So Long Red Bay Alabama

So long Red Bay. It’s been swell but it’s time to hit the road. Our warranty work took a couple of days. Our Holy S$&t work took a bit longer. The good news is the Big Rig is looking spiffy. You’d never know anything happened.

New bike set up for the Big RigA minor change in our set up. The bikes are now on the back of the car. This is the set up for the foreseeable future. Other Half needs to get the new hitch adapter adapted to clear the tow bar. This kind of stuff is 100% his department. Whatever he says goes. He loves that part.

We left Red Bay Saturday morning. Our ultimate goal is Santa Fe, but considering it’s 1200 or so miles from Red Bay, we plan to take three days.

Interstate 40 crossing the Mississippi RiverDay one took us from Alabama across Arkansas on Interstate 40 West. Long drive. Not much variety. It was cool to cross the Mississippi River. Had lunch at a crowded, poorly designed rest area. Poorly designed for Big Rigs for sure. Big Rig parking was along the curb on the exit road. Not ideal.

Our original plan was to spend the night at a Walmart just into Oklahoma. We opted for a campground instead – with 90+ degree heat and humidity – we wanted to run our air conditioners. We ended up at a KOA in Sallisaw, Oklahoma. The only site available required us to unhook the car, no biggie.

Welcome to Oklahoma along I 40 WDay two took us across Oklahoma, excluding the panhandle. This is the first time Other Half and I have ever been in Oklahoma –  granted a day spent driving Interstate 40 West is not exactly visiting a state. We’re counting it anyway.

Here’s what stood out on the drive – there are a lot of Indian Nations across Oklahoma. We no sooner left one nation and immediately entered another. Some of the tribes we recognized, like the Cherokee, the Seminole, and the Shawnee. Others, like Sac & Fox Nation and Citizen Potawatomi Nation were new to us.

And it seems each nation has a casino. Per Google, Oklahoma has 124 Indian casinos owned by 30 tribes. That’s a lot of casinos. And (per Google) Indian gaming is the second largest industry in the state. That equates to big bucks. Annual revenue estimates from Indian gaming is $4 billion. That’s billion with a B. FYI, we did not contribute, at least not this trip.

We also spotted the historic marker for the Chisholm Trail. I, of course, had no clue what the Chisholm Trail was. Other Half drew on his best year in school, 7th grade. He didn’t remember all the details – but he had the basics right. The Chisholm Trail was a cattle route that started in Texas, crossed Oklahoma and ended in Kansas at the train station. He clearly paid much more attention in 7th grade than I did.

We also saw lots of references to Route 66. Turns out Interstate 40, west of Oklahoma City, parallels and replaces Old US-66.

One more thing went on all day in Oklahoma. Apparently it’s impossible to drive through the state without breaking into song. OOOOk-lahoma, where the wind comes sweepin’ down the plain, and the wavin’ wheat can sure smell sweet….or something like that.

Welcome to Texas along I40 WWe ended our day in Texas. We are staying at the Amarillo RV Resort. Nice place with big pull thru sites. We’re settled in and I’m doing laundry – with the song OOOOk-lahoma stuck in my head. Of course. 


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Missing Mary…

Mary and Jack

Soulmates, Mary & Jack

Mary, I miss you.

I miss being able to talk to you on a regular – sometimes daily – basis. It’s weird to not be able to call you. Sometimes I forget and go to dial your number – then I remember.

Mary & Jack & Helminiak crew

Top row: SIL Todd Twigg, Jack, Sons Carson, Luke holding Lucas, and Brady. Bottom row: Daughter Kate Twigg, expecting Journee, DIL Danielle, Mary, DIL Jenny.

I miss our family updates. You’d give me the scoop on your crew – I’d give you the scoop on mine. You told me everything. I told you everything. No secrets between sisters.

We’d finish our conversation with “Love you,” and more often than not – hang up and immediately call one of the other sisters. Many times I’d call you and you’d be on the phone with Cindy or Nat. Same when you’d call me.

That’s how it’s always worked with the four of us. You tell one of us – you’ve told all off us. We never had the energy nor the inclination to keep secrets, and besides without all the info – how could the Committee render an opinion?

