Tuesday, 30 September 2014

Road trip: Part 1 - Manhattan to Winnipeg

When my parents started talking about visiting us here in Manhattan, KS, we started talking about seeing parts of the USA and visiting family in Canada. We ummm-ed and ahhhh-ed about flying or driving to Winnipeg, Manitoba (where my Uncle and his family live), how long to spend in Manhattan, do we go else where... etc etc... And after doing the numbers on car hire and flights for 4 adults, it was a much-of-a-muchness, so we decided to drive and see some of the continent that is North America.

Planning the route was fun. My Dad and I spent a few afternoons talking it over (thanks to FaceTime), discussing pro's and con's on different routes. We had 2 constraints: we would be travelling with an infant/toddler; and we only had 2 weeks for the whole trip. This translated to 4-6 hours car travel per day, depending on how Jimmy traveled, 3 days travel from Manhattan, KS, to Winnipeg, MB, plus however long we would spend with our relatives in Canada, which left about 1 week to get back to Manhattan, KS.

We wanted to visit Yellowstone National Park, but we would have had 2-3 nights there, with too much driving per day either side. So, that ruled that out. A few days later, it seemed my Dad and I had been on the same wavelength and we talked about going east of Winnipeg, out to Lake Superior and then south along the Mississippi, stopping in St Louis, MI, before heading back to Manhattan, KS.

Our planning, in terms of finding accommodation was a little haphazard, mostly involved planning a route on Google Maps, then zooming in somewhere that was 4-6 hours from point A and hoping that there was somewhere there to stay, i.e. a State Park or commercial campground. But it worked. We couldn't really plan pit stops, lunch breaks or sightseeing because we had no idea how Jimmy was going to travel from one day to the next, so the focus was on our accommodation and everything else would follow, more or less.

Sorting out our accommodation lead to some interesting discoveries and realisations: not all places allow online bookings and require actual cheques to be sent for a booking; bookings over the weekends need to be 2 nights. Cheques aside, this meant that we wouldn't have time to take in St Louis, so we decided to see Kansas City, MI/KS, instead, after spending 2 nights on the backwaters of the Mississippi.

Enough about the planning! Here's what happened, with lots of photos. Hope you enjoy the photos as much as we enjoyed being able to take them.
Car selfie!

Day 1: Manhattan to Hillview Recreation Area
We quickly packed the hire car, after saying goodbye to our very first guest T, and were off on our adventure. There was to be no turning back for handkerchiefs or knives - we had to make it to Hillview Recreation Area, Plymouth County, IA, before Jimmy lost it.
Lunch, when we realised that we hadn't packed sharp kitchen knives.
Jimmy losing it... ok, it's probably him mid yawn...

I feel Australian when...

When I give Jimmy Vegemite on toast, and he gets it on his clothes.

When I eat Vegemite, use or hear words like "walkabout", "avo", "loo", "dunny", and "cuppa".

When I've spent hours in the company of other Australians (i.e. during the roadtrip) and suddenly have to talk with a North American and stumble a little as I remember to use the correct vernacular (gas/petrol, restroom/loo, diaper/nappy, etc).*

When I see beautiful photos of wildlife and feel... (I can't actually put my finger on it, but "a connection" is close to it) warm and fuzzy when I see kangaroos.

Here are some more beautiful photos (thanks for sharing Granny (my Mum)).

*I should also point out that I feel like a citizen of the World when I nail the lingo and am able to guide my parents through a US encounter.

Monday, 29 September 2014


"a portrait of my son, once a week, every week in 2014"

Jimmy: What's better than a toy vacuum? A real one!


Totally more fun than a toy vacuum, especially when Dadee is involved. Oh and check out their matching (temporary) tattoos, thanks to the lovely people at the Konza Prairie Biological Station Open Day (more soon).

Oh and it's still warm, so we went for a swim this afternoon. We were the only people at the pool, even though the water was just the right temperature. Chances are it was our last outdoor swim of the year, as night time temperatures are expected to be in the single digits by Friday (I'm talking 6 degrees Celsius, not Fahrenheit). Here's to not freezing!

Sunday, 28 September 2014


"a portrait of my son, once a week, every week in 2014"

Jimmy: Having a slightly reluctant swim in the backwaters of the Mississippi.

That morning the water was warmer than the air, by the time Michael and Jimmy went for this dip the air was warmer, so the swim was almost over after I took this photo. But Jimmy dipped his feet in the Mississippi!

Oh and look at those back muscles! Those thighs! My bubba is turning into a toddler and my eyes and brain are having trouble keeping up with the changes happening right in front of them.

