We planned to leave our house bright & early last Wednesday.
I even had the car all gassed up and loaded with luggage the night before.
And then morning came. And showers were taken. And 3 kids were dressed. And a cooler was packed.
And make-up was applied (not MINE of course. THIS beauty comes natural.)
Our 7am departure time turned out closer to 10.
Traveling with 3 kids is never easy. Add in 2 women and somebody ALWAYS has to pee.
After stopping 3 or 4 times in what should have been a 6 or 6 ½ hour drive, we got to our hotel around 630pm.
That’s almost NINE hours!
We’re lucky we ever made it down there.
The hotel was a newer Comfort Inn and quite nice.
It had all the things we look for in a vacation hotel: Indoor Pool, Complimentary Breakfast, Cheap, No bedbugs or dead hookers under the mattress.
This one had a Huddle House (like Waffle House) across the parking lot, which we dined in that first evening.
We finished the first night off with a swim.
Followed by 2 hours spent trying to get the free Wifi to work.
The mountains are beautiful even in the rain.
We headed out to visit some of my mom’s relatives, but it was a little early so instead we drove up a mountain and got lost.
I was trying to find the tiny coal camp town that my dad was born in.
After several winding switchbacks on a narrow mountain road with speeding coal trucks passing in both directions, we ended up in Kentucky.
Believe it or not, you CAN turn a mini-van around on a narrow mountain road without driving off the cliff edge in front of you or slamming into the jagged cliff face behind you.
When we got back down the mountain, I stopped and asked for direction.
I KNOW, RIGHT?!
Ok, ok, the only reason I stopped was because SOMEBODY HAD TO PEE. Somebody always does.
We eventually found our way to the coal camp of Derby (my father’s birthplace) after going up ANOTHER mountain.
Geez, Virginia! Mountain much?
Seriously, it would be a lot easier to find things if maybe you did away with some of these mountains, or put everything on the same one.
After that, we stopped by a local cemetery to look for the graves or my ancestors.
And another. AND another. AND after stopping to see my mom’s relatives, we hit one more.
The wife and kids asked if we were on another “Big Tree Expedition”.
See, let me explain…
I love history. Like REALLY love it. If it’s old, it’s awesome.
Old towns, old buildings, old books, whatever.
In fact, I wanted to be an Archaeologist when I was a kid.
It was on the list right after Doctor and Actor/Comedian, but before Fighter Pilot and Male Stripper.
I also love trees.
I’m probably the only tree-hugging Republican on the planet.
And the bigger the tree, the better. Why? Because it’s OLD.
This WHOLE country east of the Mississippi used to be forested. Sadly, it was cleared by settlers. The trees you see today are all replants. There are very few virgin timber stands/forests left. Most are single trees or areas that were inaccessible or too hard for the timber companies to reach.
Indiana publishes a Big Tree List every 5 years, telling the biggest trees of each type in Indiana and where they are located.
One year, I took the wife and kids on a trip to southern Indiana for Spring Break, and figured we would stop by the biggest tree in Indiana (Supposedly a 167 ft tall Sycamore tree, 8 ft in diameter!!!**squeals& faints**), which I had gotten the coordinates for from the Big Tree List.
We spent probably 3 hours driving around in circles looking for that f@#King tree!
A tree we SHOULD have been able to see from some distance, given its height and Indiana’s flatness.
Did I mention I’m a relentless finder-er. When I am looking for something, I won’t give up until I find it (or until the wife makes me, as it was in this case). Probably the only time in my life that I am patient is when I am searching for something.
We never did find that f@#king tree!
But we did stop at a virgin forest on the way back in a different part of the state, which the wife and kids greeted with, “Oh great, more big trees.”
Anyway, it’s become a running gag, whenever I am spending a long time looking for stuff the wife & kids could care less about.
Meanwhile, back in Virginia…
We found some of my ancestors graves, then headed back to the hotel to get out of the rain and take it easy.
(To Be Continued)…