Ah. Memories. I took this short sequence of photos during our first stop while on our second day on the road. I hoped that it wasn’t a foreshadowing of the rest of the trip.
I had originally planned on titling this series of posts A short trip to New Orleans and return but that seemed in retrospect to be misleading…like the first sign in the above album page. You see, based on things Cindy had told me about her previous trips to Louisiana when she visited friends, she had left the impression that they lived in a suburb of New Orleans. They didn’t. In fact they live in Abbeville which according to Google Maps is about a 150 mile drive from New Orleans.
My first clue about the location came when I woke from a nap while Cindy was driving. I had driven all morning and traded off with Cindy after lunch. I woke up in Baton Rouge, Louisiana when we were approaching the bridge that crossed over the Mississippi River heading west. I know enough rudimentary geography to realize that we were heading in the wrong direction if we were going to New Orleans. I pulled out my smart phone and Googled Baton Rouge to Abbeville and found that we were driving in the right direction but still had about 80 miles to travel. That is when I realized that we wouldn’t be spending a lot of time in New Orleans.
We arrived in Abbeville and drove to Barbara’s apartment where we would be staying. After we unpacked the car we drove over to Michael, Jenna and Hudson’s house. Michael had been cooking all day, preparing for our arrival. He was barbecuing ribs, chicken wings, and sausage. In addition there was home-made potato salad and a tossed salad. If there was more, I forgot about it in a cloud of subsequent satiation. It was quite the welcoming dinner.
We ate a lot, and talked a lot. And when we were done, we climbed back into the car and drove back to Barbara’s where we collapsed in exhaustion. Thus ended day 2.
Cindy decided that we had to take a week out of our lives so that we could drive to Louisiana to visit some of her friends. They are special friends. One, Barb, is the sister of Cindy’s best friend, Marilyn, who recently died. The others are Barb’s son Michael and his family. On any other occasion I would love to go to Louisiana, but let’s face it, this trip was going to involve a lot of crying.
I didn’t want this to be a totally lachrymose occasion, so I planned on taking at least one photo each day that had no wet tissues or hankies in sight. I also wanted to document anything that caught my fancy or curiosity.
Day 1 4/10/2017
There were few opportunities to take pictures on the drive down. We were booking it. Do people still say booking it? I took this when we stopped to eat dinner in Southaven, Mississippi. We covered a little over 500 miles on the road that day.
Two things of interest happened on the drive. The first was when we pulled in to the Trail of Tears Rest Stop in Illinois. I knew that the Trail of Tears refers to the forced move of American Indians from their land so that it could be taken by immigrants and children of immigrants. But I couldn’t help but reflect on the fact that the Trail of Tears might also refer to parents taking very young children on their first long car trip.
There were the usual amenities at the rest stop, plus a couple of picnic tables. We had packed the fixings for sandwiches and took this opportunity to have some lunch. Cindy and I alternated using the facilities and insuring that nobody stole our sandwiches. When I was returning from the clean restrooms I noticed a pickup truck in the parking area, and beside it was a girl lying face down on the asphalt. I guessed that she was alright since there were two adults walking around her and the truck. After a bit she popped up onto her feet and walked around smiling. Very curious.
Later during the trip, while Cindy was driving through a part of Arkansas, she determined that we were getting very low on gasoline. It was so low that she decided that she needed to get off of the Interstate at the next exit to fill up the tank. Unfortunately when we got off the Interstate there were no gas stations at the intersection. So we turned east and headed for the nearest town a few miles away. We arrived at the hamlet and found that there were no gas stations there, so we turned around and headed back towards a town west of the intersection.
Before we got to that town Cindy spied a young man walking, so she pulled over to ask him where the nearest gas station was located. He thought for a moment and told us to turn onto a dirt road. He said that we should follow it until it came to a T intersection and to turn right. In a couple of miles we would find a gas station in a town that he named. So off we went down the dirt road. In the meantime I Googled the town he had named. Google told me that we should turn left rather than right when we got to the T intersection. Against her better judgement, Cindy followed Google Maps rather than the young man.
