Avid readers of Senior Perspective, Prairie Edition (and who isn’t!) will recognize a version of this story from the April issue. Avid readers of anything I’ve ever written will know I get a lot of entertainment out of my parents. My mom (the one person who falls into both those categories) has given me permission to share this here, and I’m doing so because everyone needs to know what my dad is like on an airplane. Also, because my parents went to Mardi Gras then got a story about it in a newspaper aimed at Midwestern senior citizens. Words are all my mother’s – even the ones about mardi gras beads – but I added a few pictures.
by Tish Peterson
For the first time (ever!) Pete and I took a week-long vacation in search of warm weather. We flew to Dallas, rented a car, and drove down to the gulf coast of Mississippi, with stops in Louisiana along the way. I had every good intention of sending postcards (even went to the post office for stamps ahead of time, but the PO only had post card stamps in rolls of 100. Yeah, right, like that’s gonna happen). But vacation postcards usually arrive after the vacation’s over anyway, so now that we’re home, I thought I’d take a few minutes to send out this version of our postcards.
To clarify right off: We had fun!!!
It was like we were in our own version of reality shows, starting with:
ICE ROAD TRUCKER:
It took us 3 hours to drive from home to Minneapolis, and highway 494 had more turbulence than any airplane ride I’ve ever been on. We were in the truck and Pete did an excellent job of driving. I’m sure if it had been me behind the wheel I’d have gone through all the underwear in my suitcase by the time we got to the hotel.
Pete hadn’t flown in over 30 years, but all went well. It was weird for ME to be the calm one on the flight, though! I had a crossword puzzle to keep me distracted, but all he had was the window and the wing to look at. I gave him my iPod when I realized I had it handy, which helped a bit. Once he adjusted the volume to a level where he could hear it, however, he tended to yell everything he wanted to say (and you know how his voice carries anyway!). Every so often he’d boom out, “NO SNOW DOWN THERE” or “WE MUST BE OVER OMAHA NOW” ~ which caused a murmur among the passengers, who probably thought we were getting updates from the pilot, as they peeked outside for a glimpse of non-snow or Nebraska.
When Rachel and I were in Ireland we nicknamed our rental car “The Trusty Steed.” On this trip, the most frequent reference to the car was “What Does The Car Look Like?” and/or “Where Did We Park?”
We drove from Dallas to West Monroe, Louisiana, and as we entered the elevator at the Holiday Inn, a young couple got on behind us. I could hardly believe my eyes, but the guy had a live squirrel on his shoulder. With a heavy drawl and a shucks-ma’am delivery he explained how he’d found it as a baby when he was hunting, and now it was his pet. If I could have gotten off the elevator I would have, but instead I just smiled politely and hoped the squirrel wouldn’t look at me, or my underwear would once again be in jeopardy.
Okay, this was the highlight of the vacation for me, and actually my whole reason for going: getting a photo op in front of the Duck Commander warehouse, and ambling throughout the gift shop for souvenirs. I’m easily amused. The warehouse is actually where the duck calls are still made, and where the show is filmed. Didn’t see any Robertsons, but enjoyed myself anyway.
PGA GOLF TOUR:
We drove down to the gulf coast, staying for 3 nights in Ocean Springs, MS. Our first mission was to locate a golf course for Pete. That was probably the highlight of the vacation for him, coupled with the fact that there was that 7-ft alligator near the tee box on hole #10. I was the first to spot it and could barely believe my eyes. Come to find out (later) that there are many alligators on the course (we spotted 7), but the real danger is the SNAKES ~ which I’d been happily unaware of when I was helping Pete locate a lost ball. Yikes!
Not content to simply see 7 gators on the golf course, we headed over to the Gulf Shores Gator Farm, where Pete got to actually hold a live alligator and we took an air boat ride through their swamp. We met an alligator in the swamp that came to the boat when called by the guide. Tidbit: alligators like marshmallows. Who knew?
