Saturday, January 06, 2007

Mawwiage. That dweam within a dweam...

Finally…The LONG Trip update!

We left on the 27th (Mike’s birthday) and drove a little out of our way to see Karen’s family; Karen was able to give Bethany a tour of the house and introduce her to their new dog, Bennett. The kids played a few hands of Nerts, and *Molly* was winning when we had to hit the road! (Karen maintained that Houston was unbeatable while I insisted that Bethany was "She Who Can Not Be Defeated"...and Molly proved us BOTH wrong.) :-)

(I *won’t* post the surprise photo Karen’s kids left on the digital when we accidentally left it at their house. We were almost out of their little town when the call came saying that we'd left the camera, and while we were U-turning and heading back to retrieve it, those scamps left us a digital token of their affection. Good taste prevents me from displaying it, but I will say that I named the picture "Never leave your camera BEHIND.") :-)

Next, we stopped in Fort Worth to have lunch at Uncle Julio’s with Falisha. We also exchanged presents, and one of Falisha’s presents to me was an ‘80s mix CD that made the Dallas-Shreveport leg of the trip a lot more enjoyable. The bad news? I was sick to my stomach after Dallas so poor Bethany had to drive the whole day. We stopped at a truck stop and bought me some Mylanta, but Monroe, Louisiana smelled so bad that we were BOTH gagging. Bethany, driving with her left hand and keeping her nose plugged with her right, forbid me to throw up in the car, telling me it was simply “bind over batter.”

Then we stayed in the world’s worst La Quinta (ever!) in Vicksburg, Mississippi. Even though Karen booked us a non-smoking room AND CONFIRMED IT WITH MY CREDIT CARD, we were greeted at the desk with the news that they only had smoking rooms left. I couldn’t wrap my mind around that news nugget and kept trying to give the lady at the counter my confirmation number…for our NON-smoking room. Because it was RESERVED. With a RESERVATION. Complete with a CONFIRMATION NUMBER. Which means you are out of non-smoking rooms for *other* people--but NOT for those with RESERVATIONS, like us. (Am I in Crazy Land? What does the word “reservation” mean here? WHAT?)

So we asked if we could go smell it first. When we first opened the door, Bethany said the reek hit her like a punch, but we eventually got used to it. It was late, we were exhausted, and so we took it, determined to make the best of things.

After trying unsuccessfully to get on their “high-speed wireless Internet” for thirty minutes, we gave up; Bethany slipped under our nicotine-soaked comforter decorated with CIGARETTE BURNS and BURN HOLES. At one point, when I was plugging the laptop into an electrical socket to charge overnight (a socket which didn’t work, btw, and we woke the next day to a stone-dead computer!), I looked up at the ceiling. The beam that separated the Rings of Hell in the room (Smelly Sofa Ring from Reeking Bed Ring) was coming away from the ceiling. And not just sagging away cleanly, but sporting a growth of black mold in the crevasse where the wallpaper had torn in two.

“Um, Bethany? Did you happen to look up at…?”

“Yeah, I saw it. Don’t talk about it. Don’t look at it. Just come get in bed.”

All was redeemed the next morning (despite the lackluster breakfast AND the fact that Front Desk Guy told me that Room 226 can’t even get ON the Internet, wirelessly or otherwise!) because of the view from our balcony…the mighty Mississippi River running RIGHT BESIDE our black mold/ashtray cell. I do NOT plan to dash off a zinging missive to La Quinta or complain on their toll-free phone line because the view was so pretty. (Yes, we smelled like longshoremen the rest of the day, and yes, Taylor laughed and recoiled when she smelled my pajamas when we finally got to Charlotte, but it’s okay.)

Bethany continued the drive the next morning, and with the exception of the three-hour traffic jam they call “Atlanta,” it was beautiful. Great weather, fun conversation, lots of music, and yummy food all the way to Charlotte. We were so glad to finally arrive, and Russell and Amanda Faye and Taylor couldn’t have been more hospitable.

We met them for lunch the next day and then took Taylor on a hike in Renaissance Park. She led us in stretches before we began (to say that they were *unusual* calisthenics is putting it mildly), and she also wanted us to role-play as we hiked. (And hiked. And hiked. Three miles of twisty-turny fun…SIX if you do both trails!) Bethany was Queen Babushka, Taylor was The Princess, and I was Old, Fat Nurse. (After we went for another walk in Virginia a few days later, they started calling me “Old, Fat, DEAF Nurse” because I couldn’t hear the high-pitched deer repellent screeching machine one guy put in his yard.)

She's not heavy. She's my cousin.

Mom and Dad came in that night, and the next day was filled with manicures, pedicures, shopping, golf (for the boys), and dinner with family and friends at the Azteca Mexican restaurant.

"Who cares about golf? We're gettin' pampered, baby!"

Kissin' at The Azteca.

Returning the favor.

Sunday was church at Providence Road Church of Christ (early 8:15 service!), lunch with Russ, picking up the cake at Dean & Deluca, and THE WEDDING!!!

Everyone kept saying how much Karen would have loved it, and we all couldn’t stop commenting on how our joy would be have been complete if Karen could have been there. OTOH, keeping a straight face during the wedding ceremony would have been impossible with Karen around because she gets the giggles at inappropriate times; the first time the preacher said the word “marriage,” Karen would have lost it, remembering the clergyman from The Princess Bride.

