Have Truck, Will Travel.
Starring Ms Kristine Skiff as "Mom"
Anna, TX, a random Saturday morning in July, The Skiff House, headquarters of a woman called Mom.
I started my Saturday as any other lazy Saturday morning, scrolling down my Facebook feed. I felt restless, itching to get out and do something different with the kids. Suddenly, the answer presented itself, right there in my Facebook feed (never doubt the power of FB;) My friend Whitney says her family was heading to the Peach Festival in Weatherford, TX, a mere hour and a half drive from The Skiff House. I love peaches, the boys love festivals, the hubby loves driving the new truck; this was providence.
We ran a few errands and were on the road by eleven. The excitement in the truck was almost palpable. It was going to be a fabulous day for Team Skiff. By one pm we were parked and shuttled over to The Peach Festival. It was hot but hey, this is TX, July is always hot. I made sure everyone was wearing hats and sunblock and we started looking for the food! It was an hour past lunch time and my boys were positive they were going to die from hunger any second.
|We didn't get many pictures at the Peach Festival but here is one|
The lines surrounding the food trucks were massive. I sent my husband and most of the boys to sit down at the shaded table while Sam and I waited in line, in 107 degree heat, on asphalt, in front of the the fryers and grills on the food trucks for forty five minutes. We have a big family so our orders always take a while to make, add that to the hoards of hungry Peach Festival devotees and I knew we were in for a wait. As the food came up, I sent Sam back to the table with it. By the time he and I sat down we were both a little over heated. Nothing a few minutes of sitting in the shade drinking lemonade won't cure, I foolishly thought. After everyone finished eating, we started making our way through the festival, stopping first at a misting station for everyone to cool off. Instead of cooling off I started to feel pretty sick. I looked over at my husband and told him I was sorry but I had to go. We started making our way back to the shuttle stop, with every step I was feeling worse. Suddenly, I was overcome with chills. I knew this was really bad. I looked up at my husband and said "I have to sit down NOW" He kind of helped me/ shoved me into an alleyway out of the sun. As I was sliding down to the ground all the noises faded away and my world turned black. I don't think I was out for more than a few seconds. When I came to, I remember someone asking me if I was okay and calling for the paramedics. My husband started dumping icy lemonade over my head (hey it's what we had). The paramedics were there in under two minutes. About this time Sam started feeling sick as well. They loaded Sam and I up onto a golf cart and drove us to their cool down room. I have to give a huge shout out to the Weatherford EMT's. They were AWESOME!! They piled ice cold rags on us, gave us cold water and allowed my husband to bring the truck to the cool down station so we wouldn't have to go back into the heat.
*I am going to apologize in advance for the TMI but there really is no way to relay the rest of this part of our trip without the gory details.* Back to the story. So, when I passed out it seems I had lost control over my bodily functions ( I'll allow you to use your imagination on exactly what that means;). This was not immediately apparent to me because a) I had lemonade dumped all over me and b) I wasn't all that coherent for a while. Once I was back in truck, it was very clear what had happened. I needed to clean up and change my clothes and it couldn't happen fast enough. As we pulled out, on the corner, was a plus sized consignment shop that was actually open. If you are a plus sized woman you know what a miracle this is. If not just take my word for it.....this was like manna from heaven level miraculous. I bought the first loose fitting dress my size I could find, cleaned myself up in their private bathroom (Thank you small business owner!!) and we were off. My husband kept trying to get Gatorade into me but my stomach was still pretty upset. Ten minutes into our trip back I vomited all over my brand new truck! It was terrible. We were on a highway, with no where to pull over and nothing for me to 'aim' at. My second outfit of the day was a completely gross mess. The passenger side of my new truck was disgusting. I was embarrassed and sick and in tears. I looked at my husband and he said "That's it. We're getting a hotel for the night." I have the most A-FREAKIN-MAZING husband. The next exit just happened to have several hotels with suites, another miracle in my book (again we have a large family so we have to have a suite.....unless you have a large family you probably don't know what a pain in the neck it is to find lodging that fits your family).
