Do you ever feel like your life is lacking in options when it comes to state parks? You feel a little empty inside, wishing you could have a real choice for once.
Well, then. Central Tennessee is the place for you.
I didn’t think to count until it was too late, but I’m sure we saw signs for at least twenty different state parks as we zipped along Interstate 40 West. I saw three of them in a one-mile stretch once. We pointed them out to each other. It started to get funny.
As we left Central Tennessee for West Tennessee, DJ asked if I’d read him some trivia questions to keep him alert. “After the next state park sign,” I joked.
Twenty miles later, we realized that if your life has a need for state park options, West Tennessee is not the place for you. From the time I made that remark until we crossed the Mississippi River into Arkansas, we saw one sign for a state park. I was unreasonably disappointed in West Tennessee. It’s like they didn’t even try.
In other news, Sparkler and Ranger were just about back to normal today. We were really happy to have all that behind us.
Then, about 1:30 p.m., Gamerboy threw up.
For the next three hours, he sat in the middle seat with a small bucket on his lap and threw up into it every twenty minutes or so. Everybody took it in stride. DJ pulled off at every third or fourth exit to empty the bucket. The other kids offered sympathy, held a towel in case he needed it, and waited patiently at each stop. Even Gamerboy would retch, take a moment to collect himself, then look up and take interest in the conversation around him.
It was a rough ride for him, though. We had to cancel plans to have supper with friends in Little Rock (“Hey, maybe pizza’s not a good idea for us tonight…”) He got to the hotel, took a shower, and crawled into bed with the Tablet and WiFi. Nobody begrudged him for it.
Bookgirl has figured that since DJ had an iffy stomach the first day too, the only victims left are herself and me. Assuming we come down with it at the same time, it can be completely over with in a day or so! That’s the kind of optimism that keeps us moving West, people.
Stops and Pictures:
Casey Jones Village in Jackson, Tennessee. We stopped here because we wanted a break from driving, and this was really the only thing that came up between Nashville and Memphis. Well, except for Loretta Lynne’s Ranch and Restaurant (30 billboards) and Miranda’s Adult Store (24 billboards).
Casey Jones Village was very small, but a fun forty-five minutes (for everyone not actively throwing up). Ranger and Sparkler got to ring the bell on a real steam engine, we browsed a small museum of railroad memorabilia, and DJ and I liked walking through Casey Jones’ home. Built in 1888, it almost looked like a real home instead of a museum. Plus we escaped the gift shop without buying souvenirs.
I didn’t have my camera out for much of the day because of the Great Upchuck Revival. I got a few unremarkable shots, and since that’s all I’ve got, that’s what you get to see.
Ranger read a book all by himself, two days before his seventh birthday. He’s our last one to usher into the blessed land of literacy. So I took a picture. (DJ and I put off this trip until we no longer had to deal with diapers, and when all four kids could read.)
He’s wearing Gamerboy’s hat. It makes him look sort of gangster. Not gangsta. Like, Ranger Capone.
Ranger at the Casey Jones Village ringing the train bell, which gave him great joy. The whole interior of the steam engine was made of iron. I’m not sure how the conductor and fireman didn’t simply die of the heat.
Here’s a really dismal shot of the Mississippi River as we crossed into Arkansas. That bright afternoon sun isn’t actually the sun, it’s my camera flash. That’s how dismal this shot is. But hey! No filter!
I stepped out of the van while DJ was emptying the bucket during one stop, and immediately got to know Arkansas. The bugs and birds were noisy, the air was warm and heavy, and the land was flat, fresh farmland.
Do you really want to see a picture of a barf bucket? No, you don’t. But it became practically part of the family today so you have to see it anyway. So there. (Don’t worry, it’s clean.)
Now, this isn’t a dismal picture. It’s a good picture of a great man who likes to have his plans in place and everything happen on schedule — but who has spent two days rearranging and re-routing without losing his cool. Because this trip is not just where we’re going, it’s what happens while we get there.