a little bit more than two days, as we did this year, and seeing more of the sites. Plus my new knee will make life much easier for getting around. It was a bit of a pain this year.

However, before that we’ll be heading off in June for my nephew Kenneth’s high school graduation. Looking forward to getting back on the road, other than short local trips around Kentucky. 

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Quick Picks

Apologies for not posting sooner. We have been on the road since September 1st. The first couple of days were long and nothing much happened. Then we spent two days at Colorado Springs with my grandson, Brad, and his family.   While there we visited a Pueblo and the Air Force Chapel.  We left there with them on Friday for Moab, Utah.

Here’s a quick pick of photos up to that point.  I promise to catch up over the next few days.  We are currently in Reno, Nevada.  We leave in the morning for the Donner Pass, following the railroad.


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Tripping with Toddlers

Everyone has their own idea of how to get ready for a trip.  My usual packing method is to count the days I’ll be gone and take an outfit for each day, then add a couple extra in case of emergencies and a couple in case the weather changes (long pants in summer, shorts in spring or fall).  Oh, and one dress up ensemble, pajamas, maybe a swimsuit and my favorite bathrobe.  Then I need a bag for toiletries, make up, a curling iron, vitamins, and emergency supplies like aspirin, antacid, bandages, antiseptic, antibiotic cream….a raincoat, umbrella, extra shoes.  Followed by the laptop, a bag for books, my tablet & kindle, writing paper, pens, chargers for my tablet, kindle, and cell phone, a power strip to plug them all into because hotels seldom have enough outlets.  

My brother, Jim, (a veteran traveler of the bachelor persuasion) had been in the habit of, not so subtly, hinting that I pack too much stuff.  He has a new perspective lately though.  Many of our road trips the past couple of years have included small children. 

Traveling with toddlers takes packing to a whole new level.  Last weekend we took three of my great grandchildren to Ohio with us for a family reunion.  That includes two boys aged 2 and 2 1/2 and an almost one year old girl.  

So, two sizes of diapers….count on about half a dozen per child per day.   Three or four outfits each per day plus pajamas, bath soap, swim gear (floaties and swimsuits), sun block, hair brush, toys, story books, sippy cups, bottles, a port-a-crib, strollers. Snacks for the ride and an ice chest for fruit juice and milk.  Even without all the paraphernalia, the necessity for space to accommodate  three car seats means taking two cars.  

But seeing the world through the joyfully amazed eyes of little ones makes it all worth the trouble.

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Reasons for Traveling

I suppose there are as many reasons for traveling as there are places to go and people going there. We travel for work, for medical treatment, for relaxation, and to visit relatives. We travel across the state and across the country. In the past, Jim even traveled across the world. Perhaps someday our descendants will travel across the universe.

© 167/Alex Treadway/Ocean/Corbis

© 167/Alex Treadway/Ocean/Corbis

The fact is mankind has always traveled. It’s in our nature. We are a restless breed. Many of our ancestors traveled as a way of life. In today’s world traditional nomads are less prevalent.  Modern technology and the industrialization of the land has made it difficult for them to survive.  

However, there is a new breed of nomad.  They live in cities and work at normal jobs until they get bored or hear of opportunities in other locations.  Then they pack up and move.  They go searching for a better place with more opportunity, much like their ancestors who sailed across the ocean or drove a wagon across the prairie.   

According to the U.S. Census Bureau:   The average person will move 12 times during their life.  “At age 18, a person can expect to move another 9.1 times in their remaining lifetime, but by age 45, the expected number of moves is only 2.7.”

Most of these moves may only be from one side of town to another, but many of them are to other cities or states.  Most of us have relatives scattered across the map.  We have cousins in Australia, where our father’s brother moved after WWII, and sprinkled liberally across the country from his other brothers and sisters.  On our mother’s side we have cousins in Pennsylvania and North Dakota.  When I moved back to Kentucky to be closer to relatives (another reason for many moves) I left behind a daughter and two grandchildren in Charlotte, NC.  I have a grandson in the Air Force who is currently in Colorado Springs and another who is in the Missouri National Guard because he married his college sweetheart from St. Louis and moved there.  A third grandson is moving to Texas with his girlfriend and their daughter this week.  

© Corbis

© Corbis

The “Boomer” generation is redefining retirement.  Oh, there are still “snowbirds” who buy homes in Florida or Arizona and “go south for the winter” then return home in the spring.  But the travelers are becoming more common all the time.

As families become less centralized many retirees are becoming a new kind of nomad.  Some of them buy an RV and simply travel from place to place.  Others work at temporary jobs in return for accommodations  using their retirement checks for other things.   A minority just “couch surf” all over the world, like homeless college students. They all spend a few weeks or months in one location, then pull out and move on to the next as nomads have done since the beginning of time.

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