What I Learned On My Long Weekend

 

I’m on the left

I’M BACK

Yeah, I’m coming off of a long, on-the-road weekend. So, I thought that this week, I would drag you along on my adventures. Buckle up!

THE TRIP

The goal was to attend my niece’s wedding in Little Rock, Arkansas. The challenges were many, including the fact there are no direct flights from Seattle and that a round trip would take at least one stop, up to 9 hours in travel-time and cost over $400.

So, I came up with this scheme: use my Alaska Airline miles and fly directly into a city, then rent a car and drive to Little Rock. It turns out, with miles, I could fly round-trip to Dallas from Seattle for miles and $19 cash. Sold! Add in a rental car and gas for a little over $200 and I ended up saving $200, arriving in Little Rock in the same amount of travel time as if I flew there. Plus I got to see parts of the country I may never see again.

Zapruder was standing on this ledge when he took the home movies

THE TOURIST SPOTS

My mom & sister decided to join me on my indirect adventure so we met in Dallas, grabbed a hotel room and then we got up Friday morning and hit Dealey Plaza & the Kennedy museum in the infamous Texas Book Depository. There is so much history in that little chunk of Dallas. As you look down from the 6th floor of the building, you can see white X’s on the road where each of the shots hit the president. You could easily spend hours there listening to audio and looking at a exhibits, but we had an almost five-hour drive ahead of us and a rehearsal dinner to get to.

WHAT STUCK WITH ME THE MOST was when they pointed out that in 1960 when Kennedy was elected, over half of the population of the United States was under the age of 25. Today, that’s like 25%,.

The day after the wedding, we went to the Clinton Presidential Museum not far from our hotel. I was not a fan of the man but I have to say that the museum won me over a little, at least, giving me a higher respect of his accomplishments.  And kudos to the creators for including the Monica Lewinsky chapter of his presidency. I have to say, it’s very odd, looking at a museum of things where you remember everything that happened.

WHAT STUCK WITH ME THE MOST: There are blue boxes full of documents up and down the library in shelves, like books. Over 4,000 of them on display. And that is only 2-3% of the documents resulting from his two terms. Everything is required to be preserved, no matter how insignificant.

At the Clinton Presidential Library

THE WEDDING

The wedding itself was quite the family affair and I was so glad I could make it. We were unable to make my nephew Matthew’s wedding a couple of years ago and I won’t be able to attend his sister Laura’s big event this fall. However, the middle child, Megan, hit a window where I could actually be present. Laura was the Maid of Honor, Matthew was one of three ministers involved in the wedding and their father, my brother-in-law Darrell, another minister, was also in the wedding. Everything went fairly smooth with only a few glitches that happen with every wedding. The biggest challenge was the heat. Little Rock decided to hit the 90s that weekend, with a humidity to match. The church had some air conditioning, that helped. But unfortunately, the hotel where the reception was held, had challenges. They could not get the temperature below the 70s most of the night, which made for a very sweaty evening. On the bright side, doing the emcee duties for the reception, most of my jokes went over. The ones that didn’t, I blamed on the heat.

With our version of the Royal Couple

THE ONE THAT GOT AWAY

I thought of this gag, but in the madness and heat of the evening, I forgot to do it. Here’s what was going through my head earlier in the day.

After the Best Man and the Maid of Honor made their speeches, I opened it up to anyone else who would like to say a few words about the couple. No one stepped forward. That would have been the perfect occasion to have done the gag.

What I supposed to remember to say was, “OK, well, I’ve got a quick story to tell.  The second I arrived in town, I walked up and said, “Look, Megan, I know you and I haven’t been very close over the years and I didn’t get to see you a lot, but it warms my heart to see you getting married and I’m so happy that you found the one and your soulmate.”

And that’s when my sister Terri chimed in with, “Uh, Tim, that’s Laura. Megan’s over there.”

Dang it.
Carters everywhere!

A COOL SIDE-NOTE

When we arrived at our hotel, there were people everywhere wearing lime green shirts. Reading the back of the shirts, they were all part of a Carter family reunion. How awesome. They were everywhere. In talking with a couple of the extended Carter family, it seems that years ago, a couple with the last name of Carter had 15 kids. Over the years, the kids had kids, their kids had kids and now, every year, they gather somewhere for a reunion. It’s a weekend-long event including upwards of 200 people.  I think I heard that next year’s event is in Denver.

