Introducing the O’Kardias

Posted August 22, 2009 by Diana
Categories: O'Kardias

100_0659They’re the ones on the left – although it’s all a matter of perspective.  We wrangle, us Kardias, about this “O’Kardia” designation – just what makes one “other?”

I guess it starts with the question of just what makes a Kardia in the first place.  As far as we know, there are six of us in existence, brought into being through a shared history.  Joe and Gabe are the originals – born into this world as Kardias.  The rest of us gathered around them and each other, the making of family.

And one of the things this extended family does together is cavort, at least this particular collection of us.  When we can find a weekend free, Joe and I join forces with Patti and Gabe and set our sights on adventure.  So, it’s only fair to include them in this blog.  Waterparks, zoos, the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame…I’ve got some catching up to do, especially since another weekend wandering is in the making.

But for now the purpose is to use the power of blogging to set the record straight on this O’Kardia thing (as long as I’m the one writing, it’s them), and to give you just a glimpse of what it’s like to travel with these two boys:



3745 miles…

Posted July 28, 2009 by Diana
Categories: 2009 Summer Road Trip, O'Kardias, Trip Highlights

…Arizona to Ann Arbor, the scenic route.  Amazing.  This is just a short post to say that we made it – there are still stories to tell of our last few days and nights, not to mention the “best of” feature that Joe and I will be compiling.  And Thursday night we compare stories and pictures with the other cavorting Kardias (affectionately referred to as the O’Kardias, although it’s an on-going family fight about which ones of us are really “other”) – Patti and Gabe Kardia made nearly the exact same trip just a month ago (planned totally independently of ours – the universe is a weird place sometimes).

The overlaps are already disconcerting, from arriving late last night to find momentos that we hadn’t bought but that were from all the places we visited to learning from their tales this morning that our late night drive from Yellowstone to Cody in the dark meant we missed what has been billed as the “52 most scenic miles in America.”  Darn!  I guess we’ll just have to do this again!


Posted July 24, 2009 by Diana
Categories: 2009 Summer Road Trip, Sights along the Way

Well, Wisconsin and Michigan will have to wait.  Today was just one of those slow days all day long – we left the campground later, drove slower, and ran into construction delays and Minneapolis rush hour.  That leaves us nearly 500 miles to drive tomorrow, but that will just have to be.

Here’s what kept us distracted this morning at the campground:


The videos are even better, but I haven’t figured out that level of technology here to enable showing those.

And then this was a stop I had to make along the way:

100_1181The petroglyphs on a rock ridge in the middle of native prairie, surrounded by corn fields, were simply mesmerizing.  Created by a wide range of 100_1176tribes across thousands and thousands of years, this was definitely a place of power.

I have no pictures of the more than two hours (or was it three – it becomes such a blur) it took to wend our way through Minneapolis amidst detours, traffic jams, and construction delays.  But I have great memories of working with Joe and the map to find alternate routes, and alternates to the alternates, and back-up plans even for those.  It did give us an experience of the city of lakes that we wouldn’t have had otherwise.

It was also a great demonstration of unbendable intent.  No matter the blocks, slow downs, twists or turns, there was no doubt in our mind that we were getting through to the other side – we just had to keep finding a way.  And with no preconceived notions about how that should happen, each new moment was just a discovery, with no reason for stress, worry, or frustration.

A great reminder for all the other journeys of life.


Many Landscapes

Posted July 24, 2009 by Diana
Categories: 2009 Summer Road Trip, Sights along the Way

I’m sitting in the cool morning breezes in Jackson, MN, this laptop on the 100_1159picnic table, my cappacino beside me (thanks again, Naide, for the amazing milk frother from Italy!), freshly showered (first one in I won’t admit how many days), enjoying being 45.

Joe and I went to a drive-in movie theater in an Iowa corn field last night  to see the Harry Potter100_1155 movie.  We had checked the movie times back in Mitchell, SD, (a couple of hours west of here) when the Corn Palace turned out to be far less interesting than all the many wonders we’d seen to date.  But that one would have meant hanging out in town for an hour.  I wasn’t sure I had it in my to keep driving, but I made Joe promise to talk to me (instead of 100_1150reading or being on his computer which is his norm), and the miles sailed on by.  The reward was the flyer at kamper registration (yes, another KOA – how else do you think I could be blogging?) for the drive-in.  And the guy at the ticket booth gave me a free popcorn to add to the celebration.

