Our Honeymoon Part 4

Inside Carlsbad Caverns
Inside Carlsbad Caverns

I should probably speed up the narrative of our honeymoon trip. Today is Part 4 and we’re only nearing the half way point. Yes, compression is in order. But I don’t want to skip any of the interesting points. Bear with me.

Luckily the next day’s drive was a short one, so starting late was not a problem. We started very late, like around noon. We were only on the road for around three hours when we got to Carlsbad, New Mexico. We both wanted to visit Carlsbad Caverns. Cindy had been there before, but I had not. It was one of the places on my wish list. Since we arrived in Carlsbad in mid-afternoon, we opted to get a motel room and spend the night before going to the caverns. Cindy was happy to find a Motel 6. It wasn’t nearly as nice as the one in El Paso, but Cindy was pleased.

Cindy told me that it was always cool on the caverns, and that I would need a jacket. I hadn’t packed a jacket. We decide to go shopping while we were out finding a restaurant for dinner. As luck would have it, we found a small shopping mall wherein a J.C. Penny store was the anchor. So we went into the store and bought me a lightweight jacket. Then it was off to dinner.

We returned to the motel after dark. The light at our door was lit and had attracted around a hundred moths. People think that bats are the most numerous in Carlsbad. Nope, it is the moths. I tried to shoo the moths away from the door while we entered, but a dozen or more made it into the room with us. They were our companions for the night.

The next day we went to the caverns and signed on for a guided tour. As we started the tour Cindy found that a few things had changed since she was last there. For instance, smoking was not allowed. Cindy’s attitude toward the tour changed completely. We had been at the back of the pack, but she started double-timing and soon passed the guide. I started regretting wearing the jacket since I was trying to keep up with her. Soon I was bathed in sweat. So much for a cool cavern.

Some of the trail through the caverns was pretty steep. Cindy bent into her walking, and at times looked like Groucho Marx in an early film with his brothers. Occasionally she would come to a panting halt and I would be able to take a picture like the one above. I am proud of the pictures I took in the cavern, because I had no flash and was only using the light supplied by the park.

We arrived at the bottom area where there was a food stand. I think smoking must have been allowed there, because we stayed long enough to eat a hot dog and drink a soft drink. Rather than walk out of the cavern, Cindy chose to ride the elevator to the top.

Since we had a truncated trip in the caverns, we climbed into the car and drove to just south of Santa Fe, New Mexico, where we spent the night…with no moths.

Our Honeymoon Part 3

Heading into a storm
Heading into a storm

I remember taking this picture in Texas while Cindy was driving. It looked ominous up ahead, but we couldn’t drive out of the storm’s path. We were lucky in that it turned out to be only a brief downpour.

***

We left Dallas the next day and moseyed on down to El Paso, encountering no problems. I remember that at one point I looked over at Cindy and saw a sombre face. It was then that I realized that neither of us had smiled in the past three days. I mentioned it to Cindy and she agreed. That seemed to loosen the mood, and soon we were actually enjoying the trip.

When we got to El Paso we found and checked into a Motel 6, Cindy’s favorite motel chain. This was actually a pretty nice Motel 6, clean rooms and an outdoor pool. Cindy inveigled me into going to the pool with her. We spent a long time soaking in the water and setting in deck chairs. After a while we went back to our room to change for dinner.

We went searching for a restaurant that we found in the Yellow Pages, but gave up after driving around for a half hour or more. We settled on stopping at a German restaurant that was just down the street from our motel. I wish I could remember the name of the place, because it was the best German food that I had been able to find since I got out of the Army. It was great!

The next morning I awoke with one of the most uncomfortable sunburns that I have ever had. I knew that there was no way that I would be able to sit in a car all day, so we extended our stay in El Paso for another day. I could however stand a short drive across the border into Ciudad Juarez. So off we went.

Once we crossed the bridge I was desperately driving, looking for a shopping district where we could pick up some souvenirs for the kids and friends back home. As we were sitting at a stop light, a little man riding a bicycle pulled up beside us and asked Cindy if we were looking for a place to buy souvenirs. She waffled a bit, but said yes. He then told us to follow him, and he would lead us to a good shop.

I followed his bicycle as he weaved through the traffic leading us further from the main streets. Finally he pulled into a dirt parking area and stopped beside a nondescript building. It looked like a very small house. He escorted us into what appeared to be a side entrance. Inside were tables with typical souvenir knickknacks, T-shirts, etc. I chose a T-shirt for me, Cindy found a leather purse, and we picked up a few things for the folks in Indiana. We paid and left the building.

