Scot takes on The Mizells

Several months ago Kira had arranged for her dad to come out and visit us in the Bay Area. After we’d figured out when he’d be coming out, we decided to put him to the test. Could he handle the Mizell Clan? This past weekend he took the test and passed with flying colors. Through, what I imagine to be some sort of meditative process, he was able to deal with living in the same space as the four brothers, one wife, and mother for an entire weekend of spontaneous plans, prolific consumption, scooter rides, random house guests, and non-stop activity. Well done.


England 2010

Two and a half weeks on the English island has created quite the impression on me.

Somewhat purposefully, we avoided the hub of this country, London, and pursued adventures in the South West and as far North as Edinburgh, Scotland, truly appreciating the significant cultural differences in the land of our national heritage.

Starting out on August 13th, we departed a cold grey California and arrived on the 14th to a rainy grey England and immediately began driving on the wrong side of the road. Our jet lag was severe, yet Grant’s G-Dub GPS kept us suitably entertained as we drove West to where we’d be parked for the next few weeks.

Contented with our time in the Salisbury countryside, we poked about the area, seeing the magnificent cathedral, the multitude of henges (and hedges), like Stonehenge and Woodhenge, and the ruins of Old Sarum, the castle.  We attempted to track down various English geocaches and perpetually came up empty.  We saw the sights of the English West Country, visiting close cities like Oxford, Bath, and Boscombe Beach as well as hiking through the local hills exploring the unique landscapes and interesting historical and cultural presence hidden in among the wheat and grass.

Then we boarded our train and headed North. Through the haunts of York and then along the coast, across the border, and on to Edinburgh for a Tattoo performance from around the world, a puppet show of immense supremacy (from a fringe act), and just enough beer and scotch to remember where we were. Truly spectacular.

Soon after, Tripp and Karen departed to Ireland and we boarded our train south, back toward Salisbury.

It was wonderful to see in just two and a half weeks how much Kelly and Rory were learning and growing.  It was great to feel the stress and chaos of family.  And even though we greatly overstayed our Benjamin Franklyin visitation rights, I’m glad we spent the time with Grant and Evelyn.




Our Little Journey Map

2010 – England

Living as a Californian – Genealogy

In seeking answers regarding roots Andrew and I spent the morning looking into our genealogy, trying to dig deeper than what we already knew from PoppaBob & Grammer Bev and Jack & Marguerite. After a few hours of guessing and checking, Andrew finally came across a scanned copy of a book by Bancroft about the history of California.

This exert from History of California: 1846-1848, Volume 5 of 7. By Hubert Howe Bancroft, Henry Lebbeus Oak, William Nemos, Frances Fuller Victor. Page 713; “Schroeder (Martin), 1847, Engl. mr of a vessel, married at Mazatlan, who brought his family in ’49 via Hon.; d. at S. Jose ’81.” (where Engl.=England, mr=master, and Hon.=Cape Horn). In conjunction with what we know about our family tree leading up to this point (see boldface below) helps us to connect ourselves as Californians since 1849.  True 49ers and native Californians of the nation of the Bear Republic, prior the it’s inception as a US state September 9, 1850.

1. Martin Schroeder (or Schroder) (b.Abt 1820-London England;d.1881-San Jose CA)
sp: Ignacia Alvarado (b.Abt 1829-Mazatlan Mexico;m.Abt 1840)

