Summary: A lesson learned and more fun occurs as the Jackson-O'Neills visit Dayton, Ohio
"We really needed this, Dad," David sighed contentedly, his tongue licking up another delicious mouthful of his black raspberry chip ice cream cone.
"It says they used 'hand selected triple-washed black raspberries from Oregon's premier grower'," Daniel said, reading from the menu. "It's made with broken pieces of dark chocolate, and it's their best selling flavor," he noted just before taking a bite from his own bowl of the same flavored ice cream.
"That might be true," Jennifer said, letting out a long, drawn out sigh of delight as her taste buds were stimulated, "but this butter pecan is utter heaven."
The Jackson-O'Neills travels had brought them to Dayton, Ohio and, more specifically, to the Oakwood area of the metropolitan city where the famous Graeter's Ice Cream Parlor was located.
"Isn't that the flavor that Oprah and Stedman swear by?" Brianna asked, surprising both of her parents who turned to stare at her, their eyebrows raised. "Don't look at me like that," she commanded. Smiling, she explained, "Teal'c mentioned it to me once. I swear, he knows everything there is to know about Oprah Winfrey."
"T loves Oprah," Chenoa giggled as she stirred her ice cream.
"What was this flavor called again, Daddy?" Jonny asked about his ice cream treat.
"Chocolate," Daniel answered dryly, laughing when Jonny grinned at his little joke.
"It was called Buckeye Blitz, Daddy," Jenny corrected.
"That's right," Daniel acknowledged. "According to the menu, it's chocolate with creamy peanut butter, peanut butter cookie dough pieces, and chocolate chips."
"I wonder how they make it so good," Jeff commented as he enjoyed a caramel sundae.
Little Danny swallowed his spoonful of double chocolate chip ice cream and answered, "They call it the French Pot process."
Several members of the family glanced at one another. They all knew the child prodigy, who had a photographic memory, had already read the menu, which included the history of the ice cream chain and their ice cream making progress.
**Prattling en route,** Jack teased, using the cherished non-verbal communication skills that he and his lover had developed over the years they'd been together.
**Educational lecture,** Daniel refuted.
**He'll go a mile a minute,** the older man pointed out.
**Just answering Jeff's question.**
**Isn't he cute?** Jack said with a proud smile.
**Prattling and eating at the same time; he's doing it very well,** Daniel mused at their son who had already begun his answer to Jeff's query.
"... so it swirls their secret recipe alongside the chilled French Pot freezer," Little Danny continued. "As the ice cream mix freezes and thickens, a blade scrapes the sides of the pot, folding the ice cream into itself. Sometimes a person does that, and not a machine. That's what keeps air out of the ice cream and gives it a really dense and creamy consistency. That's why their ice cream pint weighs almost a pound; that's a lot more than anyone else's ice cream."
"I wonder if they make shakes. I love a good, thick shake," Brianna sighed dreamily as she imagined enjoying one right now.
The comment gave Little Danny a chance to pass on more of what he'd learned.
"They have to make their ice cream by hand because it's so thick; they even have to use a special spoon because of that. It's fresh, too. This might have been made just this morning."
"The important thing is that we can buy some and take it with us," Aislinn suggested with a smile.
Jack laughed and began to take orders. Eventually, the family decided to buy pints of black cherry, coconut chip, butter pecan, chocolate, strawberry, buckeye blitz, and lemon sorbet to take with them.
"Hope we have room in the fridge," Jack laughed.
"We can put them in a cooler for you, if you like. The dry ice is guaranteed to keep the ice cream frozen for twenty-four hours," the shop attendant offered.
"Deal," Jack said.
Just then, Lulu and Chenoa saw something. They huddled together and then picked up a piece of paper and handed it to their stunned parents.
"An order form?" the older man questioned.
"They ship UPS," Lulu said excitedly.
"Twelve pints at a time," Chenoa added, a hopeful smile on her face which was shared by the other children.
"We'll have a Graeter's party when we get home, okay?" Lulu requested, smiling as her stunned parents looked down at her.
