Ginger and Ken drive to Alaska from Texas, through Wichita, Madison, Chicago, Corpus....

We decided to make a lifestyle change and move. Following are tales of our trips, packing mishaps, beautiful drives, visitations and more! This is Texas2Alaska2 because it is my second time to make the drive.

Friday, September 17, 2010

What do all Good Aunts and Uncles do with their Baby Nephews?

Take lots of photos and have fun with them! Just another ‘task’ to redirect attention away from packing for a majorly long road trip to Alaska. (really, we were so looking forward to being there, but the baby.....)

I take lots of photos anyway, always have always will--of everything! So when a new family member comes along, of course it will be well documented. Baby Andy is a great subject. He does not exactly pose yet, but he does know he is the center of everyone’s attention. 
One day, when baby daddy came home with this new motorcycle, we had to take advantage....

Baby Andy loves Ken because neither of them has hair! Ken could always calm baby Andy. And when Andy realized laughing was fun, Ken could work the funny faces and noises!

Tuesday, September 14, 2010

Just a Little Side Trip

Monday after the IronMan, everyone scattered back to their respective homes. Ken and I decided to return to Wichita via Chicago, we were so close by, why not? The weather was holding out and beautiful. 

We approached Chicago along the Lake Michigan coast from the north. Approaching the city, yet miles away on the freeway, we could already see the Sears Tower (now called the Willis Tower). It was a beautiful drive in from this direction and a wonderful place to see the sunset. We were so lucky to find a FREE parking spot at the Chicago Botanic Garden, , from which we could walk to the lakeshore. (Above, the Chicago Botanic Garden in September!) It was a very energetic locale, lots of Chicagoans taking advantage of the jogging trail. The Great Lakes truly are great. It was awe inspiring to look out over a lake and not see another shoreline. 

One thing I had to see for sure was the big Cloud, that would be in Millennium Park, . After our walk we relocated to a downtown parking spot and headed to the Park. Check it out, Its was a Monday and there was a free concert in the Frank Gehry designed Jay Pritzker Pavillion! Cloud Gate sculpture by Anish Kapoor is radiant in the dusk light reflecting the sparkle of the city. (oh my Environmental Design degree is serving me well!) The sculpture could provide hours of entertainment experiencing the changing light and virtually moving surface. The park was a wonderful vibrant place this evening, and in light jacket weather, it could not have been more perfect! Except this parking spot: $27 for 1 hour!!!!! Egads!  Below: at the Cloud Gate, detail of the Cloud with city scape, detail of the Pritzker Pavillion

Our departure from Chicago could not be complete without a pie, you know, deep dish. Ken and I walked a few blocks across from the park and quickly came upon a pizza restaurant. Our pie was nice and thick and savory and we of course had leftovers for breakfast. 

Wish we could have stayed longer, but it was a great evening none-the-less!

Monday, September 13, 2010

Connecting with the Alaska Connection

Before our planned move to Wichita, we knew we might be making a side trip to Madison, Wisconsin. Last fall when our Alaska friends visited Austin, the ironman trainee said she was going to the Ironman Madison in September. Ken and I figured, being half way there in Wichita, why not take a little weekend trip? Ken lived in Madison for a short time as a child, I had not been there. I am always up for seeing something new especially since Ken remembered it as a nice place. As the time came closer to moving to Wichita, the option was kept open since we were not sure how long it would take us to prepare for the big move. 
Soon we came to realize, we were going to be in Wichita for a while. Helping with the baby was just too much of a good thing for the whole family. This made the decision to take the Madison trip easier. Besides, our Alaska friends are soon to be our best buddies, so we would love to support them in the athletic quest. The Ironman was on a Sunday September 12 and it would take us a whole day to drive to Madison. We planned to leave on Thursday. 
The drive was lovely, the weather was perfect. It was early fall and the temperature was moderate to cool. As we got further into Iowa and Wisconsin, it seemed we were driving through perpetual rolling corn fields. The sky was constantly deep clear blue, the corn golden, and the native grasses just radiantly shimmery. There were many old farm buildings standing the test of time showing to outsiders a bucolic lifestyle. The organization of the farms gave a nice tidy look, but I preferred the waving and erratic movement of the native landscapes. At this time of year-mid September-the prairie grasses were glowing, silvery seed head tops, large spiky clumps, and adding great texture to the wildflowers. Goldenrod with its bright yellow, roosevelt weed, and snow on the prairie mixed chock-a-block with the grasses. It has just been a perfect end of summer. (Above, prairie conservation site, goldenrod in full bloom end of summer)

Saturday before the race was the Madison Farmer’s Market. If I have a chance in any city to visit their market, I will be there. The Madison Market proved to be a good experience. Wisconsin is a large dairy region. I had so much fun tasting cheese! So many flavors and styles to be had. And all the veggies and fruits that were in season. Potatoes, onions, beans, squash, oyster mushrooms, bread, pastries, cheese, cheese, and more cheese. What made it even more exciting, the market was on the square around the capital building. And the building did not even have a fence around to all. Ken and I procured everything to make dinner on this evening, fabulous fresh hearty food for the athletes. (Above, the Wisconsin capital building in the heart of Madison)
The Ironman was for crazy people! Those athletes are amazing with their determination and endurance. There could not have been better weather either. The support crew for our two friends in the race numbered about 8 or 9. We all staged ourselves so one group could alert the others where and when to see our athletes. It was an amazing day, clear blue skies, highs in the mid 70s, and lots of good energy around. We staged several viewing and support stops where we could cheer the athletes. This was an ALL DAY affair. I think the supporters get just as worn out as the athletes. So much walking, running, sitting, plotting. But it was worth it to see those athletes accomplish their goals.
(Above, Ken watching the swim portion of the Ironman. Madison has two gorgeous lakes on each side. Below members of the team Lindsay and Team Dana support crew, front, back, and boy its hard work being on the support crew!)

The whole crew and two athletes stayed at a farmhouse outside of town. The athletes had made the arrangements and we were so grateful for it. The house was two stories with many rooms. It was over 100 years old! Very charming and accommodating. 

Hooray for our brave finishers! Second from left Lindsay, and beside her, Dana!!!!!!