My husband dropped us off at the hotel and went shopping for clothes for me for the first time in our 14 years of marriage!!! I took a blessedly cool shower and wrapped myself in a hotel bedspread until he returned (yes I know that is DISGUSTING but it was a heck of a lot less disgusting than sitting around covered in vomit). It is such a pain to shop for me, I usually just take a day and go by myself. Not only did he find my right size, what he picked out was really cute and comfortable. I may send him shopping for me more often;) At this point he is already a super hero in my book but the next thing he did made him the best man to ever walk the face of this earth other than Jesus......for real!! He bought cleaning supplies and cleaned up my puke mess in the truck!!!! I never asked or expected him to do that. This is what true love looks like my friends. Not only did he clean it but he cleaned it so well the truck looks brand new again!
After I got showered it became apparent that the a/c units in our room were not going to cool the rooms off and the TV was broken so we had to change hotel rooms. While we waited for the new room to cool off we brought the kids out for dinner (by this time it was after 8pm). We ate dinner at Wendy's and let the boys get ice cream (they had been real troopers through all the craziness). My hubby decided to bring the older two boys to a movie after dinner. Unfortunately the days events had proven too much for Paul and he was starting to freak out. So instead of going to the loud theater he went back to the hotel room with the younger boys and I. Sam and hubby had a great father/son night at a blow em'up alien move, in a theater with a huge screen and reclining chairs. The rest of the boys turned on the Food Network and fell asleep (my boys LOVE the food network.....it is comical how much. Now at dinner they say things like "Mom, I can smell that you used oregano in the sauce." or "Mom I think you over seasoned the pasta" or "The onions you put in the roast really added to the overall flavor" It is hilarious!)
The next morning dawned rainy and cool ( it was lovely)! Sam and I were both feeling much better after a good nights rest. We ate the hot breakfast provided by the hotel (my guys very favorite part of any hotel stay). We loaded up into the nice clean truck and were about to head home when hubby said "You know this is the farthest west we've been at the start of a trip. We should try to redeem yesterday a bit by driving a little further west and having lunch." What a great idea, I agreed. So we set out in the cool, rainy morning. We chatted, we laughed, we listened to music, we listened to Your's Truly, Johnny Dollar (the old time radio show). The farther west we drove the more the landscape changed. Suddenly we were looking at more scrub and cacti. Looming ahead of us were some amazing mesas. The kids were antsy so we stopped at a rest stop and let them run free for a few moment. What treasured moments of pure bliss. Here are some pictures taken at the rest stop.
|The boys walking off some energy|
|Boys and Trees:)|
|Alex discovering a black widow spider in the background|
|Paul reacting to the spider news|
|Alex and Benny|
|The Cacti (Jamie's favorite part)|
Alex found a black widow spider, so we all loaded back up into the truck and continued on, each passing mile taking us farther west then we'd ever been. Around 1 pm we reached Abilene and decided to stop for lunch. Paul got upset and we couldn't figure out why. He just kept saying "I'm not going to eat because we're in the panhandle. I'll just wait until we're home." After much urging and prompting he finally blurted out, through tears mind you "I'm not going to eat in the panhandle because their meat won't be irradiated!" Sam helpfully added "He's afraid he's going to get tapeworms!" Both hubby and I tried to hold back our laughter as I explained that the panhandle of Texas was still a part of Texas and therefore their meat was still governed by the same laws as our meat at home. He had no need to worry, his meat would be irradiated to his hearts content and he was in no danger of the horrors of tape worms. After a few moments of convincing, Paul decided he would risk eating some chicken fingers at Dairy Queen. He is still alive and tapeworm free so it is safe to assume that Abilene has well irradiated, tapeworm free meat.;) This very comical interlude was brought to you by Asperger's (the out of date diagnosis that is never out of fashion in Skiffdom).
We started looking for fun attractions around Abilene for the kids. The plan was to do something fun and then head back home. You know what they say about plans and Skiffs, they are like oil and water, they just don't mix. ;) We narrowed down our options to a few cool local attractions and loaded back into the truck. Paul spotted a GameStop across the street and still had lots of Birthday money burning a hole in his pocket. We figured he could buy himself a new game for his 3-DS that would keep his mind off the meat irradiation process for the remainder of the trip.
