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Thunder, Rain, Sing-A-Longs & Elvis

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Well, we made it to Fort Smith, Arkansas!  It took nine hours and we drove just under 600 miles – the most we have ever driven in one day.    I am not too familiar with Arkansas but I have learned this – it is very, very hot here…..it is 111 degrees….in the shade!

Our morning began just after 3:00 a.m. when a loud clap of thunder did all but shake the house.  Gia ran into my room and with the storm showing no signs of ending, we decided to begin our day.  Joey, of course, slept through the entire storm.  By 5:15 we were out the door.  Joey was awake, alert and seemed excited, but any time Joey gets in the car he’s excited.  The worst of the storm had left Alabaster and we began on five day road trip to California.  I spent most of the first 30 minutes of our trip quizzing Gionna on things I was sure we left at home…..extra syringes, cell phone chargers, camera, measuring cups for Joey’s formula…..Gionna assured me that we hadn’t left anything behind – she is Miss Organization when it comes to planning – what would I do without her!

We had just merged on to Highway 78 when the skies became dark and the rain began once again.  Not just any rain, it was sheets of rain coming down so hard I couldn’t even see the front of the van.  Just when the rain would calm down, another storm would begin.  As awful as this was, it didn’t hold a candle to what was waiting for us in Memphis.

As we made our way into Memphis the skies quickly turned shades of deep blue, almost black.  No matter which direction I looked, blue skies were nowhere to be found.  Within minutes the winds were so strong they were shaking the van and then the lightening lit up the sky.  A few minutes later, rain like I had never seen began pouring down.  To make matters worse, I was sandwiched between 18-wheelers on an interstate with very narrow lanes due to construction.  Unable to exit, I said numerous “Hail Mary’s” and remained white-knuckled on the steering wheel for what seemed like eternity.  The storm probably lasted just over 15 minutes but it seemed like 15 hours.  Once out of Memphis, blue skies were on the horizon and bits of my sanity started to return.  Poor Gionna had been summoned to complete silence during the storm so I could concentrate, Joey, well, Joey only got louder as the storm grew more intense – which isn’t at all surprising.

Now on our way to Tupelo, I came across a radio station that played nothing but Elvis songs.  I was in Heaven.    When “Blue Moon of Kentucky” came on I couldn’t resist the urge to sing along, loudly and off-key.  Gionna quickly put her earphones in and I told her that I was a very good solo singer – her response……..”Why don’t you sing “so low” that I can’t hear you”?  Ahh, teenagers!

The scenery along I-40 was very pretty, but there are very few signs of life, well, except for the cows.  Joey enjoyed looking out the window and almost always had a smile on his face.  I lost myself in the countless country music stations, many of them playing classic country which I love.  So, while I sang along to George Strait, Tanya Tucker and Dottie West, Gionna kept watchful eye on our map and provided up to date status reports upcoming towns, miles left to go, how much further to the next rest stop, etc.    What can I say, she comes by it honestly.

As we made our way across Arkansas, we flirted with the idea of continuing on to Oklahoma City, but I decided to stick with the plan of not driving more than 550 miles each day.  With that said, tomorrow the plan is to drive through Oklahoma, the Texas panhandle and end our day in Tucumcari, New Mexico.  Tomorrow, we want to stop in Amarillo at a restaurant called The Texan – Home of the free 72 ounce steak.  No, that is not what we are going to eat, but visit www.bigtexan.com if you get a chance.

Well, my travel advisor has already set up a 5:00 a.m. wake up call for us and I’ve been told twice now that I need to go to bed.  The mother/daughter line has obviously become fuzzy.  J   We are having a great time making our way across the USA – Joey skipped his nap today and as I write this shows absolutely NO signs of slowing down.   Joey gave us a little scare earlier – we when pulled into the hotel parking lot we noticed that his feet were extremely swollen, red and very warm to the touch.  After a phone call to Joey’s pediatrician I learned that Joey sat so long in his car seat with his feet dangling that it caused his feet to swell.  It took a few hours, but Joey’s feet returned to normal and we will devise a way to keep them elevated during the rest of the trip.

Tomorrow we will be tuning in from Tucumcari….


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California Dreamin' 2009

Alabama To California, United States