The Trip That Finally Made My Wife Haul Off And Slug Me In The Face (COMPLETED 10/2)

pkondz

. . Dis Dad #797 . . Hoping to get lucky
Joined
Mar 9, 2007


Takes too long. I'll send a text.
Excellent! Those are much easier to ignore.

There are some places that very few of us get the chance to lay a hat.
I could say something but might get banned.
Something about being married and the above sentence sans "hat".

Seriously, your folks have one?? That's awesome!
::yes::

But just leads to a closet.

I have told my family many times that if I ever get to build my own house, the item I want most is a secret door. Whether it's a bookcase or something else that's hidden, that should be the entrance to the man cave.
::yes:: You know how many guys don't want one?


zero

We actually spotted that when we crossed it on this trip! Didn't get a photo, though.
I remember it from our 2005 drive.

When they realize it isn't Hawaii?
::yes::

Well, then what good are the explosions?
Silent explosions are better than no explosions. Haven't you ever seen the movie Gravity?
 

docsoliday1

DIS Dad #834 Cubs, Dolphins fan forever
Joined
Mar 12, 2008
I remember that incident.
Not only do I remember it, but I remember it vividly. DW and I had just moved to Atlanta (I got out of the Air Force) weeks before the Olympics. There was absolutely no chance of getting any tickets to events so we had actually talked about going to Centennial park that day, but decided we didn't want to fight the traffic. When that happened, it was surreal and we were thankful we decided against it.
 
  • docsoliday1

    DIS Dad #834 Cubs, Dolphins fan forever
    Joined
    Mar 12, 2008
    If I go back to Atlanta, I doubt I'll make an effort to go there. If you're giving it a "meh", I'm sure there are better places for a burger.
    If you ever come back to Atlanta, give me a shout. I can definitely show you MANY places for a burger that are better. I'd even be willing to make you one of the best burgers you'll ever have.

    As you said, when you're traveling on a budget and moving as often as you do, you're bound to have a "miss". I remember the last one when one of the boys said, "Dad, the Super 8 is not super." :laughing:
    Sadly, many of these chains used to be good. Maybe not great, but good. I'll grant you not charging a ridiculous $200 a night leaves you less profit margin, but I think many have deteriorated more than a lower profit margin would dictate.
     

    Captain_Oblivious

    DIS Dad #257
    Joined
    Nov 10, 2008
    It's been a while since I've been to S&RC, but I didn't do the bus tour, so I would say probably not. We did the bus tour at KSC and also saw a spacex launch. It was the first one where they landed on the barge, not a falcon heavy, but it was still cool to watch that close. I was using a gopro-like camera, so the footage I got isn't the greatest, but still cool to look at every once in a while. I think one of the things I like about S&RC is they have a REAL saturn V (not a mockup). It was also more centralized than KSC...KSC is soooo spread out for the different items, but has more of the recent (space shuttle) activities compared to S&RC as well as being able to have lunch with space shuttle astronauts. The fascinating thing for me about S&RC is since it covers more of the infancy of the space program, how advanced some of the ideas were with so little technology available to them at the time.
    KSC claims that their Saturn V is real as well (one of three left?). I have no reason to doubt that. If I get back to Alabama, I would want to check out Huntsville for sure.

    ::yes:: Been there, done that, didn't want the T-shirt!
    If you think it's bad now, wait until the boys get there.
    I think we're there.

    I thought that was the official one, but okay. <ducking>
    Keep that up and I'll send you to the Varsity!

    If I weren't starting the new job, DD had more time off from school and I had more money in the bank, you can bet on it.
    Stupid responsibilities.

    That looks like me in ragweed season.

    Excellent! Those are much easier to ignore.
    Whatdja say?

    I could say something but might get banned.
    Something about being married and the above sentence sans "hat".
    :rolleyes1 I get where you're coming from.

    ::yes::

    But just leads to a closet.
    That sounds like a waste of a secret door!

    ::yes:: You know how many guys don't want one?


    zero
    Truth.

    Like, I don't even care if there's a dining room. I just want a secret door somewhere.

    Silent explosions are better than no explosions. Haven't you ever seen the movie Gravity?
    Good point. I did like Gravity quite a bit.

    I don't want a secret door or room





    Said no man ever!
    Amen!

    Not only do I remember it, but I remember it vividly. DW and I had just moved to Atlanta (I got out of the Air Force) weeks before the Olympics. There was absolutely no chance of getting any tickets to events so we had actually talked about going to Centennial park that day, but decided we didn't want to fight the traffic. When that happened, it was surreal and we were thankful we decided against it.
    Wow. Glad you made that call!

    If you ever come back to Atlanta, give me a shout. I can definitely show you MANY places for a burger that are better. I'd even be willing to make you one of the best burgers you'll ever have.
    Will do! Sounds like a foolproof plan.

    Sadly, many of these chains used to be good. Maybe not great, but good. I'll grant you not charging a ridiculous $200 a night leaves you less profit margin, but I think many have deteriorated more than a lower profit margin would dictate.
    Most of the chains are fine. We use Holiday Inn Express, Hampton Inn, Country Inn, Comfort Inn fairly interchangeably. All I need is clean beds, a clean bathroom, and breakfast.

    Just catching up on the chatter. Hope you're having a great week, Mark!
    Thanks, Liesa! You too! I can barely keep up with any chatter at all around here.
     

    docsoliday1

    DIS Dad #834 Cubs, Dolphins fan forever
    Joined
    Mar 12, 2008
    KSC claims that their Saturn V is real as well (one of three left?). I have no reason to doubt that. If I get back to Alabama, I would want to check out Huntsville for sure.
    Hmmm, I thought the said the one in KSC was a mock up. I stand corrected.
    I was in Huntsville last year for training and I wanted to go again, but the hours of the S&RC prevented it. :sad:
    If you do, Huntsville isn't too awfully far away, so let me know...can do a DISmeet also.

