Laugh Tracks in the Dust 8-31-09 |

Laugh Tracks in the Dust 8-31-09

Ol’ Nevah and I took a week’s vacation to Pigeon Forge, Tenn., to visit our four grandkids – Chance, Skimpy, Paltry, and little May Bea. We had a wonderful time.

When you travel 2,200 miles across the good ol’ U.S. of A, you can’t help but notice things that stick in your mind. For instance, in general the crops looked good throughout the trip. But I noticed far more soybeans and far less rice growing along the Mississippi River bottom in Missouri’s Bootheel, eastern Arkansas, and western Tennessee than when we took our last trip through that part of the country.

Also, I don’t know how it does it, but Tennessee has the finest interstates and state highways. Anywhere outside the city limits of Nashville and Knoxville the highways were buttery smooth and clean. Since Tennessee isn’t known as a major agricultural state, nor a manufacturing powerhouse, I can only assume that it’s tourism that pays the way in the Volunteer State.

On our return trip, we stopped to enjoy an evening at the Grand Ol’ Opry in Nashville. The artists were a nice mix of old timers from my generation like Jack Greene, Jim Ed Brown, and Mel Tillis; middle agers like Vince Gill, and newcomers like Josh Turner. The show also featured a nice balance of country western and fine bluegrass. We sat right in front of a very nice couple from Indiana and we had a good conversation with them.


The mountain rivers and streams in the Smoky Mountains are the waters of dreams. They are clear, cold, clean and bubbling through some of the finest scenery in America.

One day we hiked 1.2 miles into the national park to a wonderful 40-foot waterfall that fell into a crystalline pool. We spent an hour just soaking up the experience.

Although the hike on the rocky trail challenged my balance problems, I took my time and made the trip successfully – and it wuz well worth the effort and the risk.


Tennessee has an billboard advertising campaign against gun crime that caught my attention. The one message that I remember read: “Pack For Prison! Gun Crime Means Hard Time!”

That’s my kind of advertising. Nothing mealy-mouthed about the message.


When we were passing through Memphis, I had a good laugh at ol’ Nevah’s expense. We were rolling along at 70 mph when we passed under a lighted highway sign that read: “TDOT Test.”

I was busy paying attention to traffic and didn’t pay much attention to ol’ Nevah’s comment, “What are we supposed to do, toot our horn?”

About another mile down the interstate, there was another similar sign that read: “End of TDOT Test.”

That’s when ol’ Nevah asked, “What in the world is a TOOT Test?”

And that’s when it registered in my mind what she thought the signs said. So, I replied, “Well, we were either supposed to honk our horn or pass gas for a mile.”

I will admit that the electronic “D” in the Tennessee Department of Transportation abbreviation looked a lot like an “O.”


We drove a “new” used Buick that we traded for a month ago. It developed a small mechanical problem that turned out to be just funny. On our second morning, we left Poplar Bluff, Mo., and headed southeast through the Missouri Bootheel.

It wuz a particularly hot and muggy morning and by 8 a.m. the outdoor thermometer on the car registered 95 degrees. A half hour later it registered 101 degrees. I wuz thinking “this is gonna be the hottest day on record.”

A few miles later, the temp read 106 and I wuz on my cell phone calling my buddies back home about the extraordinarily temperatures we were traveling through.

But when the temp climbed to 115 degrees even my dense mind began to question the validity of the thermometer. Well, it wuz faulty and the temp continued to rise until it stuck on 139 degrees for the rest of the trip.

I had to call back to my friends and apologize for my exaggeration on the weather.


As with any vacation, setting foot on home soil wuz a welcome event. Nothing looks better than home even if the lawn looked like foxgrass heaven when we arrived.

I hope my little travelogue didn’t bore you to death. I’ll get back to the humor next week. Until then, I’ll close with these patriotic words of wisdom from former President Andrew Jackson: “As long as our government is administered for the good of the people, and is regulated by their will; as long as it secures to us the rights of persons and of property, liberty of conscience and of the press, it will be worth defending.”

Amen! Have a good ‘un.

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