For Evelin and me, there were no new states, but Celeste added one to her total visited (that's her map above; 16 states, 31% of the 50 States + D.C.) and Quinn (who, until Thursday, we're pretty sure hadn't been out of Maryland) now has five states (9%). However, during our trip down to Montreat, North Carolina, for a family wedding, I realized that I had not, in fact, ever been to Asheville before, so that was new for me. Also, we had a worry that we wouldn't be able to count Tennessee for Celeste if she slept through the entire state, but she woke up around Kingsport, giving her a good 15 minutes in The Dollywood State.
We left Thursday morning a little past 6:00 a.m. and the drive down went pretty well. Google Maps pegged the trip at about 10 hours, going though Richmond, VA. Mapquest, using the same route put it at closer to eight hours. Yahoo! Maps trimmed about 15 minutes off that by having us travel west to I-81 and going south from there. AAA offered a similar route, but pushed us through Tennessee to approach Montreat from the west instead of using I-77 to go to I-40.
Since our usual route toward Atlanta had been via I-95, Richmond, and I-84, we decided to go the western route — both for a change of pace and because my folks had come up from Louisiana that way and said they liked it better than the trip down I-95 to Atlanta. I also thought AAA might have some insider knowledge about construction on I-40 though North Carolina and was routing us west to avoid that.
It turns out, AAA's issue was that they were taking us to Asheville. During one of our stops for Quinn to nurse and Celeste to play, I looked over the maps and had the sudden remembrance that even though Montreat was on the AAA Asheville and Vicinity map, it wasn't in the database when I ordered the TripTik so I put in Asheville instead. If I'd put in Black Mountain, AAA might well have routed us the way we ended up going, via I-77.
In the end, it took about nine hours, about an hour-and-a-half of which was stops, with some good sleeping from both girls.
My mother's family spent bits of some summers in Montreat, and we'd been there for a week or so once when I was a kid. I remembered it as being a lot bigger, but it still was really neat. The house we stayed in had a creek running through the backyard, and while Celeste was content to drop rocks and sticks into it from a small footbridge, my nieces splashed their way up and down it within minutes of arriving on Friday.
Thursday was unprogrammed as far as the wedding went for us, so Evelin, Celeste, Quinn, and I were able to visit with my folks for a while and then settle in for the evening. Friday was the rehearsal dinner — no kids allowed; so Evelin ended up staying home with Celeste, Quinn, A--- and L--- (our nieces), and the babysitters. Since we don't have great stores of pumped breastmilk and since we didn't bring the pump, it was easiest for Evelin to skip the dinner and to stay home with Quinn. She hoped to slip away to the party once Quinn went down for the night, but it dinna end up happening.
Saturday we had our first bit of tire karma. Flashing back to Thursday: On the drive down, we passed a truck towing an Airstream. One of the back tires on the trailer was either flat or at least 80% deflated, but the driver didn't seem to know. His window was down, so as we passed, we slowed down to match speeds and Evelin yelled out the window to him that one of the tires looked flat. He thanked us and pulled off at the next exit. We joked a bit about how that might be a not-too-efficient way get traffic off the highway long enough for us to pass, but then Evelin invoked the idea of tire karma — she'd want someone to let her know if she hadn't noticed a flat, and it could only help the person out.
Back to Saturday: We'd all gone down to the park, and because of all the kids we were in the T.R.U.C.K. and my brother's SUV. Celeste and her cousins did some playing together, but we all ended up at different places and different times. As we were all leaving, Celeste was distracted by a playstrucutre and the others went ahead. By the time Evelin, Celeste, Quinn, and I got to the parking lot, we saw my parents — on their way to a brunch we were skipping — and one of my cousins talking. Apparently, my brother, A---, had noticed we had a flat tire. My folks had stopped to talk to him, and they decided to wait by the T.R.U.C.K. until we got to the parking lot while he ran N--- and the girls back to the house. A--- planned to come back to help me with the tire once that was done.
I turned out we caught a nail in the tire, so with the spare on, I took Evelin, Celeste, and Quinn home and then headed in to Black Mountain to find someone to fix it. After a little driving around, I found a Chevy dealership that was open and had a free service bay. Within 45 minutes or so, I was on my way home ... which was a good thing because Celeste had left her Blankie in the car and was overdue for a nap.
With the excitement over, we got ready for the rest of the day: the 4:00 p.m. wedding in Black Mountain followed by the reception in Montreat.
