The Day After Turkey Day


It’s another cold, rainy, fall day in Kentucky and the grass has become dormant and the leaves have all fallen from the trees.  Thanksgiving is tomorrow and the day after Thanksgiving is Black Friday.  Black Friday is day where all the shopaholics get up at the crack of dawn and wait in line in the freezing cold weather for their favorite store to open so they can get that special deal a computer or television or something they want.  To me, Black Friday is the one day of the year where I stay as far away from the crowds as possible.  I find no pleasure in fighting for a parking place, nor do I enjoy waiting in line for an hour to pay for something that would have just one week ago taken me five minutes to purchase.  Typically, I either stay home or visit family or friends on the day after Thanksgiving.  One Black Friday I went hiking with my friend Lynn and her mother, Rosemary.

It was about five years ago and after I had Thanksgiving dinner with my family, I went to visit Lynn and her family.  They had a house full of people and we were all talking about what we were going to do the next day.  Of course, many of them were going shopping to get in on some of the great deals the stores were offering.  I told them, “You could not pay me to go shopping on Black Friday.”  Lynn said she didn’t care anything about going shopping either, so she suggested that we go to Mammoth Cave to the cemetery where her great-great grandfather, Charles, was buried.   I told Lynn that I would be willing to go with her, and then Rosemary said she wanted to go too.  So, we made plans to leave town about nine o’clock the next morning.

Like I said, Lynn’s great-great grandfather, Charles, is buried in Mammoth Cave National Park.  During his life-time, the park had not been bought out by the government and his entire family lived in the area.  They had a homestead and there is a family cemetery with a generation of Lynn’s family buried there.  After Charles died, the government decided to take over the land, and all the people who lived there were paid a sum of money and forced to move.  The only traces of civilization left in the area are a few bricks that remain from the chimney and four cornerstones from the foundation of the house.

The park has several hiking trails and horse trails, but in order to find the homestead and the cemetery you have to get off one of the horse trails and go deep into the woods.  The first time I went to the cemetery with Lynn, there were several of her family members with us.  Lynn’s uncle, Dan, was our guide, and he told us a few stories that had been passed down from generation to generation.  One story was about Charles’ moonshine still that he had hidden about a mile from the homestead, and another story was about a cave where Charles and his buddies played poker.

After we had been hiking for about two hours, Dan’s knee started hurting so he walked off the trail and sat down on a big rock.  He gathered all of us around him and said, “This is as far as I go.”  He pointed into the dense woods that was filled with limbs and leaves and tall sage grass and said, “Follow that wagon trail for about an hour and you will come to a small creek.  Cross the creek and on the other side is a steep hill.  Climb that hill to the top; then walk north-west for another fifteen minutes and you will see a railroad tie sticking out of the ground.  When you find the railroad tie, you will be within two hundred feet of the cemetery.”

After Dan provided us detailed directions, we all just stood there with this, “What the hell did he just say?” look on our faces.  I finally spoke up and said, “What wagon trail?  I don’t see a wagon trail. I don’t see anything that even looks like a trail.”  A couple of the guys said they could see the wagon trail, but as hard as I looked, I just couldn’t see it.  I looked over at Lynn and asked her, “Do you see a wagon trail?”  Lynn replied, “Not really, but they say they can see it.  So, I guess we’ll follow them.”  Then we all headed off into the thickly brushed, deep woods.  We spent about two hours bushwhacking through the woods, and then we reached one of the park’s horse trails.  At first we thought we were lost, but when we walked down the hiking trail, we saw the creek.  And, once the creek was crossed and the steep hill was climbed, the cemetery was located at the top.  After a brief visit to the cemetery, we bushwhacked back through the woods.  On the way back to the spot where we left Dan, I kept trying to see the wagon trail, but I never could.

After we hiked back to our cars, we sat around and talked for a while, and then we said our goodbyes and headed off in different directions.  Lynn had ridden with me that day, and on the way back home I was telling her that I thought that we could use one of the park’s horse trails to get to the creek.  I continued by saying, “I think using a real trail would be safer and probably faster.”  Then I asked, “Did you ever see a wagon trail?”  Lynn said that she thought that she could, but she wasn’t really sure if it was a wagon trail or if it was just a gully.   That day, Lynn and I decided that we would get a topographical map of Mammoth Cave National Park and try to figure out a way to use the park’s horse trails to get us to the creek.  That way we would only have to be off the trail to cross the creek, climb the steep hill and to find the cemetery.

After our visit to the cemetery, Lynn had bought a topographical map of the park and we had studied it.  We had chosen a horse trail that would take us exactly to the location of the creek where it needed to be crossed.   We had pinpointed the steep hill on the map and we determined the name of the area where the cemetery was located was called Chicken Hollow.  We had also estimated the time to get to the cemetery and back to our car would be approximately four hours.  Since that time with Lynn’s uncle Dan, we had not been back to the cemetery.  But that Thanksgiving night, Lynn, Rosemary and I decided we would go the next day.  So, on Black Friday at nine o’clock in the morning, we drove to Mammoth Cave.

We arrived at the park at almost ten that morning and we found the horse trail and set out for our hike.  It had been raining all night and all morning, and the horse trails were very muddy and very slick, which made some areas on the trail hard to walk on.  Lynn and I had our hiking sticks with us, but Rosemary had nothing to help her balance on the slick trail.  After almost falling a couple of times, Rosemary went off the trail to find her a stick.  When Rosemary came out of the woods and I saw the stick she had chosen, I started laughing and said, “Rosemary, you look like Moses!”  And then Lynn started laughing and said, “Momma, do you think you could have found a bigger stick?”  This stick Rosemary had brought out of the woods to use as a hiking stick was about six feet tall and three inches in diameter and probably weighed almost as much as she did.  She told us not to worry about the stick she had picked out, and then she looked at me and said, “CJ, with all this rain, I am may have to part the sea.”  We all laughed about this, and then we continued down the muddy horse trail.

The last time we had gone to the cemetery, we only had to cross the creek once, so we were a bit surprised when came upon the creek so soon.  We got the map out and we were sure we were going the correct way, so we all took off our socks and shoes and rolled up our pants and crossed the creek.  After we were across, we put our socks and shoes back on and continued down the trail.  In thirty more minutes, we came upon the creek again.  We took off our socks and shoes; rolled up our pants and crossed the creek.  After about two hours of being on the trail, we had to cross that creek not once, not twice, but eight times.  After the fourth time of crossing it, we finally said “the hell with it” and we just left our socks and shoes on.   It was about one o’clock when we finally made it to the steep hill that would take us to our destination.  We crossed the creek and up the hill we went.

This hill was about a hundred feet high and it was almost straight up, so climbing to the top with the ground covered in wet leaves made it extremely difficult.  Every other step I took, my foot would slide out from under me and I had to keep grabbing tree limbs and small trees to help pull myself up to the top of the hill.  When I finally did reach the top, I looked down and thought, “We’re going to have fun going down.”  We proceeded to find the railroad tie and soon after we found the cemetery.  Once we reached the cemetery and looked around and talked for a few minutes, we all sat down on a dead tree lying on the ground.  As we sat there and rested, we each pulled out our snacks that we had brought and sat there and ate and talked for about thirty minutes.  Then it started raining again, so we decided that we had better start back.

