We didn't conquer Smaug or find any "Lord of the Rings" but we did go, there and back again -- to Dalhart, that is. We had a good, uneventful, but full trip. For us, uneventful is a really good thing. Did I say it's a long drive to Dalhart from Waco?
We made it to Dalhart Friday evening, Marty riding in the back of the van the whole way. When we pulled into the parking lot of the Holiday Inn Express I pointed out to Marty the addition of two life size palomino horse statues in the front of the motel. They are really quite striking with their gold color and their raised chests and front legs high in the air. Marty, as is her custom, pointed out the obvious, "they don't have any genitalia." What a great way to start our visit.
We always have to eat at least one of our meals at a local steakhouse called Bar H. It used to be really up town, it was a K-Bobs. Now, it's got a great salad bar inside a Conestoga wagon, has a really big chicken fried steak, and soft-serve ice cream. We met some really good friends there for supper and Marty, as she normally does, had the small version of the chicken fried steak.
The next day we introduced Noah to Great Gran Jean at Coon Memorial Nursing Home. I think GG Jean was a tad bit over stimulated by the Noah and the Lyle and the regular grandkids all barging in on her perfectly good nap. She met Noah, she met Lyle and that was that. We left with promises to return before supper.
For lunch we went with another set of friends and our whole clan to another local restaurant. Marty rarely even looks at a menu but did this time. When I asked if she wanted a sandwich, she said, "No, I want a chicken fried steak."
I tried to talk her out of that, "How about a hamburger?"
"No, I want chicken fried steak."
"How about a grilled cheese? You ate a chicken fried steak last night."
"No, I want a chicken fried steak," she insisted.
This went on for a couple more tries on my part; Marty would not relent. Chicken fried steak it was, again.
That afternoon we made it to the cemetery to see Marty's Father's plot. Marty really likes wind chimes and she once told me when she hears a wind chime she hears the voice of her Dad. This visit we hung a small chime on a shepherd's hook at Arty's grave. It's a little bit odd to have a wind chime at a west Texas cemetery but I think Arty would like it; Marty does and I like that.
We went back to see Marty's Mom right before supper. She was more alert and much more engaged for the afternoon visit. We all crowded around her room and just talked, visited and watched the baby crawl on the floor and get rug burns on his sweet knees.
I asked Jean what she wanted to be called, now that she was a great grandmother. We tried great grand this and great grand that, offering her alternatives. Our kids always called her Nanny and thought we she go with Great Grand Nan, she thought and puzzled on this for a while before saying, "I don't feel like a grand or great anything, I think I want to be Less Nanny." She kind of giggled as 85 year old women do and we all laughed and enjoyed her joke.
That night we went back to the Bar H for supper so the kids could get their genuine taste of Dalhart meat. As we sat down at our table and looked at menus I looked at Marty and said, "Not chicken fried steak again?"
She looked at me, smiled, and said, "Yes, I want chicken fried steak."
I looked at her, started to argue with her, my kids looked at me and as a chorus said, "let her have what she wants."
Of course I relented, there are so few times we splurge with what we eat and even fewer times where Marty says, this is what I want. Her insistence, her stubbornness about the chicken fried steak was the old Marty and we always like it when the old Marty rears her head, like when she points out the sexless horses at the Holiday Inn.
The next day we left for the back part of our journey, back to Waco. Nine hours in the van, again, we were there and back again. It's a long, flat drive interspersed with very typical small Texas towns and the object is to make good time without getting a speeding ticket. We made good time.
When we pulled into our driveway in Waco I had road fatigue and was glad to be home. I crawled into the back of the van to move Marty into her wheelchair and I asked her if she had a good time. She said, "Yes, but get me out of this car." I couldn't agree with her more. Didn’t I say it was long way there and back again?
*with credit to Bilbo Baggins, one of my favorite Hobbits