Around ten or twelve miles later we arrived at the location Google Maps had led us to only to find an empty field. In fact, at the arrival Google Maps provided a photograph of the empty field.
By this time Cindy was split between panic at having a gas tank that was almost empty, and anger at me for convincing her to believe in technology. The sensor in her gas tank indicated that she only had enough gas for a few more miles. We started searching frantically for another nearby town with hopes of finding gasoline. We came to another small village with no gas station. We saw a gentleman using a weed whip in his front yard and pulled up to ask him the location of the nearest gas station.
He asked us where we had come from. I told him and emphasized that we just wanted the nearest station. He gave us directions for which we thanked him, and set out on our renewed quest. A couple of miles down the road, the electronic gas tank sensor decided that we were out of gas, but we kept purring along. We went on for another ten miles or so before we got to the gas station where we filled the tank and returned to the Interstate highway.
Cindy praised God for keeping the car running. At first I thought that maybe it was similar to the fishes and loaves, but upon reflection realized that it was more akin to the Hanukkah Miracle concerning the oil that fueled the Temple’s menorah. I, on the other hand, decided that the sensor was faulty and that we couldn’t trust it to be accurate. You can decide for yourself.
I took this picture on the road back to Lafayette from Rolling Prairie. Using back roads allowed me to do some thinking and composing in my mind.
My mother was buried yesterday. It was a sad day. And at the risk of being considered a bad son, it was a day about which I have conflicting feelings. Of course, I am sad that my mother is dead. But when I consider the quality of her life for the past months, I am happy that she is no longer mentally and physically distressed.
Quite a while back I wrote about the hallucinations she was experiencing; and I found amusement in them. As time passed the hallucinations became a larger part of her life; and I found them less amusing. That was when I stopped writing about her. At the end the hallucinations were her only reality; and they were a mystery to us. The only things we were sure about was that she saw and spoke to her brothers and sisters who were already dead, and that she was very upset about what she was seeing and hearing.
She was exhausted from lack of sleep. The last time that I saw her she would close her eyes and appear to sleep, only to take a few shallow breaths, open her eyes, and say, “Oh, My God!” It was as if she was in a perpetual nightmare. She could only sleep with the aid of a prescribed soporific.
She lived with my sister, who took care of her, for the past thirteen years. My sister is a better person than I am, because I don’t believe I could have done that. It was not always easy to get along with my mother. I know where I inherited my pig-headedness and feeling that I am always right. I did not inherit it from my father. In that respect, at least, I am my mother’s son.
Maybe that is one reason why my mother showed a preference for me over my sister. I never understood why that was, I just accepted it. And yet, it was my sister who cared for my mother daily for all of those years. I hope that my sister can now devote her time to enjoying her life with her husband and daughter. She deserves at least that much.
I’ll miss my mother’s weekly, occasionally daily, phone calls. Of course, my sister told me yesterday that she will take over that duty. I can hardly wait.
This was our last day in Las Vegas for this year. Well, it was our last half day because we were getting anxious to start homeward. We weren’t so anxious that we were eager to say goodbye to Lee, Michelle and Wyatt. That is never easy. If only they were unlikable; but such is not the case
We packed the car and checked out of the time share. From there we drove again to Lee and Michelle’ s home. We chatted a bit and then followed them to a restaurant for a farewell meal. As usual, the food was very good.
Lee and Michelle encouraged us to visit Sedona, Arizona on our trek home. I had wanted to visit Prescott, Arizona and they weren’t very far apart. I have to admit that I had no interest in Prescott until I watched the movie Junior Bonner and the location caught my fancy. I know it sounds silly, but there you are.
