Judging by the number of comments I receive I know the world waits with rapt attention for the next installment of our adventure, so let's just wrap this thing up, shall we?
The drive back to Texas began without incident. We planned to camp one night mid-way home, which would mean finding a campground near Santa Rosa. Tyler decided he'd like to stop for the day sooner rather than later and have time to set up camp and enjoy whatever it is you are supposed to do when you camp. (I personally have never been able to figure this out.) That meant staying at a campground closer to Gallup (or, for those who know it's true significance, it is even closer to Grants!). We needed to stop at a store to load up on camping food, which led us to a Wal-Mart in Gallup, NM. Now, I know Wal-Mart and its customers have a bad reputation. You can find ample evidence for every single complaint about Wal-Mart by visiting the store in Gallup, NM. I don't think I need to say more about that experience.
We finally reached our campground at Bluewater Lake, NM. I noticed a generous scattering of horse manure throughout the campground but didn't think much of it. People ride their horses through campgrounds, right? Imagine my surprise when later in the evening a herd of horses came running at a gallop through the campground, completely unattended by any human. They stopped and began to graze among the camp sites. Apparently this campground is either in the midst of a wild horse preserve or in the middle of a rancher's grazing land...either way it was kind of cool and kind of disconcerting to be surrounded by roaming horses - particularly with small children around.
We spent a completely unrestful night in the tent...3 of our children did just fine and one of them didn't take kindly to not being in his bed and showed that displeasure by crying and trying to gouge out my eyes with his little fingers...I'll let you try to figure out who.
Day 2 of the return journey saw us wending our way through more of New Mexico. After our first post-camping gas and bathroom stop we were loading everyone back in the car. Relevant to what happens next is this fact: Wesley cannot stand to be put into his car seat. I'm sure it didn't help that he had been traveling for a day plus some, but even in the best of circumstances he screams and arches and writhes and generally acts like he is being mistreated in a cruel manner by unfeeling tormentors. So, he is doing his usual thing as I try to get him in the car. The woman getting into her car next to us says to me "have you ever tried drugging him?"....ummm.....come again? She continues "My dogs don't like the car and I always give them Children's Benedryl. You should try it." A little "Ha ha, he just doesn't like getting buckled, he'll be fine in a few seconds" speech from me and an unconvinced smirk from her, and we were off. I had to wonder what kind of person goes around suggesting to total strangers that their babies need to be drugged (like dogs, no less). Then I had to wonder what type of baby leads random passers-by to conclude they need to be drugged...
The next time we stopped for a restroom break we were still in NM. It was hot and miserable and the Dairy Queen in the gas station had lost power which was a blow to our morale. Two men were working on their motorcyles right in front of us. They asked Tyler for jumper cables and a jump start. I took the kids into the bathroom and when we came out the bikers had their engines revving and were ready to roll. As we headed out Tyler tells me that these two bikers were members of the Knights Of Columbus. They were returning from a Knights of Columbus Convention when one of their bikes broke down and we saved the day. (Some of you will know why this story has significance.)
I was very grateful to cross the Texas state line. We grabbed a pizza in Wichita Falls as Tyler reminisced about his mission days, pointing out exciting landmarks like "This is the apartment complex where the other set of Elders lived - the Elders who asked me for permission to go stay in the sister missionaries' closet during a tornado warning" (permission was denied). After that we were nearly home. We arrived home and put the kids to bed in an upstairs that was 96 degrees according to our thermostat and they were so happy to be in their own beds that they didn't mind it (much). Tyler and I waited to go to bed until the interior temperature was down to 86, and I didn't even mind it (much) either.
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