Maybe it was Clark Griswold who once opined “Family vacations ain’t no vacation.” If he didn’t say it, you know he, and all you other dedicated beleaguered dads had to at last think it.
This past week we trekked 1,000 miles between here and Humboldt, Tennessee.
What’s in Humboldt, you might find yourself wondering?
Perfectly reasonable. Vicki’s mom, the boys’grandmother (Gaga), has set up residence with Vicki’s sister, Chrissie, and her husband, Kenny.
They live in an idyllic setting that brings Tara to mind as soon as their home appears after emerging from a clearing.
I expected Rhett to spring out from one of the columns. The homestead is, in a word, breathtaking.
We were there for a visit.
“What are we going to do there?” Chris and Greg queried.
“We’re going to visit Gaga, Auntie Chrissie, and Uncle Kenny,” I said, trying to get the concept of interacting with relatives to two boys in their 20s.
“No, but what are we going to do,” Greg pressed.
After the requisite “visit” banter, I knew we needed to get some “meat” into the day’s activities. And what better way to continue the visit than sitting down to a good buffet lunch.
When I found out we were headed for the Casey Jones Restaurant in Jackson, I just knew there would be a full Grateful Dead tribute band jamming between mountains of food that was a sure-fire cure for the munchies.
Oops, this Casey Jones was the railroad guy and his place had to be the prototype for Cracker Barrel. A diverse buffet coupled with a gift shop that literally had everything.
I wanted to buy our hosts a train whistle, about the only thing they don’t possess, but couldn’t find one.
The pressure was on to find something to do. I’m sure you can relate to the fact that guys in their 20s would rather be deprived of social media than “visit.”
The pressure was on, and like Disney days of old, Super Dad used his superpowers to facilitate a super day.
We headed for the Tennessee Safari Park in nearby Alamo. Billboards are abundant on all interstates. Having experienced childhood trips on Route 66 from California to Oklahoma, I was quite familiar with tourist traps that were proficient on separating me and my brothers from our hard-earned cash.
Watching baby chicks meet their doom provided a welcome respite from riding in that Oldsmobile station wagon. Looking back, I realize those rattlesnakes that provided entertainment enjoyed the buffet we supplied.
The safari park is 180 degrees opposite from any desert flim-flam operation.
Thousands of animals roam free and interact with guests on the nearly six-mile drive through the park. We purchased buckets of food for the two cars and embarked on our “safari.”
Then it was time to hold on to your hat, or rather bucket. We had an ostrich pretty much in the car. The llama and alpaca ran alongside our car hoping for food. The plastic buckets, before being obliterated by the ravenous beasts, were quickly emptied.
The highlight for me was the kiss.
I can now cross being kissed by a camel off my bucket list. It was a wet sloppy one, but its lips were quite soft.
The outing didn’t disappoint. Neither did the visit. In fact, it was downright pleasant to re-connect face-to-face.
We’ve tossed out an invitation for a Thanksgiving gathering. The drive from Humboldt would involve “over the river and through the woods” on steroids.
I’m hoping it happens.
Mike Tasos’ column appears every other weekend. We also ate at Loretta Lynn’s restaurant. Sadly, she doesn’t visit there due to a stroke in 2017. But was a good breakfast and a treat to see all that memorabilia. He is on Facebook and can be emailed at firstname.lastname@example.org.