Madison/Georgia: weddings, freedom, friends, ants, and wild turkeys!

We made our trip back to Madison last week, marking what felt like the end of our first chapter on the road: “how much can we fit in before we come back for the wedding?!”  I think we did pretty well!  As a recap: Madison; Springfield, IL; St. Louis, MO; Cave City, KY; Nashville, TN; Clemson, SC; Charleston, SC; Atlanta, GA.

Although to be perfectly honest we haven’t visited “Atlanta” at all.  We stayed 30 minutes outside the city for 3 days so that we could be close to the airport, didn’t go into the city at all, and then we headed down to Macon, GA after our trip to Madison.  But hey, we drove around Atlanta a few times during our communtes….

The Atlanta South campground was less than inspiring.  It didn’t help that it rained most of the time we were there.  With no grass or fire ring next to our camper, and about 5 feet in between sites, it was pretty cozy.

The “playground” consisted of a rusted metal swingset I’m guessing circa 1975, complete with trapeze bar, one gymnastic ring (the other one broken), 2 big-kid swings, and a precarious metal slide that actually went over the top of the set (about 8 feet high) and had maybe a 2 inch rim on each side.  You know the kind…. hot as hell on a sunny day, rubs and burns on your legs on the way down – that is, if you don’t fall off.  Best option/worst case scenario is running a hose up to the top and turning it into a slip and slide.  Those were the days….

The pool was closed for the season (understandably) and the “rec room” was a small structure with a pool table in it full of pool furniture, including on top of the pool table.  And it was closed for the season 🙂

On the bright side, they had a strangely large laundry room with about 10 washers and 10 dryers.  I’m not complaining but it did leave me a bit perplexed.

We’ve also gotten particularly good at packing up the camper for travel days.  There’s a lot to do and we’ve got it down to a system.  The most important link in the chain: feeding Eli breakfast right away and then getting him into his car seat while we finish getting the camper ready.  Otherwise it’s a juggling act of keeping tabs on him and trying to remember our checklist of tasks (close windows, clear floors, clear counters, close vents, secure all drawers and cabinets, bring down antenna, turn off water heater, bring in slides (when they work, which is most of the time ;)), put away all the items outside in the basement compartments, lock all the basement compartments, hook up the trailer to the hitch in the truck, lower the trailer, raise the stablizers, remove the wheel chocks, dump the tanks, and hit the road!

Being back in Madison was fun, surreal, and a good chance to catch up with folks and get some QT while the grandparents soaked in as much Eli time as they could.  It felt like we had been gone for months instead of weeks, and our friends agreed (so we’re not just making it up).  And in some ways we have been gone for months.  Like – 16 months.  Since Eli was born socializing became low on the priority list (or on the things we even thought to do).  Factor in other people’s kids too and it’s a good recipe for isolation.  Now that we are finally “waking up” from our parenthood stupor, we are more organized about our time and have more energy to make good use of it!

Perfect time for us to be on the road and…. yep, isolated.  Oops.

But the wedding was great and seeing friends was a blast.  Our friends got married on Halloween, with a costume reception to match.  The ceremony (normal attire) was held in the State Assembly Room in the Capitol.  What a site!  As we sat in our brown leather desk chairs, I think everyone was hoping for the invitation to hit those “Aye” or “Nay” buttons tempting us.  Of course, “Aye” was the only button we would consider 🙂

With time between the ceremony and reception, Dave and I capitalized (buddum chish!) on our free time and had a late lunch with friends at Tipsy Cow.  Mmmmm, Tipsy Cow…. How I’ve missed you….

We then went back to get into costume!  Even though Eli stayed behind with Grandma and Grandpa for the day, we just had to include him in our costume.  We went as S’mores.  Dave as Honey Made graham cracker, I as Hershey’s chocolate, and Eli as our little marshmellow.  We looked amazing, of course.  Weeks of loose plans and multiple thrift store runs paid off!  Eli was a sport and tolerated his puffy marshmellow costume for about 10 minutes.  It was, after all, hard for him to find his toys on the floor with it on.