By this time it was a little after three o’clock and we were all getting tired and we were getting soaked from the rain.  As we were leaving the cemetery, I looked around and I felt that something was wrong.  I did a quick inventory check:  I’ve got my phone, I’ve got my water; I’ve got my backpack and I’ve got my hiking stick.  So, what could be wrong?  I looked back in the direction of the cemetery and I could no longer see it.  I thought, “We have only walked about fifty feet away and it’s like the cemetery doesn’t even exist.  I shrugged it off and shook my head, and then started walking to catch up with Lynn and Rosemary.  And, as soon I saw Lynn and Rosemary stop walking, I knew something was wrong.  They had stopped right on the edge of a cliff and come to find out, we were heading the wrong way.  Typically if you are going in the wrong direction, you simply turn around and go the other way.  Now, I’m not sure if you have ever been in the deep woods or not, but believe me, when you look around, everything looks exactly the same.  Look to left all woods; look to right all woods.  North, east, south, west –  looks all the same.

We stood on the side of the cliff for a couple of minutes and we had no idea where we were or where we were going.  It started raining harder and it would be dark in a couple of hours, so we decided to move on.  We followed the edge of the cliff until we found a slope where we could start our descent down.  We were all losing our footing and grabbing onto branches and bushes and small trees to keep us from falling.  At the end of the slope was an eighteen foot wide gully that was about seven feet deep.  We took turns scooting down the side of the gully.  Lynn went first and stood at the bottom waiting on me and Rosemary.  She helped Rosemary down to the bottom of the gully and then they both helped me to the bottom of the gully.  And then we followed the gully as far as we could.  And, after a little over an hour, and by some miracle, we reached the creek.  We crossed the creek several times again and we finally made it back to our car right before it got dark.

The entire time we were lost, none of us said a word about being scared and we never criticized one another, nor did we place blame.  Nope; we made the best of our situation; we encouraged each other and we helped each other.  That day we formed a special bond that will never be broken.  I will never forget how happy we all were to get back to the vehicle.  We all got in the car to get out of the rain, and we took off our soaked socks and shoes and sat there and talked about our day.  Lynn said, “I kept checking my phone to see if I could get a signal.”  Rosemary said, “I was afraid that it was going to get dark and we would be stuck in the woods all night.”  The only thing I said was, “Maybe we should just go shopping next Black Friday.”  And then we all died laughing.  😛

More, More, More…How Do You Like It….


If you read my story “Hoverounds Can Be Fun” then you know that I play a couple of games on Facebook.  One game I play is Farmville and the other game is called Mafia Wars.  I admit, I like Mafia Wars much better because there’s a lot going on most any time of the day.  With Farmville, you plant something then you have to wait for it to grow, and it gets very boring.  Anyway, as I said, I like Mafia Wars much better and I have a couple of mafia members that are always posting comments that make me laugh.  So I usually try to help them with jobs and missions or whatever they need at the moment.  I have this one person who is in my top mafia and for the last couple of days, when she needs some items to be sent to her, she posts, “more more more… how you ‘ like it how you ‘ like it…”   The first time I read this post, I thought, “I know that song!” and immediately started singing it and then I thought “Italy!”  And since that first post of her’s, that song has been stuck in my head and I have been dancing around and singing it for days.

The first time I heard that song was when my brother was in the Air Force.  He joined the Air Force right after he graduated from high school, and throughout his career, he was stationed in several different places.  For the entire time he was in the Air Force, my sister, Margo and I would visit him as often as we could; no matter how close or how far he was, we always managed to see him.  During boot-camp, he was stationed in Texas, and then when boot-camp was finished, he was transferred to Arkansas.  He stayed in Arkansas for a couple of years and then he was transferred to Naples, Italy.  Although my sister and I would not be able to see him quite as often, we were very excited about the chance to travel to Italy.  So, the first thing Margo and I did was to get our passports.   Margo and I both started saving our money, and day after day, one of us would call the airport to check the price of round trip ticket from Nashville, Tennessee to Naples, Italy.   When we had finally saved up enough money, we were ready to make the reservations.

Instead of making the reservations over the telephone, my sister and I drove to the airport and stood in the line at the TWA’s ticket counter.  When it was our time to step up to the counter, we told the ticket agent that we were there to purchase two round trip tickets to Naples, Italy.  The ticket agent started booking our flight, and when he told us how much it would cost, he was a bit surprised when we each pulled out $989 cold hard cash and laid it on the counter.  He smiled and said, “That’s a lot of money for two young ladies to be carrying around.”  We both smiled and said, “Yes it is and it took us a long time to get it.  We have been saving for months.”  We got our tickets that day, and on the way home we were so excited because in just one month, we would be going to Italy.

The closer the day came for our departure, the more excited we both became.  I even bought an English/Italian translation book, and for two weeks, I practiced on a few Italian phrases because I thought it might be a good idea to know a little Italian.  I learned a few phrases, but the ones I used most were: “Ciao”, which means hello or goodbye; “non è possibile”, which means not possible and “Vorrei una birra”, which means I’d like a beer.”  I used those Italian words several times during my stay in Italy, and believe me, they came in very handy.–Especially “non è possibile”, but that’s a different story 🙂   Anyway, it seemed like an eternity waiting to go on our trip, but, finally, it was time for us to travel.  We took my sister’s car to the airport and on the way out-of-town, the radio station broadcasted our leaving by saying, “This next song is for two of our local girls who will be traveling to Naples, Italy today.  CJ and Margo, have a safe trip and we’ll see you when you get back.  Ciao!”  Realizing that we were actually on our way, Margo and I both screamed, “We’re really going!!!”  After being on the road for almost an hour, Margo and I made it to the airport and parked the car in long-term parking.

Once we got inside the airport, we stood in TWA’s line and waited for a few minutes to check-in and I can remember being so very excited.  When it was our turn, we stepped up to the counter and we were both talking and we were grinning from ear to ear.  Margo put her suitcase down and I put mine right next to her’s.  We handed the ticket agent our tickets and the lady gave us a pleasant smile and then commented on how happy we looked.  We told her that we were going to Italy to see our brother and we could not wait to get there.  Then all of a sudden, the lady frowned and said, “Hummmm… that’s odd.”

Now, when someone says, “Hummm….that’s odd.”, you know something’s wrong.  At the exact same moment, Margo and I both asked, “What’s odd?”  The lady looked at Margo and then she looked at me and said, “I’m sorry, but it appears that this flight was cancelled two weeks ago.  Someone from TWA should have contacted you and explained the situation and booked you on another flight.”  Mine and Margo’s smiles suddenly disappeared and both our hearts sank.  My sister was almost crying when she said, “But please, we have been planning this trip for so long.  We have both worked so hard to save our money and our brother is waiting to see us.  Please, we have to go.”

