Personal Statement

Personal Statement

Monday, November 8, 2010

McGlinchey Family Vacay - OK Edition

I’ve been offline for a few days while we took a short family vacation, taking advantage of a Fort Worth ISD “waiver day” that happened to coincide with peak leaf-peeping season along the Oklahoma-Arkansas border. I had read in Southern Living about Lakeview Lodge in Oklahoma’s Beavers Bend State Park and wanted to check it out, and when the school calendar was released and we compared our days off to the “best times to go” listed in the article, it seemed like the stars were aligning for us to go here

for a little bit of this

and hopefully a little bit of this

the first week in November.

Plan was to leave Fort Worth around noon on Friday – meaning that we were doing good to get on the road by 3:30. Three and a half hours is the typical McGlinchey departure swing, usually due to dear ol’ daddy Parnell, who has a tendency to announce to the family moments after the car is packed that he needs to get a hearing moved, file a pleading in state court, or swing by the main post office to put some discovery in the mail. (Oh, yeah, by the way – daddy Parnell has a job. He is a lawyer. I don’t talk about that much, huh?) It’s not always work-related – sometimes he waits until the last minute to obtain something critical for the trip itself (you know, like a vehicle), or he feels a sudden need to get the oil changed. We are 100% convinced that he does it on purpose. Mom’s theory: Dad does not like structure, and this is his way of putting Mom on notice that this is NOT going to be one of THOSE trips where everything is planned to the nanosecond. (HA – like we’ve had one of those before. As if that was even within the realm of possibility with our brood.)

What made this trip a little different from the get-go – I was the primary source of our delay. See, I have a job, too – the same kind of job that Dad has. And, on this particular Friday morning, I had a partners’ meeting scheduled, one that I deemed particularly important, as it was my opportunity to make certain marketing sales pitches to “the guys.” The meeting proved very successful (among other things, I got the green-light to begin a commercial leasing law blog or “blawg” – something I have been thinking about for some time), but it ran a bit long. Thus, it was after 12:30 before we had the opportunity to take the dogs to the “doggie spa” and pick up the The Minivan. Renting The Minivan is a critical part of any McGlinchey family trip these days. The boys adore all of the space and amenities, and – well, to be honest – the parents are pretty sold on the features, too. Captain’s chairs to keep the kids separated? Check. Overhead lights and cupholders in every possible location? Check. Enough sunglass holders and adapters for cell phone chargers to keep Mom and Dad from competing for resources? Check and check. Oh, and the very important electrical outlet in the back, useful for plugging in DVD players and charging camera batteries.

Yeah, call us dorks, but we dig the minivan lifestyle. And are actually talking about acquiring one. But, in the interim, we rent.

By the time I dropped the hubby off at the rental place, parked at the elementary school and filled out the necessary paperwork to spring the kids early, it was 1:30, and I had no doubt that my name was being taken in vain by two anxious boys in two different classrooms. You see, as excited as the kids were about The Minivan (Connor is on record that if the Enterprise rental gods ever bestow on us the model with the four swivel chairs and the games table in between, HE WILL HOLD HIS BREATH UNTIL WE AGREE TO ACTUALLY CAMP OUT IN THE MINIVAN, foregoing whatever hotel reservations we may have, AND WE WILL ACTUALLY VACATION IN THE VAN), they were more excited about the prospect of early dismissal. Thus, I got a glare from the older one and a plaintive, “I thought that you were NEVER COMING” from the little one, but, hey – 1:30 is better than 3, right? Specifically, ninety minutes better?

It was as we were driving the handful of blocks back to our house that I noted the police cars. And the families with small, non-school-aged kids gathering on lawns.

Oh, crud – the Arlington Heights High School homecoming parade.

We never fail to get stuck in the parade – notwithstanding the fact that it is mid-afternoon and we are both supposed to be working, inevitably something causes us to be out and about just as the floats pull out.

And, oh, hey –here come the floats now.

Crud, crud and double crud.