At the party, the bride was a – let me see if I can get this right – zombie, witch, fairy, priate bride.  Something like that.  And the groom was a 20’s-era gangster (very classy), as were all the groomsmen.  The groomsmen’s other halves joined in the fun and went as flappers.  Among the costumes were Frozen characters, Flo from Progressive Insurance, a few hippies, zoo animals, a Heinekin, Nina and Drakula, Aladin characters, a few racists and offensive costumes (of course, there are always a few – uh), Beetlejuice, a Salem witch, a clan on minions, and a few hipsters (although to be honest they might have just been wearing their regular clothes. It wasn’t clear.  Either way they looked pretty silly).

Dave danced the night away and we shut the party down until the clock struck midnight!  A photo booth, open bar, chili and grilled cheese buffet, and costume contest added to the party’s unique entertainment!  No petting zoo unfortunately, but not every wedding can be perfect 😉

Earlier in the week, Dave and I even got a proper date night, complete with a movie and dinner.  We saw Inside Out and balled our eyes out and then went to Melting Pot for a relaxed and romantic dinner.  We did it up with a bottle of champagne and a four-course extravaganza!  Dessert might have been a little overkill, but if you’re at a fondue restaurant you have to do it right.   Here was our menu in order of appearance: Champagne, cheese fondue (they had me at gruyere), entree meat fondue with a coq au vin pot (I did the chicken, beef, and shrimp; Dave did the lobster and steak), and then a dark chocolate rasberry fondue for dessert with fruit and sweets to dip.  Yum!

And of course Eli got to see Grandma Boo, Grandpa Bill, and Grandma Sandy this week!  He wowed them with his new skills and deeper interests in reading, exploring, and hiding things.  Keep an eye on your keys, credit cards, and phones.  I think this kid is ready to be a teenager already!

We filled our free time visiting friends and catching up on sleep.  I still kept up with my exercise schedule and Dave got a few days work in.

Eli was a champ on both plane rides.  He was a bit cranky on the way back to Atlanta, but otherwise stayed happily occupied with window shades, tray tables, milk, cookies, and sleep.  Gotta love that age where everything is still new and intereresting….

We left the camper in dry storage at the campground where we were staying close to the airport, and had an unexpected issue.  I wasn’t even going to check inside the camper, but we defrosted the refrigerator while we were away and wanted to make sure there weren’t any mildew issues.  No mildew issues, but there was a remarkable party line of ants travelling along the threshold and into the pantry, then back down and along the dining room slide.  There were more inside that we found later traveling along the kitchen counter and office slide.  Doh!

I hadn’t thought much about open food in the pantry.  I’ve been so focused on mice and keeping things tidy and away from their reach that I had considered the cabinet-door-secure pantry to be a safe zone.  Well, needless to say there are a million and one ways for ants to get in and around the pantry area.  And of course, what did I have in there?… 2 tempting (and open) bags of sugar.  Cookie ingredients?!…. Don’t do this to me!!!

The good news is that we finally organized the pantry!  We had our much-needed clean slate after spraying with Raid and doing an even more thorough clean down.  Determined to protect Eli and our food from Raid remnants, I stayed up until one in the morning scrubbing and cleaning.  Let that ant-carcus covered rag hanging outside our camper be a warning to ants everywhere!!!

Well, that didn’t do much good.  There’s no ants in our living area that I can see, but our campground in Macon is basically one big ant hill.  I kid you not.  Every 50 feet or so is a large brown ant hill about 10-12 inches high, and if you look closely there are little mounds everywhere.  Outside I found another momentous party line of ants parading up and down our grounding strap and exploring the exterior perimeter of the camper.  Ants be damned!

And (reassuringly? horrifyingly?) there are these giant ant hills in Macon pretty much everywhere I’ve gone.  It’s…. impressive.

Now we’re here in Macon, as I mentioned, visiting a friend of mine I met back in 2006 while traveling abroad.  Both deep thinkers and both a good 3-6 years older than the rest of the crew, we stuck together over the 3 month journey and acted as one another’s rocks through thick and thin – and there was much of both.  Though if memory serves me correctly, we were never BOTH in crisis simultaneously, which is really key in these kinds of situations 🙂

So here we are in new chapters of our lives, both with toddlers running around and enjoying our thirties.  Her little one is just a few months older than Eli and they have had ample time to create a dynamic friendship of their own, complete with shared sippie cups, awkward hugs, one sound/syllable “conversations,” tugs of war, meltdowns, invasions of personal space, injuries, cooperatively independent play, and even a few warm and fuzzy sharing moments.  A front row seat to stuff like this is a big part of why I was psyched about parenting in the first place! Emotions flying, navigating how to share space, discovering the possibilities and limits of life!….  So awesome!

