The Best Laid Plans . . .
The plan was to arrive in Little Rock Monday evening so that Tuesday, when Nicholas' moving van arrived, we could help him unpack and set up his apartment. We would then leave Wednesday morning (Nicholas' first day of work) for a road trip to Branson and Memphis.
What actually happened: Halfway to Little Rock Nicholas texts us that the moving van would be a few days late. And by a "few days" it meant Sunday . . . the day we needed to head home.
So here's what happened: We spent Tuesday in Little Rock with Nicholas, but left Wednesday morning as planned. As much as we wanted to be there for the move-in, it just wasn't meant to be.
[Now about this photo: Wednesday morning Nicholas stopped by our hotel room for one last goodbye (he was headed to his first day of work and we were headed out of town). After the hugs, I grabbed my iPhone and took a sneaky mom photo of Nicholas as he was walking away. I like how the lights are leading him past the exit sign (of his old life) and through the open doorway (to his new life). And the photo is blurry because, well, so were my eyes.]
|Our last view of Nicholas.|
The Forgotten Son
This summer has officially been dubbed "The Summer of Nicholas" by his brothers. Between graduating from Clemson, furniture shopping, flying to Little Rock for an apartment search, and driving to Little Rock to help him move in . . . well, it's been all about Nicholas and the other two have been ignored. Which is why we planned the little road trip. On the drive to Branson, Timothy informed us that he was the most ignored of all. He went on and on (and on and on) about this, and while it was funny there was an element of truth. So we told him he could pick our first family activity in Branson.
Big mistake. He decided a water park would be a splendid idea.
Now, I emphatically, categorically, without a doubt abhor water parks. It's like walking around Six Flags all day in a bathing suit, and who wants to do that? Not me, that's who. And truthfully, Joe and Jonathan weren't thrilled with the idea, either, but we couldn't say no after he just finished telling us how unloved and ignored he was. (The bambino throws a good pity party.)
So we went to the water park which, because it was soooo hot, was a nice way to stay cool.
But I still emphatically, categorically, without a doubt abhor water parks.
P.S. Alas, no photos of the water park. I do have the following photo of Timothy jumping into our hotel pool. We discovered that he jumps really high. Just call him Kanga, or Roo.
|This bambino can jump.|
In which Maria (almost) Disappears in a Helicopter
This was our first time in Branson so I knew we had to see a couple of shows. But how to choose when the Branson Visitor Guidebook listed FOUR pages of shows?!? I truly had no idea there would be so many choices. We were only there two nights, so I decided we'd do one Las Vegas style show and one musical act.
The first night we saw Illusionist Rick Thomas.
Wow. We've never been to a live magic show before, so we were mesmerized. It was artistic, breathtaking, funny, ethereal, and ... magical.
At one point Rick Thomas needed a volunteer from the audience to help with his disappearing helicopter trick (yes, you read that right) and arbitrarily picked a name from that night's ticket sales. When he read the ticket he announced, "Maria ..." and my heart stopped beating right then and there. Really, I couldn't breathe. Joe and the boys looked at me.
But then he said a different last name and I melted into a puddle of relief.
After the show I met Rick Thomas and told him the Maria Story. He had a good laugh.
|I came this close to appearing on stage.|
Through the magic of Facebook, we found out that my Uncle Floyd (my dad's brother) and his family were vacationing in Branson. So we met for lunch and it was great to catch up!
In Which Maria (almost) Runs off with Paul McCartney
The next night we went to see Liverpool Legends, a Beatles tribute show. It turned out to be so much fun. At one point when we were standing (the boys) and dancing (Bia) in front of the stage, Paul McCartney . . . wait for this . . . tossed me his guitar pick.
|Yes, Paul McCartney tossed me his guitar pick.|
|Liverpool Legends . . . such a FUN show.|
Thank You For the Music
When we started our little road trip we didn't realize it was going to be such a musical one. Between the Beatles tribute show in Branson and listening to cd's while driving (The Moody Blues and Tommy by The Who), the musical theme continued in Memphis with a tour of Sun Studio.
This was the coolest thing we did all week.
Elvis Presley, Johnny Cash, Jerry Lee Lewis, Carl Perkins, Roy Orbison, and many others recorded in that studio. Our tour guide was fantastic; he told the best stories as we listened to original demo tapes, and he showed us how a dollar bill taped to the neck of a guitar was the secret to Johnny Cash's distinctive sound. He also brought out the exact microphone all those artists used when they recorded their hits.
|This was, without a doubt, my favorite part of the trip.|
|THE microphone used by so many famous singers.|
What We Didn't Do
Graceland. We had every intention of going, but it was Saturday, with temps in the high 90's, and when we saw tour buses lined up and headed in that direction we changed our mind. Instead, we toured Sun Studio and the Rock and Soul Museum. We walked up and down Beale Street and had the best lunch at Central BBQ. We also visited the Lorraine Motel where Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. was assassinated. It was a sobering and surreal experience to see the exact hotel balcony which we have seen countless times in history books.
|Beale Street, Memphis, TN|
Goofy Photos (because it was a road trip)
Jonathan loves us. Yes, yes he does. He told us so in Arkansas as we stood hundreds of feet underground in Mystic Cavern. At least I think that's what he was saying.
|Can't you tell?|
In Branson, we did NOT eat here. Everything that is Italian in me recoiled in horror.
|That giant meatball is the front door.|
While in Memphis we may not have gone to Graceland, but we did go here . . .
|Yeah, so one of these things is not like the others,|
one of these things just doesn't belong.
I didn't buy this mug, but I should have.
When there is a line to get in a restaurant you know it's good, which is why we decided to eat at Central BBQ where Joe and Timothy basically ordered half a pig. And they ate everything.
|Nothing left but a pile of bones.|