Wednesday, May 16, 2007

An Arkansas Adventure

Jeramy and I had a great trip to Arkansas for his Grandma Harris' funeral. I got to meet a lot of family members that I had not met before...many of whom Jeramy had also never met or hadn't seen since he was 12. Anyhow, here is a quick recap (okay a rather long recap) of the trip.


After sleeping overnight in either an airport (me) or plane (Jeramy) we groggily arrived at the Little Rock airport around 9:00am. Apparently, the girl at the car rental place pegged Jeramy instantly, and offered us an upgrade to a Mustang for only $7 per day. We were more than happy to fork over that relatively small sum to get out of a Chevy Aveo and into a much funner (okay faster) car.

After stopping at the Harley dealership in Little Rock to buy T-shirts, we drove about 2 hours to the Northwest to where Aunt Betty lives outside of Lamar. They live in the foothills of the Ozarks, which reminded me a lot of the scenery from the Alabama countryside when we drive from my grandparents' house in Decatur to Smith Lake: rolling hills, green grass and trees, winding country roads, lots of small churches with their cemetaries decorated in flowers, farm animals and houses ranging in condition from delapidated to astonishing. The temperature was similar and humid with the temperature just being on verge of what the locals felt required air conditioning. As a Seattleite, I probably would have turned on the a/c weeks ago.

We spent the rest of the day was spent having lunch and dinner and catching up with family. We stayed both that night and the next at Jeramy's cousin Bud's house just down the street from his Aunt Betty's.


We started out the day with a mini-road trip because Jeramy heard there was a Harley dealership about an hour away in Fort Smith. After picking up some T-shirts there, we drove a few more miles to the Oklahoma border so that I could say that I had visited another state. Of course all that I saw of the state was a casino, liquor store and adult video store. But why be picky???

When we got back to his Aunt Betty's we learned that Jeramy's Aunt Em and cousin Judy from California had gotten caught up in Thunderstorms in Atlanta and wouldn't make it in time for the service. Everybody agreed that we should push the service and burial back to 5:00pm when Em and Judy could be there too. So the whole group had a late lunch at his cousin Luke's house and then after Em and Judy got there we laid Grandma Harris to rest. The service was in a very old chapel without air conditioning, power or bathrooms across the street from the cemetary. The family was completely responsible for the service and all aspects of the burial, which was very different from was I'm used to at home. Afterwards, we went back to Luke's for dinner.

Here is a great picture taken of Aunt Betty with her youngest great-grandson Bryer and Jeramy's niece (her great-niece) Julia.


Since it was Mother's Day and the last time everybody would be there, we started off with a big breakfast at a small cafe in Dover. Luckily we got there early when there was still room because we took up half the restaurant. After breakfast, Jeramy and his cousin Judy (who was in Arkansas less than 24 hours thanks to those Atlanta T-storms) left for the airport in Little Rock. I went with Mark, Dee and Julia up to Branson, Missouri. Julia had started to run a fever that morning, but we decided to go ahead with the trip figuring it would be just as easy to take care of her in Branson as it would anywhere.

First we went at the Laura Ingalls Wilder museum in Mansfield, Missouri. I am a huge fan of the Little House books and have read them all many, many times. The museum is at the house that Laura and Almanzo started building after they moved from South Dakota to Missouri in 1894 and finally finished in 1913. It is the house that Laura lived in until she died in 1957 and everything had been preserved to be as it was at that point in time. It was very cool to see all of the handmade items in the house, learn more about the family's history and see things referenced in the books like Pa's fiddle. Here is a picture of me standing in front of the house and some of the Amish people we saw on the way to Mansfield:

When Dee and I got back to the car, we found out that Julia's temperature had escalated to 104 degrees. We immediately decided to drive to Springfield and go to the emergency room where Julia was diagnosed with an early case of Pnemonia. Luckily, we were able to get in and out of the ER relatively quickly, and they let us leave with a prescription for antibiotics.

Around the same time, Jeramy found out that his flight from Little Rock to Dallas was canceled due to T-storms in Dallas, and the earliest flight he could get on was Monday night. So we decided he should just stay with the rest of us and leave early Tuesday morning. He rented a car (a black Mustang this time) and then drove 4 hours to Branson getting there just before midnight.


Julia's temperature had gone down a little by Monday morning, but she was still not feeling well. So Dee and Mark decided that they would just skip Branson and head down to Little Rock early. As Jeramy and I aren't really the dinner show types, we decided instead to do a tour of Harley dealerships in southwestern Missouri and northwestern Arkansas. We put about 450 miles on the mustang as we drove to dealerships in Springfield, MO; Joplin, MO; and Rogers, AR. Along the way we also saw the largest Precious Moments gift shop in Carthage, MO and Bentonville, AR where our "favorite" store Wal-Mart began (note the sarcasm here) among other things.

We then took the more scenic backroads down to Knoxville, where we met up with Jeramy's cousin Becky and Aunts Em and Betty for dinner. Then we drove to the hotel where Dee and Mark were staying in Little Rock, to get a little sleep before our 5am flights the next morning. It was honestly one of the funnest days that Jeramy and I have ever had together, and it turns out that his flight cancellation was really the best thing that could have happened during the trip

Here are a few of my favorite pictures from the day:

Jeramy in Mustang #2...

Me at the Precious Moments chapel and gift store

The Pig Trail Harley Davidson store in Rogers. It was the biggest one we saw...must be all that Wal-Mart money coming in from nearby Bentonville.

A place along the side of the road called the "Hillbilly Cabin". It certainly lives up to its name.


Dee, Mark, Julia, Uncle John and I had to catch a 5:10am flight on Continental and Jeramy had a 5:40am flight on American. Jeramy was supposed to get in later than us because he had a 3 hour layover in Dallas, but he barely managed to get on a flight to Seattle that left much earlier (we're talking sliding into the plane just before they shut the door). So he got in just after 9am but had to wait at SeaTac until I arrived at 10:30am since he didn't have house keys. Exhausted, we went home and had a big nap before going to Jim's to pick up a very excited Cujo.

In the end it was a really fun if sometimes chaotic trip. But in the end, we had a lot of fun even though things did not always go as planned.

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