Our last vacay day was considerably less eventful than our “voyage o’ potential death” along the Talimena Scenic Byway. We said goodbye to the lake and the lodge and went on one last drive through the forest so Mom could get some leaf pics:
Saw these odd characters along the way:
On our way back into town we spotted potential lodging for our next trip:
Parker thinks it’s pretty cool that he has his own cabin.
We stopped at the wildlife museum and were disappointed to find out that it was closed due to “winter hours,” but we did take advantage of some of the sculptures out front.
And, at Dad’s request, we cruised by the Speedy Beaver Raceway, where J. W. Gravitt, chainsaw animal carver out of Fort Towson, OK, had set up shop on Saturday. One of the locals advised us that he only came into town on Saturdays, which disappointed Dad, who had belatedly decided that a chainsaw deer would be the perfect gift for his mother.
Finally, we made our way out of Broken Bow and soon arrived at the sign that advised us that Highway 259 South was straight ahead. Since we took Highway 259 North INTO town, going straight would be a no-brainer, correct? Not to Admiral Ackbar. To Admiral Ackbar, straightforward signs mark potential traps. So, of course, we turned right. When I pointed out to Parnell, with what little patience that I had left, that we were now heading into the interior of Oklahoma, not into Texas, he promised to stop and ask for directions at the next gas station. This should have instantly aroused my suspicions - as a male of the species, my husband never willingly asks for directions - but, quite frankly, I was tired, and I completely missed the obvious: a trap was, in fact, ahead, and it was one that was entirely of my spouse's making.
Pulled into a gas station as promised, and Parnell both consulted a map AND spoke to a state trooper. Really, how did this NOT set off alarm bells? When he got back into the car, he said "You're right, we should have kept going straight back there." Now I DID become suspicious - did my husband just start a sentence with "you're right"? We pulled out of the gas station, but, instead of going back the way we came, he turned onto yet another road, one that ran parallel to the road that we SHOULD have been on.
At this point, homicide was threatened (by me) and the grand plan for the afternoon was revealed (by him): we were on the road to Fort Towson, in search of chainsaw animal carver J. W. Gravitt. Because my spouse had decided that his mom really, REALLY needed a chainsaw deer. Also, my spouse really likes a challenge. And, in his world, it's entirely possible - nay, even likely - that you can just roll into Fort Towson, and BOOM, there's the chainsaw guy. The thing is, that's how things tend to actually work out for my husband, to my frequent irritation. I advise him of the extremely slim odds that he will actually find such-and-so, he ignores me, and BOOM, such-and-so is right there. Or, such-and-so is NOT there, and then that little area along his jawline starts to twitch - subtle Parnell-speak for "this is NOT working out the way that I expected, and it is TICKING ME OFF."
Either way, one of us gets irritated. But, you know what? It was a lovely day, the road we were on was actually far more pleasant of a drive than the main road, and, if we turned left just past Fort Towson we would be headed into Mt. Pleasant, Texas, and back on I-30 into Fort Worth. So, whatever. It's a beautiful day for a wild goose chase.
Given my husband's track record of dumb-luckiness, I half-expected to roll into Fort Towson and find a house on the main road with a bunch of chainsaw animals in the front yard. No such luck. We stopped at the town's only gas station, were advised that they used to have a business card for the guy on the bulletin board but it fell off, and they thought that he actually now lived a couple of towns removed from Fort Towson.
Parnell's jaw did the twitchy thing, just a little bit, and then he announced that we were calling off the chase.
Then Connor piped up from the backseat: "Hey, Dad, are we anywhere near Paris, Texas, and if so can we go there?"
I have no idea how Connor knew about Paris, Texas, or where it was located in space relative to his then-current position, but God love him, we WERE near Paris, Texas, and so it was that I found myself having lunch on Paris' charming town square.
There is something oddly comforting to me that Texas towns lay out pretty much the same way. Smaller towns - not unlike Fort Towson - adhere to the concept of "wide spot in the road" and lay out on either side of the main thoroughfare. Whereas county seats work like this: head towards the town as it appears on the road map, and you will eventually run into the courthouse, constructed upon an island of real estate and surrounded by a town square consisting of:
1) A bank;
2) An attorney's office;
3) A copy shop or similar business catering to the courthouse crowd - usually with a "NOTARY PUBLIC" sign in the window;
4) The restaurant where everyone tends to congregate for lunch;
5) The "other" restaurant - usually something edgy (for a small town), like a wine bar or a coffee shop with WiFi, signaling to the world that "hey, we're not THAT podunk." In Paris, this establishment was a juice bar;
6) A ladies' clothing store. By law, this establishment must have an old-school name like "The Varsity" or "The College Shop";
7) A home decor-type boutique;
8) A nice antique store;
9) A junky antique store;
10) A specialty antique store, such as a vintage clothing boutique or (as was the case in Paris) a record shop; and
11) A furniture store with dated couches in the window that look like they date to 1975.
Oh, there might be a pharmacy, too. But a real pharmacy - not a Walgreens or a CVS. Those are located on the road that runs into the town square perpendicular to the main road.
The go-to restaurant in Paris was Jaxx. Jaxx was cool. Parnell got a hamburger with ham and thick slices of fresh pineapple (his favorite pizza toppings, but on a burger), and I got a chicken sandwich that was topped with everything but the kitchen sink. They also had a full beer menu, including one selection from Rahr Brewery right here in "Forth Woth."
God, I love menu typos. It's the little things, you know?
After lunch, we went out in search of the Eiffel tower replica with the cowboy hat. Which left the kids feeling disillusioned because, in their minds, it was going to be full-sized. I thought it was pretty amusing, though - but, by this point in the trip, I was predisposed to be easily amused.
The rest of the drive home was uneventful. Admiral Ackbar managed to stay on the main road, the kids watched Batman movies in the backseat, and Mom and Dad listened to media coverage of the firing of the Dallas Cowboys' head coach. We managed to clear Dallas prior to rush-hour traffic but late enough to take advantage of the high occupancy vehicle lane. Amazingly enough (for us), we got to the vet's office almost an hour of the deadline for picking up the boarded canines. Of course, this meant that the kids and I were waiting in the parking lot when the guy exited the vet's office WITH HIS DEAD DOG, which he loaded in the back of his pickup truck (one presumes to take home to bury?). Parker failed to take note of this, until helpful big brother announced, "Oh, that dog isn't moving - and that guy just put him into the bed of his truck. Mom, he must have had the dog put to sleep. Because the dog isn't standing up. Yup, it's definitely a dead dog, Mom." THAAAAAAAAANKS, Connor. Your "assists" are always so appreciated.
Here are our very much alive, and very appreciative, dogs, enjoying one last ride in the rental van:
All in all, I'd call the trip a success. Plans are in the works to go back in the summer, when the boys can kayak and paddle boat to their hearts' content. Meanwhile, the carved wooden bear population of the home office has increased by one, and the "chainsaw animal" tally has swelled from one to three. Laundry's been done, there is a pile of rocks out front (unceremoniously dumped on the sidewalk) that I need to figure out what to do with, and Parnell swears that the empty suitcases are going back up into the attic . . . eventually.