In the parking area the man with the bike came up to us with his hand out. He told us that we were expected to give him 20% of what we had spent. That seemed too much. Cindy told him that people don’t expect that much in the U.S. He started to get angry. I thought of telling him that he was probably getting a decent kickback from the shop owner, but decide that he might not understand that much English, and that there was no need in angering him.

At that point Cindy glanced around and saw two men staring at us. She started to get nervous. She was certain that the men were getting ready to attack us. I looked at them and didn’t feel that they would. I think they were just curious. But Cindy wanted to give the man some money to get rid of him. So I gave him some bills from my wallet (not as much as he wanted), and told him that it was all that we had. He scowled. We got in the car and I drove away. Luckily I remembered how to get back to the main thoroughfare.

When we got to line of cars lined up for border customs I made the mistake of pulling up too close to the car ahead of us. The border guard got upset and ordered me to back up, so I did. I felt foolish. When our turn came, he asked if we had bought anything in Mexico. We told him what we had bought. When Cindy said that she had bought a purse, he said that often drug runners would put drugs into purses and then rob the innocent people who brought them across the border; sometime killing the people.

As we pulled away, Cindy took the purse and opened it. She tore out all of the paper that was stuffed in the purse to give it shape. She was frantic. It didn’t occur to either of us that if the border guard was concerned he would have asked to see the purse. He hadn’t. But we weren’t thinking coherently. As we headed back to the motel Cindy saw a Denny’s Restaurant. Back then Denny’s was Cindy’s comfort restaurant. She begged me to pull in, so I did. The food wasn’t as good as at the German restaurant. But we ate and then drove back to the motel. Tomorrow we were leaving El Paso.

Our Honeymoon Part 2

Where is this?
Where is this?

I don’t know if we were in Missouri, Arkansas or Oklahoma when I took this picture. I do know that I took it because of the clouds and the person in the lower left corner. I wanted him in the picture for scale. I was using my Minolta 35mm camera back then.

***

I should have written all of my memories from our honeymoon a long time ago, because I’m sure that I have forgotten a lot of things that happened. As late as ten years ago I could probably have traced our route on road maps, but now I just know general directions and some of the high points of the trip. I can only offer truncated versions of the journey.

So when I stopped writing the other day, we had stopped and spent the night somewhere in western Illinois, about a half hour drive to St. Louis, Missouri. We safely negotiated St. Louis and started angling south and west. The weather was fine and we were making good time. Then we had a tire blowout. Well, why not? Things had been going too smoothly. I changed the tire, but realized that my spare was old and smooth, so we found a tire repair shop to get the blowout repaired. I was afraid that the entire honeymoon was going to be plagued by unforseen expenses and delays.

The tire was repaired, we ate lunch in a nearby restaurant, and got back on the road in a reasonable amount of time. We continued heading south and west. Now my memory fuzzes over, so bear with me. I know that we travelled through a portion of the Ozark mountains, probably in Arkansas. And I know we went through Oklahoma Hill country, but I’m not sure if we did that all in one day.

The next stop that I remember is when we stopped for the night in Dallas, Texas. We got in late and found a motel somewhat off the beaten track. By off the beaten track I mean that we had to go searching for a restaurant where we could eat dinner. There was nothing near by. We did find a family style restaurant where they served breakfast all day. It was very busy. We ordered and ate. While we were waiting for our bill, the restaurant manager came into the room and announced that the place had been robbed by a person who came in and demanded all of the money in the cash register. We all had to wait until the police arrived. Somewhere between a half hour and an hour later the police still hadn’t shown up. The manager returned and announced that he had gone through all of the paid bills and had determined how much money had been taken, so we could leave. I doubt if the police ever did show up.

In the next installment: More fun in Texas and Old Mexico.

Our Honeymoon Part 1

From our wedding reception
From our wedding reception

This picture was taken at our wedding reception twenty-five years ago. Cindy’s step-father, Clyde, her mother Florence, and grandmother, Gladys are no longer with us. There can be sorrow when looking at pictures from happier times.

***

As you may recall from yesterday’s post, when our reception ended and we were ready to leave on our two-week road trip through the southwest, we realized that neither of us had enough money to get us out of state. We couldn’t go home because our relatives from out of town were spending the night there. So we decided to get a hotel room for the night. There was a problem with that plan. Because it was race day for the Indianapolis 500, and Lafayette is only about an hour from Indianapolis, all of the hotels and motels were packed. Except one hotel. They had one room available due to a cancellation. Of course it was the most expensive hotel in town, but hey, it was our wedding day. I was willing to splurge.