Seeing how important this trip was to us, the ticket agent called her supervisor to the counter and she filled him in on what was going on.  He looked at me and Margo and said, “I’m sorry, but the only other flight we could possibly get you on is leaving right this minute.”  He stood there for a second, then he looked at his watch and said, “Stay right here.  I’m going to make a few phone calls.”  He left the counter and after about ten minutes, he returned to the counter.  I am not sure what he told the ticket agent, but she got on the computer and was typing faster than I had ever seen anyone type.  He grabbed mine and Margo’s bags and he looked at us and said, “Come on!  We’ve got to hurry because you girls are going to Italy!”

The three of us literally ran through the airport, and when we reached gate C15, he yelled at the TWA employee that was standing at the gate door, “Two more passengers!  The ticket counter’s preparing the tickets right now.”  We continue through the gate and once we reached the airplane, the Pilot and the stewardess grabbed our bags and started stuffing them into a compartment right inside the airplane’s door.  We stood in the doorway for another ten minutes and then I noticed a lady running down the gate’s tunnel.  When she reached the doorway, she handed my sister an envelope and said, “Here are your tickets.  First you are going to St. Louis and then to New York.  Once you get to New York, talk to the ticket agent there and they will give you the rest of the tickets you will need to get you to Naples.”  My sister and I thanked the lady, and when we were walking down the aisle of the 747 to find our seats, we overheard several passengers complaining about the flight being delayed for more than thirty minutes, and the entire time and all their eyes were focused on us.

We arrive in St. Louis on time and we had a half hour layover until our flight to New York.  There was a terrible storm that day and I remember that it was thundering and lightening and it was making everyone nervous.  The flight was delayed due to the bad storm, and that caused us to be almost an hour late arriving in New York.

Once we landed at the LaGuardia Airport, my sister and I went to the first TWA counter we found.  The Nashville’s agent had contacted them and the lady at LaGuardia gave us the rest of our tickets.  We had almost an hour before we would board our next flight, so we went to a snack bar to get something to eat and drink.  We didn’t stray too far away from our gate, and we kept listening for them to announce the flight information for our flight number 1697 to London, but they never did.  We also kept checking the monitors to find flight 1697, but we never could find it.  Our tickets stated that our departure time was 3:15 p.m. and it was now 2:30 and the monitors still weren’t displaying our flight number.

Margo and I were getting concerned that something was not quite right, so we approached the lady standing behind the counter at our gate and asked, “Is flight 1697 to London running on time?”  She looked at us and she seemed quite puzzled when she said, “We don’t have flights to London.”  I was a bit surprised at her comment, so I looked at my ticket and said, “Yes you do.  It says right here, flight 1697 to London departing at 3:15 p.m.”  The lady asked to see my ticket and when she looked at it, she said, “Yes it does.  But, it also says departing from JFK International Airport.  Do you know where you are?”  I replied, “New York.”  She said, “Yes, honey you are in New York, but you’re at LaGuardia Airport, not JFK International.”  I said, “Well, how do we get to JKF?”   She said, “Considering you only have forty minutes to make the flight, I suggest that you take a taxi and you tell the driver to get you there fast.”  As I started to walk away, I thought, “I wonder how our bags got to the JFK International?”  So I turned back around and looked at the lady and said, “Well how did our luggage get to JFK?”  By the look that woman gave me, I knew she thought I was an idiot, and with this “How stupid can you be?” look, she said, “Your luggage is here with you at LaGuardia; not at JFK.”  She told us we would have to go to the baggage claim area and pick it up.  She also told us there would be several taxis right outside the baggage claim area, so we shouldn’t have any trouble finding one.  My sister and I ran so fast through that airport that day, we nicknamed each other “The Silver Bullet” and “Grease Lightening”.  After we got our luggage, we ran outside and waved a taxi over.  I told the driver, “If you can’t drive fast, we’re not riding with you.”  He asked, “Where are you going?”  I said JFK International Airport and we have to be there now!”  As we got in the back seat of the taxi, he threw our luggage in the trunk and when he got under the steering wheel, he floored it.  I have never seen someone drive so fast in my life.  He was driving so fast that I barely remember going over the Brooklyn Bridge.  But, thanks to that taxicab driver, we made it just in time for our flight to London.

I was so happy when we boarded that flight to London, but I had no idea how long that flight was going to be.  It took us several hours to get to London, and I was bored to death and I kept thinking, “For Pete’s sake!  This is a damn jet! Can’t they go any faster?”  Fortunately for me, the airlines had offered each passenger a set of headphones, and you could use them to listen to a few different music channels.  Each channel had a playlist, and once all of the songs had been played, they would start the playlist all over again.  So, in order to occupy my time, I listened to one channel the entire way to London.  Needless to say, I learned every single word to each and every one of those songs.  The song “More, More, More” by Andrea True Connection happened to be one of the songs on that particular channel that I listened to.  When we landed in London, we had another hour layover and then we flew into Milan, Italy.  We had a two-hour layover there, and then we would finally be in Naples.  So, for almost fourteen hours of going from one airport to another, I listened to that one music channel.

My sister and I finally made it to Naples, and we had a wonderful time in Italy, and we traveled and toured some of the most beautiful places.  We only stayed ten days, and we were both sad when we said “ciao” to my brother.  This time, we left directly from Rome and it was non-stop to New York, which made our return trip better.  And, once again I listened to that one music channel the entire time.  I remember when I got home, one of my friends asked me about Italy.  They said, “How did you like it?”  I laughed and I started dancing and singing, “More, More, More.  How do you like it, how do you like it!”  And, I bet I sang that song for three months straight, and I know I probably got on everybody’s nerves.  However, you have to admit, it is a very catchy tune.  Thanks to one of my mafia members for having such a great sense of humor, this song is once again stuck in my head.  But if you were to ask me, “How do you like it?”  My reply will would be, “More, more, more.”  😛

Kentuckygirls and a Bottle of Rum


If you read my story, “The Mighty Casey”, then you know that for a while I was an enthusiastic geocacher. Geocaching is an activity where people hide a container, and by using a GPS they get the coordinates of the hiding spot. Then they post the coordinates on the website, geocaching.com, and other people get the coordinates and use their GPS to find the hidden container. When a new hide is posted, all the geocachers in the area try to find it first. This is called, “First to Find” and everybody wants to be the first to find a geocache. My friend, Lynn, and I really became involved in this activity and we called ourselves the “Kentuckygirls”.

It didn’t matter what time of day or night it was, if there was a new listing, we were always the “First to Find”. Oddly enough, we rarely saw any other geocachers. After almost a year, we had found every single geocache within a sixty mile radius. Geocaching was fun and many of the caches were hidden in places of natural beauty or historical significance. To me, this made finding the caches more interesting and fun. I always took my camera and would take pictures.

Sometimes, the person who hides or visits the cache will place a “Travel Bug” or a “Geocoin” in the container and that makes finding it more fun. A travel bug is merely a dog tag with a tracking number on it. Normally, the owner of the travel bug will attach the dog tag to an object and put a note with it that explains the travel bug’s mission. Lynn and I had a travel bug called, “Quarterback Sneak”. We attached the dog tag to a miniature Tennessee Titans helmet. Quarterback Sneak’s mission was to travel to any type of football game and we requested the finders to post a picture and then drop our travel bug into another cache so it could continue its mission. Quarterback Sneak travel a total of 963.9 miles, and then someone kept it and never placed it in another geocache. So, that was the end of Quarterback Sneak.

