Thoughts from the ammo line

Ammo Grrrll recalls being asked WHY DO YOU LIVE THERE? She writes:

One time I had a show in Orlando in February. It was 82 degrees F. when I checked in for departure at the Orlando airport to return to Minnesota. A very pleasant African-American ticket agent looked up “Minnie” as Mordor was called in the airline biz. I saw an odd look pass over her face. She said, “Uh, it claims it is 4 degrees in Minnie, but, can that be RIGHT? Honey, I don’t mean to offend, but WHY WOULD YOU LIVE THERE?”

Lord knows why this memory returned to me at this particular time. Maybe it was being blown into my hotel by gale force winds and freezing pellets of rain and 31 balmy degrees. In April. April 25th. Every fool knows you don’t visit your kin in Alexandria, Minnesota in March. But LATE April seemed safe, what with the notorious @#$** Global Warming and all. Wrong. So the weather is temporarily rotten with the promise of better to come. But not even freezing rain can dampen my spirits. The good news is that I have seen Daddy, who is doing well.

I called to see about visiting hours as soon as we – literally – blew into town and was told that “There are no visiting hours on Sundays.” “Please look again,” said I. “I just drove 2,000 miles. I haven’t seen Daddy in 17 months and I wish to come by for a few minutes to hug him and say hello. My husband and I have both had all our shots, including distemper and heartworm.” The young woman called the Manager of the facility who said I could come, bless her heart.

It was supper time in the facility, all the dear residents sitting one to a table, far apart, split into two shifts for meals, nobody to talk to. As regular readers know, my 95-year old Daddy has already HAD and recovered from COVID. But already lonely and isolated seniors must eat alone. It’s the Science in Super-Sciencey, Maximum Masking Minnesota. Daddy’s visage changed from downcast to rapture when he saw my husband first. He recognized him from twenty feet away, even with the mask on and shouted, “JOE!” Then he saw me and tried not to let me see him wipe away tears. “Susie! You’ve come!”

We had only a few minutes, many hugs and the assurance that I would be coming by every day for over two weeks. Today’s visiting hours are 9-11 and tomorrow’s are from 6-8 p.m. And how did the trip to Minnesota go, you ask? Quite wonderfully. Baruch Hashem (praise God.)

It’s funny how things you may have noticed a few dozen times present in a whole new way. Pre-air conditioning, Arizona must have been populated by some very tough people, as the place names would indicate: Deadman’s Gulch, Bloody Basin, Two Guns. It must have been a long, fearsome trek from that era to the “Carefree Highway” of Gordon Lightfoot fame. Lightfoot said once that he had a gig in Flagstaff and was coming down the 17 (Motto: “We hold the record for death by wrong-way drivers!”) back to Phoenix, exhausted, possibly with a hangover, and he made one of his roadies write down “Carefree Highway” when he saw the sign, saying, “That’s a song.”

Here’s another observation: America is on the move again! At two hotels on our trip, disappointed people who had failed to make reservations were turned away at the front desk. Traffic is back to normal and hotels and restaurants are full. Jumping ahead for a minute, in Sioux Falls, South Dakota, the line to get into The Texas Roadhouse was around the block. We did not go there. Famous novelist, Max Cossack, has a low tolerance for lines. Which is how I got here with you all on Fridays. He needed ammo and outsourced the standing in line part to me. Oh yeah, I should probably mention he was also working full-time; I was retired.

Unfortunately, SOME people who are “on the move” are moving various items without securing them. In the back of a pickup, a fellow American was transporting an upright freezer, firmly secured with what looked like those frizzy ribbons with which you wrap Christmas packages. I whipped around it and got as far from it as possible. One time in the Twin Cities, I found myself behind a pickup carrying an unsecured mattress. “Hmmm…,” I said to myself, “THAT surely doesn’t look very stable,” inasmuch as it was rippling in the breeze. I went into the next lane and watched the thing sail out and land right where I had been.

Lesson learned. We also saw a pickup carrying a sofa with a suitcase balanced on top. And a rickety trailer of what I’m sure was a hard-working yard guy, with all manner of yard care implements, a couple of bungee cords randomly placed around some, and a totally loose ladder that shifted position frequently.

For some reason, it is the habit of many Westerners to periodically take their houses out for a little spin. They seem to believe that putting a “Wide Load” sign on it is fair enough warning.

We had a lovely time with our friends John and Angela who made the first leg of our journey with us for an overnight in Winslow. I was surprised at how mask-mandatory the La Posada Inn was, it being in Arizona and all, but Navajo County was hit pretty hard by COVID.

The “Signature Soup” in the Turquoise Room has a cream of sweet corn soup in one half of the bowl and a spicy black bean soup in the other half – and by some miracle, they do not just all blend into one. It is without doubt the best soup I have ever eaten. Our party had Prickly Pear Margaritas, Steak, Shrimp Pasta, Chicken and the Wild Game Platter and little scoops of Gelato in a bowl made out of a cone for dessert. In the morning, we feasted on little orange crepes, turkey sausage and eggs, and hash browns. And fresh-squeezed juice and lovely muffins which I consider just a tasty vehicle for butter.

On we trucked to Tucumcari, where the worst thing that happened was losing an hour when I was trying to make a strict schedule. Oh, sure, we were still in the Mountain Time Zone, but Arizona elects not to participate in the Daylight Savings Time ritual because the last thing on God’s green earth that Arizona needs from April to October is another hour of blazing daylight. I do not hate things that make me miss my ETAs as much as I hate slow drivers who make me come off Cruise Control, but, hey, into each life a little rain must fall, right?

The BEST thing that happened in Tucumcari was we met some new friends, devoted readers of the column, who treated us to dinner at Del’s and a (brief, but lovely) tour of their Recreational Vehicle. It’s not easy at our age to make new friends. But it felt like Geri and Jeff had been our friends forever. Remembering names is not Max’s strength – I wish we all wore name tags at all times — and he remembered them because of Jerry Jeff Walker. Whatever it takes! The journey continues next week. On to Edmond, Lincoln, and Sioux Falls!

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