Wilder by Far

A look at life with the Wilder family. Updated most weekends and some vacation days. You can contact me at movingnorth@gmail.com..

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Sunday, April 29, 2007

"Peg, I'm trying to control an outbreak, and you're driving the monkey to the airport." - Hank, King of the Hill

Either that’s an oil rig off the coast of Galveston, or a James-Bond-Style super-villain has moved his secret headquarters sneakily in toward Texas.

Okay, okay, I tried a little experiment with the last post – forgive me. About two years ago, I had the idea that I’d toss in an Alaska joke once a week.


Went over like Alec Baldwin as a preschool teacher. Or, Kim Basinger as a mother.

People weren’t interested in that. They appeared to be more interested in the quirky adventures that The Mrs. and The Boy and I got into. (This was pre-Pugsley.) So, I went back to that. Every so often I stray.

Okay, I understand. Until I forget again the year after next. Back to the adventures . . .

There is a certain simplicity and respect brought about by living in a small, remote place. In Fairbanks, drivers were, for the most part, polite. You never knew if the person that you were cutting off in traffic was your boss, The Mrs.’ boss, or The Boy’s teacher. It was just good sense to display good manners. I mean, really, if The Boy just walked by and kicked me in the shin everyday, I think I’d done something to irritate him, or perhaps that he didn’t like the food around here.

By contrast, in Houston, even if you live a mile or so away from a person, well, there’s only one chance in 20,000 that you know the person that just ignored the stop sign and blew past you in a big, black, shiny, Ford F250 pickup. It’s like a different four-foot stranger comes into my house and kicks me in the shins every day. At least that’s understandable – at that point it’s nothing personal, they’re just four-foot strangers that like kicking shins.

Every day that I drive in traffic, somebody is a four-foot shin-kicker, either stopping for those red lights, or maintaining that as a pedestrian they have a right to use the sidewalk. It’s irritating.

Perhaps the worst is when navigating from one mega-highway to the exit ramp that leads to another. The traffic flow must be worse (or at least as bad as) the traffic flow around Paris Hilton’s house on a Saturday night. Merging is horrible, and it’s hard to get to the exit because of the crowd of people heading the other direction. Which is to say, exactly like Saturday night at Paris Hilton’s house. Nobody knows you by name, and there’s no real reason to help one another out, since everybody has a different goal.

I try to do my best to fool ‘em. I drive like I’m in Fairbanks. I let people merge, use my turn signals, and avoid driving on the shoulder or cutting people off. A saint? No. It’s just my little way of sticking it to the man.

I know, I know, being nice and polite doesn’t really stick it to the man, but, people sound so gosh darn cool when they say that. I just wanted to say it once. No, the real reason I try to drive nice is because although I’m a continent away from where people mostly always drive nice, well, I don’t have to change.

I bring all this up because the other day I read a quote, “Peculiar travel suggestions are dancing lessons from God.” That was Kurt Vonnegut. (At this point I should be slightly embarrassed to admit that the only thing I ever read by Vonnegut was “Harrison Bergeron.”)

That seems to me to be good advice. And, if I can dance fast enough, I can avoid The Boy swiping at my shin with his Hot Wheels® sneakers.

Wednesday, April 25, 2007

"I've got the fastest horse, the prettiest sister, the surest rifle and the ugliest dog in Texas." - Davy Crockett, Davy Crockett

Nolan Ryan, that guy from all of the commercials, is from Texas.

A Brief History of Texas, From The Point of View of Texans

On November 6, 1528, shipwrecked Spanish conquistador Álvar Núñez Cabeza de Vaca washed up on the beach of Texas. On the spot, he claimed Texas for Spain, then promptly left and got lost somewhere else, which you might expect from someone whose last name means “Head of a Cow.” Spain proceeded to forget about Texas for about three hundred years. Later when rummaging around in its attic, looking for an old Tom Petty album, Spain found the deed to Texas and shipped it off to Mexico in exchange for a weekend at Cabo and a round of Margaritas.