A geocoin is something that is very popular with geocachers. Some geocoins are trackable on the geocaching site and, just like the travel bug, you place a note with the coin and state the coin’s mission. Lynn and I had a trackable geocoin we named, Bluegrass Gypsy. Bluegrass Gypsy’s mission was to travel like a gypsy and to visit all the 50 U.S. states as well as Europe, Asia and other continents. Bluegrass Gypsy traveled a total of 9710.8 miles before she was lost.

Lynn and I both started collecting different types of geocoins; some were trackable, and some were not. We even designed our own personal Kentuckygirls’ geocoin and traded it with other collectors. We only had 100 of the Kentuckgirls’ coins minted and after about two months we had traded all but six. I still have those six and plan on keeping them for as long as I live.

Anyway, we had found just about every cache around and we were getting bored with geocaching. Then one day while I was looking at other geocoins out there, I ran across The Caching Place and they had a contest and the winners would receive a geocoin. The contest had been going on for a few days, so it was very likely that if Lynn and I entered it, we would not have time to complete the requirements. Some of the requirements were easy, but others would be very difficult for us to complete. One of the requirements was to be The First to Find.  As I stated before, we had found every cache within a sixty mile radius and for us to find another one, we would have to travel quite a long way. Apparently Lynn had read about the contest too, and later that night we talked to each other about entering it. And even though we probably won’t win a coin, we thought it might be fun so we signed up and started the mission.

The first few requirements were fairly easy to get. In three days we found a Statue Cache, a River Cache, a Forest Cache, a Cache with a Great View, and Graveyard Cache. The next couple of days we Moved a Travel Bug, found a Cache that was Placed in 2003 and found a Dog Cache. In eight days, we had completed all the requirements except for two: First to Find and Attend a Geocaching Event. For three days straight, Lynn and I kept logging onto geocaching.com off and on all day looking for a new cache and an event that we could attend. Then one afternoon Lynn called me and said there was a new cache listed and it was only fifty miles away.  She continued to describe the cache saying it was a puzzle cache and we would have to break a code to get the coordinates. After we finished talking, I got on the internet and pulled up the new geocache and Lynn was right, it was going to be tough to break the code. The code was a picture of frogs and some were darker green than the others.

I had no idea what type of code this could be, so I was worried that we might not figure it out in time to be the first to find it. Lynn and I got together that night and studied that frog picture for hours. Just when we were about to give up, Lynn hovered the mouse over one of the frogs and all the sudden the number 00110010 appeared above the frog. Then she moved the mouse over to the next frog and the number 00111001 appeared. We looked at each other and said, “Huh. So, that’s the code.” I grabbed a pen and Lynn moved the mouse to the first frog and started reading the numbers to me. I wrote all the number down on a piece of paper and Lynn and I studied the numbers trying to figure out what type of code it was. We worked on that puzzle half the night and I remember dreaming about those stupid frogs and those numbers all night long.

We got together the next day after work and worked on the puzzle again. For two days I was so consumed with those frogs and those numbers, I couldn’t think of anything else. Then just as I fell asleep that night, I woke myself up saying, “Binary!” I laid there for a couple of minutes, and then I said, “Binary! Of course….Zeros and Ones!!!  It’s binary code.” I got up and ran into the study and grabbed the piece of paper with the numbers on it and I logged onto the internet. I googled “Binary code for numbers” and I found what I was looking for. I worked with the numbers and the frogs until I was confident that the coordinates I had come up with were correct. The next day I took off work early to meet Lynn so we could drive to the location before it got dark. We were the first to find on that geocache and we were so excited we posted a note in the cache that said, “First To Find. Rib-BIT. Rib-BIT!” Now, we only had one more requirement left and we would be finished.

The last requirement was to attend a geocaching event. The event we had found to attend was on a Thursday night and it was being held in the same city where we had been the first to find on the frogs’ cache. I didn’t have to take off work early that day because the event was not scheduled until 7:00 that evening. Thursday rolled around and it was such a rainy, nasty day. That afternoon about 4:30 the National Weather Service had issued tornado warnings for our town and the surrounding areas until eight o’clock that evening. I was hoping the weather would clear up before we had to leave for the event, but it didn’t. If anything, the weather got worse.

As soon as I got home from work, I logged onto the internet and went to geocaching.com and looked up the event. The hosts of the event had left a message saying that they might cancel it due to the bad weather in the area. I thought, “NO! You can’t cancel IT!. This is the only event this month and we HAVE to attend an event!” I replied to the message, “Oh a little rain never hurt anyone. Have been looking forward to seeing everyone, so the Kentuckygirls will be there by seven o’clock.” I checked the event page again about thirty minutes later, and a few other people confirmed that they would be there too, so the event wasn’t cancelled.

Lynn and I got into my truck at six o’clock that evening and we headed south to Tennessee. You must understand that I don’t drive that well anyway, but the rain and wind made my driving much worse. We travel on a two lane highway and as soon as we crossed the Kentucky/Tennesse line, all hell broke loose. It was thundering and lightening and it was raining so hard, my windshield wipers seemed useless. The wind was blowing my truck all over the road and water was standing on the highway causing me to hydroplane. The worst part of it all was that I could not see anything except a tractor-trailer’s tail lights in front of me. When that tractor-trailer sped up, I sped up. When it slowed down, I slowed down. I remember commenting to Lynn, “I sure hope they can see because I can’t. I’m following his tail lights, so if he goes off in a ditch, we’re going right behind him.” I was a nervous wreck and I could tell Lynn was nervous too because she wasn’t saying a word.

About fifteen miles away from the city, that damn tractor-trailer pulled off the road, and from that moment on, I had no tail lights to follow. I kept hitting puddles of water and running off the road. The wind didn’t help matters any. It had been blowing so hard, my arms began to ache from the strain from holding the steering wheel trying to keep the vehicle on the road. The closer we got to the city limits, the faster I drove because I wanted to get somewhere safe and I wanted to get there quickly. We ran into a stretch of road that was flooded and I hydroplaned and ran off the road, but fortunately I was able to swerve back onto the road before it was too late. Lynn grabbed the dashboard and said, “CJ. Stay on the road!” I said, “I can’t see A ROAD. Can you?” She said, “No.” I said, “Okay then. Don’t complain.”

We finally arrived at our destination and we had a nice supper and good conversation and by the time we were ready to leave, the wind had died down and the rain had stopped. I was so tired when I got home that night, I went straight to bed. I didn’t know until the next morning that there had been several tornadoes that damaged many homes and businesses. Many places were flooded due to the heavy down pour and the strong winds had blown over several trees. While I was watching the local news, I discovered that most of the damage had been in the area we were driving through the night before. I thought, “No wonder I couldn’t see the road. Damn tornadoes were all around us.” Then I shook my head and thought, “The things I will do for a geocoin.”