“Mawwiage. Mawwiage is what bwings us togethaw today. Mawwiage, that bwessed awwangement, that dweam within a dweam...”

After The Wedding, it was off to dinner at Frankie’s. Delicious food, great service, nostalgic music, flattering lighting, wonderful company, and a terrific atmosphere…whoever picked Frankie’s picked well!

Then it was time for New Year's Eve, celebrated in our hotel room with chocolate milk and Coke, in front of Dick Clark's Rockin' New Year's Eve in Times Square!

The next day---New Year’s Day--Mom and I listened to the breakup of a band while we ate breakfast (“Dude! We are going to make history! Who cares about your union card? Are you gonna’ make history working in a factory? It’s all about the music, dude…you gotta’ be true to the band and your music!” Etc., etc., ad nauseum.) They came and sat right next to us, even though there were plenty of free tables. We actually got up and moved, but not far enough away to avoid the rapid-fire cursing and twenty-something angst. (Maybe we’ll all see this painful band breakup recreated someday on VH1…)

Then it was off to Virginia, with Lil’ Miss in the backseat, to see Danville and Dry Fork and stay with Margaret in Chatham. We had tons of fun with Mom in Danville, snapping up bargains at The Gingerbread House and Goodwill (Senior Citizen Discount Day! Squee!) while Margaret was at work, eating lunch at Libby Hill (one of my all-time favorite restaurants…try the homemade vinegar & oil salad dressing…or the diet-defying hushpuppies!), Girls’ Movie Night, and lots of hands of Nerts.

Libby Hill! (Wish they would have had this sign in Charlotte...)

Margaret’s home is lovely, Belle is a delight, and we had tons of fun! My shins still ache from Margaret’s leisurely 5:30 a.m. “stroll,” up and down the hills of Chatham. (I’ve met my match in Lanier Street’s vertical climb! Poor Margaret, probably wondering if she should dial 9-1-1, had to wait as I huffed and puffed my way to the crest.)

Then, on the way home, we stopped in Greensboro to visit the Historical Museum, which was as wonderful as ever, and we ran into at least 4 people who remembered me from 10 years ago! (Betty K. can’t ever, EVER leave because she knows how to keep the Education Department running like no one else! When I grow up, I wanna’ be just like Betty K.!)

Since we missed having lunch with Russell and Amanda Faye, we stopped by his work to say goodbye and drop off the housekey Amanda Faye gave us the day of the hike. He convinced us to stay overnight, and I’m so glad we did…not only did they treat us to dinner at their favorite neighborhood Chinese restaurant, but it gave Bethany and me a chance to play our family’s little game of hiding tacky stuff in each others’ homes during visits. (So far, they’ve only found one of their three surprises, but it was the best of the three: a mechanical Santa in shades who dances with one hand on his, um, posterior.)

Then it was off to fight the rain and tornadoes and fog that soaked the Gulf Coast. There were lots of really scary moments, and we stopped to buy new tires in Brandon, Mississippi. I don’t know quite how this happened, but I drove from Charlotte to East Texas, slept for an hour as Bethany took the wheel, and then was back at it…probably 22 hours. We were so eager to get home, or at least just die on Texas soil, that we were like horses to the barn and finally made it home at 4:00 in the morning.

After three *whole* hours of sleep, I was up at 7:15, played with the dogs, ate some breakfast, and then emptied the back of the car enough to take the dogs to the park. We enjoyed a mile and half run/walk…and it was HOT! I wore a t-shirt and shorts! OTOH, a cold front blew in last night and today’s high is only supposed to reach 47. Yep, we’re back in West Texas!

Thank you to everyone who made this vacation so wonderful. After all the traveling I've been doing in the last three months (Pennsylvania! Michigan! NC! Virginia!), being a homebody for a while sounds so restful. One quick trip next month to Austin for a technology convention, and then I'm nailing my feet to the floor of The Barracks...


Melanie said...

HOW EXCITING!! I've been 'patiently' awaiting this post knowing that it would have beautiful pictures and a wonderful story!! Congratulations to Russell & Amanda Faye! AND... Congratulations to Mom & Dad Fowler for raising a Godly family where all three of their 'kids' are choosing to honor God in their adult lives! Thanks for sharing...

Love to all,

Linda Fowler said...

Thanks, Kris, for the great commentary of your trip! You are a wonderful daughter, sister, mother, and aunt! It just would not have been the same without you and Bethany, and I'm so glad that you were able to be with us for the occasion.

Loved your pictures, too!

God bless you in 2007!

Your #1 fan,

Linda said...

Kristy: It's so fun to hear about your sweet family! It's obvious you love each other so! I'm glad you made it home safe and sound.

Happy New Year to you and yours!!!

Love you,

Steelerfan06 said...

Great post. I was going to enter one covering the wedding, but might just put a link to yours! Still eating leftovers from Frankie's (frozen)...


bo_berrin said...

Great pictures, great trip, great post, great BLOG! HOW do you do it? How do you pack so much into one trip? You're always going 100 MPH to pack as much living in as possible. When you die at a ripe old age, you will have lived enough for 100 lives, and they'll probably canonize you as a saint. They'll deem you something like "Our Lady of Perpetual Motion".

mad4books said...

I think that's the best thing anyone's ever called me!

I LOVE it...and "Our Lady of Perpetual Motion" is way better than some names I've been called by disgruntled students (with promising future careers at the post office)...