Category Archives: travel

A Long Vacation

Mel's Diner has singing wait staff. They were very good.
Mel’s Diner in Branson has singing wait staff. They were very good.

Every now and then I see something that says that Americans take shorter vacations than we did 40 years ago, or whatever timeframe yo want to pick. I suppose that’s true. Many people never take a week-long vacation these days, let alone two weeks. They opt for four and five day weekends. Which is better: the long vacation or the long weekend?

Lynda and I were just on a two-week vacation (almost) with our daughter and her family. They arrived from Oklahoma City late on June 19. The next morning we drove east, in two vehicles, to Indianapolis. Strange place to vacation, you ask? Not when it’s time for the Church of the Nazarene’s quadrennial meetings. Three general conventions of the missions, youth, and educational organizations, followed by the General Assembly, the governing body of the denomination. Richard, our son-in-law, was a delegate to the missions society General Convention. They asked us to go along to help with the kids, as they decided to make a family trip out of it.

Elise, posing as a Chines opera performer, at the Indianapolis Children's Museum
Elise, posing as a Chines opera performer, at the Indianapolis Children’s Museum

Richard was tied up the 21st through 23rd with the convention. I took him to downtown, to the convention center, from the rental house we had three miles away. It was an older, three-story house that was nicely restored. The floors creaked, but the house functioned quite well. The Wi-Fi and coffee maker worked, as did the microwaves, and it had a nice front porch with chairs and table. What more could you ask for?

I won’t go into all the activities we did. Needless to say, with four children, and with me getting sick one day and Lynda not feeling well on a couple of days, we probably did less than we thought we could. On Friday we went to see the expo hall associated with the general conventions. The kids had a good time in the bouncy play place. Lynda stayed with them while I walked the exhibits. I bought one book, saw a couple of friends, and had a good time. We al

Worshipping with 25,000 others Sunday morning at Nazarene General Assembly
Worshipping with 25,000 others Sunday morning at Nazarene General Assembly

so went to the Sunday morning service, and met up with a friend from more than 40 years ago. It was all quite enjoyable.

 

Then, on Monday, June 26, we drove from Indianapolis to Branson Missouri for the second leg of the trip. Here we stayed in a condo we were able to book using points from our timeshare: same resort company, but different resort from where we own. So, we had no out-of-pocket expense for the accommodation. It was two story, with two large bedrooms (one up one down), and two pull-out couches. It is central to just about everything in Branson.

The week was interrupted, however, because we had a gap in having someone to watch Lynda’s mom. So on Tuesday afternoon I drove to our house, only two hours on back roads, and spent that night with her. Wednesday afternoon I drove back to Branson with her, and she was able to spend a little time with her great-grandchildren and eat dinner with us. I drove back late that evening, and left early the next morning for Branson. That was the day we planned to go to Silver Dollar City, so I was on the road by 7:30 a.m.

I was last in Marvel Cave in October 1974. The tour is now much longer and much improved.
I was last in Marvel Cave in October 1974. The tour is now much longer and much improved.

For those reading the blog who don’t know about Silver Dollar City, it is truly amazing. It’s a theme park, with clusters or rides appropriate for all ages. It’s a crafters’ location, with such things as blacksmithing, candy making, glass blowing, and more. Of course, there are many, many opportunities to be separated from your money. If you avoid, those, and concentrate on the rides and crafts, it is really a lovely place. I was last there in October 2014, and have been there (I think) three other times in my life. There’s still much I haven’t seen. Lynda and I are thinking of going back sometime this fall, though we’ll see.

We played miniature golf twice. The first time we didn’t keep score, the second time we did, and I beat Richard by one stroke and Lynda by two. Sara was only a couple behind that. The three older kids enjoyed it a lot, though they were certainly rambunctious, and keeping them where they were supposed to be, and not bothering other players, was a constant battle.

I won’t mention everything we did in Branson. We did quite a bit; not always the whole group of us, but everyday saw some activity. Then, on Saturday July 1, we made the two hour drive home. That afternoon, the kids rode bikes, Ephraim caught two snakes and several toads, the parents rested, and I took the kids blackberry picking. The boys grew tired of it and went back to the house, but Elise stuck it out. The next day was church at our home church, and an afternoon of more snakes, toads, play, and blackberry picking.

Miniature golf, with four kids, three of whom are players. What's not to love?
Miniature golf, with four kids, three of whom are players. What’s not to love?

