I've been on a trip. EC and I started out last Monday on an Odyssey. To be able to leave our home together for an extended period of time, first we have to bed and board our Pets. That feat in and of itself is quite a big deal.
Months before, we must have them all Vet checked. No respectable Kennel will allow them to stay without the proper papers and shots. This, for my pets Mack and Thelma, isn't a big deal. Scrunchie, on the other hand, is quite a big deal. The last time we boarded Scrunchie, my 6'4" Vet reached in the Pet Carrier with his massive hand and grabbed my 'Baby's' head. 'KittyBoy', feeling attacked, reacted. The whole event left me in tears for days. It was not pleasant for me or my 'Boy'.
So, being the good Mother that I am, I asked around and found a sweet, petite Lady Vet with proper manners and gentle hands to check out my perfectly healthy 'KittyBoy'.
This time things went so much better.
Anyway, after all that, the appointments were made at the Kennel and the date and time for our departure was finalized. We would be leaving by 6:30 a.m. to get to the Kennel by 7 a.m. when they opened. Nice simple plan.
EC and I would be driving from here to Memphis, stopping by EC's Mom's house to get a rather large leather chair for our Son, and then proceeding to the very Northeast tip of Tennessee, La Follette to be exact, and Lake Norris to be precise. If you've ever driven the West to East trip across Tennessee, you know that driving on I-40 is mandatory. A 'Trucking' Nightmare! Mercy! Anyway, once you've struggled on I-40 to Memphis, the 'schlog' is no better to Nashville and around that city and then on to Knoxville (which seems to be growing in leaps and bounds) and around to I-75 North. Thank Goodness, only another 40 or so miles.
Well, that was the plan. But, you know how plans are. EC and I left, in his truck, (not a choice I would have made,) because of the huge chair that Chad wanted from Jewel's house. Also, we needed to take lawn chairs, (so EC had gone to Sam's and bought us a couple) and a cooler with water & G-2 for our trip.
We left on time. However, getting to the Kennel in Maumelle proved to be a complicated ordeal.
It seems that, at 3 a.m. a 'Trucker', hauling a load of porkers/pigs, wrecked on the I-430. For some reason, at 6:30 a.m. the little piglets were still running around on the Express Way and all traffic was being sent elsewhere. If you know anything about Maumelle, the most important thing you should know is: there is only one way in and one way out. So, as it turned out, we were on I-40, diverted West towards Conway and our entire trip was to be in an Easterly direction. You know, "The best laid plans of mice and men oft go astray!", as someone before me has aptly put it.
Moving right along. The traffic was backing up in all directions. Monday morning, you know.
We finally made it to the Kennel, by way of Mayflower, and of course, the Kennel Keepers, too, were trapped in the snarl. We waited. Later, the Keepers arrived. We checked in the unhappy 'Babes'.
When I say unhappy, I use the word loosely. The 'Kitty-Boy' pitched a large Royal Fit. It seems there were other docile, sweet little Kitty's already in the Kittty Room. Scrunchie does not like other Kitty's, no matter how sweet they are. Hissing and Squalling, Squalling and Hissing! Mercy! Now isn't that the way you love to leave town?
Oh, and poor Mack and Thelma. They were in a lovely large Kennel with an outdoor run attached. Nice, Roomy. But we would not be there with them. Thelma would not leave my right foot. Every time I tried to back out, so would Thelma. Very Sad.
It's 8:30 and we are still in Maumelle. Nothing to do but to get out on the Boulevard and sit in it until the 'Snarl' works itself out. And that's what we did.
By 9:30 we finally made our way on to I-40 and headed, at last, towards our destination. You know, God knows where we are at every second, and although I never saw a one of those poor little 'Piggies', I'll never know what that delay/detour kept us from being involved in further down the road. A blessing in disguise.
Merging into 'Truckers Ally', I think we finally arrived in Memphis at 11:30, went to Jewel's house, took doors off hinges, moved the chair out of the house, took everything out of the truck bed, put the chair in, secured it with tie-downs, re-loaded the truck, found (and this is fortunate) a Church's Chicken, (my favorite) and a Krystal, (EC's favorite) right next door to each other for a quick lunch and hit the road for Nashville.
