Where We Went This Year! (22,000 miles of driving!)

View The Rude Awakening Journey in a larger map

Sunday, January 25, 2009

Des Moines

Well in fact: Yes. We did.

Drive straight through from Houston to Des Moines, that is. 14 Hours. Thass right. We bad.

You see, we've learned this little trick - if, contrary to our natural inclinations as actors and theater-type people, we rise in the early morning - yes, Virginia, there IS an early morning - we find that there are simply more hours in the day to make the drive. Strange how that works. There is, of course, early morning sleepiness to contend with, however I'm usually good in the mornings (Angie, decidedly, is not). So we worked it out that, having loaded the car the night before (made possible by the good climate in Houston and the fact that we were parked in a private driveway), we simply rose, bathed (somewhat marginally, admittedly), broke fast, and left. 8am, I'm pleased to say. Which, for us, is usually right around when the sheep we've been counting are discussing talking about considering the possibility of having a conversation regarding the available option at sometime in the relative future maybe possibly heading back to the barn.

I drove, Angie slept. Until about noon. Then she drove & I slept. And so on. We packed a lunch, dinner & snack. Stopped for gas, coffee, and pee-breaks. Basically pretty easy. Just gotta get psychologically used to the idea that you're sitting in the car for 14 hours. Good weather, too, although we watched the temperature gauge drop incrementally from 65 to 19, as we drove northward and into the night time.

We arrived at a perfect little home we'd rented on Craigslist. A two-bedroom house in Windsor Heights, about 4 miles from downtown. The lights were on, the heat was going, and it was a very gratefully-received midwestern welcome at which to arrive. I went to the grocery store & tanked up for the week. Angie unpacked. Butley sniffed around. We settled in for a long winter's night.

The next morning, we woke to a new day. A very New Day.

It was particularly nice to be in the city where Obama's serious contender-ship actually started, just about one year ago....and by the way, what was that on Aretha Franklin's head?

The big news, though, was an adventure upon which we had embarked a few weeks prior, and which we had come to Des Moines almost with more purpose than serving as company members in SPRING AWAKENING. Being on the road, it would be easy to walk the dog, feed the dog, leave the dog in the hotel room, come home & walk the dog, and go to sleep. But given the time that we have at our disposal, and given the fact that Butley's a pit bull and (both because of the headstrong nature of the breed and public perception or fear) it particularly behooves us to have a well-mannered dog, and the fact that Butley's such a natural charmer (making friends with hotel staff all over the US), we thought it would be a good project to train him to be a therapy dog. It would strengthen our relationship & handling skills, it would make for good PR for the breed, it wouldn't hurt - when checking into hotels - to be able to say our dog was a certified "Canine Good Citizen." All of that.

So - enter The Delta Society. The Delta Society is an organization - probably the premier national organization - that certifies dogs for use in therapeutic environments. Visiting patients in hospitals, seniors or people in hospice care, a conversational bridge to encourage interaction among people with Alzheimer's, a means for people going through physical rehabilitation to practice minor muscle control, such as might be used in brushing a dog. They also serve other purposes, such as reading partners for kids whose anxiety about reading aloud is reduced (and whose reading skills in general are improved) by having a furry friend to whom they can practice reading. They can visit half-way houses or demonstrate to ex-cons returning from an animal abuse conviction the more peaceful side of domestic pets (pit bulls in particular). And in conjunction with licensed therapists, they can help in psychotherapeutic environments, either as a means for people to confront their own anxieties about animal aggression or just to lower the blood pressure a little with the calming affect of their presence.

Their uses are probably only limited by imagination. and the purpose of the training is to establish not a "bomb-proof" dog, but one over whom the certified handler (the handlers are trained and evaluated as well) holds sufficient command and one who can serve as a reliable goodwill ambassador. They get acclimated to people who may act a little funny, move strangely, pet a little too roughly, be prone to loud outbursts, that kind of thing.

They're not service dogs. They're not legally allowed where animals usually are not. They're not crisis response dogs. They're not search & rescue dogs. They're just friendly, well-mannered good listeners who, in the hands of an equally-trained handler, can put up with some distraction, some unusual circumstances, some people that may not know how to put them at ease themselves.

Never gonna happen, Angie thought. That's a really hard test, her friend Lisa said. Doubts were shared, aspersions were cast. But I had faith. I understood the concerns - Butley can be willful, he can forge ahead, he can get over-excited, he can be a little much sometime. But at the very least, it seemed like a good goal to train towards. Just the training for it would be a good experience.

