Archive for the 'Travel' Category

Sunset in Somerset

Scott’s parents were missionaries in China. All I’m going to say at this point is that ministering the gospel in a closed country is definitely not for the faint of heart. Scott’s dad was very highly motivated and didn’t take much time off in the way of furlough, but with five kids, four kids-in-law, and something like 13 grandchildren Stateside  – especially with 13 grandchildren! – his mom did come back for visits from time to time, and in May of 2002, she happened to be in the States while Dad, in China, had a heart attack and died.

Through a truly amazing series of events, Scott “happened” to have a valid Chinese visa and was able to fly there with Mom to comfort her and help with all the final arrangements, cremation, funeral service, burial, etc. So Dad’s body was cremated and buried overseas, but Mom wanted there to also be a service here in the U.S. with a marker placed adjacent to the plot where his parents had been buried, in Somerset, Kentucky.

At the time, quite a bit of money had been spent on a very nice headstone and plot, and later that year (or was it in early 2003? I know it was cold…) Scott had met Mom there in Somerset for Dad’s Stateside memorial ceremony. However, neither of them (and as far as I know none of his siblings) had been back there ever since. But when Scott realized our vacation would take us through much of Kentucky, he thought it would be fitting and proper to go back to Somerset to locate his dad’s headstone and take some pictures, mainly for his mom who is now 85 and unlikely to travel to China or Somerset in the near future.

We assumed this would be a quick and straightforward visit. We’d go to the cemetery, look around, and find the headstone. I’d take some pictures of it, the surroundings, Scott by the headstone, etc., and we’d proceed on to our sweet cabin in Townsend, Tennessee. Once there, or maybe even on the way, Scott would send the pictures to his mom, she would be happy (and probably sad), and we would say, as does the narrator when the Peach exits the scene, “good has been done here.”

It wasn’t quite that simple.

For one thing, there are THREE cemeteries in Somerset.

For another thing, having slept some 5,475 times in the intervening 15 years, Scott no longer had in his mind a clear picture of the cemetery, the plot, or the headstone, although he did recall that the latter was upright and of a fair size. We prayed for God to grant us favor and help us find Dad’s headstone. We were sure he would! This was, after all, a very important mission.

I was driving and Scott was navigating on his phone. He found addresses for the three cemeteries (amazing thing, that Internet) and we followed Siri’s directions to the first one. Let’s call it Cemetery “A.” After many convoluted gyrations and navigational hiccups caused primarily by an extremely poorly positioned and crossing-less railroad track, Siri proudly announced that we had arrived at our destination: an extremely seedy house in a very run-down neighborhood. Hmm. Clearly not a cemetery. Frustrated, we drove around a few blocks and up a steep hill and did find one, but it was HUGE(!!!) and nothing about it looked familiar to Scott. Sigh. We drove back and forth and up and down its many driveways, scanning for an upright headstone of fair size but finding nothing promising. The place was so massive with so very many hundreds (thousands?) of markers that it would have literally taken us all day just to traipse through the whole thing. Hopefully Dad’s headstone was in Cemetery “B,” which would hopefully be a much smaller piece of real estate and which would hopefully look familiar to Scott. We were quite hopeful.

Unfortunately, after another 20 minutes of driving characterized by much turning and backtracking and re-turning and re-backtracking, we finally came to the conclusion that although Cemetery “B” may well have existed in Somerset at some time in the past, it no longer did. We found an apartment complex and a community college, but no cemetery.

Another frustration was that it was by now about 5:00 PM on a Sunday afternoon, which meant that there was no way to call any human anywhere to find out anything. But just as despair threatened to descend, Yours Truly had what she thought might indeed be a brainstorm: with all the tech-y stuff nowadays, wouldn’t cemeteries have online lists of whose bodies were buried in them? Well, guess what? They do! So Scott began looking up his dad’s name, but could find it listed nowhere. And then we thought, “Well, his headstone is right where his parents were buried,” so Scott looked for either of their names. And found… nothing. The hours were ticking by, daylight would soon be fading, we were both tired and hungry, and we still had quite a drive to get to our digs in Townsend that night, BUT we are Robertses, as as we all know, Robertses don’t turn back and they don’t give up. Having come so far, were were DETERMINED not to leave Somerset without finding Dad’s grave and gaining photographic evidence thereof, even if we had to take the picture with flash!

