Our first road trip is now history; and, I drove every mile. I won't lie and say it was a breeze, enjoyable, or stress-free. In fact, it was the opposite. However, throughout the entire trip, I saw God's tender mercies, and guiding hand watching over us. My hope and prayer is that in time, it will become easier, less stressful, and an enjoyable experience.
Our route took us through parts of East Texas, across Arkansas and up into the south-east corner of Missouri. From there, we drove completely across Kentucky. We broke the trip into 3 segments, stopping overnight at KOA campgrounds in Hot Springs, Arkansas; Paducah, Kentucky; and our turn around point in Argilite, Kentucky. At each campground, we reserved pull-through sites with full hook-ups. We left the 5th wheel connected at overnight stops; just to eliminate re-hooking and make getting back on the road easier. For MOST of the trip, the sites were relatively level and easy to get in and out of. That doesn't mean it wasn't still nerve wracking! Thankfully, Ron gave me a blessing of comfort each morning, and we relied heavily on prayer to keep us aware of our surroundings and guide us on our way.
|My navigator, Ron|
|Our home on wheels at the Paducah KY KOA site.|
This campground was so easy to get in and out of; and, it was
located near a small pond. Unfortunately, it isn't right off the
highway; which made for a slight detour just to get there.
We knew stopping for fast food and at convenient stores for fuel weren't options because of the size of our rig. So, we packed picnic lunches for each day's travel and stopped at road side rests along the interstate. To refuel, we used truck stops; which made us realize we needed to adjust our travel time significantly. Waiting your turn at the diesel pumps with an army of semi trucks eats up the minutes on your travel clock! But, I learned that truck drivers are polite, helpful, and safety minded. It is more expensive to buy diesel at truck stops; but, our Good Sam membership gave us a discount at Pilot truck stops. Now we need to find a way to get a discount at Love's.
While our main purpose for the trip was to attend the memorial service for my mother's sister, Nora Lee, we were able to visit with Ron's family and do some sight seeing. Our trip was early enough in the year that we were able to see so many beautiful wildflowers and spring blooms such as tulips, daffodils, lilacs, and dogwood trees. For most of the trip we were able to enjoy pleasant temperatures. We did have some incidents of rain; but, prayer helped us through those as well.
|small lake at our campsite|
Nora was buried in South Webster, next to her first husband, Lawrence. In the same area, I found the grave sites for Uncle Bud, Mom's brother; her parents Oscar and Minnie, and a cousin that died of sudden infant death syndrome. There were also many extended Veach relatives buried there. I took pictures of their grave sites; but, there are far too many to add to this post.
Many of my Veach cousins still live in Southern Ohio. Most of them attended the memorial service and we spent the afternoon at a local restaurant, just catching up with one another. I believe the last time I saw them was when our grandmother, Minnie, passed away. I can't even remember how many years ago that was; probably close to 30. The faces have changed; we are all gray and wrinkled now. But, the love is still there and as we shared memories, the years seemed to drop away. It was a bittersweet gathering and I am so thankful we made the trip.
|Karla, Allison, John, Denise, and her husband, Jim|
|Jane's husband Doug, Jane, and their son Ethan|
|Norie's great-grandchildren: Lexie, Logan, and Shelby|
with their mother, Raquel
|My brother, Bob and our cousin Billie|
|Bob's son Christopher and his wife Kathy Lee|
|Ellen, Jane's daughter Emily and her husband, Mary Ann|
|John, Billie's husband Mike, John's daughter Danielle and his wife Marilyn|
|My cousins John Wesley and Billie Lee; Norie's|
During lunch, Allison told me that Grandma Veach's house is for sale. She said it has been on the market for quite a while. She asked if any of the cousins would be interested in buying it. If so, she would be willing to make sure it is taken care of. She thought it would be a great place to have for family that live far away to stay in when they visit. She also mentioned using it as a family reunion location. Those are wonderful ideas; and, if I had enough money just laying around I'd consider it. However, that just isn't practical for us. I will always cherish the memories of sleepovers there with my cousins, dressing up in Grandma's vintage clothes collection, and helping grandpa feed his dogs or pick raspberries. I'll forever be thankful for those special childhood memories and hope to provide my own family with opportunities to create their own cousin memories.