In 1835 the President of Mexico, Antonio López de Santa Anna, forgot the cardinal rule of “Don’t Mess with Texas.” Santa Anna tried to take the guns of the Texans away (a big no-no), ended NASCAR on television and fired Tom Landry from the Cowboys®. The inevitable march of Texas independence was launched.

In late February of 1836, the Battle of the Alamo ended with three Texans holding off 16,254,000 Soviet troops and a battalion of Swedish Girl Scouts®, and won a decisive victory. In March, 1836 Texans declared that Santa Anna was “not the real Santa.” On April 21, 1836 Sam Houston defeated Santa Anna at the Battle of San Jacinto, after engaging in personal combat with pointy sticks, and a series of games of Scrabble®. Houston won two out of three Scrabble® games (mainly by using a ‘J’ twice on a triple letter score), but history does not record how good a pointy-stick fighter he was, though it was reported in later years he squinted a whole lot.

In less than fifty days from opening a can of whoop-hiney on Santa Anna, the Texans were independent, had discovered oil, built the Johnson Space Center, and had recovered the Lost Ark of the Covenant.

Feeling neighborly to the smaller country to the east, Texas formally annexed the United States in 1845, with the United States adopting a version of the Texas Lone Star flag that has way too many stars and stripes.

In 1941, Texas declared war on Japan and Germany, and essentially single-handedly kicked their butts, with Texans “Ike” Eisenhower and Audie Murphy finishing off the Second World War in three or so weeks.

The current Governor of Texas is Rick Perry, brother to Steve Perry, former lead singer for Journey.

Famous Texans:
  • Moses
  • Nolan Ryan
  • Richard The Lionhearted
  • ZZ Top
  • The Joplin Brothers, Scott and Janis
  • Winston Churchill
  • Roger Staubach
  • Jack Bauer
I kid. There’s more state pride in Texas in most states half its size. And most are half its size, or less (‘cept Alaska, which Texans often conveniently forget about).

Thursday, April 19, 2007

"How do you like yer possum, Lowell, fallin' off the bones tender or with a little fight left in it? " - Granny, The Beverly Hillbillies

Bugtussle. I learned of Bugtussle watching "The Beverly Hillbillies" as a young lad - and the image always made me laugh - bugs tussling.

We got up very late in Quanah the next morning. The maid was scratching at the door, saying, “I’ll get you my pretties, and your little dog, too!“ and that creeped The Mrs. out. I think that she was worried it was Don Imus.

Anyhow, we (and when I say we, I mean The Mrs.) got The Boy and Pugsley ready, and packed the Wildermobile with all the things that we had brought. We missed the free continental breakfast, which sent Pugsley into a deep, dark depression. He then started playing with his toes and was happy. I tried that the other night for about four hours, and still don’t see how you can have all that much fun just sitting and playing with your toes. Maybe I need a manual to figure it out. But, I digress.

We got on the road and headed home. The Mrs. indicated that she wanted to stop and use the restroom. There was no way that I was turning around and driving four hours to that luxurious restroom back in Conley County, so we stopped at a McDonalds© at a McTown™ someplace along our route. The Mrs. escorted The Boy in while Pugsley and I waited in the car. Pugsley is self-contained in that regard, much like an astronaut. Fortunately, he doesn’t (currently) have a jilting astronaut lover, so I don’t worry about him taking the car on an all-nighter to Florida.

The Mrs. stomped out of the McDonalds®, with a murderous rage in her eye and The Boy in tow.

“Everything okay?”

“No. The woman’s room was broken, and The Boy wouldn’t go in the men’s room by himself.” Well, at least I got my coffee. Mmmm. Coffee.

We finally hit Ft. Worth. The traffic was, again, slower than Paris Hilton on a Calculus Final (thankfully that girl’s slow at something). Both times we went through Ft. Worth, the traffic was horrible. Couldn’t get any worse, right?

See, traffic. I don't know which direction had it worse, but that's a one hand clapping kind of Zen question. I think the other way had it worse, because we had a shorter drive to greasy food.

