Weekly Photo Challenge: Change

This is my photographic response to a recent photo challenge by The Daily Post. I like taking photos, especially for this type of challenge. I find it leads me to see the world differently. And seeing the world differently is something I always find enriching.

Moving from Utah to Massachusetts in 2011 (this is Wyoming, our first day of travel).


Steel-cut oatmeal for breakfast: something besides a smoothie for breakfast for the first time in at least six months.


Yes, there’s oatmeal in there. It’s nestled under the applesauce, almonds, and blackberries.

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Cross-Country Road Trip, Day 2: Pants Across America

Green River, Wyoming, to Ogallala, Nebraska

Driving Time for Day 2: 6 hours 39 minutes

Nebraska facts: I’ll add these to Day 3’s post…tomorrow will be all Nebraska

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“My father owns a grocery store, and in this grocery store he sells, something that begins with the letter ‘C’!”

My daughter had never played this game before and didn’t want to stop when we reached the hotel. My son guessed “Elmo!” every time. He’s carrying on the family tradition of random suggestions for the paternal grocery store game; when I played this with my family as a child, my little brother would guess “Smackerel!” (inspired by the gopher in the Winnie the Pooh movie) every time.

At the Sierra Trading Post Outlet Store in Cheyenne, Wyoming, the kids ate a frozen pizza at the little cafe there, and I replaced the two pair of pants that got holes in them during the move and the first day of the trip. I also bought a traveling shirt and a running shirt that’s long enough to cover my belly so I don’t have to pull it down every tenth step when I jog. I brought some laundry soap with us, so I washed all of the new clothes in the hotel sink to test out their manufacturers’ “fast drying” claims and maybe have non-holey pants to wear tomorrow.

We crossed the Continental Divide during the drive today. I remembered that this meant something about the rivers on one side running to the Pacific and the rivers on the other running to the Atlantic. I thought I also remembered reading in The Gathering of Zion by Wallace Stegner that on the western side, it was incredibly arid and on the eastern side, there was more moisture. Stegner wrote about how, when the Mormon pioneers crossed the Continental Divide, their wooden traveling desks split from the dryness. There certainly seems to be more natural greenery in Nebraska compared to Wyoming, but I’m not sure about relative humidity.

There are more mosquitos here, it seems. I scared my husband by smacking one on the back of his neck without warning him.

While my husband bathed the kids after our family swim tonight, my daughter spontaneously began singing “Takin’ Care of Business.”

“How do you know that song?” my husband asked.

“I don’t know,” my daughter answered. “I think I just made it up.”

Cross-Country Road Trip, Day 1: Welcome to Wyoming!

Salt Lake City, Utah, to Green River, Wyoming

Driving time for Day 1: 2 hours and 30 minutes

Wyoming facts:

Population: 544, 270 (50th in the country)

Land Area: 97,100 square miles (9th in the country) (these first two facts explain why we see so few cars on the highway)

Highest Peak: Gannett Peak, 13, 804 feet.

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We reserved a minivan from the rental car company. We got a GMC Yukon XL. This was probably good given the amount of stuff we’d set aside to take with us, but the size of this vehicle was rather shocking to us. My husband doesn’t trust the back-up camera (you know, the one showing you what you’re going to reverse into because you can’t see other cars, stationary objects, or children crouching in the shadow cast by the vehicle?). I’m mostly disappointed we didn’t have a chance to get a giant decal with our family name on it for the side of the truck before we left.

In the short distance between Salt Lake City and Green River, the mountains yielded to hills then buttes and mesas and wide open spaces across which the winds tore. We could see dark thunderclouds and fingers of lightning reaching for the ground in the distance.

My husband and I did this drive in the other direction when we moved from North Carolina to California in 2003, and I remember the deceptive nature of the distances in this part of the country. You see a train crawling along at a place that looks fairly close by, but the train is tiny and it’s clear it must be much further away than it seems.

Saying goodbye to our home was more emotional than I’d banked on. I went back in to do a final run-through and make sure we’d not left anything and that all the windows were closed. I ended up standing in the spot in the dining where I’d given birth to my son in a tub of warm water almost two years ago. Alone in the house, I even tried out one of the guttural noises I made during labor to hear how my voice bounced off of the walls.

Unlike my other moves, I didn’t—and still don’t—feel like I’m leaving our home for good, although I know that I am. I wonder if this is evidence of having put down deeper roots in Utah than I have other places. Maybe I was more present in Utah, which makes it more difficult to believe that I’m leaving.

I’m trying not to be contrary and hate Massachusetts before we get there. Logically, I’m pretty sure I’m going to love it, but right now I’m sad to leave and without a clear mental picture of our destination, I can’t yet yearn for our new home.

I do, however, yearn for a trip to the Sierra Trading Post Outlet in Cheyenne, Wyoming. Both pair of long pants I brought with me for the trip got holes in the left knee within the first day. I’ve got two pair of shorts and a skirt, but I’d like a pants option. And my husband needs new slippers and the outlet is right off the highway about halfway to our Day 2 destination and so would be a great place and time to stop for sandwiches. At least this is what I’m telling my husband to try and convince him to let me buy some pants (and maybe a traveling shirt) on our way across the U.S.