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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Five Days In Paducah

Paducah is a small town in Kentucky that has a very large quilt show in April every year. And by large, I do mean LARGE! My two friends Pam and Kim and I spent five wonderful days taking in the show and the whole town during that great Quilt Show week.

We took our husbands and our campers with us for that extra touch of fun. Believe me, it is the only way to travel.

After two days of light travel we arrived in Paducah, the Nirvana for quilters. The weather was perfect, the surroundings green and lush, the campgrounds charming. We were ready with our lists of “needed” items to buy, bags to carry our stuff and the ever necessary credit cards in hand.

DAY ONE – We visited the Quilt Museum, a must see for any visit to Paducah. The display is constantly changing, which keeps it exciting. We saw some spectacular Japanese quilts.

The local School of Art and Design had a display of quilts from Korea. The oriental influence was seen everywhere!

We then went to Hancocks of Paducah-a store the size of two warehouses! At the front door was a sign stating that only women’s restrooms were inside. Men had to use Port-a-Johns outside. A theme we were to see everywhere all week. (I guess there are never enough restrooms when 35,000 women hit town all at once!)

Hancocks had everything! Yardage, traditional, batiks, precuts, panels, trims, paper piecing, sale tables, the works. We were there for a couple hours! We had to look at everything, touch everything, think about everything and then decide to buy or not. We were exhausted!

After lunch we found the Paper Piecing shop. What a great little shop! Everything you need to paper piece and I do mean everything. I found the parts to paper piece my Dear Jane quilt. I got row E. I’m so excited to try it out and see how it works.

That afternoon we found a temporary shop selling fabric at $5/yd. I found several pieces for the hexagons I’m doing on a future quilt. All of us found something we “needed”.

Back to the campground for a wine tasting party. It was grand! The wine was so good, we told our hubbies to go the next day and get some wine to take home.

A lovely sunset and off to bed.

DAY TWO – The second morning was spent at the Quilt In A Day shop. A cute place with very colorful fabrics.

We found another $5/yd place with some great fabrics and even some wool. All of us got a few good pieces there.

After lunch with the hubbies, we went next door to “Jack the Seam Ripper”. Love the name! Kim found a quilt she could not live without and it came home with her.

That evening we had BBQ at the campgrounds. However, BBQ in Kentucky means pulled pork. To Texans, like us, it means smoked beef, but it was tender and tasty. The side dishes were very good.

Another wonderful evening and off to our campers for a good night’s sleep.

DAY THREE – The Quilt Show officially opened! We spent the whole day on the first floor of the Convention Center. Many outstanding quilts on display – mouthwatering and awe-inspiring. We couldn’t get enough of them.

One unbelievable quilt to behold was the wooden quilt. Yes, it was a carved 3-D quilt that looked like it was hanging over a rope on the wall. I don’t care how close you got, it looked real. Only after you touched it, did it finally sink in that this was a wooden object. A real stunner!

Another display that was especially unique was Ian Berry’s. His denim rooms and objects were beyond words. An entire life-size laundromat made entirely out of jean denim! Unbelievable! And the Indigogo Record Shop with all the album covers- spectacular! Beyond anything I’ve ever seen.

A Silent Auction was being held to sell about 20 orphan quilts of all styles, ages and conditions. One precious old blue and white pieced one was calling to me. It had obviously been loved and used and had a current bid of $30 on it submitted by a lady named Judy. I upped the bid to $31 and stood guard to protect my quilt. Bidding ended before Judy could return to increase her bid. The quilt was mine. Judy did corner me  as I was waiting in the payment line to tell me how much she loved blue and white. I assured her I did also and the quilt was going to a good home. She seemed pleased, patted the quilt and walked off.

Kim and Pat bought quilts too. What a beginning to a Quilt Show!

Besides quilts there were vendors to die for! More wool than I’ve ever seen in one place before. I got many beautiful threads for my Sue Spargo projects and an easel for a tray  I got in Houston last year. Its going to look great in front of my fireplace.

The surprise at the campground after dinner was an ice cream social. What fun that was! We got to make our own ice cream sundaes.

DAY FOUR – The second day of the Quilt Show we explored the second floor of the Convention Center. More quilts on exhibit and many more vendors.

We had a great day shopping and viewing, viewing and shopping. More wools were to be found and lovely decorative threads and trims. I got a couple of wool kits to make small replicas of crooks-1 gallon, 2 gallon and a butter dish. They are charming beyond words!

More fabrics for my hexie border on my unmade quilt. Hey, it’ll get made someday . . . . . . maybe! And I found some light batiks that seem to be hard to find. I only realized this since I started to look for them for a future quilt.

A lovely day was had by all. We took our lunch each day to avoid the mad rush and utilized the bag check numerous times a day. That way we were not overloaded with bags and bags of goodies while shopping. And each day our wonderful husbands would pick us up right outside the hotel and take us and ALL our stuff home.

This day we had to make an extra stop at the Harley Davidson Shop to get a T-shirt for Pam’s husband. He is a rider and that is his idea of a souvenir. We couldn’t stay too long because the other husbands started petting the bikes, talking to them and finally my Sweetie sat on one. That’s when I said we gotta go–before we all end up with a motor cycle!

That evening at the campground we took a class in wool appliqué and made a little needle case. We had a kit with everything. All I took was a pair of scissors and a thimble. I have never taken so little to any class before. Had a ball!

Learned some new things – some I liked, some I don’t think I’ll do again. All good knowledge. ( I’m so in love with that campground – I can’t even tell you!)

Went to bed exhausted!

DAY FIVE – By day five we were experts at this Paducah Quilt Show thing. We knew when to get up, what shoes to wear, what to pack for lunch, what bags to bring, when to stop for lunch, when to take an afternoon break, etc. We were Primo quilt show attendees. Ask us any question and we had the answer. We had seen it all and done it all . . . . . except the DOME.

The Dome  sits out by itself in a parking lot like a big white soft inflated warehouse. Which is pretty much what it is. You can walk to it or take a short shuttle trip. It calls to you like a big balloon full of goodies.

You think what can possibly be over there that I haven’t already seen? Surely there’s nothing new there – nothing really exciting. Surely . . . . . well, surely I was WRONG!!!!!

The Dome was full of more wonderful fabrics, wools, threads, trims, etc., etc. I can’t go on! It was magic! We found embroidery patterns we had never seen before – with a brand new type of mylar.

And French fabrics and trims! Mai oui! C’est bon! Magnifique! Things you can find no where else but found in her booth.

Finally, finally, we were done and headed back to the Convention Center in the last shuttle bus to pick up our stuff in bag check. When we arrived, our bags were the last ones left. Whew! That was close!

Back to the campers to look at all our new toys and playthings. We made some outstanding purchases, some funny buys, some “what did I do that for?” additions, some “wish I”d gotten more of that” sales and some “I hope this works” buys. All in all, a good week.

We saw more quilts than we expected and better quality than we hoped for, variety beyond belief and “expanding our culture” ones that truly opened our eyes and our minds.

Quilts are enjoyed on so many levels, it is truly hard to describe how much we enjoyed the displays. Some quilts were inspiring, some were plain awesome, some were so amazing I couldn’t imagine even attempting those. Some had so much detail you had to get very close, others had to be seen from a distance. Some fooled your eye and some were honest to a fault. Some wanted to be interpreted, hoping each viewer would come away with a different viewpoint, while others asked for no interpretation at all. Some were bright and loud, using every color of the rainbow, and then some used muted pale colors or no color at all.

How to judge a quilt show – you can’t! You can simply enjoy it. And that’s what we did for five days in Paducah.