August 31, 2009

The Crud

I'm not sure what it was that made me think I could avoid catching whatever crud it was that Malcolm had, but I was wrong. Last Saturday Malcolm complained all day of a sore throat. We thought he'd just fumed himself in the garage while working on the truck. But literally moments after we'd finished the last job on the new truck and trailer, he suddenly felt awful, and about an hour later developed a high fever complete with chills and aches. He was that way pretty much all night and into Sunday. Luckily we were done with the work in the garage, so he was able to lay around and try to recoup, though he's felt lousy all week and has been fighting congestion and a cough.
I was trying to steer clear, as much as you can avoid each other in a truck, and thought I had been successful, but alas, Saturday I developed all my old allergy symptoms, sneezing, watery eyes, stuffy nose. I thought maybe I was just allergic to Nevada, but by Washington it was getting worse, and then yesterday evening...WHAM.....hit the fever achy stage like a brick wall. I haven't been sick like this in years and its not fun! My boss gave me the day off for a sick leave day, but you know...it's just not the same a curling up on the couch watching food network and eating warmed up chicken noodle soup, which is pretty much what I'd like to do right now.
Anyway, this morning I layed in bed while he unloaded and I think the whole fever stage is over. I just feel wiped out and now I get to cough for a week. Lucky me!

This was the scene Saturday night as we left Winnemucca, NV. We drove about an hour north and parked. No hurry on this load. The whole thing was about 550 miles and we had from Friday night to this morning to get here.

In this business its the small delights that make a day great. We went grocery shopping on Saturday as we were more or less out of everything. If you recall I mentioned that our new fridge has a small freezer section in it. I've never trusted those little freezers b/c the only time I've used one, it let the stuff melt all over everything. But I thought I'd give it another try with some frozen sorbet cups or something that wouldn't leak. And then I found these...Itty bitty single serve size of coffee ice cream by Haagen-Dazs. Ooooo the possibilities! They fit perfectly in the freezer and as it turns out...this one freezes things really well. This could be a very bad thing to discover.

August 26, 2009

The New Johnson Trucking...On The Inside

I was intending to give a "tour" of the new truck, and then my sister requested pictures of the "splurges" I was mentioning, so I'll just go ahead and get busy with the introduction to our truck. We'll start with the inside. Now, please realize that its really hard to take pictures in the truck. Regardless of how much more spacious it is, and it really is, its not going to look it in the pictures. So just take my word for it.

Our former truck was a Kenworth T-600. This one is a Kenworth T-660. Basically all that means is the model, and I really couldn't explain to you all the differences. But our T-660 has 14 extra inches in the sleeper, and let me tell you, 14 inches makes a world of difference.

As I explained the other day, we splurged on some things this time. We figured if we're living in this thing, why not have all the creature comforts we can get...along with some fancy gadgets. I mean, nothing wrong with looking cool while your at it. Malcolm sat down with the guys at Motor Power in Billings, and they pieced this truck together from the ground up. Its built to be as light as possible, as fuel efficent as possible, and still have all sorts of fancy gadgets and such on it. When it was all said and done, the guys at Motor Power were really looking forward to seeing it. It has several new items on it that they had never seen ordered before. I think everyone is impressed with it.

We have about 10 inches more floor space than before. I know, it doesn't look like it, but its huge, and the girls are loving it. Paris doesn't even get in the bed during the day. She and Ella spent the day lounging on the floor and in their little dog bed back there. In addition the lower bunk is 4 inches wider.

See the cabinets below? That skinny tall one on the right is new. The old truck didn't have that one. There is one on each side of the sleeper, so we got two extra cabinets.

This isn't new, but I thought I'd include it on the tour. The Entertainment Center and pantry. We keep our logs on the computer and also have to make copies of bills, so I keep the printer up here. And our TV. Malcolm made a stand for it so when we want to watch, it can swing out and then we can put it away flat against the wall when we don't want it. Another one of his amazing inventions.

Windows that open and have screens on them. The windows by the upper bunk always opened, but these are much larger, and before they were just glass. And also the built in fan there is nice to have. We had a refrigerator in the old truck. But this one is so nice and clean and NEW! And when I opened the door the other night I discovered that it has a light that comes on inside...just like a real one! We got excited over that. It also has a little freezer section which the old one didn't have, so that's also going to be fun. Silly I know, but it's kind of cool!

