Wednesday, May 28, 2008

MaxieC, Political Analyst

Me, CherkyB: "Obama!"

MaxieC: "Ahhh...we'll you're a poo poo."

Sunday, May 25, 2008

Oh, the Humanitarianism

As you may have heard, the neighboring town had a tornado whip through it on Thursday. This has put The Mrs. into a veritable frenzy of wanting to help. But she also doesn't want to not do any of the things she had planned for me to do this weekend, and thus conflict has arisen.

Those of you who know The Mrs. know that she is a little dynamo of energy. But, alas, she is also a dynamo of overcommitment and, because she simply can never not do any fool spur-of-the-moment thing that comes up, she simply drives her loving husband to do all the stuff she signed up for but really didn't have the time to do.

Now, the loving husband here has a plenty time-consuming job that is filled with all kinds of stress and conflict, and he also has quite an active life of yardwork and fixing up things that manage to keep him fully subscribed through all daylight hours. But, you know, it was a tornado and all, so I figured we'd have to modify our schedule some.

In order to lighten The Mrs.'s load a bit, I decided I'd pitch in and take charge of the housework on Saturday morning. You see, the house hasn't been cleaned since maybe February, and as far as I can tell, The Childrens haven't put away a single toy since Christmas. So there were virtually no places in the house where you could see that expensive carpet we put in when we bought the place because of the toys and various clutter strewn across every floor.

If you were to have entered our house, you would have assumed the tornado hit it.

Plus, The Mrs. had decided to cover my entire bar with the contents of the kitchen in case of another tornado, and this included filling up every plastic cup she could find with water and setting them on the bar. Nothing irks me more than when I can't get to my own bar.

So I began gently instructing The Childrens to pick up their mess lest I throw it out. My The Childrens are very unused to being told to pick things up, so they immediately ran off screaming to The Mrs. about how mean I was. Thus, The Mrs. saw an opportunity to snipe at me about how, "Well, I had hoped we were going to volunteer to help with the tornado victims, but I guess Daddy has other priorities."

MaxieC eventually caught on, as he has only been spoiled for four years instead of eight, and he started helping pick up in the basement. HannieC mostly locked herself in her bedroom crying about how unfair it was that she wasn't allowed to keep her stuff wherever she wanted.

I guess she learned this bratty behavior at school?

We never did find the DVD remote in the basement, despite all the cleaning up.

Then we moved to the first floor, where a big, giant box of Lincoln Logs was dumped on the floor. I instructed The Childrens to pick them up, and they went screaming to Mommy again. So, for motivation, I went into the garage and got a big empty garbage can which I then set on the floor in order to throw out any of their stuff they decided they didn't need anymore by leaving it on the floor.

This was, of course, accompanied by wailing and screaming, etc.

After a little bit of picking up, The Childrens got distracted with playing and whining and all those other annoyances, so I picked up one tiny little Lincoln Log and quite ceremoniously tossed it into the garbage can. Oh my, you'd think I had sold them to gypsies. MaxieC, however, regained his senses quickly, marched over, and dumped the garbage can out on the floor. Sadly, it had a good pile of garden dirt in the bottom.

Well, that was predictable.

HannieC went and hid in her room again. MaxieC got down to it and cleaned up all his stuff.

Then we headed off to the volunteer center that had been set up a couple blocks over in the headquarters of our rural electrical co-op. There had been a lot of media coverage about the volunteer center, and there was a pretty steady stream of folks coming in. They all had the same reaction we did when greeted at the door with, "Please fill out this form, and we'll get back to you if we need you. We're not using volunteers today."

There were a few families that had driven in from out of town. One group had Iowa plates. And they were turning us away in droves. We stayed to fill out the forms. It was humbling because I think of myself as a fairly handy guy, but the only skills they had listed that I could check were "Labor: packing/loading," and "Labor: cleanup." They didn't have a choice for building an inground trampoline.

So, instead, we decided to plant our garden. We "only bought as much stuff as we could plant and hook up the watering to in one day." Which means we bought everything for the entire garden. Oh, except we were going to a birthday party all afternoon. But not to worry, that just means that Me, CherkyB can double-time the drip system.

