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Our Disney Adventure

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It was brutally cold in St. Louis .  It had been colder than normal all winter.  I guess Fat Al (Gore) didn’t include St. Louis in his “Global Warming” theory.  Nonetheless, I still needed to feed my nicotine habit and jumped on my trusty Raleigh Detour bike to pedal off to Dirt Cheap at Wilson and Hampton in south St. Louis.

While there – I decided to plunk down a whopping two bucks on the lottery; one dollar on PowerBall and another buck on the Missouri Lottery.  One dollar on the Missouri Lottery will get you two chances – 50 cents apiece.  That’s all I was going to spend.  They draw numbers about 9:30 PM on Saturday night…but I never watch.  Heck, what are my chances?

A few days later, I read on-line at stltoday.Com that someone in the St. Louis area had won the Missouri Lottery.  In particular – someone that bought a ticket at Dirt Cheap in south St. Louis.  No…  Couldn’t be me.  I retrieved my lotto tickets stuck under a magnet on the fridge and pulled up molottery.Com  on-line.  IT IS ME!  I had won!  I had really won that lottery.  OMG!!!   2.8 MILLION DOLLARS!  I fainted.

After awakening, I began to realize just how much this could change my life.  I’ve always been the type of person that believes in karma.  “What goes around comes around.”  When I was working steadily – I always gave to my local church as generously as possible.  When I became indigent, another local church ( New Journey Baptist Church ) fixed me up through Angel Food Ministries.  They also had their own free food program.  I could come to once a month & pick up a box of donated food – FREE. I was so grateful and knew I would make a sizeable donation.

But man does not live by bread alone.  He also needs friends to share, laugh with, cry with & generally exchange daily info on life’s ups & downs.  I had found such a group in Vets, Wives & Families.  Quite a screw-ball bunch really.  There’s Bev – the founder, who lives just west of me in St. Charles , MO. There’s Jo – who lives somewhere down in the sticks of Mississippi, Steve – who always complains the weather is too cold in southern Georgia (what’s wrong with this boy?), Darelynn (another wacko but sweet gal) – who lives in the hills of eastern Pennsylvania near Wilkes-Barre and Aletta – Hard to believe she actually goes out huntin’ & fishin’ with hubby “C”.  There’s many more…  Some come & go.  Some stay a while.

To reward all my wacko cyber friends, I decided to rent a tour bus & take everyone on a trip to Disneyland ! They will be thrilled!   Most would fly into St. Louis since it was centrally located in the country.  The rest we would pick up along the way or meet us there.  After all, it’s a gigantic bus but over 300 people would be a bit cramped.

The first thing I needed to do was renew my CDL.  That’s supposed to stand for Commercial Driver’s License.  When I still drove trucks, we referred to it as Crazy Drivers on the Loose, or Combination Driver/Lumper.  A lumper is simply a person who works the docks, as an independent agent, to unload a trucker’s goods after a long haul – at a pretty penny too.  This way, the trucker can rest – but needs to shell out big bucks for it.  I also needed to upgrade my CDL to include passengers.  I had hauled everything from Women’s Personal Hygiene products (insert blush here) to low-grade nuclear waste, to auto parts going to Ford, GM, etc. to other various Haz-Mat.  That stands for Hazardous Materials.  I had hauled things that could wipe out a small city…but never passengers.  I didn’t know which would be the worst.  Boy…was I ever “in for it”.

Karlene & Marti flew in from Sturgis S.D. and Fargo N.D.  Darelynn somehow got out of Trucksville , PA & got on a plane.  Steve reached into his closet – got out his heaviest winter coat which wasn't much more than one of his flannel shirts that he wears year round, & flew up from Thomasville , GA.  At the last minute – we even talked “The Wildman” to fly down from Wisconsin . (Cold up there…He?!) Seems like everyone I ever met from Wisconsin ended sentences with “He?!”  And finally, Jo arrived.  “Dang, its cold up here!” was her first words.  I answered, “Welcome to my world.”  Next stop would be to pick up Bev; then Aletta who lives just past Columbia , MO. out in Boonville , MO. (Aptly named).  From Boonville, we’d head west on I-70 to Kansas City and then drop down U.S. Hwy 69 to pick up Debby Epperly in Pittsburg, KS.  Not the shortest route, but the fastest.  Yes Bev…I know where I’m going.  Quit being a “back seat driver”.  Off we go!

Almost immediately I could hear all the chatter from the back of the bus.  “I bet he doesn’t know what he’s doing.  We will probably get lost.”  And, “We’re gonna wreck somewhere…I just know it.”  JEEZ!  With only 3 guys on the bus so far & the rest of bunch of blabbering gals…I was beginning to wonder about my decision.  Well, I'm sure we will have a great time...I will make sure nothing can possible spoil it.

After picking up Aletta in Boonville, her & Bev got together & wanted to take over the CB Radio.  I told them, “Oh, no you don’t.  Not while I’m driving.”  A poor choice of words I would later find out.  I returned to my concentration of the road & gassed on it.  I wanted to get this day over.  “Eastbound?” I asked on the CB…”Where’s all the bears?”  “There’s bears in Missouri ?” asked Darelynn…“Where?”  “No you twit.” I replied.  “Not those kind of bears.  Cops, State Hwy. Patrol, ya know…those guys that hide behind bushes & shoot you with radar.”  Marti asked, “Who got shot?”  I just shook my head and snickered…  Steve & “The Wildman” were oblivious – drinking Steve’s ‘Shine. 

We hadn’t gone 30 miles when the gals decided it was time for a restroom break.  “But the bus has a restroom.” I declared.  “I rented the most luxurious model I could find.”  But no…the gals couldn’t use it while going at 70 mph bouncing down the road.  They wanted to stop.  Lord knows – I’ve been known to use an empty cup from McDonald’s & then toss it out the window to avoid stopping.  I wanted to make time.

