We have a definite theme in these first memories. Today was Hailee’s first contribution and it was from a trip to the Kansas City Zoo to see Lea the elephant paint. I’m pretty sure I was at least as excited as the kids were for the trip.
Elephants and penguins have always been special for our family. Penguins were from my mom-I have a collection on my shelf and the kids have a stuffed penguin from her. My grandmother collected elephants, but only with their trunks pointed up so they wouldn’t lose their luck. I fell more in love with them after reading Silent Thunder: In the Presence of Elephants about how elephants communicate, their social lives, and efforts to protect them from culling. Elephants represent loyalty, intelligence, and determination. I was once told that elephants represent manifestation-that with commitment, we can accomplish anything. For those reasons, when I completed my Ph.D., I had a former student tattoo an image of an elephant on my foot.
I don’t remember where I first saw an elephant painting but I do remember searching to see if there was one closer to where my family lived so we could go and watch them. I was excited that we would be able to see Lea the elephant paint at the Kansas City Zoo. I remember it being very hot the day we went and we had to wait quite awhile for the demonstration which wasn’t easy with young kids. But it was so worth it. We were able to choose the colors for her to paint and the style of painting. Hailee and I had her paint with a sponge brush and Brock had her do a ‘kiss’ painting with her trunk. My painting is in my office at work and reminds me of the trip and the elephants every time I see it.
Today’s memory came from my oldest nephew, Andrew. It’s another trip with animals-Andrew and I had been wanting to go to South Dakota and see the wild horses running free at the Black Hills Wild Horse Sanctuary since he was 13 and we finally were able to go. I decided I would take each of my nieces and nephews on a trip when they turned 18 and this was the first of many trips. In addition to seeing the horses, we visited the Mount Rushmore and Crazy Horse monuments. And we made glass paperweights at Mind Blown, a hot shop in Deadwood, SD.
But a Poland trip wouldn’t be complete without a few other experiences. We stayed in a hotel in Deadwood that had it’s own arcade with skee ball and mini golf course, so we took advantage of both. We also smashed pennies-a hobby that my nieces and nephews have embraced along with me. I also ‘forced’ him to pan for gems-I never pass up an opportunity to do that. The first place we stayed had a teddy bear on the bed and I was pretty sure they knew Polands were coming and were obsessed with blankets and stuffed animals. Thankfully, Andrew had outgrown the need for stuffed animals-I had seen the price of that cute bear on the checkout message. And then there are the random photos like the one below. Can you see the cat hidden in the rocks?
I loved this trip and was happy to take Andrew to South Dakota and am looking forward to future trips with the others. And I love our “Poland family traditions” like the penny smashing, mini golf and arcades. I’m just a bit surprised that this memory beat out taking senior pictures that summer and fall for Andrew-he and I had SO much fun with that.
Because I’m not going to be able to travel to Iowa this year for Christmas, my family sent me a package with photos, pictures and memories to open each day this month. I opened my first one this morning and it was the perfect way to start the month. This is a copy of a postcard from my mom to a close family friend about the last trip I took with my parents. They drove to Laredo to pick me up and see where I was working and living over my spring break. We drove along the Rio Grande to El Paso and spent the night near Big Bend National Park in West Texas. Dad had told Mom and I we could do and see anything we wanted so I found some crazy out of the way and strange places to visit. That first night we stayed in Terlingua, TX which is an old ghost town left over from mining activities. That was likely the strangest hotel I have ever stayed in ever but it was a lot of fun. The drive to Terlingua was interesting as well. We were stopped multiple times by border patrol which I was used to after living in South Texas. My mom, however, was well on her way to getting arrested for mouthing off to federal officers by our third or fourth stop that day.
The postcard and image here is from another ghost town, Oatman, Arizona. I chose this ghost town to visit because of the donkeys that wander all over town, in and out of the local businesses. While Dad and I were out shopping and visiting different places around town, Mom was entertained by the donkeys. She had a cookie on the dash that this donkey really wanted to share. Mom wasn’t wrong about the number of ‘rocks’ we had seen on the trip either. By the time we were in Oatman, AZ, we were near the end of the trip for me. From there, we went to Las Vegas for a couple of days and then I flew home and they headed north to Utah to finish Mom’s visits to all of the US states except Hawaii.