2. Victoria Alvarado Schroder (b.28 May 1862-San Jose CA;d.Abt 1955)
sp: William August Humburg (b.5 Feb 1862-San Francisco;d.1930-Los Angeles,California)
3. Arthur Fletcher Humburg (b.15 Mar 1884-San Francisco;d.Abt 1933)
3. Edith Victoria Humburg (b.14 Jul 1886-San Francisco;d.1978-Los Angeles,California)
3. Mary May Humburg (b.20 Jun 1890-San Francisco;d.1964-Los Angeles,California)
sp: John Andrew Mosier (b.15 May 1899-Adams County Iowa;m.1920;d.11 Feb 1941-Los Angeles,California)
4. Jack Arthur Mosier (b.26 Dec 1921-Los Angeles California)
sp: Laurie Merideth (b.29 Oct 1924-Moberly MO;m.9 Jun 1945;d.14 Apr 2002-El Cajon,California)
5. Andalee Mosier (b.19 Oct 1947-Hollywood Pres Hospital,Los Angeles California)
sp: Joseph Bruce Tenorio (b.19 Sep 1949-Naval Hospital,Guam;m.1980)
6. Kelly Ann Tenorio (b.1 Apr 1983-San Diego CA)
5. Merideth Mosier (b.19 Jun 1951-Hollywood Pres Hospital,Los Angeles California)
sp: Harry Dominic Leygraff (b.26 Nov 1948-Cleveland OH;m.(Div))
6. Sean Christopher Leygraff (b.3 May 1983-San Diego Ca)
6. Holly Nichole Leygraff (b.30 Oct 1986-San Diego Ca)
sp: Marguerite Louverne Anderson (b.28 Apr 1937-Los Angeles,California;m.9 Jan 1970)
4. Robert Rodney Mosier (b.9 Sep 1924-San Francisco)
sp: Beverly Joy Christiansen (b.Apr 1928)
5. Pamela Ann Mosier (b.Aug 1949-Hollywood Pres Hospital,Los Angeles California)
sp: James Elsworth Mizell II

4. Mary (Sally) Mosier (b.7 Sep 1925-Los Angeles,California)
sp: Richard Woodrum
3. William August Humburg (b.11 Jan 1893-San Francisco;d.1912-Los Angeles,California)
3. Charlotte Humburg (b.1897-San Francisco;d.1979-Ashland OR)

1. William A. Humburg (b.1825-Germany)
sp: Elizabeth (b.1825-Germany)
2. William August Humburg (b.1862-San Francisco;d.1930-Los Angeles, CA
sp: Victoria Alvarado Schroder (b. 1862-San Jose CA;d.1955)

3. Arthur Fletcher Humburg (b.1884-San Francisco;d.1933)
3. Edith Victoria Humburg (b.1886-San Francisco; d.1978-Los Angeles,CA)
3. Mary May Humburg (b.1890-San Francisco;d.1964-Los Angeles, CA)
sp: John Andrew Mosier (b.1899-Adams County lowa; m.1920;d.1941-Los Angeles, CA)
4. Jack Arthur Mosier (b.1921-Los Angeles CA)
4. Robert Rodney Mosier (b. 1924-San Francisco)
sp: Beverly Joy Christiansen (b.1928)
5. Pamela Ann Mosier (b.Aug 1949-Hollywood Pres Hospital,Los Angeles California)
sp: James Elsworth Mizell II

4. Mary (Sally) Mosier (b.1925-Los Angeles, CA)
sp: Richard Woodrum
3. William August Humburg (b.1893-san Francisco;d.1912-Los Angeles, CA)
3. Charlotte Humburg (b.1897-San Francisco;d.1979-Ashland OR)

More to come….

France de Jour. Abridged, if you can imagine.

Due to the degree of difficulty involved in typing on a touch screen while on the road, it’s been frustratingly slow to compose any regular reports regarding whereabouts and activities. However, now that I’m on a machine let me see if I can do some (a great deal of) catching up.

Let me note:
When I say ‘we’ in reference to decisions made, let me make it clear that typically that excludes me. For the most part I did my best to take a literal back seat to the direction and advising of the journey. This in effect Created the journey, it amplified the adventure. Sometimes for good and sometimes for the worse, it certainly excluded me from understanding much of what I was seeing. But I did enjoy the privilege of viewing the French scape with wide eyes and a blatantly blank perspective and of course zero liability.

According to my notes it seems that Mom and Andrew arrived last on Friday the 17th and then I arrived the following Saturday, the 18th, though I can’t be sure the French calendar system is the same, the natives are quite aloof and speak a unique tongue that sounds nothing like mine own. Though I’m learning. Oui!

Our fist adventure started the night of my arrival at the Walkers, can you imagine? They were throwing a party with a number of friends that went well into the night and at some point along the way the Air France luggage delivery man arrived with my baggage and then stayed for a couple of rounds and an introduction to each party guest, quite delightful indeed. Yet somewhat more influential to our trip, we were introduced to a local friend and generously invited to go mushroom hunting the following day with one of the guests. Of course, we said “Oui!”