Scott was just about ready to quit and go on, but I said that since we’d come so far, we might as well check out Cemetery “C.” Surely it would be there, but if not, at least we’d be able to say that we’d done all we could do, that we’d left no (head)stone unturned. Besides, I did NOT want to have to tell Mom that we couldn’t find it, that we didn’t know where Dad was buried. We even called her to see if she could describe the place or the cemetery or surrounding area or anything, but she could not.

Cemetery “C” was some ten miles out of town, out in the country. It was basically a field down in a valley, and as we approached I knew it could not be the right place. It was one of those cemeteries where there are no upright headstones. All the markers are flat on the ground (much easier for mowing and weed-eating, I’m sure) and each one has one of those identical metal cone-shaped holders for flowers. Now, I actually like exploring a good cemetery. I get into wandering around and reading the inscriptions and seeing when people lived and for how long and figuring out who was related to whom, etc. But “C” was a cemetery with absolutely no character; it was to cemetery what tract housing is to neighborhood. I was trying to not to cry as we drove away.

I gave up trying.

This whole thing was just about too sad for words! I cried so hard Scott offered to drive.

Of course, Dad’s body was long gone, but not his memory, and it just didn’t seem right. We were so terribly disappointed that we couldn’t find the place, and I think we both realized that what it meant was that NOBODY in our family – nobody who remembered Dad and cared – nobody would ever know where his headstone was. Whatever money had been spent to have it made and shipped and placed was basically wasted. There’s a big headstone where his ashes are buried in China, but Scott hasn’t been allowed back there.

While I cried, Scott called his mom and left a message saying that we had tried our best, but we couldn’t find it.

In addition to making me cry for quite a few miles, this situation also made me think. It made me think that I want to be sure to look up the information my parents prepared a lot of years ago about their wishes for what’s to be done with their bodies. It made me think that we need to find out what Scott’s mom wants done with hers. And if that is, “be buried next to my husband,” well, it looks like that can’t happen.  = {  It made me think about what Scott and I want our kids to do with our bodies, and where. And it especially made me think that I want to make sure that Scott’s and my names and our currently living parents’ names all get entered into some online cemetery registration(s), so that if somebody in the future wants to visit our/their grave(s), they can look it up and know where to go look. Sweet Georgia Peaches!

And if anybody’s reading this who happens to be around when I leave this earth, be it noted that I don’t give a flying rip how much weed-eating hassle my marker causes; I want a headstone that stands up and says something that matters! While I guess I can handle that business of grieving without a body, I think having a headstone firmly anchored to the earth at some known physical place – while it obviously matters not one iota to the deceased – is really important for the the living who remain and remember.

So, through my tears we left Somerset, probably forever, and turned southeast. It was about 7:30 PM and we still had 159 miles to go, but we’d be traveling through some truly gorgeous scenery. After all, eastern Kentucky is awfully close to West Virginia!

“I lift up my eyes to the mountains – where does my help come from?” Psalm 121:1

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Brochures, BBQ, and billboards

We’ve been home from our nine-day, 30th anniversary trip-of-a-lifetime for 12 days now, and I have been absolutely itching to blog. However, as you know, I am never bored, there’s been quite a bit going on recently, and I’ve just not had made the time to write. But my reward for completing a certain part of today’s to-do list is to blog, so at long last here goes the next installment of our trip!

