My Vacation.....

Photo Essay by Daniel & Christine Weiss

From August 5th through the 13th, we went on vacation. The occasion was the 20th Annual National Amateur Motocross Championships, held at the Loretta Lynn Ranch in Hurricane Mills, Tennessee. The purpose (and yes, there is ALWAYS a motive to my madness), was for me and my Arkansas family to share some quality space with my all-grown-up and presently-living-in-Florida child. 

Mother & daughter, Christine Weiss and Patty Whitehouse. 

Of course each of us had our own reasons for making the trip. And they were very good reasons. Our youngest children had no choice -- where mom & dad go, so too do they go. But they wanted to go anyway. It would be fun. We would have a great time. And, besides, we hadn't been on a real vacation for years.

Patty had to be there. She had, for the third time no less, earned a highly competitive spot in this national championship race and, like the U.S. Postal Service at its best, neither rain, nor sleet, nor any other worldly disaster could keep her from her appointed rounds. 

Even dad, being my dear hubby Daniel, favored the idea. But let's face it. On my homefornt I'm "the momma." Not just "a momma" or simply "momma" mind you, but THE momma. And the odds, in this exclusive neck of the woods, are that if I don't endorse an idea, it ain't gonna get done. So when I accepted my eldest child's invitation to bring the whole family for a camp-out at the races as her guest... Well, here in the Ozarks there was thundering applause. And "camp out" was exactly what we did....

The accoutrements of our campsite suite: three large canopy covers , several ice chests, a Coleman stove, crock pot, coffee maker, folding chairs, picnic table, and a couple of sleeping tents, augmented by....

...the back-to-back vehicles joined by a tarp provided two more modestly comfortable bedrooms and the breezeway in-between served as a garage for Patty's racing bikes. Straddling the bike with Patty, above, is her sister, Shalom.

A lot of what we did while we were there did not get captured in photos. This was due, in part, to the fact that we had lots of rain which does not make for good picture taking, and somewhat to the fact that we didn't really do much of anything except cook, clean-up, watch the races, and sit around talking and eating. 

And I just got reprimanded by my hubby for "not taking a picture of the golf cart" -- which was of special significance to him as his disability makes it difficult for him to walk long distances and Patty and her racing side-kick Kirby had made arrangements to rent a golf cart for Daniel's use for the entire week, just to make things "easier" on him (and all of us) while we were there.

In response to his reprimand, I wanted to say "Hey, I'm the professional editor and photographer, and I was on vacation!!!" But I didn't  I just smiled and nodded my head.

The other stuff we did was "watch the races," which started each day near the hour of 7am and continued non-stop until nearly dark. 

Patty Whitehouse, #18, plows her Suzuki 125cc custom-equipped motocross racing bike through the 2' deep mud of a hair-pin turn.  

How did she do? (I hear you wondering.) Well, let's just say that she'd hoped and planned to do better (overall, she finished 32nd in a field of 42), but we all thought she did tremendously excellent. And "we" are quite a group....

L-R: (background) Daniel, Patty, Adam, William, Kirby, Shalom, Sadie, Don, Christine, (foreground) Joshua, Shawna, Lynn, Justin. 

By the time the races ended Saturday, we were all exhausted and somewhat soaked. The rains had come and gone all week, making life in close harmony with the great outdoors an interesting challenge. Plans were to strike camp Sunday morning and head to our respective homes.

But Sunday morning, as we noshed breakfast and began random acts of packing-up, "the momma" got an idea. "How about if we checked into one of those cute little log cabins for tonight and extended our vacation one more day?"

Everyone looked at me sort of oddly at first, but then... well, talk about jubilation!!! The idea was an instantaneous hit. So arrangements were made, the campsite was struck (in the midst of the most torrential downpour we'd had all week), and we moved -- lock, stock, and sleeping bag. 

And, we goofed around....

Daniel has titled the above photo: "Here's me taking a picture of you, taking a picture of me, taking a picture of you, kid."

As families go, we can be pretty serious goofer-arounders. In fact, I'd say our spontaneous "let's have some fun" skills are as good as any can get. And the photo at right, of our eldest at-home daughter, Shalom, age 12,, with the look of "ain't no way you're getting away with that" blatant on her face and  body language, routinely followed by peals of vigorous laughter, captures the flavorful essence of what happened, a lot. 

But all too soon our "extra" vacation day came to an end. Everything was packed and loaded. It was time to hit the road. 

By way of forestalling the inevitable, we opted to lunch at Loretta Lynn's Kitchen, which is right at the I-40 interchange where Patty and Kirby would turn left and the rest of us would turn right. 

L-R: (background) Patty, Kirby, Adam, (foreground) Joshua, Shalom, Shawna, and Christine (Yes, that's me with that joyous look of happiness on my face.... And Daniel's ability to capture such wonderful impressions of me is one of the many reasons I don't let him use the camera very much!)

And so, my vacation ended. But not, mind you, with out me having given a "Hail Mary" try at convincing Patty to make that right-hand turn with us. And not without her wanting to; wishing only that she could. 

And who knows, perhaps some fine day soon, there won't be any more "right vs left" dividers in the path she and we tread.  Maybe we'll all be hanging out in the same space, sharing each other's time. But in the interim, we're still a family. And our official family photographer is "dad."

Daniel "dad" Weiss, family photographer.