That afternoon Lynn and I went to The Caching Place’s website and logged our final requirement. After their site accepted our log a puzzle popped up and we had to solve it before we could win a geocoin. I looked at it and I had no idea what this puzzle meant. Lynn studied the puzzle for a couple of minutes and then she submitted an answer. Her answer was correct and at 4:44 that afternoon, we were awarded a geocoin, and out of 917 participants we came in 44th place. We were both so happy to be finished, we posted this note on their forum: “WOW!!! It’s over!! It’s time to celebrate! Yo Ho Ho and a bottle of rum all around on the Kentuckygirls!!”

I had a lot of fun searching for those geocaches and it has been a long time since we found our last one.  August 27, 2006 was the last time Lynn and I went geocaching and our total finds are listed at 497.  It’s kind of funny because everybody within a three hundred mile radius has heard of the Kentuckygirls.  And still to this day, someone will send an email asking for one of our geocoins or wanting to meet us.  And there’s this one reporter that’s always wanting to interview us about geocaching, but we always decline.  I must admit that have several fond memories of caching, but none can compare to the night we went to that event.   And still to this day, every time I’m on the highway and get caught in bad weather, I think about that night, and I always say, “Yo Ho Ho and A Bottle of Rum!”  Then I just die laughing.  😛

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Travel Bug Quarterback Sneak
Bluegrass Gypsy’s Travels
Kentuckygirls Personal Geocoin
Code of Frogs
Prize from the Coin Quest Contest

I Ain’t Scared of No Ghosts!


I like scary movies, but none of them seem as scary as they use to be.  It may be because I have gotten older or because I watch the news, movies and television and they show so many unusual and horrible things.  I remember when I was young, I would come home from school every day and have a snack and watch television before starting on my homework.  One afternoon and I was watching “The Big Show”, and that day the show was “The Attack of the Giant Woman”.  I don’t remember all the details of the movie, but I can remember that the woman’s husband was cheating on her, and then she had some sort of encounter with aliens.  I am not sure what the aliens did to her, but the next thing I knew she started growing taller and taller.  She grew so much that she was soon taller than the skyscrapers.  I don’t know what scared me about that movie, but I was scared.  After the woman became a giant, she went searching for her husband and the women he was seeing.  I can’t remember too much about the movie because I had my eyes closed most of the time, and before it was over, I had hidden behind the couch.  The last thing I saw was the giant woman finding her husband and his girlfriend parking in a secluded place in his car.  Then just as soon as she picked up the car and started slinging it around, I closed my eyes and covered my ears.  After about a minute, I uncovered my ears and I could hear that a commercial was on, so I crawled out from behind the couch and ran and turned the T.V. off.  I never want to see that movie again!

I suppose I outgrew being so scared watching these types of movies because now it takes a lot to scare me.   Every now and then, I will watch a “Ghosts Hunters” or “Haunted Houses” show and I find them kind of fascinating.   When I was young, my dad told me stories about his great-aunt.  He said she had some sort of power that enabled her to move things just by thinking about moving them.  He said that he remembered his great-aunt razing a kitchen table off the floor without touching it.  At first, those stories gave me the creeps, but the more I thought about it, the more I was interested.  I thought, “Gees, if I could do that I could scare the crap out of people.”  So for days and days I would sit and stare at our kitchen table and try to lift it off the floor.  I never could do it, so I thought that maybe I should try to move something a bit lighter like a vase or something.   I placed a glass on the table and concentrated on moving it and I tried and tried and tried, but it didn’t work.  I soon gave up on moving objects with my mind, but I never outgrew my curiosity of my great-great aunt’s special talent.

I do believe in ghosts and I do believe there are spirits among us.  But I also believe that it takes a special type of person to “feel the presences” of a ghost or spirit.  I truly don’t want that special talent because I do not want to have any contact with anyone or anything I can’t see.  I feel the less I know about ghosts and spirits, the better off I am.  However, we all grow up with stories of places where ghosts are supposed to be, and for some odd reason, we all want to investigate these places; even me.  There’s this haunted house a few miles from where I live and the place is called “The Octagon House”, and there have been many claims of the sightings of ghosts and apparitions.  Some of my friends and I were talking about this place one day, and we all were interested in going to this place.  And the more we talked about it, the more we wanted to go.

It was around Halloween, and we all wanted to do something together, and someone heard that The Octagon House was conducting tours for Halloween.  About a dozen of my friends decided we would go to the house and we would go on Halloween night.  A few days leading up to the excursion, we all read stories about the place and we researched the history of the house.  We shared our findings with each other and every time we talked about the house, I got more nervous about going.  I remember, one of my friends, Beth, saying, “When we leave, we have to tell the spirits that they cannot go with us.  That is very important, so everybody needs to remember to do that.”  By the time the big night approached, I had almost talked myself out of going, but it was mostly my idea, so I couldn’t back out.  We took three separate vehicles and we all met at The Octagon House about seven o’clock.  There were so many people there and we knew it would be a long wait, but we were determined to wait as long as necessary to tour the haunted house.  We had to take a number and wait until our group’s number was called before we could go in.   I can’t remember who got our number, but when they brought the ticket back to our little group, I asked, “What number are we?”  And they said, “666.”  We all looked at each other and said, “Oh!  666.  That’s not good.”

It had been raining all day and the wind had picked up and it was freezing that night.   As we waited for our “666” number to be called, we huddled up together and we started telling ghost stories about the house and other places.  Some of the stories were pretty spooky and the more we talked the more sacred and nervous I became, but I was determined to go into that house with my friends.  My friends told story after story and every time the guides called a number, I would look at my friend, Lynn, and ask, “What number are we?”  Each time, everyone would look at me and say,”666!…..Ohoooo!”  And each time, they would all laugh.   After we had been there waiting for an hour, we started taking about some of the weird stuff that had happened to us that day at work.  Lynn said she had a truck deliver some raw materials and she said, “Guess what the lot number was on the material? LPJ666!”  Then when I thought back on my day, I said, “Ah oh.  Our deposit today was six hundred sixty six thousand something.  Then Beth said she had taken a message from a customer, and after the area code, their number began with 666.  Another friend was running a test on a product and the result was 6.66.  Then another friend said, “Oh!  This is weird.  My total tips for the day was sixty-six dollars.”  It seemed like everyone had 666 occurrences in their day, and we all thought it was very strange.

We had waited so long, we were all getting cold, so we decided to take turns going to our vehicles so we could warm up.   Lynn and I joined her sister and her brother-in-law and got in their car.  The heater was on full blast and we finally started to get warm.  We sat there for about fifteen minutes and I looked over at Lynn and said, “You think we should get back up there?”  Lynn said, “No.  Beth said she would come and get us if they called our number.”  Now, after we had talked about “our number” for over an hour, you would think I wouldn’t have to ask, but I did.  I looked at Lynn and asked, “What number are we anyway?”  Lynn looked at me like I was dumber than a rock and she said, “666 dumb ass!  What do you think we’ve been talking about for the past hour?”  Without thinking about what I was doing, I slapped Lynn as hard as I could on her arm and said, “I can’t believe you called me a dumb ass!  No one’s ever called me that before.”   Lynn said, “Well, if the shoe fits, wear it.”   Everybody, including me had a good laugh over this and honestly, that was a stupid question.