So we checked in, went to our room, and tried to relax. Well, I tried. Cindy went into the bathroom, locked the door, and started crying. They were not tears of joy. She was having second, perhaps third, thoughts about the wisdom of marrying me. She stayed in the bathroom and cried until around 2 a.m. on Monday morning. It was a hell of a wedding night. Marital bliss? Phaw!

At some point Cindy decided that yes, our wedding was the right thing to do. As far as I could tell, the weeping was over. We did not get up the next morning and rush to the bank to secure funds for our getaway. We couldn’t because it was a national holiday, Memorial Day, and the banks were closed. So we went home. Our families were still there, so we ruefully explained that we had spent the night in a local hotel, and wouldn’t be leaving town until after the banks opened on Tuesday.

Cindy took her father aside and told him about the second thoughts that she had Sunday night. His response was that it wasn’t too late to have the marriage annulled. Have I mentioned that he wasn’t my biggest fan? Cindy told him that she wanted the marriage to last.

Since we weren’t leaving, we decided to open our wedding gifts, making notes on who gave us what so that we could send proper thank you notes when we returned to Lafayette. Of course some people gave us money that we added to our honeymoon fund. I enjoyed that part of the day.

As the day went on, various family groups left to go to their own homes. Cindy did not lock herself into the bathroom to cry that entire time. Things were looking up. and fade out…

…fade in on Tuesday morning. Come on. You didn’t expect spicy bits, did you? There are no spicy bits in this blog. We arose and had coffee. I remember thinking that I wished Cindy was in as big a hurry to get on the road as I was. That has been a recurring theme for the past twenty-five years.

We did finally leave the house and drive to the bank. We withdrew enough money to get us through the next two weeks. But we couldn’t leave town yet. We had to stop at the caterer’s restaurant to drop off the cherries and her champagne flutes. While we were there we ate breakfast and chit chatted with the caterer. I saw that as another delay, but I think Cindy saw it as a way of life.

I believe that it was noon or later before we finally left Lafayette. I’m leaning towards later, because we only made it to western Illinois before we called it a day and stopped to spend the night in a motel. and fade out…

May 27, 2015

And they're off
And they’re off

I don’t know who took the picture at our wedding. If it was you, please let me know. You need to read around a thousand words before you get to an explanation of what is happening in the picture.

***

Today is Cindy and my twenty-fifth wedding anniversary. Looking back I can only shake my head and wonder where the time has gone. Parts of that day seem as clear as yesterday, while other parts seem hidden behind a dense fog. For instance, it was only when drafting this post that I realized that almost all of my memories of the actual ceremony come from the videos, not from being there. But we do have the videos and still pictures that I can draw upon, as well as picking Cindy’s brain for her recollections.

In 1990, the twenty-seventh fell on a Sunday. It was race day for the Indianapolis 500 auto race. That also means that it was in the middle of the Memorial Day weekend. I don’t know why we chose that date. I do remember thinking that those facts would suppress the turnout for our wedding. That was one of my first errors in judgment.

It was a beautiful day. That’s not just my memory; pictures bear it out. I woke up early in our new home. We had bought the house a few months before, but I had stayed in my apartment in order to set a good example for Cindy’s teenaged children. Check with them so that they can explain how well that exercise went. Cindy had spent the night with friends to prepare for the big day.

We had taken care of all of the arrangements for our wedding. We didn’t have a wedding planner. I’m not sure such an occupation existed back then. Cindy was quite practical (except for the three or four wedding dresses that she bought) and I was cheap. We were both State employees, so there was not a lot of money to spend extravagantly. Also, we had to set funds aside for a two-week honeymoon road trip through the southwest.

We arranged for the wedding ceremony to be in the Presbyterian Church in Dayton, Indiana, which is only a few miles from Lafayette. The ceremony was conducted by Dr. Paul Kitley. We chose the music; Sandy, one of Cindy’s friends, agreed to sing; Cody, the son of another friend, agreed to start the taped instrumentals at the appropriate times; other friends used their video cameras to tape the event, and others took still photos; another of Cindy’s friends, Candy, agreed to cater the reception; I printed the order of service on the blank service forms that we purchased; and I also made three or four tape cassettes of music that we wanted to play at the reception. We got the Moose Lodge for the reception very cheaply because I was a member (a long story that doesn’t belong here). Everything seemed well in hand.

