Monday, July 26, 2010

Adventures with Grandpa -- Trip to Washington 2010 Chapter 4

ODOMETER 1366 (still) – the flip side

When Dad and I first started talking about going on this trip, he said that he would like to come back through Oregon and visit Uncle Frank. I suggested that maybe we could go see Vera, too, while we were driving around. We decided to check into it. We worked the mileage numbers a couple of times and I just couldn’t see how we could do it without taking an extra day. If we drove from Cristie’s place to Uncle Frank’s place and then on to Vera’s place on Monday, that would be 725 miles, a bit far for one day’s drive, especially since we wanted to be able to spend time with both Uncle Frank and Vera on that same day (plus I wanted to see Cousin Ron, too, since Uncle Frank lives near him now). Driving from Vera’s place to Caliente (575 miles) plus me driving the rest of the way to Vegas (160 miles) on Tuesday was 735 miles, another really long day, and I had to be back to work on Wednesday. It just didn’t seem possible. A week or so before the big trip I was hashing it out with Dad over the phone (again) and finally I told him that the only way we could do it is if we left Cristie’s place after church on Sunday and traveled part of the way then. I didn’t know if Dad would want to go for it, since he hates to drive on Sunday, but I guess his wish to visit his brother and Vera won out, so he agreed to it. Of course Cristie and her family were bitterly disappointed that we were leaving them a day early, but them’s the breaks. (Actually, they were probably celebrating.)

My plan was that we would leave Cristie’s house and go to Uncle Frank’s place. Since that was only about 190 miles, I figured we could hang out there for a few hours and then drive further towards Vera’s place before stopping for the night. It would make Monday’s drive shorter and we could spend more time with Vera. She had told me that she could get off work for the afternoon, so I wanted to get there as early as possible. The day after my discussion with Dad, I sent an e-mail to both Uncle Frank and Cousin Ron, telling them that we were going to be in their town on Sunday, June 20 (which also happened to be Father’s Day), probably mid-afternoon. I said that we would like to stop and visit them for a bit if they were available. I sent off the e-mail just before going to lunch that day. By the time I came back, I had responses from both of them. Ron said that Dad had called Uncle Frank and told him that we were spending the night there, and two of Ron’s sons were going to be out of town that day, so he offered those two bedrooms for us to stay. Uncle Frank’s e-mail said basically the same thing. My dad, the big blabbermouth! I should have known he’d jump onto the phone immediately! So much for my plans!

Cristie told me that her church is a half hour away from her house and in the direction we were leaving town, so she suggested that we leave from church (probably another excuse to get rid of us sooner), so that’s what we did. We went to church and then got in the car to drive to Uncle Frank’s place. The car was getting very low on gas, so we needed to stop at the next available gas station to fill up. I was also eager to change out of my church clothes. We drove off into the rainy, curvy, mountainous roads and passed several small towns without a gas station. I was starting to get worried that we were going to run out of gas. Finally, in a little town called Elba (yes, the same name as the place where Napoleon was exiled—I don’t know why that seemed appropriate), we found a gas station. I left Dad in charge of filling up (it was an old pump and we had to get help operating it from a friendly passer-by), grabbed my clothes, and headed inside, only to be told that they didn’t have a bathroom. As I gaped at the woman in astonishment, she suggested that we go to the train depot down the street. Over $3.50 per gallon for gas, and no bathroom. Elba, indeed. We drove on.