They finally called our number, 666, and we all got to go inside the house and tour it.  We didn’t see a ghost that night, but that was okay because if I had seen one, I would have probably taken off running.  I do admit, it was kind of spooky being in that house; especially when a closet door in one of the bedrooms opened by itself.  We heard some strange noises and when we walked the grounds, it felt like you were being followed and watched.  The tour itself lasted about forty minutes and we all had a really good time and I would recommend others to go visit the house.  We talked about our trip to The Octagon House for several weeks later, and each and every time, someone would look at me and say, “What number are we CJ?”  And I would look back at them and say, “666 dumb ass!”  Then we would all just die laughing.  😛

I Second that Emotion


If you have been following my stories, then you know that Lynn is my best friend.  Lynn is a very good person and she would do anything for anyone; especially me because I’m her best friend.   But, I would do anything for her too.   Lynn and I have been friends for several years now, and her family has practically adopted me.  I think the world of all of them and I feel right at home being around them.  Lynn’s parents decided that for Lynn’s and her sister’s birthday they would take them to the mountains as a present.  And fortunately for me, I was invited to go to Gatlinburg with them.  And of course I jumped at the opportunity to go.

We left out on a Tuesday morning.  We took two vehicles and were to meet up for breakfast at a Cracker Barrel that was about an hour away.   Both vehicles arrive within five minutes of each other and we all sat down for a good breakfast.  The waitress came up to our table and asked, “Are ya’ll here for all the hoopla?”  And Lynn said, “What hoopla?”  The waitress replied, “Didn’t you know?  Smokey Robinson is sitting right over there.”   Even though Smokey Robinson was a bit before our time, we all recognized his name and we started trying to think of songs he sang.  Lynn and I both got out our Iphones and while Lynn was Googling it, I was on Youtube finding songs.  Once I found one of the songs he sang, I turn the volume up as loud as it would go and I played, “I Second that Emotion”.  We were all sitting around our table singing and I was trying to convince Lynn and her sister to go over and have Smokey sign their birthday cards.  And they did.  I even talked to Smokey and he was so nice.  I told him, “Smokey, I love your music.”  Then he hugged me and said, “I love you too.”   And I thought, “I didn’t say I loved you, only your music.”, but I didn’t say anything, I  just smiled.

Once we finished meeting Smokey and eating breakfast, we hit the road again.  On the way to Gatlinburg, I asked Lynn what kind of activities she had planned for us.  She said she wanted to go white water rafting and zip lining.  Well, I had been white water rafting once in my life and really didn’t want to do it again.  You see, my ex and I took a couple of trips to Alaska, and once we went rafting down the Nenana River.  And, of course, my ex chose an all day trip so we were on that river for eight hours.  Now, I don’t know why the Nenana River guide liked me so well, but he did.  Every time we hit a rapid, he would make sure the water splashed on me and I would get soaked, and every time I would scream, “That water’s ice cold.”  I don’t remember the guide’s name, but I called him Willie because he looked like a much younger Willie Nelson.    I also remember being terrified the entire eight hours, and although no one fell out of our boat, the other boats were losing passengers left and right.  I also remember when I got off of that raft that day and stepped onto dry land, I swore I would never go white water rafting again.  So, you can see why I was reluctant to go white water rafting with Lynn, but I did.  And unlike that previous rafting trip, I had the best time and I am ready to do it again.

The other thing Lynn talked me into doing was zip lining.  It is very strange that she would want to do that because she is afraid of heights.  I admit, I am afraid of heights too, but not nearly as much as Lynn.  I remember once, we went to this amusement park and there was this ride called “The Shock Drop”.  This ride took you straight up in the air about 100 feet and once it reached the top, it quickly dropped you back down to the platform.  Well, we stood there and watched other people ride it and kids were riding it, so we thought, “How bad could be?”  Lynn really wanted to ride it, so I said, “Okay, let’s do it.”  We got on the ride and we buckled up.  When the ride got full a few minutes later, the ride operator came around to make sure we were buckled in good.  Lynn said to the guy, “I’m a bit scared.”  He grinned and said, “You won’t be scared but about 50 seconds.” And then he pressed the “Go” button, and up we went.  I bet we weren’t five feet from the platform and Lynn said, “Okay, I’m ready to get off.”  I replied, “You’ll get off in about 50 seconds.”  We went up and up and up and Lynn kept saying, “I don’t like this!”, and I kept saying, “Stop it, you’re making me nervous.”  When we finally reached the top, I heard a loud click and down we went and I screamed so loud that I lost my voice for two days.  Lynn didn’t scream, she just laughed all the way down.  But we never rode that ride again.

I started thinking about this zip lining thing, and the more I thought about it, the more I was determined to do it.  Besides, you only die once, so why not die having fun?  I did talk Lynn into doing a short 2 hours trip, just in case we didn’t like it and she was fine with that.  The morning arrived and we drove down to the zip lining place.  They put harnesses on us and gave us leather gloves and a hard hat and went through the safety drill.  There were about 15 of us and none of us had ever zip lined before, so I believe we were all a bit apprehensive when we boarded the bus to take us up the mountain.  Once we reached the top, we all got off the bus and were given instructions on how to guide ourselves, how to break and they told us to make sure we jumped far away from the platform so we didn’t hit our butts or back or something.  The entire time, I was looking down and thinking, “Damn that’s a long way down.”  There were about five of the zip line employees with us and after we were informed on what to do, it was time for us to zip line.

I really wanted to go first just to get it over with, but I ended up next to last.  Lynn did let me go before her.  I stood there on the side of that mountain watching everybody walk on the suspended bridge to the first platform.  They looked as scared as I felt, and even though I was scared, I was a little bit excited about it.  Then it was my turn.  One employee hooked me onto the steel cable and I slowly walked across the two foot wide walkway and arrived safely at the platform.  Once I was ready to zip line, I looked down and thought, “Damn, that sure is a long way down.”  Then the guy said, “Ready?”  I said, “Ready as I’ll ever be.” Then I jumped off that platform and zipped all the way across.  The guy on the other side caught me and helped me stand up and I was so happy I had made it across safely and then I thought, “Only eight more of these jumps to go.”

We all had the best time that day zipping from one platform to the other.  However, there were a couple of incidences that I should talk about.  The first one was when one of the participants zipped lined right into the tree on the platform.  I was standing in line waiting for my turn and watching everyone else go across and I promise you, this guy hit the tree so hard I think the only thing that kept him from not being knocked out was his hard hat.   Then, once I didn’t jump away from the platform far enough, and yes, my butt hit the wooden platform and as I was zipping away I heard the instructor say, “See, that’s what you don’t want to do.”  I thought, “Leave it to me to set the example.”  Not only did I hit my butt once, but I hit it again on the next platform.  It didn’t hurt though, but when we were finished I kept thinking that something was wrong.  As we were walking back to the hotel, I turned my butt to Lynn and said, “I feel like I still have that harness on, do you?”  She said, “No.”  And just as soon as we got back to the room, I bent over to take off my shoes and my favorite pair of jeans I was wearing split from the back pocket down.  I didn’t hear the rip, but I felt the cool air hit my butt.. I started laughing and turned my butt toward Lynn and said, “Well, seventy bucks for a pair of jeans, a hundred to zip line and look at this.  Priceless!”  Lynn just died laughing. 😛

God Bless Our Troops!