THIS TRIP’S SENIOR MOMENT

So, we enjoy a great dinner at a Dallas restaurant, a bit of an upscale establishment, with valet parking. After dinner, we headed out to the car and I tell the valet I was driving a silver Hyundai Ioniq. He spends five minutes looking for the keys, can’t seem to find them and then I remember, I’m NOT in Seattle. Our rental car was a white Ford Escape. More Ginko, please.

I’ll be honest–I was tempted

WHAT I LEARNED DURING THIS TRIP

My old broadcast partner, Bruce Murdock, used to always say, “It’s a pretty poor day when you can’t learn something” and I have to agree. Here are a few of the nuggets I picked up during my 5-day adventure:

  • Apparently, this area of the country has run out of names. They either borrow them from existing places like Paris, New Boston and Mount Vernon, or they take names and scramble them. For example, Texarkana and Arkadelphia. (I’m not making this up)
  • Texas is like Washington used-to-be. They don’t sell liquor in grocery stores, you have to go to a liquor store if you want your hard stuff.
  • Where I live, it’s common to hear in the winter, “It’s 25 with a windchill of 17.” Down in Texas, I heard, “It’s 97, with a heat factor of 101.”
  • Talk about two worlds. I was seat 32 D when I took off from Seattle. (I was so far back in the jet, I think technically, I took off from Tacoma) On the return flight, I was 4A. Just to satisfy your curiosity, 4A was much better.

ONE OF THE BEST MOMENTS OF THE TRIP

It happened when I approached the elevator at our hotel. As I walked up, a guy said out loud, “I think it’s broken, we’re going to have to take the stairs.” As he turned around, I saw he was wearing a San Francisco Giants baseball cap. At that particular moment, I was in my Los Angeles Dodgers polo shirt and pointed it out to him. “You know, we aren’t supposed to get along.”

“Yeah, I know,” he responded. We continued walking towards the stairs and I thought I’d clarify the situation. “Actually, I live in Seattle now. Los Angeles is where I grew up and I’m a Mariners fan now.”

He said, “Seattle? That’s the city I hate the second most. Damn Seahawks.”

We flipped each other grief, got to the second floor, smiled, shook hands and went our separate ways. That was cool.

I figured it was for the guy behind me

THE SOUTH

The one depicted to us up in the northwest is the red-necked bigot named Bubba that still lives in the 1950s. What stands out as you go about your business in Texas and Arkansas is the amazing display of manners. “Yes, ma’am” and “Yes, sir”, doors being held open, people waiting for the ladies to go first, both black and white. People saying “Hi!” or “Good morning” as you walk past them. Manners and civility are quite alive in the south, at least in Little Rock & Dallas.

Heading into Dallas

A DALLAS WARNING

Some tips. If you’re planning to visit soon, be sure to double-check everything you book, including which airport your service is at. For example, I flew into Dallas/Fort Worth airport, only to find out that I had reserved a rental car at the Love Field airport.  For Pete’s sake. Fortunately, they had lots of inventory and it was no problem switching. Then, when I went to drop off the car, I went into the airport only to find out that I had clicked on a return trip to Seattle out of Love Field. Nothing that a $50 cab ride couldn’t fix.

But my adventures weren’t over. I checked into the airline, walked out to where gates 11-20 were located and sat down between 12 and 14. Odd that didn’t have 13 marked. Maybe they felt people were superstitious and they didn’t want to put up a sign. I couldn’t see beyond the big column in front of me, but I just assumed the gate was there.  The arriving flight was late, so it looked like they would be boarding a little later than planned. The next thing I know, I hear my name being announced, paging me to Gate 13.  I walked down past gate 14 and on the left side of the concourse were gates 11 and 13. For double Pete’s sake. I was there an hour before departure and almost missed my flight. I was the very last person to board.

It was a close call with a happy ending and a lesson learned, whenever you might fly to Dallas. This could explain why J.R. Ewing was such a jerk.

WHAT I’D LIKE FROM YOU

Is that when you encounter any of these experiences yourself and they help you avoid some of my misadventures, drop me an email and let me know. We’re all in this together.

Safe travels.

Tim Hunter

 

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