Road Trippin’………..Wharton, TX


Logbook entry January 15, 2017……….First stop on the map of discovery fell into a category (when googled) as “a small town with unique things to see.” I’d never been to Wharton, it’s fairly close to home; only 97 miles, so I decided this would be good place to begin my year long journey of discovering new roads.

This would be good 1, of 2, day trips on my year long plan.

It was gloomy and rainy when I got up; causing me to want to change my mind. “No Jeri, stick to the plan. Hit the road.”

It’s about an hour and 45 minute drive and I wasn’t looking forward to driving in rain and traffic (I hate to drive).

But I set out……….

I put my destination in mapquest and closed my garage door.

First stop before the freeway…….Starbucks. I needed coffee to deal with rain and traffic.

About 20 miles down the freeway my GPS takes me off of the freeway.

“Why am I getting off the freeway?”
“Damn it! Already I’ve screwed up!” (my ditzy, directionally challenged mini me screamed in my ear). Anyone that knows me or has read any of my stories, knows that I am seriously directionally challenged…..it SUCKS.
I argue with myself, “NO! I haven’t screwed up! I’m following the GPS!”

The further I went the less populated it became. The rain had stopped and I began to relax in my drive. I realized the GPS shortest route was down back roads. I found myself driving down 2 lane country roads where there were no Starbucks, no Buckees, no Loves Truck stop and no traffic. Only miles and miles of cattle pastures and long country roads.

Who knew less than 50 miles was one of the largest city’s in the states…….Houston, TX

I arrived to Wharton to find a quiet little town, with a Junior College, life sized dinosaur (in one of the city parks), a quirky Tee Pee Motel; built in the 1940’s and still operating today and a beautiful courthouse.

I took a chance taking my first day trip on a Sunday, most of the little shops were closed. But I found one shop on the historical courthouse square with so much hodge podge, it kept me busy for an hour. My next stop was the city park where I was greeted by a friendly dinosaur. I felt like he was watching over the iron bridge that was not longer operational; but still lead passage over the Brazos River to the other side. It began to rain, so I bid my friend farewell and headed out in search of the quirky Tee Pee Motel.

There on the outskirts of town, in the middle of no where stood 10 structures in the shape of Tee Pees. When you round the bend, it was an unusual sight. One that makes you turn around and go back. I pulled in to check them out. They were indeed quirky! Lucky for me I walked upon one being cleaned. The girl cleaning was very friendly and laughed when I asked if I could check it out.

Much to my surprise; it was round inside! I guess I was expecting a square room in a round tee pee……..LOL! It had all the modern conveniences; queen bed, sofa, flat screen TV, shower and air conditioning. The only thing missing were windows. Go figure! She explained they were rented just like regular motel rooms at $75 per night. I thought it was a little pricey, as I didn’t find much to do in this quiet little town. I graciously thanked her for letting me poke around and I jumped in my car and headed back to G-town.

I came.
I saw.

Although it was not a grand adventure, it was a great way to spend a Sunday afternoon and a good beginning to my goal of discovering new places.

February’s destination ~ Waco, TX, where Dr. Pepper was created!
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Road trip……..Travel Log


I can record another successful road trip in my travel log. No mishaps, no wrong turns and no extended travel times. Just a week of enjoying being with my kids.

I did have a great idea to break up my 5 hour drive time to Waco. I stopped off at my son’s place and spent the night. It is about a half-way point and I don’t know why I never thought of this before.

We had dinner and a great little visit. I woke the next morning refreshed and ready for my 2 1/2 hour drive to my daughters. It was great not feeling like I’d been in the car all day and I made it just after lunch.

Babies change so fast and due to the distance between myself and my daughter, I only get to see my grand daughter every couple of months.

This visit she had graduated to a high chair, was eating finger foods, waves bye-bye, plays patty cake, says Da-da and doesn’t like it when she’s still hunger and her food is “all gone-gone.”

A sassy little personality; she sometimes doesn’t like to be touched, she loves her cartoons and books and loves to watch the birds outside. She refuse to crawl and thinks she’s big enough to walk without any hands. She doesn’t want to be rocked and when you lay her in her bed she goes right to sleep.

She is the epitome of a little diva………………..taking after her mother and GiGi.

We took a trip to the zoo and she was more interested in the little “animals” outside of the cages then the ones in captivity. I whispered to her, “That’ll be you one day.”

She just watched.

We discovered she doesn’t like big hairy animals in water or big animals that get to close, even though there is glass between us. The swimming bear, the otter and the giraffe were among her least favorite. But she did love the big aquarium with all the swimming fish………..of all sizes.

And of course the birds, she loved the birds.

The last day of my visit “the girls” went shopping at an outlet mall……………………

she will be a true shopper, just like her mother and Gigi. Have mercy on her future husband.