Wrong. Outside of Waco the traffic went to about 5mph (that’s an average of 7.333 feet per second, for those that think better in feet per second). Since during some portions of the trip we’d been traveling in excess of 132 feet per second, this was like slogging through Anna Nichole Smith’s diary – you hate it, it’s slow and uncomfortable, makes no sense, but you have to get through it.

Politeness is the foundation of a free and civil society – it’s basic respect. When being impolite has no social consequences and dueling is outlawed (I think people were just upset that Burr beat Hamilton, and there could be no rematch), people start making laws to enforce politeness.

Case in point – 5,000 drivers are all suffering in the car, playing with our toes in an unsatisfying sort of way (except for Pugsley), waiting for the traffic to clear out. Suddenly, decides the problem isn’t that there’s a traffic issue up ahead – No! – the problem is that people aren’t driving on the shoulder! First one idiot, then another, then another, takes to the shoulder. Finally, a trucker driving a big truckload of Pez jumps his rig out onto the shoulder, effectively blocking the idiots from compounding the problem ahead.

Here’s to you, Mr. Pez Trucker!

We drive home. Five days. Three hotel rooms. Sixty bazillion meals at fast food restaurants. 2121.3 miles.

What did we learn? Texas has great public restrooms. Green chilies are good. Pinot Noir is also good.

Playing with your toes isn’t all that fun unless . . . ohhhh, that’s the secret! Playing with your toes is great!


Fr Joseph Huneycutt, over at Orthodixie, tagged Wilder by Far with:

1. If, and only if, you get tagged, write a post with links to 5 blogs that make you think.
2. Link to this post so that people can easily find the exact origin of the meme.
3. Optional: Proudly display the ‘Thinking Blogger Award’ with a link to the post that you wrote.

My choices are . . .
The Mrs. – because we all know who the boss is.
Gamin’ Koldfoot – Koldie knows games. All of them.
Flat Tire Blues – Shawn, a choice between food and beer??
Taxi Vignettes – Joann has great stories – the people she meets . . .
Bikin’ Jill in Alaska – Jill does more exercise in a day than most people do in a year.

Oh, a big shout out to susane, over at Mushing Mom - she did the right thing and bought The Mrs. book. Not to late for you to do the same!

Sunday, April 15, 2007

"I don't think there's a girl floating in a jar anywhere who's as happy as I am. " - Anne Umellellmahaye, The Man With Two Brains

Ever looked into the crater of a volcano, and thought, man, I wish I had a beer? Me too.

So, we got unpacked in Quanah, Texas. We all had post-swimming pool showers, and The Mrs. attempted to put Pugsley into bed. The Boy had collapsed into a puddle of Boy, and The Mrs. had wrung him out over his queen-size mattress. I, however, went out in search of booze.

I got to the front desk.

“Anyplace to get some,” wink, wink, “Spirits around here?”

“Oh heck, we’ve only been wet since the election in January. I think you can get some down at the United,” said the front desk clerk.

“The United Way sells liquor?”

“No, the United Grocery Store.”

I high tailed it into the Wildermobile and wondered how these poor people had gotten their hooch before January. I imagined 1930’s automobiles running illicit loads of liquor into Quanah on back roads. Then I imagined me rolling in stacks of one hundred dollar bills. Both made me feel, well, good.

I drove to the United (grocery store) and looked for the booze. In most grocery stores in Texas, there’s wine next to the cereal, beer next to the cleaning agents, and whiskey next to the Rice-A-Roni™ (the San Francisco Treat®). The rum? Next to Cap’n Crunch©. That lush.

Anyhow, the alcohol-containing beverages were all stuck in a lonely corner. I picked out a bottle of champagne and a bottle of, well, it was red. The label said it was wine.

Whew. Haven't been Rocky Mountain High since John Denver wrecked that plane of his . . .

Why the champagne? Let me tell you a story . . . .

I had been working out in the basement of my house (three states and a decade ago) and I got tired of listening to that evil, evil Bob Segar. I turned to the other rock channel. I continued climbing stairs on a machine that stayed still, when the DJ came on with a trivia question.