Having completed our two super tours of Mammoth Cave, having obtained our requisite “black bar” national park brochure (Katie, who lives in Virginia, a state FULL of national parks and monuments, started aggressively collecting these brochures a few years ago; I already had in our filing cabinet a handful of them I’d picked up in the Dark Ages, but I’ve just officially re-started the habit in the past couple years),

Mammoth Cave brochure.jpg

and having driven to and then walked the 0.4 mile loop boardwalk trail around Sloan’s Crossing Pond, we were hungry and more than ready for a tasty BBQ lunch at the Porky Pig Diner, which we had previously noted was open till 3:00 PM on Sundays. On the way, we once again saw those mysterious Cedar Sink Road Pig signs, one of which was in sight of the diner itself. We parked, stretched our legs, and walked to the door.

The Porky Pig Diner sits alone at a crossroads in rural Kentucky. It has a gravel parking lot, in which were several cars, and a glass door, through which we could see folks inside sitting and talking at several tables. It was 2:40 PM, and our mouths were watering. Scott reached to open the door for me, but even before he touched it, an older woman – she had to be at least 60 – pushed it open from inside and said loudly and firmly, “We’re CLOSED.” Scott said, “But it’s only 2:40, and…” and she cut him off with an even more emphatic “We’re CLOSED.” There was no arguing with the lady, so, disappointed, we turned and drove away. Clearly the Porky Pig Diner doesn’t need (or want?) any additional tourist dollars, care deeply about customer service, or feel an obligation to adhere to its stated hours of operation!

That said, I still have a soft spot in my heart for a small business owner who makes her own decisions and refuses to be controlled by others. Long live that independent, conservative spirit! That Sunday afternoon those folks in the diner were probably ready to go home and watch a football game or go fishing or play with their grandchildren or take a nap. Our luncheon loss, but more power to them.

We then took the scenic route back to the highway – VERY scenic and fun! – and at long last ended up in Glasgow, KY where, in desperation we ended up buying White Castles to go. This was a throw-back to my childhood; White Castles are called “sliders” now, and yes, I did eat and thoroughly enjoy not one, not two, not even three, but five of them. (They’re small.) From there we traveled the lovely Cumberland Parkway toward Somerset.

Scott and I do have a definite driving rhythm, developed some fifteen years ago when we were driving 45 minutes one way to church every Sunday. Scott likes to use his time in the car to accomplish something, be it reading the Bible (which is what he did back in the day), working/researching on his computer, keeping up with the Red Sox on his phone, planning ministry activities, or dealing with issues related to our vacation rental house business. I like to drive, and since I’m more comfortable in the driver’s seat than in the passenger’s, I do most of the long-distance driving while he does the in-town part. [I never have understood why he feels compelled to take over driving once we get into a town. Maybe he doesn’t trust me? He used to do this on the rare occasions when we ate lunch out after church in Springfield. He insisted on driving us from the church to the restaurant, but then wanted me to drive the 35 minutes home on the freeway.] In any case, these default settings worked really well for us on this trip, with the result that until we actually got where we were going, he was in the Bible or on a device and I was driving.

Oh, now I also remember this: Scott had gotten banged around playing basketball the week before, and he had a hip that was much happier in the passenger seat; that was another reason I was the one behind the wheel on the Cumberland Parkway.

Now, this particular highway was interesting to me. For one thing, although it looks and feels like an interstate, it didn’t seem to have a highway number. (?!?!?) I guessed at the time – and later confirmed my hunch – that although this is no longer the case, it was originally a toll road. And as is usually the case with toll roads, the Cumberland Parkway has NO billboards. I mean zero, zilcho, nada, not one. The rolling countryside is lovely, and it’s nice to not have a lot of junky signs all over (think Branson), but with some 80 miles of billboard-less pavement, I was beginning to get bored and sleepy. As I told Scott, you can’t play the alphabet game on the Cumberland Parkway!

And the Cumberland Parkway wasn’t even the most direct route from Mammoth Cave to Townsend, TN, but it was the best way to get to Somerset, KY, a city where we were determined to accomplish a special mission.

To be continued…

Down, down, down; it was a long way down.

