240 miles: Saturday morning – Houston, Texas to hometown Natchitoches, Louisiana.
40 miles: Natchitoches to Kisatchie Bayou Campground, where son, nephew and friends are staying the night.
Son’s car – Flat tire. No spare. No jack. No lug wrench. No air pump. No joke.
Son’s friend – “Leesville is only about 12 to 15 miles south.”
Me – “Oh, ok. We’ll just run to the Wal-mart there and get what we need.” The Man, my son’s fiancée and I jump in my truck.
40 miles later. Wal-mart.
Leesville, Louisiana. Picture? Ok. Leesville is a small city in east-Jesus, Louisiana. It is known for its close proximity to army base Fort Polk. Bible belt meets Military brass. Imagine the weirdness.
40 miles back to the camp. Somewhat quicker. At least seeming that way from the familiarity of the route. And furthermore, by a moment of levity.
Me: “I hope we are getting close to the turn-off at the ranger station.”
The Man: “Oh, we are. I saw that “moderate” sign on the way south.”
Me: “That ‘what’ sign?”
The Man: “Moderāte”
Me: “That’s ‘moderăte’ as in ‘Moderăte Fire Danger.’" The fiancée and I got a good snicker.
A bit further down the road. The fiancée: “I’m a bit chilly. Do ya’ll feel that?” Beat. “It’s moderătely cold in here.”
Flat tire problem solved. Hung out for a couple of hours.
40 miles back to Natchitoches. Watched “Juno” with The Man and the fiancée. Crashed.
10 miles to my sister’s house. Hung out for an hour. Nap. Hung out for another hour.
2 miles to my father’s house. Coffee. Wonderful cake, compliments of my stepmom. Sat outside. Weather, perfect.
240 miles: Natchitoches to our front door (where our dogs were mega-excited to see us; our cats were completely apathetic).
Simply adding the miles: 612 miles.
We could have driven to Destin, Florida to some breathtaking beach. We could have driven to Memphis and listened to some amazing blues. We could have driven to Wichita to see the The Old Cowtown Museum (a replica of an 1870s Midwestern cattle town, complete with a blacksmith, dance-hall girls and sarsaparilla).
We could have done all of those things. I would have missed my family.
For the record, from the Pendleton Bridge that passes over Toledo Bend Reservoir at the Texas-Louisiana state line to our front door - 188.7 miles. This is of no interest to anyone but me, but after this weekend you’ll indulge me. Please?