Hoverounds Can Be Fun


If you read my story “Selling – Not My Cup of Tea”, then you know that I have made some really good friends on Facebook.  One of these friends is having surgery on Wednesday.  Her name is Niecy, and Niecy and I met playing Mafia Wars.  I was playing this game called Farmville, and in order to get a “Hot Rod Tractor”, you had to play Mafia Wars and level up a couple of times.  Well, I just had to have that tractor, so I started playing Mafia Wars.  Niecy was one of the first people to join my mafia and we didn’t say anything to each other for a long time, but once we started chatting, we never stopped.  We have become very good friends and she is so funny and I love talking to her because I laugh so hard over many of the things she says.

Anyway, when we first started chatting, Niecy told me she was having problems with her knee.  She is a very active person and she wasn’t able to ride her bike or do the things that she really enjoyed, so she spent part of her time icing the bad knee and chatting with me on Facebook.  I use to joke with her by telling her that she was just getting old, but she always fired back at me with a comment and we would go back and forth with smart comments to each other, but we always ended up laughing.

Niecy and I are always going on about something and we share our funny stories with each other.  We pick at each other on the live feed and by the sound of some of our comments, you would think that we don’t like each other at all.  But we always know that other one is just kidding around; except for that one time.  Now, I don’t know if both of us were just in a bad mood or what, but I posted a comment on one of my mafia member’s post, and Niecy made a comment about the comment I had made.  Well, I got a bit ticked about the comment that Niecy made about my comment, so I kicked her out of my mafia.  Niecy sent me a message and said, “so u removed yourself from my mafia?”  My answer was, “no. I removed you from my mafia. I was upset with your comment on that post.  I didn’t care for it.  I almost deleted you as a friend, but I didn’t.”   Then, the next thing I knew was that Niecy had unfriended me from Facebook.  It was like she never existed.  I couldn’t even see her posts on our mutual friends’ posts.  Well that made me madder.  I thought, “The nerve of her deleting me!  How could she do that?”

Now, anyone who knows me knows that I am a very stubborn person and when I get mad at someone, that is usually the end of the friendship.  Normally I would just go on with my life and wouldn’t let it bother me.  But this was different because I didn’t want our friendship to end.  Although I was mad, I was sad at the same time.  I knew I had hurt Niecy’s feelings, and I didn’t know how I was going to fix it.  Day after day, I kept wondering if she would ever try to contact me.  On the fourth night of not talking to Niecy, I had given up on her contacting me so I started thinking about how I could contact her.  Then I remembered that we had talked to each other on the phone once.  I never delete any thing on my cell phone, so I looked back to the time we had talked and found her number.  I took a deep breath and I pressed “call”.  And, wouldn’t you know it, I got her voice mail.  At first, I started to hang up, but then I thought, “You owe her an apology.”  So, I left a message that went something like this: “Hi Niecy.  This is CJ.  I was hoping you would pick up the phone, but you didn’t.  I started thinking about what happened, and you know that my philosophy is to “Never have any regrets”?  Well, I regret what happened the other night and I wanted to let you know how sorry I am.  You are my friend.  So, can you call me back, please?  Take care!”  Then I ended the call.  I didn’t hear from her that night, but the very next day, I had a Facebook friend request from Niecy and I was relieved and happy.  And come to find out, she was happy and relieved too.

Anyway, Niecy is having knee surgery this week and we were chatting last night.  She said that she had gone to Wal-Mart and her husband had suggested that she use one of those “Hoverounds” that the store has for handicap people.  Of course she refused to use one.  I told her I thought it would be fun riding around the store on one of those things and it would be even more fun if it had a horn on it.  After we finished chatting, I started thinking about some of the people who use Hoverounds.  In my opinion, many of the people who ride around on them don’t really need to.  To me, most of them look perfectly capable of walking and some actually look like they need to walk.  But there are some people who do really need them.

I remember one day when I entered Wal-Mart, this one elderly man was getting on a Hoveround.  As I walked around him, I overheard his wife trying to tell him how to drive it.  About fifteen minutes later, I ran into them again and the wife was fussing about the way he was driving.  I focused my attention on finding the item I was looking for, and then my concentration was broken by a loud crash.  The old man had run into a display rack and the items were falling all over the floor.  I could tell he was embarrassed and his wife continued to fuss at him.  I giggled a little bit and went over and started helping the woman put the stuff back on the display rack.  Then I went back to looking for what I needed.   Just as I found the item and as I started to leave the aisle, I heard the women yell, “Watch where you’re going!”  When I turned to look, I saw him sitting on that Hoveround and he was flying right toward me and his eyes were as big as quarters.  To avoid being hit, I jumped out-of-the-way and the woman was running behind him saying, “Put on the brakes!  Put on the brakes! ” And just before he had another collision, the woman was able to stop the contraption.  She looked at me and asked, “Are you okay?”  I nodded and assured her that I was fine.  Then she looked at her husband and said, “Get off that thing before you kill someone!”  He said, “I’ll take it back to the front door and I’ll wait for you there.”  She said, “Oh no you won’t.  We going to leave this thing right here and we’re going to walk to the front door.”  He said, “We can’t leave it here.”  She said, “Yes we can.  You are never driving one of those things again.  I’ll tell the Wal-Mart Greeter to send someone to get it.  Now come on!”  The old man got off the Hoveround and I giggled as they walked off.  But I promise you, that even to this day, when I see someone driving one those things, I go in the other direction.

So, Niecy, I know you will be one of the first to read this today, and I want you to know that I will be thinking of you Wednesday.  I am sure your knee will be like new before long and you’ll be riding that bike before you know it, and you’ll never need a Hoveround.  But, when I finally make it up your way, we’re going to Wal-Mart, and we’re going to ride around on one of those things, just for the hell of it.  I figure if everybody else can do it, then we can too!   😛

Eddie George and the Ich


I just got back from a short trip to Hebron, Kentucky.  Hebron is a small community that is about fifteen miles from Cincinnati.  The reason I went there is because my best friend, Lynn, had to attend a two-day training session for her company and she asked me if I wanted to go with her.  Since I have some free time on my hands, I said, “Yes.”  We left out on Tuesday morning and her training began on Wednesday.  So we had Tuesday night to do something together, and the remaining time I would be on my own.  Before we left for our trip, I had done some research on the internet and I had picked out two things that I could do while I was there.  I was either going to the Cincinnati Zoo or I would go to the New Port Aquarium.