Tuesday, 23 September 2014


"a portrait of my son, once a week, every week in 2014"

Jimmy: Sound asleep after a short walk.

We went for a walk, really it was only very short, just to get out of the house because it was getting to that time of day and as Jimmy is moving to one nap a day, he was pretty cranky and in need of distraction. He did a little walking but then Michael helped me get him into the Manduca and by the time we were almost home, our little boy was sound asleep, using his hand to help secure his big head. Doesn't he have a big head? He's almost big enough for the Manduca to be unzipped, but I think he prefers having his arms free. He's also almost done with the Manduca, but I think we have a few more months until he's able to walk everywhere.

It almost goes without saying, but Michael took this lovely photo.

Sunday, 21 September 2014


"a portrait of my son, once a week, every week in 2014"

Jimmy: taking it all in, taking it in his stride.

Doesn't he look so grown up? He keeps growing and changing - he's very good at his job.

It was a lovely cool morning, we were heading out to the Discovery Center, and decided to let Jimmy do some walking before catching the bus. Ok, so he actually wasn't interested in walking, but he was happy to stand around, take a few steps, and pose for me while I gushed over how good he looked in the jumper I knitted him for his first birthday. And when I say "we", I mean Jimmy, Dadee, me, and Uncle James.

I know I've missed a few weeks, so I thought I'd sneak in 37/52 before 38/52 comes around. I don't know if I'll catch the other weeks, let's see what happens.

Saturday, 20 September 2014

Missing/Enjoying: Family

Somewhere just north of Omaha, possibly an outer suburb.
We've just had a lovely 3+ weeks of family and friends, which only ended on Monday, but we're missing everyone already and we're coming down from the high of our holiday and full apartment. It sucks. Michael and I have been reminded that Jimmy is missing out on lots of time with his grandparents, that we're missing out on time with our parents, that we're missing out on time with friends back in Australia, and that being away from Australia kinda sucks.

Walking with Pop in Winnipeg
Checking out the fossils with Daddee, Granny, and cousin A.

We'll get through it. We're just trying to find our groove again, which is hard because sciencing can be frustrating and a little soul destroying when it's not going well and because Jimmy is constantly changing.

More time with cousin A. 
What are we enjoying?

We're enjoying our little family and the changing season, even though it means going to KSU for Swimmy-Jimmy times. We're also enjoying that warm fuzzy feeling that our visitors and visiting have left us with. Thanks guys!

In addition to this, we found a bicycle for Michael at a yard sale (garage sale) for $20, so YAY! And we bought a waffle iron there too... We've wanted one since we arrived but didn't want to buy a new one, so we're pretty happy about that.

Jimmy and I are enjoying some one on one time, as we've hardly had any in the last few weeks. Don't get me wrong, it was great having other people look after him and play with him, I just like hanging out with my son - he's a pretty cool kid. Takes after his Dadee.
Look at my boys! Cool, right?
So, instead of heading to playgroup on Tuesday (and Wednesday, and Thursday, and Friday), Jimmy and I have been hanging out at home, catching up on housework, taking the bus to go to a secondhand store for some jumpers and long sleeved tops, hanging out with Michael at uni during his lunch breaks and after work, doing a little grocery shopping, and reading plenty of books (or the same book, four times in a row).

Woollen jumpers, long sleeve tops - preparing for winter.
Life goes on but it has a different feel, knowing that we were able to share our lives with family and friends, and visiting relatives, makes this town, this country, and this continent, all seem a little less strange and a little less lonely. The change in season, the start of a new university year, and football season are contributing to this feeling of change, because Manhattan is buzzing and yet the sun is setting earlier and rising later... but more on that later. Oh and have I mentioned that Jimmy is well and truly walking? Yeah... We're finding our groove again and a new balance as life finds a new normal.

Monday, 15 September 2014


It's not what you think! I've been a little distracted by knitting a vest for Michael and reading William Powers' Twelve by Twelve... I'm excited to be knitting the front of this vest - the cables look like DNA... And Twelve by Twelve is speaking to me on a few levels and making me think about how I'd like us to live. More on both sometime soonish.

Plus we've been entertaining guests for the past 3 weeks or more and have a few more wonderful days of entertaining to go. We've also been doing some sightseeing and road tripping and visiting family. Actually, it's all rather fun and busy.

And with all the goings on and entertaining and planning and prep and traveling, it's been hard to set time aside for blogging. Actually, it was hard to do anything online, and I kept it to emails and fleeting glances at Facebook. Having time away from my computer (and the internet) was nice, but it's almost time to make up for my absence.

Stay tuned for photos and details of our entertaining and adventures :)