Today is my mom’s 60th birthday. Happy birthday, mom.
In true Wandering Pigeon fashion, my mom and I wandered around Wellington Saturday. My mother, brother and I lived in Wellington for a couple of years before moving to Wichita. I spent my 7th, 8th and part of my 9th grade there — go Wellington Blue Knights! My mom worked at the hospital in Wellington — it was her first medical technician job out of school.
Visiting our old stomping grounds Saturday was a lot of fun — and at 60 degrees in January — what a gift!
Our first stop in Wellington was our home on C Street. We lived right across from an elementary school. My brother and I recall burying a time capsule at that home. Our hopes is that the current residents will one day let us dig it up — if it still exists.
Our next stop was our next house we lived in — a modular home located at the edge of town on A Street. We actually had two modular homes, which were connected by a breezeway. Only the main home remains today — alone and abandoned. I loved that home because I had the bedroom in the back and right out my window was a horse corral. I could see the horses right outside my window — a young girl’s dream!
Today, only the horses’ shed remains, along with the bathtub that served as their watering hole and a lone section of fencing. I’ll admit it made me a bit sad that so little remains. I remembered feeding those horses. While they were not ours, I’d sneak into the shed and grab them a tiny bit of grain as a treat every now and then.
My brother and I used to play in the creek that is across the horse field and in some woods — simple, carefree times for us spent at the creek looking for fish.
That house also is where I learned to respect red ant hills. Railroad tracks ran in front of the home across the road. One hot summer day I foolishly decided to go over to the tracks and stomp on an ant hill. The angry red ants ran up my legs, which were bare because I was in shorts. Even today I have a healthy respect — and even a bit of fear — for ants.
After looking around the outside our former home, we headed back into town and drove by the former Wellington High School, which is no longer being used as the high school. I recalled standing on those steps with my friends waiting for school to start.
Our last stop in Wellington, was at what is known as “The Pink Palace.” This adobe-style, (and very pink), home is something I remember fondly from when I lived there. The external architecture is so striking. The outside of the home is covered in pink stucco and tiles lead up to the majestic home’s entrances. A quick peek in the window yielded a level of architecture I had never seen in a home before. “Exquisite” doesn’t even begin to cover this home — the sad part is that the home needs signification repair though it appears recent restoration attempts have been made.
My family and I have always loved to wander around looking at things — not just places we used to live. We once drove to Nebraska on a whim, came across a lone, old abandoned house that we peeked into. Inside the house was an old piano. My then-child self asked mom if we could take it home. Her response: we’d have to take home the spiders that lived inside it too. Enough said. We, of course, left the piano.
Other family road trips included runs out to California where my mom grew up. We’d throw our bags into the car on a Friday night after mom got home from work and we’d be there by Sunday. We’d visit the coast, Disneyland and mom’s childhood stomping grounds. You learn so much about a parent, relative or friend by going with them to their former haunts — I highly recommend it.
One of the best parts about roads trips with someone is time to talk and memories being made. I love sharing experiences on road trips with family and friends taking photos, talking, laughing and just wandering around — most of the time no destination is needed. Growing up we usually just all got into the car and wherever we ended up — there we were.
So, another great birthday road trip with my mom on Saturday. More memories made, more laughs shared.
Happy birthday mom. I love you. Let’s do another road trip soon!
—Brandy Nance is the online and news editor for The Emporia Gazette. Her blog, The Wandering Pigeon, can be found online at thewanderingpigeon.com. Brandy can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.