Now usually, Delta Society dogs go through a series of classes, run by Delta Evaluators. But they have a home study course, and we ordered the manual. It's not small. There's a lot of info, and a lot of training to cover. And there are regularly scheduled evaluation events, which - given our schedule - were usually not happening in the cities we were going to be in on the days we were going to be there. But I went online and contacted a few Delta Society evaluators, and was very taken by the willingness by some to be as flexible as they could.

By a stroke of heaven-sent good fortune, we made contact with Nicole & Eric Shumate, in Des Moines, IA. And what will become apparent in the ensuing story, I will summarize here by simply saying that they were everything we could possibly have hoped for and three times more. Where to begin?

• The long e-mail exchange between Nicole and me, in which I addressed, point for point, each behavior with Butley that needed the most attention, and in which she addressed, in great detail and with thorough examples, exercises we could do with Butley which would help put him (and us) in better control?

• The advice Nicole gave every step of the way about what to expect on the evaluation exam, ways to anticipate unfavorable responses from Butley, and ways to circumvent those responses?

• The daily availability that Nicole offered of the dog agility center she works with, Canine Craze, for Butley to come romp around in their 5,000 square foot indoor agility training room, burn off that cabin fever, and practice his obedience drills?

• The companionship that Nicole offered for Butley by bringing along Cadence, her and Eric's wonderfully playful and ridiculously fast catahoula leopard dog and Tag, a golden lab puppy in their care who's training for work as a service dog?

• The subsequent evaluations of Butley's behavior, in the training sessions and in playtime with Cadence & Tag, of his behavior, helping us read his body language and learn about ways to encourage the good stuff & discourage the bad?

• The offer of giving up their Sunday to give us a personal evaluation for Delta Society certification?

• The making of another room in Canine Craze available for the evaluation?

• The openness and neighborliness at every step along the way?

It goes without saying that without all this, Butley would never have had the chance to test as soon and as well as he did.

In a nutshell, HE PASSED WITH FLYING COLORS (you can read the evaluator's blog account of it here), and - pending approval of the registration packet - will soon be joining the ranks of certified, insured, and trusted animals on registry and available for therapeutic use of The Delta Society. He even got a "complex" rating, meaning he's certified to go into some of the more complex environments and keep his cool amidst distractions, etc.

And here are the photos we took for our ID badges, right after the triumphant exam:

Now of course, given that we're in a different city each week, it may be kind of hard for the next few months to actually schedule any Pet Partner visits while we're on the road, but we'll have four weeks in Boston, four weeks in DC... We can start working on those soon enough. But it's just cool to know that we achieved that little watermark of passing the evaluation. So - all ye in need of therapy, Dr. Butley Feelgood is ready to start spreading the love...

Honestly, at some point, this blog will return to extra-canine pursuits. At some point....

But not yet....

We were also able to arrange, in conjunction with Paws & Effect, a R.E.A.D event, a program in which Delta Society therapy dogs are made available to kids to read to, as a way of encouraging reading in general. It started out as just Angie and me, but as soon as I offered the chance to come in on a Saturday morning and sit with a bunch of dogs & read children's books to kids, ten other members of the SPRING AWAKENING company clamored to join us.

We even made the local 6 o'clock news.

I didn't know how many of them might actually make it to the reading, but they were there early, ready to read, and we had a terrific time rolling around with Jersey, the golden retriever, Jesse, the golden lab, Gizmo, a puggle-y sort of mutt, and a few other terrific dogs. Six, maybe, in total. And as we all read the stories, the kids leaned in & sat beside the dogs (some of whom looked so attentive to the readers, you would be excused for thinking they were taking notes), and we all had a rather unexpectedly serene Saturday morning, the dogs, the SA company, the kids, and the handlers and Paws & Effect crew, discussing the finer points of such literary masterworks as Goodnight Moon and Harry, The Dirty Dog.

Allow me to present the vixen of the group, Jersey, as she made her rounds...

Butley, alas, had to stay home - as yet untested at that point as he was. But he heard the stories, he's very envious, and he's looking forward to his chance at bat.

