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Karma and My Tennessee Adventure

Karma is a (construction language). Last week I (gleefully) wrote a story about Girl Twin on a car trip to Vermont with five other people and one dog. Riding in a car to Vermont seemed almost cruel to me.

Somehow, for a reason I cannot comprehend, Girl Twin was looking forward to the trip. Elaine told Girl Twin she could go on the trip. I just laughed and laughed. Girl Twin was going to be miserable. Hey, sometimes you need to experience a little pain to learn a life lesson.

Having just found Girl Twin’s car trip so amusing, without giving it a second thought I decided to take a car trip myself.

Did I mention that I wasn’t planning on a road trip for myself, therefore, Elaine (and I) allowed Girl Twin to take my luggage to Vermont? I was forced to use a small 30-year-old bright pink suitcase on my trip. It really didn’t matter, I was just going to be gone for a few days.

Nothing about my car trip is comparable to Girl Twin’s except for the car part. Girl Twin’s destination was Vermont. Mine was Tennessee. Girl Twin was with five people in one car. I was with two people in two pickups. Girl Twin was asked to ride along. I volunteered to drive.

Our dear friends (Elaine’s and mine) recently sold their Colorado home and were returning to Tennessee. I was between construction projects. I had never been to Tennessee. I asked to come along. Maybe I could help with the move. My friends said yes. I was going to Tennessee!

It wasn’t lost on me that I had laughed at Girl Twin for her desire for a long car ride. Car rides are miserable.

Less than one hundred miles into our trip we blew a tire on the trailer carrying stuff to Tennessee. After a quick tire change on the shoulder of I-25 with cars and semis flying by, we were headed to Tennessee again.

If for some reason you think I helped change the tire, I’m sorry, you are wrong. Changing a tire on a busy highway, I scratched that off my bucket list years ago. It was one of my travel mates (in his twenties) who scratched tire changing off his bucket list.

Twenty miles farther down the road my twenty something travel mate scratched changing a tire off his bucket list, AGAIN! Yep, two flat tires in the first two hours of our trip. Time to buy new tires. All was not lost; there happened to be a really good Mexican restaurant next to the tire shop.

An omelet with green chili and two new tires later, and we were headed for Kansas. If you attended public school, you might not know that Kansas is between Colorado and Tennessee. Just kidding, I went to public school.

Kansas is a large state with an interstate highway that crosses the entire state. My travel mates and I looked forward to every food/bathroom break Kansas offered. What else is there to do? We were on a car trip. Oh, we read billboards and saw the rock fence posts. We now know that Kansas is home to two astronauts, Dwight Eisenhower and Bob Dole. That’s the kind of info you can learn by reading billboards in Kansas.

I noticed a billboard that advertised a yarn store in Kansas. Colorado does not have yarn store billboards. Our stores don't merit billboards, we are just too small. Just imagine if Your Daily Fiber could have a billboard. You guys could drive by and wonder what menial task Ivy is asking Ol' Monner to do. Sorry, you start to daydream on long car trips.

It was planned to spend the first night of our trip (From here out I will exchange the word trio to adventure.) in Junction City, Kansas. Reservations had been made in a hotel outside of Fort Riley, the military base. After a great nights’ sleep on a bed with SIX of the best pillows I have ever experienced, I met a young military man in the hallway of the hotel.

The military man and I were conversing in the elevator, when I noticed this soldier would not look at me. Oh, he was looking at something. In fact, he was staring, staring at my bright pink luggage. I thanked him for his service, the door opened, and he darted out. I would have told him about Girl Twin, but he didn’t stick around.

Off to Missouri. The map guys try to confuse you here. They put Kansas City in Kansas, (where it belongs) then you cross a river and they sneak you into Kansas City, Missouri. How can there be two Kansas Cities? These are the things that come across your mind when you spent ten hours in a vehicle the previous day.

I tried to think about different things to keep my mind off the fact that my neck was getting stiff and my shoulder was throbbing. Somewhere Girl Twin was laughing, I just know she was laughing. Karma.

We passed the Kansas City Royals baseball stadium. It was in the Missouri, Kansas City. Yes, it can be confusing. The stadium had a billboard touting the number of World Series the Royals have won. I hope to see this at the Rockies Stadium someday. This has nothing to do with my adventure and I don’t know why I’m talking about this.

With Kansas City on the western edge of Missouri, I soon learned St. Louis was on the eastern edge.of Missouri. OK, I knew St. Louis was on the eastern edge of Missouri. I once worked for a company headquartered in St. Louis. In my forty years of construction, it was the only company I felt I needed to burn a bridge with. OK, there was one more but who's counting?

What I did learn is it takes a long time to drive across Missouri. Guess what’s between Kansas City and St. Louis. Yep, corn and cows! It is a beautiful green colored state. Not the cows, the cows are black.

Missouri has its share of billboards. As we got closer to St. Louis we started noticing billboard advertising a cowboy boot store. My travel mate had been to this store and asked me if I wanted to stop at the store.

I have been known to wear cowboy boots, so I said, “Let’s stop!” This store was like no store (cowboy or other) I have ever been in. This store has 30,000 pairs of boots on the shelves. Yes, this store has 30,000 pairs of boots ON THE SHELVES.

