We have had some fun times while traveling with family but, as is usual with my husband and myself, the fun is almost always mixed with a misadventure or two.
We went to St. Louis with husband's brother and his wife to celebrate another brother's 25th wedding anniversary. We stayed at a motel on the edge of the city and were pleasantly surprised to find a basket with flowers, champagne and goodies in each of our rooms together with a note of congratulations. Our own wedding anniversaries were during the next week. The gift was from all the siblings gathered for the party. We had a great time at the celebration hosted by their children. The high point was when a cousin brought out his squeeze-box accordion and led an impromptu sing-along that lasted well into the early hours of the next day. The repertoire of songs ran from a family favorite German bar song to beloved hymns.
The next morning the brothers were going on a golf outing. My sister-in-law and I were not content with sitting around twiddling our thumbs waiting for their return. She didn't want to drive in the city, but I have more gall than common sense. I was willing to give it a try although I had little experience driving in a large city or heavy traffic. My concern was that we not go far because I feared we wouldn't find our way back. We spent time at a nearby strip mall with nice shops including a small café where we enjoyed a cup of coffee and some calorie-laden pastries. That part went well. It was when we tried to get back to the motel that trouble hit. We found the motel but were on the opposite side of the interstate when we passed it - and pass it we did - several times. We would exit the interstate as soon as we could after passing the motel but somehow we always ended up on the same - the wrong - side of the interstate.
We reached the conclusion that there was no way to get there without walking. I pulled off the highway and parked, turned the car's flashers on, got out and locked it and left it. We walked across all lanes of traffic on both the east and west bound interstates. That walk was almost as scary as driving in the heavy traffic had been. Safely back at the motel we saw their vehicle and knew the guys were back. We tried to act as though nothing was wrong when we walked in on their already-in-progress, pinochle game.
My husband expressed surprise that we had gone off on our own. He knew I would have a story to tell even before he asked the question, "Did you have any trouble?" As he asked that he glanced out at the parking lot. "Where is our car?" Now there was alarm in his voice.
"It's parked, over there," I replied, calmly pointing across the busy 8 lanes of traffic to the car parked off to the side, lights flashing. The balance of this story I will leave to your imagination.
On one of our trips with them we left the car at home and took a bus tour for the Christmas shows in Branson, Missouri. We killed time on the bus by playing Tick. My sister-in-law, we'll call her Clarity, calls it her favorite card game. Sitting opposite us near the back of the bus and playing bridge were women from Worthington, Minnesota. They were reserved and dignified and were acting their age. That was not so much the case with us.
The women cast a few sidelong looks at us when we got noisy or, as is normal with Clarity, she squealed loud protests when she got stuck with a high count in her hand. Concerned that we were bothering them it was suggested that there be no more squealing. We would relieve our frustrations by saying "Oink, Oink". That went on for a short time and finally the ladies could stand it no longer. "Would you tell us what kind of game you are playing?" they asked. They had never heard of one that you "oinked" rather than bid. By the time our ride together ended they had relaxed and were not acting nearly so ladylike. They were having a hootin' and hollerin' good time, too.
During a long drive home after visiting family in another state, Clarity got tired of listening to my prattle. Finally, without being concerned about tact, she blurted, "Mary, why don't you shut up for a while?" I did as requested. After about ten minutes of complete silence in my corner of the car, Clarity wasn't sure if it was the silence she couldn't handle or the tension. Had she upset me and would I ever want to talk to her again? She apologized for being short with me and begged me to start talking again. I had taken her earlier request with good humor and found my voice back. She now claims I haven't stopped talking since.