We do very much enjoy exploring country roads, so as we bid a fond farewell to the Green River ferry, we took a short cut on Joppa Ridge Road. It was dusk, the road was gravel/dirt, and Scott’s estimation from our trusty Mammoth Cave National Park map was that we should hit the highway in about two miles. We wound over and up and around and down, and sure enough, Joppa Ridge Road spit us out by Joppa Church (Baptist, built in 1900) on Highway 70 exactly 2.1 miles later. My Hero is really good with directions and distances.

From there, we once again passed a mysterious sign for “Cedar Sink Road Pig” and continued on to our hotel in Bowling Green. Note to self: Fairfield Inn Bowling Green beats Courtyard in Paducah, hands down. Not only was the carpet dry, the breakfast there definitely was something to write home about. Between the two of us, we feasted on waffles, fresh pineapple, scrambled eggs with cheddar cheese and salsa, cantaloupe, sausage, orange and apple juices, and the best poppy seed bread I’ve ever eaten. Truly a breakfast of champions.

Back at Mammoth Cave for our 11:00 AM “Domes and Dripstones” tour, I was a bit troubled when our ranger guide (Ashley, not Holly) informed us that this 3/4 mile tour would involve 500 steps. Wow. The two-mile “Historic” tour the day before had featured an upward set of 155 steps, and while I had been proud to manage those at a slow but steady pace – without even stopping to rest on the landings! – the thought of doing three times as much gave me pause. Had me concerned. Filled me with dread. OK, the truth is that I was really worried.

Needlessly, as it turned out. 500 was the total number of steps, both up and down, and after the first very narrow 288 down, the rest were scattered throughout the tour. I was again amazed at HOW MANY folks they put through on a tour – typically about 100 – and how efficiently it all works. As we had done the day before, we (I) had chosen to be at the front of the pack, one, because our guides had said that slow movers should be at the front and fast walkers at the back, and I’m a slow mover, especially with stairs, and two, because I don’t hear as well as some, I love a good tour guide, I love to ask questions (we know where Josiah gets it!), and I learn the most when I am up close and personal with the guide. Ranger Ashley did not disappoint, and since we had to wait several minutes at each stop for the whole snaking line of folks to make their way to the benches, we got to ask her extra questions and get extra explanations – a real bonus.

Scott and were again amazed and intrigued by the ENORMOUS size of the cave, the amazing stories of early explorers and guides, the “candle-spotted” ceiling autographs of visitors over a hundred years ago, and the absolutely unbelievable work that had been done through the years to engineer and install all the staircases, walkways, railings, benches, and lighting that allowed us to tour the cave. And of course, our wonderful experience at Mammoth Cave just re-kindled Scott’s desire to go spelunking – in the wild, wet, dark, muddy, cramped, slithering, exploring sense of the word. Personally, I am not a wild, wet, dark, muddy, cramped, slithering kind of a girl, although I do love my own style of exploring – in a car or on a trail – but I’ll happily send Scott on a wild cave experience, cheer him on, pray for his safe return, and afterwards do his laundry and tell him how brave he is. = )

In which we cross three bodies of water

I don’t know if we took the most direct route from Walnut Shade to Mammoth Cave, but I’m sure it was the most fun, the most scenic, and for me, the most exciting. Somewhere a few miles east of Wilson City, MO (population 110, area 52 acres), out in the total middle of absolutely nowhere and surrounded by soybean fields, U.S. Highway 62 does a most amazing. As we came around a tight bend with warnings about narrowing lanes, there suddenly rose up in front of us a slim, elegant, arching “Erector Set” (as we called such when I was a child) bridge. Over the Mississippi River!!! Oh my! How glorious! I have since learned that it was completed in 1929, and I can’t imagine what all it took to build it. Here’s the view we had as we approached the bridge, compliments of Wikipedia.

As we crossed the Cairo Mississippi River Bridge, we could actually see the Ohio River emptying into Mississippi. Wow! The far end of the bridge landed us on the very southern tip of Illinois, but only for about a minute, as the road angled right and then crossed the Cairo Ohio River Bridge, a spring chicken of a bridge, completed in 1937. Here’s a Wikipedia photo of that one.