Ahhh, it was an easy question. What movie had a five-year-old confused about a subdural and an epidural hematoma? Only one! The Man With Two Brains.

I called in to win a crappy CD and pictures of me at Glamour Shots®. Busy. I hit redial. Busy. I gave up.

The DJ came back on, “We still don’t have a winner . . . .”

I hit redial, “The Man With Two Brains!”

She told me I was a winner. Then she put the next song on, and we talked. And talked. Then she had to go.

I sighed. A deep, manly sigh, but a sigh nonetheless.

I went to work the next day, in a city of a million people. I said I had a crush on the DJ to one person. Her reply?

“I know her. She just broke up with a guy. You can meet on St. Patrick’s Day.”

I met her on St. Patrick’s Day. We started talking. They kicked us out of the bar, because in our talking, we hadn’t noticed that everyone else had left. I walked her to her car. Parked next to mine.

“Gimmee some sugar, baby,” I said.

Okay, we kissed. I knew, that night, we were going to get married. And, we did, 130 days later.

This was our 10th anniversary of meeting. In a hotel room, with two kids, in Quanah, Texas.

“Cheers,” I said, clinking a plastic cup full of champagne into hers.

“Cheers,” she replied.

“Did you known that they just started drinking in Quanah? I mean, they had no selection of alcohol.”

“Give them time,” The Mrs. said. “They’re still just learning.”

So, my tenth anniversary of chatting up The Mrs. came and went in a hotel in a town in Texas that’s smaller than a flyspeck.

Didn’t matter. We had booze. Oh, and I had The Mrs.

Next: There and Back Again, or Home.

Wednesday, April 11, 2007

" A flyspeck on the map - a rest stop on the way to the ski slope. I can't even get real drugs here." - Booger, Better Off Dead

This is the underside of a picnic area I saw on the roadway. I decided to do an artsy picture. I call this one, "Woody Allen meets Woody Harrelson at Starbucks and they fight over who has to pay for the creamy cappuchinos so they channel the ghost of Woodrow Wilson to settle the issue bloodlessly."

After stopping at the Capulin Volcano, I began to ponder. Although this particular volcano was older than recorded human settlement, there have been volcanoes that have gone off while people were around (Pompeii, Krakatoa, Russell Crowe) and I wondered what would have happened if Al Gore had been a Roman Senator . . . I think it would have gone something like this . . .

Senator Albertus Goreus (the Elder): “My fellow citizens of Roman, it is clear that by starting fires to selfishly heat our house, we are causing what I call Global Core Heating. If you look at my PowerParchment presentation, you can plainly see that the number of volcanoes is directly related to the number of Romans building fires. I suggest that we abandon fire and freeze to death in the dark. Thank you.”

Regardless, we were headed back into Texas. Sneakily, I lulled The Mrs. to sleep by listening to a financial talk radio show. My plan had been to attempt to drive as far as possible before stopping. Preferably, we’d stop at home. If I could only figure out a way to make The Mrs. sleep for another nine hours . . .

A ways past Amarillo, we decided to stop because fluid system pressures had reached a critical level, so announced by The Boy. Conveniently, a rest stop was only two hours down the road. (I know I’m evil). And, what a rest stop it was.

In New Mexico, we’d stopped at a rest stop along the interstate that had a bucket covering a hole where a toilet had been broken off, with a rotting ceiling and a decorative pond that hadn’t seen water since around the last time Courtney Love took a shower.

The Rest Stop of the Gods.

In Texas, along a (sparsely) traveled road, a 65,000 square foot rest stop awaited, complete with:
  • free wireless Internet,
  • driving directions computers,
  • covered picnic area,
  • play ground,
  • cable television,
  • vending machines,
  • free Pez and pantyhose dispensers,
  • and the nicest public restroom I’ve ever seen . . .
There were granite counters in the restroom and marble tiles on the floor. This particular rest area was bigger and nicer than any house I’ve ever lived in or visited.

