Pikes Peak

Pikes Peak

Tuesday, 22 November 2011

4 days, 4 states and a Grandfather

Now that Tristan and I have a "regular" routine, we have been able to make plans for a few trips.  "Turbo Tourism" is on the agenda ladies and gentlemen!

The first turbo trip was down into the DEEP south.

First stop: New Orleans. NO (as the locals seemed to label it left right and centre) is by no means a big city. It's almost Canberra size - just with a population 4 times bigger! Tristan treated me to a very fancy hotel room on the 33rd floor with a view of the Mississippi river and the French quarter.  Conveniently, it was also only a few blocks away from Bourbon street.  After walking Bourbon street in the afternoon, we sampled the local cuisine (deep fried seafood) and watched as the night came alive! Despite being a Tuesday night the street was packed with people, drinking frozen daiquiris from plastic cups, and barely legal ladies inviting the general population into their pavilions of  fun and pleasure.

While Tristan (literally) drank up the ambiance,  I had a horrible realisation that I was an innocent! As worldly as I thought I was - well Bourbon street cleared me up of those misconceptions quick-fast! It was GOLD! Probably not a place to be pregnant and sober, but fantastic all the same! Definitely a place to play and go wild! I have no idea how a person would survive mardi gras there, but I would love to find out! A very memorable night, despite needing to go to bed at 1030 because I simply couldn't stand any longer.

The next day we explored the French quarter and ate breakfast at one of the well known french "patisseries" Cafe Du Monde.  So disappointing! The drinks came in a can, and the only food you could order were beignets- a doughnut kind of thing that tasted like the soles of your shoes  - ewww! The water front was nice, but it was easy to see how the city flooded.  It's mostly at or below sea level and the drainage is limited... but it is iconic.

We then drove East to go on a swamp tour.  I wasn't too keen, but as it turns out, it was one of the best things we have done so far.  We saw so many beautiful birds, racoons, and of course alligators.  It was a great experience. I think most of the wild life have a sugar addiction as the tour guides fed all the animals marshmallows (which they couldn't get enough of!).  It was really an "oh wow" moment when you realised the diversity the region. Of course, it was also the moment that Tristan discovered that my feet had doubled in size and were squeezing out between the gaps of my sandals... travel + humidity = embarrassment and very sore feet! 

Shortly after we left Louisiana and entered into Mississippi and we finally saw the "beach".  Sure it was man made, manicured and looked about knee deep as far as the eye could see, but it was water enough to make us feel a bit home sick.  We dipped our feet into the Gulf of Mexico, drove passed about 10 casinos and finally caught up with Tristan's father, Roger.  It was so nice to see a familiar face and hear a familiar voice so far away from home.  RJ definately could feel it, as it was from that moment that he started wiggling like a little worm - and just hasn't stopped!!!

The next morning, despite having an opportunity to sleep in, we got up early to start the next adventure. But first, there was that Tornado warning - a lovely alarm clock whatever the time of day.  We jumped into the car and kept heading east (past the storm) into Alabama and found a huge memorial park complete with battleship, submarine and huge air hanger.  It was slightly raining when we arrived, so we looked in the hanger first. It was awesome. There were mostly "modern" aircraft so I could actually recognize a few of them.  Tristan, as always, went snap happy especially when we saw the Blackbird (only aviation geeks will appreciate that one).  Then outside it started to rain, and pour and rain a little more.  Tristan braved weather to have a look at the sub, while I stayed safe in the hanger, looking a pictures of the damage Katrina did to the displays.  A few minutes later Tristan came back a drowned rat and we decided to hit the road again. 

A few miles further down the road, we made Florida  - well the very western edge of Florida anyway. Our destination was the naval aviation museum.  It was this massive building, filled top to bottom with planes.  There were no spaces or gaps - it was just all planes! However, they were mostly older aircraft.  Tristan scurried around taking photos and I strolled around slowly.  There were displays on space aeronautics that were cool, but all in all I think I appreciated the Alabama memorial park more.  While there Tristan sweet talked his way into a back stage tour of the museum's flight line. The guide was a retired bloke that just wanted to have a yarn and tell his stories. It was really nice and he had a couple of stories about Australia.

We then jumped back into the car and drove back through Florida and Alabama to Mississippi to spend another night with Roger.  Spending time with both Tristan and his Dad makes you remember how many similar mannerisms they have.  One would answer a question and if you weren't paying attention you would have sworn that it was the other one replying.  It still makes me laugh when that happens.  The Apperley traits have bred true and strong between father and son.  I just know RJ would have joined in if he could.

