We had a wonderful time visiting with family, and the monkeys loved playing with their cousins. Did I mention that I totalled our poor mini-van a few weeks ago? We were sitting at a stop light, and I turned my head to say something to Monkey1, and rear-ended the Jeep in front of me. Completely crumpled the front of my car. So we've been driving borrowed vehicles for the last few weeks. The Mad Scientist's brother loaned us his extended-cab pick-up truck. That was interesting. You know, all the spaciousness and comfort of a Very Small Car, with the driveability (and ease of parking) of...well, a pick-up. The worst of both worlds, but beggars can't be choosers.
We rented a car to drive to PA, and that was very interesting. There was a Honda Civic waiting for us at the other end, and I have to say, we fit more stuff (everything we packed, plus three bags of hand-me-down clothes from my sister-in-law's girls) in the Civic than we could get in the SUV we rented for the drive out. Confirming my suspicions that SUVs are really just kind of silly, as vehicles go. I mean, they're huge, they suck gas like there's no tomorrow, and they don't have any more space than a little car...just a bit more head room. Funny story: I borrowed a car from a friend to get to an appointment after my brother-in-law needed his truck back. It was a little one, quite low to the ground (no, I don't know what it was), and when we pulled up at the office and all got out, Monkey1 looked at the driver's seat and said "It must feel like your bum is dragging on the ground, when you drive this car!" :-)
Driving back in the Civic was fine. I'm a big fan of older cars. You know, where the windows don't stop working, because they work on a crank thing you turn, rather than a button. (Total aside: Can you imagine how terrified I was to climb into our rental and see, on the console, a small sign stating "Powered by Microsoft." NOT what I want to see in my vehicle!!) And the locks don't go down automatically at 15 mph, so you have to remember to unlock the doors before you can get out. (Because everyone knows that, in an emergency, unlocking the doors is going to be the first thing I think of as I'm ripping the door off to get out of the car.) Better yet, the new car is a standard. I think I may be in love.
Funny story the second: We were driving home and suddenly, completely out of the blue with no preface whatsoever, Monkey1 looked at me and said "I bet that, if a Sperm Whale knew how to play checkers, he could beat you at checkers." And I replied "Excuse me? Why do you think that?" "Because his brain is so wrinkly, he would be really smart, and good at checkers" he replied. Oh, naturally. I think about those sorts of things, too, while I'm driving down the highway going 70. How wrinkly a Sperm Whale's brain is.