What An Adventure!!!

So Gramps and I decided to go on a little camping trip to Iowa, spending a few days with his two cousins and their wives along the Mississippi River.  Just a week to get away from the heat here in Texas, visit with family and enjoy the outdoors.  Sounds simple enough, right?  Doable, easy, no big problem.

Well, that’s what I thought too, at least on Day One. The first day of travel was uneventful. A peaceful day of driving and arriving at a pleasant State Park in Kansas.

After a couple nights in another campground, we headed for the Iowa State Park and the group campout, although with one camper tire that had turned up low on air.  After re-inflation, things started to fall apart, although we didn’t know at the time how much.  Other drivers passing us started pointing.  I thought they were rude.  Gramps finally realized something was wrong and pulled over.

Sure enough, a flat tire. Not just a flat tire, but an exploded tire!  We were driving on the rim and the tread was wrapped around the axle.

Gramps was unable to get the lug nuts off the wheel because it kept turning – brakes wouldn’t hold it, chocks no good, pry bars…nothing.  And we couldn’t call for help because we were in a “No Service” area – cell phones wouldn’t work.

Well, we were just going to have to rely on the kindness of strangers, so we flagged down a nice gentleman who drove Gramps to the nearest spot where the phone would work and he could call for roadside assistance.

As things happen, a nice burly man stopped on his own accord and offered to help while Gramps was gone.  He was able to get the lug nuts off and started to replace the wheel.  I could not call Gramps to tell him to return because, as you recall, I was in a dead zone.

By the time Gramps did return, the tire was almost in place and a service tech was on his way.  We finished getting the spare on, thanked all our helpers and drove off to find cell coverage, and cancel the service request.

We soon arrived at the State Park, set up, had dinner and fell into bed.

During the night, a big thunderstorm came up and we noticed a leak coming from the skylight.  So we put a big bowl under it and went back to bed.

Before sunrise, I picked up my clock to check the time (5 am!!) and found my hand in a pool of water on the top of the bedside table.  At the same time, I felt water dripping on the back of my hand. We had another leak!!  We got up and sopped it all up with paper towel, then put another bowl in place to catch the drip coming from the ceiling.  No more sleep for us.

That same day, we discovered the carpeting in the living area was sopping wet.  Not just wet, but saturated, soggy, boggy wet.  We finally discovered that the water tank fill hose is in that corner and we had used that inlet to fill the tank with about twenty gallons of water the previous day.  Searching further, we found a large cut in the hose, which meant that most of that water leaked into the camper and got sucked up by the carpet.

Well, we tried sopping it up with paper towels until we ran out.  It became clear that paper towels were not going to do the job, so to save the flooring, we started removing carpet. Gramps cut out a four foot square of carpet – can’t tell you how ugly THAT looks!!!

Then we decided to put the fan down on the remaining carpet to help dry it out. The only problem?  It’s a 12-volt fan, without an outlet in that area.  Time to go to Wally World!!  We needed a 110-volt fan and certainly more paper towels.

By then the cousin couple from Michigan had arrived, so we all began setting up their unit and cheerful visiting.  All was well for the rest of the day.

Next day, we found the truck carpeting along the sill was saturated.  Did it leak in the all-night rainfall?  Yes, we tried paper towels by the roll.  Then Gramps pried the carpet up with screwdrivers and pliers to allow air circulation. By the end of the day he had added a hair dryer that eventually ran three straight days and nights and never did dry out the carpeting.

Then the camper lost battery power, which meant we had no 12-volt lights or water pump, and no water service.  We started hauling water in a big tub from the fill station to the camper for the toilet and the sink. That was a fun day!!!  Meanwhile, battery trouble-shooting continued.

Suddenly the next day, the battery power come back on all by itself.  No one knows why or how.  We were just glad that finally something good had happened.

Finally all three families had arrived and we had nightly campfires together.  We had drinks for everyone, big dinners made by one couple each evening, long talks, lots of laughs . . . and bugs.  Biting bugs.  Bugs that bit some of us but not all of us.

That’s right, I was one of the chosen and in two evenings was covered on my hands, arms, back, legs, ankles and feet.  With so many bites I looked like I had measles. And itch?!!  I felt like a bear in heat.  I was rubbing on everything and everybody.

Then the truck door panel, held on by one screw because Gramps had been working on it, came loose when the screw fell out and so every time he opened the door, the panel fell down a few inches.  It had to stay connected for mirror and window power.  Solution?  Climb across from the passenger door.  No problem!!!