What else about Des Moines? Not much, frankly, as all the dog stuff took up most of our time. Des Moines was a great city to play - very smart, excited audiences. A real blessing after what proved to be a rather blasé crowd in Houston. Not that they were bad, but Houston's car-culture (much like LA) had droves leaving the theater during the curtain call, all in a rush to get to the valet parking ahead of everyone else. But not in Des Moines. We even had some brave souls out by the stage door after the show, in spite of the chilly, Des Moines winds. Iowa, we hardly knew ye...

Sunday, January 18, 2009


Houston was to be the Stop of Amazing Coincidence. This we knew, in part. And the rest we discovered on our arrival. But more on that later.

So, driving to Houston was fine.

You know - nothing unexpected. And the exact same route, almost mile for mile, that we had driven from Tucson to Tampa. We are intimately familiar with the 10. We're nearly on a first name basis with some of the rest stop staff. They have good orange juice at the Visitors' Stop on the Tampa/Alabama border. Fresh squeezed. Good maps, too.

It was a looong drive, one which took, as expected a day & a half. We covered 767 miles in about twelve hours, and we spent the night at the Pear Tree Inn in Lafayette, Louisiana. When we were pulling into Lafayette, calling around on to hotels listed in the GPS, we rang the Pear Tree and were quoted one price. But then when we got to the desk, they said that it was an internet rate and that's not the 'drop-in' rate. However - TRAVELLER'S TIP: the receptionist at the front desk, somewhat sotto voce, explained that if we simply walked across the lobby to the computer & printer, and went to Roomsavers.com, and looked up the Pear Tree Inn in Lafayette, Louisiana, we would be able to download & print a coupon, redeemable at the Pear Tree Inn in Lafayette, Louisiana, which offered a better rate than either the walk-in rate OR the online reservation rate through their website. $39/night! So, all you money-grubbing Gullivers, all you parsimonious Phineas Foggs, take note - and not just of the website, but of the fact that, often, you can walk into a hotel, go right to their 'business center,' right onto their computer, and print out the coupon right on site.

So, feeling very satisfied about ourselves, we unloaded the car, washed our faces, fed & walked the dog, and headed out to a perfectly fine, truck-stop kind of diner at the TA Travel Center #161, at exit 101. You know the one.

The next day, we covered the final 217 miles to our Craigslist rental and were every bit as satisfied as we might have hoped. Situated on Heights Boulevard, in the up-and-coming, if not already up-and-come, neightborhood of Houston Heights, the home of Steve Ouellette, his partner John, and their dog Foster, is a very comfortable, brick home complete with carport, green lawn to the side, metal-framed gazebo and granite Greek discus-thrower to greet you on your arrival. In the back are two carriage houses, both of which he rents, one on a regular basis and one to transients like ourselves. Essentially a one bedroom apartment, complete with a separate living room, hardwood floors, complete kitchen, cable TV & wi-fi, we were back to homestyle living for a couple weeks. It was very comfortable, and Steve & John were perfect hosts, even supplying us with wine for the night & fresh coffee beans and a grinder for the morning.

NOW - here's where the Amazing Coincidences begin. But first, a little history.

Flashback to two years ago. Your humble correspondent was taken by his morning jog past a parking lot each day, wherein he noticed a gaunt, dusty, and very sad looking dog lying underneath a shrub. He was there the first day. He was there the second day, and I bought him a Subway sandwich, which I fed him through the fence. The third day, seeing him again and convinced that he was indeed homeless and in bad need of medical attention, I couldn't take it. I took a company rental car and, armed with another Subway sandwich, I found a way into the parking lot, whereupon I proceeded to lure him into the back seat. Why didn't I blanche at the notion of bringing a stray pit bull into the back seat of the car, I can only explain by way of my own dog, Diego, back home and the fact of his early life on the street.

Here are some photos of him, when I took him in, and the shape he was in.

I took him to the local shelter. But they don't adopt out pit bulls. If he wasn't claimed over the weekend, he'd be put down. So, I took him to a couple vets before I found one that would not only treat him for the severe malnutrition and dehydration, begin de-worming, and give him some antibiotics, but who would also agree to hold him for the weekend while I looked for a rescue organization. Many phone calls and referrals later, I made a fellow named Dana Blankenship at Scouts Honor, a local Houston rescue & fostering organization. Dana called the vet and, after consulting with them on his general health, agreed to take "Cheech" (as I'd been calling him) in.