    I think we're there.
    Sorry. I would offer to send you my T-shirt, but I didn't get one.

    Keep that up and I'll send you to the Varsity!
    Good luck with that.

    Stupid responsibilities.
    That's what I keep saying

    Most of the chains are fine. We use Holiday Inn Express, Hampton Inn, Country Inn, Comfort Inn fairly interchangeably. All I need is clean beds, a clean bathroom, and breakfast.
    Motel 6 and super 8 and those used to be clean as well...hit or miss now, I think.
     
  • pkondz

    . . Dis Dad #797 . . Hoping to get lucky
    Joined
    Mar 9, 2007
    :rolleyes1 I get where you're coming from.
    :rolleyes:

    That sounds like a waste of a secret door!
    But they do have one, though.

    Like, I don't even care if there's a dining room. I just want a secret door somewhere.
    I know exactly where I want mine to lead to. Man cave. But... more library. I want fiber optic lights on the ceiling so it looks like stars when you look up. I want a bust of Pallas above the door (on the inside, of course) and the world's most comfy chair. Nothing but books on the walls. No TV in this room. It's for quiet.

    Good point. I did like Gravity quite a bit.
    See?
     

    Captain_Oblivious

    DIS Dad #257
    Joined
    Nov 10, 2008
    Hmmm, I thought the said the one in KSC was a mock up. I stand corrected.
    I was in Huntsville last year for training and I wanted to go again, but the hours of the S&RC prevented it. :sad:
    If you do, Huntsville isn't too awfully far away, so let me know...can do a DISmeet also.
    Sounds like a plan!

    Sorry. I would offer to send you my T-shirt, but I didn't get one.
    Not even a t-shirt? What a rip-off.

    Good luck with that.
    It's ok. We like to let everyone else think Delaware is not worth visiting. All the top-secret cool stuff is for the residents that way.

    Motel 6 and super 8 and those used to be clean as well...hit or miss now, I think.
    We stayed at a couple of Super 8's and have been less than thrilled. Sometimes you do get what you pay for.

    But they do have one, though.
    That makes them one up on me, for sure.

    I know exactly where I want mine to lead to. Man cave. But... more library. I want fiber optic lights on the ceiling so it looks like stars when you look up. I want a bust of Pallas above the door (on the inside, of course) and the world's most comfy chair. Nothing but books on the walls. No TV in this room. It's for quiet.
    That sounds...pretty awesome, actually. I love a good home library. I always end up snooping around my friends' bookcases--always looking for the next great read.
     

    Captain_Oblivious

    DIS Dad #257
    Joined
    Nov 10, 2008
    Chapter 7: The One Where We Get Banished From Oklahoma Forever


    We continued our drive to Florida by heading further west into Arkansas. It was the second of five straight days of long, tough driving, so we were keenly aware of the need to stop at various strategic points in order to keep everyone from going stir-crazy in the van. With that in mind, we drove for about two hours before stopping in the town of Hot Springs.


    Hot Springs is a town that grew up in the Ouachita (WATCH-it-taw) Mountains over the site of—well, hot springs. Geothermal waters were considered to have medicinal properties, so it was a popular gathering site for Native Americans and then settlers who eventually built the town into a tourist destination as a spa resort. The various spas (or bathhouses) made use of the water from the hot springs as part of their spa treatments for the well-to-do. These bathhouses and geothermal features are now preserved in Hot Springs National Park.


    If you know anything about our family by now, you know that we are drawn to National Park sites like dimwitted keyboard warriors to political arguments on social media platforms. So, the presence of a National Park made it an easy stop for us.


    There was a free parking garage conveniently located one block west of Bathhouse Row. Captain_Oblivious Life Commandment #37 states: If It’s Free, It’s For Me. So that’s where we parked.


    Hot Springs National Park holds a distinction in the U.S. as being the very first ground ever preserved by the federal government for recreation. It was originally set aside as Hot Springs Reservation in 1832, long before even the idea of a national park existed. It became a National Park in 1921 and is the smallest National Park by area in the U.S.


    The area was an extremely popular destination in the early 1900’s. The first bathhouses were just simple huts or log cabins, but eventually businessmen built elaborate spas to draw in more well-heeled visitors with promises of luxurious spa treatments in the late 1800’s. If you’re wondering how entrepreneurs could build private facilities on public land in order to make a profit—well, the government got its own cut from concession fees. There’s always a deal to be made.


    Despite its name, this park really isn’t about the geothermal waters that give the place its name. It’s more about the preservation and history of the famous bathhouses in the center of town. So if you’re like me and hear the term “geothermal features” and think, “Whoa, cool, just like Yellowstone!”—let me stop you there and throw some regular ol’ cold water on your hot spring. It’s nothing like Yellowstone. Not even close.


    Let me state right off the bat that I am not the target audience for Hot Springs National Park, so take that into account when deciding if this is a place you’d like to visit. I’m sure the history of how rich people took baths in the early 20th century is interesting to somebody. I mean, there are people around here who look at a snail or a wilted piece of kale and think, “You know, I’d really like to put that in my mouth.” So anything’s possible. But for me—well, I’m a guy. Spas aren’t my thing. I can get on board with the idea of a massage (depending on who is giving it, of course) and I can enjoy sitting in a whirlpool for…oh, maybe 10 minutes or so. That’s about as far as I go.


