Friday, October 15, 2010

On the Road Again

Ed and Mary enjoy a meal at R&B Breakfast Club.
We survived yet another trip to Colorado and Wyoming over the 4 days of Fall Break. Ed and I drove away from Show Low at 2:30 on Friday afternoon and arrived at his mom Caryl’s house in the prairies of northern Colorado at 4:00 a.m. our time (5:00 a.m. Colorado and Wyoming time) on Saturday morning. That’s a very long drive!

The drive was mostly uneventful, as far as I can tell. I really tried to be good company for Ed, who drove the entire 800 or so miles, but I’m afraid I slept for several hours during the trip. It made me stiff all over, trying to get some shut-eye in the front seat of a truck, but I’d been awake since about 5:00 Friday morning to finish up packing before going to work, and I was awfully tired!

Traffic slows north of Albuquerque.

We did hit some stop-and-go traffic as we drove through the northern part of Albuquerque, New Mexico. We don’t know what held us up for half an hour so late in the evening (about 8 p.m.), but at least we were provided with some entertainment while we waited. As luck would have it, a huge fireworks program was going on in the sky just across the freeway from where we were inching along. It gave us something to look at besides taillights!

Ed’s favorite breakfast restaurant, R&B

Once we reached Caryl’s house, we visited for a few minutes and then went to bed for the next 5 hours. We needed the rest!  After we got up, we headed across the Wyoming border and into Cheyenne for breakfast. (See top picture.)

Other than his mother and his friends, I believe Ed misses nothing from this area more than he misses R&B Breakfast Club, a restaurant that serves breakfast all day. Before we got married, he actually came here every morning, 6 days a week, and ordered the same meal: ham and eggs (over easy), hash browns, toast with strawberry jam, milk, and orange juice. I know this because I’ve now eaten in this restaurant with him many times since our wedding!

Personally, I prefer a home-cooked breakfast. I like my eggs medium-cooked in real butter, my hash browns shredded from real potatoes and fried in extra-virgin olive oil (slightly greasy and sprinkled with garlic salt), and my toast made from 100% whole wheat bread, crispy-toasted and smothered in real, melted butter. I rarely eat like that, of course, but on occasion that’s what I like.

Ed, however, has been having breakfast withdrawals since he moved to Arizona. In his opinion, none of our local restaurants quite measure up to R&B. Besides, he really likes the people who work at R&B, so we head back there for breakfast every time we come to town. The staff treats us like royalty when we walk in, and it’s a nice tradition for us.

Ed and his mom, Caryl, at Denny’s in Fort Collins, Colorado;
I’m always amazed by how these tiny women can produce these big sons!

After breakfast, we returned to Caryl’s house to pick her up, and then we drove into Fort Collins so she could run some errands. After a couple of hours, she treated us to lunch at Denny’s. She is such a sweet lady!

I’ve seen a lot of Fort Collins over the past few months. Ed moved there from his home state of New York when he was sixteen. He finished high school there, made some good friends, and lived there as a young married man before joining the Air Force and again later during the early years of his second marriage before returning to Alaska. He made many good memories in Fort Collins.

Ed spent the rest of the day taking care of repairs at his mom’s house, getting her place ready for the coming winter. She’s still thinking about moving to Arizona, but those plans have been pushed back until at least next summer and meanwhile she has to survive the winter. Living so far from her now, Ed worries about how she’ll get by and run her big place without his help.

What was I doing while Ed was hard at work? I’m embarrassed to admit it, but I was napping! I slept for 2 more hours and got up just in time for dinner, which Ed cooked for us. I don't know how he kept going on so little sleep.  I think I’m in danger of becoming spoiled!
Dinner at Red Lobster in Denver, Colorado

On Sunday we drove back into Cheyenne and attended church at Ed’s former ward. It was fun visiting with his old friends. As often as I’ve been there over the past several months, I’ve gotten to know and like many of the people of Frontier Ward. They always seem so pleased to see us when we return.

