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Tuscumbia; Haylee and Family; Terrible Weather; Tulsa; A Gun Show? Boxed In; Tulsa Events; Shegonna; Amarillo

We actually got to stay in our new house for five nights before loading up the coach and heading northwest to Alabama. Two long days of driving took us to Tuscumbia, near Muscle Shoals, where we met a wonderful family with whom we had been corresponding by email for over a year. Judson and Donna Jo Emens are probably the kindest, friendliest, most giving couple we have ever met. They have two adopted daughters, Haylee and Nadia. Judson had contacted Suzanne about Haylee, who has cerebral palsy and had been confined to a nursing home at age 21 with people five and six decades older than she before the Emens rescued her and cared for her for five years. Suzanne gave Haylee a reading over Skype which helped her a lot. Thanks to a local benefactor, Haylee now has her own home and 24/7 help so that she can live independently. 

We had a thoroughly delightful time with the Emens family. While Suzanne was giving Donna Jo a reading, Judson took me for coffee and a tour of the Wilson dam at Muscle Shoals, part of the TVA system. 

This view of the dam was shot from the tower where we would have dinner that evening…

Suzanne and I then went for a 4-mile run with Judson around Tuscumbia, following a route that he had set up for a Final Four Run a few years back. Judson also joined us for a tour of Ivy Green, Helen Keller’s childhood home in Tuscumbia, where the cherry blossoms (Prunus serrulata) were in bloom.  Interestingly, this was the very day that Patty Duke, who played Helen in “The Miracle Worker” passed away. 

This magnolia tree (Magnolia grandiflora) at Ivy Green is the largest I have ever seen. The estate is named after the English ivy which grew at Helen’s ancestors’ home in England. Built in 1820, the simple clapboard house is well-maintained and filled with artifacts and memorabilia from her life.

Here we see Suzanne at the same well pump where Helen first understood what Anne Sullivan, her blind teacher and lifelong companion, had been trying to tell her with sign language in her hand. 

As we were driving around Tuscumbia, Donna Jo showed us this cool billboard, with 9 year old Nadia and one of her teachers, promoting the school that she attends.  Isn’t the message appropriate?

Then we enjoyed a delicious dinner in a revolving restaurant atop a hotel tower overlooking the beautiful Tennessee River. It was a great way to finish our visit to Tuscumbia.

As we were about to depart for Arkansas, Judson dropped by to let us know that we would be encountering severe thunderstorms and possibly tornadoes along the way. He suggested that we might not want to proceed all the way to Little Rock. After watching NOAA weather radar all morning, we stopped short in Millington, Tennessee, just east of Memphis, and hunkered down for the night. The yellow, orange and red blobs on the radar arrived over us that evening, and it was a very long night. Unfortunately, our little Rudy had another bout of upset tummy and had to go outside in the midst of it all, which was more than a bit disconcerting… but we made it in and out safely, and he’s feeling better again. The worst part of that night was only getting about two hours’ sleep. (I could get by with little sleep in my 20s and 30s, and maybe even into my 40s, but now I need at least 6 hours a night or I’m a tired grump.) We got on the road again the next morning, still with light rain and low clouds, but by that afternoon the skies had cleared, and we arrived in Tulsa, Oklahoma, after our longest driving day ever in the coach, 424 miles. We crashed (metaphorically speaking) right after a light dinner and felt much better the next day.

I have to inject a funny story at this point; I had made a reservation in Tulsa, and when we arrived Thursday afternoon, checked in at an office in a nice RV park area of the huge Expo Square complex. We were assigned site #65 at the southwest corner of the parking lot, outside the RV park, and almost a mile away from the office; as we left, the office guy mentioned, “Oh, yeah, we are having a gun show this weekend.” There were several other big rigs and fifth wheels in the area, but the parking lot had hardly any cars in it. No sweat, I thought, there’s lots of room, and we spent Friday with our friends Lynette and Brenda, and Suzanne tested equipment for her Saturday interview on the Internet show Buddha at the Gas Pump. We awoke Saturday morning to find the previously empty parking lot filling up fast, and there was no way we could have moved our coach more than 20 feet. In another half hour, we were totally blocked in, with cars or pickup trucks within a foot on three sides, and a hill behind us. 

Lots of guys were walking around with holstered pistols or long guns. One guy pulled so close along our right side that I was concerned he might hit our slideout; I was getting out, and My Lovely Bride said, “Ty, remember that everyone here except you is carrying!” I stuck my head out, and the driver next to us said, “Sir, you have any problem with me parking here?” “No, sir, so long as you don’t hit the coach.” (For some reason Suzanne was inside laughing hysterically at how polite I was with the guy).”You’re safe,” he replied. That was comforting. What concerned me more was that we might have to get up at oh-dark-thirty to move on Sunday morning before the throngs arriving for The World’s Largest Gun Show totally blocked us in for the entire day. We wound up moving that night to the real RV park, where the nice lady said, “It looks like whoever took your reservation thought you were a gun show exhibitor.” I hesitated to say that we were actually in town for my wife to give a presentation on attuning to higher consciousness and to channel her spirit guides, Sanaya… you never know how that is going to be received in some circles.

Along the same line, we saw this roadside sign in southern Alabama, possibly sponsored by a beleaguered treasurer of some local church… 

In a more positive vein, Suzanne gave her Making the Connection talk Friday evening to a very warm and enthusiastic group at Unity of Tulsa, and the response was one of the best ever. Lynette is one of the leaders at the church, and had put the word out very well.  It was a great evening, and most of the attendees would return the next night for a session with Sanaya. 

Saturday evening’s event was also memorable. Two ladies even drove in from Dallas, Texas to hear Suzanne speak. Suzanne signed many books and answered lots of questions from attendees. We were invited back next summer, and are already looking forward to that visit. (Rest assured, it will NOT be on the same weekend as The World’s Largest Gun Show!)

Many thanks for the Tulsa event go to Lynette Setzkorn (at right) and her “sidekick in stalking” from Phoenix, Brenda Bollmann Baker (at left). Brenda and Lynette will be attending many of Suzanne’s events this summer, including those in Tuscon, Phoenix, Prescott Valley, and Unity Village. Brenda has an “earthy”alias (especially considering she is a high school English teacher): “Shegonna”, referring to her comment about My Lovely Bride’s likely reaction to my affection for my solar-powered hottie, Hula Babe: “Ty, shegonna kick your butt!”

Just before departing Tulsa, we stopped by Lynette’s to say goodbye to her and Brenda, and I did get the opportunity to handle three pistols, two shotguns and a carbine while there. Lynette’s late husband Mike left behind a small arsenal of weapons, and Lynette asked me to unload those that were still loaded. The pistols were straightforward, and the shotguns had empty chambers, but when I picked up the Winchester Model 94 carbine, I carefully unloaded the 7 rounds without chambering them, not knowing how old they were or in what condition the action might be.  Suzanne joked that even though I didn’t attend the gun show, I did at least get a manly testosterone fix after two days being surrounded by a majority of women.

We are now in Amarillo, Texas, after a long day’s drive from Tulsa. I saw a billboard advertising “Free 72oz. Steaks” for those individuals who could eat one. I suggested we stop there and give me a shot at it, but MLB said something like, “Ty, don’t let your gun experience go to your head. You’re not a hungry cowboy out on the range during a cattle drive!”

1 Comment

  • Lynette
    Posted April 5, 2016 at 5:19 pm

    This is a wonderful post. I'm so glad you could get your T fix with Michael's gun collection. And thanks so much for the assist! I'd never have managed that on my own. What a delight to have you two in Tulsa. My only wish is that you were coming back in a week. xo


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