Two of the highlights of the road trip from East Texas to Colorado (via Oklahoma
and Dorothy’s home state). As per usual, my visit to the Lone Star
State that I call Home
(in the born-and-bred sense of the word) has been a whirlwind of happy
activity. Thanksgiving was a bit of a blur (who knew it was possible to
actually lose wieght the last week of November?), and this Christmas
hasn’t been much slower. After getting into DFW a tad late Thursday night
(though the delay wasn’t bad, the flight was direct, and my seatmate was an
adorable guy from Sarah Lawrence a few months younger than my sister), Darling
Josh and his minpin Ellie picked me up and drove me home. The family got
up to welcome me, despite my past-2-am arrival, though we all quickly crawled
back into bed. The next day, Cass came to help me create Christmas
presents: Pillows for everyone! I made decorative pillows that
coordinated with the respective beds of the various pillow recipients, all of
which had frames on the front showcasing different family pictures. They
were a big hit! Thanks to Cass for her helpful eye, her suggestion of a
“test subject”, and to her awesome mom Lucy who machine-sewed some of
the most crucial seams; and to Heather for helping with the stuffing.
That night we had fewer than expected at our house, because I think I invited
nearly every Hallsvillian and Kilgorite I know to come by our house to say hi
to “the Milton
sisters . . . in town for a short time only”. But we had fun, and
there were slice & bake cookies and popcorn, as promised, along with a
smorgasboard of other munchies (no cream cheese penguins for this shindig,
though). We had a half-hearted but hilarious round of Balderdash, Cass
and I finished the silverware bouquets for her kitchen window (why does it
sometimes take me years, literally, to finish a project?), and Heather stayed
over and we talked the night away while pillow-stuffing. The next day was
last-minute errands before heading down for a tamale dinner and a round of
Christmas presents with Nunna and Uncle Buddy and Marian, though we drove back
that night since the family was part of the Sunday service the next day (I’m
hoping we’ll be able to salvage the recording of my rendition of “O Come
Emmanuel”). After church we went to Luby’s with the Fritzes; and
then later that night it was back to FBCH for the Silent Lord’s Supper; and
then after that, we opened gifts at our house. I missed seeing
Jeff that afternoon (and thus missed yet another chance to meet Gladys), but
what can you do? The next morning, after a careful inventory of Santa’s
booty, it was off to Beckville for another family Christmas at Mama Sharp’s
house, which included nearly 45 of our relatives and a crazy gift exchange, and
a TON of food (like we always do). After meeting my cousin Zack’s new
baby, Callie Rose, whose birth was heralded here earlier in November, and
playing a round of “I’m bigger than you!” with my cousin Mindy’s son
Colby (now 4), Mindy said, “So Kyleen, when are you gonna have
one?” Not any time soon, I told her; though hopefully eventually
I’ll be taking a brood of my own to Beckville, and everyone will love them and
their Daddy too (though marriage seems so far off for me sometimes!).

We said our goodbyes, left Beckville, headed home to finish packing up, and
then drove to Grannie and PaPa’s. Up bright and early the next morning,
we started our trek to Colby (not Mindy’s son or Emily’s boyfriend but the town
in Kansas).
I think road trips may be one of my favourite things. I love to drive
across miles of interstate, taking in the scenery; I love the cat naps in the
car (the vehicular vibrations lull me right to sleep); I love having time to
read for hours at a time without guilt; I love the munchies we pack to take
along the way (SAUSAGE BALLS!); I love the conversations with my family. I must say that right up there on the list of
things I love are the unexpected little joys, like the sunset across Kansas and the cow dog
named Zeke. The sunset was spectacular: In a state as flat as Kansas, the horizon stretches almost
endlessly and the sky is wide and open.
Your view spans miles in a spectacular mélange of blue, indigo,
tangerine, crimson, vermillion, violet, scarlet, more colors than I have words
to describe, with a richness and radiance even Thomas Kincade couldn’t
capture. Time seemed to stand still even
as we moved faster than a mile a minute (more like a mile every 45 seconds if
you’re following the proper limit) and the blazing sun set behind miles and
miles of miles and miles. The cow dog,
Zeke, was black and white, breed unbeknownst to me (retriever? spaniel?), with long, soft, thick fur and
sweet, caring brown eyes. As Wendy would
say, I’m thankful for interspecies tenderness (and shame on any of you readers
who interpret that as anything other than affectionate ear-scratching and
fur-rubbing!). While we were stopped at
a gas station just off the interstate, I met Zeke’s owners, from Montana, who were in a
rental car and had been mildly rear-ended in the backed-up traffic by a young
lady (who hardly did any damage, though they called the state trooper at the
insistence of Avis). That’s why Zeke was
allowed out of the car on a leash, and I’m guessing he initially approached me
because of my ham sandwich and not because I seemed like a kindred friendly
spirit. (He didn’t get any of my
sandwich, but he did get lots of attention!)

Some people don’t like long hours in the car, but to me,
road trips are a lot of fun. Getting in
a car and driving for miles and miles seeing various sections of our great
country seems like my own little enactment of manifest destiny – and there’s so
much more of the great United
States I’d love to see! (More of the entire world, really, but you
can’t exactly cross an ocean in a Pontiac Aztec.) And that’s just the half of it! The vacation had just begun, really, when we
checked into the Super 8 and supped at Montana Mike’s, but I’ll save the rest
of the story for another entry.