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Sunday, April 1, 2018

Stiff driving



Laura and I set out to visit friends and family in Texas over her spring break. My cousin Pat opined a trip to Texas in a week was a bit crazy, but, then, I was a Lytle and it would happen. We got up and out of here before seven in the morning on the 24th of March. My plan was to bunk for the first night past St. Louis.

The route was Ohio, Indiana, Illinois, Missouri, Oklahoma, to Grand Prairie, Texas. We left in dense fog. By Indiana it was rain, by Illinois, accumulating snow. The Illinois interstate was two lanes of hills and  terrified drivers trying to negotiate two inches of snow at twenty miles per hour. Then, cars began littering ditches to the left and to the right. Accidents, emergency vehicles blocking lanes.

About four in the afternoon, still in Illinois, I lost my nerve. We checked into a motel and fired up the weather channel. The band of foul weather stretched from South Dakota to Arkansas. For half an hour I sat on the bed and glowered at the stinking cold front stealing another four hours from me.

To boot, Comfort Inn motels have come down many notches since I used them back in my travelling days. This is the most stupid eighty dollars I’ve ever spent, I told Laura. I’ve driven in worse weather; let’s try it again. We packed up, checked out and got back on Interstate 70.  I’ve never liked that road, and it did not change my opinion.

St. Louis arch in fog-Gateway to the West
Laura’s phone probably is approaching overload of pictures. Every sunrise and sunset. Every new state sign. Every river we crossed. The things I hoped she would notice. The first day we crossed the Ohio, the Wabash, the Mississippi, the rivers that opened the interior of this country. I have no idea where they fit into Laura’s understanding of geography, but she knows where they are and has been across the mighty bridges.


We made St. Louis by dusk, checked into a Best Western and slept until seven. We were back on the road by eight, in sunshine and the great Oklahoma and Texas landscapes. We came through the low, rolling Ozarks, headed for the Indian Nation Turnpike, into Texas. I thought much of Oklahoma “unspoiled”. It is the prairie grasslands I remembered; the houses are cottages in the country. Outbuildings, old farm equipment, extra vehicles; family centric housing and businesses.

I stopped at a toll booth to see if the toll cameras were reading my electronic pass for the eastern toll roads I use. The short answer is No, I will get an invoice in the mail. And so we passed into Texas, destination Grand Prairie, to visit my blogging friend RunningRose. Rose has no blog, but follows many with her observations and comments.

Grand Prairie was an eye opener. We moved on to Dallas and Houston, and I’m glad we started with Grand Prairie. When I last visited Texas, probably in the eighties, I lamented the multi lane highways.  These have morphed into multi lane, multi level highways, with hundreds of long cement legs sunk into the ground for support. We counted as many as ten stacked one over another, and the surface road(s) forced between the legs on the ground. I had GPS and Laura navigating, and without them I would have spent a lot of time backtracking for the right route.

Monday was bright and sunny, perfect for visiting Fossil Rim Wildlife Center in Glen Rose, Texas.

"They'll drive around us"

"Food?"

 Laura and "old people"

 "Food!"

 To quote Rose, "43 babies"

 Don't do this!

 Or this will happen

Roses' car and disappointed ostrich


I love this picture!
Tuesday it rained. Rose’s granddaughter took Laura shopping at a Texas mall. Laura spent all her money, and came back with a nice stack of new clothes.

Rainy day
Wednesday we visited my cousin Pat and her husband, Ellis, in Dallas. We attempted to work out Pat’s relationship to Laura, but it was one of those fourth cousin twice removed Southern things, and we gave it up in a gale of laughter. Pat is the daughter of a brother of my dad’s mother, which begins the cousin part.

Pat and Ellis!

Pat has lived in Texas since the age of eight or so, and is pure “yonder” and “fixin’ to” Texas. Ellis quizzed Laura’s level of enjoyment of her spring break, and she allowed listening to old people was OK.
Pat and Ellis and supervision

Early Thursday morning we set out for Ellen Abbott’s home and studio, down yonder in Wharton, Texas, southwest of Houston. The drive down was pure spring. Bluebonnets, Indian paintbrush, Indian blanket, vervain. Broad landscape, bayous, barely marked roads, red dirt that I also associate with Arkansas and Louisiana.

Ellen’s house and studio are pure Texas, in my opinion. She lives in what would be deemed a flood plain, back north here, and they suffered mightily post hurricane Harvey. Ellen, and all her surrounding area, is recovering. Ellen has workmen in and out, daily. I’m sending you over to her blog to read Ellen’s recap of our afternoon there.
Ellen's "Big Mama" turtle

Friday morning we started early, home through Texas, Arkansas, Tennessee, Kentucky, Ohio. I anticipated two and a half days to cover the 1,400 miles from Wharton to Peninsula, but the days were beautiful, as was the landscape. Traffic was pretty thick, and ruder than I expected. I attribute it more to the volume and the holiday travel than a sea change in the American personality.  Great soft mattresses at Best Western’s and ice cream and milk shakes on the fly from Dairy Queen got us back in two days. The laundry is done, the shopping is done and it’s time to get the cat.

I love my cousin, and was happy to see her. The adventure of meeting bloggers I’ve corresponded with for the last six or seven years is hard to put to words. I could cheerfully live next door to any of these people. If you have opportunity to meet bloggers you admire and respect, just do it!

41 comments:

  1. You are adventurous, I'm impressed.

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  2. What a wonderful spring break you and Laura had! I love all the happy faces, and isn't Laura getting taller! You are way better at long distance driving than I am! I'm not that crazy about it. But there is no better way for getting a sense of the size of this country...In 1998 I met my first fellow internet friend in England. My husband and son were quite leery about the safety of this, but we had a wonderful time. And since I am in several discussion groups, one of which has now met three times, in Boston, Edinburgh, Scotland; and Toronto, plus smaller meetups nearer here, I am totally in favor of meeting these far flung kindred spirits whenever possible.