The following morning we put on our quiet-injun-moccasins, armed ourselves with pocket knives and drove off to meet the rest of the party. We were shown pictures of the prey, a Death Trumpet.. quite appealing eh? Essentially these were black/dark purple trumpet like mushrooms which poked out of the leaves around the moist bases of trees. Charged up, we drove to the trail and began our walk into the woods. A soft wood, full of orange and green, with lots of light and well defined trails. No bad wolf out here, so we thought. Along the way we passed many other types of fungi, most of which we picked and the proudly presented to our host with the question, “This one?” He would reply, “no” and then re-describe the mushroom again. After a while he just stopped answering us and walked ahead of the group. Perhaps he would think twice about inviting strangers. Then, as to inflict us with a bit of fear we passed a hunter and his dog, Whiskey, and the group stood a bit taller and talked a bit louder as none of us were wearing bright orange. I’d guess his sobriety was top prey this early in his morning.

We had climbed a couple of hills and scavenged a couple of valleys when our host indicated that we were Now in mushroom country. All the other trail did not produce the Death Trumpet, but NOW we could really start looking. Embarrassed we had wasted time until now we all put our heads down and went separate ways. At this point, anyone who has read Micahel Pollands “Omnivore’s Dilemma” could super impose his description upon us.

At this point it seemed that most of us were quite tired of the hunching hunt and were more interested in sitting and playing with leaves or exploring the green moss that grew on just about everything. Sitting down to have a look at an interesting stump of leaves, moss, grass, and general French muck we so often see piled and re-piled in the movies, I discovered a small black fungus and next to it another. Hot Damn! I Found em! Initially they were about the size of my little finger, but once I adjusted, or ‘got my eyes on,’ there were quite a few. I think I was sitting on some. Up to the size of two thumbs. Two whole thumbs!

At this discovery I hailed the group and the hunt was back on again. Soon enough Morgan found one, then Angela, Mom, then Andrew. We were certainly keeping up. In fact, while the locals were the experts, the Americans excelled at identifying a majority of the fun-guys littered in the forest (Andrew, of course finding the mother load at the end of the day). Five or so hours after we had parked we walked back to the cars. Thirty minutes after we all got to the cars, the rescue party finally found Mom and we could get on our way back to our hosts flat to enjoy each other’s company with shoes off. In the end our spoils all ended up in a delicious meal which our hosts cooked up; sharing with us buckets full of juices, liquors, and food stuffs. It was a great start to the whole trip.

Mushroom Group

If day one was the present highlight, and possible medal winner for the trip, day two had to be an identifier for the worst possible day of the trip. -er perhaps that’s a little harsh. We kicked ourselves out of bed early the second day and made our way to a common tourist attraction, Gorge de Fier. Here we found the park closed for the winter so decided to take at least an enjoyable walk around the park. On our return we found a smashed window and flat tire. Fortunately it was someone else’s car. Unfortunately it happened to be the car we rented from someone else. Damn!

In the spirit of our upbringing (or gender role) Andrew and I had the spare on quickly and after some photos we drove on. Our next step came when trying to figure out our next step. From here the next two days of story becomes one you might watch in high speed with a deep cowboy voice overdubbed giving a brief explanation.

“Well, see here’s when them’s Mizells, as they call ’em, went running round. Round and round about, talking gibberish with jus’ abouts every person thems could then see. Startin’ with their Bon-Jurs and endin’ with a Or-Vwa or two. Police diee-rected them to military and military to po-lice, repair men promptly sent them across the street to some other cow-town fill station. This was a whole brand of mess you couldn’t imagine there dreamin up on your stormiest of days. But in the end a tall handsome man, speakin their language set their ponies right and before dust at dusk could be seen none more they were back at the Walkers with a brand spankin’ new trolley in the drive pickin’ and a hollerin’ like the damnest of days had never touched them.” (Copyright 2008 John Mizell)

…. With things sorted out we resumed our schedule of no plans and yielded to Charley and his out door plans. We primed our selves with a short day hike (which included a short bit of misdirection) and the following day put on the big boots and saddled up to go Big! The hike was visible from the house. If we looked straight across the lake and then pushed the binoculars up about thirty degrees there was a house on the side of what seemed to be a shear cliff. We were going to drive a majority of the altitude to the trail head, however that still left the ‘shear’ part of the trail to be climbed.

