TWO HUNDRED THIRTY NINE…buffalo, moose, and bears oh my

1,390 miles

14 hours per day

For 96 hours (a total of 4 days in case your like me and suck at math)

On Highway 2

That’s right friends we made it

A L A S K A

The final frontier

If you want to go back and re-read the introduction from beginning to end with your best Will Arnett vocal impersonation I encourage you to do so. I just did it in my head and I must say, It sounded amazing. And one more thing, when you read the line “The final frontier” make sure to use your lower register and move your eyebrows up and down in a really sinister way… just try it. It really helps in getting the message across.

Hmm where to begin. Do I start with the 4 days driving on half gravelled/half paved spine crushing roads. Should I open with a bragadocious piece of information about my finishing 3 audible thrillers within four days. Maybe I should begin with how overly enthusiastic we were when the trip began and how our attitudes for adventure quickly waned by the end of the second day. Or maybe, just maybe, I start with the end of the story where we were all willing to give Cecilia her own Tobagon complete with a group of Alaskan Huskies so that when she yelled, her directions would not only be welcome, but expected.

I guess it doesn’t really matter where I begin, as long as I accurately convey that 1,390 miles of half paved/half gravelled spine crushing roads will test the patience of even the most enthusiastic of road trippers and potentially jam your vertebrae together to pinch a large collection of nerves. We put in 12 sometimes 14 hour days on highway number 2 and it was every bit as treacherous and beautiful as they say.

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Along the way we had lessons in Science everywhere we looked, with all the wildlife roaming free around this vast landscape. We saw moose, buffalo, and many many bears. It was something to see these animals up close. It was intimidating to see how big they were and we were in an RV…which sits up pretty high.  The girls were enamoured with the animals facial expressions. We thoroughly entertained ourselves with made-up inner dialogues of each group:

Abby suggested the moose needed to cross the road to meet up with other moose peeps for their journey to camp…moose guarding camp of course.

Groups of buffalo looking to change-up their scenery would begrudgingly follow the leader of the pack. According to both Phoebe and Abby their dialogue went as follows:

Buffalo number 24 says to Buffalo Number 25 all the way in the back of the pack, “Do you know why Fred is going back this way?”

Buffalo Number 25 answers, “Fred pooped his pants and needs new underwear.” But it doesn’t end there, continue to repeat the poop line six or seven times and with every proclamation as if on cue, high-pitched giggling ensues.

We ran into some luck and actually saw a buffalo pooping on the side of the road, so that was the highlight of the day. Who am I kidding, it was the highlight of the entire trip…for the girls.

Both girls agreed the buffalo were heading to the nearest mall…for the Buffalo underwear…don’t want to be caught with turtle tracks in your undies!! The conversation went on for a lot longer than I care to record here. You should feel secure in knowing hours of “belly gas”  conversation which led to both topics of  belching and the always popular farting were discussed at length. Or more like ad nauseam. I hope with all of the “issues” those poor buffalo were afflicted with, they have finally recouped from their flatulent bellies. Fingers crossed on that one folks. Fingers crossed!

Of course all along our journey we saw several families of mamma bears and their baby cubs going scavenging and foraging for the upcoming school year. “They are hoping to find new satchels, computers, and shoes” that was my contribution. Not quite as exciting and scandalous as gaseous buffalo and camp-bound moose, but by the fourth day I wasn’t overly concerned about my creative responses. I just wanted to get the BLEEP out of the asylum on wheels.

Greg even swears he saw a reindeer with big fuzzy antlers which my friend Elena and I have named Boots. Unfortunately my friend Elena isn’t with us on our journey, but I pretend she is by texting her every five minutes to give her updates on our tremendously exciting lives. She’s super jealous.

Just kidding. She’s not jealous.

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For the first two days of our journey Thursday and Friday, I drove the entire time just because it was a workday for the hubs. So he used one of his many audible tokens to give me a 13.5 hour audio crime thriller by Author Gillian Flynn called Dark Places. This is the same author who wrote Gone Girl.

From the moment the book began to four hours later, I took my first bathroom break, which is unheard of for me. I’m usually an every two-hour potty break kind of girl. I drink a lot of water.

A LOT OF WATER.

Needless to say, I finished the 13 hour book just as we were pulling into our first stop-over on our very first day. I was dumbfounded for an hour or so, still completely enveloped in the world created by the author. I then promptly begged Greg to get the authors third book Sharp Edges.

The next day, Friday, 9 hours came and went and just like that. All the characters I had become so invested in, were gone. Poof. Into thin air. Never to materialize into the film going on in my mind. I had to shake these characters off. I was too tightly wrapped up in their world. I was too affected. Too emotionally involved. Attached. Invested.

It was time for a third crime book In Cold Blood by Truman Capote. The summer of 1999, after graduating from my undergrad program, I moved to New York. I was terribly lonely and subletting a room with fellow classmates from previous years. I stole In Cold Blood from my roommate Jonathan, and read it on my subway commute to midtown everyday…because reading crime novels is a great way to lift your spirits. I wanted another book like Gillian Flynn’s previous two. So this is the book I picked. Let me just say, it was creepy in the summer of 99 and it was creepy this past Sunday when I finished the 14 hour book in one day.