    We were primarily here to get our coveted National Park passport stamp, stretch our legs, and maybe pick up a Junior Ranger badge for Drew.








    Ranger-guided tours of the bathhouses are available, and you can also watch a film on the park in the Fordyce Bathhouse, which is now the park visitor center. Or you can skip all that and just do a self-guided tour, which is what we did. And even a Neanderthal like me can admit that the buildings themselves are very beautiful and ornate.








    We wandered the three floors of the visitor center. I thought there was an obvious disconnect between messages such as this:





    And obvious sadistic, inhumane torture devices such as these:








    Looks like something out of a prison movie. “That’s enough outta you. Get in the sweatbox!”


    There were some fancy-pants stained-glass windows as well.








    Thankfully, they did include one exhibit that was designed to entertain those of us who were just killing time on the tour. Julie may or may not have rolled her eyes and handed me the camera when I requested a photo of this exhibit.





    Down in the basement, you could see where the spa was built directly over the hot spring so they could tap into the waters to supply the baths.





    Behind Bathhouse Row is the Promenade, a wide public walkway set into the hillside. You can access it at various points like this:





    Just to the left of those stairs was an actual hot spring, where we could walk up and actually feel the warmth radiating off the water in the pools. I found this infinitely more fascinating than anything inside the actual bathhouses.





    The Promenade made for a nice place to take a walk.





    At the corner is the Army and Navy General Hospital building, which also is supplied by hot spring water.





    That was the end of the line for us. At the bottom of the walk was a public fountain where anyone could draw water from the hot springs. A man who bore a striking resemblance to Stinky Pete, the Prospector from Toy Story 2, was doing just that. He had the back door of his van open and was filling jug after jug with hot mineral water. I started to wonder if the next Y2K threat was on the horizon. In any case, Stinky Pete did take some time out of his doomsday preparation to chastise our kids for sliding on walkway handrails. I’m thoroughly embarrassed—can you believe my children were acting like…kids??


    That was the end of our brief taste of Hot Springs. There’s actually a lot more to do around there, including a tower at the top of a nearby mountain, but we didn’t have the time to stick around. Before our trip, we’d been in touch with Lisa (@mickeystoontown ), and she had been gracious enough to mail us all sorts of brochures and info about Arkansas attractions. It was extremely kind and helpful of her to do so, and I’m sorry to say that we didn’t get to experience much at all. We were just covering too much ground on this trip to be able to stop to smell too many roses along the way.


    However, Lisa did make one recommendation that Julie prioritized on the agenda as soon as she heard it. On the way out of town, we made a stop at the Purple Cow.


    Lisa told us this was one of her favorite places to stop in Hot Springs—it’s a diner and soda fountain. However, the big draw is the vanilla ice cream. It’s purple. I assume that’s supplied by the purple cows.


    We didn’t have a full meal here—that’s what our PB&J was for—but we did get a vanilla milkshake to go.





    It was the weirdest thing. It tasted like a delicious creamy vanilla shake. The disconnect between the taste and the color threw me off a bit. I just didn’t expect something purple to taste like vanilla. But it sure was good. Thanks for the recommendation, Lisa! And I’m sorry we didn’t get purple tongue photos.


    The next stop was about an hour and a half further southwest, and was one that David had formally requested: Crater of Diamonds State Park. We’d seen this on some travel show at one point and Dave had decided at that point that if we were ever in Arkansas, we needed to dig for diamonds. Well, son, it’s your lucky day!


    Crater of Diamonds is in the middle of nowhere. The closest town is Murfreesboro, AR. It’s a 37.5-acre plowed field where the geology just happens to be right for forming diamonds. You pay a fee for admission and are free to pick a spot anywhere in the field, dig, and hope to strike it rich. You are allowed to keep any diamond or other mineral you may find, and over 75,000 diamonds have been found since first being discovered there in 1906. Here's a big one from just last year.


    This is obviously a money-maker for the state of Arkansas. Besides the admission fee, they’re only too happy to rent you tools to help in your quest. And given the hot Arkansas summers, some genius built a water park right next to the dig site. I imagine they’re pulling in the bucks hand over fist.


    Naturally , we were too cheap to pay extra for any of that stuff. The family would just have to make do with bottles of water that had been sitting in a 95-degree van all day. (Side note: this is Julie’s ideal drinking water temperature. She’s weird.)


    We were not unprepared for the dig. I had a camp shovel in the back of the van. We’d also stolen several paper cups from the Holiday Inn.





    From the visitor center, you can see the plowed area in the distance and start dreaming of the fortune you’re about to make.





    Time for some back-breaking hard labor in the middle of the day under a blazing Arkansas sun. This is how you vacation!


    Well, it’s how we vacation, anyway. I hope Dave was happy.





    I decided to declare myself a supervisor and let Drew do the work for me. If he found anything, I’d take credit for it later. Management 101.





    Sarah got bored after a while and started playing in the mud, which is usually her happy place. Seriously, she loves getting dirty.





    The ground was pretty solid and hard to dig into. Especially with a paper cup. We did our best for a while, but eventually the heat and lack of digging progress got to us and we resorted to wandering, hoping a shiny glint off of the ground would catch our eyes. But, sadly, there was no such luck, and I was still going to have to figure out how to pay for this trip later.


    Making our way back to the visitor center, I saw a display featuring a man who’d found numerous diamonds over the years. He described digging down to the “sweet spot”…about 3-5 feet underground. I wasn’t going to be able to do that without a backhoe, so I think we cut our losses at an appropriate time. We loaded ourselves into the van and turned on the A/C full blast.


