Part One: Family Day in KY
Bill E. Branscum ©2004
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|On Thursday, June 24, 2004, with
29883 miles on my speedomer, Luz and I set out with the crew
on a two and a half week expedition with two Jeeps and four
kids that ultimately carried us thru KY, WV, VA, TN, NC, GA
and FL. We had Megs in the Rubicon and Jeremy had Ryan and
Dook in his Sport.
We got a late start, and left
naples headed North on I-75 at about 5PM. We stopped for
gas about two hours later having travelled our first 157.6
miles of what would be nearly 3000.
My heavier Rubicon with taller tires and lower gears got
exactly ten miles to the gallon. Jeremy's Sport didn't get
much better since he was carrying so much on his roof rack.
Shortly after we got back on the road, we encountered a north
bound car hauler - having paid more than $50 to travel our
first 157 miles, I was sorely tempted . . .
As it turned out, our gas mileage
was not nearly that bad.
Jeeps have the aerodynamics normally associated with cement
blocks, and wind resistance increases dramatically as a
function of speed. Frankly, I like them that way - who would
want an aerodynamic "bubble car" looking Jeep?
None for me, thanks.
We soon discovered that these Jeeps got much better mileage
if we slowed down just a bit. 10 mpg at 75 mph on the Interstate
became 12/13 mpg at 65 and 15 mpg at 55 - 60 mph on secondary
roads. The difference applied the same way to both my Rubicon
and Jeremy's Sport; he averaged just over 15 mpg and I averaged
We abandoned the Interstate system in favor of the old
We had one scheduled event to attend; Family Day on our
farm in Kentucky was Saturday and circumstances beyond our
control had kept us in Naples, Florida until Thursday late
afternoon. Our farm is almost exactly 1000 miles from our
home in Naples. Since Family Day begins about 4PM, we intended
to drive Thursday afternoon, all day Friday and Saturday
|Our first night we stopped in North
Florida. It was a bit early to stop, but we visit the Ocala
Jeep Club a lot, and we have come to like the Super 8 Motel
there. They don't have as complete a breakfast as we prefer,
but they have a pretty good one, the rooms are reasonable
and they are always nice to deal with.
Yes, I confess, I do let the kids jump on the beds at motels.
|If you have occasion to travel
with lots of kids, I think you're better off to stay at moderately
priced hotels that offer a decent breakfast. I'll pass on
$50/Night and pay $75/Night at the nicer motel if they provide
breakfast. You invariably get a nicer room and . . . pick
up the tab for my kids to eat at Cracker Barrel and see what
I always get two rooms, but it's really worth every bit
of an extra fifty dollars to stay in nice rooms if I get
to leave breakfast to them. Since I am booking two rooms,
it also gives me a little more leverage to negotiate a better
You might pack six people into a suite someplace but in
the morning, there is still going to be six folks and one
bathroom. On our next trip, I think I'll look into the family
run "bed and breakfasts."
Also, on the subject of hotels that have a decent breakfast,
I have found that instead of dragging kids out of bed in
the morning, they are anxious to get up - my little heathens
look at it as a personal challenge to see how much free
food they can eat on these trips.
The hotel staff doesn't usually care. A guy at one of the
Comfort Inns we stayed at watched the kids all thru breakfast
- afterwards, he told me he never saw anything like it.
I thought he was talking about the amount of food my little
third-world army can eat, but he went on to say, "Most
adults don't even pick up after themselves; I never saw
anyone wipe off their own table."
Other than a "roach coach" Best Western in Blairsville,
GA, we have never had what I would call a bad experience
on any trip. That was on the way home though so I'll address
that later . . . I think I left us back to the Super 8 Motel
I don't generally eat breakfast, so once Jeremy got the
roof rack packed, and lifted our cooler into place (my baby
boy is now bigger and stronger than I am), we rescued the
motel from the plague of oversized locusts in their dining
room. After reviewing our map together, we were northbound
once again, but this time we had a better start.
We live in Florida so we didn't
consider Bush Gardens or Disney; as much as we have always
enjoyed both, the kids were focused on seeing something
new and they were anxious to see "Farmer Man"
(my Dad) and his sister, their Great Aunt Ardith. We headed
north toward Kentucky on various secondary roads - primarily
the highways that everyone used before the Interstate highway
|We were in the lead Jeep, and all
of a sudden Megs yelled, "Turn there, turn there - where
does that road go?" I barely made the turn, tires screeched
behind me and Jeremy yelled into the mic, "Why
didn't you tell me we were turning?"
|When I told him it was because Megs
hadn't told me, Megan, being Megan, thought that was hysterically
funny. We made what amounted to a very tight U-turn and drove
down a gravel road into a wooded basin.
Why? Because Megan said so -
It was a nice place to drive thru, with trails on most
of the hills. All things considered, we all thought Megan
had made a pretty good "pick."
Once we got to the farm, we had the opportunity to visit
with family members we don't see very often, including my
brother, Bart; and his daughter, Remy.
Life has a way of separating folks, but we all expect to
see the day that we can all move back to the farm.
|As always, the farm was beautiful;
the "Farmer Man" wouldn't have it any other way.
Anywhere you look, it was as neat and cared for as it is possible
for a human being to manage - especially on Family Day when
family members come from everywhere to visit us.
|Entertainment is different on the Farm and
the difference comes naturally. Rather than playing Nintendo,
and other such things, kids occupy themselves with rolling
down hills, wandering around in the woods, and jumping stumps.
Honestly, who wouldn't give
a hundred dollars right now just to be able to do these
things and feel this good - even if only for a few minutes.
Lord knows if I could get myself up that high, it would
be like that old Dick Cepek Tire advertisement with the
air born Power Wagon -- the photo looked wonderfully cool,
and they used that photo for years, but the truck broke
all to pieces when it landed.
I guess the best a man can get is to share their youth
and enthusiasm when you watch them. I'm not complaining;
I regard that as a blessing.
There are other things we do on the farm that we don't
do much of at home - for one thing, I think it is a worthwhile
thing for children to know how to make sausage. I suppose
it's a sensitive subject for some, but I think children
should understand where sausage (or any meat) comes from.
We have shared our sausage with many of our friends; although
they know it is home made, I doubt that most of them have
the vaguest idea how it's made.
We grind our own meat spiced to our liking, form it into
patties and cook it before canning it in jars.
|Of course, the first step to making
good sausage is obtaining the meat.
Give my kids
a box of .22's and voila - a little squirrel and
a little raccoon.
In a world where activists throw
blood on people wearing fur coats, and vandalize other people's
SUV's as a means of social expression, I suspect that I
am going to be getting nasty grams over this - not that
I really care what people like that think about anything.
Perhaps if their parents spent a little more time with them,
they might not have grown up to be punks and vandals.
One thing I will confess though, I was kidding about the
sausage. We often share our canned foods with friends and
neighbors, so we never put anything in them that anyone
would be likely to take exception to, or be allergic to.
Our sausage is made of 100% pork; I bet some of our friends
breathed a sigh of relief..
After Family Day (the Family
Day photos are posted in the Photo Gallery), we went Jeepin'
with Lisa Turpin and her fiance, Justin Ruble. The took
us to a place called Cromer's Ridge off I-75 at Exit 49
near London, KY.
But that's another part of the story..