I remember getting up the day of the ceremony, putting on the coffee, and thinking that this was the big one. Family members who were coming from a distance started arriving at the house. More coffee would need to be brewed. My parents, as well as Cindy’s would be staying in our house that night while we left on our honeymoon. My aunt and some cousins came to the house; more coffee was brewed.

I drove over to the Moose Lodge where Cindy, my sister (She Who Must Not Be Named), and Betty (Cindy’s first mother-in-law (another long story that I don’t want to get into in this post)) were setting things up for the reception. The caterer had been in a rush to drop everything off and to get on to their next catering event. It was a larger affair that was paying her more. In her rush she erred by not leaving the potato salad (we went inexpensive by offering cold roast beef and ham, potato salad, etc.) and instead left cherries that were to top the dessert at the other event. Great. The caterer also promised to supply the champagne flutes for the bride and groom. The flutes weren’t to be found. So I left to buy champagne flutes on a Sunday morning in Indiana. Someone else was dispatched to buy a lot of potato chips to replace the salad. We got the reception back on track.

I returned home where I took a shower and got dressed for the wedding. I climbed into my slate gray Firebird (a bachelor’s indulgence) and drove to the church, leading the way for the gathered families. At least I think that I did, because at this point my memory has pretty well faded completely. From this point I am relying on the video for documentation.

There are a lot of people in the videos whom we had invited but didn’t expect to be there. The invitation had been more of an announcement to friends and family that we were actually going to take this enormous step. People came from out of state! My friend Jerry and his daughter Angela drove up from Tennessee! At one point, as people were being seated, the tape overhears Cindy’s grandmother notice Cindy’s father and says to Cindy’s mother, “Why, he can’t sit there.” They were not the best of friends. Of course he could, and did, sit there.

Cindy told me that our friend, Sara, was trying to calm her before the ceremony. Sara, of course, had never been married and had no idea how unnerving a wedding could be. My mother, ever the optimist, had told Cindy that she would believe the wedding would take place when she saw us at the altar. She Who Must Not Be Named told us that she had decided that I was gay because I was in my forties and had never been married. When Cindy had told her father that I had proposed, his response was, “How did you tell him no?” The consensus was that the marriage wouldn’t last because we were so different from each other.

Little things about the ceremony stand out. Cindy was crying (nerves?). Cody fell asleep and missed his cue to start and stop the music for the singer, Sandy (too much partying the previous night?). My voice boomed out during the question/response part of the ceremony (nerves?). The extraordinary length of the final prayer (get it over Dr. Kitley!). Also, if Cindy had been wearing flats she would have set a land speed record for bolting out of the church at the end of the ceremony.

We didn’t stick around long for congratulations and such. In fact Cindy was in such a rush to leave that Trina, Cindy’s daughter, got left in the church parking lot and had to hitch a ride with my friend Hank and his family.

Things went fine at the reception except that we hadn’t anticipated so many people showing up and we ran short of food. Lee, Cindy’s son, who acted as our DJ decided to scrap most of the music tapes that I had made and to go with music that he liked; so long Sinatra, hello AC/DC. Betty spiked the punch and enjoyed it quite a bit. Who would have thought that woman could polka? Cindy and I were able to spend time with our friends and family, some of whom we hadn’t seen in a long time. People started drifting away, and eventually we realized that the reception was over.

Part of the deal we made to get such a cheap venue was that we had to clean up after the reception, so we and a few friends pitched in to get the place back in order. That’s when we found the caterer’s champagne flutes hidden under a table. Well, we could return them along with the cherries. I was surprised to find that the sun was still shining when we opened the door to carry out the trash. We would be able to get some miles on the road before finding a place to stay on the first night of our honeymoon. Great!

And that’s when I remembered that I had been so distracted the previous day that I hadn’t gone to the bank. Twenty-five years ago our bank didn’t offer ATM cards, and the only credit card I had was issued by a gasoline company, to be used only at gas stations. I asked Cindy if she, by any chance, had gone to the bank to withdraw money for our honeymoon. She had not. We were not getting on the road that Sunday evening. Neither were we going home, because our house was filled with parents.

What were we to do? Tune in tomorrow to find out.

Road trip to Bloomington

Yes, That Road
Yes, That Road

When I saw that sign I knew that I had to follow the detour until I could connect with That Road. It never did connect. I was led on by a series of detour signs. At least those roads took me in the general direction that I wanted.