Two incredible bridges over two major rivers, back to back! And none of that boring flat concrete stuff. These huge spans had character. They looked dignified, like any good, self respecting bridges should look. I was just about beside myself with joy. (Well, Scott was beside me and has been for thirty years; an even better reason for joy.) Those two sequential crossings meant that in the space of five minutes, we were in Missouri, Illinois, and Kentucky. MUCH more exciting than that Four Corners stuff in the American southwest.

I’ve been making a list in my phone of all our great 30th Anniversary Trip experiences I want to blog about. The list is LONG and growing almost hourly. We’re having the time of our lives! So, having written about those two unforgettable crossings, I’ll return to my chronological narrative back where we left off, after our super fun late afternoon ride down and (walk) back up on the Mammoth Cave National Park bike trail.

On Saturday afternoon, as we’d been driving through the park toward the Mammoth Cave visitor center, I had seen a sign about a ferry. Now I do have a special fondness for ferries. Just ask Katie. Ferries are rare birds these days, much like endangered species, and I feel somewhat of an obligation to avail myself of any ferry that presents itself. To this end, I had asked Scott if perhaps we could scope out the ferry on Sunday afternoon after our second cave tour, and he had seemed willing. So after our first cave tour and aforementioned bike ride, with dusk approaching, he turned down the road with the red warning sign: “Ferry closed to all trailers.” A mere half mile later, we were face to face with the Green River, the stream that formed Mammoth Cave either six thousand or six million (depending your age-of-the-earth perspective, but let’s not go there tonight) years ago. Now the Green flows more or less next to Mammoth Cave, and I think the two rivers that flow through the lower levels of the cave, Echo River and the River Styx, ultimately converge with it… ? Anyway, the Green River is not huge and neither is its ferry. In fact, with a maximum capacity of three cars, it’s the smallest ferry I’ve ever seen!

I thought the side-mounted porta-potty was a nice touch, and no, I didn’t try it out! There are two cables strung across the river, and the ferry is pulled across along them, via two cables on each side of the boat. One is visible on the right front corner of ferry at the right end of the yellow bar. And here’s one of the connections to the top cable.

We rode over and turned right around and rode back, just because we could, and it was free. Below Scott’s turning the Durango around at the top of the hill, while I inspect the very long metal “tape measure” mounted in the ground beside the ferry approach. I think it shows the water depth…?

You’ll be pleased to know that The Green River Ferry operates every day except Christmas, weather and water conditions permitting.

This whole experience made me smile big for a very long time!

We should do this every thirty years

Scott and I are having a WONDERFUL vacation in celebration of our 30th anniversary.

Yesterday we drove to Paducah, KY with a stop for a picnic lunch in Mansfield, MO. Scott had told me there were no city parks in Mansfield, but we were getting hungry and I said, “all we need is a picnic table, and a potty with it would be a bonus.” Not two minutes later, we came to the Laura Ingalls Wilder place, and when I saw the word “Restrooms” on a building just across the road from that fair establishment, I hit the brakes and pulled in. And beside it was a lone picnic table in dappled sunlight under a massive post oak tree. Very nice.

Paducah must be a record-setting town. In driving one linear mile from our hotel (Courtyard by Marriott; we were not impressed), I actually counted 31 restaurants. We picked Fazoli’s, and in keeping with my decision to eat something new and different at any restaurant where I have a standard “favorite,” I chose Chicken Carbonara, which was very tasty.

This morning we got McDonald’s on the road as we headed toward Mammoth Cave, where we had tickets for the 3:15 Historic Tour. (Note to self: while the Steak, Egg, and Cheese McMuffin is fine, it really can’t compare with the classic Egg McMuffin.)

