“The stars at night are big and bright…”

So, Bill is in Sarasota which is pissing me off royally. He’s visiting his son and having a great time but here’s the thing: it’s WINDY, COLD, and DREARY here but SUNNY, WARM, and BEAUTIFUL there. Blech. Anyhoot, I started thinking about the times I would travel down to Texas to visit my sonshine when he lived there for 3 years.

Getting ready for a ‘safari’ ride in Texas! It was so much fun!

The first time I went was when O and I drove to Texas to unload all of his stuff he and his dad had already dropped off. Yes…you read that correctly. He and his dad took a U-Haul down with all of his stuff but DIDN’T unload any of it. “That’s women folks work! 🙄 ” So, when he got back to IL, we took his car down (and then I hitch-hiked home. Just kidding…I flew). The drive is about 12 hours and the first 4 were fun. Then the tedium set in and come to find out, I have to pee a lot more than O does. I’d need to stop every couple of hours (since I was guzzling water while he drove…in hindsight, it should have been more of an ‘adult’ beverage😳 ) and he’d say exactly what his dad used to say to me: “Already? Are you sure?” Hmmmm. Yes, already and yes, I’m sure. We would then look for places to ‘go’ and he’d keep driving by great prospects. I would say: “What’s wrong with there?” And his reply? “Ma…we need to get a few more miles in.” So I said: “For fuck sakes (sorry, ma), if I go NOW or LATER we’ll still drive the same amount of miles.” The response I received consisted of him rolling his eyes, sighing dramatically, and then taking me to a rest stop where serial killers like to hang out. Sheesh.

Actual map of that day. Seriously.

When we finally got to Texas and my ass was asleep and tingly, we spent the next few days getting his apartment set up. Then, I told him I wanted to sightsee before I left. We first went to the Cultural District in Fort Worth where there are museums all over the place. You can walk from one to other and they are pretty close together except for the museum I wanted to go too which was about a half mile away. O wanted to drive to it and I told him that we could just walk…it wasn’t that far. Well, a half a mile isn’t that far unless it’s 110 degrees Fahrenheit in the shade. Literally. But, here’s what I always heard: “Dry heat is so much better than humid heat.” Bullshit. It’s not. With humid heat, you at least have some moisture on you. So, after trudging to the museum, he was grouchy (I’m using a very mild word for his mood because I can’t think of a stronger one 🙄 ), I was gasping for breath and we both felt like raisins that had just trekked through the Sahara. Now, I’m sure my sweet peeps are asking if all of this was worth it. Long story short: No. 😐

I also wanted to go to the FAMOUS Fort Worth Stockyards because of the AMAZING cattle drive they have. I had to convince O it would be great to stand outside in an area that smelled like cow poop while waiting to see cows stampede down a street. But, there were other things to see too; for example, shops that sold t-shirts saying “My cowboy went to Texas and all I got was this t-shirt” and other such goodies. However, 90% of the shops were closed the day we were there…we don’t know why. Of course, before the cattle drive I had to pee…again…so we finally found an open shop. They directed us to a bathroom in the building and told us the ‘code’ we would need to open the doors. Well…the ‘codes’ didn’t work and I was starting to worry a tad. But, I knew if I peed myself, the 105 degree heat (it was much cooler that day 🤨) would dry it quickly. Finally, someone else came to use the toilet and we just slunk in after them when their code worked.

Watch out for the stampede.

Finally, it was time for the ‘stampede’! People were lined up, 3 rows deep, all along the street and the excitement was palpable. There was a good ole’ boy (that’s Texas talk 🤠) with a big cowboy hat on standing behind us and after hearing us talk with our mid-western accent, asked where we were from. Since O was grouchy again and didn’t want to visit with anyone, I told the guy that I lived in IL. He got so excited…he said (in the best Southern drawl ever): “Why, I know some people named ‘Miller’ that live in IL. You know ’em?” Now, I swear he said this…O will attest to it. So I said: “Sure! They’re nice people!” He was very pleased we had this national connection to one another.

Anyhoot, it was time for the cows. We started hearing some hooves and here it was…what we had waited an hour for. It was 5 (it had to have been an off day) long-horn cattle PLODDING down the street more slowly than my 95 year old neighbor walks, with 2 men who looked like they had never ridden a horse a day in their lives behind them. The entire ‘drive’ took 2 minutes and I’ve been more impressed watching grass grow… however, I told O how awesome it was so he would think it was worth it. He didn’t. 🐮

Ma drove down with me a couple of times too and those drives were always interesting but the first one was the most memorable.