She never cried, never whined. She smiled and watched all the people while riding in her stroller allowing her mother and I to have an enjoyable afternoon. And right on que, she took a nice little nap on the way home.

It was a great week of bonding with my children, watching them in their environment. I was impressed, as always, by my daughter as a mother. She takes the time to make fresh baby food from veggies that her husband grows in their backyard. Something I would never have had time to do.

I didn’t obsess about being unemployed or spend all my time on my computer looking for a job. I didn’t stress and dread the drive back; I was stopping over at my son’s place again and spending the night with him and his girlfriend.

It’s much more enjoyable this way.

I always hate to leave. What will I miss out on while I’m gone? Will she forget me?

But then……think of all the new things she’ll have to show me the next time I see her.

As I pulled out of their driveway yesterday, my heart lurched as her little hand waved bye-bye to me and again I think about all that I miss…………

I pull into my son’s apartment complex and he greets me with a kiss.

“Hey Mom! How was the drive? Did you have a good visit?”
“Yes, yes I did. Where are we going to eat?”
He just smiles, “Where ever y’all want to go.”

I don’t want to miss anything with this kid either……….

It’s Fathers Day and I have a dad I don’t see much.

I called him today as I was returning from my road trip. We talked a long while inquiring how he was feeling, talked about my kids and my unemployment. I could hear the concern in his voice when we talked about my circumstance, but I assured him it would all be fine. I told him I loved him and wished him Happy Fathers Day before hanging up.

He lives about 40 miles from me, not far and I should see him more often than I do.

I don’t want distance to separate me and my kids.

Knock, knock, knock.
Who could that be?
Well looky there, it’s my ass draggin’ in.
“Hey there sista, I’ve been expecting you. What took you so long? I’ve been home for hours. Come on in.”

So………………………………..

I’ll drive.

As often as I can.

Take the Bad with the Good


To satisfy my needs to see my kids, cleanse my soul at the beach and maintain an out-of-town relationship; I have to drive………………..

A lot.

So you would think that someone that drives as much as I do would like to drive; somewhat.

But the truth is; I don’t like to drive…………….

very much…………………

at all.

My internal navigational compass is all jacked up.

A manufactures defect (sorry Mom).

If you ask me which way is North, I point straight ahead……………so South would be behind me, East to the left of me (I think) and West to the right of me (I think)………………..

no matter how I’m standing or which way I turn.

Back in the day; you know, before cars had GPS and before Smart Ass phones; we relied on a faithful old Rand McNally or verbal directions.

I was not good with either one.

I’d get all turned around using a map and when given verbal directions, if I was told, “go south on highway such and such”, I would ask, “Which way do I turn to go south?”

I would get that furrowed-brow, blank look, with a response, “Let me draw you a map.” To which I would reply, “Ok, but I need land marks. I’m not very good with road signs.” Again I would get a furrowed-brow, blank look.

In those days, I went no where new by myself.

I’ve gotten a little better with road signs, but my internal compass is still jacked up despite GPS and Smart Ass phones. I miss my exits, turn the wrong way and drive for miles in the wrong direction before realizing it, causing me to have to back-track.

This pisses me off.

So my preference is to get where I’m going in the quickest, easiest and safest possible way……………..

Now, can someone tell me what could possibly be so important that you endanger your life and the life’s of other drivers????

I’ll tell you………………..

NOTHING!!!!!!

Except maybe having a baby or life threatening accident and then you better be in an emergency vehicle or have your emergency flashers on!!!!

So I don’t take kindly to someone riding my ass when there are cars in front of me; all driving the speed limit and then trying to pass me on a 2 lane country road into on coming traffic.

You……are…….crazy!!!!

This past weekend I set out on a little road trip to see my son and his girlfriend in College Station. I’m driving along; along with 4 other cars in front of me, when the car behind me starts riding my ass.

No flashers on, so no ones having a baby. Just sayin………………

The idiot tries passing into on coming traffic forcing me to slam on my brakes and swerve to the shoulder of the road (what little shoulder there was). This caused me uncontrollable road rage!!!!

Explicit language that would make a sailor blush, followed by “Thank you Jesus for keeping me safe.”

The drive was down hill from here on out; just down right bad!!!

I reach Huntsville; which is not far from College Station and hang a right on to Interstate 45 and breath a little easier. It won’t be much longer and I’ll be there……………….

35 miles down the interstate it hits me………………..ARGHHHHH (throwing my head back in frustration)

I’m headed to the wrong kids house!!!! I was headed in the direction of my daughters house in Waco!!!

Are you freakin’ kidding me??? Seriously Jeri!!!

I took a right onto the interstate instead of staying straight, on my current highway.

Back-track……………………….

70 miles outa my way.

If that wasn’t bad enough, I missed the turn to their apartment complex and got all turned around. I was rattled and a nervous wreck by the time I reached my destination.

So you ask (or at least should be wondering)………………..with all that bad, what could possibly be good?

