Where it all started.

Today was leg three of the Trip to Oklahoma. I took the boys to the very spot where Hank and I met: Aspen Coffee Company.

But first, they woke me up singing that “green frog” song again.

So, Hank was, God love him, my barista. Or barister. Or baristo. What the heck. Is there a feminine and masculine in Italian?? Whatever it’s called, he was my coffee savior.

The day we met, I had a study group at the coffee shop and had my trusty sidekick, six-year-old Nick, with me. Nick happened to be swinging his legs back and forth while balancing in the air between a couple of small tables and wouldn’t you know, he flipped himself backwards and landed on his head. It was catastrophic, according to the wailing and alligator tears, but thankfully no real damage was done aside from scaring Nick and me half to death.

Hank was the first person to him after the crash. And after Nick’s tears were brushed away and his runny nose fixed, Hank played Hot Wheels with him along the coffee bar and smiled warmly my direction for the better part of the next hour. Little did we know what would come of that over the next several months…

So I took the boys there. And they ate muffins and had some chocolate milk.

And then I told Holden about how Nick fell in there. This was his response. You never have to wonder what he’s thinking, do you?

These are two of my favorite peeps in the whole world, Sara and Kelly. This is Kelly’s coffee shop.

We decided, after a snack and some beverages, to meet again for lunch at Joe’s, but only after a trip to campus to show the kids (like Ewan’s gonna remember it) where we got our learnin’.

Lily and Holden found lots of muddy spots. Right away. On my watch, even. And I forgot that the mud here is clay, and that the clay is red. Woops. Lily almost looked like a terracotta pot by the time I got to her. I deleted that pic and elected to show this one instead…the clean version. And I also didn’t take pics when she tried to strip down and take a bath in the library fountain because I was still trying to catch her.

Here’s that fountain, in the front of the majesty that is the library. Spent a lot of time there, my friends. Mostly because they had computers, and that was before we had a computer for every room in the house. But also because they had scientific journals for all of those research papers.

And here’s the Student Union. Didn’t spend a lot of time there, but I passed the lawn on one chilly morning when the feminist group was having a bra burning and a wiener roast. That memory has always made me giggle, since they couldn’t have picked a colder morning to run around sans torso underwear. Like no one would notice. And then they were eating hot dogs. Ok, I know that I don’t have to keep explaining the irony, but it’s funny.

The sidewalk took us toward Theta Pond. And you know kids with water. Yep, gravitational forces are in the molecular makeup of H20.

That and ducks, which are also gravitational forces to kids, until they chase them. And then ducks chase back. Luckily, no chasing ducks on this trip. Sometimes ducks are scarier than clowns.

And there were these. The knees. The birch tree knees. They’re so other-wordly looking. I even likened them to where Luke Skywalker found Yoda, which Holden really loudly said was very, very wrong, because Yoda-lived-in-a-swamp-and-it-was-all-wet-and-muddy-there.

Your daily dose of weird Holden faces.

Here’s Lily the Fast.

And Donna the Lovely.

And Ewan the Terror upon his capture.

Then we heard it. Joe’s was calling us from across campus, so we trekked back to the automobiles and traded heat for grub.

Ewan decided that this was the perfect time to try a pickle.

And Lily had an idea. (I’m not quite used to lens flare and how to compensate for that, but that’s funny looking.)

And Barb shows off her mad coloring skills.

The campus has changed so much. My old dorm is gone, replaced by nice suite-style residential buildings and the football stadium is shiny and huge. The Student Union is undergoing an enormous renovation and there are temporary building set up for the summer. There are new, unrecognizable buildings and new medians with flags and lights, and roads through campus have been rerouted.

But even so, it still holds special memories. Fantastic memories, of both times I went to college. Who I met, how we built relationships, and what those relationships are to this day.

Pretty darn cool.

And as a bonus, I snagged some coffee from those coffee guys. My car smells yummy and the back is partly filled with crazy cool burlap coffee bean bags from all over the world; I don’t really know what I’ll do with those yet, but when I asked Kelly what he did with them, he explained it this way:

“Well, first I fold them in half and put them in a pile there. And then, when that pile gets too big, I move the pile up there. And then sometimes I move it over there after that.”


But you know what? I totally understood him. So I moved the pile to my truck, and after that I’ll move it into the house. And then I might move it again, before deciding what to do with them.

I’m pretty sure that however and wherever they end up, it’s going to be awesome though.