Sunday, December 30, 2012

Week of Donnie’s Basic Graduation Trip

Week of Donnie’s Basic Graduation Trip Day 1 July 28 It is time to leave. I let Don and Ariana pack the car. The pain shooting down my leg is unbearable. I try hard not to complain. I am so frustrated though knowing deep down something is really wrong. As we are heading to the car Don notices a black cat run in front of him….then another runs in front of us in the car. We head off towards Chattanooga TN. We are enjoying the drive. I love looking at the rock walls. At our first rest stop we are barely ready for a break but need to give our legs a stretch. As Don is getting out of the car he starts to put his phone into his pocket…..He missed. It falls to the pavement; it has an otterbox on it. It doesn’t matter the inner screen shatters! We are now with out GPS, thank goodness I insisted on printing all the mapquest maps out. A very upset Don starts driving again on to Raccoon Mountain. We arrive to Raccoon Mountain.
It has a cave and a nice little campground. Oddly positioned right beside some million dollar looking homes. I have a feeling the campground was there first! The caves are called crystal caves. The whole place just glitters! The pavement in most of Georgia glitters also! We got the tents set up, no, I can’t say that Ariana set up both the tents for us. We hadn’t even gotten to really set things up yet when we hear thunder above us. All of a sudden we are running for the tents to get out of the rain. We realized after a few minutes the big church group of tents did not have the rain tarps on their tents. It was really sad to watch later as they pulled all of their things out to hang up wring out and throw away…. Boredom kinda of set in so we decided to go and check out the cave. Pretty much it was a neat cave. The best part was how much it glittered. I was hurting so much I was fine as long as we were walking. Anytime I had to stand still I felt as though I was going to pass out. We sat at camp I tried to get comfortable. We sat watching other campers. It was funny watching a couple set up their tent. The wind sent it flying into the woods they tried to set it back up. It was torn beyond repair. I don’t know where they got another one but they pulled out another one and tried again. It also was blown over, use stakes would be our recommendation. Rain soaked through all of the stuff inside, they zipped up the tent and got in the car again and left. They didn’t return that night! We were so anxious to get to Atlanta that we cooked a quick dinner and as soon as it got dark we went to bed! Day 2 July 29 We woke up a little defeated but ready to hit the road. Off to Stone Mountain. We arrived at Stone mountain only to be greeted with a $10 entrance fee plus camping fees. I was kinda of surprised it was the most expensive campground to begin with. So we decided to see how far the Aquarium was and see if we could find anything else. I have only passed through Atlanta before so we were a little nervous as we drove in and saw all of the bars on simple places windows, like a waffle house with barred windows. We still ate at the Waffle house though!
Oh dear where are we driving! Arriving at the Atlanta Aquarium I was excited. I have a piece of advice though. Buy your tickets with a debit card at a kiosk or pre-buy online.. If you are paying with cash you stand in a horrendous line. I have mentioned standing in one place is what hurts the most right. So we stand and stand in line. Finally to be told oh yeah now stand in this line that was just the pre line… REALLY yes, so finally we have our tickets. Only to be told they stand here for just a second so we can take your official Aquarium picture.
Oh that is the fakest smile on that picture! I really just wanted to scream or cry. I love it though the Aquarium is really great. Worth every second of torture to get inside. We were allowed to touch a sea anemone. It felt so cool. We watched otters play, beluga whales, sea turtles. I had a whale swim over my head. I didn’t get to see the albino alligator. It was so crowded. It was time for lunch. They have a cafĂ© so we got in line to get food. More standing and crowds I have never been bothered by. Until today. Standing there people on all sides, me barely able to think past the pain. I handed Don my tray and bolted out of there. I was so hungry but I couldn’t stand in another line at that moment. People are wall to wall there. I wish I would have had a young one in a stroller to create a buffer haha. I settled on a pretzel from a kiosk. Don and Ariana found me and we settled in for a tiny lunch before the dolphin show.
The dolphin show, you first stand in this line at the bottom of some escalators. They told us we should plan on being there 30 minutes early to get good seats. We are, I leaned against a pillar and waited. We are finally able to go only to stand in another line right outside the auditorium doors. Oh the standing….The floor was wet or I would have sat down. We get in and lets just say if you need to lose 50 lbs before you go. The tiny seats we squeezed ourselves into. I was ready to see some really cool tricks by some dolphins. Let me just say Georgia glitters everywhere. This was no ordinary dolphin show. It was a musical with singing glittery costumes and just wow! I thought Don was going to die. HE says if you love show tunes you just may love it! It says it was fabulous with quite a flair in his voice! I was just laughing it was the cheesiest thing I have ever seen in my life!! I have seen a lot of cheese. The dolphins were good so I did enjoy it. It was also sitting still for about 40 minutes. We just conituned to look at all the sea life, turles, jelly fish, stingrays that are bigger then me. Windows into the tanks that are 2 or 3 stories high. It is a must see place for sure. We decide to head out to try to find a place to sleep. The Atlanta area doesn’t have many campgrounds. With no smart phone to find one we were a little lost. We started heading back to Stone Mountain the back way hoping to find another place. We did see one odd campground sign. We pulled into the drive after just a few feet we realized we should have taken a slight left at the beginning. We were inside a southern cemetery. Driving through it we were feeling quite off kilter. We realized that the campground was just on the other side of the cemetery fence. It pretty much overlooked the cemetery. The place looked like something out of a horror movie. We decided that Stone Mountain was looking really Good no matter what the cost.
