Monday through Thursday, March 17-20—Family Time

What was supposed to be a relaxing few days in central Arkansas with family and friends turned into a hectic frenzy as we added some “business” items to the schedule, leaving us almost no free time.  One of the objectives of making an intermittent stop in central Arkansas was delivering federal and state income tax information to our tax preparer—gosh, we pay so many taxes.  Arkansas has a 7 percent state income tax, personal property tax, real estate tax, and the 2nd highest sales tax in the US—but it’s home, and we continue to fulfill this patriotic duty. 
Consequently, Kay dropped off the tax information Monday morning, and then visited friends in Jacksonville, Arkansas.  Upon returning to the motorhome in the afternoon, we drove to Benton, Arkansas, to visit older grandson, Kaden, a very busy senior in high school; Kay had called him yesterday to get on his schedule!  From there, we drove to Maumelle to visit younger grandson, Ridge, and then back to the motorhome again for the evening.
Tuesday was zoo day.  We picked up Ridge from daycare about 9 AM, and drove back to Little Rock for a zoo visit, arriving just as they opened.  Zoo helpers were feeding the penguins, and that was our first stop.  We saw snakes, reptiles, a giraffe, bears, tigers, lions, cheetahs, monkeys, a rhinoceros, and elephants. (Photos to follow.)  Much of the zoo was closed for repairs, and we were surprised, a a bit disappointed, at how little it had changed in the last 50 years.  The zoo is one of those public facilities that is among the bottom in terms of budget priority—a shame since it may be the only exposure to “wild” animals and nature received by many intercity kids.  We wrapped up the zoo visit at about 12 noon, and as soon as Ridge was buckled in the car seat and we began driving, he was fast asleep.  Back at his house, Kay carried him to be and he slept almost 3 hours.  Kay washed a load of necessary clothes, and brother-in-law George from Virginia dropped by the house as well.  We had a great visit and he got to meet nephew-once-removed Ridge for the first time.  It was a grand ole time.  We drove back to Maumelle Park, collapsed, and spent a short, but quiet evening.
Mixing business with pleasure proved to be “taxing” Wednesday.  We were out the door early to Sam’s Club for gasoline and some warehouse shopping to fill a depleted pantry at the house (which Kay has not seen since early November).  And then, it was off to Verizon for updated cell phones.  Both our iPhones work well, but at 2 years old, they are a bit outdated with weak batteries.  We upgraded to the latest and greatest, and got a decent trade-in on our old ones.  There were lots of pluses in making the upgrade, but the one negative was that we lost the unlimited data plan.  However, we don’t use much data anyway, and the 2 gigabytes per month should be sufficient.  If not, we’ll just increase to meet our “needs”.  Anyway, it took forever to consummate the upgrade, deleting old data and apps, and setting up security on the new phones, and remembering all the old, but necessary passwords was difficult!  We “met” George again driving into Maumelle Park, and he followed us to the RV, and had a great visit; we so much enjoy his company and conversation, and see too little of him and Nan.  And then, it was back to Maumelle to drop Kay off to be picked up by a friend for book club and I drove to Conway for a golf lesson at the Arkansas Golf Center.  (If I’m going to play the game, I’d like to do it as right as possible).   The pro there was rated the number one instructor in Arkansas, and it’s easy to see why.  He was very, very good—whether he can help my game or not remains to be seen.  Back at Maumelle I said goodbyes to Ridge, Karyn, and Matt, and returned to the RV for a short evening, falling asleep before Kay returned from her book club evening. (Perhaps that’s why this is being written at 2 AM).  
The sun rise over the Arkansas River from the motorhome bedroom window was stunning, to say the least.  We enjoy it each time we stay in Maumelle Park.  Our departure this Thursday morning was a bit melancholy as it marked the official end of our winter, both figuratively and climatically—we arrive home after being away since November 11, missing a cold, snowy winter in the Ozarks, and it’s officially the first day of spring.  Getting the RV ready to roll was a piece of cake since few things had to be stored neatly away—most everything is coming out when we get home.  We did dump the tanks to lesson the weight driving home; we had not dumped since leaving the RGV last Saturday morning, and all that “stuff” weighs several hundred pounds.  The drive took just under 4 hours.  The house looked just like we left it—we always clean house just before leaving on an RV trip, and our housekeeper had turned the heat to 68°.  We spent the rest of the day and evening partially unloading the RV, and washing clothes.  The only snafus were that Centurytel had failed to turn the internet on despite the schedule, and Kay calling Monday to confirm, and the DirecTV did not work.  A call to Centurytel for explicit instructions on resetting the modem/router solved the problem with the internet, though we are continually amazed at how inefficient a company Centurytel really is; regrettably, they are our sole provider!  A call to DirecTV also solved the satellite problem, and again, we had made arrangements sometime ago for satellite service to be restored early in the week.  I suppose with deregulation, these huge communications companies can profit significantly by just providing marginal service.  Anyway, we’re back to whole now, with lots of cleaning and unpacking to do.

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