A Graduation Like No Other
Friday night, Allen High School in Texas graduated their largest class ever--1681 students--including our grandson Jack. It is quite a spectacle, held in the multimillion dollar high school football stadium. The seniors march in from all four corners of the field.
Because of the size and distance, it is impossible to see, or sometimes even recognize, your own graduate so the photos and names are displayed before the ceremony on the Jumbotron at the end of the field. This programming was done by Jack and of course with 1681 names and photos, the chances of errors are mega and there was a lot of redoing. Notice that the score is actually the class year and the time at the bottom is the number of students. Of course, I missed getting a photo of Jack's picture. Jack was part of the animation class that created the senior video as well, also shown on the big screen.
Like most graduations, the speeches could have been fewer and shorter, but they still managed to get this marathon done in under three hours. I was glad I was able to be there for Jack, but I also told my son and daughter-in-law that I am glad that they don't have six more kids to go through this!
Auntie Em! Auntie Em!
So this morning, before we headed for Texas for our grandson Jack"s graduation, I chuckled at this post on Face book and just had to share it. Talk about tempting fate. Temperatures were to be in the high 80s with lots of humidity and we were driving through Tornado Alley.
Eastern Oklahoma has received more rain in the last few days than they normally get in a month. People have been stranded and whole towns have been evacuated. We began to see evidence of flooding in southwestern Missouri into Oklahoma. Every river and creek was well out of its banks. Our target was Muskogee, OK and as we pulled into town shortly after 6:00 p.m. the tornado sirens went off. Not exactly the fanfare we expected.
The first hotel we stopped at was completely full. Guests were milling around while the desk clerk tried to direct them to interior rooms--the closest thing the hotel had to a storm shelter. The second hotel was also full so I asked the clerk if something special was going on in town and she said most of the people had been displaced by the flooding! The third hotel had a room, so after unloading and grabbing supper at a nearby restaurant, we were ready to kick back and watch a little TV. But everything had been preempted by the coverage of several tornadoes moving acroos the area we had just passed through a few hours before.
I think tomorrow I'll leave my ruby slippers in the suitcase.
After a fashion. The weather Wednesday was not stellular but it didn't rain all day. Just most of it. We did manage to get a couple of walks in in the morning and after lunch we tried out a new game that I was introduced to the week before: Back Up 8. Ken braved the elements to smoke a fresh ham and we feasted that night on pork, sweet potatoes, green beans, and a berry crumble dessert. Starvation staved off for another day.
Thursday morning the rain moved out and the chill moved in. The Ottaways went mushroom hunting and Harriet and I hit the trails. In spite of the still-gloomy skies, the early spring green of emerging leaves and moss made the crevices and ravines glow. Many of the board walks were repaired last year when the park was closed for most of the season. We were also amazed by the patching job on the rock that supports the Balanced Rock. We didn't go the whole distance along the trail, but when we turned back, we spotted a stone cabin up above us that piqued our interest. We later found a path that led from a picnic area down to this mysterious structure. I was especially intrigued because an old cabin is a part of the plot of Bats and Bones, and in the camper tips I stated "There is no old cabin or tunnel that I know of" but apparently there are at least two. Near the cabin was a gazebo of sorts that didn't appear to have any particular use.
It was our night to cook, but although we had the makings of a full meal with us, we had warned the group that if the weather was not conducive to cooking outside (we can't use the gas stove because of the oxygen), that we would take the group out to eat. That decision was made, and after exploring the options online, we were excited to try the Decker Hotel--a historic building with a reputation for good food. Alas, their website lies and they are not open on Thursday nights. Our next choice was PerXactly's, a local bar and grill. While the decor was fun and unique, the noise level was too much for our old ears. We did wonder what the story is behind 'Paul and Larry's Seat' which was under our table. So we each had a beer and continued on in our search for food. See what pioneers we are? We ended up at the Great Wall, a Chinese place and ate our fill. Not great but good.
Today we will pack up, head home, and put this trip in the books. It's been a fun few days in spite of the weather, and we are once more convinced that we are of stout stock.
On the Road Again
After a very long nine months, this week we have our camper out, about an hour and a half from home at Maquoketa Caves State Park. It has been so long that we forgot to level the trailer front to back before we put the jacks down. A little do-over there.
The bad news? The forecast is rain for every day we are here and so far this morning, the weather guessers are right. Last night was dry but cool, and we did manage to get a campfire along with a hearty supper of taco soup and enchiladas, followed by fruit filled tortillas warmed over the fire. Weather does not dampen this group's enthusiasm for meals!
There are at least three black cats here--there could be a thousand and they only send out three at a time--but they obviously feel a real sense of ownership. Neither of us are cat fans but one has taken possession of one of our lawn chairs.
We are prepared for inclement weather. We have a new game and at least one movie that some of us haven't seen. Nearby Maquoketa offers diversions; there's even a winery close by. Of course I have books to read and three to write. After all, this park is the scene of the first Frannie book, Bats and Bones. Hopefully by Thursday, we'll get enough dry hours to hike along the beautiful caves.
But we won't starve, and for now we are snugged in. I think both of us are reassured about our ability to do this kind of thing in spite of my husband's cancer. For the benefit of anyone who uses supplemental oxygen and wonders if it makes camping out of reach, go for it! We have my husband's concentrator in a corner of the living area and it isn't as loud as I thought it might be. For outdoor activities and trips to other campers, the portable concentrator works quite well. Of course, getting one of those is slightly more difficult than getting Russia's military secrets but that's another story.
Some random thoughts about writing, camping, and eating.