Further down the road, we stopped so I could change. Dad didn’t understand why we couldn’t just keep going to Uncle Frank’s place and I could change there, but I didn’t much like the idea of arriving and saying “Hi-where’s-the-bathroom?” Since I was driving, I exited the freeway and stopped at a Wendy’s. Dad said he would just stay in the car. I went inside, used the bathroom, changed my clothes, bought a Frostee for Dad, and returned to car. The car was empty and, of course locked. No Dad and no car keys. There I stood in the cold, wearing short sleeves and crop pants with sandals, clutching Dad’s Frostee and my purse in one hand and a bundle of church clothes and high heeled sandals falling out of the other. (I could add drama to the story by saying it was also raining, but at that moment it had stopped. And people think I exaggerate!) I walked in and out of Wendy's a few times, but no Dad in sight. I thought about trying to call him, so I pulled out my cell phone and saw that Cristie had called a couple of times (my phone was still on silent since being in church), so I stood by the car and called her back. Right when she answered, my car alarm started going off. If I was trying to be inconspicuous, that plan was over! It turned out that Dad had pocket-activated my car alarm while coming out of the Wendy's bathroom, but it took me a while to convince him that yes, that's our car blaring away, and not only did he set it off, he had to make it stop. And, of course, he didn’t want the Frostee (but he ate it anyway).

(In case you’re wondering why Cristie was calling, she had given us faulty directions and could have gotten us seriously lost while we were frantically searching for a gas station, but we were able to figure it out before we got too far afield. See, Cristie, I didn’t even mention that part! Aren’t you glad?)

We made it to Uncle Frank’s place and Dad’s neighbor, Bob, called Dad’s cell phone right when we were getting off the elevator. Bob had a gift for calling right when we were arriving somewhere. He called when we pulled into Brenda’s driveway, he called at Uncle Frank’s place, and again when we arrived at Vera’s. We were standing at Uncle Frank’s door and Dad motioned that I go ahead and knock, but I wanted Dad to be WITH me when we arrived, if you know what I mean! Finally Dad told Bob that he had to go and we went into Uncle Frank’s room. He is in one of those nice facilities with a private apartment upstairs (Uncle Frank’s is a one-bedroom with a kitchen and everything) and a dining room downstairs where they serve meals. Uncle Frank had made arrangements for us to eat dinner with him, but dinner time was a couple hours away. I sat down between Uncle Frank and Dad, and the fun began. Imagine sitting between two older men, and neither one can hear very well. Uncle Frank would say something, and I would have to turn and repeat it to Dad. Then Dad would respond and I would have to turn back to repeat it to Uncle Frank. And on and on and on. It wasn’t very long before the whole process was getting very old. The afternoon seemed to drag on forever and I was wishing that we had stayed at Cristie’s church for the classes! Uncle Frank did have the cutest dog, though. It’s a Corgi, and they aren’t allowed to walk them in the building, so Uncle Frank had a little red wagon leaned against the wall for the dog to ride in when he takes her in and out of the building. Uncle Frank had her do a bunch of tricks for me, and she was so cute. It’s so nice that the people living there can have pets.

Eventually Ron arrived, and we went for a tour around the building before going to eat dinner. In the recreation room we had a little contest throwing bean bags at a target, and I was able to demonstrate that I can’t throw at all. At dinner, they have young girls waiting on the tables and serving the food, and they were so cute with the elderly people living there. The food was really good, too; we had prime rib! It was all very nice. Partway through the dinner, Ron’s daughter called; she had accidentally locked herself out of the house, so he had to rush home and let her in. Good thing it’s only five minutes away! Also during dinner, Ron suggested that he and I go back to his house to talk so that Dad and Uncle Frank could “catch up” there. Dad immediately seemed suspicious. Where were we going? What were we going to do? I thought it was kind of funny. It’s like he thought we were going to get into trouble or something. After dinner we returned to Uncle Frank’s apartment and Ron mentioned it again. I grabbed my coat and we left.

Ron is very musical, and even back in high school he rigged old equipment so that he could record himself playing the different musical parts and harmonizing all by himself. Now he has equipment where he can record 12 different parts himself. I’ve always liked listening to his music, so he played some for me. He participates in a gospel group with some other musicians, and they had some original songs that he played for me, too, that were really good. After that, we just talked. His wife, Jean Ann, died about a year ago, and he told me all about that. He himself was diagnosed with cancer a couple of years ago, and his own future is uncertain. He is on a cancer medication that he takes every day, and his cancer hasn’t advanced for several years. He believes his cancer has been held in check by prayer, and I admire his faith and devotion. As I’ve said in prior blogs, we don’t share the same religion, but we do share the same faith in Jesus Christ. It’s always fun to talk to him about that.