Somehow…we made it down to Pittsburg , KS to pick up Debby Epperly.  I thought, “Oh, thank God…only a few more miles to the Big Cabin Travel Plaza on I-44.”  No, I hadn’t driven my allotted 11 hours that day.  But I needed a break.  The Big Cabin Truck Stop is not your typical greasy spoon…as in most truck stops.  The place is clean & the food is good.  To top that off, the parking lot is not full of “Lot Lizards” slithering about.  Oooops!  I goofed again…using trucker’s lingo. Donna and Lin wanted to know what a “Lot Lizard” is.  “Will they bite us?” asked Amanda.  Debbie says” I’ve lived around here a long time, and I’ve never heard of a Lot Lizard.”  How do I put this delicately?  I think “The Wildman” knew, because he was chuckling all the way.  “A Lot Lizard” I explained, “is a woman in red…commercial company…a hooker!  OK…there I said it.”  Some of the gals were aghast.  Some snickered.  “Would I take you gals to a place that wasn’t clean?” I asked.  After years on the road…I had learned where to stop & where to avoid.  I even had a sticker on the side window of my truck that stated “No Lot Lizards”.

Now I forget what everybody had for diner – but I do remember Steve had the Liver & Onions.  I hate Liver & Onions.  I dove into my half-pound “chicken fried steak” with mashed ‘taters, salad and a roll.  Darelynn – sitting next to me – eating only a salad stated, “You shouldn’t eat so much.  You need to get into shape.”  “Shape…I am in shape.  Round is a shape!” – I replied. 

After diner, Bev and Aletta wandered into the CB Shop.  What’s with their obsession to CB radios?  I would soon find out.  They knew I had bought a Galaxy DX 959, one of the finest CB’s on the market.  I wanted to be able to not just talk, but listen as well.  With miles to go ahead of us, I wanted to know where all the ‘bears’ were.  The rest of the gals wandered into the gift shop to look around.  Steve & “The Wildman” set up lawn chairs outside the tour bus and drank ‘shine.  By now they must be smashed but appeared to be very happy! 

After a walk to burn off diner, I decided to have some more coffee back at the restaurant.  Patrons wanted to know who was in the fancy tour bus.  Yep…they found out it was me and my friends.  All those years driving a slow truck, I remembered the trucker’s prayer.

Ashes to ashes

And dust to dust

Just once Dear Lord

Let me suck the doors

Off a tour bus!

Just as I was finishing my coffee, another trucker asked if I was the driver of the tour bus.  I said, “Yes.”  And he said, “You better come quick.  There’s two gals out there on your CB getting everyone all fired up.”  Oh, Lord…what now?

The ladies were all hovering around "Oh no they are checking out my CB."  Pam and Aletta had figured out how to turn it on while Bev and Jo were the look outs, lol.  . They wanted to talk with all the “good buddies” out there in CB Land.  I had told them to stay off my CB!  Aletta said, “You told us – not while you were drivin’.  Well…you ain’t drivin’!”  How do I explain this?  Hollywood and TV has its own conception of truckers…not even close to the real world.  In the real world, a “good buddy” is a “Fuel Tank Frank” – a “Bend Over Billy”.  The gals still didn’t get it.  OK…not wanting to be the politically incorrect person, I let another trucker explain it to them over the air.  “Hey little darlin’s…this be the one and only Katfish (that’s right…with a “K”) out of Terra Haute, IN.  Y’all really want to know what a “good buddy” is?”  “YEAH – YEAH” the gals screamed.  “Well, little darlin’s …a “good buddy” is a truck stop or rest area homosexual wanting a “good time” in the bunk of a truck.”  Aletta took it all in stride.  Jo hollered ok, that's enough, we got it".  Turn that thing off now!  Bev began to blush profusely and ran to the back of the bus.  We didn’t hear a word from her the rest of the night.

Not always being able to sleep a full 8 hours, I awoke early the next morning.  I mean real early.  Everyone was still asleep so I turned the CB back on for company.  The sun wasn’t even close to coming up yet.  I love to drive in the early, early morning…no traffic.  Since I hadn’t driven the allotted 11 hours the day before, I could drive some more.  Grabbing a quick cup of coffee from the snack shop & filling up my thermos, I eased the big bus onto I-44 westbound.  Next stop, Amarillo , TX …I thought.  Passing Oklahoma City before rush hour, everyone started to wake up.  “The girls all wanted to stop and use the rest room again...geez.  We gotta go Joe.!” were the first words I heard from anyone besides voices on the CB.  “ALREADY?” I asked. They promised to be quick which meant another half hour delay...  The next rest area wasn’t for miles…and it was just a “turn out” area according to the map.  Thank God there was a Denny’s in El Reno , OK about 30 miles west of Okie City .  Yeah…I know…more trucker lingo.  I was getting back in the groove with all these “trucker expressions”.  Of course there was some moaning & groaning from everyone about Denny’s.  “What’s the matter?  Couldn’t find anyplace better than Denny’s Mr. Big Truck Driver?” asked Marti.  I replied, “Hey, would you rather I stopped at the ‘turn out’ rest area?  That way you could go behind a bush…if you can find a bush in west Oklahoma !”  That shut ‘er up.

I told everyone not to over eat, because next there was the “Big Texan Steak Ranch” in Amarillo , TX .  It was only about 3 hours and 45 minutes away.  “You sure are obsessed with food.” said Jo. You really need to take better care of yourself!   “Hey…I’ve been by the place a million times & never had the chance to eat there.”  Wildman asked, “You gonna get that 72 oz. steak?”  “No way!” I replied.  “I just want a nice medium rare rib-eye.”  Wildman stated, “I think I’m gonna try one of those big ones.”  This I have to see!