Well…………..about mid-way to my destination I cross a body of water called Lake Livingston. As I cross one of the bridges, I spot a somewhat rare sight……………………

White Pelicans!!!

I have seen these birds before in Galveston and one time on the lake where I grew up, but I have never had the opportunity to photograph them. I always have my camera, so I made a little roadside pit stop. I pulled off the road and walked down a hill out onto a grassy point. This was a rare opportunity for me.
white-pelicans

These are Northern state birds, but migrate south in the winter months. They are usually seen along the coasts of California, Texas, Florida and Mexico. It is unusual for them to be seen off the beaten path such as Lake Livingston.

The usually stay together in large colonies, so it’s unusual that there were only 5 that I saw.
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Unlike their brown pelican cousin; the white pelican is not a komacozi diver for food. It forages in the grasses and along shorelines, scooping it’s food up into it’s enormous bill. So I was lucky they stayed close to the banks.

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4 of the 5 had these orange flap looking things on their beaks. These are the males and develop these growths during mating season (poor girl, having to deal with 4 males).

I was lucky to be able to have this opportunity to photograph them in a natural setting.

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If I didn’t drive as much as I do I probably would never have had the opportunity.

Sometimes you gotta take the bad with good…………………………

Riverwalk ~ San Antonio, Tx


San Antonio, Tx Riverwalk

San Antonio, Tx Riverwalk as taken from a balcony at the Riverwalk Plaza Hotel.

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There’s no Place Like Home


I like to travel.

I’m not very fond of driving; I’d prefer a plane or a ship………..

But I drive a lot.

One child in Waco, one child in College Station, my happy place in Galveston and my home base in Jasper.

I make a big circle, round and round I go.

I guess you could call me a “road warrior”. That’s the new buzz word for someone that travels a lot.

If the shoe fits wear it, right?

Now don’t misunderstand me; I love being home. It’s were all my things are. I don’t have to live outa a suitcase, feel guilty about eating other folks groceries or sleep on an air mattress.

I try to travel light, but by the time I include everything I think I might need, I end up with several bags.

There’s one thing my hosts don’t have to worry about ~ where I’ll bed down.

You see I come and go prepared.

I carry an air mattress in my car.

I used to borrow one. It was one you had to hook up to an air pump and every time I took it to Waco my son-in-law would have to take it in the garage to air it up.

The air pump I had plugged into the adapter thingy in your car.

Then he’d have to carry it through the house and maneuver it to the room I was staying in. And we aren’t talking about a twin size mattress; we’re talking about a full size one.

It was a real pain in the butt!!

Thankfully, since then I’ve upgraded to a mattress with a built-in pump.

Just plug it in and turn it on.

Presto!!!

Instant bed in about 5 minutes.

Another gadget I’m learning to carry with me is a small fan. I’m a “white noise” sleeper and without it I don’t sleep at all.

This makes for horrible visiting, so I’m taking care of that little issue as well. It’s nice to wake up feeling rested when you’re away from home.

But as much as I like to travel and adapt to my surroundings; it never ceases to amaze me how much I realize I miss “home” after I’ve been gone awhile.

As soon as I walk in the door I feel a sense of relief.

There is all my clutter greeting me. There is all my groceries saying, “Don’t be afraid to eat me.” And my dirty clothes basket waiting for my dirty clothes.

But I think the best part about “home” is my bed.

Oh my goodness, I forget how good it feels until I reach down, turn on my fan, pull back the covers and crawl in.

That’s when I realize how much I’ve missed my bed.

I wiggle down into those cold sheets, pull the blankets up around my chin and snuggle my pillow like it’s a long lost lover.

I lay there quietly letting my bed engulf me, listening to the whirling of my fan and the purring of my cat (she’s glad she’s home as well).

I drift off into a peaceful sleep in my little land of Oz, silently whispering, “There’s no place like home, there’s no place like home……………”

A few days of rejuvenation and this “road warrior” is ready to go again.

“Have mattress, will travel!”

But one thing will never change; when I pull in that driveway and open my door; I know…………………

There’s no place like home.

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These little ruby slippers were Christmas ornaments. They sit on my end table year around.

Counting Hawks


Since I no longer have an obligation to be somewhere every morning and I can search for a job anywhere I can bring my laptop………..Starbucks, Whataburger………………………..my deck at the beach………………….

I drive a lot.

Waco; to see my diamond………………..then home.

College Station; to see my son and his sweet Jessie…………………..then home.

Yes, I have no sense of direction and yes, I get lost…………….

a lot.

But I still have to drive to get where I want to be……………

so I drive on!!!!!

For years now, the path I keep smokin’ hot is that path between the beach and home. As soon as I see Exit 829, my heart skips a little beat and I begin to feel the tension leave my body.

Texas 124 is a stretch of 2 lane highway flanked by pastures, marshes and not much else. This highway ends and takes a sharp turn to the right taking you along coastal highway 87.

