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Tuesday, May 29, 2012

Visiting the Schwinds!

My friends John and Jessica, their twins, and their doggies moved away from Davis the day after my QE last year.  At the time, I had been so over busy from my May-August exam prep to feel too heartbroken about it (especially since I knew it was something they wanted to do).  But as my life went back to normal, I did get pretty sad that they weren't here anymore.  No more random weekend or holiday meals with them, no more seeing John at AgChem events, no more doggie play dates.  Dave and I drove by their old apartment on a few occasions and remarked at how the new residents obviously weren't as lovely as Jessica...because they didn't even have pretty potted plants on the patio!  (How judgmental are we?!)  =)

Once I decided to go to Jill's wedding, the first thing that occurred to me was how (relatively) close the Schwinds were to SC.  I was appalled at the high cost of a rental car to get me to their house, but I knew this was an opportunity I didn't want to pass up.  Lucky for me, my parents both wanted me to be able to see them, too, so I had a little financial support for my cause.

And boy oh boy am I glad I made the trek to see them.  It was a short trip, but so worth it.

After a delicious country ham breakfast at Cracker Barrel with my extended family, I left Columbia, SC and drove toward their home in Lumber City, GA.  Calling it (or anything else in that area) a city is a stretch...these places are more like dots on a map.  I brought our Garmin GPS along for the ride, lest I get lost.  And thank goodness I did, because I forced it to "recalculate" my journey a few times.
Thanks, GPS. It sent me a mile down this dirt road before I decided to turn back around because some recent logging activity messed up the road enough that my little rented Nissan couldn't handle it.
Perhaps because I was raised in the overbuilt CA suburbs, but I was really surprised by how many dirt roads there are "down there."  In fact, Jessica lives on a dirt road.  And not like how my parents' house is on a gravel road but their address is on the paved road nearby.  No, no.  In this agricultural area, few of the roads are paved, save for the highways.
You know you're in the south when there's endless greenery and red, red soil.
You also know you're in the south when gas is a dollar cheaper than in CA.
I took a few photos of the plantation forests to show my students.  Lots and lots of trees, all in neat rows.
Anyway, I met up with Jessica in Vidalia (yes, where the sweet onions come from) to drop off the rental car. This was the closest rental car place I could find to return my car. Then we drove 45 minutes back to her house, making one pit stop at a CVS for cokes and to look for the Time magazine issue that highlights attachment parenting (with such a controversial cover photo, neither of us were surprised we couldn't find it).

When we got to the Schwind house, I was greeted by two very happy doggies (Rudi and Daisy).  John was inside with his baby girl, June.  Once little man Jude woke up from his nap, Jessica's dad took us on a tour of the surrounding area so I could see where her family lives (cousins, aunts/uncles, grandparents, etc.) and her family's farm land.  It was really nice to see all the things I'd heard Jessica talk about over the years.
The Schwind house.
John had dinner ready when we got back and Jessica's mom was there, too.  We all had "supper" and then headed off to bible study and a nighttime church service at their Southern Baptist Church.  I enjoyed the service since learning about other denominations has always interested me.  It was also remarkable how prominent Jessica's family is at their church.  Her maiden name is Smith and nearly all the beautiful stained glass windows inside the sanctuary had Smith nameplates on the bottom.  I was also really impressed by how well the babies did during church--a little jealous, in fact, because Eddie would not have been so quiet at 7pm.
Miss June!
Right when we got back, there was still enough light out for John to show me around his magnificent garden.  I couldn't believe that he already has nearly-ripened tomatoes, jalapenos, loads of yellow summer squash.  My garden in Davis won't be producing much more than herbs for a couple of months. I thought John was joking when he said I should take some squash home in my suitcase, but he was totally serious.  (And of course, I did take some home.  Eddie and I ate some in a sausage and sage pasta last night and they were delicious!)
John showing off his amazing garden.
We had dessert back at their house and then they got the babies down for bed, leaving me and my friends to talk about whatever until we had to go to bed.  John goes to work at 7am, yikes!

The next morning Jessica and I played with the babies, ate breakfast, etc.  While they were down for a nap I hung the diapers on the line and took the doggies on a walk so I could give Jessica some time to herself to do whatever she needed to get done (I'm not a big fan of house guests that hang around you constantly).
There are oodles of these ponds around their house. I thought this one was particularly pretty and told John that I had to yell at the dogs a few times to keep them from going for a swim.  He casually agreed that was a good idea...because there's a 10 foot long alligator who lives in there!  (And it likes to snack on cute dogs.)
Rudi and Daisy show me the area.
Intersection of that dirt road and this dirt road. See the street signs?
Then we packed ourselves and the babies up and headed off to John's job so we could all go out to lunch.
John doing some work while holding June before we went to lunch.
Jessica and I were both headed back to CA that evening--me back home and her on a business trip.  They took me to a southern food buffet where I loaded up on biscuits, fried chicken, and overcooked veggies.
You'd never know there was a restaurant inside this building.
My lunch!
And just like that we were on the road in John's truck, having handed off the babies to Jessica's dad.

Our three hour drive went smoothly until the AC stopped working on Jessica's side of the cab.  It was blowing hot air!  So we had to make our way sharing my vents and keeping the windows down a bit.  Lucky for us, it was pleasant outside, not humid at all.  We also nearly ran out of gas...I guess we should have checked that before we took off.  But we made it on time for her flight and I enjoyed a peaceful 3 hour wait, just sipping a sugary coffee drink and reading my book.
Me and Jessica.
My 24 hours went by fast...but it was great!  Just the child-free break I needed.  =)


steph.kelley said...

Sounds like a nice respite in the green countryside. How placid. One of these days I'd love to see the south! xoxo

John and Jessica said...

Loved the post... but of course I'm partial ;)