Time and tide

Yesterday was certainly the most unusual of vacation days.

Sydney has fallen in love with a horse. And, we are not taking it home. I am absolutely certain there is going to be a tearful goodbye. But, we are not taking it home.

Yesterday’s breakfast had to be early so Syglet could get to the stable and curry and saddle all the horses. Rob went with her and talked to Steve to see if they could ride early, which would get us on the ride to Joplin early. That was no problem and a man and his son came unscheduled to see if they could ride and were early enough to make a party out of it.

This Rose Mallow blooms right outside the cabin, on the west side. I had to get pics before it starts to fade at 9am from the heat.

As the morning progressed, we discovered that Sydney didn’t have enough cash for a last ride, so I held her for ransom. Good behavior on our little side trip, for cash. I’m not quite sure when I decided it was okay to resort to that, but I see it all the time on TV, so it must be okay. And, she stepped up to it smashingly. In fact, we haven’t really had even a sarcastic comeback from her since Tuesday lunch.

After her ride, it was off to Joplin, MO and Galena, KS to see W., Rob’s best friend from high school. We started out behind this very sad truck and I was afraid we would be behind it for a long time as we wound through the mountains. But, we weren't behind it long enough to turn me off of chicken for supper last night.

I woke yesterday with terrible allergies and took something and I tried my best to stay awake all the way, but I dozed through the last very, very flat miles. (Just so you know, the color does not drain out of you when you cross the KS border like the Wizard of Oz would have you believe). We did not see the terrible tornado damage. We were a couple blocks away and chose not to drive down there. But, I can share that there are at least two recovery centers there, with long tents and everything displayed around for people to take from and there were people still using them, so feel good about your donations.

Lunch was…disappointing. I didn’t know why these guys were having so much trouble picking a restaurant. I looked up family restaurants on the internet and right away found something. But, it was kind of pricey, according to W.

Once in a while, the universe kicks me in the rubber parts and gives me a real heads up about what’s going on outside my little world. W. insisted on picking up the check. Since we’d driven two hours to come see him, I was okay with that. But, over lunch, we heard how much he’s making and turns out he'd have to work a whole day to pay for lunch for 7 people; W., his girlfriend and her boys and us. Plus, he had to take a day off work to do it. That was a most touching gift from a man who has little, and made me glad that we came up for a visit (although he’ll be receiving a card in the mail in a few days…after I think of the perfect, no-way-to-take-offense thing to say.)

W. wanted us to see his place. He’s been there about 6 years and has paid it off and was clearly proud. It was about a 10 minute drive. We had the afternoon to wile away. It was looking good. But, then we got there. Now, W. had warned us that he’s a single guy and he only cleans house every other year. And, this was not his year. I’m gonna bet that it hadn’t been his year in quite a few years.

Plus, there was squalor. Sorry. That is just the most concise and accurate word. The squalor that comes from being underpaid for the only job available in a town that’s slowly drying up. I have heard that this is what is happening in the American heartland. But, this was the first time I’d seen it in the face of a friend.

While W. is a friend of Rob’s, he used to drive a big truck and when he could schedule "down time" near us, he’d call us and we’d meet for a meal. He even was able to spend Cmas with us one year. So, he’s a friend of mine, too.

We couldn’t stay at his house long. And, I’ll tell you that our reasons were different. For Rob, he was weighed down by the moment...“there but for the grace of God, go I”. For me, it was the cigarette smoke, the dust, the molds, and the fact that he was drinking peppermint schnapps in the middle of the day with an announced plan to sip on it all afternoon.

Now, Sydney, she was happy as a pig because W’s girlfriend T. was going to take her to a beauty shop to get feathers put in her hair and they were going to have a girl’s afternoon. T. has two sons and I don’t think she gets to spend much time with little. But, that was all planned while we were outside with W. and got squashed in the middle when Rob announced that it was time to go.

Rob got to take his picture on Route 66. One day, we're going to take the whole tour on the Route. One day.

Before we left Galena, we stopped at “Four Women on a Corner” to take a picture with Tow Mater from the Cars movies. We were just standing there and this lady; Motor Mouth Mabel came out…you can see that she came out just as Rob clicked the shutter.

She just came out to encourage me to climb in Mater for a picture, but it was too hot to climb in a rusty boom truck. We decided to go in her store, on the corner, for sodas and we heard the 20 minute schpiel on the Cars movies and the inspiration for the characters. All about it. Stuff I never knew. I plan to watch the movies when we get home, because now I know stuff about them and maybe they’ll be more interesting.

The drive home was quiet. You can imagine that Rob was in his thoughts. When we got home and Sydney went out to walk the dog, he was heartbroken at what his friend’s life had turned out to be. All I could think to ask was whether W. seemed happy. My observation was that he was happy as a pig in sunshine; proud of his little place; proud of his little family. Didn’t look like he needed or wanted much more.

To make up for yesterday’s lunch, I decided that we should eat supper out instead of cooking in the cabin. We went to the Rowdy Beaver Restaurant, where I swear, if it ain’t fried, it’s layered with gravy to make it bad for you. But, it was soooooo good.