Eventually, however, we did have to get on the road, so we said our goodbyes and hit the road for Arizona. Shortly after we crossed the state line, we came to the Lake Meade Recreation Area. We stopped there to explore the gift shop and to use the facilities. We both bought fluorescent lime green T-shirts. Then it was back on the road. where we headed east and south towards Sedona and Prescott.
Cindy had decided that we should spend the night in Sedona, and perhaps all of the next day based on the kid’s recommendation. (So technically they aren’t kids, they are adults, but to me they will always be kids.) It started to sound like Prescott was going to be crossed off of our itinerary. Ah well, it was only a whim of mine.
As I drove south on Highway 89, watching to turn onto Highway 89A, Cindy started an online search for motels in Sedona. I have to admit that the prices she was finding were a bit stiffer than we expected. We discussed our options and decided to drive south of the turnoff and go on into Prescott for the night. It wasn’t that much farther, and I would get to see Prescott.
Once the decision was made and we were approaching Prescott, Cindy proceeded to fall asleep. I made it to Prescott without any problem, but left to my own navigation, I got lost within the city limits. I drove around, saw some lovely scenery, and then gave up and found a place to park while I searched for a motel on my smart phone and employed the GPS navigation. Cindy awoke and helped me find the motel. We checked in as dusk was approaching.
I asked the clerk for a recommendation for a place to eat dinner. He told us about a place, Bill’s Grill, about a mile from the motel. The place didn’t look like much from the outside, but the food was some of the best we had while on the road. Cindy had the Teriyaki Chicken with Jasmine Rice, and I had The Baked Hoki in an almond/parsley sauce with the Jasmine Rice. Both were excellent and the price was reasonable.
We returned to the motel, watched a little TV, and had a good night’s sleep.
As I said in my post about Day 8, I made no notes about our week in Las Vegas; and my memory of that week is jumbled (to say the least) and fuzzy. So I am doing just one short post about that entire week. I’m afraid that will have to suffice.
I did manage to get up each morning and go for a walk. Mornings before the heat became unbearable were the best part of the day as far as the weather was concerned. Spending time with friends and family, not talking about what was happening in our house was the truly best part of each day. It was tough getting through an hour or two without a phone call or a text or an email about our house.
So during the week on the insurance front there was:
No return phone call from our insurance agent.
An insurance adjuster called and said that our Gold Star (that’s their name for it) policy would only cover $5,000 dollars of damage.
We were told that if we found evidence of a broken valve somewhere we could file a separate claim for more coverage, but at that point the insurance company would drop us.
The insurance adjuster told us that we should stop trying to contact our agent because she would not be returning our calls.
That is when I decided that when this is over I shall be writing a scathing letter to our agent and the president of the company telling them what I think of their so-called customer service. They won’t be winning me back with a mass produced Happy Thanksgiving Day card.
There may have been other insurance developments, but those are the ones that stick in my mind and in my craw.
On the happier side, we were able to spend a lot of time with Lee, Michelle and Wyatt. I think we celebrated Wyatt’s birthday three times that week. One of the celebrations was at a pool at our timeshare. At that rate, Wyatt is going to grow up to be like his Grandma Cindy who celebrates a birthmonth rather than a birthday.
One night Cindy cooked dinner at Lee and Michelle’s home. Mary brought along a bottle of wine. I didn’t know that Lancers was still available. Mary seemed to think that it was an excellent vintage. She also enjoyed Cindy’s and Michelle’s selections. Mary once again tried to prove that in vino veritas is a constant. I was glad on the drive back to the timeshare that we kept the paper towels in the car.
We usually take in at least one show when we’re in Vegas, but this time we didn’t make it. We attempted to see a play, but it was sold out. So, we went to the movies twice. First we saw Sully, in which Tom Hanks put in another fine performance. Later in the week we saw Hell or High Water. I hadn’t heard anything about that movie, but I really enjoyed it. Cindy and Lee expressed displeasure at the lack of a concrete ending, though Cindy later changed her mind. I liked the open-ended conclusion.