I love this highway that runs parallel with the ocean and takes you through it’s sleepy, little coastal towns. It ends at the Bolivar Ferry landing; where I drive aboard the boat that takes me across the Galveston Bay and drops me on the Island I love.

It has been fun watching these little coastal towns and the Island, come back to life and rise above the ravagings of a devastating hurricane named “Ike”. Each and every time I look in anticipation; as I drive, to see what has been restored, replaced or built brand new.

It’s a long drive and the stretch on Texas 124 is boring; not much to look at and aside from a few animals that have met their demise………….including a couple of alligators…………there’s not much to see.

One cloudy day while traveling this stretch, I caught myself subconsciously counting……………………

What the heck am I counting??? Focus!!!!

14; drive a little further; 15………..

OMG!!! I was counting HAWKS!!!!

On the high-lines, on the fence posts and in the tip tops of tree limbs.

Seriously…………..HAWKS??

I can not tell you when I started counting them or how long I’ve been counting them. I just know I count them.

Once I realized what I was doing, I began to focus on these princely birds. They are lone hunters; sitting up high watching for their prey. Very rarely do you see two together. On a few occasions I’ve watched as one would swoop down and snag it’s unfortunate prey with it’s large talons and fly away.

I’ve also taken notice of the different sizes and appearances. These are beautiful birds. Ranging from light brown with spots to black with snow white breasts and bright yellow feet.

To see one of these perched on a fence post is AMAZING to me!!

At Christmas time during my whole Waco “lost” fiasco with my son and Jessie; as we are quietly driving along I tell my son; who is sitting up front with me; outa the blue……………

“I count hawks on the high-lines.”

He turns and looks at me with a most peculiar expressions and says, “And you do this…..why?”

Shrugging, “I don’t know, I just do.”

Shaking his head, “Humph. Interesting.”

Then I began to point them out to him; I can spot them hundreds of yards away.

“Wow; it’s a game for you isn’t it?”

“I guess.”

“You count hawks like most people count volkswagons (beavers) or outa state licenses plates.”

“I guess.”

A little while later he says, “I’ve never noticed before, but they are everywhere.”

“Yep. Aren’t they pretty?”

“It’s different.”

Just recently my companion and I jumped in the car; spur of the moment and drove to Corpus Christi for the weekend. We traveled a long boring stretch of interstate. Guess what I started doing??

You got it……………..counting.

Amongst our conversation I blurted out, “I count hawks on the high-lines.”

He to had a peculiar expression on his face.

“You what?”

“Count hawks. You think it’s weird don’t you?”

“Well………….for you I guess it’s not.” Smiling.

“Very funny.”

I began to point them out to him………… on the right, on the left, in the trees, on the street lights……………

“Man, you can really spot ’em can’t ya?”

“Yep. There a lone species and they are pretty.”

“Yes they are.”

Like most things, it became a challenge for him; who could spot one first and who could spot the most. It lasted a little while for him; but for me it lasted the whole weekend.

On our drive home we took a different route; a two lane, winding, country road with lotsa fence posts. On a couple of occasions my companion stopped so I could get a really good look at these beautiful creatures.

One hawk I remember in particular was huge!!! It was black with a snow white breast. It had long, black feathers on it’s head and they were blowing in the wind. It was holding tightly to the top of a fence post with it’s large yellow feet, looking side to side as if it were keeping watch. I remember it’s colors being so vibrant and bright and being able to clearly see it’s eyes and beak and thinking how beautiful and majestic it was.

It’s odd that I would have such a strange fascination for this feathered bird; you see I don’t like birds………………………..

they give me the heebie jeebies!!!!

All their loud squawking and wing flapping; I don’t want them anywhere near me.

Yes, I watched the Alfred Hitchcock movie; but that’s not the reason for my dislike………………

When I was a girl; we had two large oak trees in the front yard where I grew up. And in these oak trees lived a ginormous OWL, with a wing span the size of a 747. One night after dark, while walking up the driveway; this ginormous bird swooped down at the top of my head. Running, like I was possessed with a demon, it scared the hell outa me!! I thought it was going to carry me away never to be found.

After that, I never wanted to be out after dark. Period.

It was also during this time that one of my sisters had a cockatiel; the small, white, parrot looking birds. She would let this bird outa it’s cage to fly around. I would sit with my head covered with a blanket while it fluttered and flapped around me; the whole time she is laughing.

I hated it!!!

I don’t even feed the seagulls at the beach. I shoo them away as I walk.

So hence, my very dislike of birds and my confusion for my fascination with hawks.

Maybe it’s the majestic calmness they project or the quiet patients they seem to have.

Whatever it is and as peculiar as it may seem; I will continue to count these feathered creatures.

Each and every time I travel a stretch of highway I will be looking for the lone hunter as it sits on a fence post or the forever stretching high-lines.