Eventually Dad and Uncle Frank arrived, and after a bit more chatting and some brownies baked by Ron’s daughter, we all went to bed. It was a very nice visit, and I’m glad that Dad blabbed about us spending the night there. We got up early the next morning and continued on our journey.

Next chapter: Visiting Vera and goin’ home.

Friday, July 23, 2010

Adventures with Grandpa - Trip to Washington 2010 Chapter 3

ODOMETER 1366 -- bump bump bump … another one rides the bus!

We finally made it to Cristie’s place. Hooray! The weather was so nice – cool and cloudy and rainy. Some might not consider that good weather, but when you’re from Vegas, you really come to appreciate something that is something other than hot, DANG hot. Cristie has a really nice house and her back yard is enormous. There’s a little play house on stilts that I can just see my grandkids climbing into (not me, babe). Her back porch is probably about the size of my whole back yard. Anyway, I attempted to sleep in on Friday morning, but somewhere around 10:00 I heard Cristie backing her school bus into its parking space next to the house (“beep…beep…beep”), so I decided to get up. Of course Dad was already up, had been for hours, I’m sure (no “wasting daylight” for him).

Cristie offered to let us go on her kindergarten run (picking them up at the school and taking them home), so we jumped at the chance. It was pretty interesting, sitting there watching Cristie drive an enormous bus down the street and pick up a bunch of chattering kids. They were LOUD, and as she drove along, Cristie watched them in the mirror, constantly saying, “Crystal, sit down, honey. Billy, get back in your seat. Jacob, sit on your behind.” And on and on and ON. This was the second to the LAST day of school. I hate to think what they were like on the first day! One of them opened his back pack and took out his toys, which rolled down the aisle to the front of the bus and had to be confiscated until we got to his stop (not supposed to get toys out on the bus). Half a dozen of them left their papers and other things behind. They were hilarious. At some of the bus stops, mothers were waiting with gifts for Cristie. The gifts were passed back to me for safekeeping and of course I peeked: candles, note cards, earrings, candy. I swear, none of it jumped into my purse (much).

After the bus ride, Cristie dropped Dad and me back at her house while she finished driving her routes. Cristie had a gas grill in the back yard that she’d been having trouble putting together, so Dad and I went out there and finished the job. If there had been any propane in her tank, we would have fired it up!

Samantha came home from school and before long, she and Dad were out in that huge back yard kicking the soccer ball around, playing catch with a baseball, and doing a bit of batting practice. It made me tired just to watch them! I couldn’t fully represent my sister without taking a few pictures of this great Kodak moment, so I went inside and got Cristie’s camera and took a few shots. That used up the little bit of energy I had. (Like I said -- look at the size of that YARD!)

That evening we went to a graduation party at Hannah’s house, Amanda’s friend. Hannah and one of her sisters went to Nauvoo on a family trip with us a few years ago and she has gone on summer vacation a few other times with Cristie and her girls, so Dad and I felt that we know her, too. After eating grilled hamburgers and few other things there, we went shopping for a new dress for Amanda to wear at graduation. Sam and I had fun running around Ross finding more things we could try to beg Amanda into trying on. We weren’t very successful in getting her to try on much, but she did find a cute purple dress to wear (not that you could see it under her cap and gown). Sam found a dress she wanted to try on, too, but Cristie was pretty adamant that Sam couldn’t have any more new clothes, even if it was only $10. Before you know it, Dad had his wallet out and was ready to buy the dress for her. Sam and I raced to the fitting room so she could try it on before the opportunity disappeared or Cristie found out (whichever happened first), but the dress was too short, so the game was over. I thought it was so sweet of Dad, though, to want to buy it for her. (For those of you who may be wondering where I got so much energy after being too tired to even WATCH Dad and Sam play catch in the back yard … HELLO, this is SHOPPING!)