I didn't mention, but on Sunday night, we talked to Chad, (they had arrived in La Follett/Lake Norris on Saturday, three Kids, and a ski boat in tow) and Cassidy, their middle Babe, had already had a skiing accident, that of a ski in her lip. Nasty slash, resulting in many stitches, swollen face and in need of a hat and something to do, since getting in the water was a definite 'no' and getting in the sun was also a definite 'NO'. Chad had requested yarn and a crochet hook to go along with the hat.
Jackson, Tennessee, just 70 miles up the road, had a Wal-Mart just off I-40. Again, we were stopped. I, shopping for yarn while EC bought gas. Chore done, back on the road again.
La Follett, Tennessee is in the Great Smokey Mountains. Beautiful scenery, and once off I-75, heading towards our final destination, the Hills of East Tennessee really started to take on new meaning. No more Express Ways cut through Mountains or around them. We were on small, two lane roads, winding our way, up and over these hills in a more personal way. The roads became narrower, the sun no longer made its way through the thick covering of trees and the road became steeper. We followed our directions without a bauble, the last line of which read: ---"after you go over the big hill" and that was no exaggeration!
Finally, 8:30, and we arrived! Our Lake house that Leslie (my daughter in law) had rented was hanging, litterally, from the side of a mountain. The developer had simply cut a road out of the side of the mountain and the only part of the house that was attached was the front, three foot wide porch. The rest of the five story home was on piers. You know what that means?
87 steps to get into the house from the lake. That's NINE stories up. And our room was on the 4th floor! Mercy!
The Grand Kids ran out to meet us and so did Chad and Leslie. We were all so glad to see each other. And poor Cassidy's lip. The whole side of her face was swollen and she couldn't even smile. She felt pretty rough. We all had a pretty good laugh about the Mountain we were going to be perched on. All the early arrivals had 'huffing and puffing' stories about the climb.
The house was really very nice, except for the height.
The fifth floor was a loft where Leslie's brother, Austin, stayed. He is a young, handsome, single 21 year old and the treck could not possible hurt him.
EC and I were on the fourth floor along with all the Grand Babe's and several of the Grand Babes' Cousins. Jacob, Laura Michelle's youngest (12 years old-going on 18) beautiful in face and form, and Faith, (10 years old and Leslie's brother Mike's oldest) cute, blonde, tanned, and could make some really interresting 'cartoon voices' that really made me think she would be a star in. Hollywood. The voices were strange, wonderful and like nothing I've ever heard.
Cole, Chad's oldest, has grown so much since I last saw him in January. Not just in inches so much, but he has taken on the look of a very handsome young man. He, too, is 12 and seeing him and Jacob romping together, riding on the Tube together, I am so thankful for what they are becoming. And at this particular moment in time, they are so perfect, flawless, healthy and beautiful to see. I was amazed and thankful to God.
Caleigh Anne, my youngest Grand Daughter, is a wild, untamed little imp of a child. Nothing scares her, parents, heights, Tubes, skis, hills, water or kids bigger than her. She wades right into everything, full steam ahead. She is the definition of "The Strong Willed Child". Chad and Leslie were so fortunate with Cold and Cassidy. They are very compliant. They do as they are told. Caleigh is not like that. She keeps Leslie and Chad hopping. Her future scares me only in the fact that she will have to learn everything the hard way. As have I.
We shared an adjoining Bath that the Kids had already littered with wet towels and bathing suits. Ours would soon be added.
The middle floor, is where the Kitchen, den/dinning room, and Master Bedroom/bath was located and the hub of all activity. Food/Drink Central. A nice deck off the living/dinning area had a table and chairs and a large gas grille. Chad and Leslie stayed on this floor. There were indoor stairs leading down the the second or fourth floor, depending on whether or not you were coming or going. That's were Mike (Leslie's oldest brother) and wife Tanya and their youngest son, MJ stayed. Also, the other Chad, Leslie's middle brother and his wife Brandy stayed on this floor. They had the two youngest cousins, Cadin, 2 1/2 and a 5 month old little girl, Brenna.
They had a deck on this floor also and the living area had another flat screen TV and a Game/Card table that all the kids put into good use.
