Vacation: Day Two

Today is the day the vacation really begins. I awoke at 4:07 AM. I have been awake since then. Miss Benita has been up since then as well.

I took us two hours to get ready and load the car this morning. I decided to take the southern route. The southern route is I-20 from Dallas, Texas to Birmingham, Alabama. Then I-59 from Birmingham to Chattanooga, Tennessee. There we change to I-75 taking it to Knoxville. At Knoxville we go east on I-40 to the Sevierville exit. The trip will take a day and half. It is over 900 miles.

This morning we departed The Colony, Texas at 6:05 AM. Stop one was an hour later in Terrell, Texas for breakfast. Stop 2 was for coffee and gasoline in Lindale, Texas. That’s country signer Miranda Lambert’s hometown. Contemporary Christian Music played to help us worship the Lord as we drove.

Miranda Lambert

The traffic on I-20 was not bad for any time of year. Usually it is crazy heavy. Not today. Our third stop was the Louisiana welcome center just west of Shreveport. It took until 9:45 AM to get there; The Carpenter’s Greatest Hits were our music of choice followed by John Denver’s greatest hits. Do you remember those artists from the 1970s?

Welcome to Louisiana

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We travelled next to West Monroe, Louisiana arriving at noon. West Monroe is the home of the Duck Dynasty boys. We stopped for lunch.

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After a 45 minute break we headed east on I-20. Garrison Keillor told us stories for the next hour and a half as we drove to Vicksburg, Mississippi. We stopped at the Mississippi Welcome Center. We’ve been greeted there over twenty-five times since it first opened in 1981. We listened to Mur Lafferty’s podcast “I Should Be Writing”. She talked about her skepticism for productivity sites, and then had a LONG talk with her agent, Jen Udden of the Donald Maass Agency. She asked lots and lots of questions.

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Welcome to Mississippi

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Back I-20 we headed east. We stopped in Newton, Mississippi at the Sonic to get Miss Benita a Peach Slush. Their slush machine was broken.

Back on the road, we drove to Meridian, Mississippi. There I topped off my Ford Taurus with gasoline. The music of choice now turned to the greatest hits of The Seekers, good 1960s folk music.

The Alabama Welcome was whatever stop number this was. We took pictures and picked up hotel coupons.

Welcome to Alabama

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Back on I-20 we headed to Tuscaloosa where the tornado damage from recent years was very visible and the on to Birmingham, Alabama. At Birmingham we headed north on I-59 and headed to Gadsden, Alabama. We made it there at dark. We arrived at our, got them to honor the discount coupon, unloaded the car and then went out for the evening meal.

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It is bedtime now. Miss Benita and I are tired. Two queen beds insures we will both sleep well.

The adventure continues …

Vacation: Day One

320px-El_viaxeru_d'UrculoThe day began as many others. I awoke during the five o’clock hour. I did the shave and shower routine. This morning I cut off my goatee. Did I do it on purpose? Yes, but only after I messed it up trimming. Only then did I purposefully shaved my chin.

I headed to my favorite Starbucks in Plano, Texas. I had a nice visit with a few “coffee friends”. All I drank was a tall blonde roast coffee.

Next, I headed back to my town, The Colony, Texas. I went to the Walmart Pharmacy and picked up a refill on my glaucoma RX. I also purchased some Q-Tips, a three-ounce bottle to put liquids in for travel, and a new case for my smart phone. It is one of those cases you see on older men’s belts to carry the phone. No Generation X or Millennial Man would be caught dead wearing one.

I said hello to my spouse, Miss Benita. She was swamped with people lined up to check out. She works as a cashier at Walmart.

Next, I headed to Vista Ridge Mall in Lewisville, Texas. Actually, I headed to one of the stores on the pad sites that surround the mall. I went to SAS shoes. I purchased new inner soles for my SAS Side Gore shoes. They still look wonderful. A $25 investment makes my $200 shoes feel like new all over again.