When we arrived at the trail head we were parked at a pasture below the cliff walls and the stunningly green grass, I believe, tricked our senses into thinking we were somewhere in the Sierras of California. Clearly we weren’t. About thirty steps up the ‘hill’ I was curious how such a place could be created in all it’s majesty and grandeur, further I was Very curious where all the oxygen had gone. That accompanied with a look back over your shoulder indicated the California pretense quite false. The view all around us made for frequent justified breaks. In no time we had made the short hike to the top where the house sat overlooking the lake. We ate lunch and rested a bit more and then in a significantly shorter amount of time descended back to the cars where we each sank into the seats thankful to have invented such a thing as ‘chair.’ (Let me note that Charley didn’t participate in the frequent breaks or lack of oxygen. As an avid outdoors man and cyclist he had absolutely NO trouble at all. In fact he pointed out one of his regular cycling roads we could see going up and over these mountains.)

The following day the Walkers drove to Italy and we down to Avignon where we spent the next two days getting lost. Aside from our trip south from Geneva this was the most driving we’d done. So now we had a chance to really ‘participate’ in the culture of France, raise questions and have them rapidly answered. like…

Traffic? The majority of France uses the circle to manage intersections. For the most part, the circles seem to work quite well. I think for a moment that perhaps this is because of the synergy of the other drivers being polite, the motorcycles Crazy, and the cops absolutely vacant. Yet this land is not without want and this seemingly utopian land crumbles with my naiveté. Due to less order comes a subtle desire for structure, if it’s possible to differentiate between the two and so come the honks, glares, passes, engine noises, and other leading signs of aggravation and road rage. Five o’clock and road work, both inherently provoking, create the standstill and at that comes the sound of the city and so France looses it’s quaint curb apeal and becomes yet another ‘place’. Traffic answered.

On our way south we made a number of short stops in picturesque villages and towns, as well as a visits to a bicycle & motorbike museum, olive oil ‘factory,’ the village/region of Chateaunuff de Paup to steel some grape seeds, a gigantic hardware store where we got to see all the things “we don’t have in America” followed by a disciplinary stop at McDonnalds (just about the same). But really most of the time we were completely lost, or at least in the wrong lane of traffic. I bided my time in the back seat as Andrew and Mom pulled their hair out. All such Good fun!

Cold and raining as we drive back north I stopped to note the Alps.

The Alps, to understate, are grandiose. It’s a meadowed valley or a pastured plain defined by a stand of trees or a fence line and as I saw it a road. Beyond the pleasant cruiser bike trails however forests of national parks fill in and abruptly rise. Upward, up, high up, up beyond sense. These mountains fill in every horizon feasible and leave you lonely when they don’t.

Just above, the clouds are equally exotic. Rain clouds are a standard sort. Big, full, all encompassing, visually non-stimulating, and generally unexciting. However, mountain clouds, the kind that sneak and slither, creep and wither, and the ones that simply whistle the day away with you, are the real gems of the sky. The precious pieces, deliciously engaging morsels, the most elegant robe ever tailored to accompany and complement the eloquence of the peaks themselves. On a clear day they are the fingers of the hand wrapped around the profound arrogance of earth protecting from the terrible yearning of man in the most absurd contest of ego. Another may seep over a wooded ridge as moss makes a dutiful attempt to overcome the sunny side of a stone; as horses would attempt to stampede down and across a western plain. So much to it’s success that it spills back the other way once the valley filled. … if you can imagine I suppose.

The mountains keep you directed and content, they are your companion along the drive. A while later your mind drifts and your eyes follow the river edge, corn stalks and grape vines follow your tracks and smoke from a chimney or nuclear power plant maintain your sense of humanity. Then you remember your ever present companions and lift your gaze to find them gone. A dreadful feeling engulfs your sense of duty, of responsibility, revisiting your thoughts of casual camaraderie. You turned your back for one moment and they were gone, lost forever. In their place a cold grey blanket. Fog, rain, clouds. Shadows dance in your teary vision as you pan feebly. Finally a small dark peak shows in a corner of the sky. In another moment the white or red cliffs slice through the etherous fill. A terraced green step seems to keep pace with your peripherals and then as it came it departs. Your left with the embarrassment of I’ll conceived fear and rectification. It doesn’t take long before your at ease again. You see the river again and begin to follow it along the road…

We’re back in Annecy and after a bit of a read, we fall asleep. After a nice bike ride into town and back again in the cold bitter rain today, I’m pooped and enjoying some Tea and a crumble thing mom made. My pants are in the drier. I’m writing this story, spell checking and what not. One look around the room says, “I think that concludes this long winded soliloquy of mine.” Thanks for listening.

