Thursday, September 4, 2008

Arkanas Trip ~ Aug. 29, 2008 - Sep. 1, 2008 ~ Phoebe's perspective

Great-Grandma McKnight's house in Weiner, Arkansas (view from the road, toward the front of the house)

Here is the Arkansas trip from my perspective:

We left on Friday, August 29th, around 8:15pm. You might be thinking, why so late? Well...we decided to do that for several reasons: 1( Joel did not get off work 'till 6:15pm, 2( Grandma did not get off until around the same time, 3( We thought that leaving on Friday night (instead of Saturday morning) would give us a head start (we would have more time on Saturday to visit with family). It worked out well. In the car we talked, and laughed, and when we got board of that Abby & I got Joel's new laptop & watched some of a movie (the Hiding Place, the story about Corrie ten Boom). On our way up we stopped in Texarkana to use the bathroom & get some gasoline. We stopped off at a Raceway. No problem, right? Well...that's what we thought. But, once we had been there a couple minutes, a dozen or more "gang-bangers" pulled up in their souped up, low to the ground cars, with stereos BLARING. My guess is that they were competing, seeing who has the best stereo, etc. At that time Grandma, Abby & I were inside using the restroom. Joel was outside filling up the gas tank. He said that he was just waiting for the guns to come out, and for bullets to start flying. But, thank God, none of that happened. I must admit, it was kind of scary! We drove until around 1:00am, then we stopped (in Caddo Valley, a few miles east of Arkadelphia) to do some 'hotel shopping'. After 20 - 30 minutes of 'hotel shopping', we found a Super 8 hotel and got a room. By the time we finally got in bed, and asleep it was after 2:00am.

On Saturday we got up about 7:00am, and ate breakfast. It was a delicious breakfast that the hotel provided. Toasted bagels with cream cheese, jelly & butter, orange juice (or apple juice, coffee or tea), and cereal with milk. Once we had eaten breakfast, we gathered all our items up, and "hit the road". By the time we left it was around 9:00am. In the car we talked, laughed, and watched some more of "the Hiding Place". We got to Weiner, where our Great-Grandmother McKnight lives, around noon. We picked Grandma McKnight up, and we went to a "hole in the wall" (not quite, but almost!) restaurant called Penny's Place and ate lunch.

(L to R): Joel, GG McKnight, Grandma & I eating at Penny's Place

Lunch consisted of: mashed potatoes, gravy, yellow corn (delicious!), green beans, egg rolls, chicken fried stake, and ice-tea. We decided to go back to Grandma McKnight's house and pack a bag for her, so she could come with us to Jonesboro. That took 20 - 30 minutes, then we hopped in the car and drove to Jonesboro.

We got to Jonesboro around 2:00pm or maybe 2:30pm. We hunted around for the hotel we had reserved a room at, and finally found it (Days Inn) after a while of looking. We unpacked the car, rested, and Abby & I went swimming. Well...actually, I have to take some of that last statement back, Abby went swimming, I went wading. I do not know how to swim. Abby knows, but not that well. We did that for 30 - 40 minutes, until some others came and started swimming. When we got out of the pool & cleaned up, it was around 5:00pm.

Only a fraction of the cars that were at the hotel from the gulf coast (mostly from Louisiana), we counted 39 total!

After being there a few hours we noticed that there were several cars from Louisiana (mostly) and a couple from Mississippi. Our curiosity got the best of us, and we walked through out the whole parking lot and counted all of the cars from either Louisiana or Mississippi. We counted 37 cars from Louisiana & 2 cars from Mississippi. WOW! Then we watched the evening news, and it said that evacuees were coming all the way to NE Arkansas (maybe even farther) to find a hotel to stay in. I'm guessing that all the hotels on the way were filled up!

Then, something out-of-the-ordinary happened... We were sitting in the air-conditioned hotel room, watching news about hurricane Gustav, when the TV, A/C & lights all went off...the power went out! Now, this was not just a flipped breaker, or a power outage for the hotel, the power was out for the whole city of Jonesboro (we found that out later)! And we were planing on eating out with all our family! We were thinking of the worst-case-scenario: if the power stays off, where will eat? In the dark, at a restaurant? At Grandma McKnight's house? If the power stays off, it sure is going to be a HOT night! What if, what if, what if. People were popping out of their hotel rooms, everyone asking each other "is your power out, mine is?" The pool was filling with people who wanted to stay cool. Abby & I even dangled our feet in the water to keep cool. But, just when we started to really get worried...the power came back on! When it came back on we yelled out to the ones in the pool the good news, and they all gave a joyful shout! I think that was around 6:00pm. Once all of that excitement was over, we decided we had better get cleaned up and go to Wal-mart before we head over to "Western Sizzlin' " for supper. So, that is exactly what we did.