**Did you see these prices?** Jack asked. **It's not like we don't have ice cream in the Springs.**
**But it's not Graeter's, Babe,** Daniel laughed as he walked over to the cash register and paid the bill.
**There's that,** Jack acknowledged with a slight sigh, mentally adding up how much twelve pints would cost, times twice monthly, per year, until the children were gone and in college. ~I hate math. Now, I have a headache, and we might have to get a loan just to pay for the ice cream.~
Less than twenty minutes later, the family was disembarking from their RV to begin a tour of the Dayton Aviation Heritage National Historical Park.
"Is this where the first plane was built, Dad?" Jonny asked as he looked up at his father, who was holding his hand.
"It's where Orville and Wilbur Wright built their planes and perfected flying, for their time anyway," Jack answered. "We're going to learn a lot about them today. Sounds like a good subject for a report when we get home to me."
"Oh, for cryin' out loud!" Jonny exclaimed, channeling his older father. "Does everything have to be about school, Dad?"
"You'll thank us for it later, Jonny," Daniel called back to his son.
"I'd rather thank you for letting us watch cartoons," Jonny griped as he accepted his future homework fate.
The family began by watching an orientation movie and then touring the Wright's print shop. That was followed up by a visit to their bicycle shop.
"This is where Orville and Wilbur really caught the flying bug," Jack noted as the group entered the building.
"A fly?" Ricky asked, scrunching up his nose.
Jack chuckled, "Not that kind of bug, Son. The brothers grew up here. They were always interested in flying, but it was here in the late eighteen-hundreds that they began to really take on the potential of human flight."
"They must have been really smart," Jonny opined, looking around the shop with eager eyes.
"They worked hard, used common sense, and used their powers of observation," the silver-haired man responded.
"How?" Jenny questioned.
"Early on, Orville and Wilbur figured out that one of their main problems was how to control a plane in the air. From their predecessors, they knew how to control a craft in pitch."
"That means the vertical, or up and down control," Daniel clarified, seeing the clueless expressions on some of the children's faces.
"And the yaw," Jack continued.
"Which means the horizontal, or side to side, control," the younger man translated.
"But no one had figured out about the roll."
"That's the rotation of the plane," Daniel interjected.
Nodding, Jack continued, "But the Wright boys decided to study the experts on flying."
"But no one knew how to fly then," Ricky said, confused.
"The birds did," Little Danny guessed.
"That's my boy," Jack chuckled. "They spent a lot of hours over a couple of years watching buzzards from a hilltop around here somewhere."
"Did the birds teach them?" Jenny questioned.
"Yep. They realized that if they could twist the wings so that on one side a greater angle was made to the wind and then at the same time on the other side there was a smaller angle, an airplane could be rolled to one side or the other. It could turn."
"Birds are smart," Jenny said with a smile, thinking in part about Ptolemy, their hyacinth macaw who was at home in Colorado Springs.
"It shows what you can learn by watching," Daniel pointed out. "People who observe, learn."
Eventually, the family made their way to The Huffman Prairie Flying Field Interpretive Center where they saw a few of the small-scale replica planes they had there, including the 1905 Wright Flyer III and a 1934 Martin B-10 'Flying Whale'.
Jonny was eager to see the place where the Wright Brothers actually made their flight.
"Oh, I'm sorry, but the field is closed today," one of the helpers in the center stated.
"Closed?" Daniel questioned with a frown.
"The field is part of Wright-Patterson Air Force Base, and they've closed it off for the day," the man explained.
Jonny stepped forward and said with attitude, "My dad is a general -- *two* stars." He held two fingers up high to emphasize his statement. "We can go."
"Daddy's very important, too," Little Danny offered, more as a support for his fellow Munchkin than as any type of argument with the helper.
"Dad, we want to see the field," Jonny said, looking at his father expectantly.
"Whoa!" Jack exclaimed, holding up his hands.
**Entitlement?** Daniel questioned. **Jack ...**
Way ahead of his husband, the general ordered, "Airman Jonny, front and center," while walking over to a corner where they wouldn't be in the way of other guests.
"All of you," Daniel added a bit more sternly than normal.
"I'm a general," the oldest Munchkin insisted.
