I don't really have a narrative to relate about our trip, but I do want to share some random observations after spending three days with my family in the midst of bears, mountains, and people who are missing a significant number of teeth:
- Although my part of Ohio is hardly a hotbed of diversity, I have apparently grown spoiled while living here. My Asian daughter rarely gets a second glance around here, and when she does, it tends to be from someone who just wants to tell me how cute she is, or ask where she's from, or tell me about their granddaughter from China or wherever. Not so in Tennessee. We got some pretty uncomfortable stares, and although no one said anything or asked any rude questions, I felt we were much more conspicuous there than at home.
- We stayed in a very nice chalet/cabin sort of place, complete with hot tub, sauna, home theater, and bears who broke into our garbage cans in the night and made off with a trash bag the size of a small child. The house was called "It's Five O'Clock Somewhere" and was located on -- I kid you not -- Boogertown Road. I know that every little lane and alley has to have a name now, because of 911 service. But BOOGERTOWN ROAD?! Really?! Was this the best they could do? Can you imagine giving your address to the UPS man? "Yes, if you could deliver that to 1454 Boogertown Road . . . yes, that's what I said. No, I'm not kidding. Look, could you just deliver the damn package?!"
- My baby is very rapidly becoming a little girl. We went to a kids' mini-amusement park thingy, and she rode a bunch of stuff BY HERSELF. I was not happy about it. But she was awfully cute pointing to the swings and asking if she could ride the "wheeee!
- I have become the sort of person who can stand around discussing this year's marijuana crop with the local rednecks. This became apparent on Wednesday night, when we saw a friend we met during my dad's, um . . . unfortunate incarceration. The friend's husband had been in for a pot conviction, and was released shortly after Dad was. So we're chatting with her, and she's making the requisite jokes about how the only thing they're growing this year is tomatoes, yadda yadda. Then she mentions that the local authorities have been flying planes over their area, looking for evidence of marijuana growth. But, as she pointed out, even if they were growing anything, it's way too early in the year to spot it -- the crop isn't yet tall enough to be visible above the corn stalks. And I realize I'm nodding and smiling and agreeing, as if this isn't the MOST BIZARRE conversation in which a former preacher's kid could ever find herself. GAAAH! When did I turn into someone who could discuss the finer points of weed cultivation?! Oh, right -- when my dad went to prison and became friends with some of the biggest pot dealers in the southeastern United States. But that's a topic for another day.
- My child calls my brother-in-law Papa. This weirds me out on many levels. I know it's just because she hears his daughters calling him that -- eventually she'll figure out that he's not HER papa. But right now, when I'm sitting there next to my sister, and her two kids are calling her husband Papa, and MY kid is calling him Papa, I feel like a bad episode of Big Love. Maybe THAT'S why people were staring at us.
- I am 39 years old and have a child of my own. But when I'm on a trip with my parents, I revert to being 14. It's not pretty.
- Who are the people who go on vacation and eat at Arby's? My favorite thing to do on vacation is eat -- I'm all for saving money, but if I'm going to the trouble of leaving town, I sure as hell ain't gonna eat at Arby's.
- If my dad makes me stop at Smoky Mountain Knife World one more time, I'm going to buy the best Swiss Army Knife I can find, and I'm going to use it to slit my wrists.