To Las Vegas and back 2016 – Day 4

Got lost, found this
Got lost, found this

The next morning we got up, packed the car, and had another continental breakfast with the motel owner/manager. Once again she complained about her workload and the help she had. After listening to her awhile it seemed clear why she couldn’t get and keep good help. She only trusted herself to do things the right way. Cindy once again commiserated with her, and went so far as to say that she and her business partners might come to a conference in Eureka Springs in the spring of 2017. She told her that if they came, they would stay at her motel.

We finished our breakfast, got in the car, and after getting slightly lost on a back road, we drove into Oklahoma. After looking at the map we decided to head to Claremore and visit the Will Rogers Memorial Museum. Cindy and I both loved it. We also both learned new things about him. I didn’t know that he had worked as a cowboy in other countries. We were both impressed with his roping skills. We ended up spending a couple of hours in the memorial museum. It is a memorial as well as a museum because Rogers, his wife, and his children are interred there. We ate a simple lunch from our cooler while sitting in our car in the parking lot. Then it was back on the road.

While we were driving though Oklahoma I saw the first of many animals for which I couldn’t get a picture, a coyote. I knew it was a coyote because there is at least one that lives in Lafayette, and I have seen it a number of times. Still, I would have enjoyed getting a photo of this one.

We stopped to spend the night in Stillwater, OK. We had driven to the west side of town to find a motel, and then turned around and drove back to the east side of town to find a restaurant for dinner. Well, we got to see the east/west axis of Stillwater.

We had stopped early that day so that we could get a room and eat dinner before we settled in to watch the Trump/Clinton town halls. All I will say about the broadcast is that questions were left unanswered, credulity was taxed, and we were both dissatisfied. I’m sure that you drew your own conclusions. We watched some more TV and then drifted off to slumberland in order to be rested for the following day.

To Las Vegas and back 2016 – Day 3

On a backroad near Eureka Springs
On a back road near Eureka Springs

We slept well and woke up later than usual. We went to the motel office to partake of the free continental breakfast. The breakfast wasn’t bad compared to some others we have encountered over the years. Cindy made friends with the motel owner who came in to talk while we ate. Rather she complained about how hard she had to work and the incompetence of the few employees who worked there.  What a cheerful start to the day this was. Cindy commiserated with the owner and they traded business cards.

We went back to the room where Cindy proceeded to take out her laptop and started working on things for her business. Wait. Isn’t this supposed to be a vacation? Well, Cindy felt the need to get some work done for her business, and I wasn’t about to argue with her. We made plans to go to the downtown area of Eureka Springs that afternoon to check out the shops and perhaps do some shopping. Believe it; I’m a man and I like to shop…occasionaly.

I took the car and went searching for pictures to take. I took a few, but there was a lot of traffic even on the back roads, so I was limited. I really like this photo because I think it is a picture of a disappearing part of America. Or maybe that’s just the codger in me talking.

That afternoon I tore Cindy away from work long enough to take a guided tour of Eureka Springs’ Downtown and Underground. The underground was mainly in building basements with opportunities to duck our heads into a couple of the tunnels that used to be used by organized crime figures in the 1920’s and 1930’s. We learned that Main Street was also known as Mud Street for many years because the unpaved street were muddy from all of the spring water that ran down and covered them. The town has actually been built up several feet so that what used to be street level rooms in the buildings are now basements. It was so hot on the tour that my shirt was soaked

This is a town that I love. It is filled with Victorian architecture and has a diverse population filled with a variety of people. One of the people we met is a woman who manages a store filled with erotic lingerie and adult toys. She is a devout woman who sprinkles her talk with references to blessings and prayer. And before you say anything, I wasn’t aware of the type of store it was before we entered. Cindy, however, had met the woman many years ago and they have a mutual friend.

It was so hot that day that my shirt was soaked with sweat before the tour was finished. The heat kept Cindy from wanting to do any more exploring of the downtown, so we left. We went back to the motel where I changed my shirt, and then went out to eat dinner at a little place where fried chicken and fish were the main selections. They also had a variety of stir fry selections and I chose the yellow curry stir fry. Very good. We returned to our room, watched a little TV and had a good night’s sleep.

To Las Vegas and back 2016 – Day 2

View from the Rock House
View from the Rock House

Our second day of vacation was nowhere near as exciting as our first. There were no plumbing emergencies, and there were no texts from panicky people. It was a good day for exploring the non-Interstate highway system of roads that would lead us to our ultimate destination.

