Last Friday, I left from Vashon Island and headed south to pick up Preston at work in Centralia. From there, we headed south to Portland, turned left, and drove to Boise. It turned out that we were there for the one weekend per year where the weather is an acceptable temperature, and the desert was actually green. It was a rushed trip to return the Miata, which we had been borrowing for the last 9 months or so, and pick up the Explorer, which has been given to us. Preston drove the whole way there, and I slept most of the way from Hood River. Yep, it's possible to sleep in a Miata, if you're really determined, or if you, like me, are simply incapable of staying awake in a moving vehicle for more than a couple hours. My mom says she never drove me around in the car when I was a baby in order to put my to sleep, but she sure should have. She missed out on the best sleep drug I know of. But I digress.
Kathy was back from St. Lucia (hence, the return of the graciously loaned car), and it was good to see her back in her home. While she was a fabulous hostess in St. Lucia, her sense of belonging on her ranchlette in Eagle fairly radiated. I certainly don't feel that way about the desert, but I do feel that way about home, so I can relate. She has a little pond in her front yard, which has been taken over by bullfrogs and Western Toads. These two species were fascinatingly confused about the rightful way of things. Stephanie, Preston's sister and a Biologist, wasn't sure if they breed successfully, but "they obviously breed".
Kathy hosted a little shindig to celebrate her homecoming, Preston's graduation, and Simon's graduation (Preston's brother-in-law). It was fun to see the whole fam again, and a couple of Preston's old high school buddies stopped by. They're cute! But it was all a bit too much people for me, especially given that P and I had arrived at 4:30 that morning, slept for a few hours, and went all day eating party snack food. So I was glad when things finally wrapped up, and I had a chance to slip away for a quick walk in the BLM land just up the road from Kathy's house. It was cool to see sagebrush and rabbitbrush and magpies. And I had even forgotten about the stink bugs and goatheads, several of which ended up in my bare feet (the goatheads, not the stinkbugs, which are easier to avoid). I missed a couple of chances to get pictures of meadowlarks, and enjoyed a lively round of "identify that bird" with the family. I had guessed that it was some sort of warbler, but Stephanie was right with her guess of an oriole. It was a Bullock's Oriole, in Kathy's back yard. Somewhat out of range according to the range map, but I hear that most of those ranges are moving north these days, with the warmer weather.
Sunday, we took Kathy and Ann (Simon's mum) out for Mother's Day Brunch, and hit the road shortly after. We drove back in the new Ford Explorer. And let me just say that I know I'm not supposed to like the new Explorer. We went to pick it up with every intention of bringing it back here and selling it, so that we could buy something like a Subaru wagon. But I can't help it; I really like it. I feel like I have my 4-Runner back. I'm a Montana girl; we were not designed for driving any sort of wagon that isn't pulled by horses. While the Miata was fun to drive, I felt out of place every time I was in it. I certainly felt more comfortable in the little pick-up truck. But sitting up in that plush red seat, looking over the curve of a solid red hood at the small beings in their little commuter cars feels like home. We will keep it for the summer, since I may need a vehicle that I can live out of. We got more than 22 mpg on the way home, which is about equivalent to the 4-Runner, although the pick-up gets 30+ mpg. But Preston crunched some numbers, and we figured that we can drive this vehicle for about a year before we spend so much more on gas in it that it would have been cost-effective to buy something with a 10mpg increase in efficiency. And did I mention that it has cupholders? And little lights next to the mirror on the visor?