100_1097We’re finding that our attentions go in cycles on this trip.  Two days ago we loved everything we saw.  Yesterday, most of it felt like a bust.  Some of that comes from the nature of what we were seeing – or, rather, the lack of nature.  Wall Drug is interesting in its own way, but too big of a contrast to being surrounded by a herd a buffalo for us to have much interest in it.  But also at play was the reality that we can only sustain an outward attention so long – eventually we just need to go inward and enjoy that landscape for awhile.  Given that, even the Badlands were not particularly riveting.  (But I do still think they’re cool.)100_1120

With that in mind, here are a few of the internal sights I’ve seen…
…spending a summer in the Black Hills as a mine tour guide
100_0975…writing a book about the entry of women into the mining world in the 1970s (yes, that mining tour really did have an effect)
…cultivating a client list of people across the country and then taking a road trip 3-4 times a year to see them all (doing the in between work with them over the phone)
…painting a portrait of this moment in the KOA bathroom:  nine Native American teenagers on their way to their first SunDance, blow drying and curling their hair, putting on their make-up, surrounded by five young Amish sisters, the younger ones just waiting for their turns in the stalls, but the adolescent among them watching intently
…driving on my own back to Arizona – wondering what route I’ll take, what there will be to see, and what it will be like to do all this without Joe

At the moment the key difference in doing this without Joe would be not listening to a whiney grumpy teenager who isn’t interested in taking a shower now that he’s all up and dressed.  (“Why didn’t you remind me before I got dressed?!?”)  Another blessing of this trip is the ongoing opportunity to explore and develop that key parenting line that is always a work in progress:  when do I just get to say so and when are we in a moment of negotiation between two individuals with their own ideas, needs, and possibilities.

With the shower, it’s easy – and to his credit he made it through his grumpiness and is now off getting clean (thankfully!).  But with a road trip where nothing is a given except the ending point and date, we’ve had lots of moments to discover the benefits and challenges of being in this thing together.  And for that I’m very grateful.  I definitely needed to update my software to be ready for Parenting v 14.11:  high school.

Today is Minnesota, Wisconsin, and Michigan – whooee.  Hopefully tonight we sleep in the Porcupine Mountains.  But who knows – Joe and I will figure it out as we go.

A is for Antelope…

Posted July 23, 2009 by Diana
Categories: 2009 Summer Road Trip, Sights along the Way

…abundantly found100_1044
B is for buffalo
roaming around…

Joe and I have completed the whole alphabet (Z is for Zion, the zenith of all) although there’s likely much more we’ll see yet.  (Free ice water still to come at Wall Drug.)  Since our last post, though (and our last internet access), we’ve had so many delights, we just had to commit them to, well, to letters.  (What else?)

100_1083Ok, I’ve just spent 45 minutes figuring out how to get pictures included in this post (and the one before) – happy now?  Now I just need to stay awake long enough to add the verbal details…

So, here’s what’s been happening since our last kamping experience.  (Yes, we’re at another KOA tonight – this one in Hot Springs, SD.)

100_0768The Grand Tetons were grand, but, well, they were so far away!  After the in-your-face overwhelming beauty of Zion, Joe and I both had a bit of a hard time fully appreciating them. If there had been time to hike, it might have been another matter, but driving through they were just, well, nice.

At first Yellowstone threatened to be a disappointment as well – the 100_0804parking lot of Old Faithful was massive and filled to the brim with cars and RVs and people.  And the viewing platform was just so tame, a huge circle of people just sitting and waiting…even the event itself was smaller, shorter, less mesmerizing than I had anticipated.

But from there we saw bubbling mud and wild colors and beautiful canyons and waterfalls and a magnificent elk, and the reality of walking around on an active volcano 100_0893with all its geothermal effects really began to sink in, and yeah, we were glad to be there.

100_0859We stayed late and drove out of the park in the dark, finding our way to Cody, WY, after 11 p.m.  We’ve since learned we still could have found a campsite somewhere, but being new to this system we grabbed a cheap hotel (and an indoor private shower, but no internet).

Devils Tower was amazing – the core of a volcano revealed in all its glory, 100_0927reaching up to spirit.  Did you know that the name has little or no roots in the actual names used by the native people who know it as sacred?  All of their stories and names refer to the medecine of the bear.  Plus, it was a typo that left out the original apostrophe – one of those errors that lives on in infamy.

Last night we stayed in a national forest campground in the Black Hills – quiet and lovely and serene.  Joe walked down to the nearby lake to read and found himself face to face with a buck.  I think that same one, with three does, came and visited me a little while later.

Today has been all the delights of the Black Hills area – Custer State Park wildlife loop; Needles Highway; Sylvan Lake (it’s all still wonderful, Shar); a dinner of buffalo, elk, and beef; Mount Rushmore and Crazy Horse 100_1035Mountain, and a tour of a gold mine – one of the more interesting tours I’ve taken.  If it weren’t past 1 a.m. now I’d give you all the details…but they’ll have to wait.  Except for this:  did you know these are the oldest mountains in the world?