Our motel was on the north side of Cairo and the bridge across the Mississippi River that we wanted was on the south side. We drove through Cairo and were surprised by the number of empty buildings. Many of those buildings were architecturally beautiful to my untrained eye. I would like to go back some day to take pictures of those abandoned buildings. It seemed that a once significant town was dying. It was sad to see.

We crossed the bridge and drove into Missouri. There is something about being west of the Mississippi River. The sky seems higher and the horizon further away. There is a sense of gaining elbow room. I get this feeling every time we drive west and cross the river. I’m not sure why, but I don’t have that experience when we fly west. Also, when we fly, we miss seeing all the good bits between home and the destination. I am never in that big of a hurry.

We drove to Mansfield, Missouri where we went through the museum and toured the two homes of Laura Ingalls Wilder, Rocky Ridge Farm and The Rock House. These were her final homes and where she wrote her books. I believe that just about every home she lived in has become a museum/tourist attraction. Certainly every town she had lived in claims her as their own. Cindy and I were both surprised to learn that Laura’s daughter, Rose, was an already famous author when she encouraged Laura to write about her life. Thus were the Little House books born.

I hadn’t read the books, so I was also surprised to find out that some of them were illustrated by Garth Williams. He was the illustrator of the first book that I can remember getting as a gift. The Giant Golden Book of Elves and Fairies was a gift from my Aunt Louise. I still have it. It is a bit battered after all of these years, but I have enjoyed for as long as I have owned it.

From Mansfield we drove to Eureka Springs, Arkansas. On the drive we decided to spend two days in Eureka Springs because we both like it there but hadn’t been there for more than ten years. It is located in a beautiful area of Arkansas. I would consider moving there, but Cindy will never leave the area where the majority of our grandchildren reside. It is just a fact of life.

After checking into a motel, Cindy struck up a conversation with other travellers who recommended The Rowdy Beaver Restaurant and Bar for dinner. That is where we dined. I told Cindy that I wanted to buy one of their T-shirts, but she didn’t think it was appropriate for a man of my age and distinction…I added the distinction part. So we returned to the motel and a good night’s sleep.

To Las Vegas and back 2016 – Day 1

Huckleberry's Pub
Huckleberry’s Pub

We planned on leaving on our road trip to Las Vegas earlier in the day, but got delayed. We were waiting for our house guest (don’t ask) to finish her shower before we left. That’s when I started hearing gurgling in the kitchen sink. That was unexpected. I went into the downstairs bathroom where the sound was louder. Stranger and stranger.

I flushed the toilet; I’m not sure why, and it flowed over onto the floor. That was unexpected. I was able to stop the water flow, but not before it started going through the floor boards and into the basement. That was really unexpected.

I called our plumber but he is semi-retired and no longer works weekends. When I described our dilemma he recommended another plumbing company that would make house calls on Sunday mornings. I made the call to the other company and they told me that they would send a man and that he would charge from the time he arrived. They told me what the charge for the call and the hourly rate would be and I agreed. Did I have a choice? Cindy fled the scene with our house guest to meet friends for breakfast while I waited for the plumber. By that time we had decided to put off leaving until the following day,

After about thirty minutes the plumber called to say he would be there in 25 to 30 minutes. He arrived, pulled the toilet and ran a rootor into the pipes. He thought that there was a partial blockage. He posited that as long as there was only Cindy and I using the plumbing there was no problem, but if we had guests as we had the previous evening (card party) it could cause problems. He said he would email an estimate for the needed work by the end of the week. Then he charged us from the time he called me rather than the time he arrived. I said that I was told that he would only charge from the time he arrived. He said that he would get into trouble with his boss if he did that, but he didn’t charge me for the use of the rooter. He said to go easy on the water usage until the work was done.

I sent a text to Cindy and advised her to come home so that we could leave rather than wait another day. There was nothing that could be done in the way of repairs until we got the estimate and authorized work. We were going to be gone, so it wasn’t extremely urgent.

Cindy came home; we packed the car; she told our house guest to minimize her water usage before she left on Monday (please don’t ask); and we left. In case you are wondering, I had gone to Wal-Mart and had a key to our front door cut for the house guest. It joined at least a half-dozen other keys that Cindy has passed out to friends and family over the years. Our casa is their casa.

