June 15th, 2007


Travels With Emily -- The REST of the Story


The Hoot Owl and Miss Emily Hit Pandemonium

Aunt CAROL, formerly of Hoot Owl Hill, a five acre patch of Mississippi Gulf Coast land that is perfectly FLAT, told a lie! I don't believe it; but I heard it with my very own two ears! She told a lie! In fact, she WOKE UNCLE CLYDE UP to do it, too! And my MOMMA told her to!

Bless him, the man knows his wife well. We were giggling hysterically, and he said, "Y'all either have to be exhausted, or y'all had more than water to drink. I can hear you giggling."

Truth was then told. "No! All we had was ice water, all three of us. San says that Em had hers straight."

At the airport, just before San found the girls, another story in itself, Carol said, "This is one trip where we WON'T get lost."

Emily finished her sentence for her, "Because Sandy knows the territory." Then she added, "And I immediately thought of The Music Man."

Robert Preston sings, in a surprisingly HIGH voice, "But you've got to know the territory."


Getting lost is always a "giggle" affair with long roots in our family.

(Aside - back history for those who have never traveled with any of us for a long enough period to discover for themselves.)

On a trip to Ocean Springs, Mom, Lou, and Carol went to Seashore National Park, a museum with all kinds of shells, skeletons of fish and crustaceans, with two movies - the wildlife found on the barrier islands, and the forts in the area, including the one where prisoners from the Civil War were kept. After watching these fascinating films, the girls left, Lou driving.

Drive and chat, drive and chat, and eventually someone noticed that they were still in the parking lot, which was made up of a series of rectangles. Ten minutes passed, and they were STILL in the parking lot, even with all three now trying to decode the maze, laughing all the way. Finally Carol called Clyde, more as a joke than really expecting help, because, as Carol shamefacedly admits, "Clyde's not the person to call to have tell you where to go. Bless his heart! He would NEVER tell anyone where to go, any way you look at it."

Nobody remembers how, but they all showed up at their respective homes eventually, so we know they made their escape.

Fast forward at least a year. Mom was tied up with George in the hospital when Aunt Joan and Uncle Russ (from Dad's side of the family) showed up, so Carol took them to the park. (Right. Slow learners here, THE SAME PARK.) [Ah, the plot thickens!] After telling them the story of the parking lot, complete with giggles, she admonished Russ, "Be sure and notice how we get in here so you can help me get out."

Russ, always a person who takes his duties seriously, watched carefully.

After enjoying exhibits and movies, they headed home. When Carol hesitated, Russ said, "Turn ... here," and proceeded to retrace their route accurately to the highway. A good man to have at your back.

When Mom took ME to that museum, she said, "Oh, we need Russell with us." With the type of prior warning that he was given, I could have guided her out, most likely, but with no prior warning, we, too, were lost in the maze. By examining the entire layout from car rooftop, we navigated it successfully without her getting too frazzled.

(Aside #2 - San's airport experience.)

Lou told me to leave home at 3, so I did, but she had NOT been informed of all the places I had planned to stop first along the way. This lack goes under the guise of FAMILY PLANNING.

Doing some quick math in my head, I decided NOT to empty the rest of the trash sacks adorning the front porch, waiting for the wind to die down so they could be burned. Those already loaded made it into the pile of rubbish at the bottom of the hill which will eventually be burned.

Fortunately, I did NOT start the fire, as I inadvertently included TODAY'S MAIL as an afterthought. Besides, I want to watch things burn to prevent catching my neighbor's field on fire... (Yes, I really DID do that, but I was right there... and it happened anyway when a stout breeze blew up and switched, trapping me between his corner post and the forked trunk of a tree as it swept past me on both sides and flew across 2/3 of his field one Thanksgiving day. I got to meet LOTS of volunteer firemen, to whom I apologized profusely. One man said, "Oh, I don't mind. This is a LOT more exciting than listening to boring relatives tell their long-winded stories. If you are of like mind as you peruse this tale, just hit delete. You can laugh, but nobody will be the wiser.)

I delivered egg cartons and a good Christian book to Carol Martin (as they were sitting on the seat either mom or Carol would need to occupy) and off I went, duty MOSTLY done.

Their flight was due in at 6:19, so at 5:30, I pulled into a fast food joint, got a small water with no ice for Mom, a chocolate shake for my brunch, and a full ice water for Carol, and hit up "short term parking," for $1 per half hour, lucking out and getting a position within four cars of the exit on the airport side. (Our bill was $4... and I consider it cheap at that price.)

