It’s 12:30 in the am, and I just got home. I hear the sweet siren call of my bed, but I can’t sleep yet. I need to write this.
We left Des Moines at 10:30 in the morning, munching on snacks instead of breakfast to save on time. In more than 20-plus years since I’ve last seen the capital of Iowa, it has grown, become sleeker (if that’s the right word), more modern. I recognized the dimpled, smoky-grey dome of the botanical center from the highway. Last night, as we were driving in, I pointed out the capitol building. It is one of the most impressive ones in the country — there is the large center cupola, but there are also four small domes, one at each corner of the buildings. And the Skywalks, connecting a lot of the buildings downtown from the pitiless winters, containing stores and stands as well, were still there (Minneapolis also has Skywalks, which are just brilliant, and, I believe, originated there).
We had lunch in a restaurant in Nebraska, and drove on through the Wildlife Safari Park. Although Baby S is too young to appreciate drive-through zoos from the car, the rest of us enjoyed it, seeing elk, American antelopes, cranes, pelicans, swans, and a herd of bison. We didn’t see the bears nor the wolves, but at this point we had to get back on the road.
So we drove though the great state of Nebraska, often driving by fields of corn on both sides, getting splattered by many and various bugs, stopping a few times to gas up the minivan and stretch our legs. Baby S was exceedingly well-behaved. Until she wasn’t.
We crossed into Colorado around 8 pm, and Baby S wasn’t comfortable. No one could blame the itty-bitty, she has been cooped up in the car seat for all of the day, only getting out occasionally, and not understanding why she had to get back into the stupid car seat. Long past tired, she began to cry, then whine, then cry some more. She did this for an hour, and when, by the end, she was really doing more moaning than crying, her mom broke down.
Leslye began to cry, too, apologizing to her baby, feeling awful that Baby S was feeling awful. When we stopped for gas and refuel on snacks, as well, Leslye picked up her daughter and held her, both of them in abject misery.
Kim had an idea to move the car seat and she and Leslye repositioned Baby S and got her a treat pouch. She drank it greedily and as soon as got on the highway, fell asleep.
Once her baby fell asleep, taking nice, deep breaths, Leslye began to take nice, deep breaths. She relaxed and we spent the next three hours talking and listening to the music from the ‘80s.
I drove the last part of the leg, to my house. Then, unloading my stuff, I walked into the house, my heart singing: I’m home, I’m home, I’m home, I’m home!