Around this time, Connor informs me that (1) oh, yeah, Student Council reps from his school are supposed to be on one of the floats and (2) the two DVDs that I ordered from eBay (using up about-to-expire eBay credits, yay!) for the trip could not be viewed during said trip because “Parker sat on the portable DVD player, and now it won’t spin.”

Drop back and punt time. Called the spouse, and we agreed that we would get halfway down the road and beyond Dallas rush hour before purchasing a new DVD player. (Thus, I am pleased to announce that I have crossed “buy a small electric from a Greenville, Texas, Wal-Mart surrounded by unibrowed Pentecostal women in floor-length dresses” off of my bucket list.) Negotiated with the big kid, who agreed that it was more important to get ready for our departure than ride in a parade, plus there was that whole “I already checked you out of school” thing to contend with. So we finished packing, assembled the suitcases by the front door . . . and went out to watch the parade pass us by.

At some point during our parade-viewing, from our vantage point a block south and another block east from our house, I saw a van in our driveway and thought, “Either we are being robbed, or Daddy’s home.” Squinted and confirmed that, yes, that was our daddy putting suitcases into the van.

Fed and watered the cats, thanked the neighbors for watching them and got on the road by . . . drumroll, please . . . 3 pm. This might be a new McGlinchey record.

Then we spent the next five and a half hours driving 220 miles. Most of the way, the speed limit was 70, and we went the speed limit. So, you do the math. Can someone tell me where the time goes? I guess when you figure in multiple bathroom breaks, the aforementioned Wal-Mart small electric shopportunity with the Penticostals of Greenville, Texas (who, I find incredibly interesting, favor the same hairstyle as the Jersey Shore girls, yet share very little else . . . but they had the “Bump-It” look before Bump-Its were cool, to be sure), plus much dithering over dinner choices, followed by a full twenty minutes of dithering over meal options at Subway, you are looking at some time loss. That, or someone was actually physically MOVING the Lodge away from us as we were driving. I am not ruling out the latter concept as a possibility.

Oh, and I forgot about the first appearance of Admiral Ackbar on Friday night. Admiral Ackbar is the name that Connor and I have given to his father when he gets a little lost, gets back to where he needs to be and then talks himself out of taking the road that he needs to take. Because, you know, it could be a trap. Okay, if you aren’t a fan of Star Wars (which for the record, I am not, but my kids are), or if you aren’t a fan of the Big Bang Theory, then you probably don’t get the reference, but Admiral Ackbar is the squidlike fellow (George Lucas actually named the species the Calamari, which should make me like George Lucas just a little bit, but it doesn’t) who, in one of the movies (okay, I actually know which one, dang it, kids! – it’s “Return of the Jedi”) utters the phrase, “It’s a trap!” in a very distinctive voice, subsequently imitated by Sheldon Cooper on BBT. So, when we are looking for a particular road, pull up to a sign that says “Particular Road, This Way” and Parnell TURNS IN THE OPPOSITE DIRECTION FROM THE SIGN, he is being Admiral Ackbar. Prompting Connor and I, in our best Obi-Wan Kenobi voices, to intone, “This is not the road you are looking for.” Because he says “These are not the droids you are looking for” in . . . forget it.

All I can say in my defense is, humor is better than homicide. And that humor kept me out of jail during the handful of Admiral Ackbar moments that we had on this trip.

After a little “driving around” (directions from our house to Beavers Bend are basically, “Turn left as you exit the neighborhood, drive 165 miles, turn left again, and you will run into the Lodge in 60 miles or so,” but there is a little jog involved in that second left turn that gave us some grief), we ultimately made it to Beavers Bend Park, and in relatively good spirits. Adding to our overall good mood: we saw multiple deer along the approach to the Lodge, and managed to avoid hitting any of them; check-in took less than five minutes; room was as advertised, spacious with a porch overlooking the lake; and we agreed that it was kind of cool arriving at night, because we had no real sense of what our room was pointing AT – so when we woke up in the morning, the view would be a surprise.

Tune in tomorrow for Day 2 of McGlinchey Family Vacation – Oklahoma Edition.

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