Wednesday, September 26, 2012

Girls' Getaway 2012, In Retrospect

     On our yearly girls' getaway to the Smoky Mountains there is never a dull moment and this year was no exception.    Last Thursday morning, eight of us set out full of excitement and anticipation.  Several stops and a few hours later, we arrived in Pigeon Forge, starving.  Naturally, our first stop was a restaurant to eat dinner.  A friend of Libby's had told her about a place called Calhoun's and none of us had eaten there before.   It was wonderful!  We liked the restaurant so well we actually went back on Saturday night.

  On Friday, we spent the day shopping in Gatlinburg, following a huge breakfast at one of the many pancake houses.    We literally shopped till we dropped.  That evening we ate at Bubba Gumps Seafood where our waiter looked exactly like a young John Travolta.

     Each night we would get comfortable at the cabin and laugh till we couldn't hold our eyes open.   Nothing like a big comfy couch, hot, buttery popcorn and some good, juicy girl-talk!

     On Saturday, we went to Pigeon Forge.  Down by the Old Mill they were having a Heritage Festival with lots of booths, crafts, food and entertainment.  Lunch outside at the Old Mill Pottery House Cafe was perfect.  Brenda's brother and sister-in-law met us there and had lunch with us.

     Of course, you know no trip with this bunch could ever be event free.  Every year something out of the ordinary has to happen to give us that one unforgettable memory.   This year, it was Saturday night.

     During dinner at Calhoun's, Brenda told us about this place her brother had been and thought we would enjoy.  It was in Gatlinburg and was a place where they made moonshine, had wine tastings and live music.  It had been a long day of shopping and Libby, Pat and I really didn't want to go watch moonshine being made.  We were ready to go back to the cabin. was the plan.

     The 3 of us would take Brenda's car.  We were going to check out some cabins we had heard about right out of Pigeon Forge, and then we were going back to the cabin.  All the rest were going in Linda's suv to the moonshine place in Gatlinburg.    We get in the car and thinking we had plenty of time, I decide to drive out Wears Valley Road to see if I can find a gift shop that I had been to years before that had cabins out behind it.  We didn't find it so finally turned around and started back toward the parkway.  About that time my phone rings.  It's Brenda wanting to know where we are, did we find the cabins.  Now this should have been the first red flag, but, since I had no reason to think they were anywhere other than on their way to Gatlinburg, I explained where we were, not thinking another thing about it.  On the way back up the parkway, we pulled through Krispy Creme Doughnuts to pick up some to take back to the cabin.  We were leisurely enjoying our quiet time, never once thinking anything was up.  By now our friends should be reaching Gatlinburg and looking for the moonshine place. 

     Not far past Krispy Creme was the road where we turned to look for the cabins Libby's friend had told her about.   I remembered the directions, which were in my purse, had said 1/2 mile out this road and then turn left.  Thinking a 1/2 mile was not very far I figured it would probably be the first road to the left; therefore, when we came to the first road I turned, immediately realizing it was not the right road.  I backed up to turn around and then sat there while I dug out the directions.  Back out on the first road, we continued on, looking for the right road.  Unfortunately, when we got to it, we missed it because the road sign was hidden down in a ditch and the one on the other side had a completely different name.    Of course, as soon as we passed it we saw the sign.  There was no place to turn around so we had to drive a little further and around a curve.  Finally, turned around we headed back to the right road.   We knew before we got there that this was a gated community and we wouldn't be able to drive up to the cabins, but we figured we would at least be able to see where they were and what they looked like.   Pulling up to the large gate, we were looking at the cabins that were scattered up the mountainside.  Suddenly, this huge black suv pulls up behind us and started blowing the horn.   Now remember, our friends, whom we had no reason to doubt, were in Gatlinburg.  This must be someone wanting in the gate and he wants me out of his way.  But I have no place to go!  The gate is in front of me and he is behind me.  The longer I sat there the madder I got.  That idiot!  Where does he expect me to go!  I can't move if he doesn't!  What a jerk!  Pat was about ready to get out of the car!   Finally, he backs up and leaves.  We do the same, getting out of there as fast as I could go.