Leather seats in lovely shades of black and gray. They have the usual air ride in them, as well as the back and seat adjustments. But they also recline all the way back AND Malcolm got the seat heaters too. Paris is going to LOVE that this winter.

A sunroof that opens, and it has shades that you can pull from the center to each side if it gets too bright.

The leather wrapped "smart wheel." Formally the controls for the cruise, jake brake, and lights were on the dash. Now its all on the wheel.

About twice as many gauges and switches as before, and I don't know what half of them are for. But is sure does look cool!

The Cummins RoadRelay. This little beauty is mounted about the visor on the driver's side. It, in great detail, monitors all aspects of the engine like fuel economy, gallons of fuel burned while idoling, etc. It's main use is to assist us in adjusting our driving to achieve the highest fuel efficiency possible. This lovely little box cost $1000, but hopefully it will pay for itself in fuel savings.

And then there is this... the thing that is single handedly making my job a living nightmare. The shifter for the 18 speed transmission. It has two splitters instead of one, and 18 gears instead of 10, and I simply am having a miserable time making it work for me. Last night I took over driving just north of Kansas City. Got through town all right, but then I got off the interstate to head south to Oklahoma, and went through a very popular shopping area that stretched for miles and must have had about 300 traffic lights. I swear I lost my gear at every light, and of course every light turned red on me! I felt like I stopped at ALL of them. It was a miserable night, and by the time it was finally over, my back, head, eyes, hands, fingers, stomach, and everything else hurt from the tension. But it did get a little better before the night was over...a little. Its just not much fun dreading my driving shift, and so far today I've avoided it, but I know its coming. Its coming very soon.

Those are most of the changes, the biggest one's anyway. There's some new stuff on the exterior too, but I'll show you those in the next post.

August 24, 2009

Still Living Despite What the Owl Says

Back on the road today, our maiden voyage in the new truck. It has had some nerve racking moments for me, but overall OK. This truck is an 18 speed, where as the other one was a 10 speed. So the shifting pattern is different and I'm having trouble adjusting.

However, there's a short 150 miles left to our destination and I'm still alive. Based on a little occurrence this morning, I'd say that's a miracle of sorts....that is is would be if I were a superstitious person. Let me explain.

Last night I took a few moments to read a little of my current book. (If you want a full review of the book, click on its picture in the side bar.) In short the story is in part about an Apache girl. In the portion I read last night, the girl wakes in the night and hears an owl and is frightened. According to the author, in Apache beliefs, if you hear an owl then someone is going to die. Even worse, is to hear the owl, and then see it fly across your path. If this happens, then you are the one that is going to die.

The alarm clock went off around 6:00 this morning and I thumped the snooze and lay there for a while listening to a very slow drizzle of rain on the metal roof, trying to avoid getting up. And suddenly I heard an owl calling, quite close. We hear them frequently in the trees that are in the surrounding area, but our 10 acres is open and most of the land immediately bordering us is as well, so the owls are always heard, but distant. I rolled over and glanced out our open bedroom window and there he sat. A Great Horned Owl was sitting on the ridge of our garage roof, just yards away from the bedroom window. He sat there and hoo-hooed a number of times while I watched, and immediately the part of the story I read last night came to mind. How strange that I should read that, and then wake up to an owl.

And then suddenly, he turned and seemed to look directly at me, though I'm sure he was looking at the house itself, and lifted up on his silent wings. He flew directly at me, and it almost seemed as though he were going to fly right through the bedroom window, only he pulled up at the last minute, and I saw his shadow float across the window and floor as he passed and landed on the roof right above our heads, where he sat for a while longer continuing his morning serenade.

Like I said its a good thing I'm not superstitious because if I were, I'd have had a miserable day awaiting my eminent death. But I'm not, so I was able to snicker at the coincidence with amusement, and then enjoy the wonder and awe of such a close encounter with one of these allusive animals God created. It was an awesome way to start the day.

The truck is really cool, though like I said, the whole shifting thing is weird. But we'll get used to it. Other than that, we're already getting 6.5 miles per gallon, where as we averaged 5.8 with the old truck, and this one isn't even broke in yet. And the sleeper portion is amazing. One wouldn't think 14 inches would make a significant difference, but we feel like we have a castle back there. There is so much room! And we have been playing with the remote door locks, the sun roof that opens, and our new trailer lights that we added all day. We splurged on this truck and got a few luxuries. Well....we LIVE in it...so I guess we figured there wasn't any harm in making it really nice for ourselves. I mean when your confined to an 86 inch fiberglass box for a home...might as well have it be really comfy!

