Mr. Cynic has been riding the bus to high school for the past couple of years, though we live .4 mile from the school. That’s closer than I lived to my high school, to which I walked – up hill both ways in the snow. Seriously, I did. It was hilly where I lived growing up in Connecticut. Not here though, and only the occasional appearance of snow.
But back to yesterday, Mr. Cynic and the first day of school. He had the same bus driver for his first two years of high school. She could probably drive her route with her eyes closed. She retired and there was a new bus driver, who drove rather like a lab mouse introduced to a new maze. She had no idea where she was going in the morning. And again in the afternoon. At every intersection she turned the wrong way, according to Mr. Cynic. When his bus was significantly late on the way home, I received a text message: going to be late. bus driver doesn’t know what she’s doing.
When he finally arrived home, he declared he was never taking the bus again. I smiled. The boy who eschews exercise will be getting some. Every day.
Captain Comic’s bus involved less drama but more nerves on my part. He has been riding the SPED bus since we moved here five years ago. He stands at the end of the driveway in full sight of his peers at the corner bus stop to get on a different bus. Last Halloween, I found out that they all knew him, but he didn’t really know them. As we walked around the neighborhood, the common cry was “I see him at the bus stop.” Last spring, his IEP team and I decided it was time he ride with his neurotypical peers. And when I had an IEP team meeting last week, they all told me, “Mom, you cannot walk him to the bus stop. You cannot ask his friends if it’s okay for him to sit with them. He needs to do this himself. He’s thirteen.”
And while my instincts know this is true for any other kid, I still want to protect him, manage his interactions. So I stood at the window with the camera and watched him. He did alright.
I wish I could say the same for everyone. A mother lost her child in Newport News, near us. Old college friends’ family in upstate New York had to evacuate their house by rescue boat. Within twenty-four hours prior, they had an epic battle to remove a squirrel from their house. It has not been a good weekend for them. They are okay, but their driveway and basement are awash.
Many others had it much worse. A fabric artist’s studio in Shelburne Falls, MA, picked up from its foundation and took a ride down a raging river that had formerly been the street. There is impressive video of that pink brick building before and after its journey floating around the internet. My apologies for the wordplay.
Back in our vicinity, Southside, at Sandbridge Beach area of Virginia Beach, again, there is impressive video and photography of houses ripped apart there around the internet.. It’s my family’s favorite beach to day trip to. The little low lying town next to me was under mandatory evacuation, but a friends of mine stayed while the husband volunteered for Community Emergency Services.
In the meantime, here, I am amazed that Mother Nature can go from this:
To this on the day of:
But it is, and constitutes the whole life so far of one of the most interesting, funniest and challenging people I have ever known.
I usually post a birthday blog in which I list a number of things about the kid whose birthday it is equal to their age. This time, it took three days to get Captain Comic to come up with a list himself, and in the end he drew it in about 10 minutes. Click to zoom, they’re fun drawings.
Just in case you can’t tell what he is representing:
1. Making movies.
4. Making people laugh.
5. If you don’t know, you’re lucky. (oops, mom’s commentary) Pokemon.
6. Other people singing hurts my ears, “it’s like my Kryptonite.”
8. Star Wars
9. Need I say more? (mom again)
10. Pugs are my latest obsession.
11. The Hill (really a berm at the back of our neighborhood baseball field)
13. I like fights in movies, like Jackie Chan.
Captain Comic is becoming a teen.
I wonder if that’s why Mother Nature is bringing this epic Hurricane Irene?
He’s a great kid. He’s big, he’s loud, he’s talented, he’s an original and the next handful of years of my life will be epic indeed. I love him.
Happy Birthday, Kiddo.
The day of our safari park adventures, we also visited the deepest caverns east of the Mississippi. As you can imagine, pictures were a bit tough, but I will post about both the Natural Bridge Caverns and Luray Caverns in another post. We had a very big day between the cool caves and more animals and ways to see them than you can imagine.
The Virginia Safari entrance was right with the KOA where we stayed and was only a couple of miles down the road from the zoo we visited the day before. I am a bit link happy today. Of course, for proximity alone, we had to go. We safaried in the morning, caved at midday then safaried in the afternoon.