John Patrick Mizell
(edit and forward as appropriate)

Photos should soon be pasted online here:

Google Earth Locations:

Now were back at Annecy – on Route de Avolliones, below the word Avolliones toward the water with the big lawn.,+France&sll=32.227832,-110.943784&sspn=0.692378,1.455688&g=Tucson,+AZ&ie=UTF8&ll=45.864597,6.14404&spn=0.008906,0.022745&t=h&z=16

The Hike – we started at the end of the white road and then went up and around to the top of the shadow shown in the photo moving down along the the right side – a brown trail shows up a bit.,+France&sll=32.227832,-110.943784&sspn=0.692378,1.455688&g=Tucson,+AZ&ie=UTF8&t=h&ll=45.828889,6.271133&spn=0.008911,0.022745&z=16

Our hotel in Avenonon was on Impasse Monvoish-Autard – just about where the I of Impasse is on the map. The white building with the courtyard.,+France&sll=32.227832,-110.943784&sspn=0.692378,1.455688&g=Tucson,+AZ&ie=UTF8&ll=43.940243,4.80683&spn=0.004604,0.011373&t=h&z=17

Pictures Attached:
1. A fantastic spice apothecary
2. Mushrooms close up
3. Hiking down (looking at this photo you can see the Walker’s home. Just above the buoy in the water there is a ‘white’ harbor. From here move along the shore to the right and you’ll see a chapel spike (large in comparison to other white specks). Now move down to the water line and at the second white spec there we are. Easy, right?)
4. Airplane Bike at the museum
5. Grapes ‘borrowed’ from Chateaunuff de Paup

Pancho makes me "Uncle John"

September 30th, 15 min. before midnight, Kelly Mizell high fived the world.

Now, most babies tend to be ultra ugly upon first contact, and some are just sort of ugly.. but Kelly arrived with uber mizell handsomeness right from the start. I know, it’s subtle, but he’s going to be one good bowler, you can see it in his expresssion. He’s already thinking about technique, that and delicious food for Christmas.

Departure from the Carolinas

On the flight back to Orange County, leaving behind family in more than one way.

We left a bundle of new found relatives, folks from Jamesville, North Carolina and the surrounding burbs, to get back to their daily routine in tears; any of them I’ll probably not see again unless they venture out west. We left Pop, Melanie, Steph, Craig, and their gang at church this morning while we drove off in our rental micro-van to the airport. And Tripp and Karen took the keys from Mom and, as we taxied, were driving toward the coast to celebrate their first anniversary, then they’ll return to their respective homes, Michigan and Chicago.

It’s odd first of all going to an event like that. Essentially it’s like a college party, where you show up, you only know the people you brought, and perhaps the people who called to tell you about it. The first thing you do is look for the beer and a comfortable protected spot to use as home base and then you proceed to make idle chat with a whole bundle of folks who you may or may not run into again, but perhaps you’ll see them later on in the party, so your amiable. The only difference is everyone is a lot older, there isn’t any ping pong, and you’d best stay away from any attractive ladies – this is a Family Reunion. Fortunately this BBQ didn’t turn out anything like how I’d internally predicted it to.

The first part of my plan was on target, we arrived and looked for the beer, and really didn’t know anyone but Pop, but as the party went on our relatives were a bundle of warm, welcoming, good natured people. They might not have been Californians, though Andrew might hold that against them and for the most part that made it even easier to get along with, but they were decent human beings that apparently loved us just as much as they’d love any of their own children. The made jokes and more importantly could roll with ours, played football, cooked and ate food like no other, loved cats, were eager to share their tales and stories, and truly their welcome mats meant come on it, for real. I couldn’t have imagined it. Thus, when we left, there were tears in the eyes of our hosts, hearty hugs and hand shakes, and a real commitment from a good many of them, to keep in contact via emails or visits. I think some of us Californian folk would even consider moving there.