Pulling into Amarillo , it wasn’t hard to find the parking lot of the Big Texan Steak Ranch.  There was lots of room to park the big bus.  There’s even a motel…which we would later need.  Read on! 

Well both Steve and Wildman decided to take that challenge.  I had a feeling that just might be a big mistake.   Here are the rules…

1.   Entire meal must be completed in one hour. If any of the meal is not consumed (swallowed)...YOU LOSE!

2.   Before the time starts, you will be allowed to cut into the steak, and take one bite. If the steak tastes good and is cooked to your satisfaction, we will start the time upon your acceptable approval. The time will not stop, and the contest is on, so make SURE before you say “yes.”

3.   Once you have started you are not allowed to stand up, leave your table, or have anyone else TOUCH the meal.

4.   You will be disqualified if anyone assists you in cutting, preparing or eating of your meal. This is YOUR contest.

5.   You don’t have to eat the fat, but we will judge this.

6.   Should you become ill, the contest is over... YOU LOSE! (Please use the container provided as necessary.)

7.   You are required to pay the full amount up front; if you win we will refund 100%.

8.   You must sit at a table that we assign.

9.   If you do not win the steak challenge, you are welcome to take the leftovers with you.

10. No consumption or sharing of the leftovers is allowed in the restaurant once the contest is over.

Unfortunately…line 6 applied to both contestants.  “I don’t feel so good!” they both said at almost the same instance.  Truth is they both were turning a bit green. Thank God for the motel.  These two needed it.  The gals wrapped up all the leftovers and we headed out the door to get these two a room.  Being in no big rush after this…I stated that if I took a big break now from driving, I could get up in the middle of the night & really make some miles the next day.  We all agreed upon that.  “How far can you get tomorrow?” asked Pam.  Replying to her disbelief, I said, “Before you wake up, we’ll be past Albuquerque , N.M.  That’s right…about 300 miles before you even wake up.”  My plan was to push the 11 hour driving limit & make it all the way to Glendale , AZ where Joe Miller lived. 

Now I got a room to myself, to finally get some peace & quiet.  But, from what I heard from Steve & Wildman, after they overcame the discomfort of overeating – they discovered the gals had found the stash of ‘Shine.  Oh, NO!  Amarillo will never be the same.  Yep…they all joined in, even Debby took a few sips.  Now I didn’t witness this, but I heard that Aletta, Marti, Karlene and Darelynn all chipped in to rent a car.  They ended up at some “All Male Review”.  Oh my, wish I'd have been there with my camcorder.   And you gals talk about us guys; shame on you.  Darelynn…how did that “G” string get into your coat pocket?    

Waking everyone up in the middle of the night was rough; especially the gals who drank too much.  But, they could go back to sleep in the bus & I could make tracks.  Pulling out just past 2 AM, again I asked on the CB, “Eastbound…where did you leave all the bears?”  “Ain’t seen none.” was the reply.  Hammer down!  I had that Detroit Diesel wound up to about 80.  Just past Tucumcari , N.M. I passed a Kenworth.  “Dang near sucked my doors off there tour bus.” came a voice on the CB.  “You missed me…bring it on back in the granny lane if you want.”  The voice sounded familiar.  “Katfish…is that you?” I asked.  “Yep…the one and only.” he replied.  I slowed down a bit so we could chew the fat for a few miles.  He asked who I used to drive for.  When I told him my best paying job was working for JB Hunt (DCS) to Budweiser, we both had a good laugh.  “I imagine I might have sucked your doors off somewhere.” he stated.  “Probably.” I replied.  When I told him my old ‘CB Handle’ was “Prisoner” after the Ronnie Milsap song, “Prisoner of the Highway” he stated “Yeah…I know you.  We’d all follow you through Springfield , IL because of the slow truck speed limit.  We all figured if we fell in behind a slow JB Hunt truck – there’s no way we could get a ticket.”  He was right.  Many a night, or early morning I should say, I’d go through Springfield with 10, 15 maybe 20 trucks all lined up behind me.  A 62 mph truck runnin’ the “Front Door”; now that’s a laugh.  “OK bud…I gotta gas on it.  I’m a going out to Disneyland with this bunch of wackos.” 

Just about 6:30 AM, I heard a bit of a commotion coming from the back of the bus.  The girls were waking up.  They were full of questions, and giggles stemming from last night I imagine “Are we there yet?  Where we at?” Does anyone have some aspirin?   “Going down the big hill into Albuquerque .” I said.  The sunrise was beautiful.  The sun was rising behind us, so the sun’s rays bounced off all the rock & stone around us.  It’s a shame we couldn’t pass through during the first part of October when the Albuquerque International Balloon Festival takes place.  I’ve seen it before…hundreds of balloons hovering over the city. 

Everyone seemed to be enjoying the view!   No one was screaming, “I have to go ...well you know...”  And we made it to the Petro in Milan , N.M.  “Hey Steve” I yelled out.  Steve was barely awake.  “Think it was cold in St. Louis ?  It’s 17 degrees here in the high plains of New Mexico .”  Steve just rolled over into his blanket shivering and said wake me up when we get there ok? 