This post is morning only. I really did choose judiciously from the over 500 photos I took that day. Promise. It was HAARD! Okay?
I am not overwhelming you with these like the llamas overwhelmed our vehicle when we tried to drive in….
There were many wondrous horned creatures from around the world.
I could have played around with the shots in the computer and enhanced color and contrast, but choosing was challenging enough…all of my vacation posts’ photos are straight out of the camera and cell camera.
Excerpts from our day at Panther Falls:
I know, I know, a lot of photos and I promised I wouldn’t, but Panther Falls was my favorite adventure of the trip.
And Honey and Toots.
An old school playground
This was a giant slide with the old metal steps made of the letters: AMERICAN, like the slide in my old neighborhood as a little kid. It took her about the whole week for Toots to actually descend the giant slide without my climbing up the ladder and walk her back down in my arms.
Toots and Captain Comic playing together and having fun.
And the Natural Bridge itself, carved out of the mountains by glaciers.
That’s not dirt on the photo, it’s a hawk that swooped under the bridge.
Captain Comic takes a cue from Mr. Cynic.
At the end of the trail, we found a nice cascades area that was quite calm and relaxing. We actually didn’t make it to the end where The Lost Springs are. We decided our end was here.
We were surrounded by butterflies, lots of kinds, but mostly various Swallowtails. This was a Red-spotted Purple Admiral, even though it was black with blue like a Black Swallowtail. I looked it up at the gift shop in a book of butterflies after our hike.
Toots was so happy to have her big brothers back, and she wanted to keep up with them. But she fell on her way to this little cave tunnel in the mountain side that Mr. Cynic found.
More adventures next week, I’ll keep the shots to a minimum. Panther Falls and Crabtree Falls were big ones that almost did in poor Bertha.
We are rearranging the boys’ room again this weekend, taking the giant shelf beds out and moving in some bunks. A lot of furniture disassembly and assembly to ensue, right after I take a landscaping class at our local garden center.
I walked the dog.
Across the street and up the bend of the mountain side a bit was the ruins of the old Episcopal Church. I guess the Catholics lasted a bit better in Lower Town.
Here’s what to see along that lower road way above. What angles up in front of the ruins along the wall is more of a little foot path that has been paved for tourists.
We had lunch and more ice cream then headed back to KOA for the afternoon. Toots wanted to bounce and a while later Honey took her to the pool while I stayed at camp with Lucy.
Close to dinner, Toots was tired, it was a big day.
Camping is serious business.
“Aah, I can’t do this.” She wanted to help me build the campfire.
I am amazed at what kids find to do when there is apparently nothing to occupy their minds. Toots made a game of holding a specific rock between the bottoms of her feet.
A college friend I had not seen in twenty odd years lives near Harpers Ferry in Maryland, and she stopped by camp bearing fresh grown veggies and loads of fun conversation about things long ago and what’s going on now. Great to see her.
Later in the evening, Toots was positively melting into her little blue seat by the campfire. She had asked me before what my favorite part of camping was, and I reminded her of it as I answered her again, that this, sitting by the campfire under the stars is my favorite part of camping. I asked her what her favorite part was. “Camping.” She said with finality. I eeked out of her that that meant sleeping in the tent in sleeping bags with Mommy and Daddy and Lucy.
Toots also had tons of fun with kids around the campground. These two were our neighbors in a popup trailer. Toots loved running around, especially with the girl who is not quite a year younger than her, and taller.
This rock was a major part of their play, situated between our camps. No, Toots is not dead below. She is “westing on da wock.”
We had many adventures and loads of fun. Some of it was ambitious, but mostly we relaxed and enjoyed being us together in nature and away from home and the TV and all other screens. Even though there was a promise of wifi access, it was spotty at best. We were better for the inconvenience regardless. It was the most refreshing thing to my spirit I have done in a long long time, though, three days later, I am still exhausted, but it’s the best kind of exhausted, similar to postpartum euphoria. I am elated, though I’ve been through a very hard physical task, in heat and storms, and little sleep on the ground. I loved it all.
We’re doing it again near the Natural Bridge area of Virginia next month with the boys. Life is good. Bring natural bug spray.