Days 20-23 were spent with what Rico and I like to call "chosen family". For the past three years we've celebrated major birthday milestones with Uncle Frank, Aunt Sharon, "Ick" and "Ruff." They are all such kind, gracious and fun people to be with. Kaia adores them, Noah says they are "really cool" and aside from the crazy nicknames she's doled out to Eric and Stephanie, Yoda is in love with "Daddy's friends."
We spent four days in the town that never grew up - Woodstock. It was exactly how I supposed it would be, quaint restaurants, guitar decor all over the town, candle shops, tie-dye, homemade ice cream stores, t-shirt shops with marijuana leaf garland, and bongs, which Punk recognized (from health class people, from HEALTH class), and Yoda asked me to buy for her. I caved and bought her a tie-dye shirt instead, which I'm sure will go over much better at pre-school show-and-tell.
Our home for the stop was Birchwood, a sprawling countryside farm house (sans farm). It was the kind of house people dream about when they say, "I'd love to live in an old farmhouse." (Because, lets face it, nobody actually wants to live in the house from Wizard of Oz.) They want to live in a place like this: 5 bedrooms, sunroom, porch, swimming pool, glorious kitchen, all updated and refinished. It was absolutely stunning, and we were so grateful to "Ick and Ruff" for sharing it with us.
Punk and Kooka had their very own rooms, which after traveling together for over a month was a welcome respite for both.
Kooka helped Frank make his famous macaroni and meatballs, and everyone had seconds (Yoda had fourths).
There were burgers on the grill, and ice cream cake, puzzles, swimming, hikes to waterfalls, good conversation, more pizza and and lots of laughter.
For the first time in the history of road trips, I did not feel the need to google venomous snakes of the area before we left.
Rico decided to take us for a hike to a local swimming hole. The forest was lovely, there was a beautiful little waterfall, the water was crystal clear - so clear, that I was able to scan the entire lake up to about 4 feet deep, and assess that there was absolutely nothing swimming in it, except for two small minnows, and the picnicing family that beat us there. It quite picturesque. I held Yoda's hand as we waded into the shallow, stony stream, and didn't think a thing of it when she said, "It is wiggling and swiggling right by us like a big snake."
Sticks wiggle in the water.
Blades of grass wiggle in the water.
She's three, what does she know.
But then I hear the words "snake" and "water" coming from the shore, and it all clicks. Leaving Yoda standing alone, I let go of her hand, and leap out of the water faster than Michael Phelps jumps in. I didn't actually see it, but according to reports, it was almost two feet long, and somewhere between 3-6 inches from my leg. Rico chastised me for leaving my baby behind (it was 2 inches of water), and only saving myself. But take a look at the five other capable adults who stood on the banks and laughed while some sort of New England spitting cobra passed within a hairs breadth of us. (Rico swears it was just a northern water snake). I didn't notice any of these guy jumping in to make the sacrifice either.
Mind you, this group includes a scientist, a nurse, a godparent and the kid's OWN FATHER! It's not like I was traveling with a women's church choir. They are all perfectly capable people. I would wrestle a bear for any of my kids, the least they could do is give me a hand with the snakes.
The rest of the day was comparatively uneventful (at least for me). We had leftover meatballs and ice cream cones, did some laundry, stayed up late and agreed that four days flew by much too soon.
We are off to NYC today, where Punk wants to see movie spots and Kooka wants to dance on Broadway. We'll see who gets their wish.