Another over-priced breakfast at the Iron Skillet restaurant; how I missed those truckin’ days.  NOT!  But, where else are you going to park one of these mammoth beasts?  It’s not like you can squeeze one in between a couple of Toyotas at Bob Evans.  It’s OK food.  The breakfast bar is always the best way to go.  I had better buy fuel here in New Mexico …because I knew from past experience; the price goes up in Arizona .  I put all the gals to work cleaning the windshield & mirrors off.  Hey…if they’re going to steal Steve’s ‘shine – they’re going to pay for it. I overheard Jo say, if I knew we were going to do all this work, I would have just flown on to Disney and met the bus there.   It was funny watching them climb the ladder up to the windshield.  “I don’t want to see any streaks now.” I proclaimed.  Aletta just sneered at me, and mumbled something under her breathe…

Another 243 miles & we’d be in Flagstaff , AZ.  There we could take another break at the famous Little America .  This is no ordinary place to stop.  They have a Hotel – not a Motel, a fine restaurant and even truck parking!  From there it would only be 140 miles to Glendale , AZ where we pick up Joe Miller.  YEAH…another guy on the bus!     The guys were wondering if we were ever going to get to Disney Land so they could take in all the fun things that awaited us...

  I was out of hours to drive for the day.  We spent the night in Glendale , AZ and boogied on into Anaheim , CA the next morning.  What a long trip it was...lots of sites along the way.  Everyone gave me a big ‘Thanks’ for the ride.  Finally we are there!  Disney Land awaits us…  M-I-C-K-E-Y…M-O-U-S-E.  Mickey Mouse where are you?



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 As Joe pulls in the HUGE parking lot, he bellows loudly “Safe & sound…here we are!”  It's a  wonder we arrived on time since there were so many stops along the way. We gals were excited, chattering and talking about the adventure ahead of us.  Thankful that Joe won the lottery and invited us to join him on a week long trip to Disney Land it was hard to contain ourselves...so we didn't, lol.  Steve and Wildman start stirring from their sleep.  Steve yells "Keep it down!"  ...Then they both realize we have arrived and pop up wild awake.  C'mon guys, let's go!!!

 

As we go through the gates, Joe pays for everyone's tickets and gives us each $500 for our fun, food and drink.  What a guy!!!  Everyone is anxious to see the list of Disneyland attractions.  Steve proclaims, as he pats a big bag, he doesn't need any drink he brought his own.  Aletta says, "yeah we know."  Jo sees a sign 'little station' and tells us that it looks like a good meeting place should anyone get lost.  It can also be our rendezvous point when time comes to head home.   Steve and Wildman ask, "Why are you looking at us?" Pam snickers and says..."ha!  I wonder."   

Marti says "Why is Goofy following us?  Every time I  turn around he hides or freezes, like I couldn't see his big nose sticking out from behind a tree."   Karlene sees the sign for Tom Sawyers Island and says "lets go there and loose this big dog."  We hopped on the rafts to go to Tom Sawyers Island .  Debby, Jo, Bev and Wildman all get on one raft.  Joe B, Pam, Amanda and Aletta hops on the second raft.  The rest get on the last raft, as the rest of the group is making plans of where to go and what to see first.   As we get closer to the island, we heard a noise behind us.  Joe M yells look "Pirates!!!!!" As we turn we see the last raft with Steve, Joe M, Darelynn and Marti being kidnapped by the Pirates.  Amanda says the weight of Steve's tank slowed their raft down.... Jo says "It was more like the weight of his shine'....”  Joe B "Yells, Turn around We have to go after them."   Wildman said "I bet their headed for the Pirates Lair...We have to catch them before they drink all the shine!"  Everyone looks at Wildman...He says "Don't look at me, it was a good batch and besides Joe M  will protect the gals...but Steve will need my help protecting his shine. His tank is slow in this landscape" As we turn around we see the Pirates had............



As we turn around we see the Pirates have pulled the raft to shore, and begun to drag Steve, Darelynn, Marti, and Joe M. towards Dead Mans Grotto. Amanda motions to the first raft "C'mon guys let's rescue them!" Wildman adds, "and the 'shine..don't forget the shine!" Pam comments that Wildman is starting to sound like the hillbilly version of Jack Sparrow. "Instead of where did all the rum go, it's where did all the 'shine go." We all laugh, but the mood becomes serious when we realize that they Pirates are quickly disappearing with their captives.

We head towards the grotto, trying to stay far enough behind that they won't realize we're following them. Amanda reaches behind her under her jacket and pulls something out of her back pocket. "Okay, if you boys will rush the pirates into the water, I'll make sure they won't bother us anymore." The men all look at each other and shrug. "Okay, on my signal." She hands something that looks like a little pink foam pellet to each of the ladies. "Okay, when the boys make their run, chuck these into the water, okay?" Everyone nods. She hoarsely whispers "go!" and simultaneously all the girls throw the pellets in the water. The boys make a run around the corner and knock the pirates into the water. As the pellets hit the water, they suddenly grow into glow in the dark narwhals. Jo looks at Amanda..."where did you get those?" Bev smiles. "I invented them. You know those things they make for kids that grow when they hit the water..like washcloths & toy dinosaurs? I used that process on narwhals." "But why?" Debby asks. Bev shrugs. "You never know when they might come in handy."

As she says that, we hear shrieks coming from the water, and round the corner to see the guys all knocking the pirates into the water. As the pirates hit the water, the streaks of light arc from the narwhals' horns zapping the pirates, like a mild tazer. Now freed, Marti high fives Bev. "Nice one!" Joe B. looks at Amanda. "What made you decide to bring those?" She grins, "Disney won't let you bring 1911's." Everyone laughs at this, and we make our way out of the grotto. We make our way to the rafts, only to discover that Goofy, Pluto, & Donald  have commandeered our rafts. "Now what," says Steve? Wildman says "I think it's a good time to break out the shine." Darelynn & Aletta rolls their eyes. "Of course you do!!" Joe M. shakes his head. "Actually, I think now would be the perfect time to.....


." Darelynn & Aletta rolls their eyes. "Of course you do!!" Joe M. shakes his head. "Actually, I think now would be the perfect time .....