The Central Brain of the Rest Stop. Oh, sure it looks friendly, but I've learned from movies that all computers look friendly until they lock the doors shut and try to impregnate you with their computer baby.

My guess is the difference between the rest stop in New Mexico and the one in Texas was all the sweet, sweet oil and gas money that fills the coffers of the state (which, like Alaska has no state income tax) so much that they were embarrassed and had to build a rest stop fit for conversion into a palace for the Queen should she decide that England just wasn’t big enough and pick Donley County, Texas as the place to move the monarchy to.

Even the sign for the place cost more than my car. If you notice the monitors, it hooks into the cameras for the central computer brain. Perhaps this is where that whole "computers taking over the world" thing starts - a rest stop in Texas.

We got back on the road. The Mrs. finally put her foot down, metaphorically, and said that, since up ahead in the distance, she’d seen a shimmering light. She said her head was heavy and her sight was dim. We had to stop for the night. In . . . Quanah, Texas.

See, the rest stop is even hooked up to teh Intrapipes. Fear the rest stop! It probably paid for all these nice upgrades itself!

We stopped at the Best Western and grabbed a room. I ushered The Mrs., The Boy, and Pugsley up into the room, and proceeded to make the trip down to the car for the 721 pounds (6 kilograms) of necessities that we’d brought with us. As I opened the trunk, another couple with kids were unloading their car.

“Hey, didn’t we see you at the volcano?” By volcano, they meant the one we’d been at nine hours and hundreds of miles ago . . .

Indeed, when The Boy and I were running down into and back up from the crater, I think we made quite an impression on them. We Wilders are like that – not everybody thinks of running into a volcano, though I will admit the running away from the volcano isn’t an original idea. Soon enough, the Wilders hit the pool, only to be followed again by the people I now call the Stalker Family.

The Wilders and Stalkers had fun in the pool, including the water-phobic The Boy. He impressed the young Stalker ladies by doing math I thought beyond him . . . “If you’re twelve, you were born in 1995 . . . “

My son, six years old, was hitting on the twelve year old Stalker girl.

I’m going to need to keep a sharp eye on The Boy.

Newbie Alcohol Users
10 Years

Sunday, April 08, 2007

"Oh no. The volcano has erupted. What do you do now, Jenny? That's right: duck and cover." - Narrator, South Park

These are the Spanish Peaks, but word has it that the Spanish Conquistadors had another name for them . . . involving what the Spaniards were most missing (nudge nudge, wink wink)

We pulled out of the hotel parking lot after a nice breakfast with Pop Wilder and a stop at the bookstore. The Boy picked up a Green Lantern comic book. So passes the geek torch.

We headed out of town. Thankfully, The Mrs. dread sinus infection had gone, so she was able to take jumping up and down thousands of feet in altitude without thinking about taking a power drill to her forehead to relieve pressure.

After going nearly a hundred miles, I looked down at my dashboard. The dohickey that measures the MPG we were getting was stuck at 38 miles per gallon. In a car that normally gets about 25 miles per gallon. At that point I recalled that the gasoline sold by retailers at a mile and a half in altitude had to be “thicker” than the stuff sold at sea level – it was 85 octane for regular. The gasoline has to be thicker so it doesn’t just go “whoosh” and jump out of your tank like helium out of a balloon when you go to refill. The thicker stuff also had no ethanol, which is good for drinking, but sucks as a fuel. The “thicker” the gasoline, the more tiny faeries can be packed into a gallon, so your car goes much farther on a gallon of high altitude gasoline. So, if you think that you could get better mileage if they’d give you better fuel, you’d be right. But only if you lived at over a mile in elevation.

Capulin Volcano - Federal Government Tourist Trap Bureau

We moved on down the road at a good clip. We left the main road in Northern New Mexico and hit a side road that headed (nearly) straight for the Texas border. As we drifted through the miles, The Mrs. and Pugsley started to drift to sleep, while The Boy and I hit a pause in our incessant banter. I took the opportunity to kick the radio on, and hit “Scan.” As would be expected, most of the radio stations were fuzzy, and even those had two flavors: one flavor extolled the virtues of Jesus, the other of someone named “Billy Ray Cyrus”. On the third “Scan” attempt, suddenly a clear radio station came in, and began talking about Volcanoes.