The life style was mellow, slow, comfortable. Perhaps this was just a show, perhaps there are uptight people everywhere in the world and we just so happened to have a weekend party without any of them showing up, or letting loose, but if that’s not the case, North Carolina is one of the most relaxed places in the world. … and remember just because they talk slow, doesn’t mean they are….

The night before we left.. last night, Anna some sort of second cousin removed and then re-added in, an 18 year old relative who’s just graduated and going to North Carolina State, took a couple of us out, kind of. After dinner we were antsy, we wanted to carouse, see, hear, do something.. anything to prevent sitting in the hotel room till we passed out. So she generously offered to take us about. After much harassment of things and places in the area I think she became frustrated with her perceived inability to ‘show us a good time’ in her home town. I didn’t mind, I had a great time just driving about Jamesville and such watching the dark fields and lit-up houses go by. One particular stop was upon the “Screaming Bridge,” a haunted bridge that, if you stopped up on it you could hear the screams of the woman who was hung off of it. I heard no screams but my own in an attempt to rile up the car a little, followed by pounding on the roof and driver’s window.. In any case – just like Mission Viejo, or any other home town – we perceive them as boring as we grow up there and then come to learn later that they’re built and filled with character and thrills. Well, maybe not the thrills, but certainly character and this North Carolina had it for sure.

With a quick stop at Bojangles in the morning for breakfast with Anna and her mom and then to the church to see everyone off, we drove from Jamesville to the airport in a hot and muggy environment and I couldn’t stop thinking about how amazing it is that thus far every place I’ve visited on this earth has the exact same people living there. People who love and are loved, people who welcome, people who laugh, people who forget about what they’re bad at, people with compassion, and most of all, people who smile. Everyone, no matter who their master, and who their enemy, smiles and it’s great to know I’ve got kin in North Carolina who are damn good at it.



Germany beat Argentina and they advance into the semifinals, Ukrane goes home.

Today we put Pop in the car, got some cheese biscuts and sausage from the local BBQ joint and got a quick tour of the land of our kin in North Carolina.

We drove past the Jamesville cemetary, saw some Mizells and a Mizelle. Pop told us that there was another Mizell clan when he was growing up. I can only imagine that they were ruffians, trouble makers who managed to move to Mexico and start a new life under the psudonym of Sanchez.
Past a heap of ready corn, nearing tobaco, and new cotton fields, Pop narrated to us shorts of relatives, friends, and events from his childhood and subsequent returns home. “Down that lane on at the end of that field was the local country store, that fella was so nice…. Right there at the corner of that corn field, this place was once all trees and the house was tucked away into them…That’s where I was born… This house use to be the best in the county. This is the first house that had gas lighting. …Mom grew up in this house.” Mom drove slowly and irratically as all of us passengers were half enthraled with the stores and history of the area and half scared Mom would drive into a corn field because she thought Pop wanted to stop there. Finally we turned right past a group of goats and found an old drive wih a farmer working the land and an old house in front of a series of barns and such. We were interested in the house. Unfortunatly I can’t remember the story – the history – but it was there. Perhaps I’ll add later.

The house was old. Wooden. Tin roof. Brick fireplaces on both sides. A wrap around portch. Boarded up windows. Lightening Rods. Surrounded by damn green grass and fields of cotton and tobacco. ……

We returned to sisters where we set up tents, tables, and chairs for the evenings dinning and socializing in the damp heat of the east coast. I don’t sweat this much in Arizona – that sweet tea is fantastic for breaking the heat. A beer, traditional football game, and one injury later (to Steve, a team mate of mine) we were ready for a shower, grace, and burgers and beans. I was sedated and calm. A Carolina storm rolled in, the sun dimmed and disappeared, and the bats followed the lightening bugs into the evening air. It was pleasant. Andrew and Megan got a mason jar from Grant and we caught a few buggs and watched them in captivity. Andrew taught the kitten to hunt them and I enjoyed some time in the hammock. What day is it? It doesn’t matter. It’s Holiday. Tripp left to get Karen from the airport and we hitched a ride back to the hotel to await tomorrow’s meals.