Sunday evening we headed south to Denver, which is slightly more than an hour’s drive from Caryl’s house. Ed had invited his lawyer’s family out to dinner on Monday night, but at the last minute they had to cancel and asked if we could do it Sunday instead. We try to avoid going out on Sundays, but since we thought we were heading home on Tuesday morning we didn’t see any other options.

Ed with his lawyer, Jim, and Jim’s children and wife, Patty

We had a delicious shrimp dinner and a lovely, long visit. It was my first time to meet Jim and his wife, Patty. Ed had told me what great people they are, and he was right. They’re a warm and personable family, and I see why Ed trusts Jim to handle his affairs. It was a wonderful evening.


Monday was a day of frustrations.  Ed spent the entire day working at finishing up all the projects around his mom's property that needed to be completed before we headed back home, but he met with many setbacks throughout the day.

We did get a nice break during the afternoon, when Ed's good friends Kelcey and Cindy stopped by to visit for an hour or two.  After that, though, it was back to business.  
The most difficult task was winterizing Caryl's furnace, which is a complex wood boiler designed by Ed's dad some 20 years ago.  Recently Caryl had a propane furnace added to the system.  Her intent was to switch between the wood and propane systems as needed.  Now that Ed no longer lives close enough to collect and chop the wood or continually feed the fires to keep the boiler working, it's too much labor for a woman of her age on a regular basis. 
To winterize the system, Ed thought he needed to add 20 gallons of specialized antifreeze.  By Monday afternoon, he discovered the job would be far more complicated than he'd expected, due to the newly added propane system, and would actually require 200 gallons of antifreeze!

On Tuesday, three 50-gallon drums of antifreeze are loaded on the back of Ed's truck.
That's a lot of antifreeze!  Luckily, the retailers Ed contacted were able to secure it for us the very next day.  Unfortunately, that was the day we were supposed to drive home so I could return to work at the end of Fall Break, on Wednesday.  I quickly made some phone calls to request a sub to cover my classes and give instructions to my teaching assistant, and we extended our stay one more day.
Ed loads the last buckets of antifreeze on the truck.
We drove back to Fort Collins on Tuesday to pick up three drums of antifreeze and run a few more errands while we were at it.  Then Ed spent many hours filling the boiler system and troubleshooting each new problem that arose.

Dylan and Ed working around Caryl's property back in June.

I meant to take a picture of the wood boiler furnace, but never got around to doing it.  The furnace is an actual shed-like outbuilding which stands several yards from the house.  It's only slightly smaller than the shed in the above photo, except the walls are black.  You open the door and shove wood into the fire inside.

Beneath the furnace is a cement underground room, like a bomb shelter.  Many of the system's pipes and electrical wires are located there.  You enter through a rusty metal tube and climb down these rungs in the wall.  Ed invited me down to take a look around, but I couldn't bring myself to do it.  I'm not exactly claustrophobic, but...

Ed had to climb in and out of this hole many times over several days.  It was getting old, as one can imagine.  By the end of Tuesday, he was feeling confident that he had the newly integrated systems figured out and would only need a few more tweaks before we left for home the next morning.


We meant to get up at 6:00 on Wednesday morning, but we overslept by an hour.  Ed still had work to do on the furnace system, so I kept busy with packing up our stuff and hauling it out to the truck.  It was after 11:00 when we drove into Cheyenne for one last breakfast at R&Bs and to take care of some final business matters.

In the end, it was 1:30 p.m. (Colorado/Wyoming time) when we finally got on the road headed toward home.  Thankfully, it was another uneventful drive and we made good time.  We were both sore and exhausted when we pulled into the driveway just after midnight, but our own bed in our own home never felt so wonderful!  There truly is no place like home!

1 comment:

Grandma Honey said...

I imagine going back to work would seem restful compared to all you did on this trip.

Interesting that you took Ed's attorney and family out to dinner. Must be a small town thing to do? I can't imagine going out to dinner with our lawyer.