Monday, November 24, 2008

Abby Smile For The Day

Abby loves when the sun comes through the windows. We are considering sending her to charm school to learn how to lay in a more lady-like fashion.

Sunday, November 23, 2008

College Gameday

The ESPN Football crew was in Norman. Whitney has become a big football fan this year, and watches Gameday every Saturday. So with ESPN in town, she asked me to take her down there so she could watch in person. We had a lot of fun. Here are some of the photos, including the guy with a Washington State flag. The flag is always at Gameday, and is passed along via the mail to an alum in every host town. In this case, the flag was also held by a Washington fan, who was very good natured about it on the day of the Washington-Washington State game.

Friday, November 21, 2008


Earlier today I pulling into a parking space at Homeland. When I got out of the car, I noticed a very slow moving older man struggling to open his car trunk. I helped him, and noticed his license plate said "WWII Veteran" on it. I had a nice 5 minute discussion about WWII with him (he served in both the Pacific and Europe), and he could not have been nicer.

I walked through Homeland thinking about the bitching and moaning people do today about how "tough times are". But this man fought in the second world war, and had lived through the great depression. Kind of gave me some perspective.....that being the vast majority of this country are gigantic wusses and the media reporting these stories are twits.

Anyway, I pay for my stuff and walk outside. I notice he is still in the parking lot (I told you he was very slow) and pulling out of his space. As he approached me, I began to wave when I noticed he did not appear to see me. That old coot almost ran me down like roadkill. I felt like a German Panzer Division must have felt as the Allies rushed towards Berlin. Like the Poland in the Blitzkrieg. Like John McCain on election night.

So while I admire his service, I highly support seniors having to take yearly driving tests after a certain age to keep their license.......for their safety and mine.
That includes John McCain.

Thursday, November 20, 2008

Abby's Smile Of The Day

Abby is a constant source of humor for me. Hardly a day goes by she does not crack me up with something she does. Here she is ready for a ride in the car. This is the position she gets into while waiting for me to get in the car.

Tuesday, November 18, 2008

Ghost Stories

Part of my trip was spent visiting friends in Roswell Georgia, just outside Atlanta. For all my trip research about what to see and do, I never thought to look into Roswell for sightseeing. It turns out Roswell has a fascinating history. It is a mill town that predates the Civil War. My friend Anita had recently taken a tour of "haunted" Roswell. She was a wonderful tour guide and shared some ghost stories as we walked around the old town site.

While telling me one of these stories, a black cat walked right up to us. I am not much for believing ghost stories, but having a black cat walk by while touring cemeteries and other "haunted" sites seemed quite fitting.

Sunday, November 16, 2008

Shopping For The Family

It is Sunday and I am trying to relax after enduring my own private hell: a solo run to Walmart. Tracy has a cold, so I volunteered to do the weekly Walmart run. I think I did pretty well: I only had to call on the cellphone twice with questions. The over/under was 4 confused phone calls.

Don't get me wrong.....I have been to Walmart many, many times. But with a few exceptions, I really don't pay attention to what Tracy actually pulls off the shelf. Usually I just walk around like a claustrophobic zombie.

The last time I did the solo run was when Tracy was out of town. I asked Whitney to make a list, and headed out. I was only 3 blocks away when the trouble began.

At a red light, I looked at the list. The first line said "Tracy Shampoo". No brand....just "Tracy Shampoo". I see that bottle of shampoo every time I shower, but I had no chance of finding the exact right one.The trouble continued with the next line: hair color. I have shopped enough to know there is more to this than picking the box that says "red". I look down the list and see several other potential minefields. So I did what any intelligent male would do: I did a U Turn and went back home.

This has prompted one of my brilliant business ideas: A store for husbands who's wives are sick or out of town. Not to be sexist....this could also apply to anyone befuddled by too many choices and want to simplify their lives.

In my store, there will be only one type of each item, and it will be clearly marked. There will be just kind of shampoo, and it will come in a bottle that says "Shampoo" in big letters. No brands or variations allowed. Imagine the ease of shopping when all you have to know is that you need
"soap", "cheese" or "motor oil".

These items would only come in one size, so there is no need to figure out if you can save money by buying your peanut butter in a 5 gallon drum (sorry Laura). The best part is that the store would not be arranged like a normal store; the items would be arranged alphabetically. There would be no need to ask where the soda is, because you would know it is right by the soap.

Obviously, this is not for everyone. But for those who hate shopping and want fewer decisions to make, simple shopping is on the way!

Thursday, November 13, 2008

Alabama Convenience Store

I found that my fun at convenience stores is a nationwide phenomena. Sadly....i think the store clerk and I share responsibility for this bout of stupidity.

