When we last visited Team South, the BSCers and Co. were just leaving Graceland. The next stop for them is Dalton, Mississippi, Jessi's destination. I have to say I find it a little hard to be snarky in this chapter. Jessi's destination was the plantation where she thinks her ancestors worked. Apart from the obvious reaction of 'what kind of eleven year old chooses to visit a plantation and what kind of parents does she have?' I kind of have to respect her wanting to learn more about her ancestors. I don't know much about mine, either, and I understand why she'd be curious. However, aside from a warning something along the lines of, "Uh, Jessi, there might be some, uh, difficult stuff there" from her grandmother, I don't think anyone prepared Jessi for what she might find. And the Dalton plantation had a museum with it with some pretty nasty stuff (pictures of lynchings, for example) and yet, no warning that maybe, just maybe the material would be tough for an eleven year old to handle? Not to mention, Jessi, Mal, and Abby were the only kids visiting. Maybe shoulda been a clue.
Anyway, Jessi meets a woman named Annie who's doing research at the plantation. She says her ancestors were slaves there, too and Jessi figures they must be related. In the part of the book I usually skip (the postcards and stuff at the end), Jessi writes to Annie and mentions that they may actually be related. Too bad we don't get Annie's response though in my head it's something along the lines of, "Leave me alone you crazy stalker. We aren't related. Please get a life. Love, Annie." One other thing about Jessi's visit: she didn't seem to know that slaves weren't allowed to read or write. I'm pretty sure I knew that long before sixth grade so learn your history! C'mon Jessi, being black is one of your two personality traits! Own it, girl.
Next stop after Dalton is Lester, Oklahoma, home of Watson's college roommate, Chet Romney. Watson and Chet (the roommate, obvs) hadn't seen each other in ten years and I'm still trying to figure out this timeline. Have they seen each other since college? If not, Watson would only be about 32. If so, well, Chet's wife just had a baby and Watson's kids are pretty young... meh, I don't care. Whatever. It's been a long time and they're visiting. Hooray.
So. Anyway, first up is lunch. A very large lunch. Reading about is making me just a little bit hungry... And then everyone decides to go to the bathroom together (well, this is a Lerangis book).
No, no, not like that (try explaining that to Andrew). Because the BSC can't go five minutes without being involved in something exciting or dangerous, there's a tornado. Of course there is. The Romneys don't have a basement or shelter or anything, despite living in Oklahoma, so it's into the bathroom they go. Something about the plumbing protecting the "young ones". Except Karen. She's given a long metal pole and sent onto the roof to play lightning rod. Unfortunately, that's only in the book in my head.
Picture taken in Oklahoma, of Texas. So, really, it's both states.
After a Wizard of Oz reference or two, the tornado is over and it's time to move on. Next stop: Ten Gallon, Texas home of the Walkin' Tall Rodeo. A quick Google search tells me that neither that place nor that event actually exists. Shame. So anyway, no one likes the rodeo. They last all of five seconds before leaving. Mal, Jessi, and Abby spend the whole time playing soul-sucking, murderer-inducing video games while David Michael rides a mechanical horse. Yup.
This one is all Texas. I must find/post more pictures. These aren't so great.
After that, it's on to New Mexico. Because everyone loves continuity, the travelers go out of their way to visit Zuni, the Native American reservation that had a penpal program with Stoneybrook Elementary. Anyone remember the one with Dawn and the sleepover? I think that was Lerangis's first book! So, yeah, the Zuni school burned down, Dawn rebuilt it single-handedly, and Kristy's family and co. went to collect Dawn's official Lifetime Achievement Award. Don't worry though, Dawn was able to get to Oslo to collect her Nobel Peace Prize.
Moving on. Karen's destination of choice was Four Corners, which, considering the Zuni detour, was no longer on the way. Being the brat that she is, Karen insisted on going there anyway and for once, I kind of don't blame her. Four Corners really is a fun place to visit (I've covered this on the blog before http://mytravelrambling.blogspot.com/2009/10/to-possible-disappointment-of-karen.html). I wish I could find pictures of Four Corners, I know they're in my house somewhere! I may add them later.
The next stop for Team South is the Grand Canyon. This is Elizabeth's (or should I call her Mrs. Brewer) destination, despite Abby's best efforts to get Liz (easier, no?) to change. Why? The Grand Canyon was the favorite destination of Abby's father who was killed just before the family's scheduled Grand Canyon vacation. So naturally that makes it a bit difficult for Abby, though of course she doesn't say anything to anyone. Honestly? The whole thing is kinda sad so I'll focus on my visit to the Grand Canyon instead. Hooray! Everything is about me!
First of all, I visited the canyon in the summer, just like the BSC did. In fact, I'm guessing their visit was in August as mine was. It's my understanding that August tends to be a rainy month in Arizona; it was raining and COLD when I visited the Grand Canyon and, from what I've read/heard, that's pretty normal. Not so in this book.
Since this is all about me, I'll just mention that my experience getting to the canyon was just a little different from theirs. I flew in one of those tiny little planes from Las Vegas and over the canyon. Since I was six years old at the time, I either didn't think to say "HELL NO" or I just didn't have the option. I actually remember those flights pretty well (one there, one back, get it?) I know that each seat on the plane had a radio and I listened to the Spanish station. I think six year old me thought they might play La Bamba. I was wrong. I think I do remember the view out the window; I'm pretty sure it was kind of misty and so the canyon wasn't all that clear. What I know for sure is that I'll never do that again. Are we sick of me talking about me? I'll continue and possibly post pictures later, if I find them.
Ugh, I thought that was it for Team South but it turns out there's one more destination: Andrew's pick, the San Diego Zoo. Poor, forgotten Andrew... So, yeah. The San Diego Zoo. When they get there, who should the Brewers/BSCers run into but the annoying Hoyers from back in Virginia! So, basically, they all visit the zoo together and it's not terribly exciting. Andrew was especially looking forward to the pandas, one of which was due to give birth around the time of their visit. Unfortunately, no one knew that the panda was being sent back to China so that the baby could be native Chinese. Can't risk that panda running for president. While panda cubs have been born at the San Diego Zoo, it does make sense that this one was born in China. So we'll go with that. However, it turns out the panda hadn't left yet so everyone got to see the pandas after all (minus the Hoyer brat who complained and left early with her grandparents). Andrew seemed to not understand the difference between bamboo and chopsticks and I have to say, considering how dumb Andrew usually seems, I'm surprised he even made the whole chopstick connection. Congratulations Andrew, even though you said something stupid you aren't all that dumb.
Hey, I've been to the San Diego Zoo, too! And somewhere I must have pictures... but that's enough for now. I'm fading. And that's basically it for Team South. Northerners coming soon.