In between listening to books, Greg and I would pause to solve all of the worlds problems and try our very best to ignore the screaming, whining, crying jags from the girls.

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After the first 14 hours of driving on Thursday Cecilia was over all the cool coloring books, crafting supplies, small fun little toys, and little books we had bought specifically for this trip.

Abby and Phoebe are old enough to switch from one activity to another but Cecilia really likes it when I am at her beck and call sit with and show her how to use the stickers and color in her coloring books, when I read books to her, and finally when I play with her.

I love getting her started on all activities…but then I am ready to let her play/practice on her own. She was not down with that philosophy…at all…and would frequently yell loudly voice her protestations.

And after the second day of her declarations, we were all over it. Honestly, I am surprised I still have hair. BUT, we made it.

We are in ALASKA.

I’ve waited my whole young adult life to visit this land. I keep pinching myself, it’s so hard to believe. I’ve built it up so much in my mind…what the trees would look like, the crisp weather, the fresh smell of that crisp cool weather, the sound of nature, miles upon miles of untouched non-homogenized lands, and of course the people who call this unspoiled state home.

As soon as my spine heals, I am going to soak up everything Alaska has to offer. I want to experience everything. But not if it’s dangerous. No danger here folks. If the bears, buffalo, and Moose could just sort of…I don’t know…maybe hang out around the perimeter while the Spranger’s are here…that would be great. Totally awesome. Seriously, completely awesome.

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TWO HUNDRED THIRTY TWO…suspicious eyes

We went to a great seafood restaurant last night downtown Longbeach, MS. It was nice, intimate, low-key and super casual. We beat the dinner crowd and I got all the girls in and out of the bathroom before our appetizers came out.

I like to take the girls to the bathroom when we first arrive at a restaurant so that I can spend the rest of the night bribing Abby with candy and toys if she will take Cecilia to the bathroom every-time she asks. Otherwise I am up and down, up and down, up and down every ten minutes, as all liquids run right through her.

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Phoebe begs to tag along too. It usually buys me at least 30 minutes of face to face time with Greg before Abby, upon Cecilia’s 3rd bathroom request, waves her white flag to surrender.

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So when Phoebe volunteered to take Cecilia, Greg and I looked at each other and said, “Well, I don’t see why not.” There were maybe 2 other couples in the restaurant and I had a pretty good visual on the bathroom door. “Let’s see what happens” I thought. Phoebe has been asking to help out a lot more and showing more initiative.

I watched Phoebe and Cecilia hold hands and walk together toward the restroom. Before Cecilia let go of Phoebe’s hand and tried to run away from her, they were actually having a sweet sister moment. Greg and I watched as Phoebe regained control and clasped little Cecilia’s hand in hers and firmly said, “No CC! You stay with me!” to which Cecilia complied.

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I watched the girls disappear into the private bathroom and resumed my conversation with Greg.

About 5 minutes later the appetizers came out along with refills for the kids drinks. As the waiter was walking away, Cecilia appeared from behind him. 

There she was…

…alone

…at our table

…without Phoebe.

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“I will give Phoebe a couple of minutes to finish up…if she doesn’t show up, I will go check on her”, I thought.

Five minutes later when our food came out, I scooted out of our booth to check on her in the bathroom.

As I was approaching the door, I had a series of thoughts running through my cursed brain: Phoebe has flooded the bathroom…they made a mess and Phoebe is trying to clean up…there’s a poop mess on the floor and Phoebe is trying to clean it up but of course, making it worse…Phoebe put too much toilet paper in the potty and when she flushed it – you know the rest…Cecilia tied Phoebe up and trapped her in the bathroom (that one made me chuckle)…Phoebe had an accident (that one made me sad).

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As I laid my hand gently on the knob, turning it slightly, surprised it was unlocked, I opened the door to find Phoebe dancing and singing, “We can’t go on together, with suspicious eyes, with suspicious eyes” in front of the mirror. 

She had used sink water (I hope) to wet the sides of her hair and was really swinging her non-existent hips while waving her left arm in the air and holding on to her makeshift toilet paper microphone. 

Influenced no doubt by the YouTube video of Elvis singing ‘Suspicious Minds’ I was watching the night before. It was really something. I think she was just repeating the “suspicious eyes” phrase over and over.

In fact, she is correct, it would be very difficult to carry on a relationship with suspicious eyes. 

When she caught me looking at her in the mirror, she spun around and said, “I just love that song Mommy!” “Me too Phoebe…that was really good singing and your dancing was on point”, I said in my most dry and serious “MOM” tone. “Yes I know…I’m actually a really good dancer”, she informed me.

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I motioned for her to follow me back to our table and told her, about her yummy mac and cheese waiting for her. 

When we settled down, I asked Phoebe how it was taking Cecilia to the bathroom and she promptly said, “Uh oh, I forgot! Sorry Mommy…I’ll take her this time I promise”…to which Cecilia took Phoebe’s dinner spoon and chucked it across the room to another table.

232 q.jpgI calmly scooted out of my comfortable booth seat, grabbed Cecilia by the hand and took her to the potty.

It was my first time trying “cold” steamed clams.

Maybe next time.

WE CAN’T GO ON TOGETHER, WITH SUSPICIOUS EYES…SUSPICIOUS EYES

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