Apparently, there was a National Monument stuck out here in the middle of nowhere – specifically Capulin Volcano National Monument. The Federal Government radio flypaper had caught us.

We went in, and immediately noticed that the National Park Service had rules. Not sure why, but wherever the Federal Government goes, there are tons of rules. The sign below indicated that we could picnic, but not camp, and it was entirely illegal for us to use hammers and smash the entire volcano into bits and put it in our pockets. Sadly, our scheme for making money by turning a volcano into gravel was dashed.

What was strange was that everywhere we looked around, volcanic calderas jutted above the surrounding landscape like the Dolly Parton Look-a-like contest “lying on your back” portion of the judging. Strangely, the Federal Government felt that, unlike the 10,000 other volcanoes we’d passed on our trip, this one should be a National Monument. I’m thinking that the owner (back in 1901, or whenever) was owed a favor from a senator, and the senator persuaded the government to buy this volcano instead of that volcano.

The Boy and I went into the minature theater where we watched a short film about volcanoes. The Mrs. took the wrestled the restless Pugsley out when he saw that there was no food to be had in the little theater.

Leaving the Park Office, we took our car up the curving mountainside. The Mrs. is afraid of no man and no spider, but The Mrs. is afraid of heights. One of the first things that The Mrs. noticed was that there was no guardrail around the curving road, and that it appeared to drop into a chasm below. I tried to make soothing comments, like, “after the rocks go through our heads we won’t feel getting ground into itsy bitsy pieces” but that seemed not calm The Mrs., it seemed to have the opposite effect.

She didn’t even like it when I swerved toward the edge of the guardrail-less road, throwing my hands over my eyes and screaming.

No sense of humor.

The Boy and I ran down into the crater inside the volcano. We ran down the trail, and about 300 yards back up. “Slow down, Dad. I’m tired.”

Thankfully he said that, since he picked the point where my lungs were attempting to claw their way out of my chest so that they might get just a little air.

Got to be strong. The Green Lantern would never be a wussy that said he had to take a break running out of a volcano.

The Best Little Rest Stop in Texas
Novice Drinkers
Happy 10th

Wednesday, April 04, 2007

"Pop, until you've had a good cigar and a shot of whiskey, you're missing the second and third best things in life." - Horton, Paint Your Wagon

Oh, sure, it looks like a mountain reaching 14,345’ into the sky, but it’s really Pop’s bunker. It takes him forever to mow.

We headed north from Albuquerque towards Colorado. The speed limit is officially 75MPH (7,342km/h) on the road between Albuquerque and Santa Fe, but we were passed by a pickup (filled to the brim with people in back) doing about 100MPH. Most cars were doing about 90MPH (12km/h). I’m not sure, but I think that this is moving faster than Angelina on a date with somebody else’s spouse. Notice I did not specify gender.

Anyhow. As we wound our way through the mountains south of Colorado, I got an urgent phone call from work. Seems like I left my office light on. Or something. I can’t be sure exactly what people were saying, since the mountains blocked everything after “transdimensional doorway . . . breach . . . fangs.” Then the screaming started and the line went dead. That’ll teach me to leave the lights on.

The mountains of northern New Mexico are serene. The small hamlets that dot the roads, the thirty-year-old Coors sign, the stunted piñon pines all speak to a harsh, remote, and unforgiving lifestyle, much like being the Democrat in Utah.

We finally pulled up to the front gate of Pop Wilder’s bunker. After passing the retina scan and DNA profile, the computer asked me to say the password. It took me a minute to remember. “Soylent Green is people.”

The lead-lined gates to Bunker Wilder swung open and I hugged Pop for the first time in 18 months.

“Hi,” I said.

“What?” replied Pop.

