“This Wheel’s On Fire…

rollin’ down the roooooaaad! Best notify my next of kin, this wheel shall exploooode!”

(apologies if you never watched Ab Fab…you’re scratching your head right now) And in case you’ve forgotten the song:

And that, friends, pretty much sums up our latest family vacation.

Yes, my dears, we have survived yet another vacation. Perhaps this is why we waited two years this time? While I will work on links to former vacations to share with you at the end, let’s review this year’s 2017 voyage, shall we?

Let’s begin with the “pre-flight” checklist! As a person who has never, and I repeat never has an uneventful vacation, you would assume that I would be prepared for anything. Typically, I am! If you have ever gone on a trip with me, you will know that I try to keep my emergency arsenal fully stocked.

Scene: A vacation, somewhere in the U.S.:

Friend: Do you have an umbrella? I didn’t think about rain.

Me: Yes, I brought four.

Friend: My button came off! Do you have a sewing kit?

Me: Yes, it’s in my bag.

Friend: I think I’m having a serious reaction to this bug bite!

Me: I have bentonite clay, Benadryl, hydrocortisone cream, lavender essential oil, or an Epi-Pen. Which would you like?

Friend: Oh my gosh, my car won’t start! What am I going to do?

Me: I have a disposable Honda in my purse.

So you see, I am usually pretty well prepared for what comes our way. And as the resident weather nut, you would also assume that I would have packed everything for inclement weather on this trip. I checked the forecast on Saturday and Sunday, and it showed that, by some miracle of God, it would be sunny skies and in the 70s. As I was packing the motorhome, I literally put my hand on my scanner/weather radio and thought, “I should bring this.” But I didn’t bring it, because, it was supposed to be sunny! Warm! Perfect weather! And I also walked right past my mud boots…twice. No, I won’t need those if it’s sunny! No, siree, no boots for me!

Monday: The trip to Arkansas was uneventful, other than a wrong turn in Washington (Arkansas…not the state or D.C., although you can’t rule that out with us). The weather was perfect! We set up camp and ate a hot dog feast, topped off with S’mores. Yay!

Then I decided to check the forecast again.

What was this? Severe weather in two days? Well, of course it was. We can’t go anywhere without a tornado warning. And my scanner and mud boots sat at home in Maydellish, mocking me, saying, “We tooooolllld you so! We knew it! HAHAHAHAHAHA!” I may or may not have said something ugly at that moment.

That night, Jason and Zoe had colds and coughed, sneezed, and hacked their way through the evening. Fortunately, they had mostly resolved by:

Tuesday: Rather uneventful day; no diamonds were found and we were able to walk the nature trail a time or two. Legs were killing me…I am no spring chicken anymore.

Wednesday: We woke up to this:


And so we did this:


I colored a lot and did some bible study. I kept thinking about Psalm 46:10, which begins with “Be still, and know that I am God…”. I am so often NOT still. So with the combination of the torrential downpour, deadly lightning, and being stuck in a 8′ x 34′ box, I was still! All day! And got to reflect on the Bible, which was nice. The rain finally let up about six o’clock in the evening, with no severe weather (WOOHOO),  and we were able to walk around the park before it got too dark.

Thursday (departure day):

We went back to the diamond mine for a last look, and I’m sorry to say that I didn’t bring home anything that was worth more than ten cents. But the searching was still fun and I got some nice garden rocks.

We broke camp at 4pm, and headed back into Murfreesboro. As we stopped at the gas station, a horrible burning smell filled the entire motorhome. Jason quickly determined it was a stuck brake caliper, which could result in many outcomes: An exploding tire, failed bearings, or (the best one) a fire. Fires and motorhomes don’t go very well together, in case you were wondering. We managed to make it to a local auto store just before they closed. The man was kind enough to lend us a couple of “c-clamps” and told us to just mail them back. Can you believe it? I called the park to make sure there were vacancies available and sure enough, there were several. Like a scene from Groundhog Day, we went back the the park and plugged in while Jason started working on the RV.

If you have never been to Murfreesboro, let me explain that it is a precious little town, but very little to it. And very little around it. For many miles. And if you are looking for a rental car, well buddy, you are straight up outta luck. Weighing the options, it would be best if Jason could fix the brakes enough to get us home. And so:


I got to be the faithful mechanic ‘nurse’; holding the light, fetching tools, pumping the brakes and turning the steering wheel. After about two hours of sweating, greasy stains, and possibly a curse word or ten, he had resolved the issue enough for us to limp home! Hurray!!!

