Jimmy was coming over, and Tom was going to pick us all up. Seeing how we each had a bag, a purse (I'm talking about me and Amanda, not the guys) a pillow, and a shopping cart full of road snacks, we decided to just lug our stuff down stairs and wait for the men.
Soon Jimmy rolled up, toiletries in hand!
Oh man, we were so excited. We were talking and talking and talking and soon realized Tom wasn't anywhere to be found. After some texting, it was discovered that Tom had about 12-39 lights in his car that needed replacing before we left. Being extraordinarily patient (false) and grateful (true) that Tom is taking safety seriously, we decided to kill time by complaining about how hungry we were. Jimmy solved our problem and ran to get some pizza around the corner. Because you can do that in Chicago. Pizza around the corner. That's just how it is.
A slice of pizza and a few jokes later, Tom arrived, saw the pizza, and started eating. I guess he was hungry.
Finally, we were on the road! Everyone was given a job. I was photographer and social media expert, Amanda was activities coordinator, Jimmy was DJ, Tom was designated driver, Wendy was safety officer, and Sandy was late evening cheerleader.
We were just leaving the city when we took this picture. Can you see Chicago behind Amanda?
Jimmy took his job as DJ seriously. I love this photo. I love that he is holding his iPhone while looking at his computer while plugging something into the car. It all just feels right.
So it turns out that Kansas is about 10 hours away from Chicago, and we were driving through the night.
About every half hour someone would jolt awake and ask the driver, "Hey, are you okay?" The driver would answer yes, and we would go back to sleep. Or, Tom would say no and immediately pull over to the side of the road. Either way, we stayed safe. Around 3 or 4 in the morning (I have no idea) we pulled into the Kansas City airport, because that's where we were picking up Sandy and Wendy of course!
According to the story I understood, they each landed in Kansas right around the time we left Chicago. They were patient as they waited for us to get there. Well, they didn't complain about it anyway.
Then came the tricky part:
Don't show Mom that last pic, she would be scandalized.
We rolled up to Amanda's place just as the morning was starting to make a presence.
She let me stay in the left wing.
We were all kind of wired from being up all night, and although I couldn't sleep, I needed a break, so I looked around, spied a dog,
and he led me to a hammock. It was a great morning. After some rest, some dog time, some sunshine, and enough wind to make me realize that Dorothy's house really could get lifted up and moved to another location entirely, Amanda came out and announced breakfast was ready. It was delicious! Pancakes and eggs and orange juice.
As you know, time in Chicago is really fast. Even as I'm writing this blog I'm contemplating how much longer I can keep at it before I need to move on to other things. As you probably guessed, time in Kansas slows down. It was great. I had no idea what time it was the entire weekend. I would look at my watch, but it didn't compute. Kansas is a magical place.
It was so magical, that we hoped this special rice would help Wendy's phone recover from getting drenched in a rain storm.
After breakfast came the highlight of the trip: A tour of the John Deere dealership! Amanda's Dad owns the dealership, so we got a very personal tour. We saw all the different parts of the place, all sorts of different tractors, and we met people with names like Guffy. Or something.
Highlight of the tour: popcorn.
My glamour shot; just off to get some groceries...
Tom's glamour shot:
Jimmy's glamour shot:
High Councilman Pavlovsky, "Load 'em and dump 'em."
Outside the dealership is an inspirational statue.
After the tour and photo shoot, Joe (High Councilman Pavlovsky) treated us to Sonic! Sigh. Oh Sonic, it's been so long...
We chatted it up with Amanda's parents, and we each went around and told of our heritage. We also found out who had half brothers and sisters. There was some surprises in there (Wendy) and we heard all about how Tom's parents met and how they came over from the old country (Poland) and decided to raise their children (Tom, plus others) in Chicago.
After lunch we went to Walmart because Jimmy needed swim trunks. He chose a royal blue pair. They are nice.
Immediately putting the trunks to good use, Amanda found us a great place for an afternoon swim. Our hosts had this awesome raft thing, which Amanda swears could fit like, 15 people. (Never mind the manufacturer recommendations.)
While there, our host asked Tom about his heritage. I think she was tipped off. So, we heard about how Tom's parents met and how they came over from the old country (Poland) and decided to raise their children (Tom, plus others) in Chicago.Seriously, Tom, just produce a romantic comedy about your parents (plus how you happen to speak three or so languages and what you do for a living) and pass it out to people so we can get on with our day.
After swimming we went back to the John Deere Dealership because I needed a hat.
Back at the Pav's and still in our swimwear, we got to drive a tractor!
Wait, not that tractor. That is Great Grandpa's tractor (or something). Instead, we drove this tractor! Sandy makes a great model:
I'm pretty sure this is my favorite tractor photo:
Tom couldn't be bothered with a posed pic.
I could though.
This is my artsy shot of Amanda, because, you know, I get artsy sometimes.
I'm pretty sure Jimmy is contemplating a good Kansas name for himself.
While we were taking turns with the tractor, we had a photo shoot. We all looked pretty great coming straight from the pool, so naturally we took lots of pictures. I helped out in the shed. (In Kansas, Shed=Giant Barn)
Amanda told us that the correct place for picture taking was in the wheat field. I had no idea that was even allowed!
I don't really know how it ended up that I was so far away from Wendy, but I was. It looks like we don't like each other, but we do.
Hey Tom, remember the time when you tried to push me over so that I would fall on Wendy and Jimmy? Hmm.. Remember that? Maybe this picture will jog your memory:
And finally, the whole point of coming to Kansas: The great wheat and tare separation.
And then eating the kernels?