Ignoring the complaint, Jack spoke, "Listen, Sport, everyone knows I'm not a stickler for rules, and I won't lie and pretend I don't break rules sometimes, but the rules I do break are ones that don't make sense -- ridiculous paperwork, power hungry idiots, crazy ..."
"Jack, they get the idea," the younger man interrupted.
"Kids, Daddy and I have some pull, when we need it. We don't use that pull just so we can play when we want to."
"That ... pull comes with responsibility," Daniel interjected. "We know you want to see the field, but there's a reason the field is closed today."
"Bet you could get us in, if you wanted to," Jonny stated with a pout as he stared down at the floor while his right foot shuffled against the cold surface.
"Probably, but I'm not going to," Jack responded. "Jonny, abuse of power is something that bugs me more than almost anything else. I want you to think about this for a minute. Would it be fair to others for me to use my stars to get us in?"
"Jonny, remember when Lolisha's dad let her cut the line," Little Danny spoke quietly.
"That wasn't fair, just because her cousin worked there. We waited in line a long time and ..." Jonny paused, letting out a big sigh. His parents' message was finally sinking in. "Dad, how do you know when it's okay to use your stars for us to have fun and when it's not?"
Jack looked over at his husband for a second before smiling down at the boy and responding, "When you expect it, it's wrong."
"It's called entitlement," Daniel elaborated. "Brood, whenever you expect something, simply because you think you have a right to it, it's wrong. What you're entitled to is life, a home, food to eat." He smiled gently as he added, "We're able to do a lot of things in our family; we're very lucky, but Betsy, this trip, the big television, the deluxe Nikes -- those are privileges, not rights."
"Using my stars just so we can have fun abuses the privilege I have in wearing them," Jack stated. "I'll use them in a heartbeat, if someone needs help, but this isn't an emergency, is it?"
Jonny sighed and then, without prodding walked over to the helper and said, "Mister, I'm sorry. I'm not entitled to go to the field today. I want to lots, but it's closed, so I can't. I shouldn't have said that 'bout my dad and his stars."
"Okay," the confused helper stated.
When the oldest Munchkin returned to his family, both parents smiled, and Jack praised, "We're very proud of you."
The family finished their visit and then headed off for dinner and a relaxing night at an RV park.
"Peach," Jennifer called out, her hands clapping in unison with those of her parents and siblings.
"Georgia!" Lulu exclaimed. "I love peaches."
"That's a peach for Lulubelle," Daniel said, making a notation on a piece of paper and then tossing the young girl a ripe peach from a box he had beside him.
The children were playing the state-nickname game. When it was their turn, they could call out either the state or the state's nickname. Whichever child then gave the corresponding correct answer, it would be their turn, and they were given a small prize by their parents.
"Hawaii" Lulu called out with a giggle, knowing it wasn't really a hard nickname.
"Aloha!" Jenny exclaimed, jumping up and down a bit in her seat.
"That's one greeting for Jenny," Daniel said, making another notation and then reaching into the box and pulling out a lei that he then took to the youngster, placing it around her neck.
"Texas," Jenny stated while she clapped in sync with her siblings.
"I know!" Jonny called out. "It's the lone star state."
"That's a sheriff's badge for General Jonny," Daniel teased, marking down the correct answer and then tossing him a toy badge he'd taken out from the box of collectibles.
"Rhode Island," the oldest Munchkin challenged.
"The ocean state," Brianna replied happily, adding, "Where the dolphins roam."
"One ocean for Bri," the archaeologist noted, tossing the girl a blue sponge that represented the ocean. Seeing her funny expression upon catching it, he added, "We had to do a lot of improvising. We only had ten minutes after deciding to play this game."
"Okay, it's an ocean," the tomboy agreed playfully, tossing the sponge up into the air and then catching it.
The family's nickname game continued for a few more minutes until Jeff called out, "Wyoming."
"The cowboy state, and I hope he's a cute one," Aislinn giggled.
"That's one ... cowboy for Ash," Daniel spoke while notating the correct answer.
"Over my dead body," Jack muttered, causing his lover to laugh.
"Dad, do cities have nicknames like the states do?" Aislinn asked.