By this time, it’s a little after seven and starting to grow darker. I put on some truckin’ tunes (Jerry Reed, Dan Seals, a song about Bertha the Truck Drivin’ Queen, etc.) and we rolled along.  As we passed under the final overpass into Texas, I lost it. Through tears, I broke out into “Texas, Our Texas” with my hand over my heart, and somewhere in the distance an eagle cried in unison. No one was prouder at that moment to be a native Texan and back on her native soil.

Truly, this is the loveliest sight:


There is such a stark difference between Arkansas and Texas. From the moment you cross into Texas, there are stores! There are restaurants! And, praise the dear sweet Lord, there is a Chick-Fil-A! A chicken sandwich with pickles, waffle fries, and lemonade never looked so good! I may have blubbered just a tad as I placed my order.

Everything was going so well…and then we got hit with the “Texarkana curse”, which is what happens almost every time we try to leave Texarkana. We missed a turn. We were so elated at having found the road to 59 south (HOME!!!) that we didn’t pay attention and missed what is essentially a tiny side street exit. Ten minutes later, Jason screamed, “Welcome to Arkansas?!?!!!!”

Oh, Arkansas, with your confusing roads! You have stumped us yet again!

I had failed at my navigator role! I had to lead us, with a limping vehicle, mind you, through the back streets of Texarkana late at night. Through the old industrial districts, with their liquor stores and their barred windows of all places! Would Texarkana never end? At a critical turn, the brand new Keurig decided to jump off of the counter and hit the floor with the most God-awful crash you have ever heard in your life. You could smell the stress! Finally, I got us BACK to 369 and to 59 south. We got home a little before 2am and I have that home never looked so beautiful…ever.

And that, friends, is how the 2017 family vacay went down. As Jason said, “Anyone could just take a “regular” vacation.” And I agree. We will make this thing happen despite tornadoes, flaming tires, or illnesses! Hear! Hear!






I’m just a flea market floozie…

Yesterday was my birthday trip to the world’s largest and greatest flea market EVER:  Canton, Texas.  As they say: If you can’t find it in Canton, you just can’t find it.  And it’s true!  Yesterday I saw everything from a disassembled full-sized windmill to a 1960’s Lady Clairol bejeweled electric razor.

I brought along two helpers, my dear Jason and one of my dearest bestest friends, JJ (who is also a man, yes we made an odd trio).  Anyhoo,  so as always we hit the ‘Unreserved’ section, which has the highest percentage of the Junk-Which-Is-Most-Likely-To-Come-Home-With-Me.  First things being first, after over an hour in the car, and being as I’m getting older, we had to locate the “facilities”.  Granted, I wasn’t to the “I’m-Gonna-Wet-Myself” phase, but still…

After locating Bathroom #1, I just had to laugh.  There was a line of no less than ten women standing on the outside of the bathroom door.  Yeah, right.  So, after another 5 minute walk, we came to Bathroom #2.  I was initially on the Exit side, and thought, “Oh thank YOU, Lord…no line.”  Well, got around to the Entrance side and there were NO LESS THAN 30 WOMEN in line.  I marched back over to my helpers and wondered aloud the following:

“What are they DOING in there?  Why do women take so long?  I mean, I can really only think of TWO THINGS that you’d normally do in a bathroom stall, and I’m willing to bet that most are in there for the FIRST reason!  Are they having a social mixer in there? This is ludicrous!”  Please allow me to further elaborate that these are NOT the kind of facilities that you’d want to spend any more time than absolutely necessary.  Allow me to explain, please.  First off, if you’re expecting a stall with a door, you’re kidding yourself.  Virtually all of the bathrooms are door-less, but they were nice enough to give you a shower curtain. Okay, I can handle that.  But, where they really went wrong is that the stall depth, when seated upon your potty, is only adequate for toddlers and possibly (is this P.C.???) little people.  I hate to use the word “midget” or “dwarf”, but this is what I mean by little people.  Therefore, at my perfectly normal and average height of five foot four, my knees extend from the stall by a good couple of inches. And they have the dreaded ‘Grade School Height Toilets”.  You know, the ones that you have to do almost a full squat to reach and your legs fall asleep? Yep, that, too.  Also, forget the possibility of any hooks for your bags.  So here you are in a row of about 50 stalls, squatted down eight inches off the ground, trying to balance your cumbersome upcycled, bulky shopping bags/purse, with your knees hitting a creepy shower curtain and sticking out further than your stall, just praying that you won’t topple over into the waiting throng of women and rip down the shower curtain, exposing your bum and spilling every content of your purse/bag on the concrete floor.  It’s a fun game, let me tell you.  I probably have quads of steel after all that exercise, not to mention the balance ability of an Olympic gymnast.