    Next, we should have had an easy drive down to Louisiana for the night. However, we still had another state boundary to cross, and this was as close as we would get for the foreseeable future. So I drove another hour out of my way just so we could say we’d set foot in Oklahoma. This 50-state quest is no joke, let me tell ya.


    On some back road way down in the southeastern corner of Oklahoma, we officially made it across the state line.





    Julie made it, too.





    Yes, this is a very shabby treatment of Oklahoma. There are many wonderful attractions for a family to visit in this fine state. Probably. I can’t name them right now, but I’m sure that’s just because I haven’t researched it. Let’s go with that. Anyway, this visit was similar to our visit to Iowa, in that we really didn’t accomplish anything other than putting feet on the ground there. We felt like we should at least spend a little bit of time in the state, so it didn’t feel like a complete travesty and mockery of the 50-state quest.


    So…





    Actually, I have a confession to make here. This visit was worse than our visit to Iowa. There, we at least crossed a bridge on foot over the Missouri River, so it felt like we had accomplished something. In Oklahoma, we got out of the van on the side of the road, took a photo or three, and then Dave alerted us to an issue that needed to be addressed fairly quickly. Unfortunately, there were no, uh…facilities in the area. So he wandered down the road a bit, towards the brush by the fence. Look, when you gotta go, you gotta go.


    Then Scotty decided he needed to go, too. Not one to be left out, Drew decided he might as well take advantage of the opportunity that afforded itself here. And so, on this fine sunny summer day, our visit to Oklahoma consisted solely of my three boys seeing which one of them could…um…mark their territory the furthest into the state.

    I can't wait to list our accomplishments over the years of our trips together:
    Hawaii: walked on a live volcano.
    Wyoming: witnessed geyser eruptions, stayed in an historic lodge.
    Utah: hiked to Delicate Arch.
    Oklahoma: peed on it.

    Oklahoma, I am so, so sorry. Truly sorry. We are awful people. The literal Worst. I will humbly accept my forthcoming banishment from the state. We deserve it.


    Let’s move on, shall we?





    Yessir, we’ll keep Louisiana beautiful! No problem here.


    We drove down near the city of Shreveport, bypassing it on the highway to the north and staying for the night in a Springhill Suites just east of the city. We stopped for dinner at a burger joint called the Twisted Root Burger Co. This is a chain, but mostly located in the Texas/Arkansas region. I’d never tried it before, so it was new to me.





    It was a fun joint. When ordering, instead of giving your name, they’d hand you a card with a celebrity name on it. They gave me Johnny Depp. I was going to make a joke here that they saw the obvious resemblance, but then I knew my responses would be flooded with photos of Edward Scissorhands, the Mad Hatter, Willy Wonka, and any other Tim Burton Film Featuring Johnny Depp In Weird Makeup you could find.





    It was more likely that they gave us that card so Julie would have something to daydream about while we waited. Anyway, it’s fun when they call out over the speakers, “Johnny Depp, your order is ready!”


    The burgers were really good! I got a heart-attack-on-a-plate called the Freshman 15, which featured bacon, cheddar, a fried egg, and smashed fries on it. This took two years in a nursing home off my life, so it was totally worth it! Very tasty.





    The other fun part of the restaurant was the bathroom. Yes, the bathroom. The walls featured all sorts of Chuck Norris jokes to ponder while you pulled an Oklahoma Rest Stop in there.








    And if that wasn’t enough, this was on the inside of the men’s room door:





    Made me do a double-take, which I’m sure was the intent.


    When we got to our hotel, we had one last surprise waiting for us. We’d been talking with Lisa throughout the day about trying to meet up since we’d be passing through her hometown the next day. She was even talking about driving out to Shreveport to meet us at one point, which was far above and beyond the call of duty. But unfortunately, she had a big court case to attend early the next morning, so a DIS-meet didn’t work out.


    However, when we entered our room, there was a huge gift basket waiting for us on the desk. Lisa had arranged for a Louisiana-style welcome for us—it was full of cookies, candies, and other treats and knick-knacks from her home state. Lisa, that was incredibly kind and thoughtful—thank you so much for spoiling us rotten! I hope our paths cross again someday.


    Coming Up Next: A battlefield that the kids actually like! And then, the Oblivious Family takes on the Big Easy.
     
    Last edited:

    franandaj

    I'm so happy, I could BOUNCE!
    Joined
    Nov 15, 2009
    Oh man, I came here to comment on the last update and now you have another one! :headache: going back now to comment on the first one!
     
  • Steppesister

    DIS Veteran
    Joined
    Dec 27, 2013
    If you know anything about our family by now, you know that we are drawn to National Park sites like dimwitted keyboard warriors to political arguments on social media platforms.
    :rotfl2::rotfl::lmao:

    Captain_Oblivious Life Commandment #37 states: If It’s Free, It’s For Me.
    Oddly, that's #18 for me.

    I’m sure the history of how rich people took baths in the early 20th century is interesting to somebody.
    Actually, I was. I was thinking it might be very similar to what they still do in Crapistan.

    I mean, there are people around here who look at a snail or a wilted piece of kale and think, “You know, I’d really like to put that in my mouth.” So anything’s possible.
    I would be guilty of that, but then I wonder about the guy who first put an egg in his mouth.

    There were some fancy-pants stained-glass windows as well.


    Nice!