I found out why they tell you to stay with your car while you are filling it with gas. While filling the tank, I went inside to go to the bathroom and buy a snack. Another customer came in to tell me gas was pouring out of my car and running down the street. Over 5 gallons had poured out before he stopped it. I was actually happy about this, because I originally thought he was telling me my CAR was rolling down the street. That would have been much worse.

I mentioned to the clerk at the counter the they needed to look into the automatic shut off on the pump. He informed me the pump was fine and that the spill was a result of "pressure building up and clogging the hose with air.....causing it to overflow". In all my years of filling up with gas, I had never had that happen. Apparently the laws of physics are different in Alabama.

The spilled gas cost me $13, but he did not charge me for my 99 cent bag of pretzels. Chalk up one moral victory for me!!!

More Rural America Fun

After visiting the Coon Dog Cemetery, I continued the drive across North Alabama. That is when I took the picture of the VW Van. My favorite sign of the day was for an antique shop called "Mountain Mama's".

I also passed something called "Goat Island". Sadly, there appeared to be no actual goats on the island. It was obviously a trick to get unsuspecting tourists to stop. They really should have a gift shop their where you can buy goat related souvenirs. Same thing goes for the coon dog cemetery. I mean, who could pass a souvenir replica of Bobo's Tombstone?

I stopped in at the Alabama Music Hall Of Fame but did not take the tour. The $10 admission seemed a bit high given my tight schedule. Still, it broke my heart that I had to miss a life size plaster statue of Lionel Richie and outfits belonging to Gomer Pyle. Luckily they DID have a gift shop. I hate to spoil a surprise, but some of you might be getting a miniature Lionel Richie statue for Christmas.

Coon Dog Cemetery

After leaving Shiloh, I decided one cemetery was not enough for the day. I had found out about one in Alabama: The Coon Dog Cemetery. It has been in existence since the 1930s, and over 200 dogs are buried there. Many are champion raccoon hunting dogs (yes, they have competitions for this).

Only coon dogs can be buried there. They are quite serious about this, and have strict rules. My personal favorite dog names there were "Bobo" and "Dr. Death". The side by side headstones that reminded me of something from my past.

When I was a kid, one of my favorite books was Where The Red Fern Grows, which is the story of a boy and his coon dogs. When I was reading it for the first time, a neighbor lady told me "oh I loved that book....I just cried and cried when the dogs die.". While it initially irritated me that she had ruined the ending, it turned out to be a good thing. Knowing the dogs died allowed my to control my blubbering when I finished the book to only about one hour rather than getting carried away.

Monday, November 10, 2008


You see things on small highways you miss going 70mph down an America.

On interstates you see billboards, gas stations, and the same exact stores and restaurants you see at home. They are all fine, and I use them at home. But unless you get off the interstate, you cannot say you visited a state or town anymore than you do flying over it in an airplane at 35,000 feet.

It reminds me of people on cruises who think they have visited Mexico or Jamaica, but have ventured no further than the shops selling cheap trinkets at the docks. They go on cruise-sponsored "excursions", where the cruise ship will assure you of seeing a little of the local flavor without the trouble of having to deal with a country's people, culture or day to day life. In other words, it is kind of like visiting a Taco Bell or On The Border.

I am not trying to preach. I will be driving on interstates for much of my way back home. But driving down the road at 70mph towards our next destination, we miss things. In that way, Interstates are a lot like life.

***Remember, you can click on the pictures to make them bigger.

Sunday, November 9, 2008

Day 2: Shiloh

6:15am- Although I considered stopping several times along the way, I ended up driving all night and arrived at Shiloh National Battlefield in time to get a few hours of sleep. Keep in mind, I had been driving in the dark since seeing the parking meter tomb stone, so I had no idea of the autumnal serenity I found when I awoke. As you can see from the pictures, it was a beautiful morning and I had the park to myself. Shiloh is in the boonies, and apparently nobody that day was crazy enough to sleep in their car outside the entrance. I have not had a chance to crop these photos, but I hope these pictures come out as wonderful as the experience was. Sometimes you take photos......and sometimes photos take themselves.

Saturday, November 8, 2008

Day 1 Continued

11:59pm- I cross the Mississippi River (John Hiatt and Bruce Robison songs spring into my mind) and enter Memphis. Since nothing is open, I take this picture of a nice Elvis statue at the welcome center for my mother and move on before I am mugged. Let's just say Memphis at midnight is a lot different than Norman at midnight.

