Sunday, July 26, 2009


The bridge was out on I-80 eastbound in Nebraska. There were no hotels except a scary smokey dive that didn't look clean. So, we drove on, finding an alternate route that the locals suggested. The state detour would have flung us way off course. When daylight hit, I was driving. We were back on I-80 and I spotted a rest stop. I was falling asleep and everyone in the car was asleep in the back of the van. I put the seat back and started to doze but Glenn popped up and said he was rested enough to drive. He decided to go use the restroom before setting off. We were about 1 1/2 hours from Omaha.
Just as Glenn strode off, I decided I'd better go to the restroom myself. Knowing that Glenn was faster than I was, I hurried. I was just steps behind him and I quickly washed my hands as I exited, not even drying them on a paper towel.
I looked up to see the van driving past me accelerating toward the freeway entrance. Not caring how foolish I looked, I took chase using my very loud whistle to try to flag him down. I was running after him in the on-ramp to the freeway waving my arms and being glad I was in a red shirt. Finally, one of the kids recognized my whistle and they stopped the van or maybe Glenn saw me in the rear view mirror. But, I can't help but wonder what all those people back at the rest stop thought when I livened up their Sunday morning and woke all the sleepy travelers taking a short nap. Glenn says he thought I crawled in the back of the van and went to sleep. Likely story......hmmmm.

Thursday, July 23, 2009

School Clothes

We lived in Bishop, California for eight years. There was a K-mart there and a very small JC Penney's store that you would have expected to see in Mayberry in the 50s. It was a glorified mail order store. We shopped at both but when it came to Christmas and buying a boatload of school clothes for 5 children, our kids were either all dressed alike for the school year or we had to leave town for a shopping trip.

When we went on vacation to Utah or Sacramento, we planned a shopping spree.We hopped in our big converted van equipped with a television and video player. We pulled a trailer that had a plywood top. Because of that trailer, we had breathing room inside the van. With 7 passengers, it would have been tight with all our trappings.

On the way home from one of those vacations, I had been driving for a couple of hours and in Ely, Nevada, I switched with Glenn and took a turn sleeping in the bed in the back. That area of the desert is open ranch to hundreds if not thousands of cattle so there are lots of cattle guards on the roadways. I was awakened by a pretty big jolt as we went over a cattle guard about an hour or more after leaving Ely. I looked out the back window and the trailer had lost it's roof and more than a third of it's contents.

I hollered for Glenn to pull over. We assessed the situation and Glenn determined that he'd unhook the trailer and go back to see if he could find our stuff. We were on Highway 6 between Ely and Tonapah, Nevada. We might as well have been dumped onto the set of a wild west movie shot in the 50's. It would have been in color but there was nothing but gray and brown with a black road running through it. The sun was up when he left. Yes, I said HE left. He wanted us to stay with the trailer so no one would steal our suitcases and sleeping bags. So all 5 kids and I climbed out and stood by the side of the road next to an unhinged (literally) trailer.

Highway 6 to Bishop is not well traveled. We thought Glenn would go back and find everything on the side of the road, maybe shredded by a car running over it. But, we thought he'd be back rather quickly. We waited and waited and he didn't come back. In about an hour only 4 or 5 cars or fewer had passed us. But, they PASSED us and weren't curious enough to stop and see why a mother and 5 children were out in the desert with a trailer (too large for a handcart) and no vehicle to pull it. We could have been deserted by an abusive husband/father and left for the coyotes to devour. (Yes we could hear coyotes in the distance that were making Hayley nervous.)But more likely we were desert dwellers waiting for the pony express to bring us much needed supplies.

One hour passed and the kids decided to explore the packed items still in the trailer. Tennis rackets and balls were uncovered and we had a game of tennis on the highway. They scampered off like jackrabbits when the rare car blew by. That was a tennis game to remember. Finally after over two hours, Glenn came back with one pair of old tennis shoes and a pair of new socks that had been sitting conspicuously by the side of the road as if someone had just stepped out of them. Someone had picked up our bags and bags of new clothes and taken them home with them. Glenn had gone clear to Ely and reported it to the police but no one had reported finding any items. I suspected that the people in the truck that sped by, rather than slowing down a bit like the other vehicles, were the ones who took our stuff.

We pulled all the remaining items that were in the trailer into the van and attached the trailer to the back of the van. The trailer flew jovially over the remaining cattle guards enjoying it's lightened load while we contemplated our mail-order fate. It was only clothes. Nobody died.

Sunday, July 5, 2009

Ants in your pants?

My brother Phil stood on a red ant hill one day at the neighbors. Ants, if you don't know it, climb to the highest point. So, up they went to the top of Phil's head, biting as they went. He went screaming into our neighbors house for help. Ant's abandoned ship into her kitchen. She grabbed Phil and took him outside and hosed him down.

My daughter Hayley, coincidentally, did the same exact trick when she was about 4 years old. She found a bed of ants by the mailbox and stood in them. Lucky for me, I paid attention earlier and knew to grab a hose. I'm not sure Hayley thought I was helping out or torturing her. She screamed about the water as much as the ants. Come to think of it, that was Phil's reaction too.