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Archive for January, 2010

Arkansas Traveler

“The Arkansas Traveler” is the name of a bluegrass music show we used to enjoy on public radio when we lived in Michigan, but traveling through Arkansas also increasingly has other meaning for our family.  We now have 4 epic road trip stories involving traveling through Arkansas over the past decade.  Here they are in reverse chronological order:

Epic Arkansas Road Trip story #4 (December 2009): Two days before Christmas we headed out on a 900 mile drive to go over the river and through the woods to get to Gramee’s house in Kentucky for Christmas.  The only problem is that we ended up going through the river and around the woods.  If you saw a Weather Channel map on Christmas Eve, you noticed that a mega winter storm stretched all the way from Nuevo Laredo, Mexico to Regina, Saskatchewan, and everything in between.  That of course included Arkansas, except it was rain and not snow in that part of the storm.  LOTS of rain.  Enough to close down portions of Interstate 30, especially where the Arkansas river was involved. We lost 4 to 5 hours of drive time wandering around back roads of north central Arkansas trying to avoid Little Rock and searching for higher elevation that wasn’t flooded.  We finally made it to Papi and Gramee’s house at about 11 pm Christmas Eve.

Epic Arkansas Road Trip story #3 (September 2009): It was Labor Day weekend.  Lori had flown up to Detroit several days earlier in advance of her sister Hannah’s wedding.  Phil and the kids road tripped it from Texas Thursday and Friday in the van, aiming for a Saturday wedding.  There are really only two practical routes out of Dallas when driving to Michigan.  It’s either Oklahoma or Arkansas.  Phil chose Arkansas.  He can’t remember why.  The first several hours between Mesquite, TX and the Arkansas state line were uneventful, but LESS THAN ONE MILE after passing the Welcome to Arkansas sign in the city of Texarkana, the van shuddered and lost power, Check Engine light glowing.  Phil’s iPhone GPS indicated the proximity of several open repair shops within a 5 mile radius.  There were two shops open right on State Line Road in Texarkana, so we headed there.  The first one we tried was in Arkansas.  It had grumpy mechanics and broken diagnostic equipment.  It was going to take 4 to 6 hours.  We gave up and went ALL THE WAY ACROSS THE STREET TO TEXAS!  We found a Christian mechanic who had us on our way in an hour for $50.  His wife, apparently sympathetic to a “single father” with three kids, even fed us sandwiches!!

Epic Arkansas Road Trip story #2 (December 2004):  Six Christmases ago we headed out from Dallas to go to Gramee’s house in Kentucky, on the same day as our most recent trip, December 23rd.  It was Papi and Gramee’s first Christmas at their new home in KY.  And another epic winter storm plagued the trip.  It was even worse then Epic story #4, because it was a severe ice storm.  Sections of I-30 and I-40 were closed.  On the first day of driving it took us 10+ hours to make 5 miles of progress.  The second day we only got about 150 miles farther.  We had Christmas Eve dinner in a Waffle House and had a motel Continental breakfast on Christmas morning.  Frustrating, but memories to laugh at years later.  The day and a half drive took three full days in the car, and we made it to Papi and Gramee’s house late in the day on Christmas.

Epic Arkansas Road Trip story #1 (February 1999): This story is not necessarily Arkansas’ fault, but Arkansas played an important role.  We were living in Mexico City at this time and Lori was quite pregnant with Erin.  Lori’s sister Hannah (the one mentioned in Epic story #3 above) had been staying at our home in Mexico for about 6 weeks.  Near the end of January (still a month before the due date), Lori and Nathan flew to Michigan.  Phil and Hannah then began a 4-day drive to Michigan the next day.  Since we did not have cell phones in 1999, and therefore had no idea that Lori was now in labor much earlier than expected, Phil and Hannah took their time on the first half of the drive, stopping in San Antonio for at least half a day to leisurely visit the Alamo.  They did not find out until they arrived at the CAM office in Dallas (exactly halfway between Mexico City and Detroit), that Lori was now in labor.  Needless to say, the second half of the road trip was MUCH faster than the first half.  But getting to Michigan in time for the birth was not going to happen.  Phil found out that Erin was born via a call from an outdoor phone booth, in pouring rain, at a truckstop, SOMEWHERE IN ARKANSAS.

Our family Arkansas opinion disclaimer: We have friends that either live in or are from Arkansas, and we really don’t mean to offend them with our opinion of Arkansas, but sheesh!

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