We're delivering just east of here in Minnesota in the morning. From there...who knows? That's one thing that is really fun about this job. Everyday is a mystery, and every trip holds something new to discover and enjoy.

August 21, 2009


Way back in the spring, when we were still working with Steve and home once a week or so, I bought some zinnia seeds to plant in my flower beds by the house. I was thinking I'd be home to water them at least once in a while, pull a few weeds, etc. Then around the end of April, after sitting at home for a month with practically no work, we bought the hopper trailer and hit the road long term. The day before we left, while Malcolm was taking a nap, I went out and pulled all the weeds out of the beds by the porch, raked them, and then tossed in my seeds. I figured I had nothing to loose. The seeds won't last un-planted, and at best I might get lucky and get a few that were strong enough to brave the Montana summer without loving hands to tend them.

Around mid-June I when we came home, I discovered that the previous owners must have had sunflowers growing there, and I had a few volunteers that had come up. Pulled a few more weeds, and found tiny zinnias. They were no where near where they needed to be for that time of year.

Came home in July to go to TN, and the zinnias were hanging in there, and I had one sunflower about to open.

Came home this past weekend to find this surprise!

I have beautiful zinnias and 5 sunflowers just as happy as can be! They sure brighten up the place. And there are lots more zinnias that are almost ready to bloom. I wish I were going to be around to see them. They are all so pretty! I just picked a few to enjoy inside for our last couple days at home. I love zinnias. They always remind me of Mom's garden. She's always had a zinnia bed and I think its always been my favorite part of her garden.

Monday doing laundry....always a big job when we come in off the road. My little Paris is always cold, so she LOVES warm laundry. Normally she settles for the laundry basket full of clothes fresh from the dryer, but....
...apparently she was either really cold, or had a sudden brain storm. I had walked away with a shirt to lay it on my ironing board, came back to get another arm load, and when I bent down to scoop it out of the dryer, I found her curled up in it. It was very hard to make her get up and move. I was tempted to just let her stay. But I wanted to finish. Now every time I'm down there doing laundry, even if its putting wet clothes in, she makes sure she pokes her head in to see if its warm. I've had to make her get out a couple times and it just breaks my heart. I finally laid her in the basket of warm clothes, carried it upstairs, and just let her sleep in them. I folded them later, and had to do a little extra ironing, but....it was worth it just to see her so happy.

August 20, 2009

A Taste of Home

Just a few moments of our home time captured to share with you.

First the rodeo last Saturday night. Jessica and I had a really good time on our girls night out at the rodeo! It was small, and outside, and the weather was cool so we had jackets on. It also spit rain at us off and on, but we hunkered down like true cowgirls and stayed in our seats while others ran for cover.

Off with the old and on with the new. Here's a sneak peak at the new Johnson Trucking! More to come on this later.

Malcolm is really really proud of the new truck. I'm glad he's so pleased with it.

My view Monday night as I waited for Malcolm to come in from looking at his new baby (the truck).

I've been doing a little cooking, not much but some. Sunday morning I made this for breakfast. (took the photo with Malcolm's cell phone so its not a very good picture.) Don't judge the the dish by this picture. It was really really good! Mind you, I'm not saying good FOR you, but it was good. For my birthday, my in-laws gave me several fun things, and one of them was a cookbook, from which I got this recipe. First thing I've tried from the book, but if the rest of the recipes are anything like this...its definatly a winner for a cook book!

Here's the recipe:

Peaches and Cream French Toast

16oz loaf of french bread, cut into thick slices

8oz pkg of cream cheese, softened

1/3 cup peach preserves

3 eggs

1/2 cup milk

1/2 tsp vanilla

1/4 tsp cinnamon

Cut a pocket in each slice of bread, being careful not to cut all the way through, or puncture the sides. Combine cream cheese and preserves. Carefully spoon cream cheese mixture into each pocket.

Combine the eggs, milk, vanilla, and cinnamon, whisking till well mixed. Dip each slice of bread into the milk mixture, coating each side. Shake off excess, and place in pre-heated skillet. Cook on each side until nicely toasted. Serve with powdered sugar or maple syrup.

We just used the powedered sugar and it was plenty and delicious. Also, I'm thinking of trying it again with another type of presevervs, like strawberry. I think there are lots of variations we could try!

And for a parting shot...

