Sunday, August 24, 2008

Texas or Bust!

The Bielicki family left the safety of their Chicago land suburb to brave the rough and rugged state of Texas. Since we have many "Griswold" type of vacations, we now travel ready for, well, we will call them contingencies. We now keep a journal when we travel to help lighten mishaps along the way. This is a very fun family activity, and the whole family usually contributes many times by calling out, "make sure you put that in the journal!" We left our home at 3:30 am with Fearless Fred at the wheel. Everyone else fell asleep, so he watched the sun rise over the corn fields of Illinois as he drove us southward. At 7:00 am our first stop was at a rest area at Rend lake. There were gnats flying everywhere, but we found a huge spider that had made a well placed web, and was gobbling them up like breakfast cereal!
The gigantic spider web was suspended between these two trees, about 12 feet apart. With discoveries like this, God's creation never ceases to amaze us.
At 8:12 am, we passed the Missouri state line, just over the Mississippi River.
The size and beauty of this river never ceases to amaze me as well. It is no wonder that Mark Twain found so much inspiration around this geographic site for his American classics.
We were making great time because at 10:05 am we passed the Arkansas state line. It was obvious right away that we were in the "Bible Belt" when we saw a bill board that said, "Jesus Saves!" and still others with Bible verses printed on them. Then we started to see Baptist Churches. In the Chicago area, many churches have dropped the Baptist affiliation, because they see it as offensive, or divisive. Even though I realize that "Baptist" is just a denominational name, it is still a name that I am proud to worship under, and it was refreshing to see so many churches publish is unashamedly. At 12:30 pm we stopped at a Dollar General in Carlisle, Arkansas. I had an interesting conversation with the clerk who said she had gone as far north as Wisconsin, but hated the traffic, did not want to stop in Chicago, and was so happy to return to the quiet south. I might agree with her about the traffic, but I still love Chicago!

At 1:00 pm we crossed the Arkansas River and could now see the capitol city of Little Rock. We then turned on to I30 south and saw a huge "Bingo" advertisement. Since Fred's family is regular bingo players, he said, "now we know we are in the south!" Oh, and the bingo sing was across from a Baptist church.
At 2:18 pm we stopped at Prescott, Arkansas to refuel our gas tank and our stomachs. Don't you just love those rest stops that have multiple restaurants? Subway and Taco bell, what more could you ask for!Since our van has been unpredictable as of late, Fred arranged with a good friend to swap our Chevy truck for this Pontiac G6. It made traveling a little snug, but the gas millage was great, and this little car was very fun to drive on the highway! At 3:30 pm we passed Hope, Arkansas, birth place of President Clinton, Fred said, "Look, there's Hillary, in that tree." It sounds a little lame now, but we laughed a lot at the time! Fred's family did not expect us until late Sunday night so you can imagine how excited we were when we crossed into Texas at 3:30 pm! We arrived in Garrison, Texas at 5:30 pm! He was so happy to see his sister and mother. We had to wait to see the others when they got home from work and of course, bingo.
Fred really surprised his family. Here he is hugging his sister, Lori. She is the closest in age with Fred so they share alot of similar memories.
It has been too long since we visited, so the girls were so happy to see their wonderful Grandma Mateson. She seemed pretty happy to see us as well, especially Fred. We were grateful for God's watch care over us while we traveled, and even more thankful that the big state of Texas had a family with big hearts to great us!

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