    In any case, Stinky Pete did take some time out of his doomsday preparation to chastise our kids for sliding on walkway handrails. I’m thoroughly embarrassed—can you believe my children were acting like…kids??
    :sad2:

    Before our trip, we’d been in touch with Lisa (@mickeystoontown ), and she had been gracious enough to mail us all sorts of brochures and info about Arkansas attractions. It was extremely kind and helpful of her to do so, and I’m sorry to say that we didn’t get to experience much at all. We were just covering too much ground on this trip to be able to stop to smell too many roses along the way.

    DISsers pulling through once again! :cool1:

    We’d also stolen several paper cups from the Holiday Inn.
    Refer to rule #37

    I decided to declare myself a supervisor and let Drew do the work for me. If he found anything, I’d take credit for it later. Management 101.
    Insert shovel leaning joke here...

    :lmao:

    Unfortunately, there were no, uh…facilities in the area. So he wandered down the road a bit, towards the brush by the fence. Look, when you gotta go, you gotta go.
    I was gonna say, "sure there are! See up the road 50 yards..."

    This took two years in a nursing home off my life, so it was totally worth it! Very tasty.
    Or afforded you 2 weeks in the CVCU.

    The other fun part of the restaurant was the bathroom. Yes, the bathroom. The walls featured all sorts of Chuck Norris jokes to ponder while you pulled an Oklahoma Rest Stop in there.
    But none with inappropriate bathroom humor.

    Made me do a double-take, which I’m sure was the intent.
    THey need those on the Hoop de Doo door for women who mess up. Eh hemmm...

    However, when we entered our room, there was a huge gift basket waiting for us on the desk. Lisa had arranged for a Louisiana-style welcome for us—it was full of cookies, candies, and other treats and knick-knacks from her home state. Lisa, that was incredibly kind and thoughtful—thank you so much for spoiling us rotten!
    This is totally great!
     

    franandaj

    I'm so happy, I could BOUNCE!
    Joined
    Nov 15, 2009
    It was a rainy morning, but not bad enough that it was going to prevent us from doing anything. We headed into the southeastern side of town and found our way to the Martin Luther King, Jr. National Historic Site (now designated a National Historical Park as of January 2018).
    Obviously you folks aren't from Southern California. It rained here last weekend and we practically had Disneyland to ourselves! :lmao:

    We didn’t have a lot of time to spend here as we still had over a 6-hour drive facing us later in the day, so we tried to hit the highlights in an hour or two.
    That's a looooooooonnnnnnng day of driving! :eek:

    The most striking exhibit was called Freedom Road, meant to symbolize those who marched with Dr. King for freedom and equal rights.
    That does look like it could be very thought provoking!

    Just down the street from the visitor center was the original Ebenezer Baptist Church. We took a quick peek inside. This was his home church, and the pulpit from where he honed his message for several years.
    Interesting. Looks like a very large church.

    However, while I’m sure it’s a great place to visit, our plan eventually evolved to include the Kennedy Space Center in Florida (which my girls had never seen). At that point, given the cost of admission to both sites, it didn’t make much sense to visit both and cover roughly the same material. So we decided to keep KSC on the agenda and bypass Huntsville.
    I can understand that. You want a diverse selection of activities, not the Southeastern Space Tour.

    …stopping at a McDonald’s to use the bathroom and make PB&J sandwiches in the parking lot. We were so cruel we didn’t even get French fries to munch on. I’m sorry, kids. And sorry, Alabama.
    You are cruel and inhuman. Not even an ice cream cone?

    But don’t feel too bad—at least you weren’t Oklahoma (foreshadowing alert).
    UH-oh this doesn't sound good.

    To preserve everyone’s sanity, we found a place to get out and wander a bit just north of Tupelo, MS. Here there was a visitor center for the historic Natchez Trace Parkway.
    Sounds interesting. Natchez was a very interesting place to visit, I'm sure there is a lot of history to this parkway.

    he lights dimmed and some soft Muzak started to play along with some images of rustling leaves and the sounds of birds chirping while the narrator took a deep dive into Native American trade routes and…


    …huh. I guess the movie’s over.
    :lmao: :rotfl: :rotfl2:

    And for Julie to take portraits of our kids in the woods. They know the drill by now and are always so cooperative.
    Pretty good picture there, but some comply better than others... :rolleyes1

    A little while later, we were getting close to the Tennessee border and the city of Memphis. Given that it was a) dinner time and b) we were near Memphis, there was really only one choice. Memphis ranks up there with Kansas City and Texas as one of the regions of the U.S. well-known for its barbecue, so there was no way I was going to pass up the opportunity to try some. We stopped at a restaurant we’d seen on Diners, Drive-ins & Dives just south of the border in Horn Lake, MS—the Memphis Barbecue Company.
    I've never been let down by a Triple-D restaurant!

    We made sure we got an order of those fritters—basically fried balls of cheese served with honey-mustard sauce. A little different, but really good!
    Not sure how I'd feel about the honey mustard sauce, but the fritters sound good.

    Sarah was feeling especially hungry, so she went all out and ordered a sandwich called the “Memphis Peacemaker”—a double-decker sandwich featuring both brisket and pulled pork. The waitress remarked that she’d seen grown men fail to finish that sandwich.
    That sandwich is huge!!!!!!!

    Well, you just don’t stoke my daughter’s competitive fire like that. I mean, just look at her! You can see the vicious animal lurking within, just ready to go into Beast Mode and pounce. The sandwich never had a chance.
    Wow! To eat like a teenager! The older I get the less I can eat.

    I went with my customary brisket and pulled pork and favorite vegetables. It was all excellent, but the brisket was the winner here.
    Someday I'm going to have to try some BBQ Brisket. I normally go for the baby backs or the pulled pork. The only brisket that I've had is Corned Beef Brisket.