The next day, Saturday, was Amanda’s graduation. We had to be there early and I was afraid that there would be a lot of time sitting around bored, waiting for it to begin, and then the usual boring graduation thing. I’m sorry, but graduations are boring, even when it’s my own kids. BUT I was wrong! No boring sitting around before the ceremony!

Like I said, we had to be there early. Before we left the house, Cristie was busy on their front porch taking pictures of everybody in every conceivable combination. Me and Amanda. Sam and Amanda. Me and Dad and Amanda. Dad and Amanda. (You get the drift.) Amanda was getting impatient, worried about bad traffic on the way to the Tacoma Dome and the fear of being late, so we kind of rushed to the car when the photo shoot was over. We were at least half the way there when Amanda let out a wail that in the rush to leave, she had forgotten her saxophone, and she was supposed to play it in the senior band during graduation. She was upset. I suggested to Cristie that we drop Dad, Sam, and Amanda off at the Tacoma Dome. Dad and Sam could get seats for us while Amanda joined her classmates. Cristie and I would rush back home and get the saxophone. We agreed that it was worth a try. There was heavy traffic, but Cristie stopped at the crosswalk in front of the Tacoma Dome so that the others could get out. It was also pouring rain. Amanda and Sam got out of the car, but Dad, who apparently hadn’t heard what was being planned, continued to sit there in the back seat. Traffic was beginning to pile up and Cristie was feeling the pressure. After all, she could lose her job driving the school bus if she got a traffic ticket. I’m sorry to say that we yelled at poor Dad to GET OUT! GET OUT! He suddenly realized that he was being ejected from the car and into the rain and didn’t have any idea why, but probably years of being yelled at by Mom kicked in and he bailed. We roared off. I still feel a bit guilty when I remember the confused look on his face. There he was, innocently staring out the window when he was ordered out of the car. Oh well…we did apologize later, and he was fine with it. He said we just should have told him. We didn’t bother to explain that we tried. Sometimes it’s easier to just apologize and move on.

Cristie and I raced home and got the sax. I also grabbed some umbrellas, something else we had forgotten earlier. We rushed back, fighting even heavier traffic. It was almost time for the graduation to start when we got near, so I told Cristie to get out at the same crosswalk; I would park the car and walk in by myself. After all, it wasn’t my daughter that was graduating (and I wouldn’t be too heartbroken if I missed some of it … sorry, Amanda). I carried all five umbrellas into the stadium and got there right when it was starting (these things are always late). Amanda successfully played her sax with the rest of the band and graduated. And, of course, it had stopped raining by then and we didn’t need the umbrellas at all.

Next chapters -- visiting Uncle Frank and Vera!

Tuesday, July 20, 2010

Adventures with Grandpa -- Trip to Washington 2010 Chapter 2

ODOMETER 707 – Twin Falls

We stopped in Twin Falls to get some gas. I left Dad in charge of pumping the gas while I went inside to visit the ladies’ room (okay, the female truckers’ lounge). When I wandered back out, there was a crowd around the cashier and I got there just in time to hear her tell Dad that someone else was pumping our gas! I elbowed my way up to the front and asked what was going on. Apparently the payment part of our gas pump wasn’t working and had instructions to pay inside. When Dad went to the counter to pay, they asked him for his pump number. He glanced outside, saw a dark blue car, and picked the number next to it. Wrong car, wrong number, and as luck would have it, the guy swiped his card right when the Dad’s card was authorized, so he innocently began pumping “our” gas. I looked at the cashier, and she said that they take no responsibility for these problems, and I’d better go get that guy before he drove away with our tank of gas. I didn’t know exactly how we were going to get our gas away from the guy at the pump, but I ran outside. Dad was still standing among the crowd at the counter, trying to figure out what happened. The cashier had shut off the pump as soon as we realized the mistake and fortunately the pump guy was on his way into the mini mart to find out why the pump stopped at $40 and change. I was glad that he didn’t get in his vehicle and peel out of the parking lot because I wasn’t sure how we were going to give chase before we filled up the car.

