Well, we made it home. Drove about 1200 miles from 4pm Friday through 1am Monday. Much of that on a scenic mountain highway (steep and crookedy) at night. Poor planner, me. Hit some poor bird on the mountain road, but it was over so quickly that there was no telling what kind of little bird it was - it just shocked the crap out of me, hitting the windscreen as it did directly in front of my face. I decided Saturday to come home Sunday, for reasons I won't go into here.
NEVER drive through Hot Springs on a Friday night, even though the neon in that town is spectacular - see the fountain hotel sign at right (there is a diving maiden scooping around the bottom right of the lettering, but her neon doesn't work anymore, alas!). It took about 45 minutes to drive through a one mile stretch of road - a lone traffic signal near the baths was the culprit, turning green and allowing a scant 2 or 3 cars through at a time, then followed by a 4 minute wait. I have more cool neon photos to post tomorrow or later in the week.
We woke up to the view of the grand canyon of the Ozarks, which was spectacular. I took this photo from the doorway of our room. Hummingbirds were buzzing around, and it was thoroughly charming.
My grandpa seems on the mend from the heart attack he had in May, which was about a month after my grandma's death. It was strange to go there and see the place and her house without her in it. On that dark mountain road I'd played cds of the best of Supertramp and ELO, and I remembered making my teenage escape of family gatherings by sitting in the car to listen to rock and roll radio, some of these very songs playing at that time. Bittersweet, the crushing weight of nostalgia. Your heart could break daily if you let it.
Anyway, lovely visit with grandpa and lots of fabulous hunting stories and stories of what a crack shot he was (my pop is, too.) Here is one of them.
When grandpa was a kid, his mom, Granny Smith, told him to bring his gun because she needed him to kill a chicken for dinner that night. He brought his .22 long rifle and as Granny went to the henhouse, she pointed out the black chicken she wanted shot.
He watched the chicken for a bit, and finally it stood stock still in perfect profile to grandpa, so he took aim at the eyeball and fired. The doomed bird jerked slightly and sat back on its haunches, but remained upright, head unmoving. Granny came out of the hen house and said, "you missed it, Jim," and he said "no, I think I hit it somewhere."
They went up for a closer review, and sure enough, the shell had shot clean through the left eye- not even breaking the rim of the eyelid- and out the right eye, splitting the outer rim the eyelid, otherwise leaving the chicken intact. I asked grandpa if he had to finish the bird off manually, and he laugh and said, "oh, I killed it."