Okay, two families at adjacent tables. Each table has two parents and a daughter. While our daughter could biologically be one of ours, the child at the other table cannot biologically be from either of her parents. Seeing the similarities? Both girls have feathers in their hair, probably from the same store and hand crafter. Both families are having dinner together. Both families are laughing and talking about their days. Okay, so maybe normal isn't the word, but we are so just like everybody else.

This morning, Rob (not me!) climbed this 100 foot forest service observation tower...

And got pictures like this. Oh, the majesty!

Sydney is off riding on this. Rob went along so he could get more video.

Today’s plan…I can hear God laughing already…is for Sydney to ride while we go to the quilt shop up the road. (see, I wrote this sentence before Rob decided to ride. plans have already changed) After that, we’re going to the big cat rescue and after that, we’re going to see the cavern recommended by the Steve, the stable man.

Life is good.

Yesterday, it was 112* here. A mini blind in a western facing window melted from the heat. And, yet we continue to insist on having a vacation and having a good time. I just had a chat with the innkeeper and we were commiserating about the heat. It's funny to be in her house and be treated like a neighbor...chat about the mini blind and the heat and how we're prepared for this kind of weather and how we're shutting off windows to keep the place cool. She said no one has complained that their A/C units are not keeping the cabins cool.

This morning at 5am, it was hot, but now a strong wind has come up, bringing cool air. Don’t know how long it will last, but I’ll enjoy it while it’s going on. So, today’s post is brought to you by a strong mountain wind, an overcast sky, and the last morning of this vacation that I’ll get to sit on this porch and type to the sounds of the katydids and the treefrogs. I miss it already. And, now that we've had a brief shower, it will either be so humid we'll all start to melt or it will cool off and be a more pleasant day.

Now, I can go back to the cabin and pack or quilt. Pack or quilt. Pack or...aw, who'm I foolin'?

Signing off…Lane


Becky said...

I have some friends like W. Things just didn't go as planned...and sometimes things didn't go the way WE planned either! It's just a bummer, but glad to hear that W. is happy, and we are as well. Life is what we make it, I guess. I'm so glad you have had a good vacation. Be safe on your way home!

Paul said...

Tell Rob he isn't alone in his "there but for the Grace of God, Go I" thoughts...

My childhood best friend and I were and still are best buddies. He was the best man at my wedding and ever since I have been on an uphill ride. Enjoying life, doing well. Not fantastic by any means, but well.

Somehow though, it never worked for him. Along the way he's lost everything more than once. Three marriages, several children, low wage jobs, jobless, homeless, worked his arse off for a position at work for three years, got it, finally making decent money, and 3 months later they went bankrupt and closed the doors. The list goes on and on.

How is it that we both had the same upbringing, the same education, the same opportunities in life until we were 22, and then almost overnight everything went to hell in a hand-basket for him. He's never really recovered from that first major disappointment.

We still talk, and I still encourage him, and he still encourages me, but there are times we hang up and I just sit and cry. I wouldn't wish the stuff that he has gone through on anyone.

Very Glad though to hear that you are all enjoying your vacation.

Talk to you soon,

Shevvy said...

I've loved reading your travelogue - its such a different world you are describing. I certainly couldn't cope with the heat.

I found your words about W very touching. If someone is happy, should the material things matter? However, I'm glad Rob found you so that he does have all those things to worry about, but still be happy. Not sure I phrased that right, but hope you get the meaning!

Ivy said...

Lane, you may have hit upon something to help keep Sydney on track. Horses! I'm sure there are stables near you that maybe need stable hands in exchange for riding? Or riding as an incentive for positive behavors.

INKcredible Girl said...

You write beautifully Lane.

Coloradolady said...

I am so glad to be able to read about your vacation and all you have encountered! I would bet Sydney tells you and Rob that a horse would fit in your well manicured backyard...you know, because they don't take up much room!!

I am glad you are having a great vacation, that is what it is all about...family fun!

John Gray said...

the rowdy beaver ( sounds dreadful) phoot looks great fun

lw said...

This is shaping up to be a great vacation! And I love that Sydney is falling in love with horses-- that's a love that can be rewarding her whole life.

I also have friends like W. I agree that his happiness matters more than the material things. If you think about it, if the US doesn't get the debt figured out, we're all going to be in W.'s shoes.

Anonymous said...

We have horses here that are like family. My youngest daughter who is now an adult was horse crazy, Horses bring out such positive experiences with lots of people. It is very relaxing to just brush and touch them especially the older three that thrive on that and are fairly bomb proof for newbies to be around. Maybe an occasional trip to horse places would be a good bribe for good behavior for Sydney. I had three daughters and yes I bribed now and then. You do what you have to do sometimes. Lol!
I have enjyed the vacation blog posts and photos.Sorry the side trip was such an emotional one. Have a safe trip home. mssewcrazy

Pauline said...

I'm enjoying your vacation dialog, and I've learn a few things too. Many girls fall in love with horses. I did too. I rode, fed, groomed and fell off one and broke bones. A friends dad who allowed his girl to be "horsey" once remarked: "Saddles are cheaper and less worrisom than boys." Something for you to think about.

Piece by Piece said...

In spite of the heat I am glad yu are all having a great vacation.

Material things are not necessary to make some people happy. W, sounds as if he is quite content with his life. I am sure he enjoyed your visit.
Safe trip home.