Wednesday, June 29, 2005

#45 - On the (Rail) Road Again!

Vacation time for the Woodys (Woodies??). It happens to coincide with my first Blogiversary (June 27th!), so I have been doing this for one whole year. On the Woundup, that is. The Inner Dad won't turn one year until next January.

I'm in the Pacific Northwest right now, at the home of some friends of ours in Vancouver, Washington. It's cloudy (what else?) here, and was drizzly for a couple of days after we arrived. Elsewhere, I mentioned that we decided to train our way here this year, and I'm convinced it was the right move. We took the storied Coast Starlight in a sort-of repeat of our honeymoon trip nine years ago. The difference is, we took coach on the way up, and will take a sleeper on the way back. We want Dad niiiiiice and relaxed when he returns to the grind.

The Starlight is one of those trains that Amtrak resurrected after the major railroads lost all of their passenger traffic. It's main route runs from Los Angeles to Seattle, although it services a few points north as a sort of afterthought. You can also take buses to points not directly connected to the line. On our honeymoon, for example, we took a bus from Salinas to Monterey, California, to see Cannery Row and the Aquarium. Well worth the side trip, that was.

Anyway, no such side trips for us this year. No real budget for it, for one thing. For another, the logistics of herding our Woodyettes on and off buses and dealing with luggage (LOTS of luggage) in the interim just made them (the sidetrips) impractical. The Woodyettes are not impractical. Not generally.

Our friends have been most gracious in putting us up for the couple of weeks we plan to be here. There are three primary draws for our family. First, Mrs. Woody and her friend have been friends since high school. They went to college together for awhile and both ended up becoming teachers professionally. They've shared some pretty significant life events together, and their friendship runs deep. Her hubby and I have become good friends since we married the girls, so it's a comfortable relationship.

Draw number two is our daughters. They have one daughter who was born exactly one year ahead of our Jelly Woodyette. All three girls get along famously, and love playing together.

Draw number three is Independence Day. They can still celebrate July 4 the old fashioned way up here in Vancouver, as evidenced by the fireworks sales tents that are as numerous as Christmas tree lots in the winter. We've done this for several years now, and it's one of the reasons we time our visits this way. It's an absolute hoot to see the youngsters with their sparklers, while the adults try to look non-chalant whilst scurrying the heck away from the huge bomb they've just lit. Every year I get braver and do the same "look casual" dance with bigger and bigger crackers. Roman candles. You name it.

Our friends have a pretty sizeable family up here in the area, and we all congregate on our friends' cul-de-sac with the neighbors to put on a pretty terrific show. The females, who feel no compulsion to perform the dance with the males, sit in chairs on the sidewalk and driveways and watch the lights. Mrs. Woody's friend blasts patriotic music from her stereo for all to hear.

Of course, the odds favor rain of some sort on the 4th this year, but we won't care. So long as it's just a few sprinkles, the show will go on. Patriotism (and the need to blow things up) knows no weather.

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