    We rolled ourselves out of the restaurant and got back on the road for the last leg of the drive. We briefly crossed back into Tennessee on our way around Memphis.
    You guys eat early! It's still light out after dinner!

    And then we were soon on I-40 west, crossing the Mississippi River into the state of Arkansas. Our third new state of the day.
    That's a lot of driving! You weren't kidding!

    We’d chosen to stay at the Holiday Inn Express here, and you know the reason why: because cinnamon rolls. We’d covered approximately 430 miles that day—I’d say we’d earned a treat.
    Yes, yes you did!
     

    franandaj

    I'm so happy, I could BOUNCE!
    Joined
    Nov 15, 2009
    Chapter 7: The One Where We Get Banished From Oklahoma Forever
    Sounds ominous

    We continued our drive to Florida by heading further west into Arkansas.
    Sounds counterproductive.

    So, the presence of a National Park made it an easy stop for us.
    I can understand that.

    So if you’re like me and hear the term “geothermal features” and think, “Whoa, cool, just like Yellowstone!”—let me stop you there and throw some regular ol’ cold water on your hot spring. It’s nothing like Yellowstone. Not even close.
    No, I would be thinking more like Palm Springs without the celebrities and glitz.

    Let me state right off the bat that I am not the target audience for Hot Springs National Park, so take that into account when deciding if this is a place you’d like to visit. I’m sure the history of how rich people took baths in the early 20th century is interesting to somebody.
    I would be one of those people. Being an avid spa kind of gal, seeing how they did it back in the day is interesting to me.

    And obvious sadistic, inhumane torture devices such as these:
    I think that shower looks heavenly!

    Looks like something out of a prison movie. “That’s enough outta you. Get in the sweatbox!”
    You got me there. I'm not getting in one of those things! :eek:

    Just to the left of those stairs was an actual hot spring, where we could walk up and actually feel the warmth radiating off the water in the pools. I found this infinitely more fascinating than anything inside the actual bathhouses.
    Was it stinky?

    It was the weirdest thing. It tasted like a delicious creamy vanilla shake. The disconnect between the taste and the color threw me off a bit. I just didn’t expect something purple to taste like vanilla. But it sure was good.
    That is weird.

    Crater of Diamonds is in the middle of nowhere. The closest town is Murfreesboro, AR. It’s a 37.5-acre plowed field where the geology just happens to be right for forming diamonds. You pay a fee for admission and are free to pick a spot anywhere in the field, dig, and hope to strike it rich.
    That's probably like panning for gold in Northern California. Maybe a few little flecks, but that's about it.

    but eventually the heat and lack of digging progress got to us and we resorted to wandering, hoping a shiny glint off of the ground would catch our eyes. But, sadly, there was no such luck, and I was still going to have to figure out how to pay for this trip later.
    Isn't that always how it works out?

    So I drove another hour out of my way just so we could say we’d set foot in Oklahoma. This 50-state quest is no joke, let me tell ya.
    An hours drive just to pee?

    Actually, I have a confession to make here. This visit was worse than our visit to Iowa. There, we at least crossed a bridge on foot over the Missouri River, so it felt like we had accomplished something. In Oklahoma, we got out of the van on the side of the road, took a photo or three, and then Dave alerted us to an issue that needed to be addressed fairly quickly. Unfortunately, there were no, uh…facilities in the area. So he wandered down the road a bit, towards the brush by the fence. Look, when you gotta go, you gotta go.
    :lmao: :rotfl: :rotfl2:

    I can't wait to list our accomplishments over the years of our trips together:
    Hawaii: walked on a live volcano.
    Wyoming: witnessed geyser eruptions, stayed in an historic lodge.
    Utah: hiked to Delicate Arch.
    Oklahoma: peed on it.
    :sad2:

    The burgers were really good! I got a heart-attack-on-a-plate called the Freshman 15, which featured bacon, cheddar, a fried egg, and smashed fries on it. This took two years in a nursing home off my life, so it was totally worth it! Very tasty.
    I'm not a fan of egg on my burger but the rest sounds good!

    But unfortunately, she had a big court case to attend early the next morning, so a DIS-meet didn’t work out.


    However, when we entered our room, there was a huge gift basket waiting for us on the desk. Lisa had arranged for a Louisiana-style welcome for us—it was full of cookies, candies, and other treats and knick-knacks from her home state. Lisa, that was incredibly kind and thoughtful—thank you so much for spoiling us rotten! I hope our paths cross again someday.
    How sweet of her! :goodvibes
     

    pkondz

    . . Dis Dad #797 . . Hoping to get lucky
    Joined
    Mar 9, 2007
    We continued our drive to Florida by heading further west into Arkansas.
    But of course. The scenic route.

    we were keenly aware of the need to stop at various strategic points in order to keep everyone from going stir-crazy in the van.
    :sad2: Ask me about the first time I drove the kids down to Disney.

    Hot Springs is a town that grew up in the Ouachita (WATCH-it-taw) Mountains over the site of—well, hot springs.
    Just once I'd like to find a town called Cold Springs.

    Maybe they did... and it's a ghost town now.
    Who'd want to go to Cold Springs?


    And then of course I Googled it and there are a few. :rolleyes:

    Geothermal waters were considered to have medicinal properties,
    I (sort of) think they do.
    At least... it sure feels good to soak in hot water when you're sore.

    If you know anything about our family by now, you know that we are drawn to National Park sites like dimwitted keyboard warriors to political arguments on social media platforms.
    Whoa! That's really drawn!