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Where’s the jeep………..


Last month, amidst the hateful cold weather, I had the pleasure of going on a cruise to warm tropical places…………Jamaica, Grand Cayman and Cozumel.

And yes it was heaven on earth. If you’ve been there and done that, you know what I’m talkin’ about.

We had two days at sea before we reached our first Port of Call ~ Montego Bay, Jamaica.

Now this was not my first cruise; it was my fourth cruise, so I know how to deal with my wussy stomach. I’m allergic to the motion sickness patch so I keep bottles of Dramamine and herbal oil drops with me at ALL times.

I was looking forward to the shows, the shopping and the sun. Loaded up on Dramamine I was ready to sail.

Sunday evening we leave the Port of Galveston and we are on our way. My companion and I spend the evening exploring the ship, hitting the buffet and plotting our events for Monday; a full day at sea……….

Monday was a relaxing day, coffee on the balcony, a brisk walk before breakfast, the buffet, an Art Auction, hitting the outside buffet, some casino action, dinner and a show. A full day to be had. Before retiring for the night, we plotted our events for Tuesday; our second day at sea……….

Tuesday started relaxing enough, coffee on the balcony watching the sunrise, hit the buffet, and then the Art Auction. We enjoyed this on Monday so we thought we’d try it again on Tuesday. Plus there was free champagne!!

But this is were things started going south……….

I noticed while eating breakfast things weren’t tasting so good and I wondered why. As the morning sailed on I began to feel uneasy.

WTH!!! This can’t be happening, I’ve taken all the necessary precautions to prevent the dreaded……….SEA SICKNESS!! And I’ve not gotten sick before!! Why now!!

Trying to put the uneasy feeling away; we head to the auction. Today I pass on the champagne for fear I couldn’t keep it down.

The auction couldn’t have ended soon enough. I told my companion, “I’m going outside, I need some air.”

Declining to partake in the outside buffet and hoping the sea air would relieve my uneasiness; I realized it was not a passing thing. As my stomach flipped and flopped, and my intestines gurgled; I told my companion, “I’m not going to make it; I need to go to the room.”

That was at 1:30 pm and by 3:00 pm it was full blown and I was so wishing I hadn’t eaten at all the buffets.

For the next 14 hours the toilet and trash cans were my best mates.

With the balcony door propped open with a chair and in between frequents bouts to the bathroom; I tried to rest with the ocean breeze blowing in my face.

Now, like the nights before, that morning we had plotted our events for Wednesday and had planned an excursion at Jamaica. It was no surprise that sometime during my unpleasant plight he came to the room to inquire into my ability to be able to participant in the outing we had planned. I had assured him I would be better as soon as my feet hit dry land.

I was still wishing I hadn’t eaten so many buffets!!

I’m not sure how it happened, but our communications got crossed up somewhere between his bar hopping until 3 am and my frequent visits with the bathroom.

The excursion was not what I expected………….

Wednesday morning I wake up and realize we are not moving (Oh, thank you Jesus!!) and; not that there could possibly have been one ounce of anything left in my system, I had not visited the bathroom in 2 hours (Oh, again, thank you Jesus!). It was 7:30 am and I rise quietly and decided to let my snoring, hung-over companion sleep as long as possible.

I’m still not feeling well, my intestines are making obnoxious noises and I’m still a little queasy. It occurs to me this is not my customary motion sickness; there was no “sick” headache and it seemed to have ended after 14 hours…………..more like a virus than sea sick. Whatever it was; sea sick or virus, I was glad it had run it course and was leaving me!!

I was looking forward to a relaxing jeep tour through Jamaica and a little shopping.

Time to wake the sleeping giant………………………

We were to gather for the excursion at 9:30 am (or so I thought), so waking him at 8:45 am seemed like enough time.

He didn’t want to get up (no surprise), so I ask……..

“Did you cancel the excursion?”

“No.”

“Then you need to get up.”

“What time is it?”

“8:45.”

“&*^%$@, We’re suppose to leave at 9:00!!” as he sits up holding his head.

“No, 9:30”

“NO!! @*&^%($!!! It’s 9:00, look at the tickets!!”

OOPS!!!

“Sorry, I thought it was 9:30.” My bad.

Grumpy, grouchy and hung-over, he peels his self from the bed, splashes water on his face, throws on some clothes and a few more choice words and we head out the door.

The whole while I’m thinking, “We’re going to miss the tour.” As luck may have it, those tour guide folks expect cases like ours; you know the ones……the folks that can’t get it together. They allow for extra time for those types of folks (Oh, thank you Jesus!!)

As both of us are not feeling well, we opt to take the elevator down 9 levels instead of the stairs. In the elevator with us is a young couple……………..

Guy – “You got the tickets?:

Girl – “I don’t have the tickets, you have the tickets.”

Guy – “I don’t have the tickets.”