The OKC group drove back last night, through a rainstorm, and got home around 11 p.m. The Bella Vista three took the occasion to watch a movie, and just read. I kept thinking about those that left us, and they there is no quiet for them, at least not for another 18 years.

So, all the posts over the last two weeks were written ahead of time and scheduled to go live on my regular posting days. I’m back in real time now. Back to the daily grind on Wednesday, back to my writing “career” today.

Relaxing?

I’m writing this post ahead of time, to go live Friday June 30. At that time, I’ll be on vacation with the family in Branson, Missouri, the day before ending our trip. The question is, will I be relaxing or not?

From June 20-25 we were in Indianapolis, where our son-in-law, Richard, was a delegate to some of our church quadrennial meetings. Since Richard and Sara decided to make a family trip out of it, Lynda and I are along mainly to help. I write this before we even left. Our preparations for the trip are stressful. I can only imagine what Richard and Sara are going through.

We leave (or left, as you’re reading this) for Branson on June 26. There’s plenty to do there. Silver Dollar City will be on the agenda, as will a show, and probably a movie. Maybe even relaxing by the pool. Possibly the grandkids will allow us time to get a little reading in.

But, will I be able to relax? It’s been a busy time at work and home. I certainly need to decompress a bit. I’m just not sure this vacation is going to do the trip.

I’m scheduling this to post on the 30th. Possibly I’ll find time to come back and edit in some things about the trip, and report on my being able to relax.

A Short Story Completed

This summer, writing has taken a backseat in my life. I haven’t completely abandoned creative writing, but time to give it much focus simply hasn’t been there.

What have I been doing instead? Well, in early June we babysat our three grandchildren for almost two weeks, then their parents arrived and stayed with us a few days. They went on a ten day road trip, coming back in early July for a couple of days. That has a way of taking up a lot of your time.

Then there was my wife’s family reunion the last weekend in July/first of August. I was reunion planner. I know, that sounds strange, doesn’t it? But I was, and it took a fair amount of work. Part of that was completing a formal edition of my family history book. Seth Boynton Cheney: Mystery Man of the West, focuses on the patriarch of the family, but it’s much more than that. 292 pages of biography, photos, maps, document images, and pages and pages of data I’ve collected on a number of ancestors in the family. My goal was to have it published by June 15, to give people plenty of time to order it before the reunion. I came very close to making it. The book was done by the 15th and a proof copy ordered. It then took me to June 27th to have all the corrections made and have it published.

Then there’s stock trading. That took a back seat to the reunion, but since that I’ve hit it in a big way again, trying to make some money to augment the retirement funds. I’m actually not doing too badly for the year. I have losses, but almost none since April, with a string of winners since then helping to recover from other losses. Unfortunately that work isn’t going to change very soon.

Work at CEI has been about normal. I submitted abstracts for presentation of two technical papers, one of which was due Friday. I came within about two paragraphs of completing it then. I printed it out and have it at home with me. Hopefully tonight I’ll be able to read and edit it and figure out those couple of paragraphs I lack. Tomorrow I’ll be able to type the changes and upload it sometime in the morning. I advised the organization that I’d be on that schedule, and they said that was fine.

So, back to the short story. It is the last in the Danny Tompkins series that explores teenage grief at the loss of a parent. The subject for this story eluded me for half a year. Finally around May I knew what it would be, and I wrote a few paragraphs. The hindrance of the “blank page” having been overcome, I came back to it from time to time, as I could carve out a little time for it. Slowly it came to being.

On Friday I worked on it a little on my noon hour, and realized I wasn’t sure how to end it. This one ends the series of five stories, so the ending needed to be both for the story itself and for the series. This afternoon I sat down to work on it, first editing what I had. As I did that the idea for the ending came, it being a little different than I’d thought it would be. It reads more as a memoir than a story, but it’s done, and it’s as good as I can make it, so I’m going with it. I did the Kindle version formatting this afternoon. I was about to work on a simple cover for it, but realized I can’t get to the photo I was going to use. So I’ll have to take another photo, which I’ll do when I go upstairs. I know exactly what I want with it.

My goal is to have this available on both Amazon and Smashwords by Wednesday, August 19. It will be close, but I think I can do it. Smashwords doesn’t take much more formatting than does Kindle, and the same cover works for both. With luck I’ll have it all done tomorrow evening, and the books will be out in time. I also need to go back and add links to all five stories to the ones already published. That I’ll do before the week is out. Then, next weekend I’ll begin promotion of the new story and the set.