I returned home. The next item on the “to do” list was mow the front and back yard. It was 90 degrees with 60% humidity when I finished mowing. It required a return to the shower to wash the dust and sweat off.

About mid-afternoon, I took a break and what an hour program “World War II in Color: D-Day”. Then it was time to do some laundry and start packing. I did that until Miss Benita arrived home from work. I stopped packing and cooked the evening.  After eating and doing dishes, I finished packing.

The last thing I did was reload the iPod with music for the trip. I removed my heavy metal and hard rock and roll. I replaced it with music I know Miss Benita likes. I have hours of Contemporary Christian, southern gospel, and early 70s pop music. I have several hundred short stories and a couple of books loaded as well. I am ready. I also loaded my Kindle with several books and short stories.

Well, time to go to bed. My guess is I’ll wake up around 5 AM and head east as the first day of the road trip begins Sunday. I know our kitty will miss us. My 33 years old son is our house sitter and kitty care giver during our absence.

More tomorrow …

Photo Information:

Description: Asturianu: El viaxeru. D’Eduardo Úrculo. Ubicada en Oviedo (Asturias).España
Date: 14 October 2007
Source: Own work
Author: Astur

I, the copyright holder of this work, release this work into the public domain. This applies worldwide. In some countries this may not be legally possible; if so: I grant anyone the right to use this work for any purpose, without any conditions, unless such conditions are required by law. Source: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/File:El_viaxeru_d%27Urculo.JPG

Vacation: Day Zero

VacationI started to title this post, “What I did on my summer vacation”, but summer doesn’t start for another month. Instead, I’ll call it Benita and Jimmie’s Excellent Adventure. No, I think Bill and Ted used that title about twenty-five years ago. I know, I just call it “Vacation: Day {enter day number here}”. I’ll start with “Vacation: Day Zero.”

It has been fifty-four weeks since I have taken a week’s vacation. It’s not that I don’t have the vacation days. I do. I have nearly five weeks accrued. Finding time that meets my work’s schedule, my wife’s schedule, and my personal want-to seems to be a problem. Add to the mix I am a workaholic that is overly caring about my day job and you kind of get the picture.

Day is day zero of my vacation. What is a zero vacation day? It is the day vacation starts. What I mean is I worked until 3:30 PM today and then magically it is vacation time.

Prepping for time off is hard work. This last week I have been documenting some of my routine tasks with step by step documentation. I work for a Fortune 500 privately held company as Solutions Support Analyst for its business intelligence and marketing analytics organization. What I do isn’t rocket science to me, but it is to the non-geek. I have been making sure the half-dozen people covering for me not only have the documentation, but the confidence to face the opportunities of the week.

In celebration for day zero of vacation, I wore my loudest Hawaiian shirt with a pair of khaki shorts to work today. The shirt screamed “look at me” or maybe old man who doesn’t know how to dress. Either way, it helped me announce my last day at work before time off.

The day passed quickly. They all zoom by to me. I was able to help over a dozen people. My day job let us off early to start the Memorial Day holiday. I am a lucky man.

After work, I battled the world-class north Dallas traffic as I went to a national chain hair cutting place to get my hair trimmed. It took longer to walk in from the parking lot than it did for them to trim my hair.

I then came home, cooked the evening meal, ate, and took and hour nap. I awoke when my bride of 39.5 years and my co-vacationer arrived home from work. She works for an Arkansas based big box supercenter store. Her vacation doesn’t start until after work tomorrow.

After my nap, I watched three hours of recorded Dancing With the Stars with my bride, Miss Benita. When it ended, she headed to her bedroom for the night. I washed the evening meals pots and pans. I rinsed off thee plates and glasses that went into the dishwasher.

Next I retired to my bedroom and fired up the computer I am using to type this. I hear my bed calling.

I know, this is sort of a laundry list of the day, but it is what I did on day zero of my vacation. Oh, I have a house-sitter so my house is occupied during my time off work.