Mary and George left on Friday so they could get home to spend time with Mary’s son who was on leave from the army. We drove them to the airport and bid them farewell.
That’s about all I remember from Monday though Saturday of that week.
Let me start with a confession. After we got the news about our plumbing disaster, I stopped making notes for future blog posts. Oh, I made a couple on the trip home, but not while we were in Las Vegas. I didn’t even take any pictures for the first few days of our week in Sin City. Most of the pictures I did take were of our youngest grandson, Wyatt. This is the first picture I took after our arrival three days earlier. End of confession.
You may be wondering why we didn’t immediately turn around and drive back to Indiana. That’s a legitimate question. First, Trina and JR were back there, looking after our interests; and Trina encouraged us to stay and try to enjoy our vacation. Second, Cindy had gone online with her laptop the previous evening and had filed our claim with the homeowners insurance policy that we had been paying into for twenty-six years. She had also called our Insurance Agent and left a voice mail asking her to call us back immediately. Third, we wanted to see Wyatt who would be celebrating his third birthday while we were in Las Vegas. And fourth, we had friends flying in from Indiana who would be staying at the time share with us. What could we do in Indiana? So we drove to Las Vegas.
The drive from Kingman, Arizona to Las Vegas, Nevada takes approximately ninety minutes. We were both anxious to get on the road, so we skipped the free continental breakfast, and instead got coffee and breakfast sandwiches from a fast food place. Cindy even let me drive, so I was very careful through the somewhat mountainous stretches.
Cindy called ahead to our time share to find out when we could check in. They told her 4 p.m., which meant we would be waiting a long time once we got to Vegas. So we called Lee and he told us to come to his house to wait. That was good.
When we arrived, Wyatt was taking a nap and would be down for quite some time…we were not to disturb him. So we sat and talked to Lee about what was going on back in Indiana and in Las Vegas. Mary and George’s flight from Indiana would be coming in later in the day. After a while I started to get antsy, and though it was only 2 p.m., I decided to leave Cindy with Lee and drive to the time share to see if we could get in earlier. When I got there, I was happy to learn that we could get in immediately. So I checked in, got key cards for all of us, drove to our building, and unpacked the car. It felt good to be doing something useful.
The rest of the day is pretty much a blur to me. I drove back to Lee and Michelle’s. Later Cindy and I went to the airport to pick up Mary and George. We took them to the timeshare, and we went out to eat. That’s about it for my memory.
I took this photo last week when the sun had only been up for about an hour. It is one of my favorite times of day to take pictures because of the shadows that you get on sunny mornings. I have a few more pictures that I took on that morning, and I’ll be sharing some of them here.
I have always enjoyed being compared to my father. He was the finest person I have ever known. I don’t really enjoy being compared to my mother. She has some flaws. But I have to admit that I have some of those same flaws. For instance, yesterday I started coughing, which is not an unusual thing, but I felt a sharp pain in my upper right side. Being (partially) my mother’s son, my first reaction was “LUNGCANCER!!” However, upon twenty-four hours of reflection, and mentally going over my final bequests, I have decided that it is more likely that I pulled a muscle doing yard work. That is my father’s influence kicking in.
Like it or not, we are all products of the people who are around us when we are growing up. I suppose that means that even my sister, She Who Must Not Be Named, had some influence over whom I became. That’s enough to give one pause. In fact, I’ll probably not sleep much tonight as I start trying to figure out what I may have picked up from her.
Trina and Lee, Cindy’s children, had already received their imprinting from their parents and various grandparents before I came on the scene, so I can claim nothing good nor bad in their characters. The grandchildren? I don’t see that I’ve had much influence on them…certainly not the girls. Perhaps a little with our older grandson, Mason…the good stuff only, of course. Only time will tell.
To think; this blog post grew out of a simple cough. Hmm.