The cave was truly awesome. Literally. It’s huge. They’ve mapped 400 miles of it! Our tour group was also huge, but by staying close to Ranger Elaine, we were able to ask questions and hear more details. I always love a good tour guide. Fat Man’s Misery was just as tight and claustrophobic as I remembered it from my childhood, but I was able to hike up the 155 steps at a steady pace and without stopping on the landings. I was so proud of myself. Scott was just amazed by the cave, the geology, and the history, and I’m so glad he suggested we go there. We’re staying at a very nice Fairfield Inn in Bowling Green tonight, and as planned, we’re going back to the cave for the Domes and Dripstones Tour in the morning. It’s a good thing Scott bought our cave tickets in advance online; when we got there, the tours we’d signed up for were all sold out.

Ever since we’d seen a bike trail on our way in to the national park, Scott had been wanting to do a bike ride, so when we got out of the cave – very hot and sweaty, even though it had been 54 degrees down there, we changed into shorts and started off from the visitor center, headed toward a cemetery, where we’d decided we would turn around. With my single speed bike, I have to get off and walk if there’s much of an uphill grade at all, and I did that several times. Light was fading, and when I finished walking it to the top of a small rise, we talked about turning around here and heading back. but we had talked about going all the way to Sloan’s Crossing Pond, which a ranger had said was really neat, or at the very least to Furlong Cemetery, so I said, “well, since we’ve come this far, we might as well go on to the cemetery,” (or something very Roberts-ish like that; I have, after all, been a Roberts for 30 years as of this week), so we pressed on, and it just so happens that that was the very point at which the trail began a l-o-n-g downhill. Which I greatly enjoyed. But being a bear of much more than very little brain, and realizing that that meant I’d be pushing my bike back uphill for approximately 17 times as long as it had taken to coast down, I announced that I was turning around. And we did. We both walked up the hill, laughing sweating.

The next part of this story is truly delightful.

To be continued…

I haven’t personally MET a “large, long-legged and long-necked bird.”

But I’ve stood in its namesake.

Many moons ago, the aux wire in the Durango – the one that lets me listen to my phone through the car’s speakers – developed a short. Although I’ve gotten used to having only the radio, and I am glad to have it, it’s been frustrating to not be able to listen to podcasts, especially on longer drives like my two recent four-hour St. Louis runs. Years ago, as a Christmas gift, Scott had the aux wire put in for me at a place in Springfield, so one time last year when Andrew and I were up there, we went by that place, hoping to get the wire repaired or replaced. It’s a very good thing we went together. I believe the current vernacular to describe the place would be “sketchy.” Well, actually “seedy” might come closer. It was in a rugged, decrepit part of town and the guy at the counter was really cocky. I didn’t like him at all. His price was $45, but he couldn’t do it that day; I’d have to make an appointment and come back. Which I wasn’t about to do because Andrew wouldn’t be available and I wasn’t about to go there alone.

So I lived podcast-less on the road till last month when I started looking online for an auto audio place that would be closer, cheaper, and less sketchy. I found it at Rick’s Car Audio in Crane. Yes, Crane. Like the bird. In particular, the blue crane. The guy I talked to said he’d have to talk with Rick and he’d call me back. Three weeks later I remembered that he had not, so I called back and the guy said that yes, they could do it for $20-$25 at 10:00 AM on Friday. Fine. I made plans for a little road trip. Although google maps said the drive to Crane would take 42 minutes, it’d be through some extremely scenic rural parts of Stone and Taney Counties (the latter having been named for Chief Justice Roger B. Taney, of recently-removed-from-Maryland-State-House statue infamy). One of my great joys in life is exploring country roads, and I will say that this journey did not disappoint.

Now, because I’m “saving” this particular exploratory adventure to share in full with Katie in a few weeks, and I’m pretty sure she’ll read this post, I will now, with great restraint, limit my comments here to focusing primarily on my experience with Rick’s.

The shop is located on at 122 Main Street in Crane, and when I pulled in at 9:55 for my 10:00 appointment, Rick’s Car Audio appeared dark and empty. However, the door was unlocked, so I walked on in and called out my standard Ozarkian greeting, “Howdy,” at which a man appeared from a back room, greeted me, and turned on the lights. I told him who I was, and he was well aware of what I wanted done. I had parked on the street and told him I didn’t know where to put the car; no  problem, he would move it.