***

 I took a day trip to Bloomington last week. I was lucky in that it was the prettiest day of the week. It was so pretty that I took back roads all of the way. The delays for road work were minimal. It was glorious. I had the foresight to take along a stack of CDs to play on the way down and back. There are few things better than driving along with the windows down and good music playing. I started with The Beach Boys https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=AtLY9oLTGMg. It seemed appropriate.

As I approached Bloomington, this Johnny Rivers song came on https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=IX0yvGDGGeM. It had a calming effect on me, and I slowed to relish the anticipation that was building. It has been a long time since I was last in Bloomington and on the IU campus. I am always surprised at how much things change between visits.

The first thing that I noticed was the new (to me) baseball field. When I had been a student there, the diamond was immediately north of our dorm. Every year there was at least one story circulated, occasionally with names, of a maiden who, on a dark night, had been deflowered on home plate. When the act was consummated, the young woman would then hear applause from students in the bleachers. I know that it was apocryphal. Who would choose home plate, the dustiest part of the field? No; anyone in their right mind would go to right field where the grass is always lush. Anyway, the new field is  now down in the complex along with Assembly Hall and the football stadium.

I went on to the quadrangle where I had lived in the dorms for four years. Not much has changed there, except for the trees. There were only saplings planted there when I was a student. I know that they swapped them out every few years so that there were never fully developed trees. I don’t know why they did that. This year the trees were larger and leafier than I recall. There were areas of shade where before there had only been sunlight.

I got back in my car and headed down to the main part of campus. As a student I would have walked, but those years are long gone. I would have had to make at least three stops for rest if  had tried walking last week. Perhaps I should have walked and rested, because due to work on the streets and new parking restrictions, I could find nowhere to park. I had to skip some of the places I had intended to visit. No fear though, I’ll be going back again later in the summer. I have already made that decision. I’ll be better rested and in better shape when I return.

I went to the south side of town and turned west onto a street heading west. I wasn’t on it long before I came to the sign in the picture. I had to follow the detour, because I had never been on That Road. Maybe I’ll find it next time I go down.

Music on the way back? John Fogarty. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=3I5_zOrji9I

Frustration

It isn't greener!
It isn’t greener!

Leanne Cole’s Monochrome Madness has a theme this week, Fences. In the past few weeks I have taken many pictures of fences to prepare for submission. In each case the picture turned out to be blurred, better in color, or just plain boring. Boring, as in “just plain.” I finally took this picture yesterday with my cell phone. It isn’t a great picture, but it is better than anything else that I came up with. Plus, I like the broken board and the shadows. Leanne will be offering a gallery of monochrome images from all over the world on Wednesday in Australia, Tuesday in the U.S. You should check it out.

***

This is not the post that I planned for today. Rather, this is a post about what I have been struggling to write. I won’t tell you what sparked my initial idea because I haven’t given up on it entirely.

The idea for what I wanted to write came to me in the middle of last week. I had a clear starting point and end point. It was just the middle that was murky. So I started by jotting down some ideas of what I wanted to include. Unfortunately I decided to leave it there and to start the draft the following day. Bad idea.

That night I had a strange dream and decided that I needed to write about it before the details slipped away. I was happy with the dream post and knew that I had my notes for my more important post, so I was content to let it slide another day. In fact, when I gave it some thought I realized that my final point was petty and that I needed to make drastic changes. So I jotted down different notes for the middle and the end, and left it for the following day.

I got up the next day and did some outdoor chores because the weather was so nice. That afternoon I settled down at the keyboard to knock out a first draft for the post. I wanted to keep my starting point and that part came easy. But then when I started on the middle section, my mind and fingers took control and veered away from my plan and started a unnecessary rant. What? Where did that come from, and why? I clearly needed to give more thought to this subject, so I put the draft away for another day.

I worked on the draft the following day. I could not come up with a way to make it work. Every time I started to write the focus became unclear because there were so many different ways to take the post. I considered breaking the post in two and publish on consecutive days. I wondered if I could do an Alexandrian Quartet number and write about the same event from different points of view, with different reactions. Maybe I should just scrap the whole idea.

Then I caught a break because my granddaughter’s dance recital happened and I was able to write about it yesterday. The thought of working on the other draft just made my brain fuzzy, so I didn’t work on it at all. This morning I knew that I couldn’t even cobble together a good draft, let alone a finished product.

Well, I haven’t given up on the idea(s) entirely, but I am not close to being ready to publish. Does anyone else have similar problems writing posts? Am I the only one who is so self-absorbed that I agonize over it in writing?