August 4 thru 17, 2018 The night seemed like a blip. Tracy and I were up by 3:45a. She packed sliced red bell pepper, celery, carrots, string cheese, blueberries and strawberries, and even a Snickers for me. I finished off the berries during the four-hour layover following first leg from Medford to Denver, while watching shows downloaded from Netflix. My ass went numb on the floor at the gate, but felt better than the rigid chairs. In the air, watched sky transition from dull, smoke to clear blue. The second leg to Dallas was bumpy as hell!

Scott picked me up at DFW and we stopped in Terrell at McD’s. Met Bruce and Margaret at JoAnn’s and had a long chat to catch-up on events, discuss funeral arrangements, schedules and concerns. Scott and Bruce, primary caretakers of JoAnn and her properties, were exhausted. Margaret was taking care of funeral-related items, like handouts and photos.

I slept in JoAnn’s room through my visit and missed her presence; I was also so fucking glad her horrendous pain was over. On the 5th, JoAnn’s awesome preacher neighbor came to discuss the service. Talked with Matthew who drove from San Diego to Vegas. They plan to have some fun before continuing drive to Dallas.

On the 6th, went early to the funeral home with Margaret and helped where I could with final touches on cleaning and picture layout. Margaret worked hard to capture all members of JoAnn’s family over her lifetime, so had lots of photos printed that she also framed. It looked like all attendees greatly appreciated them. The service was very nice and uneventful; no shit from crazy-ass Karen who made an appearance. Jessica, one of JoAnn’s grandchildren, read a beautiful poem written by her Aunt Shirley.

After the service, lots of hugs and introductions. I hadn’t been part of this family for decades, so it was good to see several, including Troy, Greg and Paul who looked like shit, possibly more from years of heavy alcohol and drug abuse than the death of their mother. Scott helped load flowers and photos, then headed to the house. We headed toward Dallas for the burial service.

I followed Paul who followed Bruce and Margaret. Paul was all over the road, wasted off his ass. We lost him at one point along the drive and figured he might show up later; he didn’t. Troy, Greg, me, Margaret, Bruce, grandkids and a few others were there. It was a sunny, beautiful day for JoAnn’s burial. I’ll definitely miss her.

img_20180806_162503I left after the service and made a stop in Terrell at Schlosky’s for a veggie wrap. I was starving and it was delicious!

Lots of snack goodies at JoAnn’s and I did my best to not overindulge. Cleaned the house and ran errands as an attempt to help out, then went with Margaret to deliver flowers and magazines to a nursing facility.

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We visited the Speakeasy Coffeehouse on Main Street, across from the Wood County Courthouse, in downtown Quitman. Super cool decor with velvet lounge, hanging lights, boardgames, mix-matched furniture, piano, books, tees for sale and variety of food and drinks. Margaret treated me to a fur-fru coffee!

On the 8th, I drove to meet Aunt Janis and Terry in Longview, TX (about an hour for each of us), at the Best Texas Smokehouse. I got brisket on baked potato and Janis had a dinner plate; a bit pricey, but tasty. Doesn’t matter what Terry had – we don’t like him anymore. We had fun looking through the store with all kinds of cute dishes and gadgets for sell, then split ways. Back to JoAnn’s I went. Made arrangements to visit Lisa in Duncanville, before return flight to OR. Packed up, talked with Margaret, Bruce and Scott, then called it a night.

On the drive from Quitman to Duncanville with Scott on the 9th, we stopped at Buc-ee’s around Terrell off I-20. My first time in one of these chain convenient store’s and I was overwhelmed. It was a grocery, deli, candy shop, department store (nicer than Wally) and souvenir shop under one roof.

Scott dropped me off at Lisa’s. Her brother bought a lake house for family-use and that’s where we were headed. Borrowed her dad’s truck to take a load of house-donation items with us and took off to Brownwood. On the way, we stopped at Whataburger and it was just as delicious as I remembered. Lisa’s jalapeño ranch gave it an extra nice kick! Swung through HEB for beer and food. I was surprised to see they had Whataburger sauces and a cactus cracked me up!

We arrived at the house on Lake Brownwood and it was awesome! We unloaded the truck, moved the deep freezer into the big laundry, stocked beer and yummies in fridge, then Lisa gave me a tour.

We changed, carried down a few beers and chairs to the dock and had a great time swimming. When it got dark, we played music, sang and danced on the deck with candles. I believe being there was what we both needed. Girl chill time.

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Next morning, we cleaned up the house and headed out. Stopped at Underwoods to eat, but changed our mind and went to Cotton Patch Cafe. Atmosphere was neat, but I was like WTF from the amount of time to get soup and salads. Food was ok, but not worth going there again.

Caught a picture, somewhat, of train graffiti on the drive back, next to a huge pollution-maker.img_20180810_171259

img_20180810_192141Returned her dad’s truck and picked up smart car; it’s like a toy! Hung out watching a movie with Lisa and Robert, then up early next morning for a shower before we headed to DFW for return flight. Weather icky.