Goofy Sisiters

The Committee goofing off – Natalie, Mary, Cindy and Kris

And render an opinion we did. The four of us are the Committee. By virtue of birth order, I’m the Chairman. The Committee has a say in any and all matters involving the family. The children and the significant other’s of the Committee know this all too well.

Mary, we miss your voice on the Committee.

The good news is we know what you would say.

Open your heart – forgive – we are ALL doing the best we can.

You lived your life seeing the best in everyone. You built people up – left them feeling better for having interacted with you. We are ALL better human beings for having shared this life with you.

The girls, Mary's daughter Kate, DIL Jenny, niece Meg and DIL Danielle.

The girls, Mary’s daughter Kate, DIL Jenny, niece Meg, and DIL Danielle

At your memorial service, my daughter Meg read an essay she’d written about what it was like having four Mom’s. I never thought about what it was like from the kids perspective. Your kids agreed totally. They all felt like they had four Mom’s. They did – and they still do.

Today is the first anniversary of your passing. You are never far from our hearts. We are honoring you in our lives by staying close, by unconditionally accepting and forgiving each other and forever loving each other through it all. No matter what. All of us. Doing the best we can.

We know that’s what you would want.


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Ever Wish for a Do-Over?

You know how sometimes you wish you could get a do-over? I’ve had that thought numerous times about my clod gene incident. If I could just get a do-over I promise I would negotiate the Big Rig steps at a much s-l-o-w-e-r pace. I’d be extra careful, really I would.

No such luck. Do-overs only happen in make believe — not in real life.

Right about now Other Half finds himself wishing for a do-over.

Here’s the story…

We left Walbridge, Ohio Thursday at about 8:30 a.m. Our plan was to head to Red Bay, Alabama. Red Bay is the home of Tiffin Motorhomes and since the Big Rig is a Tiffin – we like to stop by at least once a year with a repair list in hand. Our repair list is short and our planned stop was more on the lines of preventive. At least originally.

The drive was uneventful. We headed south through the never-ending construction of Interstate 75. Picked up Intestate 71 in Covington, KY and Interstate 65 South in Louisville KY. We debated about stoping for the night north of Nashville but decided to get that part of the drive over with. Lots of traffic, but all good.

Our destination was a Cracker Barrel south of Nashville. We love Cracker Barrel. What’s not to love? You roll out of bed within walking distance of hot coffee and warm biscuits. Perfect.

We pulled into the Cracker Barrel and surveyed the designated RV parking spots. With the Equinox hitched to the the Big Rig, we are always too long for the designated spots.

Other Half did a preliminary pass through the lot. I had a fleeting thought that Rigby and I should get out and act as eyes-on-the-ground. That’s usually how we handle parking the Big Rig. I guide. He maneuvers.

Guess both of us could use a do-over.

Cracker Barrel Retaining WallOther Half decided on a location and started to pull in and position the Big Rig so we could open the driver’s side slide out. At least that was his plan. What he didn’t plan on was the four foot retaining wall on his left. The Big Rig has a BIG tail swing and if you fail to plan for it – it will remind you in a BIG way.

That’s what happened.

The driver’s side rear corner s-c-r-a-p-e-d the retaining wall. The car was hitched to the Big Rig and couldn’t clear. We had a special hitch adapter that allowed us to have the bike rack between the Big Rig and the Equinox. The hitch adapter snapped and the bike rack – with our brand new bikes – hit the ground.

Damaged Big RigThere we were in the Cracker Barrel parking lot in 100 degree heat staring at a damaged Big Rig, a snapped hitch adapter with our bikes, rack and all laying on the pavement. Holy S%$t! It kind of felt like being in shock. One minute life is good and the next you’re wondering how in the heck you’re going to handle this one.

To his credit, Other Half is very calm in the face of catastrophe. He immediately accessed the situation and went to work. I did what I could to help – primarily dealing with Rigby. The snapped adapter and fiberglass chunk went in the car. It took some time, but he relocated the bike rack and the bikes to the back of the car and re-hitched the car directly to the Big Rig.

After a restless night, we started our day with coffee and biscuits at Cracker Barrel and then headed out. We arrived at Red Bay late Friday morning. We’re all settled in with work scheduled to start Monday morning. We’ll be entertaining ourselves in Red Bay this weekend.