"What's Dayton's nickname?" the youngest Munchkin inquired. As an afterthought, she added, "How do cities get nicknames?"
"Daniel?" Jack called out, not having a clue.
"Sorry, Babe," the younger man responded, shrugging as he looked at his husband and the children.
"It's the gem city," Little Danny put forth. "But they aren't really sure why. It might have been named for a racehorse named Gem or from people comparing Dayton to a gem. It has a sister city, Cincinnati, and its nickname is Queen City, so Dayton could be the gem in the queen's crown. A lot of people think it comes from ..."
"Encyclopedia?" Jack questioned quietly to his husband.
"Probably. You know he loves the encyclopedia."
"Yeah. I wonder how much he knows that he doesn't share with us," Jack pondered thoughtfully.
Looking at his lover, Daniel replied, "Jack, I don't even want to think about that. I'd be afraid to know the answer."
The child prodigy concluded, "This man named Dunbar wrote a poem, and he called the city 'the brightest gem'."
"I think it was the racehorse," Jonny opined at the end of his brother's ramble.
"I'm not sure I'd want to be nicknamed after a horse," Brianna responded with a frown.
"You wouldn't care if it was a horse that won," Jonny replied.
"A dolphin maybe," the preteen spoke thoughtfully.
"Dolphins don't race," Jonny countered.
"Someone tried to hold dolphin races once," Jennifer interjected. "I don't remember the details, but it was a long time ago. Geez, where did I read that?"
"I can't imagine anyone being able to do that, Sis," Jeff replied.
Jennifer grimaced as she searched her memory and then stated, "I think it was going to be a fundraiser, using dolphins from shows or something. I don't know. I just remember they didn't have them because there were too many protests." Suddenly, she brightened, saying, "Now, I remember. I did a report a couple of years ago on animal protests and their effectiveness; that's when I read about it."
"I'm glad they didn't have them," Brianna sighed, her affection for the creatures known by all.
"Brood, let's get the campsite cleaned up and then we'll open up some of that Graeter's ice cream," Jack said enticingly.
"Yum," Little Danny responded with a smile.
"Clean up: ugh," Jonny groaned, standing up quickly since there was ice cream to come.
"I'll bet we have the cleanest RV in the country," David sighed as he began to pick up around where he'd been sitting.
"Dayton used to be called the cleanest city in America," Little Danny said in response. "They love to clean. Street cleaners sweep downtown every morning."
"What's a street cleaner?" Ricky asked.
"Us, with a broom," Jennifer teased.
Chuckling, Jack answered, "It's a machine that someone drives very close to the curbs and sidewalks, and it picks up all the trash and debris on the ground."
"Jen's right," Ricky chuckled.
The next morning, the family enjoyed a visit to the National Museum of the United States Air Force. Jonny couldn't get enough of the classic aircraft and memorabilia that were on display, but after a few hours, it was time to broaden their horizons a bit.
The family headed for the Dayton Art Institute to let their children experience a couple of special programs that Daniel had read about in the local newspaper the night before. Of course, they had an obstacle to overcome first.
"Tell me what to sign," Jack stated with a hint of aggravation in his voice.
"It's the rules," the docent responded apologetically.
"I got that, but she's very responsible. Look at her," Jack requested as he twisted around and pointed at Brianna. "She reeks of responsibility."
"She's not thirteen."
"If we hadn't told you that, you never would have known," Jack growled, his eyes beginning to squint as he frowned. "Listen ..."
"Uh, I have a suggestion," Daniel interjected. "We'd like to make a donation, and for that donation, we have one request."
The docent stared at the two men for a moment and then said, "If you'll excuse me for a moment, I'll get the person you need to talk to."
Jack rolled his eyes at the aggravation, but he had no clue what he was about to face when both he and Daniel turned around and saw Jonny's shocking stare.
"Dad, Daddy, why are we breaking the rules?" Jonny challenged, his eyes staring accusingly.
"Because this is a silly rule," Jack responded.
"But Bri isn't thirteen, and the sign says you have to be thirteen," Aislinn pointed out.
"Isn't this breaking the rules just to have fun?" Jonny accused.