For us to get in the rafts that are left!  Let the dog crew keep that raft.  JoeM walks over to the long rectangle raft and helps Jo and Marti in.  Wildman jumps in and up pops Dave/Paul.  Hey man!  Glad to see you got here!  BTW HOW did you get here????   Dave/Paul nods toward his hot air balloon tied to the posts by the dock Nice ride! says JoeM.

As Aletta, Amanda, Pam and JoeB try turning the unwieldy raft around there is a loud and long groan that seems to be coming from the middle of the raft where a huge tarp is tied down.  Amanda goes over to the tarped object and gives it a little “push” with her booted foot.  Another groan comes from under the tarp.  Amanda: “What the…..? “  “Who could be? …. WHY would anyone?”  Then she hauls off and really gives it a good shove with her foot!  There’s a loud tear and out pops Bev!  “Hello guys!  Just thought I’d hide under here till the all clear sounds.  You know how I am with earthquakes and things!”  She looks up at Aletta who has swung her oar and made contact with JoeB’s backside!  “Holy Cows Aletta!  You just sent JoeB over to Wildmans raft!  Did you ever think of trying out for the Cardinals baseball team?” Asked Pam, sweetly…eyes blinking and grin in place. 

 As she turns to look she says, “HEY Marti!  It’s been a while sure is good to see you!”  Marti jumps into our raft and  looks back at JoeMs raft and says, I think we need to start turning this thing to get around the curve in this river!  As everyone on that raft runs to the left to try to get the raft to turn.the ground begins to shake and the water gets really choppy.  Bev grabs her water wings and holds on to Martis right foot…”if you go in the river keep my hair dry!  I just got it fixed the way I like it!  Cried Bev.   NSBSteve pops up next to the raft with shine in hand.Hey!  This aint half bad! he says.  As Bev, Aletta and Pam drag his sorry butt into the raft Aletta smirks at Steve and says under her breath to Pam,  this man reeks of shine!  Lets get him set up in that castle up ahead.  I look ahead and see Cinderellas castle!  We row our raft to shore and get off the rocking raft.  Steve looks up and says, Les follow the yellow brick road!  Follow me!  He shouts and stumbles up the walk to the castle.  Then we go inside.  There we meet up with Jo, Darelynn, Dave, Bev, and the rest. 

Out of the inner sanctum we hear a thin high pitched wailing………..NSBSteve looks up, focuses both his eyes in the same direction and says…”Whas dat??   Amanda shakes her head and heads into the castle to look for whoever was screeching so loudly.  Followed by Bev, Jo, Aletta, Pam, Deb E., Karlene and then the men folklol  bring up their rears..

All at once there is a loud commotion and Darelynn yells…………………………..



All at once there is a loud commotion and Darelynn yells, "Well, lookie here!  Who would've known?  There's the rest of the crew!!!...and we thought you weren't gonna show up! Looks like you guys were partying without us!  There's  Liz, Bill, Julie, Chrissy, and a ton of others!  You guys should've been out there helping us get away from the pirates!  Fine friends YOU are!!!"

They took one look at us, with our hair dripping, and our clothes soaked, and said, "You guys look like drowned rats!  Let's get you all settled in the castle and dry you off.  Donna and Tom go to grab Steve's shine to help him, because he seems to be having trouble walking to the castle, since not only does he no longer have his tank...but the weight of the shine doesn't help matters any.  Steve goes into attack mode at this time, though, and needless to say, this leads to a hair pulling, fist-swinging scuffle, and ends up with Steve having 2 big, swollen black eyes, cut up lip, and a bloody, broken nose, and sweet Rev Lin crying hysterically, while saying prayers over him...because he really didn't look like he was going to make it.  "NO ONE holds this shine but ME!", he grumbled.  I heard a loud wailing, and looked over to see Chrissy, Bill, Liz, Julie and a few others hugging each other as they cried, and discussing Steve's seemingly upcoming funeral...you know, important stuff, like whether his shine should be buried to the right or left of his body...

We all tried to get Steve on Mike's chair with him, but Mike, who was having none of it...said, "No way am I sharing this seat with a MAN!  This seat is available to WOMEN only!"  Paul, Don, Greg, and Bill rigged up a kind of stretcher so they could carry Steve up to the castle without separating him from his shine.  Even though his eyes were getting quite swollen by now, he managed to keep one eye open just enough to make sure no one touched his shine. 

I felt a whoosh at this time, though, and turned back around to notice that all the women had rushed over and crowded into Mike's chair. That was all the invite they needed!!!  What hussies....and to think we call them 'saints'..."Harrumph!  Me and Karlene are the only REAL saint around here", I thought...well, maybe Jo and Aletta too, because at least they were acting ladylike on Mike's lap...not like the rest!  (We understand though, that they can't ALL be sweet like us!)

We couldn't even see Mike anymore, but from the sounds coming from his direction, there was no doubt that he was having the time of his life!!!  Dang!  I need to change my ways...it looks like they are having much more fun than I am, walking along Steve's side to make sure he doesn't fall off his stretcher.  The shine keeps rolling, and almost starts to fall off.  Once it almost fell, and when I went to catch it, Steve tightened his death grip on it and said,
"You'll take my shine when you pry it from my cold dead fingers!"...which is just as well, because I'm not touching it unless I KNOW I'm going to get to drink some...(and he has to sleep SOMETIME!)