I explained to pump guy what happened, but he was sure his card was charged, so there was a bit more debate with the cashier about whose card had been authorized first, and the waiting crowd at the counter grew larger and more agitated. Pump guy yelled that it was the cashier’s fault for not looking out the window and checking the pump before she authorized Dad’s credit card. The cashier yelled that it wasn’t her job to check. Pump guy repeated that it was, and Dad, who by now realized what had happened, tried to make himself heard above the din to explain that he was to blame for not picking the right pump number. I was just trying to figure out how to get our $40+ from pump guy, get some gas from the correct pump, pick up some food, and get on our way. Eventually pump guy gave us the cash and Dad used it to pay for our gas. I was grateful that we didn’t run into more trouble with pump guy, and you would think that our encounter ended there, but I wandered to the back of the mini mart where the hot takeout food case was located and found myself standing in line next to pump guy and his wife and kids. Pump guy’s wife began singing the praises of the jalapeno corn dogs and the whole pump family gave me their evaluation of everything inside the case. They had no opinion on the chicken salad I was holding. I felt almost obligated to give the jalapeno corn dogs a try just out of gratitude for the easy resolution to the gas pump fiasco. As we awkwardly walked to our respective cars together, pump guy repeated his opinion that it was the cashier’s fault, I said that it was probably Dad’s fault, and we drove our separate ways.

Our next stop was Brenda and Andrew’s house in Boise. When we were planning this trip, Dad suggested possibly staying at their house that night. Dad had the assignment to do the asking part. Time passed, and when he called to nag me about other arrangements for the trip, I asked if he had talked to Brenda yet. No, he wanted to wait because Brenda just had a baby and it seemed too much to ask. Finally I started looking at the Boise hotels and realized that I had enough Country Inn points to stay in Boise for free, so I went ahead and made the reservation. I told Dad that we could go and visit Brenda and her family, but we would stay at the Country Inn. He seemed fine with that decision.

Back to this first day of the trip, somewhere between Twin Falls and Boise Dad suggested that we should just keep driving and get to Cristie’s place today. At first I said no, we already have this room reservation, and it’s still so far to go, but the more I thought about it, the more I liked the idea of getting the driving over with and having more time to spend at Cristie’s. We arrived at Brenda’s house; I hadn’t been there before and their house is so nice and the boys were so cute. Brenda even got the baby out of bed so we could hold him. That’s sacrifice, waking a sleeping baby! After relaxing for a few minutes I decided that I really liked the idea to keep driving to Cristie’s place, so I stepped outside and called the hotel to see if we could cancel and still get my points back. They said we could, so we were set! Dad tried to claim that he was just kidding when HE suggested we do this, but there was no turning back! The room was canceled! Cute little Keagan kept asking us if we would stay and eat dinner with them, and I kept saying we couldn’t, we had to get going, but it was so comfortable sitting and chatting with Brenda, Andrew, and the boys that we were still there when it was time to eat. There is no dragging Dad out the door when there’s food on the table, so we ate dinner and then drove on our way.

The drive took longer and was harder than I thought it would be. When we stopped in Pendleton to get gas we still had over 300 miles to go, and I was feeling a bit weary. I wasn’t necessarily tired, but I was eager to get there and get this over with. If I could have changed my mind about staying somewhere, I would have, but it was much too late! When I sent Cristie a text telling her how much further we had to go, she responded that they were going to bed and to call when we were getting near. That’s when I realized that they still had school the next day. If I had realized that, we probably wouldn’t have kept driving, but it was too late now! I regretted it even more when we hit fog further down the road. I hate driving in fog, it’s so scary! I tried not to think about any critters that might jump out in the road, too (wishing for that deer navigation area right about then). We kept going. Dad was falling asleep, so I decided I would plug in my iPod and listen to one of my own audiobooks (we had been making the usual attempts to listen to Dad-approved audiobooks on the trip without a lot of success). I would use my earbuds (actually just one of them). The problem was, the earbud case was in my purse, which was behind Dad’s seat. I reached behind him and carefully managed to tug the purse free without disturbing anyone (you know who). I rummaged through the purse and found the earbud case. Yay! Unfortunately, as I was trying to put the purse back behind the seat again, I managed to smack Dad in the head with it, waking him up completely. Game over! And I had been SO careful when I pulled it up front! After that, instead of going back to sleep, Dad would sit quietly for a while until I started to relax. Then he would make a really loud >>YAWN!!<< sound and about startle me out of my seat. After a couple hours of that, I was ready to ROCK him to sleep (you know, with rocks).

