Thursday we arrived at John’s twin brother Joel’s house around 6:45am after that interminable drive of the day and night before. This worked out really well because Joel’s wife Staci was going to a retreat, and we would not have been able to see her at all except for in the morning before 8am. They were all leaving together around that time for appointments at the eye doctor in a town about 45 minutes away, and then Staci was continuing on from there. It was perfect for us, too, because we had the house to ourselves for a bit so that we could rest and recover from the night before. I took a nap with Daniel from 8-11am which was absolute bliss. I woke up pretty groggy still, but at least I could now function! John stayed in the living room with the others and rested a bit on the couch while they watched some episodes of “Phineas and Ferb” on Netflix. By the time Joel returned with his three boys, we were ready for the day.
Joel and Staci live pretty much in the middle of nowhere, in a Northern California town that started in the 1850s . Over the years different industries have kept it alive – dairy and beef farms, mills to handle the logs brought in by the railroad, and tourism (that last one is a joke 🙂 ) It had a different name in the beginning but then supported the Union troops so much during the American Civil War that it was renamed “Loyal Town” and is now known as Loyalton. I read all this on a sign in the middle of town this morning as I walked a bit after my run. The elevation is roughly 4800 ft, but I wouldn’t call it a “mountain” town, since it’s not in the middle of trees on the side of a mountain like the other places that can claim that title. Instead, the mountains sit in a ring around the town, which consists mostly of large ranches and old saloon-type buildings (I think that means it’s in a valley.)
We didn’t do much – just let the kids play while I did laundry and made lunch and such.
Playing in the sprinklers
Then we packed up all the kids (Joel and his three boys and our family all fit in to the van!) and headed over to Reno, Nevada, about 30 minutes away, for a little shopping and dinner. We stopped in to the Apple store where I was able to find the type of phone case I like – the one that is a leather wallet for holding cards and money – for my new iPhone 4s that we got last week in New York. Next we went to Outback Steakhouse (I gave Joel a list of restaurants I want to visit on our travels – you know, awesome Mexican food, Olive Garden, Outback, Waffle House, In ‘N Out Burger, Sonic, Red Lobster – and let him pick the spot. It was a superb dinner, and we would have loved to eat the cheesecake and carrot cake, too, but we were too full. I had a crab-avacado-tomato stack as an appetizer, the guys shared a Bloomin’ Onion, and we all enjoyed the Coconut Fried Shrimp. Then most people had steak (some had ribs), and I had a Steakhouse Salad – with a blue cheese vinegarette, blue cheese crumbles, sugar encrusted pecans, red onions, and tomatoes. I wasn’t able to finish it, so I brought it home to enjoy later. The waitress asked us about why we had been in England, so I mentioned that John is in the US Navy. Then when she brought the check, she had taken off $40 because of John’s military service. Isn’t that sweet???
Left to right – Jackson (Joel’s oldest son), Joel, and John at Outback
Tomato-crab-avacado stack in a lime sauce
After that we needed to stop into Big 5 Sporting Goods for Joel to buy one of his kids some cleats, so John and I finally bought some sunglasses (which would have come in handy driving west…) for the rest of our driving. I’m wearing them now, and it feels so nice not to have to squint all the time because of the sun!
American flag planted in a pile of dirt which we saw while we were out
We had a quiet evening at home with the kids watching “The Lorax” in one room while we watched “The Hunger Games” in another.
Friday morning I went for a slow (but not easy) 3 mile run. For some reason I don’t feel like my runs are getting any easier, and every day it feels like my legs are two stone columns that don’t feel like being moved from their resting position. I am pretty demotivated by the time I leave to run lately because my running clothes are so ill-fitting. Everything feels tight, and I almost wish I could have that belly band I wore when I was pregnant because I still have a tummy that shakes around when I run. The altitude seems to be making it harder as well – at least I think that’s it, since I keep running at higher altitudes each day, and the running keeps getting harder 😦 Part of it must be that my expectations are too high — I keep thinking I should be running faster, and that it should feel easier since I’m no longer 40 weeks pregnant, and that running 3-5 miles should be a breeze — so when I am let down by reality it’s really frustrating.
The views on the run
By the end of the run I was in a worse mood than when I’d started, so I didn’t go straight back to the house to face 9 children, my husband, his brother, and, no doubt, Super Mario on the tv. Instead, I walked on shade-dappled sidewalks, past apple, peach, and plum trees that hung over fences to tempt me, into the tiny town. My decision to walk to the bakery for a donut was made at this point, even though I’d waffled back and forth during my run. Joel had gone to the bakery earlier and brought home a dozen donuts that looked awesome (I couldn’t have one since I was about to go for a run) – so I took $5 with me planning to pop in there on the way back from running. Since I felt like I weighed a ton with every step of the run, I began to think a donut would just make me feel worse – I’d be eating all the calories I had just burned, and I’m sure the refined sugar would do a number on me. By the time I made it to the bakery, though, the loveliness of the day and the simplicity of the town had revived me, and I was probably smiling ear-to-ear by the time the little bell over the door jangled as I walked in. One chocolate frosted glazed donut and a cup of iced coffee (with pumpkin spice syrup and half-and-half) later, and I was a new woman. Possibly this is because, no joke, it was legitimately the best donut I have ever had. It was soft, yet firm, and the chocolate frosting was perfect, with just enough of it there to make the donut tasty, and not too much to overwhelm the donut itself.
This experience also serves to remind me that I need to keep away from the caffeinated iced coffee. I used to be totally addicted to it – having 3 a day at one point in Hawaii – and convinced myself it was just the “thought” of it that made me happy–it couldn’t be the caffeine. I came to realize that I was having a ton of caffeine on a regular basis, because without it I was a wreck. Once I weaned myself off it, though, I no longer needed it, and I would be wired any time I had “real” coffee. This one little treat yesterday (combined with the amazing donut), showed me that I just light up at the thought of an iced coffee still. So if it had caffeine, not only would I wantwantwant iced coffee all the time, I would need it, and I don’t like feeling shackled to something like that. How about you – do you think you’re addicted to caffeine??
I walked back to Joel’s house ready to get packed up to start the next leg of our journey. I finished up my steakhouse salad, we packed up things and kids, and we drove away around 12:30pm for the coast — but more on that tomorrow 🙂