When on vacation driving offers such flexibility because you are adhering to your own schedule and you can pack the van full of all sorts of things that you probably will never need. I admit that I am an overpacker but I am so thrilled when someone needs some obscure item and they don't think it was packed and viola, I can pull it out from somewhere. The last few flights we have taken have also been delayed for hours and that to me is more annoying then anything. At least if I am driving and I am stuck in traffic, I am still in control. I can get off the exit and get out of the car, eat, stretch, whatever. On our last flight to Memphis, we had to sit on the runway for over an hour. We were prisoners. I don't like being confined. I also enjoy the scenery when driving. People, cars, places - lots to look at. Of course, I am usually not the one driving and when there is lots of traffic while we are on the highway I have a tendency to use the invisible brake on the passengers side or I sometimes like to offer helpful driving advice. For the most part, Steven doesn't think of it as helpful advice. Even with that, driving is still a better option if you're headed to a destination that isn't more than say, 12 hours away. We will pack up the van again tomorrow morning and head East to Virginia Beach. This ride is usually just around 2 hours. The length of one movie. Going down over the 4th of July weekend may add an extra hour though. We are staying at the hotel we always stay at and love - the Sheraton - which is right on the water. They have the best pool that we all love and the water views are fabulous. The weather looks great too. Sunny with no chance for rain, temps in the high 80s.
The last day of our visit to CT was very nice. I got up early to have breakfast with Laurel and our girlfriend MaryAnn. They are two dear friends and I love when we can all get together. We went to MaryAnn's house after breakfast to look at their perennial garden. This garden is over 20 years old. I love to check in with it every few years. It never disappoints and is so lovingly cared for. I have a few photos but the sun was out and it was really too bright to get anything that wasn't overexposed.
After our wonderful visit with MaryAnn, Laurel and I drove back to Windsor where we found a hammock lounging Emma in Laurel's yard. She has such a tough life this one.
We soon headed to Watertown to see Steven's Aunt Ann and Aunt Joan. They wanted to have a little get together for us. The word little was lost on Aunt Joan as I saw tents and people and lots and lots of food set up. It was a really special day and Steve and I got to thank even more family that we don't see often for their role in helping heal Ellie. The girls have so many cousins that love her and it was very moving to see her playing and running and just being a kid. Steve's cousin Debbie owns a bounce house and Ellie hasn't been allowed to go in one since she was diagnosed. I let her go in this one and she loved it. The bounce house was the main hang out for all the kids. Ellie's cousin Gianna was so excited to see her and they played all afternoon together.
I was so happy that Steve was able to spend quality time with cousins he doesn't get to see that often; cousins he grew up with. Ricky, Karen, Bobby, Cheryl, Maureen, Frank, Lisa, and Debbie. They are all in their late 30s and 40s with their own kids now but they all cared so deeply for Ellie and our journey. We received much love and support. Steve and I also slipped away for a bit to go to the final resting place of Steve's grandmother. Grandma Brown passed away last July and we thank her all the time for being an angel that has helped pull Ellie through during this time. She loved her grandchildren and great grandchildren. If I can remember correctly, she had 54 great grandchildren when she passed. Can you imagine that! She had Ellie on her mind the last few days of her life and I am so grateful that she is in heaven with her children that passed before her and she is there as a divine presence for Ellie.
We had a wonderful day and it was a nice ending to our trip. I forgot to mention that we got to meet Mrs. Rowan who is a first grade teacher in Watertown, she was at the party too. She and her students were penpals with Ellie and they had this really neat board established with photos and such. It was an honor to meet her and thank her for making Ellie feel so special. There are just so many people that care. Life is good and we are blessed. Very blessed.
The girls pose with Mrs. Rowan. She was so sweet.
Steve is in the back behind the gazebo catching up with his cousin Ricky.
The whole gang. This is a great keepsake from our day.
You really need to click on it to view in larger format so you can see everyone.
Uncle Frank is missing from this one. :(