Oh, and don’t use the driver side window either, because it had become unreliable and got stuck in open position once.  So when going through Toll Booths, Granny had to jump out, run around, pay the toll, run back and jump in the truck.  Quite a sight really!!!

Days with the cousins were fun.  We shared meals, we shared war stories, we shared many laughs and hugs.  The campout was over too soon.  Time to get ready to go home. Make plans to do it again.  Stock up on wine from an excellent Iowa winery, stock up on fresh sweet corn. ( We were in Iowa remember!! ).  Get the camper ready to go.

While breaking camp, we found that one of the gray tanks couldn’t be drained due to a broken tank valve.  Yikes!!  I was starting to get a little paranoid.  What more could happen?  I didn’t even want to think about it.

We drove home with dread following us.  What was going to happen?  Where would it happen?

Our first day of the return trip, we got to our campground with no issues.  Maybe our luck had changed.

The last day started out fine and then suddenly Gramps began slowing and pulled over to the shoulder – he heard and saw yet another tire (the old spare) flailing. It couldn’t be!!!!!!!

BUT IT WAS!!!!!  And it was the spare tire we had put on after the first blowout. Yessirree!!! The exact same tire!!!

We were getting pretty good at changing tires by then.  I knew exactly where the jack was and how to put it together.  We had just been through this routine.  It all was very familiar, and even a blessing to have trouble on a beautiful day, good highway, little traffic, and plenty of space for the tire change.  In hindsight, we should not have used that old spare, but rather the new tire.

By now, I was laughing a bit hysterically.  It all seemed so funny, so ridiculous, so arbitrary. Whereas earlier, I was stressed and worried, thinking how will we make it through all this?  If anything more happens, I will surely crack.  But then more happened and I didn’t crack.

It all looked pretty funny now, so absurd.  We had no control of anything, we might as well enjoy the ride.  We sure couldn’t stop or change it.  When my mind changed, it became a lot more enjoyable.  It was almost exciting, waiting for the next catastrophe to occur, to be surprised by the next disaster.

We started making bets on what would happen next.  Would we arrive home in a ball of flame?  Would the grey tank become too full and spill into the camper?  Would the roof come off in a wind gust?

The options went on and on and got more bizarre.  But it kept us entertained that last four hundred miles.

We got home in one piece, so to speak.  But we were limping for sure.

We got the camper into emergency surgery the next day, thanks to our sympathetic RV dealer.  We had only four days to get her fixed before a two-week trip to California.

Four days later she came back with all the immediate needs fixed.  Good news!  We could go to California without a care in the world.  She would work like a charm.

So we got her home, opened her up.   OMG!!!!!! She was full of ants!!!!!!  Ants everywhere!!!!!!!  ANTS, ANTS, ANTS!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

It feels like deja vu.

Am I in the Twilight Zone?

I’m back to hysteria again.

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Flat Shawn Goes To Texas

A few weeks ago Gramps and I got a letter from our grandson Shawn. He said his teacher had just read a great book called “Flat Stanley”, about a fictitious boy named Stanley who was flattened one night by his bulletin board. He becomes only half an inch thick.

In the book, Stanley’s parents mail him to his friend for a vacation because they can’t afford to pay for a plane or train ticket.

Shawn further wrote that he needed our help with a class project related to Flat Stanley. He had enclosed a laminated mini Shawn and asked if we would please take it to several exciting places in our city and take pictures of Flat Shawn enjoying himself, then return the pictures when we were done.

Well, Gramps and I were thrilled to do this for Shawn. We took Flat Shawn everywhere with us for several weeks and took pictures of some great adventures. I wrote a story of all the places and fun times Flat Shawn had. Here it is for you to enjoy.

Flat Shawn Goes To Texas

Flat Shawn lives in Arizona. His grandparents, Granny and Gramps, live in Texas. Flat Shawn decided to visit Granny and Gramps, so he jumped into an envelope and was mailed to Texas. It only took three days to get there, but Flat Shawn was very glad to get out of the envelope and stretch his legs.

Granny and Gramps were so happy to see Flat Shawn. They loved him a lot and wanted him to meet all their friends.

Flat Matt Haircut

First Flat Shawn had to get a haircut and get cleaned up. He wanted to look good for all his new adventures in Texas.

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Then Granny and Gramps took Flat Shawn out to dinner and a movie. He had a cheeseburger, french fries and a soda, his favorite meal. The movie was animated in 3D, so Flat Shawn wore special glasses so he could see everything. Everyone had a wonderful time.