We arrived in Hebron about four o’clock Tuesday afternoon.  After we checked into the hotel, I talked to the hotel concierge, and he gave me map to help me find my way around.  I took the map back to the room and studied it for a few minutes.  If you read my story “The Official Driver and The Official Navigator”, then you are well aware of the fact that I am not good with directions.  Since I would be traveling by myself, I decided that I had better stay away from Cincinnati, so I decided to go to the aquarium instead.  Lynn and I traveled to New Port later that evening to get a bite to eat.  I didn’t have any idea where I was going, but by some miracle, I drove directly into New Port.  I was pretty impressed with myself, and just when I was trying to find a place to park, I took a wrong turn and ended up a one way street and crossing the bridge that connects Kentucky with Ohio.   Lynn looked over at me and said, “Well, you were determined that we were going to Cincinnati tonight, weren’t you?”  Once we entered Cincinnati and got off the bridge we had to stop at a traffic light.  Something caught my eye and I looked down, and I’ll be damned my gas light wasn on, and I knew there wouldn’t be a gas station in downtown Cincinnati, so I began to get nervous.  I said, “Crap!  My gas light’s on.”  Lynn said, “We’re lost.”,  and I said, “I’m not worried about getting lost, I’m concerned about running out of gas.”  The light turned green and I turned left and not wanting to go into Cincinnati any further, I did a u-turn right in front of the Cincinnati Red’s stadium.  I laughed and looked over at Lynn and said, “We’re not lost.  I know exactly where we’re going.”  Lynn said, “I hope so.” and she just shook her head and held on.  After we went back over the bridge, I found a parking spot.  We had a nice supper and then we returned to the hotel.

Anyway, I made it just fine the next day on my trip back to New Port and to the aquarium.  I love going to different aquariums, because you can see some very unusual fish and some of the most beautiful fish.  My favorites parts are the tropical fish section and the coral section because they are absolutely stunning.  It was a perfect day to visit the aquarium because it was the middle of the week and there was only a hand full of people there.  I spent nearly three hours looking at everything and taking picture after picture and talking to the other people I ran into.  On the way back to the hotel, I started thinking about how beautiful the fish were and how much I missed not have an aquarium at home.

LP and I use to have a 33 gallons hexagon aquarium that sat on a beautiful oak stand.  It was hard getting the aquarium started at first because it seemed like every time we bought a new fish, it would either die or another fish would make a meal of the new comer.   After about six months of trial and error, we found the right balance of fish and they all seemed to get along just fine.  We had three blue colored Tetra; one named Fred, one named Ethel, and the other was named Eddie George (named after the Tennessee Titans football player).  We had three Angelfish named Sarah McLachlan, Patty Loveless and Alanis Morissette.  We had five Black Skirt Tetra named “The Five Skirts”, and a half a dozen Neon Tetra, which we never named.  We had the aquarium floor covered with colored marble rocks and there were three plants positioned close to the edges of the tank and some fake coral in the center of the tank.  It was a very beautiful aquarium and every night after I got home from work, I would sit and stare at the tank for a while because it relaxed me so much.

We had this balance of fish for almost two years and then one of the fish got something they call fish ich.  I am not sure how the fish got ich, but I think it was when we put a new fish in the tank.  As soon as we realized that one of the fish had ich, we went to the fish store and bought some medicine to put in the tank.  The new fish died and then Ethel got ich, and after a few days of having ich, she died.  When I got home from work, LP told me that Ethel had died and I was so sad.  I thought, “What’s Fred going do without Ethel?”  We continued putting medicine in the tank each day, but Fred came down with ich next and he died.  Two of “The Skirts” died and every one of the Neon Tetra died; now only Eddie, Sarah, Patty, Alanis and three skirts remained in our tank.  The aquarium looked so empty and I was depressed because all the fish had been dying off one by one.  We continued giving them the ich medicine and after two months they all seemed to heal and they seemed to be doing fine.  We didn’t want to buy more fish because we were concerned that it would infect our now healthy fish with some other disease.  So, we keep the fish we had, and they grew bigger and bigger, and I grew more and more fond of each surviving fish.

About six months after the ich epidemic, I got a phone call at work.  Darlene, the receptionist, buzzed my office and said, “CJ. LP is on the phone for you.”  I picked up the receiver and said, “Hey!  What’s up?”  LP said, “Are you sitting down?”  I said, “Yes.  Why; what’s wrong?”  LP said, “I don’t know how to tell you this except just to tell you.  Eddie died this morning.”  Immediately I started crying.  LP said, “I was afraid you were gonna take it hard.”  We talked for a few minutes and after we hung up, I sat there and cried.  I suppose that Darlene must have heard me crying because she came into my office and asked, “CJ?  What’s wrong?”  Through my sniffling, I replied, “Eddie George just died.”  She looked shocked and I thought she was going to cry too.  She said, “What happened?  How did he die?”  I replied, “He had ich.”  She said, “Ich?  What is that?”  I said, “It’s a disease that fish get.”  She asked, “How did Eddie George get ich?”  I answered, “I guess he got it from another fish.  There was an epidemic, remember?”  She said, “Hum.  Really?  I didn’t know humans could get diseases from fish.”  Then I was confused and I said, “Humans don’t get ich.”  She said, “Well how did Eddie get ich then?”  I said, “Because Eddie’s a fish.  Who did you think I was talking about?”  She said, “The football player.  Remember Eddie George?  Your favorite Tennessee Titan?”  I said, “Oh no, not Eddie!  Eddie’s fine. I hope!”  Then she giggled and said, “CJ.  I have seen people cry over a lot of things, but I have never seen anyone cry over a dead fish.”   Then we both started laughing and Darlene gave me a hug and said, “Look at the bright side.  You may have lost your fish, but you still have your running back.”

Eddie was the last fish to die from ich.  We had Sarah, Patty, Alanis and “The Three Skirts” for three more years and they gave me, LP and the cat, Chloe, hours of pleasure just watching them swim around in their tank.  When we decided to get rid to the fish tank, we gave all the fish to one of LP’s co-workers.  About a month after we had given the fish away, I started thinking about them.  I asked LP, “How are fish doing; do you know?”  LP said, “I was hoping you wouldn’t ask me that, but since you did I have to tell you.  They’re all dead.”  I said, “Dead?  He’s only had them a month and they are all dead? ”  LP replied, “The only thing I know is that Patty jumped out of the tank the first night and he found her on the floor the next morning.  As far as the rest of them go, I didn’t ask.  I just know they’re dead.”  All the sudden I pictured Patty, Sarah, Alanis and “The Three Skirts” swimming around in the aquarium and then tears came to my eyes.  LP came over and hugged me and patted me on the back and said, “It’s going to be alright.  Go ahead and let it out.  It’s okay to cry.”  And I did.  I cried for a little bit, and then I thought about what Darlene had said, and I started laughing.  I looked up at LP and said, “I’m so silly to cry over something like dead fish.”  LP grinned and said, “Well look at the bright side.  At least you weren’t at work this time when I told you.”  And we both started laughing.  😛

Eddie George

Alanis

Sarah

Patty

Fred and Ethel