Lady Di was still a little dizzy from her ear surgery and Number One Son had a piano class on Saturday, so they elected to stay home. Plus, it was homecoming week and N1S was excited to see the local football game. And of course, 'see the game' really means hanging out with your friends and seeing how much Mountain Dew and Skittles you can get for five bucks.
So I asked Sweet Pea if she wanted to visit the golfing grandparents with me. She, of course, said yes, yes, yes, yes, yes,...
So Lady Di was nice enough to sneak some of SP's clothes into my suitcase along with her leopard print bathroom bag and we were ready to go. I made sure to bring along a Star Wars color book, some paper and crayons for the trek.
Unfortunately, about a half hour into our journey Lady Di called to say that SP had forgotten her pillow which was packed with her jacket, stuffed animal and most importantly her purple blankie. Then around a half hour later, SP asked if I could hand her pillow back so she could rest.
"Uhhhh, can you just use the blanket under the seat?", I offered.
"I like my pillow better.", she countered.
'I might as well get this over with.' , I thought.
"Mom just called and said that you left it on your bed. Sorry.", I consoled.
Surprisingly, she was only a little disappointed but she brightened up when I told her that Grandma's sock monkey is probably really excited to sleep with her tonight.
After that, she used the blanket as pillow to rest. Thank you Sock Monkey!
Around hour number two of our drive, the dreaded backseat question emerged from the shadows.
"How much longerrrrrr?"
About three more hours.
Luckily, I thought of a game to play. Since we were driving to South Dakota and it was the first day of October, we played 'Count the Combines.'
I didn't grow up on a farm but like most small SD towns, we lived in the middle of farm country. Tractors cruising main street were given about as much notice as mini-vans at a soccer field. And my hometown community has seen more than a few wedding parties being paraded through town on a flatbed trailer complete with straw bale seating.
But for me, harvest season is special because it's the one time of the year that I get to actually see combines in action. I don't claim to know enough about farming to know anything about what they are actually doing. I just think if looks cool to see corn and bean fields getting mowed down in straight sections with the rows going on and on for miles. Each cornstalk standing broomstick straight marching single file all the way to the horizon only to meet the blue sky and a few cotton ball clouds. And as it gets dark you can see a small cloud of dust surround a few headlights, as the combine, like a caterpillar devouring a leaf, steadily munches away into the night. I would encourage anyone to take a drive in the country this week to see what I am talking about. And, if any farmers want to take a short break next year and let me drive one, I'll make myself available. As long as you are OK with few crooked rows.As our game started, I spotted the first few combines which gave SP a picture of what she should be looking for.
When she spotted her first one she yelled, "There's another compound!"
"You mean 'combine', right?"
"Oh yeah. I got mixed up."
We saw mostly red and green machines. A few yellow ones and one gray with a red stripe. In the last hour of our trip our total reached sixteen combines discovered. Only one combine away from our record last year. But it was getting dark and getting late and SP zonked out in the back seat. We passed four more machines but I didn't tell her until morning. So now our new record is twenty combines spotted. Our new record didn't last very long because we spotted twenty six working combines on the way home on Sunday.
On Saturday, we got to visit Grandma in the hospital. She was a little pale and weak but in good spirits. SP gave her the birthday and get well cards she and N1S had made and she put them on her table to show the nurses.
Since Grandma's hospital was in Sioux Falls, SP and I made a little side trip the Ronald McDonald House there. This was where Lady Di stayed for two months while N1S was in the hospital growing from his premature birth. We had a big box of pop tabs to donate and SP got to sign the guest book. Sometime you should ask Lady Di about the time she almost burned Ronald's house down making toast.
We also got to visit with an old college classmate of mine who happens to own a restaurant in Sioux Falls. We showed up at Michael's Steakhouse and Dave gave us the best table in the house. We got to catch up a bit and enjoyed a great meal. Plus, Dave and his sister offer homemade cheesecake from their parent business, Epiphany Desserts. So after stuffing ourselves at dinner, SP, my dad and I all enjoyed a piece of the best cheesecake I have ever eaten. SP couldn't eat all of hers so she took it home in a Styrofoam to-go box which she decorated with a sad face with her finger nail.
"This is how my tummy feels.", she groaned showing me the box.
We did eat a lot.
This was a nice weekend to see my folks, my sister and my Grandma Peg. I really wasn't able to actually help them with anything until Mom can come home from the hospital. But I did get to eat cheescake...and see combines.