     We get back to our cabin, and low and behold, our friends are already there.  I thought that seemed strange but knew there must be a reason.  Sure enough, when we got inside, Paula was lying down, not feeling well.   They said that was why they came home early.  Trusting souls that we were, we still didn't think anything was going on.   We all settle in and start planning for next year.  The first thing they wanted to know was did we find the cabins.  Of course, we told them all about the idiot jerk who pulled up behind us and wouldn't move.  That's when something began to sound fishy.  I looked at Linda and she looked like the cat who just ate the canary.    Suddenly, it all made sense.  The phone call, the black suv, them getting home first.    "It was YOU!  You were the idiots who pulled up behind us!"  I said to Linda.  At first they denied it, but when Libby told Brenda to look her in the eye and tell her it wasn't them, she couldn't without busting out laughing.   So here is their version of what happened.

     After leaving the restaurant, they decided they didn't really want to go to the moonshine place.  Stopping to get gas, they decided to try to find the cabins and be there waiting when we got there, but didn't really know how to find them.     Not knowing we were going to drive out Wears Valley Road first, they couldn't figure out what was taking us so long; that's when they called.  Finally, they saw us pass and decided to follow us, without letting us know they were.  They didn't see me make the first wrong turn until they passed and Linda saw us sitting there.  Not knowing what to do, they pulled off in a driveway that dropped under a hill and sat there waiting for us to pass.  Once we did, they waited sufficient time for us to get down the road and pulled out to follow.    By this time they are thinking we saw them following us and pulled off on that first road to hide from them.  So when they hid from us in the driveway, they are all cracking up laughing so hard.  They start back down the road and who do you think they pass coming the other direction?  We had turned around and were now headed back to the road where we were supposed to have turned.  They just knew they were caught now, we had to have seen them, or so they think.  But, being the trusting souls that we are, we still think they are in Gatlinburg, and let's face it, there are only about a million black suvs on the road.  Pulling up behind us, they are all rolling in the floor from laughing so hard at our game of cat and mouse.  Linda thinks when she blows the horn we will all get out of the car and come back there.     Now, why she didn't just pull up beside us so we could see it was them I'll never know.   And I wasn't about to get out of the car and walk up to strangers in a vehicle.  For all I knew they might have a gun and be in a bad mood.   Anyway, flying back to the cabin, they decided to wait to see if we knew it was them before they said anything.   Barely making it back ahead of us, they hurriedly staged this whole scene to make it look like they had been there awhile.

     Needless to say, when the whole story came out, we all laughed so hard we nearly got sick.  We all ended up hoarse from laughing so much.   It was probably the funniest thing that has ever happened to us on one of our trips, although, I know it loses something in translation.  It is just one of those stories that can never be told with the same comedic punch as when it happened.    Looking back, I guess, you just had to be there.

Until next time...that's my view.


Wednesday, September 5, 2012

Deja Vu or a Guiness World Record?

     Lately, there has been a lot of commercials, magazine articles, blog posts and discussions about menopause.  Some are funny, some serious and some very informative because they forgo the "beating around the bush" and tell it like it is.    If you are a female of a "certain age", you know exactly what I mean.  But I don't think all the information in the world could have prepared me for my so-called menopause.

     My doctor once told me that I never did anything like normal people.  I've definitely proved him right more than once.   But when it comes to menopause, I am either experiencing deja vu or else I've set the world's record for the longest menopause in history.  

     Maybe I should start at the beginning.  I was forced into menopause before I was 30 years old, following a series of 4 female surgeries.    Lets just say what followed would have made an hilarious skit on the Carol Burnett Show (again showing my age).    At that time, my son was young and I was an over-active mom involved with PTA, 4-H, little league, room mother, youth group, church committees, etc. etc.  In other words, I was often in meetings or in front of people.  Just imagine being a 20 something mom in front of a group of people and suddenly break out in a clammy sweat, feeling like you were on fire from the inside out.  For those who have never experienced it, it's like having your own private tropical summer in the middle of an air conditioned room.   You start peeling off every article of clothing you can legally take off.

