The short answer to that question is ... ROAD TRIP!
Peter and I took the last couple weeks of our summer break (yes, we're on quarters) and drove out west to see his family in New Mexico. We made the drive in 2 days, which meant two 12 hour driving days in a row, traveling about 1400 miles. The driving was disorienting to say the least, but with 2 drivers it's not too bad. On the way out there we drove straight west out of Chicago, allllllllll the way through Nebraska, turning south in Colorado before we got the Denver and the mountains. This was the first time I'd set foot in Colorado and it was amazing. Although this way is slightly longer than the route we took to get home (heading diagonally up through the Texas panhandle, and across Oklahoma, Missouri, and a whole lot of Illinois) I'd like to go this way again. Those Colorado state highways are empty in the most beautiful possible way.
We spent a little over a week in New Mexico, which was full of hiking around, relaxing, and eating delicious New Mexican food - quite possibly my favorite cuisine on earth.
One of the highlights was a trip down to Albuquerque to see Mary-Heather and J and walk around the state fair for a day. The fair was packed with great art, rides, fried things on sticks, and of course crafts. Strangely enough, there wasn't a whole lot of knitting. Crochet really stole the show at the fair, with a ton of really interesting blankets.
I've got about a million crochet projects to post about now that we're back (4 full days in the car leaves a lot of time for crafting, even if you are driving 50% of the time!), but first I'd like to show you the lap blanket/wrap that I made for Peter's grandmother for her 91st birthday.
This is a giant granny-style hexagon. I used Nova's Ruby Hexagon pattern. but instead of making a bunch of hexes and sewing them together I made one giant one. While crocheting a giant hexagon isn't exactly the most exciting project in the world, I was really pleased with the results. I always need simple crochet projects to work on while I'm teaching crochet, and for a couple weeks this one fit the bill perfectly. It required some fairly aggressive blocking, but once it dried the drape was fabulous.
And speaking of teaching crochet, when I test-hooked Nova's pattern years ago I enjoyed it, but it was only by revisiting it with the eyes of a teacher that I really came to appreciate how well-written it is. There are a ton of pictures showing exactly what you need to do, and she explains the process in simple and precise language. I think the ruby hex would make a great project for someone who knows only the basics of crochet but who might need to learn how to work in the round and read a pattern. I'll definitely be recommending the pattern to my students from now on.