We finally arrived at Cristie’s place at 3:00 AM. We unloaded the car, staggered to our respective rooms, and collapsed. Everybody, that is, except Cristie. By then it was about time for her to get up and get ready to go drive the school bus! Poor Cristie!

Stay tuned for more …

Monday, July 19, 2010

Adventures with Grandpa -- Trip to Washington 2010 Chapter 1

Okay, it’s time that I get busy on the latest chapter in the continuing saga of my “Adventures with Grandpa.” This one was quite an endeavor, the main purpose being to drive up to Washington for Amanda’s high school graduation. To be honest, I had not really been looking forward to the trip – 2,800 (okay, 2,796) miles of driving from a Thursday to a Tuesday – but all of the stops ended up being a lot of fun, so all was well!

My part of the trip began on Wednesday evening, June 16. I had planned to have everything in the car, packed and ready to go before I left for work Wednesday morning. Then I was going to drive up to Caliente right after work so that Dad and I could be ready to leave for the first part of the trip, to Boise, on Thursday morning.

The closer the departure date came, though, the more I thought that maybe I should just stay in Las Vegas overnight on Wednesday. I figured I could get up early on Thursday morning and drive to Caliente to pick up Dad and then onwards to Idaho. When I left the office on Tuesday evening I had pretty much decided that I wasn’t going to leave until Thursday morning. I mean, why unload everything for a few hours of sleep? Might as well do it Thursday morning! (I think I may have been trying to delay the departure just a tiny bit.) That idea stayed with me until Dad called when I was walking from my office to the parking lot that Tuesday evening. By the time I got home, Dad had convinced me that I had to drive to Caliente on Wednesday night. He said I could just sleep in my clothes and not unpack anything at all. I didn’t quite take it that far, but I guess he was right that I didn’t have to unpack everything. I would just put the stuff for that one night in a separate bag. I was up half the night Tuesday night packing everything and I hauled everything to my car on Wednesday morning so that I could leave after work.

I had planned to leave the office early on Wednesday. I filled the car with gas during my lunch hour. Cary, my boss, usually leaves at least an hour early, and I figured I could follow him out of the building, just as long as I didn’t beat him out of the parking lot. Of course, since that was my plan, Cary didn’t leave early. It happens every time! Finally at about 5:45 I told him I needed to leave, and I left. Before I even got to the freeway, Dad called, wanting to know how far away I was. I told him I just left, that I said I was leaving after work. I guess he forgot that I work until 6:00, not 5:00. Anyway, I was on my way.

Seconds after I arrived at Dad’s house, Cory, Melissa, and their three cute little boys arrived. Apparently they had driven past earlier and I wasn’t there yet, so they drove around the block and when they passed by the second time, I was there. By the time I returned from the bathroom, Dad had called Kevin and Ann and they arrived. It really made me feel loved, that they all came to see me before we left. (Maybe they wanted one last glimpse of me while I was still sane.) Anyway, I had a great time talking with them and playing a bit of hide and seek with Hafen.