Naturally, I ran out of drip hose halfway through and had to run to Lowe's. On the way back, my low fuel light came on, meaning I have 30 miles of gas left, so I stopped at a gas station.

Just as I began filling up, a lady came over to me and said, "Are you in a hurry to get home after you pump your gas?"

Look at watch, it's 7:30. "Uhh...a little. My wife is waiting for me for dinner."

I did not know at the time that The Mrs. had decided we were skipping dinner cuz we had some tacos at the birthday party at 3:00. I didn't find that out until long after I got home.


"What's the trouble?"

"I need to find someone who knows about putting air into tires."

"Well, that's pretty easy. I could help you with that."

"Really, all I need is to know how much air to put in. There's a sticker on the door that says 2000 lbs. You think if I just put in 2000 lbs., that'll be fine?"

Ahhhh, womens.

"No. That's probably the weight of your car. You'll probably want to put in 35 lbs. Pretty much every car made takes 35 lbs."

So then I went over to take a look. She had a front tire that was 100% flat. She asked if I thought it would be safe to drive if she just filled it up to 35 psi. I said no. She negotiated me down to OK, if your house is really just one mile away, and you don't go on the highway or really fast, you'll probably be safe.

Then she sighed and said, "I guess then I'll need to find someone who knows how to change tires."

I guess so. Oh, look at the time! My humanitarianism does not run deep. Plus, I've learned life goes more smoothly if you realize that life never follows the plot of a porno.

Today, The Childrens had a lemonade and cookie stand for tornado relief. They made like $80.

Friday, May 23, 2008

Well, that was a lot of fun

Nothing like a tornado to spice up an otherwise dull day.

We have escaped unscathed, except that MaxieC ate my whole bag of potato chips. The Mrs. hustled The Childrens into the basement prior to lunch (tornado passed through town a few minutes before noon), and the only food down there was the bag of potato chips that I munch on while blogging at the bar, and popcorn. Without electricity, she was unable to will the popcorn to pop.

I'm glad they forgot about my martini olives.

At about 2pm, shortly after I arrived on the scene, they're all whining about being hungry but were unwilling to leave the basement. So I went upstairs and grabbed the peanut butter, jelly, and bread. There was great wailing and gnashing of teeth about how I was unnecessarily exposing myself to imminent death, but I had been following the tornado online at work and knew it was 30 miles north of us by then, I had just driven home through largely sunny skies, and there were news helicopters and camera crews all over the scene (we have a two TVs with satellite at work in the cafeteria now - my The Company has become completely soft - and they just put in what looks like about a 60-inch plasma with a Wii). I figure there couldn't be that bad that I'd get killed going for a 1 minute jaunt to the kitchen.

I was right.

Tuesday, May 20, 2008

A new series

I'm planning to publish the critically acclaimed "Frances" series of morality-plays as a new feature here at Me, CherkyB. The only problem is that I can only remember two of them.

The House of Pain

This morning I was happily sleeping, when suddenly I was awakened by MaxieC poking me. He was all smiley, and then he ran away before I could swat him. So I took an old trick from The Mrs.'s playbook, and I put a pillow over my head.

A little while later, The Mrs. snuck in, reached under the pillow, and flicked me on the nose. I stirred a bit and tried to ignore it, so she did it again.

I believe the constitutes ground for divorce, but I decided to save that as a backup plan.

She was very excited to tell me that the oven was broken. At some time during the night, the control panel had decided to light up every LED it had and to start ignoring the buttons. I said, "We probably need to power cycle it."

So I shlepped myself out of bed (I hope the Democrats in my audience aren't deeply offended by my usage of Yiddish on occasion. I know how tres chic antisemitism is in the "progressive" movement these days, though it's cloaked in the guise of trendy faux-concern for the "plight" of the Palestinians and all. But I'm from Barfalo, where we have a large Yiddish-speaking population, and thus it is as ingrained in me as circular reasoning and the belief in the supremacy of emotional responses over logic is in you.) and headed to the garage to flip the breaker.

It didn't help. I tried it three times, each time waiting longer with it off in case there was a capacitive discharge issue, but still the oven control panel was non-responsive and had all its LED lit up. I declared, "Well, that's the extent of my ability to fix this. We'll have to call the appliance guy." (As previously noted in earlier posts, this house is built so crappily that we not only are on a first-name basis with a plumber, but we also have an appliance guy.)