And also this – I talked to a man who worked at 8,000 feet down in the 100_0957mine, following in the steps of  his father.  (He was the hot dog vendor now – the mine closed in 2002 when the price of gold dropped to $200 and it was too expensive to mine gold at this altitude).  At 8,000 feet the walls of the mine are 137 degrees, although the ventilation system keeps it in the 80s and 90s.  But my favorite part of his tale was how he and his father fell in love with mining because of the feeling of being surrounded by the earth, embraced by it.  He laughed a little self-consciously as he told me, trying to explain it.  “It must be the warmth, you know?”  But you could see in his eyes, it was more than the temperature.

Here’s a picture of what Joe has looked like the whole time – he’s borrowed100_0834 a fancy digital camera from one of his middle school teachers and is having a blast with it (thanks, Joe G!).  The man in the background is just funny.

100_0763And here’s a little artifact from Jackson Hole, WY – we didn’t stop to inquire, so I don’t know how many antlers went into creating this.  But we passed at least two others just like it.

Tomorrow is the Badlands, Wall Drug, and the Corn Palace…life is good.  Stay tuned…


Posted July 19, 2009 by Diana
Categories: 2009 Summer Road Trip, Sights along the Way

After 11 hours of driving today, I wanted to be sure we had a place to sleep – so when we crossed into Wyoming I called  the KOA in Jackson Hole.  They would be open for arrivals until 10 p.m., a timing we would just barely be making, and they had one tent camping spot left.  $40 assured us it would be waiting for us.

Now we sit in our tent in front of our computers, fully connected to the world wide web and the like.  Can you believe it?  KOA camping is such a host of contradictions – from the very tiny spot we have, squeezed in

The view outside our tent window

The view outside our tent window

between our vehicle and the one next to us, to the lovely sound of the rushing river not 10 feet away from where our pillows lay.  I’m glad we’re here for only one night, but also I’m glad we’re here.

Last night was stories of family and a fluffy bed and a home cooked meal prepared by my father’s sister, Louella.  She and her husband, Don, live in a lovely house overlooking Saint George, UT, and they were gracious hosts.  We joined them for breakfast as well, so it was 10:30 this morning before our road adventures began.

So then we faced the question:  hoof it for Yellowstone, or see a bit of Utah along the way.  Thankfully, we chose the latter – Zion was so amazing I can’t imagine not having seen it.  Of course, I’d probably be saying the same thing about Bryce if we’d taken that detour as well, but that was where we drew the line.  Yet, the rest of Utah and Wyoming did not disappoint – this country is just stunning.  And the pictures are now here.


As for the song Joe sang about how in love he was with the scenery, that you will just have to imagine.  It was delightful.

Less delightful were the bugs along the Hoback River as we drove the last hour or so tonight.  Literally, they sounded like rain on the windshield, a constant pitter patter that cut visibility by at least half.  The windshield wipers decreased it further, turning the bug gut dots into long smears.  Their multitude greeted us as well when we stopped at the one gas station we found where we could cleanse them away.  Thankfully, they were not also waiting here for us at the cam…I mean, kampsite, and we were able to raise the tent in relative peace.

Now I’m ready to stop acting like I’m at a hotel and snuggle in with my flashlight, a good book, and the sounds of water.  After, of course, I go use the flush toilets and see if there’s anything that needs buying at the gift shop.

Joe and Diana are at it Again!

Posted July 18, 2009 by Diana
Categories: 2009 Summer Road Trip, Getting Ready

Ok, all you travelling fans – tonight is the eve of another cavort!  In the early a.m. hours tomorrow we pack up the truck and head cross country from Arizona to Michigan, with intent to see Old Faithful, the Corn Palace, Yoopers, and other sights only to be seen in the good ol’ US of A.

Our wheels will be in motion July 18-27 and we anticipate crossing state lines through 9 states and at least 4 national parks.  This time we’ll have a tent thrown in the bed of the truck and be looking for small towns rather than the big cities.  We’ve got 14 hours of the BBC Lord of the Rings radio play to listen to, as well as other audio treats.  And we have a camera – two of them! – so we may even go beyond words in this blog.

We will leave Scottsdale to its 115 degree weather as we head to our first stop:  a family visit in Saint George, UT (where the forecast tells us it will be a refreshing 110 degrees).  Then on to Wyoming, although it’s likely that Zion and/or Bryce will lure us in along the way.

So, stay tuned!  The fun is just beginning (fun as in getting a 14-year-old out the door at 7 a.m. when his favorite bedtime is way too close to that time…)