In the morning, Kate and Mister embarked on the next leg of their journey, and their last for a while. Colorado Springs was at least 12 hours away, and with a baby...well, they could hardly expect to arrive before 10 or 11 that night. Kate looked suspiciously at Teddy--he was happy, but how long would that last? Even without a fussy baby, it was going to be a very long day of driving. But the weather was in their favor--a significant boon since their car's air conditioner was broken. On Sunday, it had been hot, and Mister had entertained himself by periodically pouring cold water over her head and front while Kate was driving. Now, as they left Missouri, the morning was humid but tolerable. As they approached Colorado, it promised to get much cooler--in fact, the forecast in the Springs was for snow that same day!
Kate had done the drive between the Springs and St. Louis twice before and remembered it as being vaguely pleasant and mostly uninteresting. Mister (and the other Millers), who had made the trip many times, frequently made disparaging remarks about Kansas. So she was naturally surprised when she realized that, at least this time, she was loving driving through Kansas.The speed limit was high, the clouds were fantastic (and promised some rain ahead of them), and at top of the small undulating hills, the view stretched for miles of golden farmland. The fluffy clouds brushed colors across the blueness of the sky from deepest, stormiest grey to blinding white. And the diffused light from behind the clouds on the yellow-white fields made the view look enchanting.
Teddy was also enchanting. Apparently, the only thing he'd rather do than ride in the backseat with the wind blowing his hair (and periodically sleeping and eating) was get out at a rest stop and see people. Teddy only fussed when he was hungry. But when they stopped and got him out, he absolutely radiated baby joy. He looked up at Kate and Mister with an adoring smile and flapped his arms and wiggled his feet, so delighted to see faces again. And he spread the joy too! He made friends and adoring fans at every rest stop, crawling back and forth on the dirty tile or sidewalks, pulling up and tilting his head back to give a toothy grin and giggle to any passing stranger who looked his way.
So the day passed, slowly but fairly pleasantly. The last half hour, (nearing 11PM) Teddy was awake and slap-happy, chortling to himself in maniacal bursts of laughter, as if he had just hatched a plot to take over the world! But as good as the drive was, how good it was to get to the Millers! There was snow on the ground--tiny amounts, but snow nonetheless! And even though it was late, Kate gloried in the knowledge that they could finally unpack and not be living out of suitcases and boxes. The stability would be good for Teddy too, not changing locations so much and having his own place to sleep (the closet.)
The following couple days, Kate and Mister discovered the true toll that the trip had taken. Kate's lower back (which seemed fine on the journey) now hurt so much, she could barely walk or balance on one leg as she got dressed. Intellectually, she knew that exercising should help strengthen the muscles to keep her back in place, and the Millers had even made this easier and potentially enjoyable by getting her a guest pass to their gym. But practically, she had to acknowledge, "When you can barely move, there's a lot of inertia to overcome in order to go exercise!" Worry nagged the back of her mind. What if she couldn't get better? What if she couldn't lift Teddy and carry him around? Forty weeks was still a long way off.