The Mrs. has always hated the oven. She said, "Well, it'll probably be cheaper to just buy a new oven."

Right. I knew the oven she wanted, as she's been whining about this oven since we moved in. The oven she wants is $1749. Replacing the control module on a crappy GE oven is not going to be anywhere near that price.

But whatever. I made that last month off advertising on my trampoline post, so it's no big deal. I left The Mrs. in charge of buying the new oven, which I believe she didn't do. It's special-order only at Lowe's. There are about 10 other appliance stores around that carry KitchenAid. I imagine I'll be calling them on Saturday.

I'm pretty sure she willed it to die. She's crafty like that.

Monday, May 19, 2008

I did not die in my sleep

I see that as largely good news.

See, yesterday morning, my left eyelid felt a bit scratchy. I ignored it cuz I had a lot of yardwork to do, and during allergy season, my eyes are often not feeling perfect. I went out with MaxieC and put down weedkiller on all our weeds. 4 gallons of weedkiller it took, and we only sprayed it directly on weeds, not on the whole lawn. I used Ortho Weed-B-Gone. It works very well and doesn't kill the grass like Round-Up does.

After that, I went to work rototilling the garden. Last year I used a big, rear-tine rental tiller. This year, I had 1/2" drip line all around plus a bunch of perennials (strawberries, raspberries, and asparagus) that I needed to negotiate. The big tiller would never be manageable. So, I borrowed Rico's front tine tiller. I had done an hour of tilling on Saturday evening, and I had gotten about another hour into the tilling Sunday morning when I just couldn't stand my scratchy eye anymore. I went inside to take out my contacts.

When I looked in the mirror, I noticed that my eye was fine, but my eyelid was all swollen up. I showed The Mrs. and asked if she thought I should head over to Urgent Care. She insisted on driving me there, in case they decided to give me a shot in my eyelid and I couldn't drive back.

So we packed up the family into the minivan and headed to urgent care. The Mrs. is one of those people who zooms up to stop signs and then slams on the brakes. I often have to close my eyes when she's driving. But she's never crashed, whereas I have a couple times. So who am I to criticize? (Plus, she was upset that I focused my last post too much on her sister and not enough on her, and so I need to make sure I'm extra-critical of her in this one.)

Speaking of which, HannahC got "grounded" today. I asked what that meant and was told it meant dinner, schoolwork, then straight to bed with no computer and no TV. She's up there right now watching YouTube videos with The Mrs., and it's past her normal bedtime.

I hope The Mrs. gets much better at this "grounded" business before HannahC is a teenager. Right now, she sucks at it.

Anyways, I sit around for like an hour waiting to see a doctor. He looks at my eye and says there are a few things it could be. Could be an allergy or a blocked tear duct or a side-effect of one of the meds I'm on. After close examination, he rules out blocked tear duct.

Then he goes on a long spiel about how one of the side-effects of this drug is something called "angioedema", which he described as a leaking of the capillaries and how, if that was the case, we'd need to take it very seriously, as it would be potentially life-threatening. Then he tells me how there's no real way for him to tell whether it's allergies or this drug side-effect or what, but that's he pretty sure it's nothing serious cuz the drug side effect only affect 0.25% of people, and it's usually much more of your face that swells up, not just an eyelid.

But just to be sure, he's going to check with the other doctor on duty.

He came back about 10 minutes later and said, "Yeah, she never heard of it starting as just an eyelid either. It's probably nothing. But watch it and if it gets worse or starts to spread, go to the ER."

He then sent me off with instructions to take Benedryl before bed. Benedryl makes you kinda loopy. So all night I'm in this semi-drug stupor, except I keep having to feel my face all over to make sure it wasn't swelling anywhere lest I become in danger of imminent death, but when you're half asleep and drugged up on Benedryl, a little itch can seem like the end of the world.

I think I slept quite well, given that.

The swelling seems to have largely subsided now. I will never know the cause.

CherkyB, Eco-Warrior

Boy, when you try to be an environmentalist, it always ends up backfiring.