As we start heading up to the castle, we passed a gang of men, although they are awfully small,and  Darelynn gets excited because they are Men, after all...WOO HOO...
even though they are short, (and she is feeling quite dejected since no one was sharing Mike)...  but Karlene quickly puts her in her place.  "They are only 3 feet tall, so they aren't men, they are adorable little kids, (never mind the facial hair), and I want to adopt them all!" ...and she takes off in their direction to apply her motherly instincts, which of course they love, and eat it up.  All of a sudden we hear a groan from Steve.  He says, "Oh my..is this shine ever POTENT!  I'm used to seeing double, but now I'm seeing in 7's! Maybe it really IS time to join JoeB and pack it in!"

Joe B and Aletta can be heard behind him...snickering and snorting quite loudly...turns out that, (with Jo's permission, of course), they had this all planned...figuring that if they can get Steve to think he's 'losing it'...that the shine would be up for grabs.  Not that JoeB drinks anymore, but the events of the past couple of days have made him rethink that decision...and also the decision to take this trip.  These women are about to drive him nuts!

Finally, we get in the castle, and into dry clothes....clothes that don't fit, but at least they were dry.  This castle was shared by all the princesses, not just Cinderella, we found out, so the guys were mostly wearing clothes that belonged to the dwarfs, with their white legs sticking out from the dwarfs short pants, yet the girls were all decked out in Princess attire!

We are all sitting around the fireplace, rehashing the days events before calling it a night, when Joe B suddenly appears in the doorway wearing nothing but the G-string panty that he managed to grab back out of Darelynn's pocket when she wasn't looking!  All eyes in the room were focused on Joe B, with eyes big as saucers, and their mouths hanging wide open...waiting to see what in the Heck he was going to do next!


At this time, Steve jumped up, suddenly alive and alert, like he had risen from the dead,  unable to believe his eyes!!!!  What he saw was......



Just behind Joe B was the wicked witch that tried to do away with Snow White. The wicked witch jumped out from behind Joe B and waved her magic wand at Steve's shine and up in the air it went and just hovered around the room until it got over all the Angels that were huddled in the corner...then the wicked witch cast a spell at Steve and he fell into a deep sleep.
 
Now this wicked witch waved her wand again and all the shine settled at the gals feet, witch said enjoy gals and Paul B said just look at them gals grabbing the bottles and slurping it down and mama Jo just patting her foot and shaking her head.
 
About this time Danny comes up behind the wicked witch and he has a bag of magic sparkle dust that he got from the Mad Hatter while he was out sparking Alice in her wonderland.
 
Danny throws some sparkle dust on the witch and she disappears....Danny says just look at them gals just a getting giggle and dancing around...Danny then throw some sparkle dust on Joe B. and behold, Joe B is in full dress Air Farce Blues.
 
Aletta looks at Joe B in is uniform and says 'I like a man in uniform'. Marti and DC start arguing with Aletta saying they saw him first....while all this was going on Paul B comes up to Danny and says how did you get here.
 
Danny said while he was sparking Alice in her wonderland that the Mad Hatter ran up to him and said it is time, it is time so I slipped out of the keyhole and jumped on Jimmy da Cricket's back and we flew over here to the castle.
 
Danny then walks over to Bev, whose hair is in a mess and throws some of that special dust on her hair, and low and behold the most beautiful hair do ever was created...all the other gals wanted their do like hers but Danny says that is all the dust.
 
Just then Bev says..........................

Thanks so much Danny, I needed that but I could have used a little bit more dust for added shine.  Oh well...the story must go on and we need to get going so we can check out more Disneyland attractions.  Aletta, Darlene and Marti, skipping along like little girls.. followed by Pam and what looks to be a little humming bird flying above her head.  It's strange because Pam looks as if she's chatting with this little creature..could it be Tinker Bell?  I don't know but who else could she be talking too?  Sometimes I worry about that girl, lol.  Seems to be quite a conversation taking place.  As we turn around a very long and narrow road Davy Crockett suddenly appears...needless to say the guys eyes just lit up like a Christmas tree when they saw him.  Steve, with his black eyes now somewhat sparkling even , as though shot from a cannon, sped over to where Davy stood .  He sure wanted to check out Davy's weapon.   Before we knew it all the guys swarmed around him like bee's to honey.  For us gals it wasn't his weapon that interested us at all. noooooo, it was those beautiful  BLUE EYES.  Wow!!!   Breathtaking!   We waited and waited when finally Bob, and  Don led the way, followed by Danny, Tom and  Dick and the other fellows figuring they had exhausted themselves and  Davy Crockett too with all their questions. Davy excused himself, and with a devilish smile, a wink looked straight at Pam and blew her a kiss!  He waved as he walked away.  Oh my.. how wonderful Pam squealed  just before she HIT the ground with a loud THUMP!! I better make sure no one tells Mike about this!  How his wife FELL for Davy Crockett.  (But, on the other hand, it would be a great way to get back at her for putting WATER WINGS on me, lol at the beginning of this story.) 
 
Before Pam could pick herself up from the ground the  beautiful Snow White and all 7dwarfs came to her aid with a glass of water.  Feeling much better although extremely embarrassed Pam jumped up, pretending nothing had happened, as she walks off muttering with that little humming bird that still was  hovering over her head.  I wonder what it is between her and that hummingbird? Jo says, I know what it is Bev.  It's our Kat  finding her own way to share in our story this year. Yes I think you are right.  Dave, who's always in a hurry, comes up to the head of the line and suggests we go check out the Indiana Jones attraction. The guys liked that idea.  The ladies chatted on  while Dave the wildman very  excited by now said he always dreamed of meeting Indy and his beautiful horse.  Indy led him into the barn and ...there it was.....
 
Dave just about fell over when he saw..................................