THE HISTORY CHANNEL:
A cool/rainy/dreary day on the coast, so we took in a tour of Beauvoir, the last home of Jefferson Davis. It was very enlightening to me. I had no idea what a deeply committed patriot Jefferson Davis had been, active in the government in DC prior to the civil war. (My Civil War history knowledge consists mostly of what I learned from Gone With The Wind.) All the doors in the house were literally 12 feet tall, but the bath tub was the size of a coffee cup. (What did these people look like????) We really learned a lot, and had a good time in the process.
THE AMAZING RACE:
Almost every time we had to get from point A to point B, in spite of having written directions, a map, and a GPS, we inevitably spent time and again doubling-back and driving around in at least one circle. Sometimes we could actually SEE where we wanted to be, but couldn’t actually see how to get there. the GPS ~ which is named Gertrude ~ has a bit of a devious nature or warped sense of humor. “When possible, make a U-Turn” or “Proceed to the nearest road.” You can just about hear her wanting to add, “……Dummy.”
THE BIG EASY:
Although we didn’t spend the night in New Orleans, we stopped on our way through to take the bus tour, and I’m so glad we did. It gave us the chance to see some of the sights of the city that we wouldn’t have otherwise. (Passed close to Sandra Bullock’s house/mansion, but I’m thinking she was away for the weekend getting ready for the Oscars.) I think we rode along a Mardi Gras parade route ~ there were chairs and stands set up along the way, and already tons of beads hanging in the trees from earlier parades. I actually won some beads on the bus tour, by being able to correctly pronounce the name of one of the streets we passed. I can’t remember what it was, although it sounded something like Oompa-Loompa…….. anyway, I walked away with 2 strings of green beads, and I didn’t even have to take off my shirt!!! It was actually so cool on the tour that I had on two shirts, a fleece jacket and a windbreaker, so taking anything off wasn’t even a option!
THE MAN SHOW:
I’m not sure there really is a Man Show (there was, but I’m really glad you’ve never seen it, mom – R), but if there is I’ll bet it includes a 2-hour browse throughout Bass Pro Shop, followed by lunch at Hooters, and a guided tour of the Shreveport Water Works Museum, which was how My Man and I spent Friday, up until the time of………(wait for it)……..
MARDI GRAS PARADE!!! Although not as expansive as New Orleans, Shreveport has a very respectable parade, with about 50 huge floats, and three marching bands, which lasted about 1 1/2 hours. Unbelievable to me that we were actually there for a parade, but I have a significant collection of beads (and photos) to prove it. (Again, no removal of shirts were involved; it’s a family-friendly event) Almost as amazing as being there, is the fact that I was able to catch some of the beads when they were thrown from the floats ~ I’m so terribly non-athletic, my first instinct was to duck for cover when the beads headed my way. Ended up with a bunch of them anyway, thanks to Pete.
Almost forgot to mention the favorite reality show! THE FOOD NETWORK!!! the BEST Mexican food, chicken gumbo, crab po-boy, shrimp creole, fried catfish, alligator bites (deep-fried mush, in my opinion), crab cakes, and some of the best sweet potatoes I’ve ever had.
Leaving Shreveport, the temp was in the 60s, and by the time we reached the outskirts of Dallas it was down to about 28 degrees. I was behind the wheel ~ saying my prayers through wind, sleet, ice, slush, and rain ~ just hoping we’d be able to return “WDTCLL?” to Avis in one piece. God is good, and we made it, but once at the airport the weather only got worse, and we watched the announcement boards as three flights to Minneapolis were cancelled………
Ours was only 45 minutes late, and we made it back to our hotel in the cities by 10 p.m., feeling great that our part in SURVIVOR was over!
And just in case you’re wondering what my dad had to say about the first vacation he’s had in years, here’s his summary:
I LOVE MY WEIRD FUNNY PARENTS. Next time let’s send them to Vegas.