We would both love a do-over, but all things considered, we’re coming through this fiasco in good shape. No snarling at each other and only an occasional Holy S%$t!


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Time in Ohio Winding Down

Our time in Ohio is winding down. Ohio is home and it’s always good to be home. But we do live in a Big Rig with big tires. It’s time to get those big tires back on the road. Before we go let’s talk about how great northwest Ohio really is – the place and the people.

Other Half and I have lived our entire lives in northwest Ohio. That is up until 2014, when we downsized to the extreme and moved into the Big Rig. I have to admit, since we left – my appreciation for the area has expanded.

Ronald Trump and BookieOur first weekend back we solved a Casino Murder Mystery. Other Half played the casino owner, Ronald Trump. I was a Bookie.

Bucket Buddies Ron and BobThe mystery was solved with the help of a gambler and an Elvis impersonator. It’s great to have wacky friends.

Boardwalk at Maumee Bay State ParkOver the summer we’ve made several trips to Maumee Bay State Park. This place is spectacular. It’s located along the shores of Lake Erie. The park has biking and hiking trails and a beautiful boardwalk through the Black Swamp.

Deer at Maumee Bay State ParkIt’s almost impossible to walk Maumee Bay without seeing deer. I love seeing wildlife in the wild. This deer made my day.

Brother-In-Law JackWe enjoyed helping our brother-in-law celebrate a benchmark birthday.

Great niece Journee, great nephew LucasAnd got to spend time with these cuties, my great niece Journee and great nephew Lucas.

My sister Cindy and her "Fat" shortsHad a good laugh with my sister Cindy. These are the shorts she wore – back in the day – with a red tube top – and she THOUGHT SHE WAS FAT! Oh to be as “fat” as we were when we first thought we were fat!

GF's Peg, Carolyn, Lisa and meEnjoyed a long weekend at Lisa’s Lake House with my Besties. These women rock. My life continues to be better because of them. Peg, Carolyn, Lisa and me.

Ottawa Wildlife RefugeOther Half and I discovered the Ottawa Wildlife Refuge. It’s funny how you miss things that are literally in your backyard – until you come back with fresh eyes.

Canadian Geese at Ottawa RefugeWe spent a couple hours walking the refuge with Canadian Geese as our only company. The refuge is stunning – but the geese have made their presence known. It’s critical you watch your step at all times – lots and lots of goose poop.

My beautiful granddaughters, Lilly & AllyHad fun with these special little girls, my granddaughters Lilly and Ally.

Wildflowers at Pearson MetroparkOn numerous occasions we enjoyed the wildflowers of Pearson Metropark. Our former bricks and sticks was located a half mile from Pearson. Over the years we’ve spent lots of time there. Happy to walk the trails again.

Sister Cindy at Butterfly HouseSpent a day at Put-In-Bay on South Bass Island with my sister Cindy. We enjoyed Lake Erie Perch for lunch and time at the Butterfly House.

Put-In-Bay endless golf cartsOne of the most fun parts of a day at Put-In-Bay is tooling around in a golf cart. I love golf carts – it’s golf I’m not crazy about.

Mid-summer Other Half, Rigby and I packed up the Big Rig and headed east. We spent time in upstate New York with one of my Besties, Carolyn, time in Portland Maine with our amazing grandkids and time in Plymouth Mass with my sister Natalie and her family. Love having wheels.

GF's Al, Peg and meBack in Ohio, got to see another of my long term girlfriends. Al, Peg and I had a fun afternoon.

Bucket Buddies Pool PartyHad a Senior Olympics – Lobster Bake – Pool Party with our Bucket Buddies.

Bob lighting Olympic torchBob, aka Elvis from the Casino Murder Mystery Party, lit the torch.

Kate, Carson, Brady (birthday) LukeCelebrated our nephew’s 30th birthday with the family. Here he is with his siblings, Kate, Carson, Brady (birthday boy) and Luke. Love these kids!!!

Other Half on Recumbent BikeWe rounded out the summer with new bikes. Other Half has turned into an enthusiastic bike rider since he now owns a Terra Trike Recumbent Bike. I’m happy he’ll ride with me.

Lots more happened over the summer. We’ve connected with many many friends and sadly said a final goodbye to several. We all know life is short. We’re doing our best to live it fully. Hope you are too.


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