Here's a quick catch-ya-up, minus the pictures. Forgive me, dear readers - I had my camera with me but for some reason I wasn't inspired to take pictures at any given moment. So we'll just have to suffer with a blow by blow instead.
Jerry rented me an SUV on Monday because I was headed up to Illinois on Thursday and there was no way I was taking my truck with the alternator on the fritz and no cruise control. I'll give you a run down of the pros and cons of the Dodge Journey (which I certainly did not request) in a different post cause I know you're just DYING for one.
The kids didn't have school on Wednesday so we headed out early, dropped by Costco and got the ridiculously long list of things Linda just couldn't do without this Thanksgiving, then made our way out to Quitman (aka Nowhere, Texas). That evening Linda and Wayne had a few of their friends and Waynes mom, Erma, come join us for some "rousing" games (dude ... the youngest person besides myself was 65) of Pictionary. I love old people. I swear I do. All the word strips were movie titles, easily identified, if not easy to draw. Erma ... oh my Erma. She was a lost cause. For instance, one of her word strips was "Around the World in 80 Days". What did she draw? A circle with a couple squiggles in it. That was it. Then she just sat there, regally staring us all down, waiting for us to come up with it. Lord love her.
Thursday morning was all about cooking and table arrangements for Linda and myself. Jerry and Wayne took the kids fishing till just before the feast was served, which was their favorite part of the day. Linda makes most traditional dishes a lot different from how my mom (therefore myself also) makes them, so I guess fortunately for me, I ate sparingly. After a brief rest, I packed up the car, the kids and myself and headed off for Illinois. We made it to Searcy, AR and buckled down there for the night.
Friday was a long day of "adventure". Somewhere around St. Louis I pulled in for gas and as we were pulling out some punk came swerving into the lane I was exiting so I pulled over a bit and went over a curb. A little hard. A lot hard, apparently. I immediately noticed the alignment was off, so I used the handy dandy function on my Sprint Instinct and found the closest Firestone. They informed me the alignment was thrown off to the point that they would not feel comfortable with me driving the SUV back to Texas. Awe-frickin-some. They didn't come to this conclusion till 11 minutes after all the Enterprise rental locations in the area were closed. Wonder-frickin-ful. I was informed, however, that Enterprise had a rental agency in the town we were headed to and they'd be open the next morning at 9. Great. Fantastic. Moving on. We finished the 13 hour trip on a less than triumphant note.
Saturday morning I first called up the originating rental location, explained the issue and got permission to exchange the vehicle. Took the SUV almost literally across the street and found out they had no rentals available. The young man there was more than helpful, he called all the other locations within a 40 mile radius and found out no one had any extras available... the St. Louis airport location did however. *grinds teeth, sets bright smile* Two hours, twenty minutes later the kids and I pull up, introduce myself as the woman who called for the exchange and was shown to a Kia Sportage. Not impressed with the down step, but accept it as it is still sort of in the same class as the Journey. I noticed a faint smokey odor but was resolved to not make too much of a fuss - I had a cousin in Quincy I had to go make an appearance for! Five minutes later I have to pull over because the odor is causing my head to throb and my stomach to rebel. Take the kids to a late lunch and consider what I really want to do in this case. I call Jerry and ask his opinion. He agrees, take the stinky thing back. As I am driving back to the agency I open a compartment in the center console and find a used cigarette lighter and ashes. I didn't even realize car makers installed those anymore. We trade out, again, after I file a formal complaint about the vehicle and receive *gulp* a Dodge Avenger. At this point, I am pretty sure they are trying to hurt my feelings. My very sensitive snotty vehicle feelings. They, however, will not upgrade as the vehicle is a trade out, leaving the state and will not be returned. We drive the 2 hours and 20 minutes back up to Quincy and head over to Kari's shin dig - the purpose of the whole trip.
We really did have a good time at that point. The kids danced. I got introduced to half of Quincy, most of whom seem to be related to the groom. Ate some good food, found out Maid Rites are sloppy joes. Then B-Man bit one of the grooms uncles ... and I figured that was our queue to exit. We stopped by a store on the way back to the hotel hoping to find swim suits I'd failed to pack for the kids and discovered stores country wide don't carry swim suits year round. Odd. I let the kids swim in their under wear ... cause I'm just that kind of mom and no one seemed offended.
Sunday morning we woke up to snow falling from the sky and accumulating on the ground. My kids were utterly enchanted. I let them frolick around in it while I loaded up the car, then headed out. B-man become more and more agitated the further south we drove, "Where's the snow? Where's it go?" You try explaining the further south you go the closer you get to the sun, hence to warm for snow flakes to an Autistic 5 year old. Go ahead, try it. Eventually I gave up and told him the snow flakes had all decided to go home and they don't live in the same place we do. He totally accepted that. We arrived home close to mid night. Made good time, really. Hardly speeding more than 5 over the limit all the way, a new record.
And that ... is the end of the Illinois incident. Though I wish we hadn't had the issue with the vehicle and it was a ridiculous mess ... I'd do it again. Kari was genuinely happy to see another Jones at an all Trewelp affair. Just knowing being there made her feel a little less overwhelmed and a little more love ... that was enough for me.