As I kept in touch with Dana, over the rest of the tour, I learned that Cheech had acclimated to his foster home very well, making a great recovery. And, ultimately, he was adopted (and renamed "Chuck") by a young woman - who actually lived in Houston Heights, not far from Steve Ouellette's home where we stayed, two years later.

Here he is after his recovery.

My contact with Dana proved to be particularly valuable to us later on as it became clear to Angie and me that Diego, with his increasingly difficult behavioral problems, simply needed owners with a better skill set than we had to offer. Much time was spent on the phone with Dana, with their trainers, with their vet, and after much, much grief, we ended up putting Diego on a plane to Houston. It was the worst day, in July of 2007, and it was only alleviated by the knowledge that - if our ultimate purpose in Diego's life - was to get him from point A to point B, then we were glad to have played that role. Diego later was sent to stay at Spindletop Pitbull Rescue - a place which has been described to us as the "witness protection program" for dogs, because they work with many difficult cases - ex-fighting dogs, dogs who've been abused - and they don't list their physical location. They have 70 acres in the country, about an hour north of Houston. They work with them intensively. And if they decide the dog simply can't be trusted to be adopted out, then the dog lives out its life in a safe environment there. They don't take in animals from private individuals - only fostering organizations. And they're considered a last, best hope for some dogs.


So, we think we're done with dogs for awhile. Then Butley falls in our lap, another pitbull no less, and I leave Angie to host him for the 'weekend' (which has now turned into a year and a half) to go out on the second year of TWELVE ANGRY MEN. Then, with our little family heading out on the road again this year, we're in constant need of dog-friendly housing, of which were neither of the two company options. So we scanned the Craigslist options in Houston and posted our own ad. We were then contacted by Steve Ouellette, who sent us photos and an address. I check in with him - is he okay with a pitbull? He's fine, he says. He and his partner have hosted many dog-adoption events on their front lawn. Oh really, I reply. Maybe you know a friend of mine, Dana Blankenship, with Scouts Honor. I know Dana very well, he responds. In fact, they're the group that we often host here. Really, I write, that's such a coincidence. Dana was kind enough to take in our dog, Diego.

Here's where the chill of impossible coincidence set in.

Oh, I knew Diego very well, he replies. In fact, the vet who rents the house right next door to me worked with Diego and even housed him for a brief time. I write Dana to let him know. He's as spooked by the coincidence as we are.

Just something about karma, I guess. In any event, we knew we had found The Right Place to Stay in Houston.

So, shortly after our arrival, we were walking Butley along Heights Boulevard, a tree-lined neighborhood with a grassy median in the middle along which residents often jog or walk their dogs. On our way back we happened to stop in front of the vet, right next door to Steve's place. The assistant comes out to see Butley, because she just can't pass up a big-headed lug like Butley (and who can blame her). We talk for awhile, and it happens that we end up going in to see some very new puppies they're fostering and their mom. We meet the vet, Patricia Cooper, mention the connection through Diego and Scouts Honor, and she recalls Diego fondly, with the inevitable tinge of trieste over what a trying case he was. Thankful, though, as were we, that he ended up in a good place after all.

Meanwhile, Butley befriends the new mama (named Cassia), and before you know it, Angie and I are making it a daily practice, on Butley's walks, to stop by Dr. Cooper's & pick up Cassia for our walk, who's thrilled and starting to come out of her shell. Butley has a good time, showing her the ropes of how to behave on a walk. And Dr. Cooper not only gives us some pointers on how to give Butley the allergy injections he's been recently prescribed (another story, don't ask - our dog is allergic to grass and trees - it's like a kid being allergic to Crayolas & Play-Doh) but she also gives us a box of syringes & needles for his injections. Like father, like son, apparently. Only he has to get his every three days.

Much of the rest of our time in Houston was occupied with dog-related activities as well. We had dinner with Steve & John and Dana and his partner Danny. We tried (unsuccessfully) to make contact with Spindletop's owner, Leah, who was predictably shy and still recovering from Hurricane Ike and a separate injury to boot. And beyond that, there was just a lot of rehearsal.

You see, Kate Fuglei, Angie's understudy and a wife & mom who's been away from home for six months, quite understandably made only a six month commitment to the tour. And now that the time has passed, she's heading back to her husband and two boys, one of whom is currently fielding offers from college, when he's not fielding baseballs on his varsity team (and the source of much pride to his coaches and college recruiters). And while we'll all sorely miss her, I'm sure she'll enjoy a triumphant return home, brief though it may be before she's packing lunches, driving to practice, and all the other inevitable motherly & wifely pursuits - pursuits whose familiarity will offer a soft landing for her, I'm sure.

