travel

Day Tripping

The Bedlam family went traveling yesterday.  We hit the ATL; Hotlanta.  Well, we sort of went to Atlanta.  We actually landed in Decatur. It’s a small suburb south of the great city.  It is a city reborn, full of great little boutiques and wonderful eateries.  Our daughter Nené attended their premier women’s college, Agnes Scott for a year.  It’s the county seat of where we lived a while when I adopted Yoda as his legal second parent. It’s a beautiful little city to visit.

 

 

We had two missions, the first was an appointment Bashert made to see one of the downtown shop owners.  Bashert is an artist, too and a good bit more enterprising than I.  Since college, she has actually made money.

 

 

 

 

 

The shop, Wild Oats & Billy Goats, is a funky little place chock full of fabulous folk-art.  We were both in seventh heaven to be immersed in good art again.  A refreshing breath of air.  I believe we would have stayed much longer if we didn’t have Bashert’s second mission to accomplish.  We usually stick around and take all the photo ops we can, but time was pressing, this was a day trip and the weather reports for later were rather ominous for driving.

After a quick lunch at a local pita establishment, we were off to find Dick Blick’s Art Supply.

 

Here is where it gets a little tricky.  You see, I had a couple of very long days/nights this past week.  My archaeology professor guilted me into digging the site for several hours this week on top of having to be at work until 5:30 – 6:00am (yes – AM) and attending classes.  Exhausted doesn’t cover it.  I was asleep when Bashert printed out the routes and all the way up to Decatur.  I didn’t check  the maps.

Turned out that what Bashert thought was just Roswell road, was actually Roswell, the city, just north of Atlanta.

 

 

Unless we have an absolute, written in stone map, traveling with Bashert can be a bit dicey.  She can locate her childhood home with the barest of landmarks, but give her a map?  So when we discovered that the route involved a toll highway, we were put a little on edge.

The day was saved by my new(ish) toy, the iPhone.  We were able to pull up a decent enough map (I refuse to activate the GPS) to guide us around the toll and to the right destination.

Much to our delight, by not taking the highway, we also got to experience downtown Roswell, a place neither of us had been, despite the fact we are both from Georgia; Bashert being born in Atlanta!

Roswell is a historic city, built on the labors of slaves and mill workers.  This month the town hosts the largest Black History celebration in Georgia.  If we had known our travels were going to take us through there, we would have made arrangements for time to stop.

After the shopping excursion in Dick Blick’s (another slice of heaven for us, even though we were just there for supplies for Yoda’s school), we headed back to visit with Nené for a minute or two.  She was at work so it wasn’t a long visit, but Yoda was overjoyed to see his big sister even for a short time.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The torrents of rain held off until we got home – not that I would know, I was fast asleep again once the car got moving. Bashert must have known how tired I was because normally I’m not allowed to doze in the car.  I’m navigator and wingman to keep the driver alert.  Bless her little heart.

All in all it a good day trip.

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Pole Dancing on the DC Metro

I don’t know if I’ve seen Yoda this excited since he was anticipating his first ride on the ‘train’ at the Riverbanks Zoo.

From the moment he found out that we would be riding the Metro, he was practically vibrating.  This was icing on the cake for our visit to DC.

When we got on the red line toward the Chinatown, Yoda was overjoyed to find out that he could stand in the aisle and hang on to the support pole.  The swaying and inertia was great source of entertainment for him, us and 30 or so other passengers, as we were treated to a 20 minute pole dance.

When we finally stepped up into the light of day on the Mall after that long, vertical rise from the subway depths, Yoda squealed with delight.  “We’re in Washington, DeeeeeCeeeee!”.   Again, our kid is not the Disney Magic Kingdom type.

We briefly toured the National Portrait Gallery.  It had been recommended that we see the ‘electric wall’, that Yoda would get a kick out if, so we felt a bit obligated to seek it out. Don’t go see it if you are prone to seizures.

Next order of business was to find the Spy Museum.

After a couple of prerequisite wrong turns, we found it – taking up an entire block.

We toured the museum.  I’d tell you about it, but then I’d have to kill you.  I’ll just tease you a bit and let you know that Yoda loved crawling through the air shaft and the gift store.

The Spy Museum is located in the Chinatown area.  Neither Bashert nor I in all the visits made up here have ever been to Chinatown, so we took this opportunity.

We ate at a place recommended by the DC for Kids guide, The New Big Wong.  What happened to the Old Big Wong, we didn’t want to know.

This could have been a real gastronomic adventure, but we were tired, hungry and feeling very American by this point.  Lo Mien and Sesame Chicken it was, albeit it was true, freshly cooked Chinese Lo Mien and Sesame Chicken.

I was fascinated by the Chinese family that came in and was seated next to us.  They ordered what we were afraid to.  When the dishes came there was a plate full of what looked like still moving squid and another with vegetables I couldn’t quite identify.

When we finished our meal and I mean finished, we walked about Chinatown for a bit.

Lots of restaurants.  Lots of trinket booths.  Beautiful colours and ornamentation.

Yoda and I were transfixed by one restaurant that had a viewing window where we could watch some dim sum being made.  It was also pretty cool that they had the ducks with the heads still on and complete squid soaking in water.  This was the real deal.

Bashert stood back from that one.

After being on the road for several hours that morning, spending time at Echo Park and then making this trip into the city, we were pretty beat.  It was time to head back to Bashert’s cousin’s house where we are being hosted.

The ride back was filled with chatter and Yoda seeing if he could hear conversations around him with his new spy phone.  Bashert and I felt a bit more like the ‘going’ portion of Norman Rockwell’s painting, Coming and Going.