It was another early morning and we headed back to Louisiana to fly home.  First we visited the American WWII museum.  After spending so much time studying this period of time it was very interesting to hear the story from a US perspective.  The museum was very much like the War Memorial in Canberra (thought much smaller), however, it had this fabulous Steve Spielberg/ Tom Hanks movie at the start that walked you through the war.  It was "4D" but of greater value was that it visually showed so much of the story that a still museum just isn't able to do.  The academic in me picked at all the (huge) gaps (and bias) in the story, but it was very interesting to see it through the eyes of another. 

3 hours at the airport, and a 3 hour flight back to Denver and we were home!  Happy feet (or at least feet returning to a "normal" size)

Following 4 states in 4 days I was exhausted, and poor Tristan had to turn around and go straight back to work the next morning.  But it was worth it:  seeing Roger's face as he got to look at the sonogram photos of his grandson, watching Tristan boast about life, getting to see so many of the sights and delights of the aviation world in a few days, seeing (and tasting) the south, and ticking a few states off our to-visit list.  Happy family! But exhausted!

We have Thanksgiving in a few days. We are hosting.... gee I hope I don't ruin the turkey. I'll let you know...

much love

Thursday, 10 November 2011

All things orange and black

I think the universe is trying to tell us something...

It all started the week before Halloween, when we received a lovely surprise package on our door step.  It was a wonderful gift from Aunty Lisa, Uncle Miles, Patrick, Lachlan and Juanita for RJ:  A West's Tigers jersey and shorts.  As you can all imagine, you couldn't wipe the grin off Tristan's face.  Another generation of Tiger's supporters in the family (sigh).  The cute little orange and black outfit currently has pride of place in RJ's bedroom, and it's not unusual for Tristan to wonder passed, pop his head in for a peak, and walk away with a cheeky, knowing smile that his boy will grow up loving Tigerland.

Later that week, we "celebrated" Halloween at a friend's house. They decorated their entire basement to look like a creepy dungeon. It was fantastic!  Tristan and I dressed up as a gangster and a flapper - I think I looked like a pregnant whale, and Tristan looked like he was wearing his PJ's in public.  It probably didn't help that he was wearing his tracky pants and Tiger's jersey underneath.

Given that it was Halloween, the colours orange and black had prominence in the food and drink, decorations and candy.  We only decorated the entry of our house with a jack-o-lantern (cut by Tristan) and a smiley face in the mirror.  We had about 50 kids come trick-or-treating to our door.  There were some very cute costumes, some that were a little bit too grown up for kiddies to be wearing, and one terrifying clown that gave me bad dreams that night.  While I'm glad this tradition doesn't have a foot hold at home (yet) it was nice to experience it from this side of the fence.  I'll have to think up a good costume for RJ to wear next year :-)

This week we got to experience one of the most wonderful things ever - seeing our son in 3D.  During a scan, the lovely lady showed me what RJ looks like - in orange and black.  I actually think the world stopped for a few seconds while I soaked up that tiny little image.  Needless to say, daddy's genes are dominant with the Apperley nose and chin on display.  I think I might have a look in with his little squinty eyes, that even opened during the scan.  His little hands are cupping his face, and you could even see his little nails starting to grow.  It was AMAZING!!

Last night, Tristan surprised me with a lovely date to see the Lion King in the city.  We got all dressed up and spent over an hour stuck in traffic getting to the theater. Once there, the visual spectacular was incredible - overwhelmingly dominated by orange and black.  As we watched the lovely story of Simba, I couldn't help but letting the pregnancy hormones overwhelm me when Mufasa cuddles his son, and when at the end of the show the show the cycle continues when Simba does the same. Ahh - life reflected in theater (or vice versa). Good thing that Tristan was so entranced in the show, he didn't see me have a little teary in the corner.

All in all, I think the universe is subtly preparing Tristan and I for orange and black in our future.... not sure if that means RJ will be a raging ranga like his dad with dark eyes like his mum, or if basketball looking aliens are about to invade, or that the harvest festival has infested my brain and I have become colour blind to the rest of the rainbow spectrum... pregnancy may have made me a little more crazy than normal...

Oh, and for all those on baby bump watch, I can confirm that I am looking more than festively plump - there is definitely something going on inside my belly. I'll get Tristan to get a photo soon.

Lots of love

Tristan, Penni and RJ.