Family on the Carolina Coast..

It’s the first time I’ve been to the East Coast, it’s the first time I’ve been to North Carolina, it’s the first time I’ve meet the larger part of my Dad’s extended family.

Pop, Dad’s dad, moved to California leaving his mom and three younger sisters in North Carolina. Pop regularly visits this coast and his sisters via the 40 and his 50 food motor home (roughly), alas we never ‘made it out.’ I suppose it’s tough enough to manage a family of six getting about town, to move them 3000 miles east for a week would be … a challenge and so for a long time I wouldn’t know much beyond the family that showed up to Pops for Thanksgiving and Easter dinner and street football games. A year and a half ago Dad died. Pop was making his drive again and told us this would perhaps be his last time driving the 15 day trek. His birthday is this weekend. Dad’s siblings were going to be there. This time there was noreason it couldn’t be easy. Mom asked all the brothers, gave us the dates, and without a hitch … or so I think, we had tickets to the coast and were on our way, I was going to get to the East Coast and meet a bundle of folks who knew Dad and Pop that I’d never met. neat.

Plane flights are plane flights. My flight to Ecuador didn’t feel any different than my flight to St. Louis and until we really hit wall of heated moisture in the air outside the baggage claim doors this time, I hadn’t yet put myself into Virginia and onto the east coast. Here there is green, there are trees, there is moisture flowing free from the sky, free in the Air! We found our white rental mini-van and soon after discovered that just because it has 6 seats doesn’t mean they’re built for people. Even my legs were pushed against the seat in front of me. Ugh. Fortunately we only had to drive 2 hours to the true coast to touch the water and then another 2 to Jamesville, NC 27846, where Pop and the family were already eating and drinking and smiling.

To the coast we drove. The water was warm, the sand interestingly granular and large, and the waves horribly non-existent. East coast waves, as I’ve been informed before and ten again today, only occur from hurricanes and, new to me, from Nor-Easters. Neither of which were present today. But there was sand and shore and I was indeed on the East Coast, cool. One more tick off my national summer tour. As we drove inland, away from the coast, we went over miles of bridge, which was cool, passed signs warning of Alligators, Bears, and Fox, which was interesting, and a whole lot of crops of Corn, which was .. well different. Little did I know I’d be eating some of that corn a little while later and it would be Gooooooo-oood, I mean good! Grant was driving by now and we meandered about the small roads, past a school and a church and houses all around and finally found Pops motor home. Here we go.

There he was outside waiting as a Pop should, resolute but independent enough that we’d quickly greet him before he had to wait too long. This neighborhood was quaint. It had a bold character to it. The lawns were green and soft, the trees years outside of their adolescence, the yard fence free and full of Fourth of July decor. Reminding me of another wholesome family event, we emptied out of the cramp micro-van, talking with Pop and beginning the indroduction to relatives. There weren’t too many, but more than I could remember the names of at that instant. As it is Pop’s three sisters and their families were fairly represented and all presented themselves at various points through the evening. We walked through the back yard of the first house to see the house that Pop grew up in and his mother had lived until she died, then just a couple of house up the street and across was another sisters house. Filled with chairs and tables this was the dinning hall. Pleasant with bird feeders and delicately placed nic-knacks. the house had that charm about it… the one that we try to repeat on the west coast but only find by shopping at target and k-mart. This charm was genuine, a true collection of novelties and toys over the ages. One particular squirrel feeder was a wooden piece secured to a tree with a stool and a pike upon which an ear of corn was placed. According to the residents, squirrels actually sit down and enjoy the corn – remarkable. There were white window trimmings and hand dipped candles along side an easy chair and broadband Internet connection. Against my previous notions – as lacking as they were – this place was welcoming, it was family, it was home. There were hugs all around, smiles from everyone, and one hell of a dinner. We were even introduced to a neighbor as “Kin Folk,” and that just made me feel all warm. Tonight we’re at the Days Inn – using their Wi-Fi – and tomorrow I look forward to getting another glimpse of N. Carolina and family, and evenings activities which include but are not limited to a good ole fashioned ‘cook out.’