Take today, for instance. I rushed home from work so that I could taxi HannahC over to her swimming lesson on time, and I was greeted by my loving wife, The Mrs., with, "HannahC is still getting ready. She's had a bit of a day." In the C household, that means there have been some disciplinary problems during the day. The Mrs. then went upstairs to try to hurry things along, and I heard a continuous stream of snarls and squeals, which is how HannahC communicates her displeasure when she is angry.

Apparently, being a homeschooler, she hasn't picked up the proper vocabulary of invectives yet. Odd. I'll have to work on that.

Upon her eventual arrival in the kitchen, she looked at me, put one hand on her hip, pointed at me, and said, "Daddy, I am the maddest that's possible at you!"


"You threw your cigarette butt right in the lawn!"

My immediate reaction was to desire to paraphrase Ratatouille, which is odd because it is an eminently forgettable moovie. "What you need is a little perspective. That's it. You need some fresh, clear, well seasoned perspective."

Then, I thought about how I could explain to her how I don't smoke cigarettes, and what she found was the stub of a wonderful Arturo Fuente cigar, something normally out of my price range. But I knew she knew this (well, the cigar vs. cigarette part, probably not the Arturo Fuente part) and had just misspoken.

Faced with these two alternative retorts, I chose neither. Instead, I stuffed my mouth full of Cheetos puffs, as I had been snacking when she showed up. See, that's the wonderful thing about being a man - I can realize someone had a bad day and just let sleeping dogs lie. I don't have to turn every goddamned little thing into a confrontation.

Plus I really like Cheetos.

The interesting thing here is that it is all Ellie's fault that HannahC is mad at me. See, a couple weeks prior to our visit out there, she got all excited about me meeting her boyfriend, a fellow known around these parts as, "The Locksmith," but whom she refers to on her blog as, "D_," as she likes to cop the style of classical French novelists like Dumas and de Sade. In one of the many IM conversations we had about her excitement for me meeting The Locksmith, she said, "D_ wants to smoke cigars with you."

I believe now that she just made that up. However, at the time I assumed that this was true, so I started quizzing her on what kind of cigars he smoked and where the local cigar shops were in Barfalo. Being a woman, she didn't have any answers at all, but it was easy enough for me to find a local shop not too far from my parents' house by using this really cool thing called google maps. So I got it into my head that I'd need to set aside an hour for cigar smoking while on my vacation. You wouldn't think that'd be such a difficult thing, but you've never vacationed in Barfalo with two families warring over your time.

At some point, I figured we were having a big barbecue on Mothers' Day, and it'd be a great time to stooge out by the grill while cooking. So I went off to the local shop on Saturday morning and got a couple of Fuentes. Special occasion, so I splurged.

Then, of course, multiple things transpired to destroy the cigar-smoking experience. First, being Barfalo, it poured. It was beautiful almost the entire week we were there, right up to about an hour before grilling time. Then it decided to pour. On top of that, The Locksmith decided he had to "work" that night and didn't come to the BBQ. And then, of course, I had forgotten about Ellie's couple-days-later follow-up to my queries about The Locksmith's cigar preferences which went like this, "D_ doesn't smoke cigars. He chews tobacco," which, of course, made me wonder whether he wanted to smoke cigars with me in the first place or if it was all made up to feed some sort of bizarre desire in Ellie that her Future Husband, RIP, get along smashingly with her brother-in-law who lives 1500 miles away the one or two days every 3-4 years they would ever see each other.

At any rate, I ended up bringing the cigars home with me unsmoked. I slapped them in the humidor as soon as we got home, as 5 days in a baggie can't possibly be good for them. (The first three days were in Barfalo, where the humidity never got below 85%, so the baggie actually kept them dry rather than keeping them moist.)

Saturday night came around, and like clockwork The Mrs. declared she wasn't feeling well (lest I get any ideas) and went to bed at 9pm. I took it as an opportunity to sit in the hot tub, finish off a bottle of wine, and stooge. All you married guys know what I'm talking about. You spend a lot of time recreating a wonderful evening with your wife, only she's not there so you substitute alcohol and tobacco...