Kate Hampton is her replacement, kindly only requiring us to learn a new last name only, and a welcome addition to the "Seniors' Club" here on tour. And as she's been trying to get up to speed, there has been a maximum amount of rehearsal to help her do so, understandably. She's doing just fine, and I'm sure everyone will enjoy the chance to get to know a new face & a new set of favorite drink recipes.

And so, rolling ever onward, we tip our hat to the locals and saddle up. Tomorrow, we've got 981 miles to go to get to Des Moines. In a fantasy life, we'll be making the whole drive in one day, crashing in Des Moines, and then rising to watch the Inauguration with a cup of coffee and a smile. It'll be a whole, new US of A come 11am on Tuesday.

Do I think we can make the drive in one day, the whole 981 miles? If we just grin and bear it, get up early, stop only for gas & bathroom breaks, and milk the Texas 80mph speed limit for all it's worth?

Yes we can.

Do I think we will?

No I don't.

Sunday, January 4, 2009

Tampa & New Years Eve

Getting up the next day, we had a good ten hours of driving ahead of us, to make it to Tampa. Not much to say about it, really – we’ve got the routine down by now. We hook up the iPod, we each take turns driving or relaxing, Butley falls asleep, and we only stop for food, gas, and bathrooms. And there’s always coffee and peanut butter crackers, when things get rough.

We got into Tampa late Sunday night and checked in to our very comfortable Residence Inn digs. Since we didn’t have to be anywhere except rehearsal the following Tuesday, we had Monday, as planned, for ‘reparations’. Laundry, car wash, oil change, tires rotated, and massages. The last part is my favorite, and of course the best way to end the day. I’m a real convert to the notion of a massage after a long drive. One indulgence that seems particularly useful in getting back onto my feet all the sooner.

Angie’s family came into town Wednesday evening (New Year’s Eve), and we met them at Busch Gardens where our ever-resourceful company manager managed to trade show tickets for free admission to the park after our show. We got there kind of late (11pm), and we met Tony & Marianne, Deb, Mike, Nick & Taylor at a steakhouse on the grounds where, after a long day of traveling from Denver, they set about their own recovery. But Angie and I, only having a couple hours to enjoy the park, lit out for the roller coasters and went straight to the biggest, baddest one in the park. Shei-kra. Featuring a thirty story drop straight down at a ninety-degree angle. We got in line and waited for about 15 minutes, until they made an announcement that they were shutting down the ride until after the fireworks display at the park. Apparently, falling debris and gunpowder flares don’t mix well with high-altitude hijinks.

So, rather than stay in line, we headed in the direct opposite direction towards which everyone else was walking to go see the fireworks, in the hopes that we might find one rollercoaster that was far enough away not to be threatened.

We were in luck, as the Kumba, a manic maze of corkscrews and loop-de-loops, was not only running, it was completely empty. We walked right up to the front and had about a five minute wait. Sitting down in the car, as the chest restraints locked into place, Angie and I looked at our watches. One minute to midnight. How perfect, I thought. For two people whose lives, since we got married, have been filled with unexpected turns, wild adventures and misadventures, and harem-scarem surprises of all kinds, in careers which are in a constant state of flux, and who seem to have little more than the vaguest of notions about what life may have in store for us in the ensuing weeks, let alone months or years, that we should be ringing in the new year strapped into a mechanical wild bull bucking and kicking, screaming at sixty miles an hour through alpine climbs and daredevil falls, spinning around in mad disorientation, and totally at the mercy of all kinds of forces larger than ourselves, with fireworks going off all around us along the horizon, and for that horizon, depending on which direction and which incline we happen to be on, to be constantly shifting and twirling around … well, it rarely gets more apropos than that.

Unless it’s like this. That after one crazy, fear-inspiring, stability-shredding trip like that, our first thought is – let’s turn around and do it again. Which, because everyone was still over at the fireworks, and there was no one in line, was just what we did. I felt like Richie Rich and the park was all mine for the day.

