The children feign death, hoping to end their parents' instructive monologues:
We've developed some useful road protocols. The kids are allowed to play their laptop computer games and watch DVDs most of the time on the road. In return, whenever we say "Eyes right!" they pause their electronic devices and look right. They've figured out that we (and ultimately, they) are happier if they exclaim over the beauty of the mountain, rainbow, cowboy, or bit of tumbleweed we are pointing out and oooh and aaah over the bits of fascinating trivia we pass on to them. Once or twice, I look back just to make sure they aren't faking us out. They actually are looking. Only if the mountains are particularly wonderful do we have them turn off the machines. Maybe we're being overly indulgent. The truth is, Cathy and I are indulging ourselves with peace and quiet to talk, gaze at the beauty around us, and listen to CD snippets of Confederates in the Attic (pretty funny stuff). When Cathy drives, she comes up with fun mental games to play. (Try for example, listing, in order, the ten largest and smallest states by population.)
What I've liked so far: the muted-toned fields of wild (yellow) mustard, with patches of blue, purple, and orange in Nebraska and Wyoming. The surprise of driving through the mountain range north and east of Salt Lake City, and emerging through the pass, high above the city, seeing it open up below us. (It is a charming city/town. It's about 500,000 pop, three times the size of Joliet and Crest Hill. Interesting eclectic mix of old brick buildings from the turn of the century, new Chicago style skyscrapers, and that Temple. It's like a Catholic gothic cathedral, just stripped down of almost all imagery and art. So you see the iconophobic evangelical roots of Mormonism. I didn't mind the prosteletizing as much as Cathy did. I figured it was a Mormon dream come true. Imagine! All these potential converts knocking on their door! And the flowers were lovely everywhere. Neat and orderly, as you might imagine. It was the omnipresent panhandlers that got under my skin. Not so skilled and courteous as the missionary/tour guides.
We saw a wild pronghorn antelope in Nevada. It's the second fastest animal in the world. The kids really liked it. It just stood across a fenceline from us, watching us with those huge black eyes, then bounded off like a kangaroo, with all four feet off the ground at the same time.
All for now!