Monday, June 23, 2014

We are off!

Howdy folks, blogging today from the actual site of Little House On The Prairie. Now truth be told, this means very little to me.  However, apparently my wife and my oldest daughter love these books.  I vaguely remember the TV show, didn't know there were books until about 6 months ago, and didn't know it was an actual story until about 6 hours ago.  Anyway, so here we are in South Dakota.

We started our "Oregon Trail" journey yesterday in Chicago, IL.   Well my day actually started in New Orleans.  I was up at 5 in the morning to get home, repack, and then get on the road.  The drive though IL was boring as usual.  I will give Wisconsin some credit though, it is a prettier state than I would have predicted.  The Minnesota border area around the river is beautiful.  The Mississippi River was way up which kind of added to the prettiness of the area.  It was a very unusual day for two reasons: 1) I saw the Mississippi River at is southern most point, and I then later crossed the Mississippi River at its northern most point.  2) I let Brooke drive much of the drive yesterday.  This never happens, by never I mean I can't remember the last time she drove on a trip.  I was so tired from being in New Orleans the past few days, it was probably dangerous for me to drive.  I sort of liked being in the passenger seat, no pressure at all. Maybe I will have to let her drive again......neh.  Anyway, about 15 miles in MN starts to flatten out, and apparently this fact doesn't change until western South Dakota.  Not much happened last night, other than a fun night at a Hampton Inn.  I sort of feel like we are the family equivalent of a zombie hoard when we travel.  We come, we use all the towels the hotel has in stock, we eat all the free hot breakfast they provide, then we leave without a trace.  I used points for the hotel last night, so they didn't even get paid for our destruction.  Ayers family 1- Hampton Inn-0.

Today was a great day, capped off by a selfie with the Jolly Green Giant.

Its not every day you pass a 60 ft statute dedicated to the HQ of JGG.  Being that we were on a great family adventure, we felt it was necessary for the brief detour.  Today was only about 5 hours of driving, much of the scenery was the same.  I will say this, it is pretty.  Its a different prairie pretty, but pretty nonetheless.  We rather enjoyed the ride today, but that could partially be because we don't have to make it again.

The second half of our day was spent here on the 170 acre site.  This is where we are sleeping tonight, on site of the homestead.
The girls had an absolute ball this afternoon.  They played with the horses, the ponies, the baby ponies, they (all 4) road the horses, there is a baby cow, 3 baby kittens that they love, they went on a carriage ride, school house, did the whole nine yards.  I went on a 7 mile run, I think both groups were happier with what they decided to do.  During my run it was crazy to see some rainstorms off in the distance.  You sort of thought they were coming, but then you remembered you can see so far that you probably weren't really in danger. We had a simple dinner at our campsite (above), and now we are anticipating some star gazing.  Tomorrow its off to western South Dakota.  Bad Lands, Mt. Rushmore, etc. Im excited to eventually see the site of one of my favorite HBO shows.  We can only hope our ox don't break down along the way.

If you are friends with Brooke or I on Facebook, there are a lot more pictures there.  Feel free to check them out over there.

Thursday, June 12, 2014


Thomas Jefferson is one of my favorite political men of our past, one that I love to take in whatever I can on him.  Lots of people from history you enjoy to read about, many that's all you can do.  TJ, is one of the few you can really walk in his footsteps.  If you have never had the privilege of walking "the grounds" of UVA, you really should make a trip.  Yes, Monticello is awesome, but so is Mr. Jefferson's University.  Mr. Jefferson wasn't a perfect man, he had his faults.  However, his vision was something that arguably may not have ever been matched in the history of America.

I think that what you put on your tombstone says a lot about what your priorities were in life.  Think of all the accomplishments that Thomas Jefferson could have put on his tombstone, and look above what actually made the cut. This is what was most important to Thomas Jefferson.  Not President of The United States.  Not 1st Secretary of State.  Not Vice President of The United States.  He thought writing our Declaration of Independence, Statute for Religious Freedom, and helping create UVA, were his greatest achievements. That speaks volumes about TJ, and I absolutely love it.  Your tombstone might be the only thing a person ever sees of you.  What would you want it to say to the person if you could no longer say it yourself?

As Eminent Supreme Recorder for SAE, I could very well be at the pinnacle of my professional career.  However, I have told anyone who will listen that being ESR will not make my tombstone.  There are two reasons for this.  1) I am going to be cremated, so I won't have a tombstone.  2) This job does not define me, validate me, or give me some sense self righteousness.  Don't get me wrong, leading this organization is an incredible honor.  Like I said, its probably all down hill professionally after this job because its an amazing position. There is no question that Sigma Alpha Epsilon is such an incredibly important part of my life, I am so just so fortunate (honored) to sit behind the desk that I do for whatever timeframe I hold the office.  However, it will not make the cut for my tombstone despite its magnitude.

If I had to think of three things that would make the cut for my tombstone, I think I would want it to read:
Father &
True Gentleman.

That's it.  I understand that to many people out there this doesn't seem like a lot.  Perhaps you would interpret that here rests a man that in life who did not accomplished much that is extraordinary.  That doesn't bother me that someone may think that.  This weekend encompasses everything that matters the most to me.  Its the girls last day of school tomorrow, Saturday is my 11th anniversary with Brooke.  I honestly can't believe its been 11 years since we said I do.  Then Sunday is Fathers Day (my parents anniversary too).  I haven't fully gotten into this holiday until very recently.  I guess its partially because I'm still learning what it actually means to be a Daddy.  I love it when I get home from work and all 4 girls (well 3 of the 4) come running to say hello.  They all scream for Daddy and give me a big hug.  Ive had lots of titles, but Daddy is the best.  This weekend though I am going to do nothing but spend it with my girls.   All weekend I am going to fully embrace my Daddyhood, and do Daddy things.Saturday we are taking Caroline downtown to Chinatown for her birthday. I was told by Caroline I am going to grill out on Sunday night.  I may get a good run in too, but I'm going to be a husband and a father. Thats it.  The two things I love the most, the two things I am most proud of.  I may not be the father of a major university, but I am the father of some pretty cool girls.