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    1. Laura needs her tippy toes to get taller. She's been 5'1" for a long time. And, it was a great trip.

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  3. What a super trip! Laura will have such memories of this.

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  4. Despite a shaky start it sounds like you had a fantastic break and wonderful weather to boot!

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  5. What a trip. You braved every kind of weather to visit friends and family. You got to see a good part of the country. I love the Ozarks. Beautiful scenery. The pictures are fantastic. I am a little bit jealous.

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  6. I am so glad to read this. Smiling all over my dial. A trip which was a treat despite the fortitude the driving demanded.

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  7. the 100 year flood plain to be exact. hopefully it will be the one and only time I experience that. and it was a wonderful visit and am glad y'all arrived home safely.

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    1. any visitors will have to scroll down since I put up a new post.

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  8. Really enjoyed the time with you and Laura! We " '43 Babies " have lots to talk about. We have watched our world change through the same time span. From the miracle of the first black and white TV's to the miracle of social media. It has been quite a ride in more ways than one!
    I hope you win at cards tomorrow!

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  9. That was quite a drive, Joanne. I don’t know that I’d drive that far on such busy highways, even with GPS. Our roads in eastern Canada are nothing like you describe. I fear I’d panic on your highways.

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  10. A good time was had by all but the beginning was a bit on the cold side but things warmed up as you went along.
    Merle..........

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  11. What a great adventure you have had.....Laura will remember this forever.

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  12. All right, then, "Pat is the daughter of a brother of my dad’s mother."That makes Pat and your dad first cousins and you and Pat are first cousins once removed.That makes Laura and Pat first cousins, three times removed. If anyone can correct me, then please do because I have strained my brain to the extreme to try to figure out the relationship.

    Love,
    Janie

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    1. Is that how it works! We thought I was second cousin, my daughter third and Laura fourth. Maybe.

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    2. Second cousin means your parent's first cousin's child. Your second's cousin's grandchild is your second cousin twice removed. Each "removed" signified another generation.

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  13. Road trips are fun. I love the animals at the end! I am, however, so done with driving through snow storms. -Jenn

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  14. Sounds like a great trip. Next time you're close to St. Louis let me know.

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  15. You are an amazing person Joanne Noragon. I love the values and just pure spunk you instill, you are an inspiration to us all but especially your Laura.

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  16. Hari OM
    WWWAAAAHHHHAAAAAAYYYYYYYYYYYYYYYY... well done you two. Having had the great privilege of meeting blogpals aplenty - and in particular your good selves, I totally agree that we make better neighbours than some of our real ones!!! Am so glad this trip turned out so well - despite the travelling challenge. Am double glad you are home safe and life getting into its groove good an proper again. Welcome home. YAM xx

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  17. Wow! What a trip you all had. I can't imagine visiting a Wildlife Reserve. To see a zebra up close and personal would be a delight.

    Glad you enjoyed yourself and were able to drive through all the difficult weather to see your family and blogger buddies.

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  18. I would like to have joined you for the ride. x

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  19. That's a nice round trip through several states. Did Laura get to see the actual Four Corners spot where the borders all meet?
    Rose and your cousins look like wonderful, happy people. I'll zip over and read Ellen's blog after I do some catching up on other blogs.

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  20. P.S. I'd really like to see those stacked multi-lane, multi-height highways. Maybe they're on Google...

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  21. That looks like a good trip. I would be very tired after 400 miles.

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  22. What a lovely tour Joanne - I am sure both enjoyed it. And I do so agree about meeting bloggers - I have had some lovely encounters.

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  23. What a great trip and great memories for your granddaughter. Road trips are as American as apple pie!

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  24. You did well with all of that driving in various conditions.

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  25. Glad to read you had a nice trip. Regarding the whole cousin thing, Janie Junebug is correct. Here's a chart of cousins that explains nicely https://flowingdata.com/2014/11/05/chart-of-cousins/ Wikipedia has a nice cousin relationship chart, too. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Cousin

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  26. An epic road trip! Glad you had fun!

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  27. Laura is of an age where she would "get" a road trip too! Have a good rest now!

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  28. Shoot,I didn't finish what I wanted to say! I took my youngest daughter on a roadtrip to the east coast the spring after my husband passed away. We stuck to small towns and small highways and met the lovliest people along the way. It was a beautiful adventure. We've talked of doing it again but small children and knee surgery kind of got in the way. Do it while you can!

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  29. It sounds like that despite the rough weather, you and Laura had a good time. You are Grandmother Extraordinaire.

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  30. That looked such fun, ostrich and all! Ostrich farms were all the rage here a few years ago and alpacas, too.
    Looking at 'yours', I'm rather tempted...
    And catching up with family is always fascinating.

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  31. What a fine vacation. So glad that it was a huge success.

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  32. Dear Joanne, this was a wonderfully delightful posting--I felt as if I were on the trip with you. I had you traveling by I-70 across Missouri to Kanas City where you picked me up and we meandered on down to Oklahoma and into Texas and downward from there. So much fun on the way and there and back. And so much wonderful visiting. And you and Laura have now shared this trip that neither of you will probably ever forget. Oh those flowers in Texas. I'd so like to see them! Peace.

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  33. How totally wonderful. You tell a good story Joanne and you are making memories for Laura to store up. I think you are amazing xx

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  34. That was a road trip and a half...and that was just the journey out...
    It is good to meet family and fellow bloggers. Definitely can be reccommended

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  35. That sounds like a great trip and driving far enough to experience a complete climate change is really brave and probably felt amazing!

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