With the oil prices what they are and what they threaten to be, I expect that many people will not be vacationing in the same manner to which they are accustomed. Our family generally takes one really nice vacation every other year. Next year is our year for the super-duper deluxe vacation, but that just may not be happening.
Our summer travel is always centered around DD’s basketball schedule and visitation schedule with her dad. This year her schedule may be interrupted by the rising cost of fuel. When we travel to a tournament, we sometimes are able to take in the local “attractions”, but generally opt for the free stuff. For instance, back in April we had to travel to Texas to take of some legal matters, but then had to be in St. Louis a few days later for a tournament. It didn’t make sense to travel all the way back home to then turn around and leave the very next day for St. Louis, so we opted to travel toward the tournament.
To make better use of the travel, we planned an unofficial college visit at Southeast Missouri State in Cape Girardeau, Mo. The itinerary took us through Texarkana, Hot Springs, Memphis, Cape Girardeau and ended in St. Louis. Our business in Dallas was not pleasant and had us all worn out by the time it completed. (I could write several pages of ranting about our time spent in family court in Dallas, but I will bite my tongue and tie my fingers…for now.) Anyhow, we were a bit numb and everything was surreal. What began to bring us out of our funk…and don’t judge me by this….although a bit of snickering is allowed…DD and DH spied a Bass Pro Shop on Lake Ray Hubbard. Our favorite sporting shop is Cabella’s but this Bass Pro is built on the lake. When visiting Bass Pro, DD and DH always very quickly make their way back to the shooting arcade. After a few giggles and a minimal amount of coins invested, the mood began to lighten, and then we were on our way again.
On the way to Hot Springs, we followed an RV that intrigued us to the point of taking photos and writing down the info painted on the back. Most RV’s toads are vehicles, but this RV was pulling a gigantic, shiny smoker. When we arrived at the hotel in Hot Springs, I had to look up Lotta Bull BBQ online…and found that they travel to barbeque contests all over the world.
In Hot Springs, we drove around for a bit in the downtown district, stopped at a quaint little rock shop, drove a few residential streets looking at the adorable houses and gardens, then began to search for a public basketball court. We happened to find a goal in a church parking lot and DD was able to shoot a round of hoops. While practicing the sweet sounds of turkeys gobbling came from the Alligator Farm next to the church parking lot. For a moment, DH and I called turkeys and they responded. I knew right then that DD and DH would be wanting to visit the farm.
While DD and DH enjoyed a visit inside the Arkansas Alligator Farm and Petting Zoo, and in an attempt at being frugal I stayed in the gift shop to visit with the Parrot. He was a hoot. Actually, I had visited before and didn’t feel it necessary to see it again…lol. What I did not remember or realize from my last visit is that owners Jack and Sue Bridges were supporters of AAU basketball and that their sons were high school and college basketball coaches. Being on our way to a Showcase Basketball Tournament, made this all seem so much more interesting.
Our next stop was in Memphis, TN, which was a bit of an adventure. Our hotel was not one that I would have chosen had I known anything about the area or had seen in person before. It was very near the airport, under what seemed like the flight pattern of every blasted plane in and out of there….lol. We did not have much time in Memphis, but decided we would drive by Graceland. We drove by it twice thinking it sat off the road secluded by trees behind a large parking area. We drove into the parking area, but it was closed. My first thought was AWESOME, we just saved some money…lol. I am not a huge Elvis fan…love the music…but not the craze. Just as we were about to give up and go back to the airport, we discovered that Graceland sits on the opposite side of the street of the gift shops, Elvis airplanes, and parking area. We parked in the small area in front of the large stone wall and walked up and down the street reading the graffitie written all over. This was good enough for us…so then we headed back to the hotel to try to get in some bball drills before going to bed.
Practicing in the parking lot made me realize that I had definitely chosen the wrong hotel. I could not believe some of what I saw and decided we would stay indoors will ALL locks locked. Laying in bed, I was wishing that I had a pair of earplugs because of the airplanes, but soon realized that it would not have mattered because the vibration would have awakened me anyways. At 4:30 AM, I vaguely remember it feeling as if a freight train was coming through.
The next day, while we were at SEMU, I discovered that the freight train feeling I experienced quite possibly have not been an airplane at all, but the earthquake that hit parts of Missouri and Illinois. DH had heard about it on the early morning news, but failed to tell me. When the coach asked if we felt it, I told her that the planes woke me up at 4:30ish and she said that’s when it happened! So, wow….I experienced my first earthquake ever!
The remainder of the trip was really uneventful. We visited the St. Louis arch during a break from basketball, but the tours were sold out. We visited the museum and took lots of photos of the surrounding park.
So now I realized that I have gone off on a tangent from my original title, but I wonder if most Americans’ vacation plans will change this year?