We got to Western Sizzlin' around 7:30pm, and waited until 7:45pm before everyone was there. Grandma McKnight, Uncle Paul & Aunt Loretta (Grandma Kautt's brother & sister-in-law), Peyton & Terri, Gracie, Audrey & Chloe Tiner (Terri is Paul & Loretta's oldest daughter), Paula, Zach & Madison Riggs (Barry, Paula's husband, was not there, Paula is Paul & Loretta's 2nd & youngest daughter), and of course the four of us from Texas were all there. We had a great time visiting with all our relatives (we hadn't seen them since '05), eating & have a wonderful time! They had everything you could image (almost) at that restaurant. We got the buffet, which was quite delicious. Along with a bowl of vanilla ice-cream. We were visiting at the restaurant until 8:30pm - 9:00pm.

(Clock wise): Gracie, Terri Lynn, Aunt Loretta & Grandma in Paul & Loretta's living room, conversing.

(L to R): Grandma Kautt, Uncle Paul, Peyton, Joel & Great-Grandma sitting in living room watching the progress of Hurricane Gustav.

A family picture (L t0 R, behind couch): Aunt Loretta, Me, Audrey, Zach, Joel, Paula, Abby, Gracie, Peyton & Terri Lynn. (L to R, sitting on couch): Grandma Kautt, Great-Grandma McKnight, Uncle Paul with Madison on lap, & Chloe on couch arm.

We decided to not keep the people at the restaurant awake all night long, waiting for us to leave, so we went to Paul & Loretta's house. There we talked, played games, laughed (have you noticed we like to do that?!), watched the progression of the hurricane, & stayed up late! We were there until 11:00pm, maybe later than that. So, you know what that means: another late night.

(L to R): Paula, Terri Lynn, Audrey & Abby (sitting on floor) conversing in living room at Paul & Loretta's.

(L to R): Me, Chloe, Abby & Zach in play room up-stairs

Yep... that's right, when we finally got in bed that night it was late: after mid-night. But, we all slept "like a rock", as the saying goes. And we got to "sleep in" until 7:30am or 8:00am.

On Sunday, once we woke up & cleaned up, we ate breakfast in the hotel room. This consisted of: yogurt, cereal & milk. Hey, it was filling enough for me! While eating breakfast we watched some more of "the Hiding Place". Then we headed off for church around 10:00am. Church started at 10:30am, and went until 11:30am (approx.). We sung & then listened to a interesting sermon on verse 4 of Jude: Ungodly Men. A couple of the other scripture verses: Matthew 12:33-35 & Titus 2:11-14. The sins of the godless in this verse (verse 4 of Jude): 1( changing the grace of our God into anything they want it to be & 2( denying the ONLY Lord God & our Lord Jesus Christ.

After church we stood around and talked to some folks for a few minutes. We then traveled to Paul & Loretta's house (again!) to eat lunch. They live very close to the church, so it took only a few minutes to get there. This time everyone (including Barry) was able to be there. We ate lunch around 12:30pm, which consisted of: salad (yummy, it had lettuce, almonds, dried cranberries, & oranges (or maybe nectarines)) with salad dressing (if desired, roast beef, white rice, yellow corn, green beans & biscuits. For desert we had: Neapolitan ice-cream with homemade chocolate-chip cookies. After lunch, the Tiners & Riggs needed to run some errands, but we decided to stay a little longer. We talked, laughed, viewed pictures, enjoyed humming birds (they have a hummingbird feeder) & listened to Great-Grandma tell old stories & jokes! We decided that we'd better go back to the hotel & get changed around 5:00pm.

(L to R): Uncle Paul, Paula, Barry & Grandma Kautt in Paul & Loretta's kitchen

Great Grandma McKnight with her great-granddaughter, Madison.

(L to R): Paula, Zach, Barry, Uncle Paul & Grandma Kautt visiting in the doorway into the kitchen
Two friends = Brother & Sister = Elma (McKnight) Kautt & Paul McKnight, visiting
Two Sisters, One Great-Grandma = Phoebe & Abby, & Great-Grandma McKnight, all smiling

Hummingbird at feeder in Paul & Loretta's backyard

On our way back to the hotel we went by one of the hospitals in Jonesboro to visit one of our long-lost cousins (this is true), Bill Griffin. We also met his wife, Dorothy, his two sons, his grand children (at least some of them) & his one & only (so far) great-grand child, cutie Lilian Ruth. After the stop at the hospital, Great-Grandma McKnight insisted that she needed to take her daily "coke break" (usually around 3 - 4 in the afternoon, where she drinks coke or Dr. Pepper). So we stopped off at McDonald's & got a Dr. Pepper for G-grandma, and chocolate sundaes & ice tea for the rest of us. While we were enjoying a little rest, G-grandma kept cracking jokes, we laughed most of the time we were there! I would put a spoonful of ice-cream into my mouth, then she would say something funny! Ohhh.

