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Location: DownByTheRiver, Central Iowa, United States

Husband of the world's most wonderful wife, father of the world's four most brilliant children, grandfather to the world's eight most beautiful granddaughters and two handsomest grandsons

Monday, March 28, 2005

"An Ole Cowpoke Went Ridin' Out.....

Thursday found Mr. and Mrs. RRR on the road to the Lone Star State. The Green Hornet, reshod on the front "feet" with new rubber from Hungry Dutchman Tire Shop, it’s crankcase topped off with Bardahl’s NoSmoke was loaded to the visors. Bay-Toe-Ven’s travel container sat across the back under the hatch and our possessions were crammed in ahead of it and behind the seats. We’ve traveled America in that Geo Metro and know how to pack it. The hummed along as though it didn’t have 200,000 thousand miles.
Mrs. RRR was home by noon and we were off just ahead of a threatened 3" snow. Down from the top of the map to the bottom, past KCMO where youngest son, wife and daughter live, onto the Kansas Turnpike. Past Wichita into the lovely rolling ranch land, supper at a rest stop on the turnpike. The RRR had two cheap burgers and gave the extra buns to Bay. We were half way down. Then $5 bought us off the turnpike and we were back on freeway. Then Norman OK, but forget Oklahoma City, Ranger fans. Not one sign on I35 identifies it! No "Oklahoma City, next eight exits" etc. Nothing. You’re driving into a megapolis and there are signs for various roads and exits but nothing ever tells you what city you’re driving through. On into Texas, through Dallas, the most in-your-face conspicuous consumption in the western world and arrived 13 and a half hours after leaving the homestead at the country singer’s ranch where youngest daughter, her husband and baby are caretakers.
Heidi, Josh, and little Lydia live in a trailer in the back of the compound behind the Big House. Josh commutes to seminary in Dallas and cares for the singer’s ranch animals. Heidi cleans the Big House and tends the exotic birds. The RRR almost had a heart attack when he got out of the Green Hornet and almost stepped on a peacock’s tail. It let out a yelp that sounds, according to Heidi, as a cross between a car horn, a cat, and a baby crying. They and guinea fowls make great watchdogs in the south.
Lydia loved her new teddy bear, which is dressed like the Ranger in a camo military shirt and bush hat. So he became Grandpa Bear and now addresses Lydia in a growly voice offering to take her for tramps in the woods and on river trips when she grows up. Like all the RRR granddaughters, she is lovely and loving and has the happy responsiveness of a totally loved and cherished child who has her mommy at home with her all the time.
Good Friday we worked putting a roof on the kid’s deck. Actually Josh worked and I made occasional helpful suggestions and retreated into the house to nibble the low-carb goodies Heidi had prepared and nap in Josh’s easy chair. We went out for lunch at The Waffle House, a southern institution. They are diners and there is a happy, loud interaction between customers, waitresses and cooks. The food is fantastic. The T-bone for the Ranger was superb and Mrs. RRR said the pecan waffle was the best she’d ever eaten. As we were about to leave a gray haired, tattooed man chugged up on an ancient high-mile Harley. Going bald with what was left of his hair tied in a ponytail. I went out and looked at the back of his ride. A MIA/POW flag, an American Flag, and a bumper sticker that said Friend of Bill W. I went back in and shook a fellow ranger’s hand. A fellow ‘Nam vet, you can always tell. Mrs. RRR says we all look like someone 30 years ago reached through a keyhole and pulled us through by our rears. Don’t know why, but it fits. My fellow ranger had been clean and sober since May 27th, 1988 I have 17 days on him.
Let me insert here that I am not a member of the elite force of the U.S.Army known as the Rangers. I refer to the generic term, meaning one who knows the woods and has been there and done that. Most River Rats are rangers, for instance, but not all rangers are River Rats.
So ride long and free brother ranger, may you find the happiness on the road I’ve found with Mrs. RRR and our family.
We went on into Dallas shopping. Dallas is NOT Texas. Dallas is Hollywood in a ten gallon hat. Back in the sticks at the ranch is Texas. We cooked brats on the grill and talked and talked and wondered at the miracle of babies. That night there was a thunderstorm. Perhaps my readers don’t know the joy of sleeping under the roar of rain on a tin roof. Heaven. Comfort music.
Saturday was gloomy and drizzly most of the time. Josh came in from the chores saying a predator had gotten in the barn and killed the setting hen. The area has a problem with cougars, one chewed the leg of one of the peacocks and would have paid with his life had the country singer’s husband been able to lay hand to a gun in time. The peacock is perfectly miserable now, its foot swollen and it limps about honk hroncking pitifully. We went back to Dallas and checked out the new KIA’s which mysteriously increased in price from $7000 on TV the night before to over $10,000. And we went to Mrs. RRR’s favorite health food stores and bought bulk oatmeal and flaxseed and fresh ground gourmet coffee for me.
Heidi cooked Mahi Mahi for supper. It is a tropical fish that she and Josh learned to love the year they spent teaching school in Saipan. It was absolutely delicious. On top of that, Josh made us whole wheat cinnamon raison bread which was superb also. We watched the DVD Minority Report. A great yarn, it was fun trying to guess when the 5’2" Tom Cruise was standing on a box to make him look as tall as everyone else. By the time that was over, the rain had stopped and Josh took us for a walk around the ranch. Mrs RRR, of course, walked up to the strange donkeys from the wrong side and walked around behind them and they snuggled up to her and didn’t kick her. Then we saw the country singer’s horse, looks to me like a thoroughbred, but what I know about horses would make a very short blog. It let Mrs. RRR walk up to it and pat it’s nose and stoke it’s face and nuzzled her. When I got within 20 feet it snorted, whirled away, and trotted off. She once wanted to adopt a circus elephant, but that’s another story.
That evening Josh and Heidi went off on their first date alone since Lydia was born last September while we baby sat. The phone rang and it was the Country Singer home from her latest gig. She said she wanted to meet us. So the lady who has been the guest of two presidents in the White House and has entertained foreign dignitaries came over and knocked on the door of the trailer and came in and cooed over Lydia and was as friendly as any other rural southerner. And that my friends, is the TRUE Texas.
Easter morning we were up and on the road by 0600 and turned the trip around backwards. We celebrated Easter by Mrs. RRR reading from the Bible and our other devotional books as we went along. Ran low on fuel and stopped at the same gas stations, ate our half-way meal at the same rest stop and would have arrived early except we drove through Kansas City and called hoping to visit Israel, youngest son and fellow river rat, and his wife and daughter, but we missed them both times we called. About an hour short of home I could stand the freeway no more and got off on a backroad and drove home more slowly absorbing the sunset and then listened to Michigan win a place in the Final Four.
Grandpa RRR, my father was 79 on Easter Sunday so we called him and sang Happy Birthday. He is undergoing radiation treatments for prostate cancer and needs all the cheering up he can get. We called Heather, the eldest daughter college professor to wish her a happy Easter. Also her twin brother Shane, the seminary student in Kentucky got our best wishes. His daughters had also received teddy bears for Easter, but they were already asleep. At last Mrs. RRR and I snuggled up on the futon in front of the fireplace.
God Bless us, every one.


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