As I sat here at the kitchen table working on uploading pictures, I glanced over to see what the girls are doing. Paris is curled up in my lap sleeping. The other two found the best seat in the house...the rocker warmed with the afternoon sunshine. I love this photograph!

Now a couple of favors to ask. I don't normally use my blog for this sort of thing, but I thought I'd go ahead and impose. I have a couple of prayer requests, and I am a firm beleiver in the power of prayer, so I thought I'd reach out to as many as I could through this.

I have a very close friend whose husband has just left her, and has now confessed, and is flaunting his new girlfriend. Its a very painful time for her, for all the obvious reasons, and she is confused and angry and just so very hurt. Please pray for both of them.

Also, I recieved a call from Mom last night. She was calling to let me know that my cousin had been told he had cancer in his thyroid. They did surgery to remove the thyroid, and discovered that the cancer is malignant, and also he's having a tough recovery from the surgery. So if you could also please pray for him and his family in this difficult time.

Many thanks to you all and I'll be back around in a few days! Happy weekend!

August 19, 2009

Home, or so I Think

Been home since Friday night, and yet not home at all, I feel.
Went to the rodeo, delivered the load to Three Forks, picked up the new truck, delivered the old truck, got my hair done, and so on. Actually we've been home, but not home. What time we've had here, has been spent gutting the old truck, and now he's out there designing and building computer stand parts and other such things for the new one. Tomorrow is moving day, provided he gets all his stuff done so I won't be in his way. I've got to move all our things back in the new truck, and in a way its a shame. Its so nice and clean and unmarred in there, and I kind of hate the thought of disturbing that. But in we must go!

Thought we might leave Saturday on a good paying load to Los Angelas (ick!), but alas, it fell through (we're both clapping our hands and smiling inside). The money would have been great ($2.00 a mile!) but we both wanted to stay home. So we'll try and have this wrapped up by the end of the day Friday, or at least my part will be...he can do what he wants...and we'll take the weekend off to really be home! Just a couple days for a breather before we hit it hard again!

The new baby is beautiful! I'll have pictures later.

Montana is treating us well this week. Saturday and Sunday the high's were in the mid-60's. WONDERFUL weather! Since Monday its been a little warmer, in the 70's, and I think it was supposed to be around 80 today. And apparently it rained last night, a good soft soaking rain. We needed that. It feels, smells, and almost looks like fall! I know that seems crazy to my southern relatives and friends, but....that's Montana and I'm not complaining. I'm loving it!

August 17, 2009

The "S" Word

I'm going to say it. Are you ready? Here goes!

We just left Billings. Have to run to Three Forks, west of Bozeman to deliver this wheat. We just pulled past the west end of Billings and I looked up from my computer and.....
there is fresh SNOW on the mountains.

Yep...August 17th...and there is snow!

Here we go...

My Sunday Stills post is below, a day late but posted all the same.

Sunday Stills: Clouds

Posting this one a day late. We were home yesterday working all day to unload all our stuff from the truck. Plus I never have a strong Internet signal when we're home.

Last weeks Sunday Stills challenge was "Clouds."

I snapped this one on our way home Friday evening. Crossing into Montana out of Wyoming, we were surrounded by storms all the way home. This was just south of Crow Agency, MT. Not a great shot, but still pretty. It was more impressive in person. We got in the door of the house and less than 5 minutes later a deluge came..literally a wall of water falling from the sky accompanied by lots of lightening.

This one I took last fall when we were haulin' cows. This was in Nebraska north of Bridgeport.

Shortly after taking this picture, I put away the camera and just watched the clouds. That was the wrong thing to do! I was just looking and looking and suddenly realized I was looking at a small tornado descending. It hit the ground, but by the time I had retrieved my camera from the sleeper, it had disintegrated and was withdrawing into the clouds again. It wasn't much of one, but it was the first tornado I've seen in person, up close. Later down the road we passed through an area that had been hailed out. The corn stalks were stripped naked, and there were drifts of hail along the road.

To see more Sunday Stills go here.

August 14, 2009

Next to Last

After delivering to Nestlie Purina in Flagstaff, we parked and slept a few hours. Then Malcolm got up to drive the 35o miles north to Redmond, UT. I woke up around 7:00am and this is the view that greeted me.