I do plan to come back through Memphis on my way home. I want to visit Sun Studios, the Stax Museum (think Otis Redding and Sam and Dave), and the Gibson Guitar Factory. But that visit will come in the daylight hours.

Vacation Day 1......Do Over

4:30pm- I headed out after doing some work. The Great Mouse Hunt will cost me one day at Gary's house, so my schedule is all messed up already. I am adjusting on the fly. I try to view this as a good thing. I really like being spontaneous.....when it is well planned.

5:30pm in Okemah Oklahoma- This is the town Woody Guthrie was born. I stop by the ruins of the house he was born in and take a foundation rock as a souvenir (a tradition among musicians including Bob Dylan). But the big reason for getting off the interstate is a trip to the Okemah Cemetery to see Barbara Sue Manire's headstone. As you can see
(if you click on the picture, it sould get bigger), Barbara had a sense of humor. She had told her family that she wanted a parking meter for a headstone that read "time expired"........and they did.

Vacation Day 1- The First Attempt

This is what chaos looks like. It is our bedroom at about 2am on Monday morning. But let's go to the beginning:

My plan was to leave town about 10pm Sunday and drive overnight so that I could do some sightseeing on Monday before getting to Gary's House in Huntsville on Monday night. Those plans were brought to a screeching halt by a tiny mouse. This was not a nasty, ugly mouse.....he was really cute. He looked like a Disney cartoon character.

After living mouse-free for 15 years, it was very bad timing to have one run in front of me 5 minutes before I was to walk out the door for a 10 day trip to see friends. Knowing Tracy's fear of mice, I knew I was not going to be allowed to leave the house until that mouse was trapped. The last time Tracy saw a mouse, she went to hide in the car.......and locked the doors. Apparently, she thought the mice had the ability to open the doors unless they were locked.

Anyway, what you see here is the result of "successful" 4 hour mouse hunt. Will try to leave again tomorrow.

Wednesday, November 5, 2008

Howdy Ya'll!

I made it to Roswell Georgia as scheduled and am excited about the chance to visit two of my best friends for about 5 days. The trip was smooth after I got out of town, which was nice given that chaos ensued right before I was scheduled to leave. Don't was nothing harmful. Just delayed my leaving for 18 hours and cost me one day at my friend Gary's house in Huntsville. That chaos will be the topic of an upcoming blog....perhaps even the next entry.

The trip so far could not have gone better. It has included a nice visit with Gary, an amazing morning at the Civil War Battlefield in Shiloh, and a couple of sightseeing oddities that provided a great deal of enjoyment. I have taken about 80 pictures so far and hope to post some of the best when I get a chance to write about the trip. The provide a nice balance of the autumn serenity of Shiloh with the slices of american life you can only see when you get off the interstate and travel though the small towns of this country.

Sunday, November 2, 2008

Convenience Store Stupidity

I will have a recap of the Rocky Horror Show, but i am busy packing for my trip to Atlanta to see friends. I will have my laptop with me and hope to blog from the road and include some pictures from along the way.

Here is one I put together a couple days ago to hold you over for a few days.

I could probably have a whole blog dedicated just to the topic of convenience stores. For example, one store in town has had a sign up on the door that reads "Please take off any Halloween mask before entering the store". While I recognize this is a good rule given the possibility of someone robbing the place in a mask of some sort. If this sign was up on Halloween or even a day or 2 before, it would make perfect sense. But this sign went up at the end of September. I am not the most observant person, but I did not see a significant rise in the wearing of masks in September.

Anyway....yesterday brought a new one. I had gotten a soda refill in the cup I had with me. When I checked out, they rang it up at 96 cents. I pointed out the the clerk that it should be 69 cents. She said 96 cents was correct. I pointed to the 3 large signs on the soda fountain that said "all fountain drinks 69 cents". Had I been before Judge Wapner, this would have ended in a verdict in my favor. Unfortunately, the clerk was no judge Wapner.

I pointed the sign out to her. She informed me that while all fountain drinks were 69 cents, it did not apply to refills. I tried to grasp why a refill in my own cup (from a previous visit to that store) cost MORE that a drink in a fresh cup. I asked her "so you are telling me, if I go over there and fill one of your 44 oz cups and then poured it into my cup and threw your cup away, it would be CHEAPER than refilling my cup. She replied, "yes.....if you put it in one of our cups first, it would be 69 cents".

Her lack of any facial expression led me to believe she was not grasping the stupidity of what she had just said. Although a line had now formed behind me, I felt compelled to continue my line of questioning, I searched for just the right words and asked, "does that not seem stupid to you?". She looked at me and replied "what do you mean?".

I paid my 96 cents and left.