The company left and we went to bed. I set the alarm on my cell phone for 5:00 AM. (Reader alert: this is probably TMI [Too Much Information], but here I go anyway.) As I mentioned earlier, I packed a tote bag with the bare essentials for that day of driving. When I was getting ready to leave that morning, I was horrified to realize that I had forgotten to put deodorant in my tote bag. It was in my suitcase, but that was buried somewhere in the car. I crept upstairs to Dad’s bathroom, hoping that I could find some there, but I had my doubts. Years ago I made the mistake of putting a stick of deodorant in Dad’s Christmas stocking. He was offended. He has never used deodorant in his life, he said, and what am I saying, that he smells bad? Of course I had to do the ole soft shoe and reassure him that I didn’t mean anything by it, I didn’t realize that he didn’t use it, of course he never smells bad, that Santa had made a big mistake, and I quickly took it back and tossed it in with Jared’s haul. So, based on that experience, I knew my only hope of finding deodorant in Dad’s bathroom was if Mom had left some behind. I poked around Dad’s bathroom with no success. All I could find was a can of Lysol spray. I sprayed a small squirt under each of my arms and hoped for the best. I’m happy to report that (as far as I could tell), it worked! So, I guess I have invented a new deodorant – Lysol!

We planned to leave at 6 AM, and it was actually about that time when we were going out the front door. Dad paused a bit and wondered what he might be missing. I asked him if he had his hearing aid. He said, “It’s here somewhere.” I told him, “That’s fine, but you aren’t allowed to get cranky if you can’t hear me.” Then we went on with the last-minute check list. Did he have his glasses? Check. Tooth brush? Yep. Pajamas? Oops, Dad meant to get those but forgot them. As he pulled open a drawer to pull out a pair, he mumbled that he doesn’t sleep in them anyway, he just sleeps in his underwear. I told him yeah, I like to sleep in my underwear, too, but people often object when I’m sitting down for breakfast like that. He agreed with that philosophy and stuffed his pjs into his duffle bag. (I know, TMI again, huh?)

ODOMETER 158: leaving Caliente.
Just past Pioche, after I had repeated and reworded something I already said a half dozen times, I reminded Dad about the rule about not getting cranky if he couldn’t hear me when I talk. He tried to claim that it also meant that I can't get cranky if he keeps saying, “Huh?” I said NO, that wasn't written in the rules! After thinking on that for a moment, he dug out his hearing aid and put it in his ear. Hurdle one crossed! (Unfortunately it’s a hurdle that wasn’t crossed just once.)

After we passed Wells, we hit some unfortunate delays. There were several areas where the highway was limited to one lane and we had to sit and wait for our turn to be guided through the area. We could see that they were building overpasses that went over the highway and some places where a pathway was being dug out under the highway, but there were no roads, railroad tracks, or even a river bed at those areas, so I couldn’t figure out what they were doing. Dad noticed a lot of fencing that he said was deer fence. Then I spotted a sign. They were putting in some “deer navigation areas,” and I’m not kidding, they were putting in all of that so the deer could cross the road! Now I’ve seen everything.

In between deer navigation delays, we passed the area where we wrecked our family car, where I almost drowned. I was just a baby, sleeping on the front seat between Mom and Dad. My brothers were asleep in the back seat. We were driving in the pouring rain, and when Dad tried to pass a truck, the car slipped off the road and rolled into a ditch. The driver of the truck Dad was passing stopped, but he wouldn't help Dad get all of us out of the wrecked car. He did, however, give us a ride to the closest gas station. The gas station building was still there, but it looked old and abandoned. I could just picture us there, wet and standing in the rain while Dad used the pay phone to call for help.

Also, the sight of the deer fence reminded Dad of one of his favorite deer hunting experiences. He was out hunting with a friend, I think Dad said his last name was Edwards, so I’ll just call him Ed. Anyway, Dad told Ed to drop him off at the bottom of a hill and to drive to the top and wait for him; Dad said he would send the deer up to where Ed would be waiting. In truth, “nature” was calling and Dad had other plans before he did any deer herding. While Dad was taking care of business, a deer wandered past. Dad pulled out his gun and shot the deer while squatting there with his pants down! I know, I know. TMI. It just seems like such a John Wayne moment, though …

More to come!