The Utah state line on US 89. This is a pretty pretty drive. US 89 runs all the way from Flagstaff to I-70 in Utah. Basically you are squeezing in between the Grand Canyon and Arches National Park, and passing the turn offs for those as well as Bryce's Canyon, Zion National Park, and several other special areas. So you can use your imagination as to what an incredible drive it is!

We loaded around noon in Redmond and I drove east on I-70 towards Denver. More beautiful scenery, and then the Rocky Mountains. Its amazing that they even got a road through there! The had to elevate the road, east and west bound on two different levels, because its such a narrow steep canyon along the river. You have to crane your neck in order to see the sky because the canyon walls are so high. Not much of an opportunity for picture taking at 65 mph though. Malcolm had gotten back up and was driving again, so I guess I could have tried, but I decided to just enjoy it for myself.

Spent the night at a parking area about 80 miles west of Denver, and then drove on in here this morning.

A sure sign that winter is around the corner! We delivered a load of "icesliver," (which is apparently some kind of road deicer) to the Denver road department for the toll road around Denver. Ahh, the anticipation of winter is getting to me. Call me crazy, and most Montanan's will, but I am looking forward to fall, all two weeks of it, and winter. I know I was sick of it just a brief 3 months ago, but this time of year I always get the fall/winter bug!

This is our truck's next to last trip. We're loading later this morning just north of Cheyenne and taking that to Three Forks, MT which is about 45 miles west of Bozeman. Then we'll drive home, strip the truck of all our stuff, and Monday we'll deliver her to Kenworth in Billings and bring home the new baby!

I'm excited about every aspect of the new truck, save one. And forgive me for not knowing the ins and outs of it, but something about the transmission is different and requires a different pattern of shifting. There are two splitters on the gear shifter, instead of one like we have now. I'm nervous about catching on quickly enough to suit me. (I'd explain what a splitter is to everyone but it feels too complicated for this early in the morning. Maybe in a later Trucking 101 I'll cover that.)

Jessica just called and wanted to know if I'd be home Saturday night. Yes I will be, I told her. Well this week was Montana Fair in Billings, and Saturday night, the last night, they always have the rodeo. Jessica said she could get free tickets from her Dad, and wanted to know if we want to go with her. Me, I'm bouncing in my seat with excitement! I LOVE rodeo! Malcolm...I haven't told him he's going yet. He's not such a big rodeo person. Well, I won't make him go, but maybe just us girls will go. I know, I know...I ought to be working on gutting the truck...but I can play a little, can't I?

(actually I plan to play a lot *wink*)

August 12, 2009


Good morning from Albuquerque, NM. We reloaded yesterday in Wichita, KS, soy bean meal, and drove most of the night to get here. Its a beautiful day, with clear sky's and temps only in the high 60's (so far). There were hot air balloons launching north of the city, but I was too far away to get a decent picture. I'm not sure what it is about Albuquerque and hot air balloons, but seems like it's a common site around here, for they are often hovering over the city when we drive through. I think its been a year or maybe a little longer since we've been down here. I think central and northern New Mexico is really pretty. We always enjoy coming down here because of the scenery, and also because the people are so nice. Also, there is some good eatin' down here. There's a great little restaurant in Moriarty, just east of here, that we always stopped at. It was hard to drive past this morning and not stop, but I imagine they wern't open at 6:30 anyway.

Its pretty driving through Albuquerque...that is if you can look past all the traffic and construction that I think must have been going on for at least three years, maybe more. I love the colors they have used.

Buildings, barriers, and overpasses are all decorated in shades of terra cotta and turquoise. (please excuse the bug spots on the windshield in the above picture).

We're reloading near here and heading to Flagstaff, AZ. We're supposed to be working our way back to Billings, to get the new truck, and I'm not real sure how Flagstaff is enroute to Billings, but I'm trusting our broker to know what he's doing.

In all our frustration last weekend over our load being canceled, we forgot Carlie Jean's birthday on Friday. Luckily, she was busy taking long naps with Malcolm and running around in the thick Arkansas grass to notice. So she forgave us, and we celebrated Monday night with ice cream from Brahms (for us, not her.) So, Happy Birthday Carlie. She's a whoppin' 2 years old now! I think maybe the "terrible two's" are true for dogs also. She's been rather difficult lately, really wound up and not listening very well.