DFW Security woman was insanely rude to people. I wanted to jerk her rein! The first Alaska flight was almost four hours in a filthy plane with stinky-ass toilet and no food for purchase; they didn’t clean or restock between flights. The second plane was much better. I paid extra $50 to change layover in Seattle from 7 hours to 1. Sucked but worth it! From WA into OR, the sky transformed from Sound of Music to post-apocalyptic. Oddly, there was a rainbow barely visible through the smoke, but not clear enough to photo.

I love the Medford airport, so simple and easy. Sam greeted me inside and we met up with Tracy and Joel outside. I missed them all, so hugs all around! Got to the house and saw they’d been busy bees; finished mud, paint and curtain hanging in the bedroom. Looked wonderful!

img_20180812_092532Slept so good! Barabara brought over carrot cupcakes – I shared Joel’s enthusiasm. I forgot my favorite Keen sandals in Quitman, so Tracy indulged me in a hunt for replacements. We went to a couple places, but I didn’t see anything even remotely like mine. Tracy, so brilliant, suggested I ask Scott to mail them. He agreed. YEA!

Forgot to mention how awesome it’s been to see cannabis stores across the West. In my humble opinion that absolutely matters in MY blog, it should absolutely be legal. Cannabis cannot and should not be considered on the same harmful level as heroine, LSD, or other schedule 1 substances.

img_20180812_151623Too many people across the US, especially in the South, are still ignorant with the belief marijuana is deadly. Seriously?! I don’t recommend operating heavy equipment after smoking, just like the warning labels read on NyQuil and Benadryl. Go figure!

As usually happens every time I venture outside of Aldi, I saw cool things at Fred Meyers (convenient for Trace – too $$ for me) I didn’t know existed. The salmon on a plank kit and assorted frozen, pre-cooked food selection to create personalized meals in microwavable containers were pretty impressive.

img_20180815_164604A smoke curtain veiled the streets of Medford. Ugh! Trace and I attempted to put window tent on the large living room window, but too many ripples, so no go. We TV binged Netflix series, “Black Lightening”, picked up Joel, went to Wally World and back to house. Got laundry done and I was still debating on whether to stay longer and fly to NH for Nycki’s wedding in September, or drive and leave this week.

I was also still steaming about the MAJOR drop in credit score after forgetting payment on Tires Plus credit card I’ve had for 12 years. Thought I’d scheduled it in advance, but nope. Talked with a rep, hopeful my never-before-late, long-term, outstanding payment history could make a difference; hell no. Screw them! Paid the balance in full and won’t use card again. Not cancelling since the long-standing credit is a plus for me.

For breakfast, made buttermilk pancakes and bacon with fruit in honor of Sam’s 16th birthday. I made the decision to leave Friday, to head toward Britt in Wisconsin. We went to Sam’s favorite restaurant for his birthday, El Molcajete. Sam got the big sombrero and they sang for him. So fun and the food was delicious!

Tracy showed me the packing peanuts that were with supplements she ordered. They were non-toxic wheat and cornstarch peanuts that can be added to compost. Their website included rainy day projects using them. Awesome!

img_20180815_184447We went to Fred Meyers for gas ($3.01/gal) and I picked up insect repellant, butter, carrots, trek mix, hummus snack packs, a headlamp on sale and creamer in prep for travel. Tried to map route, unsuccessfully. Charged all electronics to work on where-ever I’m going later. I didn’t want to just drive A to B, I wanted to see and do the in-between cool shit when possible. Definitely wanted to see the Badlands. So confused! Since I was getting ready to head out, we took pics. My camera didn’t know how to deal with the smoky air!

The next day rolled around and I conceded to the awesome idea of camping in Lakeside, OR with family. I would head out from there, so followed Tracy and the kids. Decisions, decisions! Uncle Bob came by for a few minutes and he looked fantastic; hugs, then on the road we went.

img_20180817_152729I believe we took I-5 N, with a potty stop around Canyonville, then hopped off around Sutherlin to curvy Route 138, aka the Rogue-Umpqua Scenic Route. Beautiful views along the Umpqua River! The drive took just over 3 hours to pull into the North Lake RV Resort & Marina. Checked in and set up camp. Our site was mostly dirt and the wind was blowing, so little dirt storms kicked up now and then. We were just a few feet from from Ten Mile Lake, directly across from the boat slips; lots of happy ducks everywhere. Set up my tent on the opposite end from Tracy, close to the toilet, so Diane and girls could be in-between.

img_20180817_163403In a short amount of time, we had lots of fun! Sam and I played like we were surfing on the carnival-like floating ramp, we swam and a seagull kept me company, kids fished and played games, Joel hung-out in the hammock and Diane shared some DIY experiences. I liked her immediately!

Oh, this is a funny! There weren’t ladders to climb out of the lake and and I wasn’t interested in trudging through the muddy, duck-poop embankment. I considered using one of the ladders on a private boat, but chose instead to hoist my ass out of the water with toes wedged between moss-covered chains along the pier. It took umpteen, excruciating attempts before my butt was high enough for knees to hit the deck. Woohoo! I felt accomplished and f*ing exhausted.

We shared dinner and snacks in Diane’s camper. They made banana boat smores over the fire that looked and smelled fantastic! Tracy brought so much yummy food; enough for the whole campground. Great day – love my sister so much!

 

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