The wedding was beautiful, at least what I got to see of it; Celeste was getting more and more fidgety and while she might have lasted a bit longer, I took the opportunity of everyone standing during the first hymn to move her to the lobby. It was a very well-attended ceremony (and I really should mention that R--- and S--- make a wonderful couple), and there was an overflow crowd in the lobby, so after a little while and a few outbursts about "Mumma car!" we ended up moving to the library. About 15 minutes later, I thought I heard Quinn and, a moment after that, she and Evelin were ushered into the library. After getting them settled for a diaper change, I slipped out to pick up the carseat/bucket were we'd left it in the lobby and (almost literally) ran into the happy couple.
Since Quinn was ready to sleep, we decided to not head directly to the reception; instead Celeste, Quinn, Evelin, and I headed out to the interstate and cruised an exit or two toward Asheville before turning back and heading to the reception.
At the inn, there was a little area of the party set aside for kids; Celeste zoomed in on the gluesticks and foam shapes and went into some very focused play. Sleeping Quinn was put in a back corner of the area where the person in charge promised to watch over her. It wasn't too long before she woke up and ended up being passed from relative to relative, and Celeste eventually came out looking for something to eat, too. As the reception went on, Celeste really got into the jazz trio; sitting down in front of the saxophonist and occasionally getting up to dance. She also walked me around and around and around the inn looking for I'm not sure what. She also managed to deliver her congratulations to R--- and S---: "Happy Wedding Day!" [MP3].
After the reception, we headed back to the house only to find that the repaired tire was flat again. After some discussion of tire karma and whether or not it was worth it, Evelin and Celeste took the stroller and walked back to the house while the sleeping Quinn and I stayed to swap out the flat tire for the spare. Of course, Quinn woke up part way into the changeover. As I tried to bounce back and forth between soothing Quinn and loosening lugnuts, I hear a familiar voice, S---, my cousin A---'s husband, and his youngest daughter walking back to their house. Since they were just two houses away from our place, S--- offered to walk Quinn up to Evelin (apparently, she fell asleep within a few minutes of getting out of the car). I finished swapping the tires in enough time to see S--- and L--- walking back down the street.
Once I was home, it was time for Celeste's bath and a bit of a discussion as to where she would sleep that night. She was in her Pack 'n Play in the room next to us, but that room also opened up to the back porch, which was where a lot of family would be after the reception. After debating our room (but what if Quinn needed to go down when Celeste as in the in-bed-but-not-asleep stage of things); or my folks' room (but my mom was staying to the bitter end of the reception and would want to change and what if Celeste was in the in-bed-but-not-asleep stage of things); or her cousins' room (but they would rather play with her than let her sleep, and what if they needed to get into the room when Celeste was in the in-bed-but-not-asleep stage of things); ... so she ended up back in her room and did fine.
One prebath incident: Since we are working on potty training, we brought Celeste's potty with us and were offering it to her throughout the weekend. One time she even stopped eating to say she needed to use the potty and we made it there successfully. Saturday, before her bath, I asked her if she needed to go before getting into the tub and she said yes. Afterwards, she excitedly got up and grabbed the bowl to dump the urine into the toilet to flush (she loves the flushing) and ended up dumping it right on me. Sigh.
On Sunday, we decided it'd be better to have a day at home to try to reestablish routines for the girls, so we packed up and headed out around nap time. I was getting some worry about not having a spare tire (and the spare that was on the T.R.U.C.K. did look a little low), so we tried to see if there was anyplace open on Sunday that might be able to fix things. In the end, we shaped up a plan — we'd go home via Asheville and Tennessee, stopping at a Sears to have the tire fixed. We also made sure to check the pressure in the spare and other tires before getting on I-40.
Of course, as we exited from I-240, Celeste nodded off and Quinn was fast asleep. Since the spare was looking fine (and since I'd filled the flat tire with air, thinking it would hold without the weight of the T.R.U.C.K. on things, so that we could hopefully make it to the next exit if there was a problem with the spare), we decided not to wake the kids and continued on our way. Good decision, and the view coming in to Tennessee at Sams Gap was gorgeous.
The rest of the trip home was pretty uneventful. It did take longer than the way down, in part because of a slightly longer route via Asheville and Tennessee, but also because we had to make more and longer stops for the kids. Around the half-way point, Celeste started saying she didn't want to go home; instead saying "Celeste, Ninoo house," which was how she referred to the house we stayed at in Montreat. (This was pretty much the reverse of our first night in that house, when Celeste kept telling my folks "Bye. Celeste. Home. Home.")
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