    Captain_Oblivious Life Commandment #37 states: If It’s Free, It’s For Me.
    Pkondz's methodology for avoiding Captain_Oblivious. Go somewhere that costs anything. Anywhere. Really.

    Hot Springs National Park holds a distinction in the U.S. as being the very first ground ever preserved by the federal government for recreation.
    Really! Had no idea.

    If you’re wondering how entrepreneurs could build private facilities on public land in order to make a profit—well, the government got its own cut from concession fees.
    :sad2:

    Despite its name, this park really isn’t about the geothermal waters that give the place its name. It’s more about the preservation and history of the famous bathhouses in the center of town.
    Huh. Okay, I can see that.

    let me stop you there and throw some regular ol’ cold water on your hot spring.
    well done

    It’s nothing like Yellowstone. Not even close.
    No it's not. It's 1,458 miles away.

    I mean, there are people around here who look at a snail or a wilted piece of kale and think, “You know, I’d really like to put that in my mouth.”
    :laughing: Yeah, those kale freaks are weird!

    I can get on board with the idea of a massage (depending on who is giving it, of course)


    And even a Neanderthal like me can admit that the buildings themselves are very beautiful and ornate.
    I was looking at the first photo of the buildings and thinking just that.

    And obvious sadistic, inhumane torture devices such as these:


    Actually, if the water's hot and not spraying suicidally hard.... that would be nice.




    Looks like something out of a prison movie. “That’s enough outta you. Get in the sweatbox!”
    Remember this?



    I want to know who can urinate in vapor? Is that like a super power?

    Down in the basement, you could see where the spa was built directly over the hot spring so they could tap into the waters to supply the baths.
    Huh!

    Just to the left of those stairs was an actual hot spring, where we could walk up and actually feel the warmth radiating off the water in the pools.
    How hot was it? Tepid? So hot you couldn't touch it?

    A man who bore a striking resemblance to Stinky Pete, the Prospector from Toy Story 2, was doing just that. He had the back door of his van open and was filling jug after jug with hot mineral water.
    That's... weird. Probably selling it for profit.

    In any case, Stinky Pete did take some time out of his doomsday preparation to chastise our kids for sliding on walkway handrails. I’m thoroughly embarrassed—can you believe my children were acting like…kids??
    :sad2:

    On the way out of town, we made a stop at the Purple Cow.


    Lisa told us this was one of her favorite places to stop in Hot Springs—it’s a diner and soda fountain.
    Sounds like my kinda place!

    The disconnect between the taste and the color threw me off a bit.
    It does look really weird!

    And I’m sorry we didn’t get purple tongue photos.
    Total fail!

    Holy crap!

    Makes me wonder.... did they plant it there to increase the amount of people paying to dig? Hmmmm????

    Collusion between them and the water park?

    The family would just have to make do with bottles of water that had been sitting in a 95-degree van all day. (Side note: this is Julie’s ideal drinking water temperature. She’s weird.)
    Yup. That's weird.

    Time for some back-breaking hard labor in the middle of the day under a blazing Arkansas sun. This is how you vacation!
    :laughing:

    Well, it’s how we vacation, anyway. I hope Dave was happy.
    How long was he "happy"?

    So I drove another hour out of my way just so we could say we’d set foot in Oklahoma. This 50-state quest is no joke, let me tell ya.
    Well... it's on par with my Harley Davidson quest. I get it.

    There are many wonderful attractions for a family to visit in this fine state. Probably. I can’t name them right now, but I’m sure that’s just because I haven’t researched it. Let’s go with that.
    :rolleyes1

    :rotfl:

    In Oklahoma, we got out of the van on the side of the road, took a photo or three, and then Dave alerted us to an issue that needed to be addressed fairly quickly.
    Cops coming?

    Look, when you gotta go, you gotta go.
    So you go to Oklahoma. Got it. That's a relief.

    And so, on this fine sunny summer day, our visit to Oklahoma consisted solely of my three boys seeing which one of them could…um…mark their territory the furthest into the state.
    :laughing:

    Yessir, we’ll keep Louisiana beautiful! No problem here.
    Not going to pee on it?

    They gave me Johnny Depp. I was going to make a joke here that they saw the obvious resemblance, but then I knew my responses would be flooded with photos of Edward Scissorhands, the Mad Hatter, Willy Wonka, and any other Tim Burton Film Featuring Johnny Depp In Weird Makeup you could find.
    ::yes::

    The burgers were really good! I got a heart-attack-on-a-plate called the Freshman 15, which featured bacon, cheddar, a fried egg, and smashed fries on it.
    OMG. I so want that! Looks amazingly good! But I see you didn't award a drooling Homer... so... not that great?

    The other fun part of the restaurant was the bathroom. Yes, the bathroom. The walls featured all sorts of Chuck Norris jokes to ponder while you pulled an Oklahoma Rest Stop in there.
    :laughing: Those are great.

    And if that wasn’t enough, this was on the inside of the men’s room door:





    Made me do a double-take, which I’m sure was the intent.
    :lmao: Now that's clever!

    When we got to our hotel, we had one last surprise waiting for us. We’d been talking with Lisa throughout the day about trying to meet up since we’d be passing through her hometown the next day. She was even talking about driving out to Shreveport to meet us at one point, which was far above and beyond the call of duty. But unfortunately, she had a big court case to attend early the next morning, so a DIS-meet didn’t work out.
    Too bad you missed each other.

    However, when we entered our room, there was a huge gift basket waiting for us on the desk. Lisa had arranged for a Louisiana-style welcome for us—it was full of cookies, candies, and other treats and knick-knacks from her home state.
    Wow! That's really nice of her!
     

