Friday, August 14, 2015

Time Travel: a WEEK FULL of a HAPPYBIRTHDAYGolly, butit’s g...

Time Travel:

Golly, butit’s g...
: a WEEK FULL of a HAPPY BIRTHDAY Golly, but it’s great, To be Eighty-eight There was a time -- at 39 Forty was considered t...


Golly, but it’s great, To be Eighty-eight

There was a time -- at 39
Forty was considered the end of the line

Then Forty came around, -- new Life to be found

It began this way.  Sister Nancy and Buford planned a trip to Yellowstone in August, driving in their Minnie Winnie, their 16 foot green Winnebago trailer.

I commented, “Ah, yes, Yellowstone, that has always been on my Bucket List.  Ed and I talked about it, but the time was too late for us to go.”

Nancy, in her usual jump-in ready-for-adventure manner said, “Come join us.  Minnie Winnie has plenty of room for three.”  

Without thinking I took the idea.  “Sure, I can fly up and join you for a few nights.  I would absolutely love it.”

Whoops, I’m 87, high on dreaming and low on air.  But they wouldn’t let me back out.  Every objection I came up with, they had an answer. 
We made it easy on me.  Wheelchair for airport check-ins, changing in Salt Lake, check bag instead of dragging it.  Pack double places on pills. 

Going on the theory that anything that can go wrong, will go wrong, I did a lot of worrying.  Altitude would get to me, I needed my naps.  And then the unmentionable problems that only come with age.
I was armed with two types of photography:  a point-and-shoot Canon that I hadn’t used recently and a “smart phone” that I didn’t understand.

The connection in Salt Lake is 45 minutes which should be plenty of time for Delta to Delta.  Only I was going from a larger plane to a smaller plane . . . from one end of the terminal to another.  First obstacle already . . . Worry, worry, the wheelchair wasn’t waiting.  I couldn’t miss the flight. 

 Their RV park was an hour away from the airport, I had to make it.   I asked for help and began a fast, fast walk, breathing hard for air.  Finally the chair came toward me and I quickly sat myself down.

We arrived as the plane was boarding.   I was unloaded at the gate and given a new seat assignment.  Whoops, did I have to ride on the wings?!  Nope, seat assignment 1B, right at the front.  Did they reassign because I was late, because I am old or because I wore my long-ago America West cap?  Never mind, take it and enjoy.  First class leg room, first class meal and first class Bailey’s in my coffee.  One worry that turned into a pleasure.

OK so far.  Cody is a small neat airport and I was met right at the airplane and my bag arrived with me.  Clouds and rain also arrived with me.  However, my big pillow waited in the back seat of the car so I could take my usual afternoon nap and I forgot to worry about altitude sickness. I was starving, we stopped at Granny’s for a full meal and I forgot to worry about upset stomach.  Golly, I was really here, breathing all the wonderful fresh air into my eager lungs. 

Yakety, yak, we all talked at once about possibilities for tomorrow.  Then came three games of Mexican train dominoes, continuing a competition started at our last visit.  

Time for bed.  Anyone who has lived in a small trailer knows how the kitchen table is transformed into a comfortable sleeping spot.  My three pillows appeared, just as I had ordered. I didn’t stay awake to worry any more on this day.

Sunshine the next morning.  I had packed shorts to wear and then came the warning:  “You better bring jeans, it’s chilly up here."  This turned out to be the best advice of the whole trip and I lived in my baggy pedal pushers.  Take the worry of clothes off of my list. 

Yellowstone Park is 30 minutes away from the RV park.  After an excellent breakfast from our RV park kitchen, I curled up in the back seat for my morning nap. “Wake me up when bears are growling in the window.”  

 Instead I was awakened to view the great wide expanse of Yellowstone Lake, the largest lake in the park. About that time I learned and was delighted with the frequent roadside cozy toilets.     
I couldn’t go back to sleep.  Would the higher elevation make me sick?  We arrived at the Continental Divide.  I couldn’t believe it.  Here I am at 8,391 feet and feeling fine. I was still astonished when we crossed the 45th Parallel.  

We came to the Upper Geyser Basin. The park attendant told us:  “45 minutes until time for “Old Faithful” to blow.”  There must have been a thousand people waiting in the area already.  We had a choice.  We could mingle in the increasing crowd in hopes of maybe getting a picture of the top half of Old Faithful.  Or we could head for lunch.  
We decided to enjoy BisonBurgers with huckleberry lemonade in a very comfortable Lodge. 

 Later I would aim the camera at a few pretty geyser streams I could see in the distance.  

The afternoon showed us the Upper Water Falls in the Grand Canyon, IMHO, the second most enjoyable stop of all. 

This day was so good and that meant the next day would be trouble.  After another filling breakfast, we could see the dark clouds bringing rain in our direction.  Despite the omens we started driving on the Chief Joseph Scenic Biway.  Again my worry paid off.  As we traveled higher, the dark clouds disappeared and the sun began to keep us company.  At Dead Indian Pass (8000 ft. elevation), we had beautiful views of the switchbacks which outlined the escape route of the Indians during the 1877 Nez Perce War.   

Could we really have discussed not taking this long route into Montana and back by the Lower Water Falls?  We covered it all.  When we looked over the photos, Nancy had great shots of bison and an elk of some kind with large horns.  I managed to get a chipmunk, a badger and a blob.

And Bison, herds of Bison, grazing in fields.  “Look, look to your right,” Nancy yelled as she aimed her camera.  A big happy Bison was taking a nap right by the side of the road.  I missed it but still had far away blobs of pictures. 

In the evening our fighting dominoes games continued.   I am not going to mention who led or lost in the battle because I don’t want to embarrass anyone.

I thought we had run out of places to see.  Then we discovered the attractions of Cody.  The riders on the Buffalo Bill Trolley Tours sang Happy Birthday to me.  In the evening an out-of-this world buffet dinner with prime rib at the historic Irma Hotel with the cherry wood bar from Queen Victoria to Bill Cody.  Also a candle in Boston Cream pie.    Then a fun Dan Miller’s Cowboy Music Revue. 

On Sunday we visited the friendly Methodist Church.  Old Trail Town gave us lots of speculation about living in those days.  After dinner we enjoyed the variety of the Cody Rodeo.

There were constant stops for photos with Nancy getting great ones and my camera getting great blobs.  We included the tour of the Buffalo Bill Dam.   We enjoyed the Candy Store with tasty fudge and the Indian souvenir stores and Peter’s Sandwiches and the wonderful meal at Proud Cut.  Actually, all meals were wonderful.  We were unanimous that whichever place we were eating was the best. 
I don’t know what happened to those five days.  Suddenly the time had come to depart.  And again there were worries and compensations.  In Salt Lake we sat on the runway with wind blowing ferociously.  We waited what-seemed-like 30 minutes and I wished we would forget about taking off.  After we were in the air, I asked the flight attendant for coffee. 

 Then I inquired:  “Do you have Baileys?”  She did.  And gave it to me on the house with a Happy Birthday.  Passengers leaving the plane again gave me smiles and Happy Birthday.

Yes, the entire week had been a constant reminder that the fun time begins at 88.  I gotta remember this one because surely there couldn’t be a birthday this good when I reach 89.  Or could it?

Thank you so much Nancy and Buford.  
Every day was a gift and a blessing.  

Mariam Lewis Heiny Cheshire