After about an hour of stooging pleasure, I left the stub in my gigantic Partagás cigar ashtray to be disposed of later. On Sunday, I disposed of it by composting it in the lawn. It is, after all, nothing but a bunch of rolled-up, dried leaves. No chemicals, no paper. Nothing but leaves.

And this is the thanks I get for my environmental consideration.

Thursday, May 15, 2008

Home for the Holidays

Why were the flags flying at half mast all across Nebraska today?

We made it home without serious incident today. Everyone is very happy to be back after two weeks away.

It's a very strange thing how some things work just fine forever, and then suddenly decide to malfunction the one time you're away. Case in point: one of my pond pumps.

Upon our return, The Mrs. reported that neither waterfall in the back pond was working, and that the pond was filled with algae. I figured that the water level was low from evaporation, and I got out the hose to refill it. Then, I noted that the water level was plenty high enough to feed the pumps. The pumps were just dead.

Uh oh.

I went to the breaker box and found a tripped GFI breaker. I reset it, and it immediately tripped again. I went back to the pond and unplugged everything (two pumps and two heaters), and reset it again. This time it worked. I plugged in one pump, and it started up. When I plugged in the second, it tripped again. I repeated this a couple times just to be sure.

So, the greatness of having redundant pumps is eliminated if one of the pumps decides to develop a short. That takes out the whole pond's electrical.

And WTF? Why does a pump develop a short when we're away? Why not any of the other 50 weeks this year that we're home? And these aren't cheap pumps. They're like $250 bucks. Why would it develop a short at all?

I'm hoping that my "spare" pump is the same flow rate. I got that when I decommissioned the pond that is now the rock garden. However, that was a much, much larger waterfall, so I'm guessing this is a much higher flow pump that will not be right for this application, and I'll end up buying a new pump on Saturday.

Fudge sticks.

Cabela's was a big disappointment. Their fishing section was about half the size of Sportsman's Warehouse, and they didn't have the thing I wanted. Much like a non-mouthy woman, it is mail order only. I did manage to score a 50 round magazine for my 10/22, though. I can get those locally as well, but not this brand.

And Cabela's bathrooms are nothing special. Lowe's has the best damned bathrooms of anybody.

Wednesday, May 14, 2008

Ahh, the Joy of it

The Mrs. has taken The Childrens down to the hotel pool, leaving Me, CherkyB, in the hotel room with only FreddyC and JackieC for company. It is so peaceful. This is by far the nicest hotel we've stayed at yet. I may have to move Best Western up on my list of preferred chains.

We still need to scare up dinner. There's a Perkins attached to the hotel, but I'm lobbying for this place called "Brewburgers" that is diagonally across the street. I will almost without question lose this battle.

Today was a day I would characterize as a day of rest stops. In the 500 miles here, we never made it more than 1.5 hours without stopping. MaxieC has learned that since his accident yesterday, all he has to do is say, "I have to pee," and we stop at the next stop. Even if he follows it up with, "Juuust kidding!" as he likes to do.

We had lunch at Craker Barrel. None of us had ever eaten there before. I can cross that off my list of things to do. Yuck. The Mrs., however, really liked it. She had to call her mother to report the wondrousness of a bowl of stew, turnip greens, some other nasty veggie, and cornbread all for $7.19. I always forget how much more of a bumpkin she is than I am. I don't know why I'd forget that, given how much I saw her family over the last week.

Oddly, The Mrs. and I have taken to high-fiving each other whenever we finish our meals, calling each other "baby," and looking at each other all dreamy-stoopid. Then we crack up. I don't know why.

Heading for home

We've completed the first day of the three day journey home without incident. The weather has been quite cooperative - clear and sunny the whole way. There was a big band of thunderstorms over the Iowa/Illinois border when we left, and it managed to get to our hotel in Portage, Indiana about an hour after we did. It rained all night, but stopped by this morning. Now there appears to be no weather between here and Omaha.

The Mrs. has declared the free coffee at the hotel breakfast bar "undrinkable" and instructed me to find a Starbucks. It just so happens there is a drive-through Starbucks a couple blocks from here that I passed last night on my way to pick up the pizza.

I don't know if we'll hit a Cabela's today or tomorrow. It's in the plan, though. Possibly a Bass Pro as well. Never been to either, though most of my hunting clothes came from Cabela's mail order.