Immediately afterwards, we walked back to Shei-kra, that granddaddy of terror, committed to the idea of getting as much panic and near-death experience as possible before the park’s doors closed at 1am. On our way there, we found The Reed/Ogborn contingent and en masse we all sallied forth to our doom. Tony & Nick sat it out, but the rest of us enjoyed a similarly empty line and walked right past the “From here your wait is 1 hour – From here your wait is 45 minutes – From here your wait is 30 minutes – From here your wait is 15 minutes” signs, right to the gate at which you enter the ride.

Now – exactly what it is in some people’s natures (mine included) that actually seeks out such death-defying bull rides like this, I don’t know. But I think this may have been the shortest, and yet most intense, ride I’ve ever done. Here’s the deal: they strap you in, six abreast, three rows to a car. Your feet dangle below you. You climb up into the heavens, unable to turn your head for any more than 90 degrees in either direction, and if you are (as we were) doing the ride at night it feels like you’re in a slow motion rocket ride up and up and up, as there are no tall buildings around the park so you can see off for miles in every direction. Then it levels off at the top, and you feel like you’re taking a tour of some construction site, with nothing more than metal framework around and beneath you.

Then – the track below you stops. At least as far as you can see. It looks that way because it actually bends down. Down at – I swear to God – what I think is a 90 degree angle. And there you sit, legs free and braced in only by the chest restraint, looking at the expanse of the park below you, as your car creeps, foot by foot, towards the edge. And if that isn’t enough, it even slowly crests the corner ever so slightly, and leaves you literally hanging there – stopped – staring down the immediately impending drop of twenty stories below.

And you’re there for probably a full ten seconds.

And then you drop.

There’s no wind up. There’s no gradual increase in your rate of fall. You PLUMMET. Like you have never PLUMMETED before. In fact, I think this ride specifically was the purpose for the crafting of the word PLUMMET.

Down at the end of fall, you wind around a few curves and turns and then back up for another 15 story climb – another slow crawl towards the edge – and another PLUMMETING PLUMMET.

And then you whirl around, and you’re easing slowly into the station. And if you are, as we were, there at 12:30 at night, and almost no one else is around, you think to yourself – let’s do that again.

And so you do.


Now – you would think, if you’re prone to motion sickness, particularly in twisty-turny car rides and stomach-flipping rollercoasters, this ride – this one ride – might be one you would think to avoid. My wife, however, was not one to make such a choice. And her bravery got the better of her as, descending the stairs after the second ride, the beer-and-potato-chip dinner that we hastily enjoyed upon our arrival at the park began to argue with her intestinal chain of command. Clearly, her digestive mechanism was understandably confused as to the proper direction in which to process her less-than-nutritious meal. And the result, after looking a bit woozy and green around the gills, was inevitable.

Fortunately, there was a small, wooded area off to the side. I pity the poor shrubs and cedar chips.

Happy New Year.


The next day, we visited my Aunt Sue and Uncle Erny at their lakeside home. Erny and Sue, various maladies not withstanding, are two of the finer examples of retirement life one could hope to enjoy. And we had a great New Year’s Day lunch, Erny showed us his amazing orchids, out in the garden in the shade, and Sue plied us with sandwiches, potato salad and peanut butter cheesecake. He had plenty of old family stories, from back in the days before I was even around, and in looking at his face I could look straight back through the generations, to my dad, to my grandmother, and probably my great grandparents. The blessings of a family are many, to be sure, and one of the treats is the sense of connectedness it gives you.

The rest of the time in Tampa has been a bit busy. I had understudy rehearsal Wednesday & Friday, and we had two-show days on Saturday & Sunday. But we’ve nonetheless managed to meet up with Angie’s family for drinks or breakfast in the morning. It’s been a good visit, and the Deb & Mike and the kids went off to take in Disney World also. Sunday night, we were planning to pack up & head out after the evening show, to try to get a couple hours of driving under our belts before crashing, but the more we thought about packing the car, then unpacking the roof rack and the bike rack when we land somewhere, and re-packing the roof rack and the bike rack before leaving again, it just seemed wiser to stay the night and just get an early start on Monday. Who knows – maybe we’ll even make it to New Orleans for one more stay, though it would seem like a shame to put down in the Five Continents for little more than a stop-over.

In any event – it’s fifteen hours of driving back to our next stop in Houston. Nearly half-way back the way we just came, from Tucson. And then, after two weeks there, we have another 900+ mile drive to Des Moines.

Holy Mary, Mother of God. Pray for us……..