August 10, 2009

Road Trip - Longstreet, LA

When last I left you, our load to Idaho had been canceled and we were stranded in Arkansas till Monday morning. Well its Monday morning and we are waiting our turn to load in Pine Bluff, going somewhere in Oklahoma.
Deciding not to sit in De Witt, AR all weekend, we went ahead and drove to Pine Bluff, rented a car, and went on a road trip. Now one might think, "but they go on road trips daily for a living." But its not the same. Road trips are spontaneous ventures out into unknown places, generally in vehicles that can be parked in tight places, make U turns easily, etc. We went on a road trip, our first in several years.
The car:

The girls in the car:

We had to take them, so we got a rental that had two keys, and when we'd leave the car, we left it running and locked it. So they chilled in the AC, while the two of us swam our way through the dense humidity of Louisiana in August.

We drove about 220 miles south to Longstreet, LA. Its just south of Shreveport, and pretty close to the Texas line. Malcolm's grandfather grew up here, so we went to find his old home place and the ancestors that are buried there. In its day, Longstreet had several cotton gins, mercantiles, and service stations. Today, its pretty much reduced to a post office, convenience store/cafe, and the city hall.

I'm just going to hit a few highlights here, as I took over 100 pictures.
Longstreet, LA:

The cemetery

Malcolm's great grand-father and great-great grandparents are buried here, along with a few other relatives.

Frank and Priscillar Johnson, his great-great grandparents

We also found the old home place. This was originally a 40 acre cotton farm, with the house and barns being built by Malcolm's great grandfather. The house burned back in the 60's, but the barn is still there, though leaning badly. Malcolm said we'd probably be the last family members to see it standing.

This corner housed the school where his grandfather went. It was torn down years ago, but the old bell is still there, as well as the swing set.

We also drove north to the town of Keachi. Malcolm's great-great grandmother was raised in this house, just west of town. The house was built around 1850. We went to the door to ask permission to take a picture, and the wonderful lady who lives there now gave us a tour of the house. Its in wonderful condition, so well cared for and loved, and decorated in period pieces and styles appropriate for the era. It was an unexpected and delightful treat!

In the 1980's the house was struck by a tornado and pushed off its foundation. The roof was torn off and the west side of the house was badly damaged, but it's been restored and is absolutly beautiful. It origianally had 4 rooms and a detached kitchen. They have very tactfully closed in the back porch adding a bathroom, den, and office and connecting the kitchen to the main house. It was so well done, one wouldn't know it wasn't original, except for the windows inside the house.

She directed us to the gentleman who lives here, in town, who knew lots about the community and its people. He's in the process of restoring this house. There are a number of buildings in Keachi that are in incredible condition, just waiting for someone to come love them and return them to their former glory. It was a very special little town.
A church, and the ladies college that it started. Malcolm's great-grandmother went to school here.

Saturday evening we drove south to Natchitoches, which was the closest hotel without going back to Shreveport, and stayed the night. Then Sunday morning we drove to Marthaville, LA. His grandfather's mother grew up here, and was supposedly buried here along with his sister. We walked and walked through that cemetery, but couldn't find them. We also tryed to contact his grandfather's cousin who still lived there, but she wasn't home. Later that evening, when we had already headed back north, she called and told us where the graves were at. We must have walked right over them several times, and were disappointed that we had missed them. Emma June said she had pictures from the family, so next time we can stop down there we're going to find the graves, and also visit June and see pictures, as well as the old home place there.
Leaving Marthaville feeling discouraged, we drove to Belmont where another relative had been. I think it was someone on his grandfather's mother's side, but I can't think what the exact relation was. This gentleman passed away a few years ago, but his children are still maintaining the home place. It was a very pretty and peaceful place with the house, two small barns, and the large yard nestled into the woods. There was no one there, but a neighbor who directed us to the place had nothing but praise for the couple that had lived her. Wish we could have met them.

From Belmont we swung back through Longstreet for one more look and a few more pictures we wanted, and then headed back north into Arkansas and work. It was a rewarding and fulfilling weekend. We had a lot of fun exploring, meeting people, and seeing some of Malcolm's heritage. We came away with a lot.

We are absolutely eaten up with chiggers from snooping around in one of the cemeteries. Malcolm's suffering more than me, having about 10 times as many bites as I do. And I was attacked by mosquitoes in Keachi. But aside from our itchiness, we also came away with lots of memories and over 100 pictures to share with family. I do hope we get to go back by and meet that cousin in Marthaville sometime.

Families are so spread out these days, stretched from one end of the country to another. So it was special to be able to take advantage of our canceled load and utilize the time to visit a place in our families past that contained so much history.