I’ve procrastinated as long as possible about writing a column this week, but I can put it off no longer. In order to take a family vacation, I wrote my columns in advance, so now it’s difficult to get back in the saddle, so to speak (or write).
At any rate, ol’ Nevah and I, along with long-time accountant friends, Mr. and Mrs. P.N. Cilpusher, who live in Rogers, Ark., took eight-days to make a leisurely Thanksgiving week trip to Pigeon Forge, Tenn., where our youngest daughter, Tiny, and her hubby and crew of four grandkids — Chance, Paltry, Skimpy and Mae Bea — reside.
The first day we drove to Memphis, Tenn., where we lodged near the renowned Beale Street, famous for its blues music, barbecue and deep-south bayou cooking. We rode an ancient “touristy” electric street car — which the driver informed us was imported decades ago from Melborne, Australia — on a tour of Beale Street, partook of some excellent BBQ ribs, and listened to a bluesy-rock band while we ate.
The next day was a short drive to Nashville, where we had tickets to the Grand Ole Opry in the famous Reiman Theater, in downtown Nashville, where the “Mother Church” of country-western music is dwarfed by modern skyscrapers. It was a great performance, but after two hours of sitting on the hard church pews at the Reiman, our rear ends were glad the show wasn’t any longer.
While in Nashville, we also toured the Country Music Hall of Fame for a couple of hours. It was my second trip to the Hall of Fame in the last eight years, but many of the exhibits have been changed and updated. It’s a tour well worth the time and money. That evening we ate a great steak and pasta restaurant.
Next day, we drove into the eastern time zone and got to Pigeon Forge in the early afternoon. That evening the entire crew went to Dollywood where we enjoyed the fabulous Christmas lighting, visited with the various craftsmen, and feasted on fresh cinnamon rolls baked at a pioneer-days grist mill. I even bought a container of stone-ground buckwheat flour to make pancakes and waffles when we returned home.
The next two days were filled with card and game playing with the grandkids and watching two of them play (and win) in basketball tournaments. For the Thanksgiving dinner, 14 friends and family enjoyed a bountiful traditional feast of turkey and all the trimmings.
On the way home, we overnighted in Jackson, Tenn., before making our way back to Rogers. The next day, a five-hour drive brought us safely home to Damphewmore Acres.
As always, in spite of the enjoyment of the trip, the best part of it wuz driving up our driveway to HOME!
As an observer of all things rural, I must report that in the main it’s still dry all the way to Tennessee. We saw dozens of dry livestock ponds that had been cleaned out awaiting the next rainfall with runoff. The TVA lakes in Tennessee were down what looked like 10-feet or more. Most of the Rivers were running, but barely. The Mississippi River at Memphis is about half its normal width. Most of the pastures still show signs of being grubbed down for cattle feed during the drought.
On interstate 40 through Arkansas, we passed a rugged-looking trucker who had a sign in his side window that amused me. It read: “I’m as happy as a carp in a septic tank.”
Also, while in Pigeon Forge, I always shop at the Country Music USA store for bargains on CDs featuring the old-time country-music greats. I bought 10 CDs, most of them marked down to $2.99 — a sure sign that the country-music industry has passed me by.
I also had to laugh at the tattoo store next door. It had a prominent sign in the window that read: “If you’re filthy, stinky, sweaty, grubby, unkempt, out-of-sorts, foul-mouthed, high on drugs, loopy, or otherwise undesirable, don’t come in until you’ve cleaned up and straightened out.”
I wondered how much bizness that sign drove off.
Upon coming home, I had this funny e-mail. It seems a high school student had a biology test question asking for seven reasons why it’s better to breast-feed a baby than it is to bottle-feed the child.
The student answered: “It is perfect formula for the child. It provides immunity against several diseases. It is always the right temperature. It is inexpensive. It bonds the child to mother, and vice versa. It is always available as needed” ... and then he was stuck. Finally, in desperation, just before the bell rang, he wrote: “It, also, comes in two attractive containers, high enough off the ground where the cat can’t get it.”
I’ll bet that student got an A on that test.
This little travelogue has gone on quite enuf. So, I’ll close with these words of wisdom about vacations. Writer Early Wilson said: “A vacation is what you take when you can no longer take what you’ve been taking.” And quick-wit Robert Orben opined: “A vacation is having nothing to do and all day to do it in.”
In my opinion, both guys are right.
Have a good ’un. ❖
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