Girl – “I gave them to you.”

Guy – “You’re kidding me right?”

Girl – “No. I gave them to you at the table eating breakfast.”

Guy – “Well, f___!!!” as he begins to dig around in his back pack.

Simultaneously my companion and I look at each other……………………..

Me – “I got the tickets.”

Him – “You sure.”

Me………reaching in my bag show him the tickets, “I got the tickets.”

Him…………reaches down and kisses me, then smiles. The first smile all morning. Maybe the day wasn’t going to be so bad after all……….

We make it to our tour bus with plenty of time to spare and we both sit back and breath. While waiting to leave, I notice the other folks on our bus are wearing swim suits and cover-ups. My companion looks at me; obviously taking notice of the same thing.

“Did you wear your swim suit?”

I look at him and ask, “Did you?” Knowing full well, he did not.

Something was not right.

We are finally on our way, headed to our destination. We have an attractive Jamaican tour guide named “Marabell” who starts off by telling us it’s a 3 hour drive to the “falls”.

3 hours!!!! It’s only a 4 hour excursion!!!

I look at my companion, “What is she talking about? Where are the jeeps?”

He just shrugs.

Missing breakfast, he’s irritated and grumpy. Not having eaten or drank anything in the last 24 hours, I’m dehydrated and tired. We sit back for a long ride to who knows where, while Marabell rambles on about, “No problem mon!!” and “Don’t worry, be hoppy!!”

Hummm, I’m not so sure about that………….

It’s been an 1 1/2 into our journey and Marabell announces we will be making a restroom stop at a little store. We can also get drinks and snacks. He’s hungry and I’m thirsty. We share a bag of Fritos and a bottle of water. With lack of nourishment and little sleep, we are both dog tired with no energy.

It obviously showed, as Marabell asked if I was feeling alright and did I bring my “water shoes”.

Water Shoes????

Me – “No.”…………….. We are the only ones wearing walking shoes.

She – “No problem, mon. We will get you some when we get there.”

Me – “Ok.”…………………. Where is “there” and why would I need water shoes??

Returning to our seats on the bus, I ask my companion, “Why would we need water shoes?”

He just shrugs.

I sit back in my seat and take in the country side of Jamaica. All of it’s poverty, rawness, and beauty. Bougainvillea grow wild on the roadside where the free range goats and chickens gather. Jamaica has very few economic industries; sugar cane, Red Stripe beer, rum (they call Moon Shine) and it’s largest………..tourism. It is also known for it’s high crime rate; it’s not a place to venture out into after dark.

Another 1 1/2 hour traveling and learning about Bob Marley’s homestead and Jamaica’s school system; Marabell finally announces we’ve reached our destination…………..”Welcome to Oches Rios ~ Dunn River Falls”.

At that point I’m thinking we’re on the wrong excursion. I look at my companion…………….quietly, so as not to draw attention;

Me – “Dunn River Falls??”

Him – “This is the one you wanted to do.”

Me – “No, I wanted to do the jeep tour!”

Him – “This is the one you had circled.”

Me – silence, thinking to myself, “This is the one HE had circled.”…………………………….

I’m still hoping for a jeep.

Before we exit the tour bus, Marabell gives us a few instructions, “Anything you don’t want wet you need to leave on the bus, be sure to wear your water shoes, climbing the rocks is slippery and you will be getting wet. Now let’s go mon and stay together!”

WHAT??? WET??? CLIMB???? SLIPPERY???

I feel my anxiety building. I ask my companion, ” What the hell are we doing?”, to which he replies, “Sounds like we’re going to climb some falls.” Ok, now I’m a nervous wreck.

Marabell asks us if we need to change into our swim suits; it is at this point I finally ask, “Where are the jeeps?”

She looks at us and chuckles, “Oh, honey, there are no jeeps. This is Dunn River Falls. You walk to the bottom of the falls and climb back up the rocks; its 125 feet.”

HOLY, SMOKIN’, SHIT!!!!

All I could say was, “We have no swim suits.”

She smiles, “No problem mon, come with me; we’ll get you some water shoes.” I now know why we need water shoes!!

As we follow behind her, I look at my companion with that “WTH??” look on my face. He just shakes his head, “We can do this.”

Ok, under normal circumstances, this would have been an exciting adventure for us; but me being weak from dispensing all nourishment and fluids from every orifices of my body and my companion barely functioning, suffering from the side effects from the previous nights bar hopping until 3 am; we were in no shape to climb a 125 foot waterfall!! None the less, we put on our water shoes and head down to the bottom.

We have 2 experienced “falls” guides; they warn us the rocks are slippery, step slow and careful, stay with the group and hold on to the children.

The children!!! Hell, who’s gonna hold on to me????