Gotta pack now. Later.

Friday, May 09, 2008

I am death

I always manage to get sick on my vacations. I have had a very bad cold for three days now, but each night I try to put on my game face and be sociable. I think I am better today than I was yesterday, but it's hard to say. It's possible I am just more used to being sick.

Thursday, May 08, 2008

Christmas Doom

Tuesday night, at Ellie's house:
The Mrs.: "Boy, the Wii is fun. Maybe you kids should ask Santa for one for Christmas."

The Childrens: "Yeah! Yeah! Yeah!"

CherkyB, Jokester

The last day before my vacation, I sent out an email at work that had the subject, "It's been fun." Then, it went like this:
As most of you by now have probably heard, today is my last day here at FCDC*. Boy, time really flies. Can you believe we’ve been in this building for a year already? And I’ve spent almost 14 years with [The Company], which is a pretty good run in the technology world. We’ve had some good times and some rough times along the way. I wish you all the best of luck keeping up the drive to [our project's goal].

Anyways, I’m using this post-April [note: April is performance-review time] opportunity to do a little traveling, rearrange my priorities for a while, and get to know what my family looks like again.

[My boss] (who I recently learned may hold the record at this site for having employees “quit”) and I are feverishly working out the coverage for my myriad responsibilities. I believe it goes mostly like this:

Yadda Yadda Yadda...

* for two weeks. I’ll be back in the office ww20.5. Don’t steal all my office supplies, you punks.

See, you had to scroll down to see what the asterisk referenced. I sent this to a select list of folks, all of whom I figured could take a joke. Oddly, only two people bit. Also, oddly, those two people were the only two on the list who had a particular job description. Now, I'll get to rag on them for having poor reading skills. You know who you are.

Hee hee hee.

Some Vacation Photos

I gots millions of them, but none of you really care. So here are the ones that I have chosen you will care about from the first few days.

Here is the van all packed up and ready to go (except for the eggs). See how happy The Mrs. looks? She doesn't realize we're going to be driving through a blizzard two hours from now.

The Childrens look happy, too. Suckers. JackieC is in the cage behind MaxieC. FreddyC is on the floor between The Childrens.

Visiting with the clan in Richfield. Richfield gets a Cabela's. I'm kinda jealous. My bro, DougyC, took all the cousins for a tractor ride. Well, this was the first of many.

Fun and games are now over. We're at Fat Moother's house where The Mrs. promised I could put on a show of the CherkyB talent for yardwork. If you need Me, CherkyB to fix up your yard, I am apparently available for hire. And I largely work just for beer.

Moother had her yard re-sodded a year or two ago. Then it largely died. Here is after I have spent hours of backbreaking manual labor raking out all the dead grass to prepare for re-seeding. See all the big piles of dead grass on the sidewalk? Three garbage bags full.

I bought a hydroseed mix, except that it was dry. It has perennial rye, Kentucky blue, and creeping fescue seeds, plus it has "mulch" (which turns out to be shredded magazines), and some bluish fertilizer soaked into the mulch. It said it covered 100 sq ft per bag, but it didn't quite. I'm going to have to go add more some time. This photo is taken after about two bags of it.

After seeding, I got to water. It has rained some every day since this, so this is the only time it needed watering. The weather in Barfalo is iffy at best. Mostly, it sucks.

You'll have to wait for Niagara Falls photos.

Wednesday, May 07, 2008


As has been reported elsewhere, we managed to arrive at the old homestead in Barfalo right on time Monday. We had a great visit with my brother and family (including lots of little boy cousins for MaxieC to play with) along the way.

Oddly, none of the motels in which we have stayed have included free in-room internet. The first night, we had wifi in the lobby only, but our room was just two from the lobby, so I got a weak but usable signal in the room and could post an update. The next two had no indication of having wifi anywhere, and honestly we were just too tired to check.

Today was a day of tourism. Meaning we went to Niagara Falls. We managed to do something that neither The Mrs. nor I had ever done in our 18+ years of living in the area - ride the Maid of the Mist boat. My recollection as a child was of asking many times if we could ride the Maid of the Mist and always being told it was too dangerous. However, both my parents denied that today but could provide absolutely no explanation as to why we never went despite going to the falls probably 20 times.