My eyes sparkled when I saw him. A pure bred Arabian stallion.  Indy handed me the reins and told me he's yours. I couldn't believe it. I gave everyone a ride on him. I rode him all day long. I cruised the grounds of Disney Land and came across the pirates that were after Steve's shine. I confronted the head pirate and told him it wasn't wise to mess with us Vets. He pulled his black powder pistol and pointed at. Suddenly I heard a load crack and I saw Indy's whip snatch the pistol out of the pirates hand.
Him and his clan of pirates left quickly and me and Indy returned to the rest of the group. I handed Steve the black powder pistol Indy's whip snatched out of the pirates hand while Bev stood and fed apples to my horse. I then told Joe I had a ride back to Wisconsin on the horse Indy gave me. Deb E. was in tears as what Indy did by giving me that horse. She thought that was the most generous thing ehsev er saw.


Just then Deb E. said...............................

" Boring as it may be, I'm starving. All this adventure has given me an appetite. Luckily in a castle, there is a Banquet room, and I think that we should change again for the ball after."

Joe B nearly snarled (an attitude we all know a long time trucker can assume at will!) If you think I"m going to any ball dressed like a dwarf you'd better think again."

Angel Pam cocked her head at him and with a wicked grin purred " But Joe you look so cute" and all the girls broke out in giggles.

ANd Steve, finding himself sobering up just enough to function thanks to the fiary dusting he'd received wanted to know just how he was supposed to get to dinner without his chair, let along to any ball.

With laughter in her eyes, and a smile Deb told them "Ah, a word with the fairy god-mother took care of all that.   Clothes that fit are going to be in the rooms, and a magic powered chair will take care of you here in the castle. As for your tank, it's being rescued from the water and will be waiting for us all at the gates when we leave. "

Suddenly finding himself in a rather ordinary looking chair which seemed to have an odd table attached to it Steve discovered his stash of shine was included in the magic, as the missing bottles had been restored and apparently refilled and were on a shelf under the table. AT which time the fairy god-mother addressed him directly; "Yes, Steve it is all there. I've put a special spell on it though, you can drink all you want, but will not be able to become drunk enough to incapacitate you - any of you. and you will not run out.  You will leave here with as much as you arrived. The spell will expire when you exit the gates."

"That about tempts me to stay forever!" laugned Steve, " But I notice that none of the weapons here are fatal, so I think when it's time I'll go back home to my arsenal, besides, I forgot to bring my wife, and she might miss me after a while."

About this time Joe M decided to speak up on something which had been bothering him. . .


What happened to that Goofy character that has been lurking around ever since we got here??  Has anyone seen him lately??

Just then Mama Jo (who has the eyes of an eagle) spots Goofy peering at them from the ballroom.  Goofy is motioning for us to follow him.  Steve, Dave "the" Wildman and both Joe's say, "Careful now!!  He might be up to no good!!" 

But it is too late!! 

Bev, Aletta, Marti and Amanda are already racing to the doorway.  Unfortunately they tripped over Joe B's  G-string, which was on the floor, and brought down Darelynn and Donna in the process.  Rev Lin offered up a quick prayer as the whole bunch slid into the ballroom out of sight.

Steve powered up his new chair, leaving skid marks as he hurried to catch up with those "dang angels" who are always getting themselves into trouble!  You could hear the thunder and roar as the Saints came charging into the ballroom.

The first thing they see is Goofy whose arm is raised high, pointing at the heap of angels  on the floor.  He has a long slender object  in his hand!  The Saints go on full alert and move to put themselves between Goofy and the ladies.

Suddenly they see Dick Claire behind Goofy, with a musical instrument in his hands.  Surprise!!!! yells Dick!!  They hear a zipping sound, and turn to see Danny stepping out of the Goofy costume! 

Mike thinks to himself......"I was right, this group IS like a bunch of monkeys on the loose!!"

Danny walked over to Jo, and said with a grin, "You didn't really think you could pull this birthday bash off and leave me behind did you??


Now would I do that, Danny? Infact I've been wondering where you, Pj and Betty were? So glad you are here but what's with that Goofy costume? Why are you traveling in disguise anyhow? I was just thinking how it seemed to suit him perfectly!. Jo could no longer hold back her contagious giggles that erupted echoeing through the castle. Danny says he wanted to be discreet so no one would know it was him. Amanda asks why Danny? He says That way he could keep an eye on everyone to make sure we stay safe from those pirates...afterall who is gonna ever suspect Goofy of anything like that? I think Danny just likes making a grand entrance...says Aletta. ha ha. Sounded sort of fishy to Tom too. Danny continued on with this farce saying he never travels without his American Express or his friends he calls them  smith and wesson... just incase there were more pirate troubles. Enough of that now Danny, says Chrissy. Tell us what's the real story here. Where is everyone else anyhow? Didn't they come along with you?  PJ, Betty...and the others. Well you've really not been paying close attention have you? Oh Danny is really milking this fairy tale says Dick as he laughed uncontrollably. They have been right under your noses all day! says Danny. Bev thought he must be joking...where? You mean they have been a part of this scheme also...your possee or something? Were they also dressed as characters around here? You've got to be kidding Bev says. So gullible, lol. says Danny, assures us its true....then finally comes clean.   ok, ok...we made a bet and I won!  I can tell you that and that They will be rejoining us soon. I last saw them at the Enchanted Kingdom he said . As we each filed out the castle's huge doors going in our different directions, the ground seemed to shake ever so slightly! No, this can't be happening screamed Debbie, just can't. Earthquake! no no, just a litlle tremor this time says Karlene..she snickered and advised us to .hold on to something as she and  Don winked and told her it will end in one of those New York minutes, I've heard tell they last a long time.. Just calm down everybody...its probably just all the rides, excitement, heat of the day and maybe alcohol consumption. There see its fine already....no earthquake.