We went to the hotel, changed, rested & watched TV to see if Gustav had hit the gulf coast yet. While we were at the hotel changing & cleaning up, Joel ran (not literally) over to the Kroger store just down the street. Well...the "short run" turned into 30 - 45 minute "outing". When he got back to the hotel it was 7:45pm (approx., we were supposed to be at Paul & Loretta's at 7:30pm).

(L to R): Grandma Kautt, Madison on Audrey's lap, Paula, Terri Lynn, Peyton & Chloe enjoying the fellowship
We gathered our items & scooted over to Paul & Loretta's house for Supper. Supper was a bit more simple (I guess Paul & Loretta cooked enough that day!): pizza & left overs from lunch. Plus desert: left overs from lunch as well, cookies & ice-cream. After Supper we (Peyton, Chloe, Abby, Audrey, Paula, Terri Lynn, Joel & I) had fun playing a few rounds of "Mexican Train", played with dominoes. I guess the others had a good time visiting in the living room, while we were playing. Sunday night we didn't stay out as late: only until 10:30pm (I think). :) We couldn't stay out as late, because we needed to leave early the next morning.

Once we got back to the hotel we turned the TV on, and watched the progression of the hurricane. By that time it was already raining in New Orleans. Then we hopped into bed, and "went night-night".

Monday morning we had arranged to go to I.H.O.P. and have breakfast with Great-Grandma McKnight's youngest brother, Uncle Bobby Joe, & his wife, Aunt Macine. Uncle Bobby Joe is about the same age as Grandma Kautt. In other words, Uncle Bobby Joe is Grandma Kautt's uncle, but he is the same age as her (I think). Anyway, we did go over to I.H.O.P. around 8:30am, and had a very filling breakfast. Abby & Joel had a 2 garden crepes & a glass of orange juice. I had a giant garden omelet & a glass of orange juice. I.H.O.P. that morning was VERY busy, and it was VERY noisy. While we were at I.H.O.P. we also showed Bobby Joe & Macine some pictures & played some recorded music (all on Joel's laptop). We only sat there for 30 minutes, or so, but when we walked out the door there was a dozen people (or more) in line waiting to get a table! If we had know that, we wouldn't have stayed at the table as long as we did.

(L to R, around the table): Grandma Kautt, Great-Grandma McKnight (hiding behind Grandma Kautt), Me, Abby, Aunt Macine & Uncle Bobby Joe (Joel is taking the picture) at I.H.O.P

Abby & I show Aunt Macine & Uncle Bobby Joe (not pictured) some pictures on Joel's laptop

We left I.H.O.P. around 9:15am, and went back to the hotel to gather up the last items. Then we headed out toward Weiner. We got to Weiner around 11:30am, and dropped G-grandma off, and helped her with taking her items inside. We also took some pictures of her property & of us, before we left.

Soybean fields along the railroad track

In the branches of one of Great-Grandma McKnight's big pecan trees, loaded with nuts
Great Grandma's garden

(L to R): Joel, Grandma, Great-Grandma, Abby & I, in front of G-grandma's house

When we left Weiner it was 12:15pm. We drove & laughed & talked & slept :) & ate & finished "The Hiding Place". While we were close to Arkadelphia it started pouring down rain. You could hardly see enough in front of you to drive. Thankfully, Joel is a good driver & he just slowed down a bit, and we were safe (that is until it started pouring again). We decided that we'd better stop off at Texarkana and get a bit of Supper. We would say, "let's go to Wendy's, no, Chick-fil-a. No, let's go to Subway. No, not Subway, Quiznos." Finally, after a while of that & driving around, we decided upon Chili's. Yes, that is kind-of expensive, but that's what Grandma wanted to do (hey, I couldn't say no, right?). So we pulled into Chili's and got a table in a corner where there was a lot of light from the window (that's why the picture was bad). We ordered one "Make-it-yourself" Fajitas. With the chips & salsa, that was plenty of food. Joel & Abby got Mango ice-tea & I got strawberry-lemonade ice-tea. It was all very good & filling. By the time we left there it was around 5:30pm. On the way back from there there really was no adventures.
(L to R): Joel, Grandma, Abby & I at Chili's - with light in the background, the picture did not turn out very well
We got back to 2119 Redondo Dr., around 8:30pm. And Grandpa was waiting for us. We un-loaded Grandma's stuff from our car & load it into their car, talked for a few minutes, then said goodbye & they were off.
I think the highlight of the whole trip was: the constant laughter! I'd say, at least once an hour (probably a lot more), we were laughing. It was great! The Holy Scripture says in Proverbs 17:22 "A merry heart doeth good like a medicine..." I really think that one of the reasons Great Grandma has lived so long (she's 93!), is because every time you turn around, she's laughing! Sunday morning (I think) she woke up laughing! It's wonderful to have so much laughter!

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