I then remembered. Pop Wilder lost most of his hearing during a multi-year vacation abroad paid for by our country. You gotta love a vacation with guns.

Hi,” I repeated.

“Doing fine.”

We talked for a bit, and then headed off to lunch. Pop hung around for a bit, muttered something about having to change access codes, then wandered off back to his fortress of solitude. The Mrs. and I went to go visit some old friends (new to her, as this was the first time I’d seen them since just before my first date with The Mrs.) and endured the cacophony of multiple discussion strands as we caught up on conversations never completed, just set aside for a time.

We went to our hotel room (somehow the access codes to the bunker didn’t work) and The Boy and I hit the pool. Which is to say I visited the pool and carried The Boy (who is terrified of water) around like a mother kangaroo in a pouch, his arms fiercely clenched around my neck. We went back to our room, and found that Pugsley was howling for food. We went to the restaurant, and Pugsley (22 months old) ate macaroni and cheese and half of my steak. I ordered dessert for the bunch.

Ever wonder what happens when you introduce a 22 month old to chocolate mousse? He rips at your arm, scratching you for you to get that spoon into his mouth NOW. I think my arm was going faster than the cars between Albuquerque and Santa Fe.


Sunday, April 01, 2007

"Remember when I took that wine tasting lesson and I forgot how to drive?" - Homer, The Simpsons

The bubbles . . . they terrify me . . . every since one of them ate my cousin.

Since our friends were out working and going to school and such, we went to the local museum district in Albuquerque. My favorite museum in the area is the National Atomic Museum – and when they say “atomic” they mean “boom.” In my mind, there’s not much that can be more fun than hanging out with atomic weapons.

Deferring to the ankle biter set, we headed instead to ¡Explora!, which is a hands-on kid’s science museum, and really (really) inexpensive. Sure, I’m all for the edumacation of my childrens, but I do have a budjet.

We went into the museum, and The Boy immediately went into a frenzy of scientific inquiry, formulating independent and mathematically correct theorems of everything from erosion rates in post-cretaceous sedimentary rock formations to a theory that if he connected a bunch of wires up to a power supply some stuff would happen, to a theory that if he jumped an laughed maniacally while making bubbles, that would somehow make him happier.

As we were in the midst of examining what my body looks like through the lens of an infrared camera (don’t ask), my long time friend and partner in crime, (I’ll call him “John”, since, well, that’s his name, too) sat down beside me and began talking to The Boy. I was somewhat startled that a random person would sit down and began talking to The Boy, and, as I was about to blow my emergency whistle and scream, “Stranger, stranger, I don’t know you!” I looked and saw it was my friend. Whew. That would have been an embarrassing explanation. I think what threw me off was the khakis.

The fountain at ¡Explora! almost looks alive, especially when it rubs against your leg and purrs.

Anyhow, we explored the rest of ¡Explora!, looking at sound waves, blowing bubbles, and, in general, wondering why some people think that science is difficult. We finally finished, and went back to our cars. John took The Boy with him, and we went back toward his place.

As The Mrs., Pugsley and I drove down I-40 my cell phone rang. It was John. (Not John-Me, but my friend John). Anyhow, John warned me that the traffic was horrid on I-40, and proposed a circuitous route that would take me through six counties and two alternate dimensions to get to his house.

I stayed on I-40. Sure, traffic got a smidge slow, but it was better than traffic in Houston during the non-rush hours. We got to his house about 10 minutes before he did, and didn’t have to worry about bringing soul-sucking creatures from another dimension back with us.

We went to his backyard and watched as our boys played. The nice thing about having friends like our hosts is that the conversation seems to pick up right where it left off, be it a hour ago, or three years ago.

We laughed, we talked, we went out for dinner.

Our respective Mrs. finally went off to bed, and John and I talked through several bottles of very good Pinot Noir.

The next morning, we packed up, again time to move down the road, and meet up with Pop Wilder in the bunker he keeps high in and undisclosed location in the Rockies.

Would I remember the password, or would his trained squad of attack deer rip us to shreds?

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