Finally, after we had reached Bathroom #3 (a little known facility next to a tool salesman and a pan flute CD vendor), I noticed there was no line.  YES!  I found an empty stall, and after taking the absolute minimum time, I turned to flush.  No flush.  I won’t go into details, but normally the rule in our house is: “If it’s yellow, let it mellow. If it’s brown, flush it down.”  This didn’t really meet the “Mellow” category, either.  What to do?  I got out, snapped the shower curtain shut and informed the line of about 5 perfectly good strangers that this toilet indeed did NOT flush and whomever chose to go in would get a ‘nice surprise’.  That’s just how it went down.  Or not.  Anyway.  On to shopping!!!

Fairly quickly, I found my own version of Heaven:  three huge long rows of all items for a dollar.  I quickly snapped up a pair of Japanese tomato salt and pepper shakers, a Japanese ceramic potbellied stove, which was a pincushion and a measuring tape, several old farm journals, a baking pan, some calligraphy pens, and more.  Apparently, dollar tables were a big hit yesterday, because I found every last one of them.  Poor, long-suffering Jason and JJ shook their heads as I oohed and ahhhed over every vintage dollar-priced piece.  “Oh, but doesn’t everyone need a ceramic owl/thermometer?  What about this embroidered Kleenex box cover?  I mean, someone out there put a lot of work into this…”  Jason drifted off to tool vendors, JJ, just being along for the ride and the sights, was stuck with me while I pondered every piece of nostalgia known to mankind.  “Oh, look at this hand-powered sharpening stone! And this hand-powered drill!  Isn’t that awesome?”  I don’t really know why I was wasting my breath;  JJ and I are virtually  incapable of changing out wiper blades on a car and can injure ourselves with a screwdriver.  It’s not like we are mechanically-gifted people. Still, you get caught up in the nostalgia, no matter what the thing is.

After eight hours of meandering through miles of junk-filled tables, we were ready to call it a day.  We typically end our day with the reward of a funnel cake, so that’s what we did.  What I didn’t realize was that the vendor made his funnel cakes the size of a small table.  As he handed us our cake, I wasn’t really sure how we were ever going to even BEGIN to finish this thing, even with three people attacking it.  So, we all were laden with bags, and I balanced the funnel cake waitress-like with one hand and my bags on my other shoulder, and off we went.  I took my first bite and literally inhaled a breath-full of powdered sugar.  Note to self:  Never breathe in whilst taking a bite of sugar-laden funnel cake.   As the guys were laughing, JJ took his bite and also inhaled sugar.  With both of us intermittently gasping for breath/laughing our heads off, I’m sure we looked a pair.  Then, a woman walking beside us sidled up to us and said,”Didja breathe in some of that sugar?” Well, thank God weren’t the only morons who had had that happen before.

Following my pioneering dear, sweet husband back to the truck, I began to realize that we were getting to the edge of the vendors, but I couldn’t see any way to actually reach the truck.  “No, you have to cross the creek.  See?  It’s right down here.”  After nearly falling over a vendor’s trailer hitch and losing the funnel cake and all my pride, I looked down, down, down, and there was Jason, literally crossing a creek.  Not at an official crossing, mind you…no, we had to slide down a bank, walk through the (mostly dry) creek, and climb to the other side.  Now how in the hell was I supposed to balance a giant funnel cake bigger than my head and 5 inches tall, and two bags and make it across?  I couldn’t help but think I’d surely be on YouTube within five minutes of this incident that was about to happen.  Jason crossed first, then JJ.  I somehow managed to slide down the bank with no incident.  As I was attempting to walk up the (steep) bank to reach for Jason’s outstretched hand, I couldn’t help but notice him gyrating wildly, like he had an imaginary hula hoop contest with himself.

Me:  “What are you doing?”

J: “I have to go to the bathroom!!! HURRY!”

Without embarrassing my dear husband, let me just say that when this man has to go, he has to GO immediately, Do Not Pass Go, Do NOT Collect $200, and stay out of  this man’s way unless you want to be injured.  Well, between the powdered sugar, my exhaustion, and the situation unfolding in front of my eyes with a wildly gyrating man with eyes about to pop out of his skull and me balancing my precious funnel cake in a creek, I got to laughing so hard that tears ran down both cheeks.  There was no way possible I could reach up and grab his hand.  JJ was absolutely no help, either.  Holding his sides, he, too, was crying on the banks of the creek.  When I looked up next, Jason was gone and here were two idiots on the banks of some obscure creek in the middle of nowhere, balancing a plate full of funnel cake and 50 dollars worth of dollar-priced items.  Needless to say, with the help off JJ, I did make it up that creek and back to the truck.  Sadly, by the time we got there, the cake was already cold and greasy and none of us even wanted the stupid thing anyway.  But it made for a good story, didn’t it?

Can’t wait to go back and do it all again.  Maybe next month?