    Captain_Oblivious

    DIS Dad #257
    Joined
    Nov 10, 2008
    Oddly, that's #18 for me.
    Well, you probably don't have as many commandments about capitulating even when the wife is wrong in an argument.:duck:

    Actually, I was. I was thinking it might be very similar to what they still do in Crapistan.
    Could be! But with more fancy stained glass.

    I would be guilty of that, but then I wonder about the guy who first put an egg in his mouth.
    There are probably a lot of foods we could say that about.
    DISsers pulling through once again! :cool1:
    Lisa was a big help!

    Refer to rule #37
    ::yes::

    Insert shovel leaning joke here...
    Good job! I left that opening there for you.

    I was gonna say, "sure there are! See up the road 50 yards..."
    :rotfl2::rotfl2:

    Or afforded you 2 weeks in the CVCU.
    That's when the bill comes due.

    But none with inappropriate bathroom humor.
    They probably figured I could supply that on my own.

    THey need those on the Hoop de Doo door for women who mess up. Eh hemmm...
    :rolleyes1

    This is totally great!
    Pretty awesome surprise!

    Obviously you folks aren't from Southern California. It rained here last weekend and we practically had Disneyland to ourselves! :lmao:
    :rotfl2: I'm sure it would be different if I was a local and had annual passes and stuff.

    That's a looooooooonnnnnnng day of driving! :eek:
    And we're only just starting! We had 5 straight days of tough sledding.

    That does look like it could be very thought provoking!
    ::yes::

    Interesting. Looks like a very large church.
    I'm sure it was packed to the gills in the day.

    I can understand that. You want a diverse selection of activities, not the Southeastern Space Tour.
    Exactly. Although that doesn't sound half bad when you say it like that.

    You are cruel and inhuman. Not even an ice cream cone?
    There's an amendment in the Constitution against this type of treatment!

    UH-oh this doesn't sound good.
    You be the judge...

    Sounds interesting. Natchez was a very interesting place to visit, I'm sure there is a lot of history to this parkway.
    As interesting as trade routes get, I guess.

    Pretty good picture there, but some comply better than others... :rolleyes1
    That's why I'm losing my hair.

    I've never been let down by a Triple-D restaurant!
    The only ones that have let me down are the ones that have closed. :sad1:

    Not sure how I'd feel about the honey mustard sauce, but the fritters sound good.
    It was an interesting combo. I liked it.

    That sandwich is huge!!!!!!!
    ::yes::

    Wow! To eat like a teenager! The older I get the less I can eat.
    I know, right? This getting old crap sucks.

    Someday I'm going to have to try some BBQ Brisket. I normally go for the baby backs or the pulled pork. The only brisket that I've had is Corned Beef Brisket.
    It's so good when it's done right.

    You guys eat early! It's still light out after dinner!
    We like to beat the crowds!

    That's a lot of driving! You weren't kidding!
    :faint:

    Yes, yes you did!
    :faint:
     

    Captain_Oblivious

    DIS Dad #257
    Joined
    Nov 10, 2008
    Sounds ominous
    You be the judge...

    Sounds counterproductive.
    We ain't the sharpest tools in the shed.

    I can understand that.
    Those passport stamps are important.

    No, I would be thinking more like Palm Springs without the celebrities and glitz.
    I'd be more excited about Yellowstone!

    I would be one of those people. Being an avid spa kind of gal, seeing how they did it back in the day is interesting to me.
    I knew it! It's always fascinating to see what people are interested in.

    I think that shower looks heavenly!
    Depends on the pressure! It reminded me of something out of the Shawshank Redemption.

    You got me there. I'm not getting in one of those things! :eek:
    So we do have limits!

    Was it stinky?
    Not that I noticed, no.

    That is weird.
    But good!

    That's probably like panning for gold in Northern California. Maybe a few little flecks, but that's about it.
    Mostly. Although it appears several people have gotten very lucky.

    Isn't that always how it works out?
    Sadly...yes.

    An hours drive just to pee?
    Pretty much, yes. But we also crossed a state off our list, so it was totally worth it!

    I'm not a fan of egg on my burger but the rest sounds good!
    It was very good!

    How sweet of her! :goodvibes
    It was a wonderful surprise!
     

    Steppesister

    DIS Veteran
    Joined
    Dec 27, 2013
    Well, you probably don't have as many commandments about capitulating even when the wife is wrong in an argument.:duck:
    Erm, correct. I have more from doing the same, but the opposite direction.

    Could be! But with more fancy stained glass
    Did I ever tell you the story about how there was a complete, well, eh hemm, almost complete, volume set of Lennin's writings in our outhouse when we moved in?

    There are probably a lot of foods we could say that about.
    Yes. Oysters (Still don't understand that one), beer, shrimp...

    Good job! I left that opening there for you.
    I'll bet you did. And you KNEW I'd take it.

    That's when the bill comes due.
    :rotfl2:
     

    cj9200

    DIS Dad #412
    Joined
    Dec 22, 2006
    Actually, I have a confession to make here. This visit was worse than our visit to Iowa. There, we at least crossed a bridge on foot over the Missouri River, so it felt like we had accomplished something. In Oklahoma, we got out of the van on the side of the road, took a photo or three, and then Dave alerted us to an issue that needed to be addressed fairly quickly. Unfortunately, there were no, uh…facilities in the area. So he wandered down the road a bit, towards the brush by the fence. Look, when you gotta go, you gotta go.
    Too funny, the Captain_Oblivious males mark their territory in Oklahoma. Knowing what I know about Oklahoma, it wasn't the first time, nor the last. You are right, when you gotta go, you gotta go.
     



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