     Some of the most memorable times were always at night.  I remember one particular night in the middle of winter.  It was extremely cold outside with snow on the ground.  In the middle of the night I woke up feeling like fire was consuming me, starting inside and working its way out.  I was so hot a cold shower wouldn't have cooled me off.  I sat on the side of the bed and opened the window, storm window and all, and stuck my head out the window!

     Luckily, after a long while, symptoms eased off.  I thought I was completely over all that....until lately.  Lately I have been having hot flashes again.  Not sure why but it certainly is like deja vu;  been there - done that.    Either that, or, like I said earlier, I'm going for the world's record for the longest menopause in history.  I was 28 when it started the first time; I'm now 59 - you do the math.   I'm hoping it's not more menopause.   After this long, the only tropical summers I want to experience are ones that take place in the Caribbean.

Until next time...that's my view.

Written for GBE 2 prompt - Deja Vu


Wordless Wednesday - Open House

Open House - Saturday, Sept. 8, 4:00 p.m.

Saturday, September 1, 2012

Remembering the Sacrifice

     Thursday, my Aunt Joan, Sister Jane, my niece, great-niece and I spent the day with my dad.  It's always fun to visit dad, but this particular day turned out to be extra special.    

     Daddy is especially excited right now because he is about to take, what for him, may be the trip of a lifetime.   Daddy is going to visit Washington D.C. with a group of veterans, absolutely free of charge.  It is through a wonderful program that at least once a year takes a plane load of veterans on an all expense paid trip to Washington for a one day tour of the war monuments and other highlights of D.C..   I don't know what the program is called, nor if it is in other areas of the country or just local.  All I know is that Daddy is going and he is super excited.  He has never been to Washington D.C. before.  He heard about the program from a friend who went on the trip last year.  He then filled out the paper work and last week got his letter with dates, times and itinerary.  Daddy is a World War II veteran of the Navy Air Corp.  He was a radio operator in a navy bomber plane.

     All the talk of Washington and the war monuments got us on the subject of world war II, when daddy suddenly went to the closet and brought out a rather large manila envelope.   The envelope contained all the service records of daddy's two brothers, who were both killed in world war II.    We all knew about the 2 uncles we never had the chance to meet, but we had never really talked about their deaths.  There before us were pictures, documents, copies of letters; all the information we had never known about these two men.   It was a piece of our family history that had been missing.  There was even a letter written in my Mamaw Williams's own handwriting that she had written to the government following uncle Charle's death.  Mamaw died when I was only four so that was the first time I had seen her handwriting.

     We spent a major part of the afternoon reading through documents and learning about these uncles we never knew.  It got me to thinking about my dad's family and just what a sacrifice they had made.  We often talk about the sacrifice the soldiers make but we seldom think about how hard it is for the families left behind.  Grandad and Mamaw Williams had 4 children - 3 boys and 1 girl.  All 3 boys enlisted in service for the same war and only one came home.  Losing one child is beyond my comprehension, but to lose two in less than a year would just be unbearable.  My heart goes out to anyone who has ever lost a child.  I just can't imagine what my mamaw went through.   My heart aches for her just thinking about it.


      Charles was the oldest of the Williams boys.   Charles was killed in August, 1944 near the beach of Normandy 2 months after D-Day.   He is buried in the American cemetery at Normandy.      You've seen the picture; row after row of white crosses.  Uncle Charles was one of those thousands of Americans who gave his life in that foreign land before he had even had time to live his life in his homeland.

     Donald was the youngest of the Williams brothers.  He was killed in April, 1945 in Okinawa, buried for a brief time and was later moved to Honolulu where he was interred in his final resting place.  Besides his mother, father, brother and sister, he also left behind a fiancee.

       After his second brother was killed, daddy was returned stateside where he served out the rest of his enlistment.  He was honorably discharged a couple of months after Donald's death.  He and mother were married that August.  How hard that must have been for him, knowing that Charles or Donald would never return and Donald would never see his wedding day.

     Daddy's family was, by no means, the only family who sacrificed much during the war.  There were thousands of families just like them who lost loved ones; grieving for what should have been.  May we never forget the sacrifices made by so many, but especially the men and women like Charles and Donald who willingly made the ultimate sacrifice.

Until next time...that's my view.