Warning: this blog post is possibly filled with all sorts of negativity, hostility and travel-related bitterness.

It was bright and sunny when I awoke on this glorious Friday morning. The birds were chirping their happy songs, singing about their thankfulness for the rains which had made the worms fatten up and come to the surface.  Songs about the sunshine warming their backs.  Songs about the girl birds they didn’t get because the girl bird’s daddy didn’t like their songs about sunshine and earthworms (these are country birds, after all). 

I whistled quietly as he walked into the kitchen to brew up some coffee for the morning’s breakfast. Ginny and the kids happily joined him at the breakfast table and smiled.

“Father,” said Nick, “I wanted to thank you for providing such a wonderful vacation this year.”

“Yes, father,” nodded Rosa, the sunshine reflecting off her clean, white, perfect teeth.  “And thank you for getting breakfast together for us, Daddy, allowing us a few extra minutes to sleep in our warm, comfortable beds.”

“Why, you’re very welcome, children,” I said, pouring some soy milk onto my cereal.

Everyone looked at Ginny, sitting at her spot by the table.

“Growl, gurgle, grr, growl, grr,” she said, which loosely translated means “Yeah, thanks. Why’d you make me get up so early? Where’s my tea?”

The tea, of course, was on the table, in front of her. I blew gently toward it and the gently-rising steam wafted toward Ginny. As the smooth aroma entered her nostrils, she smiled.

And there was rejoicing throughout Sheridan, Illinois at Ginny’s new-found happiness.

Okay, okay… none of that really happened. I mean, there was breakfast that included soy milk and cereal.  There was tea.  But there wasn’t a lot of smiling. Ginny did say “Growl, gurgle, grr, growl, grr,” but that’s what she always says so we didn’t really think anything of it.

The truth is, we were all a little sad.  The vacation was officially done – all over but the driving. We hurried through our breakfast ant then set to finish packing and cleaning up what needed to be cleaned up and thrown out.  I packed our bags into the trunk, setup the laptop for movie viewing in the back seat and found space for our large amount of recyclables and compost.

Yes, even on vacation we compost and recycle. I just wish we didn’t have to transport the recycling across state lines like this – recycling should be available and required everywhere!

But that’s a rant for a different post, I believe.

Everything in the car, I did one final check to make sure we didn’t leave anything behind. Finding nothing, we left, turning in our keys at the front desk. It was a this point when the internet was, apparently, restored, because the “No internet access until further notice” sign was removed as I stood in line to return the keys.  I asked and my girlfriend Angela informed me that it was fixed early that morning.

Go figure.

Anyway, we drove off, sad to be leaving but happy to be headed home to our fresh garden veggies, our beloved pets, friends and family who clearly missed us and our working, reliable internet.

It was a few minutes into the drive when we realized what we had forgotten: we forgot to get a few souvenirs.  We had gotten most of the ones we needed for folks who were helping us out, but a few people we never found anything for. We had intended to stop at a local shop and get stuff, but we never got out to the shops.  I will not state the names of the people who got rest-area souvenirs on the grounds that they might hurt me. And I will never tell.  Never!

The drive today was, for the most part, uneventful and dull.  If you’ve seen flat land, you’ve seen the areas of Illinois, Indiana and Ohio through which we drove today.

We arrived in the vicinity of our hotel, the same one we stayed in on Day Zero, and we went straight to the local Subway shop to get dinner, thereby circumventing any hemming and hawing about where to go. We checked into the hotel and went to our room, at which point the kids proclaimed that they were not going to swim in that pool again because it was too cold and too green.  I tried to convince them that a little algae was good for their skin, but they didn’t buy it.

So, we ate our salads on buns. I checked my email, finding 120 or so new messages since the coffee shop yesterday afternoon.  We didn’t watch TV because this hotel inexplicably has no kid-friendly channels.  By 9:00 we were in bed and by 9:02, Ginny was snoring loudly.  It was, as you can see, an exciting evening.