The bottom of the house, first floor is where Leslie's Dad, Art and his wife Linda stayed. There was a hot tub on the deck out side this level and out door stairs that led down to the bottom of the hill where a little cart path was.
But wait, we aren't at the bottom of the hill yet.
We aren't at the water or the boats, but we could see them from here. I didn't mention, but, sitting on the decks on any of the above levels, you could not see the water. The house is on the lake, however, to see the water one must stand up and look over the railing. We were that high up and it was that far down.
Once across the cart path, you guessed it, more steps, straight down to the boat dock. Chad, Leslie's brother, had rented a large pontoon boat, and our Chad had brought his large ski boat.
I cannot imagin the trip from North Platte, Nebraska to La Follett, Tennessee, pulling that boat, but they did it. They traveled the length of Nebraska, crossed Missouri thru Kansas City and St. Louis, across Indianna into Kentucky to Louisville, where they stayed the night with Laura Michelle, and then onto I-75 South thru Lexington into Tennessee. That's determination, to say the least.
My boy Chad is a good man. He did all this so that all the family could be together and see each other.
Leslie's Mom, Linda and her Husband Rick were also there. Rick had to leave Sunday night and go back to Marysville, TN. to work and Art and Linda had to leave on Wednesday to make their way back to Hughes, Arkansas. They were going to do some sight seeing on the way home. Rick came back on Wednesday night after work.
As you can see, large crowd, lots of food and fun in the water.
There is a bridge. I thought a bridge like the ones here that I have junped from. Deserted, old and certainly no traffic. All I heard from the kid's is "Granny, will you jump from the bridge?" and of course - and I am nothing if not a 'Good Sport" - I told them I would. How bad could it be, after all. Mercy! Not only was it not deserted, huge dump trucks, pick-up trucks, cars, folks pulling boats, and more huge dump trucks - Red ones! All we had to do is swim over to a rocky shore, climb a rocky cliff, crawl over a baracade, run down the hi-way in traffic, climb up on a two and a half foot high concrete railing while dump trucks whizzed by, balance yourself, wait for the camera's to get focused, say your prayers and jump 20 feet out and down into a bottomless, mountain lake to the cheers of everyone safe in their pontoon or ski boat. Now doesn't that sound fun? Well, I did it, not once but twice. I told you I was a good sport. It made all the sissy's look bad, seeing an old Granny jumping off this presipiss, so even Leslie, a confirmed chicken, had to jump. And so did EC, just so I didn't show him up.
A great time was had by one and all. I managed, by sun-block, sun-block shirt, and large brimed hat, not to get sunburned. I helped Cassidy and she had successfully crocheted the start of a nice sized afgan, which her Mother has already planned will be in the Nebraska State Fair. I also managed not to gain any weight, no small feat, considering all the food that was there.
Also, a fabulous aside - Carol Ann, Leslie's Aunt and Uncle Jim came for a couple of days, also bringing more food.
Carol Ann and Jim are retired from the Air Force and from owning their own business back in Michigan. They moved down to God's country some time ago and fill their lives with hiking and a lot of volunteer work. They volunteer at 'Dollywood', Pigeon Forge, and other places. One of which, Pigeon Forge, it seems has a huge Quiltfest that is hosted by 'The Piecemakers' and the 'Sevier Valley Quilters Guilds'. Carol Ann wanted to know why I had not entered one of my Quilts in their show. I had no excuse.
Carol Ann is also heading up a committee that is looking into the possibility of having a Fiber Artist Confab for next year. She said she would put my name into the hat to be one of their guest Fiber Artists. What a wonderful thing to have happen, and all just by chance. This is a great thing to look forward to. Carol Ann invited me to come and stay in her home and drew me a map of how to get there. I think she is serious. I think I'll go, not only to the Quilt Show next year, but if the Fiber Artist thing works out, I'd like to be involved in that, too.
Altogether, not a bad trip. We got home late Friday night, picked up my Pets from the Kennel, and you guessed it, my 'Kitty-boy' was still mad. He seems to be getting over his 'snit', but I don't think I'm fully forgiven.
Yes, it seems I've written a book.
We'll talk again soon,
Carol Ann, Quilter/Traveler