I know what I want to do....says Bob...let's go to the Matterhorn and ride those Bobsleds? Who's in? I always thought I would like to enter the Iditarod but its just too much time in the cold . No way says Steve ...you go if you want to but that's not for me. That's too much cold for us warm bloods I'm going to the Tower Of Terror and check out those exhibits on the way. Aletta told Steve she would go too, so he wouldn't get scared, lol. Or possibly scare whatever creatures are inside. .Marti decides she would go along too. Little did she know......

she was in for the ride of her life!!  PJ, Amanda, Betty and Kay were determined to take a ride on those magical teacups and headed off in that direction, with me in tow.  Bev, who finally had her hair in the most perfect "do" ever, said, No crazy rides for me!  So Julie, Karlene, Liz, Angel Pam, Debbie and Deb E followed Chrissy into "It's a Small World dragging Bev along!  Chrissy assured Bev her hair would be fine!!  Darelynn was living life large so she went along with Bob, both Joe's, Tom and Paul to that Matterhorn.

Eri, Rosemary and Amanda were worried about Aletta being alone with Steve, so they caught up with them.  Steve and Mike were taking turns scooping Aletta off her feet and into their chairs, as they sped wickedly fast down the path to the Tower of Terror.

Strangely that thundering and trembling feeling was back, but no one could quite figure out the cause.  Don and Danny took both Tom and Dick to go investigate.  While Wildman took off at a run to check on Indy's horse!

We had agreed to meet up after all the rides were done.  Bev's hairdo was intact, but Marti was looking decidedly green, between the bus ride over and going in circles in a teacup, she had a nasty case of motion sickness.  Somebody asked when they were going to eat?  Food???  Marti went even greener and groaned....Oh puleeeeeeze!!!

Aletta survived her adventure with Mike and Steve, thank goodness Eri, Amanda and Rosemary where there to run interference!   We still are not sure what that looks was for she had on her face.  Did she see something too scary or was it the rides in the chair with Steve and Mike that got to her??

After lunch, talk turned to the trip home.  Suggestions were made.  Ideas tossed about.

We know Dave Wildman is riding (floating is more like it) home on Indy's Purebred Arabian Stallion.  Don announces that he has discovered the source of the ground shaking and thundering.  The Blue Angels are in town, and they insisted on giving Don and Steve rides back home!   They even agreed to stow Steve's  jugs of shine in the extra seat in the Commander's plane....Steve was thinking hard about having to let go of his jugs!!

The gals start clamoring for Paul to let them ride with him in his balloon, please, please, please, please????  We will be good!  We won't get in the way!  We will be quiet as mice and just enjoy the view!!  You won't even know we are up there with you!!

Paul looks shocked!!  Quiet?  You bunch of Angels??  With a hearty laugh he says, "Sorry gals, you will have to hitch a ride on the Good Year blimp if you are taking a balloon home!"

Now Joe B. had been pretty quiet this whole time, but he sees a chance to unload those chattering (so-called) angels and have a downright quiet trip home!  So he gets on his CB and makes arrangements for us gals to be picked up by the Blimp!  Rubbing his hands in anticipation of making some easy runs home without taking bathroom breaks every hour!  He knows that Joe M., Tom, Bob and Dick will help him come up with some ingenious ways to give us Angels fits in the coming year!  Yes, it will be a GOOD trip home in the bus with da' Saints riding without those lovely Angels.

Pam claps her hands together, to get our attention!  I have something very important to say.........

As the last day of our Disneyland trip draws to a close.  We gather under the Big Elm tree in the center of the parking lot and each of us hugs, fist bump, elbow and make plans to keep in touch with the others we’ve just met.  Bev, Jo, Aletta, Rev. Lin, Marti, Darelynn, Amanda, Donna arms entwined laughing and talking about what happened this time and about meeting next year to share another birthday.  Amanda smiles and says she’s had a wonderful time and hopes to go on next year’s adventure.
  
 
Jo smiles and looks down the way to see Pam and that Hummingbird coming their way.  Pam has a huge arm full of pink roses in bloom.  As she reaches each lady she’s met throughout this adventure she gives them the rose for keeping the “ain’t saints” in line along with a hi five and the hummingbird dips in front of each woman’s face.  When they get to Bev and Jo the hummingbird dips, dives and dances around their heads and touches their cheeks.  Pam smiles and says, “Bev, you were right about the hummingbird…it’s the spirit of our own Kat.  She told me to give each lady one of her favorite flowers, a pink Princess Rose. “  Pam gives Bev, Jo, PJ, Betty, Rev. Lin, Aletta, Marti, all the gals, a hug and a rose.  Wishes everyone a safe trip back home and climbs into Dave/Pauls hot air balloon.  Princess Patti and Dave/Paul smile and wave good bye to the crowd of people below.  Pam waves and settles in for the flight back home.
 
 
NSBSteve sits there looking forlorn and lost.  “Gosh, after all these years I thought Kat would at least tell me goodbye!…”he pouts.  Just then the little hummingbird dipped down and landed on NSBSteve’s shoulder, as she flew away she left a little “present” sitting on NSBSteve’s shirt.  lol “NOW THAT’S THE KAT I KNOW AND LOVE!”  NSBSteve bellowed, a tear in his eye.   “Isn’t that JUST like Our Kat?”  His smile lighting up his whole face.
 
 
Happy Anniversary Vets, Wives and Families. 
 
 
It’s hard to believe that you have been around as long as you have.
 
 
May you have another ten years of happy and healthy growth, sharing information to help the “new” groups of men and women coming home from the new wars.  Helping families cope with their missing family members who are fighting for our country and our freedom.  Always keeping the reason we are such a great nation firmly in focus as you all try to help your fellow man.
 
God Bless!
 
Love,

Pam

Life isn't tied with a bow, but it is still a gift.

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