We drove south in Indiana and then turned west and drove into Illinois. We stayed off of the Interstate highway system as much as possible and spent the night in Cairo, Illinois. We were lucky to get a motel room due to a reunion and a funeral…I don’t know if they were a combined event. I asked the desk clerk if there were any good nearby restaurants. The clerk told me that they could only think of one restaurant, Huckleberry’s Pub,  in the area that would be open on a Sunday evening, and it was about eight miles north of town.

On the way to the restaurant Cindy got a panicky text message from our house guest. She couldn’t get her house key to work and she needed to get into the house to get to her medications and to use the bathroom…”REMEMBER TO MINIMIZE WATER USAGE,” thought I. Cindy texted back the phone numbers of Trina and Jill who both had keys, and told our house guest to call them. Meanwhile I sent a text to Jill advising her to expect a call (she doesn’t always answer her phone). A few minutes later Cindy got another text from the house guest stating that neither Trina nor Jill answered the phone, so she left voice mail messages. Meanwhile, Cindy and I were asking ourselves if she expected us to drive back to let her in. Cindy got on the telephone to Marilyn, another holder of the key, and asked her to drive to our house to let the house guest in. Marilyn, of course, said she would drive over. Cindy texted the house guest to let her know that Marilyn was on the way. The house guest sent back that she was driving to the nearest convenience store to use their bathroom. Cindy told Marilyn that the house guest might not be at our house when she arrived, but to just unlock the door and leave. Finally the house guest sent a text saying that she was in the house, and was leaving to stay at the home of another person.

We arrived at Huckleberry’s Pub, ate a very good meal, and went back to our motel. It was the end of the first exciting day of our vacation.

2016 Reading Challenge update #4

You have probably noticed that my reading for this challenge has slowed down in the past few months. It is caused by the combination of nice weather which draws me out of the house more often, and the lure of books that don’t meet the challenge criteria. What can I say other than I’m weak. But I haven’t abandoned the challenge completely.

Wrong Information is Being Given Out at Princeton
Wrong Information is Being Given Out at Princeton

J.P. Donleavy’s novel Wrong Information is Being Given Out at Princeton was published in 1998. I came across it on a table full of sale books, which is where I find many of the books I read. It had been a long time since I read anything by Donleavy. I don’t recall if the first thing I read by him was an excerpt from one of his books in Playboy magazine, or if it was The Beastly Beatitudes of Balthazar B, back in the 1960’s. In either case it was while I was a student at Indiana University. I read many of his novels back then but drifted away from them because they all seemed similar. Still decades away from that reading gave me a nostalgic feeling when I saw this book. As I started reading this time, I knew that In was back on familiar territory. It is a fun book, but I won’t be digging out any of the older volumes that I own anytime soon.

Beach Town
Beach Town

For the book by an author I had never read before I chose Beach Town by Mary Kay Andrews. I was looking for something that would be different from anything I would normally read, and this book certainly fit that bill. I assumed that it would be a “summer vacation” type of read. I think it was, but I’m not sure because I seldom pick books for summer reading. I just read like I normally do; i.e. mysteries, thrillers, biographies, history and such. I would describe this as light fiction. No heavy thinking was required, so I breezed through it in a couple of days. It was OK, but I won’t be seeking other titles by the author.


The Immense Journey
The Immense Journey

The book I chose to read from the 1950’s was The Immense Journey by Loren Eisley. I bought this book on a whim at a book exchange in southern Michigan back in the 1970’s. It was a used copy with notes written in the margin by a former owner. It was the first book of essays written by a scientist that I had read. I enjoyed it immensely. I liked it enough that I held on to it even though it was in bad condition. I found that rather than being filled with scientific jargon, it was written in a literate style, that still captures my interest. This book paved the way for me to read books later by Stephen Jay Gould and Lewis Thomas. If you haven’t read The Immense Journey or anything by Gould or Lewis, I recommend them all.


Gin O'Clock
Gin O’Clock

My friend Anju suggested that I read Gin O’Clock by The Queen as part of the reading challenge. She recommended it so highly that she bought the book and had it sent to me. This is a very funny book. It purports to be excerpts from the diary of Queen Elizabeth II, and discloses her utter disdain for politicians, the foibles of her family, and her love of gin. It’s a hoot. I must admit that I had to Google the names of many of the politicians since I don’t closely follow what happens there on a daily basis. I can usually identify the Prime Minister, but that is about it. Now I know much more, and I’m sure that it is all true. I recommend this book to all Anglophiles.