Day one of our DeeeeeCeeeee visit was complete.

Drowning in the Desert

We were living in Phoenix, Arizona at the time.  My grandmother and aunt were out visiting from Savannah.

Mama and Tricia’s visits were always an excuse to go someplace interesting.  We’d covered the Grand Canyon, Montezuma’s Castle, Old Tucson and various other sites during their previous cross country vacations.

Now, let me state here that our family is prone to adventures.  Adventures being a relative term for getting caught in unusual predicaments. So when we had a trip planned to go tubing down the Salt River in the month of May, it was pretty much a done deal that something was going to happen.

In May, the mountain snow is still melting and pouring into the river, raising the water levels and increasing the current strength.  But what’s a little extra water, eh?

We were my grandmother, aunt, mom, older brother & his then wife, older sister, younger brother and me.  A stalwart band of eight ranging in age from 61 to 9 and ready to conquer the river.

We tied a series of inner tubes together in a circle with a free floating one in the middle, holding our cooler.  The cooler was of the type that are hard to find now a days.  It had a removable top and a dimpled aluminum handle.  It was the perfect size to shove in the inner tube.  It held our drinks, the camera and my grandmother’s asthma medication.

It really was a beautiful day.  The sky was brilliant blue, the air was clear, the scenery was breathtaking even for an exited eleven year old.  We saw wild horses grazing on the banks between old, gnarled mesquite trees.  Kodak moments abounded.

I remember the water being slightly chilly in the beginning, snow run-off remember?  There were spots where we had to get out and push ourselves off the shoals because the water was too shallow to float us down river.

We hit a few, very small rapids, just enough to invigorate us and give us something to brag about later. But nothing to really build any anxiety.

On a couple of occasions the current would direct us toward the face of the mountains.  Those who were on the rock side would simply turn around, stick out their feet and push off sending us back out to the center of the river and happily on our way.  So much for the powerful currents.

We heard the roar before we ever came around the bend.

We expected to see another set of the rapids we had laughingly tripped across earlier, but instead we were confronted with a swirling, churning eddy drawing us to the mountain face.  The roar of the water filled our ears.

The whirlpool had been formed by the incredible undercurrent meeting the mountain face and a huge outcropping of the old mesquite trees.  As before those facing the rocks steadied themselves to push off.

Each of us has their own story as to what happened after we hit the mountain.

My sister and sister-in-law were hurled standing into the trees.  They said they never touched the water except for where it lapped up between the low growing branches that brushed the river.

My mother, younger brother, aunt and grandmother, who by the way couldn’t swim, were knocked out of their inner tubes and around the mass of main tree roots and branches and were able to guide themselves into the shore line or grab another to help pull them in.

My older brother and I were flipped into the roots of the mesquite trees. He was caught by the ankle in the tangled mess.  I was caught in the undercurrent desperately trying to hold on to the roots, but was torn away by the force of the water.

I was shot out into the middle of the river, alone.

My glasses were gone. I had slices across my fingers and palms where I had tried to grab the roots and my throat was already getting raw. Apparently when I’m in a panic, I scream, “Mommy!”  Nice to know.

Incredibly, there were patches in the river where I could touch the rocky bottom.  My family on the shore line having heard my frantic cries directed me to drag my feet.  I slowed some, but lost my shoes.  I was a strong swimmer but not strong enough to counteract the current.

The original flotilla of inner tubes was still hanging in the eddy, caught right where we hit, however the free floating one containing the cooler was thrown clear at some point.  This is why I remember the cooler in such detail, it became my life saver.  I grabbed it as it floated by minus the top and contents.

Meanwhile, my older brother was disentangling himself from the underwater roots.  He had to remove his shoes in order to loosen his ankles and reach the top of the water.

When he came up, my mother began shouting, “Get Carol! Get Carol!” and pointing to me in the river.  No one had any idea of what he had just been through.

My brother was my hero once again that day.  He swam out to me and was able to bully through the current to get us to shore.  Some strangers who were on the banks of the river helped haul us in.

Everyone was safe.

After it was all said and done, each story came out.

There was the horse head that my sister-in-law pulled up thinking it was one of us stuck in the trees.

There was my grandmother determined to get to the surface and as she said “float all the way down the river if she had to.”  She was a champion floater.

There was my younger brother who said that when he opened his eyes it looked like a toilet flushing all around him – guess who was the nine year old.

There was my older brother, who said that he was not going to let that tree hold him down to drown, especially since he had the car keys in his pocket! We appreciated that.

Then there was that moment standing on the embankment when we all gathered together to physically reassure ourselves that we were okay. As we looked out on to the river, the lid to the cooler popped up from under the water.  It had been trapped for the entire time.

I don’t think most of us really appreciated how frightening the whole thing was until years went by and the stories were told and retold. One of those laugh until you cry then take a breath and say, “wow” in a hushed tone things.

Last year all of us were on a river again.  This time in August and we were in north Georgia. We were minus a couple of our original party, my grandmother who passed away in 1989 and the long ago sister-in-law, but we had gained a wonderful new set of adventurers: both of my brothers’ wives, their daughters, my sister’s husband, my partner and son.

It really was a beautiful day.  The sky was brilliant blue, the air was clear, the scenery was lovely for a slightly more jaded 49 year old. We saw tourists from around the world in brightly coloured inner tubes.  Photograph ops were all around.

The most dramatic thing that happened was getting stuck on a rock outcropping because the water level was so low on the drought beleaguered Chattahoochee.  The only roar heard was that of children’s laughter.

An unusual predicament indeed.

Survivors