After that, I have another story started in a different series. I need to finish and publish that. Then, I’ll see.  I know which two novels I’ll work on next, and which book-length non-fiction. We’ll see which of those bubbles up to the top. The busyness doesn’t appear to abate in the months ahead. Another reunion that includes a long road trip awaits. A business trip will take me away for a couple of days in September, and another might do the same in October. But I’ll be writing. I’ll keep my few fans updated here.

Home Again, Home Again

We returned last night from our road trip to Chicago via Oklahoma City, driving through two severe thunderstorms in Missouri, with tonado watches and warnings all around us. We arrived in Bella Vista to find it dry, hot, and muggy; it looked like no rain fell yesterday.

About 10:30 PM that changed, as the lightning and thunder came, quickly followed by wind and rain. When I went to bed about midnight the storm was still raging. When I woke at 5:45 AM all was quite. I saw little storm damage on the commute, so perhaps it sounded worse than it did.

I have many impressions from our trip to write about, and would like to get at it. Unfortunately, my employer calls me to put in a full day. And I have some blogs to review. And e-mails to read. And two writing related tasks I must complete today. So stay tuned. I will be posting daily this week, perhaps even twice daily at times.

Random Road Trip Thoughts

That’s random thoughts from a road trip, not thoughts on a random road trip, by the way. We returned yesterday after 3,700 plus miles, going to Oklahoma City (for grandson Ephraim’s first birthday party) by way of Rhode Island (for nephew Chris’ wedding). Here are some thoughts as I think of them.

– Arkansas has the most road kill per mile, by far. I say this even though only about 50 miles of the trip were in Arkansas.

– Gas prices are fairly equal from Oklahoma to New England. The lowest I saw was $1.779 per gallon around the Tulsa area. The most $2.099 in Rhode Island. That’s only an 18 percent difference. In 1990-91, when we made a couple of similar road trips between North Carolina and Arkansas, the price varied by more than 50 percent.

– Many New England towns are quaint and pleasant to drive through. The area between Worcester MA and Woonsocket RI is filled with towns such as Grafton, Upton, Uxbridge, Milford, and Sutton that have some type of central core (not so much a village green as a downtown, but different than the downtowns in the midwest) that is full of old buildings–churches, government offices, retail, residential–that are pleasant to drive by and observe. At several places I would have loved to have had the time to stop and wander around on foot.

– Rhode Island has the worst roads of any state we drove in. The Interstate highways were fine, but the roads a notch below that, the state highways, left much to be desires, and the city streets were generally awful.

– Pennsylvania may just be the most beautiful state in the nation. I know other states have higher mountains, more magnificent rivers, and mixtures of landscape and climate. But I love to drive I-80 across Pennsylvania. This is the Allegheny mountains much of the way, and pretty good sized hills for the rest. You don’t go through any towns or cities until the far eastern end, which we bypassed this time. Many times the road is on high bridges that tower above a river or stream below. Frequently the east-bound and west-bound lanes are on different grades, and you seem to be on a one way road. We took this in daylight both directions, and I enjoyed the 10 hours thoroughly.

– Judging by the truck traffic, the economic depression is not too deep. Except, the traffic is down on weekends and at nights compared to previous road trips I’ve taken. So while many trucks still transport their cargo on our Interstate highways, they are not pushing as hard as the did previously. Perhaps I’ll be proved wrong about being in a depression that will last approximately eight years. But I’m not throwing in the towel on that yet.

– It’s good to get off the Interstates some. We did so at Toledo, where we spent a night, and went on state highways to Fort Wayne. Aside from being confused by the place names (in rapid succession we passed through or saw signs for Waterville–also a Vermont town we know–Grand Rapids–Ohio, not Michigan–Texas, Florida, Antwerp, and three or four similar well-known places not expected in northwest Ohio), and besides fighting rain, we enjoyed the brief chance to drive at slower speeds and see a new part of the country up close. Even being slowed down to pass through the towns was not all that bad.

– The genealogy section in the Allen County Public Library in Fort Wayne, Indiana, is all it is cracked up to be. What a fantastic collection! I planned to spend an hour there, doing the small bit of research needed for my article, and wound up spending nearly six hours, as Lynda had some work to do there for renewing her nursing license. Since I hadn’t planned for that much time I was not well prepared for it, but hopefully used it well to search for one elusive line of ancestors and find more information on one of my well-studied ones.

This post is long enough already. I’ll have more to day in another post or two.