Carefully positioning myself in the front row right at the bottom of the stairway bearing the notice "Only ticketed passengers and airport personnel beyond this point", I tried to read. Spying two arrivals from Texas, neither of which were arriving at the 6:19 arrival time, I dug for the paper with their itinerary printed on it. IT WAS GONE. The satellite weather occasionally replaced the list of arrivals, then the notice about being on "condition orange", which was also frequently broadcast over the PA system. The Dallas/Fort Worth and Huston areas were heavily covered -- a squall line. The arrival times for one flight changed from 6:30 to 7:05. The other Texas location moved to 7:45. Soon, one read 8:30.

I was highly upset, and could not remember anything other than they were leaving at 11:38, going through Houston? Someplace in TX, and were to arrive at 6:19. There was a Minneapolis flight landing at 6:19, but I watched who deplaned from that one, and the girls were NOT on it. I went to the Continental and American ticket counters, the companies with arrivals from TX scheduled. One was darkened, one checking in a passenger. When he finished, I asked politely and got the agent to check BOTH flights, but neither Carol or Mom were listed as passengers. [Ah, the plot thickens!]

At 6:45, more "socked in" warnings from the TX area were posted. By 7, I went to the United desk, the only thing still open, and when that agent got free, I explained my problem. She suggested checking the baggage area and if they were not there, told me where to go to get them paged.

This was a clear-thinking lady. Sure enough, after a few minutes of checking seated passengers carefully, I spotted the back of Mom's head. I KNEW Carol had to be nearby, because I knew they would not come separately. I could NOT see Carol anywhere.

"How did you get past me?" I greeted Mom.

Mom said that when they landed at Memphis, they were offered a straight through flight to Des Moines, without the Minneapolis part of their trip. They'd arrived at Des Moines at 3:15! And, since I have no cell phone, they could not let me know.

I felt horribly guilty, as I certainly COULD have been at Des Moines by then, had I known. Mom explained that their BAGGAGE was just now being unloaded, and, sure enough, when someone moved, I could see Carol watching the carousel for their collection of containers.

So, last night, after waiting in the baggage claim area from 3:15 until after 7, when their baggage caught up with them, we left, going to Indianola to shop. It's ALL MOM'S FAULT, that whole thing about the lie. (You DO remember where this epic tale began, right?) She could have prevented the LIE from happening! While Carol and I went shopping, she remembered as she waited bored in the car, that Carol needed to call Clyde. This was after dark, after a leisurely meal at the Indianola Country Kitchen.

Need I admit that WE GOT LOST? About five miles south of Indianola on Highway 65/69, one goes straight and one does a left hand turn, in a huge intersection with tons of lights... but WE DROVE RIGHT PAST IT... lost in conversation and chuckles. Nor did we immediately realize that we were lost! When extra unexpected curves kept showing up, bending in the wrong direction repeatedly, we thought to watch for a road sign. Sure enough, we were on 69, way, way south of the turn-off, as in a good three times the distance to the south.

(Aside #3)
Good conversation will do that to you. I remember one trip into the Sinks Canyon on horseback with Steve and Harold, where I needed to make a short ride after a surgery. Harold said there was a route that looped, and we did not need to do the whole 13 hour trail I was familiar with. Well, we chatted past the turn off, missed the one for the bit I knew, and came to when the sun was in the wrong spot -- WE WERE HEADING OUT NORTH FOR THE FIVE DAY RUN ALONG THE ROCKY MOUNTAIN'S CONTINENTAL DIVIDE TO JACKSON. Harold kept checking a WW II variety very interesting looking compass. Finally, he said, "We're heading ... " and I KNEW FROM THE SHADOWS OF THE TREES that we were NOT GOING THAT DIRECTION. We got back safely, at twilight. Boy, was I sore!
(End Aside)

So, not being male, we pulled over and Carol dug a map out of the glove box. MOM, however, had a different agenda. Although Carol offered her the WATER CUP, she refused, in fact, could hardly wait to bare all right in the middle of the road! Need I explain, we'd taken the road less traveled by. I wanted to drive across the road to see the route number we were on, but I refrained. I was not sure how much shelter Mom was deriving from my car.

Also, her parting words were, "Don't drive off and leave me."

Carol and I debated doing exactly that, but decided that might be a bit too much excitement for an octogenarian.

Once the two cars on the cross roads passed, mom rejoined the expedition, and we set out to cross the road, pulling up beside the route sign while I located where we were and discussed undoing our talking itinerary with the aid of the Iowa map. Mom decided Carol needed to CALL CLYDE. THUS THE LIE HAPPENED. (You DO remember the LIE, right?)

"We only lost five miles, right?" said Mom.

Carol added, "Or six, depending on which sign you believe."

Sometime after eleven, we wended our weary way to San's driveway and were comatose and level by midnight.