Glancing about the room, I asked if there was a place I could wait, and he said, waving his arm toward the front door, that some place over there across the street served breakfast, and there were a number of antique stores around. I said I could just walk around (the repair was expected to take 20-30 minutes), but he then walked me back to a little (very dumpy) room behind the counter and said they did have a couch. Let’s just say that no one’s backside had graced that piece of furniture in a long time. He began shoving all the junk piled on it to one end to make room for me to sit, but I took the stroll-about town option.  = )

I’m pretty sure I could see all of downtown Crane from the doorway of Rick’s Car Audio. A barbershop. A post office. ABC Accounting. A bank. A library. (Ooh, a small town library!) I resisted the library, at least initially, and wandered instead into The Classey Corner Café. I wasn’t hungry, but I did have a lot of fun perusing the several flea market booths within. In one of them, I found a gem of an old book, Missouri’s Hall of Fame: Lives of Eminent Missourians by Floyd Calvin Shoemaker, A.B., A.M., Secretary of The State Historical Society of Missouri and Editor of The Missouri Historical Review, copyright 1918, published 1923 – price $2.00!

At that point, having killed about 30 delightful minutes, I moseyed back to Rick’s, where the guy told me I was all fixed up and it’d be $20.60.

“Do you take credit cards?”

“Well, Rick can, but he’s not here yet.”

It had not occurred to me to bring any cash.

“OK. I can write you a check.”

“Rick has a card reader on his phone. Without that, you have to pay more and then they charge you every time you use it. He can just swipe it, but he’s not here yet.”

Um, you already told me that.

As I wrote the check and handed it to the guy, another man appeared from the back. Rick perhaps? Well, no.

“Do you need to see my driver’s license or something?”

My guy turned to the other man.

“Do we need anything, uh, on a check?”

The man looked at me, half smiled, and said no.

Now, my request over the phone had been for a cord that was stretchy. I had inquired about a coil cord, like an old timey phone cord. See, I treat my aux cord gently, but I suspect that one of the other people who sometimes drive the Durango had at some point yanked the six-foot cord too hard and shorted it out. I want to reduce the likelihood of similar damage in the future. Whoever I had talked to on the phone – which I suspect was this same guy – had told me he thought there were retractable cords, which sounded great to me, and that he’d check with Rick. So as I was paying, my guy said that Rick had said he could order a different cord and I could come back and they could switch it out. He asked me to write my name and number on the receipt so that he could call me when it came in. The thought of spending another hour and-a-half on the road just to get a stretchy cord seemed excessive, and I didn’t even think to ask if there’d be an additional charge for the replacement, but then again, an hour and-a-half with one of my favorite fellow explorers (I have three and you know who you are!) sounded absolutely delicious, especially considering that our route could potentially involve not one but TWO small town libraries, a very unique and historic bridge, a one-lane country road complete with white lines on both sides and no center line, a town square(!!!), and an as yet completely un-investigated strip of pavement called Swinging Bridge Road!

So I thanked the guy and held out my hand for my receipt.

“You want to take a picture of it?”

Huh? I was confused… ?

“If you take a picture of it then you’ll have it.”

Um… Duh??

“So you’ll have it if you need it.”

This was a new one on me. Evidently he wasn’t going to GIVE me my receipt; I’d have to take a picture of it. Good thing I recently learned how to take pictures with my phone and actually knew where to find my camera app! So I took a picture of it and he put my receipt on top of another one on the counter, and I headed home.

Listening to a podcast as I went!

 

 

 

Jeopardy question: What is 11.9?

Answer: The average distance in miles between Dollar General stores located on Highway 65 between Conway, AR and Harrison, AR.  I’m sure we can all rest easier now, knowing that on this particular stretch of highway, given an average driving speed of 55 miles per hour, one is never more than (an average of) 12.6 minutes away from a Dollar General store.