“…on Sundays I used to like to go hiking, but now…” ~ Heather / Blair Witch Project

Photo by Nicolette Attree on Pexels.com

So, I just want to publicly thank my son for already ruining next week for me: “Thanks, son.” 🙄

Courtesy of Pokemon Wiki – Fandom

A couple of months ago, my son got the brilliant idea of going camping which entails he and his girlfriend driving halfway across the country and camping in the back of his recently purchased pick-up truck. When he said this, I was dumb-founded since the only camping he has ever done was to stay in a hotel that didn’t have turn-down service. However, I wasn’t too worried that this venture into the wilderness would ever come to fruition. Afterall, he once told me he was going to be a professional Pokemon trainer and that sort of fell through 😐.

Then, I bought O a present off of his Amazon wish list for his birthday in August. Little did I know he never updates the damn thing, so of course he already had the fancy-schmancy keyboard I so lovingly purchased; he asked if he could exchange it and that’s when he bought “The Tent.” I put it in quotation marks because that’s how he emphasizes it when he talks about it and alongside the flowery words, his eyes get a look of pure glee in them. Apparently, this is something he’s wanted his entire life (of which he’s lived with me for 21 of those years and I never heard a damn thing about it 🤔) and it fits in the back of his pick-up truck bed. According to him, it will be ‘just like home.’

And I have to agree that a tent popped up in the back of a pick-up truck bed minus the toilet, refrigerator, TV, couch, stove, beds, DoorDash, air conditioner, electricity, and running water is truly going to be ‘just like home.’ You know, Hubby #3 always wanted to go camping and promised me the same thing: “It’ll be like you’ve never left the comfort of the house…except you’ll be sleeping on the ground and will have to use a spade to dig a latrine if you have to poop.” Charmed, I’m sure. And guess what? We never went camping. Ever.

Anyhoot, even after all of this I still didn’t believe he’d go until he called me yesterday to remind me that I’ll be watching my grand-dog all next week. So now the trip is real and I’m already worrying about the fucking (sorry, ma 🙄) thing.

Let me replay the conversation we had:

Kristi: Where exactly are you going, son?

O: We’re going to drive half-way across the country and back in the span of 6 days.

Kristi: That’s nice and specific. So, where will you sleep?

O: In the truck bed, ma…in the tent.

Kristi: WHERE will you sleep? Have you made reservations at campgrounds along the way where there’s at least some sort of a structure or facility you can use so when you pee, you don’t have to worry about getting a tick and/or poison ivy? Where there’s a water hook-up so you and K don’t wither away from dehydration? Where’s there’s electricity so you can have light in case there’s a flood and you both need to run to high ground? And for the love of all that is holy, haven’t you ever watched The Blair Witch Project??

O: I’ll make reservations when the trip is closer.

Kristi: You’re leaving in a couple of days, son. It’s close.

O: We’ll be OK…we’ll just sleep any old where out under the stars. That’s the point of camping, ma.

Kristi: Do you know how many serial killers are in our country at any given time?

O: No, Mother. I don’t. What’s your point?

Kristi: There are a million of them (slight exaggeration but try to understand my reasoning here 🤨) and they prey on kids like you in trucks along side the road in the particular states you’ll be driving through. Also, they like Toyotas.

O: Mother. I can take care of myself.

Kristi: No, son…you can’t.

O: WHAT???

Kristi: Let’s just say…for the hell of it…that a 300 pound bear comes up to your truck smelling what you and K somehow miraculously made for dinner with a kitchen no where in sight. What would you do?

O: We’ll be in the tent, Mother.

Kristi: Ketchup packets are harder to tear open than that tent.

O: OK, MOTHER. What’s the solution because we’re going.

Kristi: To get a dog sitter to watch all 3 pooches while I follow you in my Jeep to make sure nothing happens to my one and only child who I bore in my womb and raised. I’ll sleep on my back seat and live on KIND bars for the entirety of the trip. You won’t even know I’m there, but by golly, if a fucking bear starts attacking you, I’ll wave my arms and scream like an idiot to distract them while you and K scramble through the back window of your truck. And then, son, I will have saved your lives.

O: Sigh.

Now, do I have the right to worry? Yes. Yes, I do.

My son, to my vast knowledge of his every movement since the moment his little feet kicked the inside of my uterus, has never gone camping. Ever. And he’s taking along his girlfriend who gets a look of sheer horror on her face every time O mentions the trip.

So, I pulled K aside and talked to her:

Kristi: What do you think about this trip, K?

K: I’m dreading it. I’ve never gone camping. I’ve never wanted to go camping. And the thought of peeing in the woods makes me itchy and ill.

Kristi: I’m here for you, honey. WHEN you get fed up on this trip (which I’m assuming will be within the first 3 hours after they leave), call me. I’ll send you a pre-paid ticket to Vegas, will take some personal time off to hop on a plane myself to meet you at the airport, and we’ll have a few days at the Bellagio where we will tan by the pool and get massages from cabana boys while drinking ice-cold Mai Tais.

K: You’re the best.

Do I think she’ll call? Yes. Will I follow through with this? Yes. AND…am I worried to death over my only chance in the world to be a grandma traipsing across a country he didn’t know enough about to pass a geography quiz in the 7th grade? Yes.

Courtesy of delish.com

O keeps telling me it’s not my job to worry about him so much. But here’s what he doesn’t yet understand: it IS my job to worry about him. I don’t care if he’s 8, 18, or 28. I’m his mama and he will always be my baby. I’ll always have the instinct to take care of him…that doesn’t just magically disappear once your child grows up. One day, he’s going to understand that…just like I’m trying to understand the same thing regarding ma. 😉

Kristi xoxo

“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