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Every year we make our way the breadth of Virginia and into the mountains of Tennessee to visit Ron’s people.  He has a cousin, his wife and daughter; a favorite aunt; long-time friends and their families; and Simon’s grave.

The last 2 years, the Young Bucks have come along for the ride and it makes for a long day with a full car.  But we save so much on postage for Christmas gifts!  And we get home-made sweet pickles.

We always stop at thrift stores along the way, and Ron and Andrew swop driving.  Theresa and I try to sleep as much as possible, and Zoe has a tray table and tons of activities.  Of course, she wants none of these, so this time we played Mad Libs, including a Star Wars version during which we learned of the “Death Trump.”  [sub Trump for Star].  If you have never played Mad Libs on a road trip, you have missed the meaning of life.

This trip, we spent some time at the Gray Fossil site near Johnson City, TN.  The fossils are not gray, the town is named Gray.  The site was discovered when a new freeway was being built; a death pit of Miocene animals was found, and the road re-routed.  Alligator; red panda; tapir; camel; short-faced bear; mastodon and saber-tooth cat were uncovered, showing that the climate of TN was much warmer then [it’s that Global Warming, in reverse].  The museum is small but wonderful, with many hands-on exhibits.  The children [i.e., Zoe, Andrew and I] enjoyed it very much, especially the dig-it-yourself pit, where Andrew uncovered a cell phone, a man’s wallet and keys.  Amazing what fossils were preserved.