Sorry, Wendy. I may or may not have told Jimmy that you could chew the kernels and it would turn into gum. I just remember my friend Liji (like Fiji) got me and Tara to chew a whole mouthful of wheat kernels in the hopes that it would turn into gum. It didn't.
This next picture is really great because the women are all riled up about something and the men don't seem to care at all. Does anyone remember the topic?
The pup's name is Oreo, and I love him.
After our photo shoot we went inside and had dinner. Amanda's mom made homemade pizza. In true mother style, she couldn't give me the recipe because she made it up as she went along. It was delicious! Soon after dinner, someone spied the field across the road was getting harvested! I hope we didn't break anything as we ran out of the house in chaos.
Wow, look at those huge combines!
We stood out there a while enjoying the general splendor of it all.
Naturally, I took some videos, and naturally I didn't edit them:
Soon we noticed a storm was blowing in. While the womenfolk stayed on the porch, all the men (including Oreo) gathered to discuss whatever they might discuss at this special time. Weather? Wheat harvest logistics? BBQ? I don't know.
Soon we were instructed to hang out on the porch while we continued to watch the storm and the wheat harvest.
Joe was listening to his special tornado walkie-talkie and soon instructed us to head down to the basement. Please note that in case of an emergency, Joe was very good at instructing, and we were very good at following directions.
Tornadoes are very exciting, and if you follow my tweets, you will know I made sure to take my duties as social media expert very seriously, in spite of the dangerous conditions. Well, after we calmed down, we spent a good half hour deciding on a movie to watch. Nacho Libre was chosen, and it took us all of ten minutes for everyone to fall asleep. I think we had all forgotten that we had been up all night. Amanda's parents said, "Everyone go to bed!" So we did.
The next morning was gorgeous and we just kinda hung out. We had a fabulous breakfast of biscuits and gravy, and all sat around the table chatting and talking about life and love.
Amanda's mom performed on the accordion. Before she began, she told us that she doesn't like to swear. Her song:
Jimmy was trying to tell me that we were on a date:
This was a date, too:
The end of our date:
Apparently in Kansas, you burn your trash and you throw your compost into the corn field.
I don't think anyone showed Sandy how to toss cantaloupe rinds.
Well, almost to the corn field.
After cleaning up we had a dance party, per usual:
Intrigued by that last photo? Do you wish to know more? Well tilt your head to the side and let the fun ensue!
We also took a walk. This is Amanda's road:
I love a walk in the summer sunshine with Oreo.
Soon it was time to check out the town. This is General McPherson. He did something so awesome that some people decided to make a statue of him and also name a town after him:
Our band photo:
For lunch we went to Braum's Ice Cream Shop! Yum! I got a double scoop and some fries and I think I paid less than 4 bucks. I had the same thing for dinner tonight and I'm pretty sure it was around 8 bucks. Sigh. Oh, it's nice to live the Kansas life every once in a while.
After lunch we went to Wichita to drop off Sandy at the airport. When we got back I sat on the couch and ate chips.
It didn't last long, because I heard High Councilman Pavlovsky working in the kitchen. Every once in a while the things my parents taught me kick in, and I ended up volunteering to help.
We were celebrating Wendy's birthday, and a special John Deere cake had been requested.
I was first tasked with the mixing of the icing.
Apparently I passed, because I was then given clearance to decorate the tires.
Then Amanda walked in and started freaking out. Apparently no one but Joe usually decorates the cake, and there I was, a stranger, helping to ice the cake! She immediately called her siblings and now they all hate me. Sigh.
Amanda's friend Gabe was there for all of this. We were going to have a BBQ, and to document his existence, I took a photo. Please note the truck, the dog, the wheat fields, and the combines. Thank you.
We had fajitas, and Joe used his special cooking contraption for the meat.
The BBQ was phenomenal, party because of the handmade tortillas Wendy and I kind of made.
After diner was cake time (Happy Birthday Wendy!)
and of course a talent show!
It was a great talent show. Everyone participated. We had music and singing and reading and writing and dancing (good work, Tom) and clapping after hymns and all sorts of fun stuff. That night I even saw lightening bugs for the first time! It was magical. We had so much fun and we were very tired. Jimmy was so exhausted that he asked Tom to carry him downstairs to his bed. So Tom threw Jimmy over his shoulder, of course.
The next morning we left around 9:30 dressed in Church clothes. We talked about our fathers (happy father's day!) and two things we admire about our dads. It was a really great conversation, and so cool to see how others have shaped our lives. (PS, Dad, you are a hard worker and very generous. I can back those up with examples if needed.)
Three hours down the road we found a Church that was half in English and half in Spanish. It was great. They had three counselors in the bishopric, two RSPs, and 4 sets of missionaries! You could just tell that they are doing the work of the Lord in that small town, and that these Saints are trying to become better, and draw nearer unto Him. It was cool.
After Church, back on the road, we had a really great Gospel centered discussion. I feel blessed to have spent time with these amazing people, and I feel like I have learned from their desire to draw closer to the Lord.
We also did a lot of laughing. Amanda made a mixed Starburst:
Seriously Starburst people, why don't you make these? Also, why don't you sell packages of just the pinks?
For lunch we went to Steak 'n Shake. It was my first time there, and I thought it was great.
A few hours later, and still really really far from Chicago, we stopped for a break and realized we were right next to a Sonic. Naturally we went there for dinner. I like how everyone lined up to place their orders.
Whoa. It just hit me that we had hamburgers and fries twice that day. Oh well.
So, if you ask me how Kansas was, I would tell you that it was phenomenal. We lived the Kansas life, we competed in a Fun Tan Competition (Amanda won), we hung out with Amanda's amazing parents, we laughed a lot, we saw the wheat harvest, but most importantly, I feel like I know everyone a full 70% better than I did before. It was a great road trip. Cheers!