It shall forever remain a mystery.

I have lots of great pictures, but the camera is out in the winivan, and I don't fell like walking out there. Not for the likes of you folks, at least.

Yesterday was a day of slave-driving. I rakes and reseeded a lawn; replaced a showerhead; changed the oil, sparkplug, and air filter of a lawnmower; mowed a lawn; re-installed vinyl lattice fencing that had blown over in the wind; replaced the fluorescent bulbs in the kitchen fixtures; and (mostly) stopped a leaking garden hose coupling. And nobody even fed me lunch.

Friday, May 02, 2008

A Blizzard in May

So last night, the winds were all whooping it up, and there was a forecast for snow in Wyoming coming down into Colorado. I decided, therefore, to alter our route from taking I-25 to Cheyenne to pick up I-80 to instead taking I-76 and connecting up with I-80 farther east in Nebraska.

Ahh, the best laid plans. We stopped at a rest stop in Sterling, CO so the kids could pee, and they told us that I-76 was just closed, and I-80 was closed all the way across Wyoming and to Ogallala, Nebraska because of a blizzard.

Come on, guys, it's f-ing May! It's not supposed to blizzard in May.

They had an info counter there with a couple guys with maps who were trying to give alternate routes to folks. Mostly, they were sending them south to pick up I-70, but that's quite a trek and well out of the way for Iowa, which is where we were headed.

I axed how to get to get around the section of highway that was closed, and he said, "well, you can take the old highway that we used to take before they built the interstate."

Glorious! I've seen Cars like a billion times. The joy of the old highways. The charm. Maybe I'll find Radiator Springs,

Bzzzt. Wrong. US-6 runs through cornfields and ranch land and the only "towns" on it in this section were really nothing more than paved intersections where there happened to be grain silos.

He showed me this route. It worked fine, but the GPS was very unhappy with it and kept telling me to turn around.

The GPS may have more sens than I do.

The little diagonal shot of 176/23 from Holyoke to Grant was particularly harrowing. We hit one complete whiteout where I couldn't see 4 feet, so I inched over onto the shoulder and stopped for a minute. Then an SUV came by with a big rig right on his tail. The SUV slowed when he saw my taillights, I guess, and the big rig ended up locking it up with the tractor passing the SUV on the wrong side of the road, but the ass end of the trailer still on the right side of the road behind the SUV. I was positive they were gonna wreck, but they disappeared into the blizzard. I decided that, since I could now see a good 25 yards, I better get back moving or we'll all be killing on the shoulder of the road.

We mucked along for maybe three hours on this little detour. Sometimes is was clear, most times it was blizzarding. I got to learn that the minivan's stability control was a damn fine thing to have, as I was headed for the ditch twice and then the van just started doing a remarkably perfect power slide (which is very hard to do given the front-wheel-drive nature of the vehicle) with the back end maybe 15 degrees to the left of the front, but very true and controllable as we slowed and straightened.

Damn that's nice. I'm glad The Mrs. insisted we get the van with the traction control. Her tires are without a doubt much much worse than mine in the snow. I have M+S A/T truck tires, though.

We passed a few cars in the ditch on the stretch of 61 between Grant and Ogallala. This road was mostly quite bare, but every now and then it had 6" of snow drifted across it. There was a cross wide gusting up around 60mph, and if you were moving too fast when you hit the snow, there was quite a tendency to slide sideways. This is actually what happened to me both time I almost left the road, but by the time I got to 61, I had been driving through the blizzard for almost two hours and had the routine down. The minute you see snow on the road, hit the flashers and slow to 25mph.

So what was supposed to be a leisurely 675 miles turned into a rather harrowing experience for 3 of those hours. About another 6 hours we had to deal with the high winds and rain, and then it got pretty nice. We got to the hotel about 12 hours after we left home, which was an hour off pace (I planned for trouble of some sort - mainly I planned for barfing).

The Mrs. and The Childrens are swimming in the hotel pool here is beautiful Grimes, Iowa (a suburb of Des Moines). I'm staying with FreddyC so he doesn't tear up the room with everyone gone.

Tomorrow, on to my brother's place in Richfield, WI. I hope there isn't much weather.