After looking at about 200 pairs of boots I became so confused, my head was spinning. The last thing you want is a spinning head when your neck is stiff and your shoulder is sore from a long car ride. However, it was certainly worth stopping at the boot store, where else is there 30,000 pairs of boots. Besides, I could see a sandwich shop up the road from the boot store parking lot.

I don’t think Missouri had the hometown of any astronauts. They did have the hometown of Mark Twain, but we did not stop. I think Missouri is the home of a President, but they don’t put that information on billboards in Missouri.

We spent the second night in Marion, Illinois. We didn’t stop for the night until after we learned about why there was a billboard of a young George Harrison/the Beatles along the highway in Benton, Illinois. Not the Beatles, just George.

We learned from the internet that George’s sister lived in Benton. It seems George and his brother played in Benton before the rest of the Beatles played in America.

I was glad Elaine wasn’t with me on the adventure when we learned about George and Benton, Illinois. Elaine didn’t like the Beatles. It is quite possible she would have asked to take a different road.

OK, forget the Beatles. The past two days taught me one thing. The middle of the United States feeds the world. There is a lot of food growing out there. God Bless America!

Nope, the story doesn’t end there! I’m not even to Tennessee and I’m certainly not home. We needed to drive through Kentucky, first. Kentucky was/is beautiful. Kentucky is the birthplace of a president. I’m not sharing which one. I hope you know or can look it up. Kentucky has huge rivers and lakes. It looks like a place I could live, it is that beautiful. And then I had to stop for fuel. I found out standing outside at the gas station,Kentucky has heat and humidity. Kentucky is just plain old hot. No one should live there. If Elaine lived in Kentucky she would constantly be saying, “I’m hot!” She says that here in Colorado, but I always thought she was kidding.

I have cousins in Kentucky. I would like to have seen them, maybe next time.

By now, I cannot lift my left arm over my head. My arm is permanently stuck in driving position. My arm will not go higher than the truck steering wheel. My neck will let my head turn only to the left. I couldn’t complain. I was driving through the state with the birthplace of Abe Lincoln. (Oops, I just solved my own riddle.) Complaining seemed so inappropriate.

Next was Tennessee. We had finally made it to our destination. No, actually, we were in west Tennessee; we needed to get to east Tennessee. Knoxville, Tennessee was our final destination. Tennessee has a lot to offer, Elvis, Nashville, barbecue, trees, more trees, humidity and more trees.

I called Elaine from Tennessee. I said something like, “I’m hot! My neck is locked, I can’t lift my arm. This is the best adventure I’ve had in years. I think I can see the air here.”

Sadly, the next day was time to return to Colorado. Before leaving Knoxville, I had breakfast with dear friends to say hello and good-bye. I miss you guys already.

It was time to catch a plane home. What, you thought I was driving? I would have enjoyed the adventure, but I am pretty sure I wouldn’t be able to move by the time I got home.

I was booked on a quick flight from Knoxville to Atlanta. Before I could enjoy the flight from Knoxville, there was this small issue with TSA. Who knew a bottle of shampoo, a box cutter knife and a small bottle of whiskey would upset TSA like that? I tried to tell them I was from out of state. I think they just wanted to look inside my hot pink suitcase. Maybe they had never seen hot pink before, everything else in Tennessee is green.

From Atlanta I was booked on a flight to Denver. I was looking forward to the three-hour flight from Atlanta to Denver. I would almost home once I hit Denver. I didn’t even mind that somehow my ticket was exchanged from an aisle seat to a window.

A couple hours into the flight the pilot announced, “We will be at our destination shortly. Please buckle your seat belts, it might get a little rough from here on out.” It wasn’t long and the plane started bouncing around. I thought about yelling, “Is anyone flying this (construction language) thing?” I didn’t have enough room in my window seat to yell anything. My neck was completely locked, shoulder throbbing and the plane is bouncing. The young twenty something girl in the middle seat is slamming into me with every bounce. The adventure is somehow turning bad.

Imagine my delight when the pilot announced, “The skies are a little rough around Denver, were gonna head down to Colorado Springs and land this thing down there.” At least he confirmed someone was flying the plane.

The bouncing continued. Thirty minutes later the pilot announced, “The skies down here in Colorado Springs are a little rough. We’re gonna fly over to Grand Junction, get some gas and get right back over to Denver.” I’m thinking, “Get gas? I’m no genius, but if you don’t have enough gas to get to Denver, Grand Junction is out of the question.”

If I am to believe the pilot,the plane landed in Grand Junction. Can we really be sure? I didn’t see any Grand Junction signs. Shortly after landing in “Grand Junction” the pilot announced, “We’re gonna get this plane fueled and get back to Denver. There are six plane ahead of us, we are number seven on the list for fuel. This won’t take long now, we will be in Denver in no time.” At no time did he mention it takes forty-five minutes to fuel just one plane. The line at the plane’s restroom was twenty passengers deep. It didn’t matter to me, by now I am so stiff I can’t move. I quit drinking water.

The good news is we landed safely in Denver only five hours late. My Tennessee adventure was over. I’ll wait a couple days before I call my travel mates. I’m thinking about doing this next year and every year after. My neck feels fine.

I should mention I beat Girl Twin home. She doesn't need to know about my car "adventure" When she gets home I'm going to laugh and act like I was here the entire time.

Our crazy lives!


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