Monday, July 25, 2016

#MicroblogMondays: Some thoughts from the road

*  We left home almost two weeks ago on our summer road trip, heading through southern Ontario into and across Michigan, Indiana & Illinois to eastern Iowa, where we met up with my parents, aunt & uncle and other relatives for our biannual family reunion. Then north through Minnesota, with stops to visit more  relatives, celebrate my dad's birthday at his favourite casino (!) and touch base in my mother's hometown, before crossing back into Canada again and heading to my parents' house.
* So far, it's been a mostly positive experience and fun time. :)
*  My recently-discovered 4th cousin from Scotland and his wife also joined us in Iowa. (We share a set of great-great-great grandparents;  our great-great grandfathers were brothers.)  To say it was a thrill to meet him and reunite the two branches of our family, more than 150 years after my great-great grandparents (born in Ireland) left Scotland to come to North America, was an understatement.  
*  We were warned about the traffic around the southern edge of Chicago. Either we were lucky, or the people who warned us have never tried driving the highways around Toronto, lol.
*  If you think that whining noise you heard amid the thunder and lightning and pounding rain at 6:15 a.m. is a tornado warning siren -- you're probably right. (Yikes!!) 
*  GPS is great to navigate through strange cities -- BUT it's not much help when you run into roadwork and detours. And I didn't have a paper map for backup. Luckily, I did have my new smartphone with Google Maps and a roaming plan with data for the States, and we eventually made it to our hotel. (My parents, who are smartphone-less, didn't arrive for almost two hours after we did!) .
* If you think you're going to arrive at your hotel past 6 p.m., make sure your reservation is guaranteed with a credit card. (We learned this the hard way -- although my mother insists the hotel had her card number.)
* Ozone machines don't do much to clear the air in a smoking room. (The only rooms left after the reservation debacle were designated smoking.  I didn't think any hotels still allowed smoking in rooms, but this was at a casino hotel on an Indian reservation, where they have their own rules.)  We made a point of only taking in as many clothes as we felt we needed for our brief stay, leaving the rest in another suitcase in our car -- and they all went into the washer when we reached my parents house. Ugh!!
* Definitive "we're not in Canada anymore, Toto" moment: seeing a sign advising that handguns were not permitted inside our hotel. (Like you need to TELL people??!) (Dh actually saw a guy with a gun, plainly visible in a holster, in a Perkins restaurant we were eating at. I'm glad he didn't tell me until after the fact. Highly unnerving.) 
* There's nothing like new potatos and yellow wax beans fresh from Dad's garden. :) 
* There's no place like home.
* Home may be where the heart is... but unfortunately, it's also where the mosquitos are too. :p  ;)  (lol) Pass the Benadryl cream, please... :p 
* We've been very busy, everywhere we've been. I've barely had time to keep my online photo album current, let alone read or comment on many blogs. (My apologies.)
* Taking care of two preschoolers can be exhausting, even when it's just for a few hours, and even when there's six adults in the house to share the responsibility and keep them entertained.
* I think we may need a vacation from our vacation when we get back home, lol.

You can find more of this week's #MicroblogMondays posts here.   


  1. I've enjoyed following your trip on Facebook! It's pretty crazy that they cancelled your hotel reservation without even as much as a phone call to see if you were coming. And smoking rooms....yuck! Anymore I wouldn't even think to request a room that's not smoking because I just expect it.

    Thank goodness for cell phones with GPS! I have no sense of direction whatsoever and would be lost without GPS because maps make no sense to me.

    Tornado sirens are unnerving, aren't they?

  2. Sounds like a wonderful road trip! Though I had to laugh about the ozone machines (agreed, they do nothing, despite what most smokers claim) and the gun warnings (yes, unfortunately you do need to post this. And even then many don't listen).

    Glad you missed the tornado. And more glad that overall it was a wonderful experience.

    And now I'm craving waxed beans.

  3. How did you trace your 4th cousin from Scotland and his wife, did you do it through an ancestry site or something? Just curious

    1. It's a bit of a long story -- and he was actually "discovered" by another 4th cousin in Scotland we connected with a few years ago. That cousin had responded to a genealogy message board query posted by one of my mother's cousins, now deceased, some years earlier... another cousin & I started posting responses to his posts wherever we could find them, in hopes he would eventually see them... and he did!

      So yes, Ancestry & other online sites have been a huge help to us, and have really accelerated what we've been able to find! But there's still a lot out there that's not online -- and it all began years ago, pre-internet, with old family letters, talking to my grandfather & taking notes, and spending hours looking through old records & newspapers on microfilm years ago, when I was unemployed & had time on my hands, lol.

    2. I find that stuff fascinating. I've done the free Ancestry trial a few times and really got hooked on it (entire work days, when I had the right kind of job!) . A lot does depend on people spotting message and notices, you were lucky with your Scottish relative..

  4. Ha - we ignore the storm sirens until we see (or hear) an actual tornado! I guess that's the Midwestern version of watching for sharks in the ocean or watching for alligators in Florida!

    Those southern edge highways around Chicago can be hit or miss - but if you were going to Iowa, you probably stayed on I-80, which doesn't really go anywhere close to the actual city. The highways only become a nightmare when you're approaching the city limits - otherwise, they're just kind of...busy.

    Sounds like a fabulous trip (aside from smoking rooms and storms and mosquitoes)!

  5. As much as I balk at using Waze, that's precisely why it's better than GPS. It will reroute you around road work, accidents, etc. And that is so cool that you got to meet that long-lost family member. It makes all those hours of family tree building worth it.

  6. Oh, the old days of having Perlys maps! And those gun toting Americans! Ugh. I used to carry small candles when I toured because sometimes you ended up with a stinky room - smoking rooms are the worst! I'd rather sleep in a tent. I think meeting those distant relatives is so great! Such detective work!

  7. I too recently found out smoking rooms still exist in hotels. I had honestly thought they had gone away, just like smoking in restaurants. Alas, they have not and woe to the weary non-smoking traveler who gets stuck with the smoking room! We were able to avoid it when the hotel cancelled our reservation, thankfully, because I would not have stayed....