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The next morning Flat Shawn went with Gramps in the car. Gramps let Flat Shawn help steer the car out of the driveway. That was so much fun!

IMG_0927 The two of them went to the car shop to get a new battery. Flat Shawn picked the one he liked the best – the green one. Then he helped Gramps put it in the car.

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While he was at the car shop, Flat Shawn found a truck door someone had left leaning against the wall. Guess what? He fit right inside! How funny was that? Flat Shawn thought it was funny too!

Right Edge w:Flat Matt

The next day Granny and Gramps took Flat Shawn with them to their Bible Study Class. Everyone was so happy to meet Flat Shawn. They all smiled and laughed and gathered around him to make him feel welcome. They even showed him a book in the Bible that had his same middle name – Matthew. How about that?

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Gramps wanted to show Flat Shawn all around his yard and garden. While the two of them were pulling weeds they found some mushrooms that had sprouted up overnight. Flat Shawn had fun pretending they were tables and he was ordering food. He and Gramps laughed and laughed.

Flat Matt & Mason

That evening, Flat Shawn’s cousin Mac came over to visit. He and Flat Shawn are good friends.They were surprised to see that they had the same color shirts on – red! They both played with the Legos and then sat together in the big blue recliner to watch some cartoons. They both liked the “Tom and Jerry” cartoons the best.

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Granny and Gramps love to sing and belong to the church choir. Flat Shawn had a great time with them at choir practice. He especially liked helping Miss Kitty play the organ. She used her fingers and Flat Shawn used his feet. What a team they made!

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After awhile, Flat Shawn wanted to play the piano tool He wasn’t supposed to do that because Miss Kitty was not there. But Flat Shawn thought he could do it by himself. Uh oh! Watch out! The piano lid fell right on Flat Shawn.

No worry! He wasn’t hurt because he’s already flat. Granny and Gramps got him out safe and all was well. That was close! Flat Shawn didn’t play with the piano again after that.

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The next day Gramps and Flat Shawn went looking for a new tractor. Flat Shawn picked his favorite again – the green one! Flat Shawn likes green.

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When they got home, Granny was decorating the house for Halloween. Flat Shawn wanted to help. He put out pumpkins, carved Jack-o-lanterns, made ghosts out of sheets, and hung a skeleton by the front door. The house was all set for Trick or Treaters.

Flat Shawn had so much fun visiting Granny and Gramps. He had lots of memories to take with him back home to Arizona. But right as he was about to jump back in his envelope, Gramps had one more surprise for him – a pet to take home! A gecko named Flat Gary. What a nice going away present is that!

Now Flat Shawn will have company in his envelope on his trip home. Won’t his parents be surprised when he arrives with Flat Gary?

Granny and Gramps hope Flat Shawn comes to Texas again for a visit soon.

A Look At A Book 4

“101 Places You Gotta See Before You’re 12”  by Joanne Sullivan

 

There is an amazing world out there to discover and everything you need to start exploring is right here in this book. You don’t have to go far or plan a big, expensive vacation to see great stuff. In fact, some of the greatest places may be right around the corner or down the block. You can experience another country’s cuisine at a nearby restaurant, check out the hidden wonders of a nearby cave, or get the inside scoop on what really happens in the teacher’s lounge! The 101 ideas presented in this book are general enough to get you started, but you can choose your own specific destination.

This delightful tour guide is filled with more than 250 color photos, tons of fun facts, lists of popular and little-known sites, journal pages, and a souvenir pocket. There’s also a fold-out map of North America and 150 stickers, so you can mark and rate where you want to go and where you’ve been.

So, how about taking a trip to a repair shop, a farmers’ market, or a retirement home? Or better yet a waterfall, a ghost town, or a landfill? Now, try to find a kooky capital, such as Hidalgo, TX, the Killer Bee Capital of the World or the Sock Capital of the World in Ft. Payne, AL. What fun is that! The adventures are endless and inspiring!

And the information is, well, informative and very comical as well! For example: The Top 5 Reasons To Swim In A Swimming Hole

5 – Your hair won’t turn green from the chlorine.

4 – You’ll be sharing the water with fish.

3 – There’s adventure and surprise–what WAS that thing that just brushed up against me?

2 – No concrete scrapes on your feet.

1 – No adult swim!

You and your grandkids will find this book teeming with suggestions to open your world and expand your boundaries. It reminds us all to take a second look at the things close at hand as well as dream of the once-in-a-lifetime destinations. Now it’s up to you, my Sweeties–set off on your own exciting adventures with 101 ideas!