Once he and hubby loaded back into the truck hubby looked at me and said "I really don't want to stop. I just want to keep driving west." "Ummmm, alright....sounds like fun" I said, while inside thinking "But you have to work tomorrow."
So we continue on our westward drive. After a bit we decide to stop for drinks. I went inside the store, leaving hubby alone with Google maps, this turned out to be an error in judgement on my part. After waiting in line loaded down with water bottles, I returned to the truck to find a very excited husband. "Guess what?" he says. "What?" I respond warily. "We are only THREE hours away from the New Mexico border!!!" "Wow. I didn't realize we were so close" I say. "I think we should drive to Hobbs New Mexico for dinner! We've never been to New Mexico!" He says enthusiastically. "It sounds fun but you have to work tomorrow and we would still have to drive home." I said reasonably. "It's only a six hour dive back home. I'll be fine." said the man. "If you're sure." I conceded. And that was it. We were back on the road, heading farther west. The scenery became dramatically different. There were miles and miles of wind mills in and around Sweetwater, TX. I have seen wind farms before but nothing on this scale. It was amazing.
The windmills faded away and then there were beautiful mesas all around us and miles upon miles of open scrubland. I can not begin to describe the beauty of the wildness. I love when nature is so big that I am reminded how very small I am. We stopped on the side of the road a took some pictures while some of my boys watered the ditch (sometimes having all boys has it's perks;). After we all piled back into the truck my husband looked over at me and said a little worriedly "I only have fifty seven miles left in the gas tank." "It will be fine. I saw a sign a little ways back for a town called Gail. It is only another ten miles or so up the road. We should be fine." I offered helpfully (everyone should be blessed with such an observant wife;) He breathed a sigh of relief and we continued on our merry way, admiring the beauty of God's handiwork. Here are few pictures from our stop. They in no way capture the sheer vastness of the open wilderness. BEAUTIFUL!
We arrived in Gail, which was more like twenty miles up the road, and immediately started looking for a gas station. We didn't see any but there was a nice size school sitting back from the road so I knew it must be a good sized town. After a few minutes of gas station hunting we had found none, nada, nothing. We turned around in the parking lot of that beautiful, good sized school. This was when a sense of dread settled over me. The sign read: Borden COUNTY School. Grades Pre-K-12. One school, for all the students, in all grades, in the entire county?!? ?Yeah, we might be in trouble. Just then we spotted a County Sheriff's SUV. I convinced my husband to wave it down. After all, who better to ask where to find gas than a member of law enforcement? The Sheriff's Deputy pulled over next to us and rolled down his window. "How can I help y'all?" He asked. If you have ever seen the show Longmire, think of the Branch Connolly character and you will have a good idea of what this officer looked like. He was definitely Longmire-esque sexy, in a cowboy cop kinda way....( hey even my husband saw the resemblance). "Could you tell us where is the nearest gas station?" My husband asked. The sexy, Longmire-esque cop looks at us like "Why in the world would you need gasoline?" Out loud he asks "What direction are y'all headed?" I point west and say "That way." He says "Yeah the next place that sells gasoline will be LaMesa." "About how far is that?" I ask. "Round about thirty miles." We thank him nicely and he drove off. Hubby looks at me and says "I have 38 miles left in the tank." Now I was more than a bit worried but I put on a brave face as we started driving toward LaMesa, also know as The Gasoline Oasis, in Skiff folklore.
The boys were really antsy by this point and needing another bathroom break. The truck was dinging at us every two minutes to remind us that it needed fuel ( our truck has nagging down to a science, let me tell you!). Hubby was getting pretty tired and was very worried about the gas situation. This was no longer bliss.
Early on in our trip, my husband had said he wanted to know how far one tank of gas would get us in the new truck. Well, we now know the answer to that very intriguing question. One tank of gas will get us from Love's gas station in Anna, TX to the Stripes gas station in LaMesa, TX......exactly. The truck was sputtering when we finally pulled into the station but we had made it!! Some quick potty breaks and a full tank later we were back on our way to New Mexico.......Yay! This is when we realized we had not taken the time zone change into our calculations when we had decided to New Mexico trip it. Yeah, we still had another hour before we made it to New Mexico.
At this point there was no point in turning around, we were soooooo close.