At the bottom, the water is rushing from the falls and crashing into the beach surf. The guides tell us to line up in “boy, girl, boy, girl” fashion and hold hands. We approach the falls, I’m shaking in my water shoes and turn to look at my companion. This time he asks, “Are you going to be able to do this?” To which I replied, “I don’t know.” “I’ll help you.”, he said. How was he going to help me, he wasn’t in any better shape then I was!!!

Up we go; the water is rushing and the climb is steep………..and it’s freezing!!! The man ahead of me is pulling on my hand, making it hard for me. Several times I stopped, legs shaking, I’m holding onto the side just to catch my breath. We tried really hard not to get wet; as we had no other clothes, but the guides saw to it that we got wet; taking us through pools waist deep and deeper. We gave up trying to stay dry. I finally told the two men holding my hands to let go, I was having better luck climbing on my own.

About half way to the top of the falls was an observation deck………………….it was also an “EXIT”. It was so very tempting, but I’d made it this far and had decided I’d be damned if I was going to let these falls whip my ass today! So climb on I did. At on point the guides wanted us to fall back into a pool and then take our picture. I refused to fall back; but I wanted them to take the picture…………..so they did. I looked at my companion, “I don’t care what it looks like, I want to buy that picture.”

We reached the top, wet and exhausted. Conquerors!!

Although I was ready to get back to the ship, we were not looking forward to the sticky, soggy ride back.

We traded our rented “water shoes” back in for our own walking shoes……….the only articles of our clothing that was dry. I was happy to find my bag and camera safe and sound on the bus where I left it. The articles I didn’t want to get wet…………..thank goodness I left them behind.

It was a quiet ride back with a couple of stops for bathroom breaks. We mingled through a few shops at the port, bought a couple of coffee cups and a hand carved Angel fish, then headed back to the ship.

Silently we walked to the elevators, no climbing the stairs today; we’d done enough climbing for one day.

Changing into dry clothes, we decided on pizza for dinner………………………….we ate like pigs; we had only shared a bag of Fritos and a bottle of water the whole day.

We were hungry to say the least.

Tired and weary, we stayed in the room the rest of the evening. Quietly, before I drifted off into an exhausted sleep, I said……………….

“From now on I’ll pick the excursions.”

“Perfect.”

My relaxing 4 hour jeep tour turned into a 7 hour adventure.

One I won’t forget……………………………

And I have the picture to prove it.

We will not speak of this again


I was still in “Santa” mode as I prepared to spend a few days after Christmas with my kids in Waco.

There was one small issue I dreaded…………the drive.

So I planned my MO carefully.  My son and his girlfriend would meet me the day after Christmas around 10:00 a.m. and we would hit the road shortly there after (after the morning traffic cleared out), with an ETA of about 2 1/2 hours later.

The kids were a little late, but not much.  We made a quick stop at Starbucks for Lattes and we were on the road.

What I didn’t factor in………..was the traffic (everyone was suppose to be back at work) AND missing a very important exit ramp.  Oops!!

How do you miss a numbered exit by about 15 exits and 60 extra miles outa the way?

That’s right……..60 (plus) long miles.

Apparently it’s not hard for me.

I have a Garmon………where is it you ask?  It’s is sitting on a shelf in Jasper and I’m in Houston.

Not doing me much good there, now is it?

But I do have my trusty iPhone with my “Maps” application, which has gotten my outa many a wrong turns. 🙂

Why didn’t I use my trusty phone?  Well………..I typed in the address, picked my route and feeling rather cocky (I’d driven to Waco a few times before), I looked at the directions one time and said……….”I got this!”

Wrong!!

I was so off in so many different ways it wasn’t even funny!!!

First, I ignored my “Maps” suggested route of taking the “toll” road and just hopped on the interstate highway I needed to be on that would take me straight to my exit for Waco.

How in hell was I suppose to know it was going to take me an hour and a half in stop and go traffic just to get out of the city?

Then…………….how was I to know, that the 4 lane freeway went down to 2 lanes because of construction………….taking us 40 minutes just to get down to where the 2 lanes started!!!

Can you say “Road Rage”???

We are 2 hours well into our trip and we are just barely outa Houston!!

Seriously!!!!!!

This was going to be a long day……….

Along about Huntsville there’s a break in the traffic and our speed picks up.  I decide to make a quick restroom stop…………I’m getting ready to make up some time.

So I think…………….I was soooooo wrong.

I set the cruise and settle in; I know I’ve got several miles to go before my exit 189.

But not as many as I think………………

Along about exit 196, things don’t look familiar and I’m thinking the exit should be getting close.  “Super Mom” mini-me begins to doubt herself and wonders why she hasn’t seen any signs saying “Waco”.

“Keep driving; I’m sure it’s just a few more exits.”

Exit 206…………”Super Mom” mini-me is no where to be found.  She has been replaced by “Dumb Blonde” mini-me asking, “Did I miss the “Waco” exit?  That sign says Dallas – 80 miles.”