And similar to Atlanta, we aren’t much exploring the area.  My main focus here is to rest and hang out.  I think I’m kind of reaching a plateau of sorts.  Not sure exactly what it is, but there is definitely some exhaustion, homesickness, and some other gunk in there I haven’t identified.  On the flipside, I feel like I’m getting closer to feeling more empowered, adventurous, and relaxed.  Don’t ask me how all those things can be happening at the same time.  Emotions are complicated, okay?….

Now for the wild turkey story.

So the campground we are at is a county park, very scenic and quiet.  We are close to the water on a lake, and especially since it is off-season it is just very peaceful (invasive ants aside).  There is also some sort of poultry farm or something through the woods near our site.  I can hear the rooster fairly regularly.

One morning a few days ago, the rooster and a few chickens emerged from the woods onto the road.  I was happy for the opportunity to show Eli an actual rooster and chicken, as well as the sounds they actually make (rather than the strange sounds I do in their stead).  We headed toward the road….

Then I heard a different sound – not a chicken, not a rooster.  Coming from my left side was a muffled gurgle sound.  I turn to my side, Eli in arms, and see a pack of 6 wild turkeys heading our way.

If you haven’t had the pleasure of meeting wild turkeys let me spare you the suspense: they are assholes.

So here we are, about 30 feet from the turkey and about 60 feet from the camper.   I start to jog as fast as I can, unintentionally uttering, “fuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuu……” as I make my way to the camper.

The turkeys casually meander to our camper and Eli and I watch safely from the sofa and through the window.  Now, we’ve got a play yard gate out there too, but I’m not trusting it.  They could probably jump over that shit.

They continue their pecking journey past us and to the next camp site.  So now I’m feeling more brave to go outside for another peak.

We go out in our protected play yard as they swing back around acrooss the road.  4 of the 6 just keep wandering and pecking with little regard for little old Eli and Mama.  And Eli and I are politely just watching them wander.  But 2 of the six keep an eye on us and kind of linger about 20 feet from the play yard.

At this point I start to wonder if they are parents to the other 4.  There was a protective energy I should have taken more seriously 🙂

The 2 lingering one-eye-on-us turkeys start to gobble more aggressively.  But I’m trying to assume the best that they are just being weird.  Looking back I think maybe they were rallying the troops.

And this is what I think was the turning point: Eli made a sort of cooing noise like a little bird.  All of a sudden, ALL of the turkeys starting running towards us, feather-guns blazing, gobbling gizzards screaming.  Was the play yard going to save us?  I wasn’t going to find out.

I bolted for the camper door and uselessly screamed, “Dave!” as if there was anything he could do to help us.

Like I said, assholes.

The drama continued, but not with us.  Another turkey emerged from the woods, and now this one and one from the pack of 6 is puffed up to the nines and having a face off.  Peacock-style, they fluffed their fan behinds, and bunched their feather backs, cocked back their heads and showed off all their glorious asshole colors.

Now about 50 feet away, Dave braved the outdoors to snap pics of their face-off.  I’m still not so sure why they were dueling…. Do they even know each other? Was it a full moon that night? Who knows.

But keep your eyes peeled.  They’re out there.

Next stop: A short visit to Birmingham to visit another friend (ironically also a guest at the Madison wedding), and then 2 weeks in New Orleans!  We’re splurging and staying in an RV park that is actually in the French Quarter (read: a big parking lot).

I know, I still haven’t written my whole “A day in the life” thing.  It’ll happen 😉

Until next time, as we continue chapter 2 of our RV adventure: “Between now and the holidays!”


One Response to Madison/Georgia: weddings, freedom, friends, ants, and wild turkeys!

  1. Mom

    Great stories… pictures of the asshole turkeys!!! And of course, you guys and Eli. Grandma Boo needs to see ya’ll (trying out my southern speak!)

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