"Yes, but, well, you see ..." Daniel stammered. "Jack?"
"Maybe there's a reason you have to be thirteen," Little Danny suggested.
"And they don't know Bri like we do," David added, uniting with his little brother.
Brianna was trying hard not to sneer, but her parents had both been caught in a difficult situation, and it was obvious neither of them knew quite how to get out of their predicament.
"It's okay, Dad, Daddy. Jen and Jeff can do it on their own," Brianna spoke in an attempt to help her parents out of the hole they had dug themselves into.
At that moment, the docent returned with the person in charge. Daniel looked at Jack, cocking his head slightly and then gazed down at their children.
"Fine. We'd like to make a contribution; no strings."
"I thought you said ..." the docent began.
"Do you have children?" Jack questioned the two museum representatives. After they nodded, he said, "Let me pass on a piece of very good advice. Never say anything in front of them that they might throw back in your face."
For the next few minutes, Jack and Daniel made their no-obligation contribution and chatted about the museum. Just as they were about to move on, they were surprised by the woman in charge who suddenly agreed that Brianna could participate in the program.
"It's really not a hard-and-fast rule," the lady spoke. "I can tell she has a good head on her shoulders."
"I wish she'd been there to open the field yesterday," Jonny whispered wistfully to Little Danny.
With the stumbling block removed, Jennifer, Jeff, and Brianna headed off for a room where they and other teenagers were going to participate in a T-shirt screen-printing workshop. Under the guidance of an instructor, each used a combination of graphics and their own drawings to create a design that would be put on a T-shirt. The lab covered a variety of techniques and materials including photo transfer, wax pencil, and masking film.
In another room, Lulu, Chenoa, and David met with other children and then took a tour of the museum, after which they would learn how to paint mono-prints and then would use the press to make relief prints and other items.
Meanwhile, after taking a tour of the museum that focused on the artwork that featured animals, Jack and the Munchkins went to a room and, using their imaginations, created new animals using a variety of materials.
Finally, Daniel, while pushing the stroller with JD in it, accompanied the twins and other youngsters in a tour of the museum that concentrated on the multitudes of colors and hues used in paintings. Afterwards, they went to a room and made their own colorful pieces of art.
Roughly three hours later, the Jackson-O'Neills were reunited, each eager to share their experiences with their siblings.
"That was a great idea you had, Angel," Jack said as the family headed back towards the RV.
"Well, we go to museums a lot, but I thought this would make it more interactive; it was ... different."
"They had a great time," Jack opined, smiling at the still chattering children. "Good job."
Daniel chuckled, "Thanks, Babe."
To conclude their busy day, the family went to a park and set up for a barbecue, allowing their children, and the beagles, to run and play for quite a while. After dinner, they headed to an RV park to spend the night.
"Jack, you know what's so bad about this trip?" Daniel asked that night as they snuggled together in their bedroom, the two men sitting up against the headboard of the bed while they talked.
A bit confused, Jack's eyes widened a bit as he responded, "I didn't think anything was bad."
"Danny, you're not making any sense."
"We're keeping our schedule loose, but we could spend a full year, even two, just traveling through the United States, and we still wouldn't see everything we should. I mean, we're leaving Dayton in the morning, but we could stay here for days. I'd love to show the children the Sun Watch Indian Village," the archaeologist sighed with a touch of regret, resting his head against his Love's shoulder.
"Wapakoneta is just north of here. Armstrong's museum is there. There's a fort, too. The kids would love that," Jack said.
"And we barely touched the surface at any of the places we did go."
"Do you want to stay?" the older man asked as he ran his fingers through his lover's moderately shaggy hair.
"Yes, but no. We have to be home soon."
Jack let out a growl and turned his head away.
"Hey," Daniel called out, reaching over with his left hand to turn his Love's face towards him. "What?"
"Crap, Daniel, I miss the dang cats and that squawkin' smart-alecky bird," the older man confessed quietly.
Daniel smiled and added, "And Bogie and Bagel -- the whole zoo."
"Do *not* tell the kids," Jack requested with a mock warning look.
"Your secret's safe with me, except they know."