Holy Smack!!!!!!  I’m going the wrong way!!!!

Just so you know…………there is no “Waco” sign on I-45.   (*&^%?@!!!!!

I consult my trusty little iPhone and it confirms………….I’m way off course.  So I take the next exit and get new directions from my “current location”.

The mini-me’s are talking amongst themselves………….so we don’t alarm the children.  My son’s girlfriend Jessie, is napping in the backseat and my son Daniel, is riding shot gun.  He hasn’t said a word; until we exit the interstate and turn down a small black-top road called “Ranch Road” something, something.

Finally he says, “Is this right?”

Me ~ “It is now.”

Daniel ~ “What you mean NOW?”

Me ~ “I missed the exit.”

Daniel ~ “MOTHER!”

Jessie is awake and sitting up like a rocket in the backseat, not saying a word, but fully alert.

It is at this point that I realize “Ranch Road” something, something; is an actual “Ranch”, “Road”!!!

“What a dumb blonde” all the other mini-me’s say.

I’m driving in the middle of freakin’ nothing on a little black-top road with barbed wire fences on both sides.

I consult my trusty phone.

It says I’m going the right way.

Daniel ~ “How far on this road do we have to go?”

Me ~ “32 miles.”

Daniel; spinning around like a top to face me, laughing hysterically, “Ooh…..32……..MILES!!!!  How far outa the way did we go?”

Me ~ “I don’t know.”

Daniel ~ “Then what?”

Me ~ “It says, when the road ends turn right.”

Daniel ~ “What??”

Me ~ “You heard me.”

Daniel ~ “Let me see your phone.”………….”Oh my Lord; that’s what it says.  We’re lost.”

Me ~ “No we are not.  The phone says we’re going in the right direction!!”

Folks……..do you know how far 32 miles is in the middle of nothing???

Endless…………….

After 40 minutes of driving on this “Ranch Road”, I say; to no one in particular, “Did I miss a turn?”

Daniel ~ “How could you, we haven’t come to the end of the road yet.”

Cutting my eyes at him I quietly tell him, “Hush”.

50 minutes and 32 miles later, we reached the “end” of the road.  Mini-me “Dumb Blonde” says, “I told you we were going the right way!  Just a little ways down this road and we’ll be back on track!”  We turn onto another small, black-top road called “FM” something, something.  “Dumb Blonde” mini-me knows that “FM” means “Farm to Market” road (because we have those where she comes from) and it’s just as narrow and windy as the last road.

Daniel ~ “How far down this road?”

Me ~ “11 miles.”

Daniel ~ “Hum, 11 miles.  Then what?”

Me ~ “Turn left on 3rd street, go 8 miles……….,through a town I’m thinking; then turn left on Hwy 84.  I know my way from there.”

My son turns and looks at me, “Really????  I doubt that.”

Cutting my eyes over at him I quietly say, “Hush.”

11 miles down the “Farm to Market” pig trail, 8 miles through town, 6 more miles (following the signs) to Hwy 84 and I am finally on a familiar road.

Bubbly, I say, “It won’t be long now!!”

Daniel ~ “Uh, huh.”

The next road sign says………..Waco ~ 48 miles…………….

All of my mini-me’s say, “You’ve gotta be freakin’ kidding me!!!” and my son says, “OH………MY………LORD!!!”

There is not a sound from the back seat.

Driving along quietly, I say, “We will not speak of this; our added scenic route.”

Daniel ~ “Never.”

Silence from the back seat.

Five and a half hours later, we reach our Waco destination.  We are so thankful just to get out of the car and I’m so anxious to see my little diamond.

My daughter greets us, we all hug and exchange “how are you” and I’m kissing on a sweet little cherub face when my daughter says, “What took ya’ll so long?”

No on says a word; you know, kinda like we didn’t hear the question.

She then says, “You got lost didn’t you?”

Quickly I reply, “Weeelll……NO!!”

From outa no where, a sweet angelic voice says, “She missed the exit off the interstate.”

The quiet, back seat angel, that didn’t say a word through the whole ordeal; just ratted me out!!!

My daughter looks at me, “MOTHER!!”

My son, “And we went about 160 miles outa our way!!”

All bug-eyed I’m looking at both of them ~ cutting my eyes from one to the other; I quietly say, “We were not to speak of this.”

Jessie just giggles and my son sadly shakes his head.

I tell my little diamond, who is looking at all of us, “We almost went to Dallas, yes we did.”

My daughter exclaims, “Oh my gosh!!!”

Her husband Paul, who is usually very quiet, can’t help but laugh.

I just look at him.

I snuggle my little diamond, who is smiling at me and I feel all of the days frustration melt away.

Cutting my eyes at all 4 of my grown children, I quietly say, “Hush.  We will not speak of this again.”

Ever so faintly, I hear a sweet, angelic giggle……….from my quiet passenger in the back seat.

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