We left the day after Christmas and luckily, there wasn’t snow to worry about.  However, this happened to be during the time of some of the worst flooding Missouri ever experienced, and it started in mid-December and lasted through the beginning of January.  The news media literally reported and said this:  “DO NOT TRAVEL THROUGH MISSOURI!”  I said this to ma, and her response was, “Kristi, we are going to Texas come hell or high water.”  Well, the high water was there, so I prepared for hell. 😈

This is a shot from the actual bridge during the actual time I was driving.

The first couple hours through scenic IL wasn’t bad but as we got closer to the Missouri border, we turned on AM radio (take a look at your navigation/computer system on your dash my young peeps…it’s a button around the area of Sirius and your iTunes library 🙄).  A reporter (a couple of miles away from us) was yakking about how she was outside in ‘flood waters’ and how she had never seen anything like it in her life.  In fact, she sounded a bit hysterical and I looked over at ma who was serenely looking out the window and wondering if we had passed the “Hen House” yet.  A ‘greasy spoon’ dive that was last cleaned (at least this one) in 1973.

Anyhoot, sheets of rain started falling and we saw rivers in ditches beside the road…it was getting precariously close to the highway.  I said: “Ma.  I need you to keep your eyes open.  I’m driving in a freaking flood so you can see your precious grandson and wander around an Ikea for the first time.  I need your help navigating.”  Her reply?  “What do you want me to do?”  I said:  “MA.  KEEP YOUR EYES OPEN AND TELL ME IF I’M GOING TO DRIVE INTO THE FUCKING MISSISSIPPI.”  I felt like Noah steering the Ark at first, but then realized if this really was another biblical flood, the only survivors on earth would be me and ma and I wondered how long we would last.  You know…without us killing one another.

Things weren’t too bad until we got a bit farther south and the rain started to turn into icy drizzle.  My hands were gripped on the wheel and we started creeping along at about 30 MPH in my ma’s light sedan, and while I was trying to say “Our Father…”, ma asked if we were getting behind schedule.  “Yes, ma.  We are behind schedule.  But only because I’m trying to keep you alive.”  With that, she started looking around for a place for lunch…my biggest worry too.  By the way, we settled on a Wendy’s.  When we travel, we go whole hog. 😉

Back on the road, things were getting worse.  There are a lot of twisty, hilly roads in Missouri and it was fun navigating through them while they were covered with ice, while barely being able to see out the windshield and ma asking me what other shops I like in Texas.  I snapped out something and she asked if I needed a break driving.  For fuck sakes, of course I needed a break.  I was about 20 miles from getting out of the car and hiking home.  However, there was no way on God’s green earth I was going to let ma drive.  I don’t know how to put this and want to be tactful:  ma’s driving sucks balls.

I know she’s picking up the phone right now to screech at me, but it’s true. She decides what lanes are turn lanes, whether or not she can make it through a yellow light a quarter mile away, and likes to sight-see instead of concentrating on the road. So no. I did not want ma to drive in a floody ice storm. 🙄

We finally made it to the middle of Oklahoma and got a room in the first hotel we saw. Well…let me clarify…the only hotel in this town of 30. The guy behind the bullet proof, locked cage gave us our key and we traipsed up to the room. The walls were beautiful, the color of baby poop after carrots have been consumed, and the towels for the shower were so thin I thought you were supposed to flush them. Anyhoot, the room was like a little oasis after that driving and after we (meaning me) moved every piece of heavy furniture in front of the door, we slept like babies. The next day, when we just had a couple more hours to go was sunny and bright. Go figure.

Anyhoot, I both hated it and loved it when O lived in Texas. It’s an awesome state with so so much to do and the people are truly wonderful…I’d always come home saying ‘howdy’ and ‘y’all’ for at least a few days. I wasn’t single then (of course) but I’m telling you that some of those cowboys were sexy as hell. I made so many great memories with O and ma and we always had a blast. But, I also had to say goodbye to O and that was tough. I was never able to do it without bawling. The plus side of that? The stewards on the plane thought I was a basket case (which I was) and always gave me free soda and extra snacks. Yum.

Kristi xoxo