"Why do you always say that?"
"Because they're our children, and they know us," the younger man pointed out.
Jack cocked his head slightly, accepting the comment, and then Daniel returned to his previous position, snuggling up close to his husband.
"I want the brood to see as much as they can on this vacation. We can't stay in one place," Daniel sighed. "We promised Jonny he'd see Texas. We have to make sure we get there."
"Geez, Love, you're right. Time is such a bad thing."
"It's also our blessing. We've seen so much, and we've already met some great people," Daniel spoke with a smile as he reflected back on some of the folks the family had encountered during their journey.
"It's not over yet, Danny. Let's get some sleep," Jack said, giving his lover a kiss and then settling down to sleep.
"Sleep? I was thinking ..."
"Why, Daniel Jackson-O'Neill, I thought you didn't want us hanky-pankying in front of JD?" the silver-haired man questioned with a look of playful shock.
"Under the covers and on stealth?" Daniel questioned hopefully.
"With my Special Ops training, stealth is a snap."
"Time to go covert," Daniel chuckled, turning out the light and disappearing under the top sheets.
"Geez, I love you," Jack said happily as the lovers began to enjoy some light fondling to cap off their day.
After breakfast the next morning, the family was readying to continue their journey when Aislinn announced that she had the perfect song for Dayton.
"Let's hear it," Jack welcomed, smiling as he stood leaning against the refrigerator, his hands tucked in his pockets.
Aislinn grinned and said it was more for the girls, handing out the lyrics that she'd found and then printed out, with Jennifer's help while their parents were preparing breakfast.
"This is because Dayton is a gem, and when it comes to gems, there's only one that really matters," Aislinn said with a sly smile.
Jack turned to glance at his lover, who was standing with his hands at his waist, watching.
"Danny, she's making me nervous."
"It's just a feeling. It started with that cowboy joke yesterday," the older man confided quietly.
"You're overre..." Daniel began.
Aislinn swiveled her hips and began to sing:
"The French are glad to die for love
They delight in fighting duels
But I prefer a man who lives
And gives expensive jewels."
"...acting," Daniel finished, suddenly standing up straighter and folding his arms across his chest, recognizing the Marilyn Monroe classic.
With a foxy smile, the little girl sang:
"A kiss on the hand may be quite continental
But diamonds are a girl's best friend."
"Oh, I know this one," Jennifer said, getting up to dance and sing with her little sister, though their dancing was more hip and pelvic swiveling and twisting.
"A kiss may be grand, but it won't pay the rental
On your humble flat, or help you at the automat
Men grow cold as girls grow old
And we all lose our charms in the end
But square-cut or pear-shaped
These rocks don't lose their shape
Diamonds are a girl's best friend."
"Okay, time to ..." Jack tried to interject.
"Tiffany's ... Cartier..."
"... go," Jack finished hopefully, knowing the girls were going to finish the song regardless.
"Talk to me, Harry Winston, tell me all about it!
There may come a time when a lass needs a lawyer
But diamonds are a girl's best friend."
The two girls were doing a great job of hamming it up; at least, that's what Jack was hoping they were doing. Even Daniel was a bit disconcerted by Aislinn's moves which were in Jack's mind, ~way too old for her.~
"I think I'll ..." the older man said, turning and starting to go to the cockpit.
"Oh, no, you don't," Daniel refuted, grabbing his husband's arm and making him turn around. "If I have to watch, so do you."
"Do you think she knows what she's singing?" Jack asked.
Chuckling, Brianna walked over to her parents. She'd heard the entire conversation from her spot in the booth.
"Dad, Daddy, I may not like all that girly stuff, but even I know about diamonds. It's universal."
Suddenly, Brianna hurried over to her sisters and began to join them in their singing, as did the rest of the girls, all of whom had joined in the singing.
"I've heard of affairs that are strictly platonic
But diamonds are a girl's best friend."
"Daniel, the sooner we get out of gem country, the better I'll feel," Jack whispered.
"Amen to that, Babe. Amen to that."
~~Finis - Finished - Done - The End - But is it ever Really?~~
Next: Midwest Adventure