Basically, because I have been writing a monthly travel column for the past 3 or 4 years in Parent:Wise Austin magazine, I got invited to go on a press tour of Washington County, TX. "What's a press tour?" I asked my editor, because she's a cool gal who doesn't laugh at my lack of professionalism. And when I found out that a press tour meant free lodging, food, and tours of all kinds of neat places, I said, "SIGN ME UP!"
Oh, we're sorry, Mrs. Diller, but this trip isn't really appropriate for bringing children along.
Oh. Okay. SIGN ME UP!
(That sounded bad. Please interpret generously.)
Honestly, I was both excited and nervous about this thing. Excited, because I love to travel and don't get to do it as much as I'd like. Nervous, because, hello? I am a full-time parent. My world is kids and other parents. I pictured that I'd be traveling with a bunch of writers who would:
1. Be chic-ly dressed in that elusive "business casual" at all times.
2. Look down their noses at someone who doesn't do this for a living and in fact, homeschools her kids and therefore probably wears denim jumpers and bakes bread every day. (Uh huh. Yeah. That's me.)
3. Be talking amongst themselves in tight little groups using all kinds of publishing jargon that would make my head spin, while I hid in the bathroom like a bloomin' idjit.
4. Drink lots of alcoholic beverages. (My tolerance: Two thirds of a glass of wine.)
1. I met a bunch of writers and public relations folks who, even though I was the ONLY ONE on the trip who had young kids and didn't write full time, were super nice and friendly and didn't laugh in my face or look like they'd swallowed lemons when I mentioned the word "homeschooling."
2. I met two other Christians.
3. I managed to dress decently.
4. We were too busy to be drinking lots of alcoholic beverages.
5. I never had to hide in the bathroom. I barely had time to even go to the bathroom.
6. I had more fun than ... well, I just had an insane amount of fun.
I decided that if I was going to do this thing, and only go for half the time because the Professor, Lord love him, does need to go to his actual job for part of this week, I was really going to do it. I was going to say "yes" to every available opportunity.
Yes to arriving early to go horseback riding at Texas Ranch Life with a rancher and a cowboy.
Yes to riding an antique carousel.
Yes to eating my meat quota for the month in less than three days. (Brisket! Ribs! Sausage! All made from cattle on the ranch where we stayed the first night.)
Yes to trying on crazy hats backstage at the Unity Theatre.
Oh, and yes to all the non-optional things too, like ...
a picnic dinner at the Antique Rose Emporium ...
... touring Washington-on-the-Brazos, the birthplace of Texas ...
Incidentally, Mr. Kruse asked us how we managed to have jobs that let us travel around doing neat stuff like this. One writer summed it up beautifully: "Be willing to do it [the writing] for very little money." Yup.
Tomorrow I'll tell you a little about the B&B where I stayed the second night. I think that's enough gloating for now. The other writers are continuing the tour today, and I am teaching my little angels about the digestive system.
(P.S. The Professor did a great job with the kids while I was gone. That is, he navigated them very smoothly through their lessons and got them to do it all cheerfully, using very special Jedi mind tricks.
But he did say last night that there was no way he could have kept up with the house at the same time.
This, friends, represents a happy ending to a very good trip.)
P.P.S. I'm ready to move to Washington County. Just so's you know.