We finally figured out where we were and got back to SM. It was really nice after all. I would like to go back again with more time. We found a nice spot near the shower house. Ariana went and checked out the lake and gathered some pine cones for me. They have really good facilities. We had a great dinner and a little fire, I felt relaxed and was able to sleep. Day 3 July 30 Today was the day I was excited for, other then seeing Donnie of course. We were headed to Zoo Atlanta. I was going to see Ivan the gorilla.
He is a gorilla that our family first met in the State of Washington in the early 90’s. He had been kept at a local shopping/game center. He was in a tiny cage. We helped sign a petition to get him relocated to Atlanta. I was so looking forward to seeing him out in the open. I was in pain right from the beginning. Pretty much pain was constant, with occasional worsening. So my focus was look quickly at animals heading to Ivan’s exhibit. We were not disappointed by getting there quickly. Ivan was laying in the grass when we got to him. I just got misty eyed watching him. He slowly began waking up, stretching his arms into the air. Sitting up and looking around just saying good morning to the world. He then sat in his traditional position with his fist under his chin in a thoughtful pose. We stood around watching him for a while. Don even told people walking up Ivan’s story. We found out that August 20 Ivan passed away at the age of 50. I am so blessed that I got to go and say hello and goodbye to him. I know the rest of the zoo was nice and I would like to go back again. I just was mainly there for him. Ariana got to rock climb.
She really enjoyed that. I was so proud of her. She wasn’t sure whether she could do it or not, which made her nervous for basic training. She completed it like a boss! She is so much stronger than she knows. She was such a help on this whole trip. We were done with the zoo by lunch time. It really is not a huge zoo. So we decided to head on down to Fort Benning. We headed out on I-185, advice time, eat, pee and get some food before you hit this highway. It is long and BORING!!!!!!I had to stay awake to keep Don awake. We arrived at Fort Benning. It was so exciting driving through post just knowing Donnie was there somewhere. We keep seeing platoons and wondering is that him. It really never was his unit was in a part we never drove to! So on the other side of base was our next campground. Uchee creek we got our campsite paid for and headed out to set it up. We arrive at a small parking lot with a bathhouse. We see a sign saying no cars on campsite. So we decide to check it out. We follow a small trail into the woods. The campsites were raised from the ground by 2 feet. They were very small incredibly dirty. No water no electricity. There was a chain link fence between campsites and river to keep alligators out. We would have to carry everything from the car to campsite about 100 yards. Not happening with the way I felt, my pain level was so high. I started counting money and we headed back to find out if they had any cabins open.
We had hotel reservations in 2 days. So we got a cabin. The campsites at Uchee creek aren’t much but the cabins are really nice. A set of bunk beds, a full size bed. Kitchenette and a shower that we didn’t have to walk to! Although Don walked outside right after everything was settled to a little black cat staring at him!
I kinda lost it. I started laughing so hard. I was just so happy to have a bed and an ice pack. I loved seeing the moss flowing off the trees and a little armadillo running through the grass.
We cooked a good dinner, and I took a very painful shower and headed to bed. I was in such pain I felt like things were crawling on me. I tossed and turned most of the night. Day 4 July 31 We woke up feeling good after sleeping in a bed. I got up and realized it was not just my pain that caused the crawling feeling. I had bites of some kind all over my legs! Great still no sure what did it. There were a lot of spiders though. We didn’t do a lot that day. We did go over to the lake and Ariana got to see an alligator. We did go to the PX so Araina could get a visit in with her sister Andrea. I think I slept a lot that day. I believe Ariana and Don went and saw a movie. I really don’t know what happened that day. Breakfast lunch then dinner and sleep! It is moving day, we get to go to the hotel now. Day 5 August1 We got to the hotel, it was a nice little place. The people were very friendly. They let me know where places we needed to go were! We are in the hotel and I have had it. I broke down called the insurance and headed for the closet medical center. It was really a cool mec center. They were very up to date which made me feel good. They confirmed something was probably really wrong with my back. They gave me good meds to get me through until we got home. I also got a steroid shot. I was now at least in a bliss of medication. We decided to go to the National Infantry Museum.
I was nearing the end of my tolerance. I let Don and Ariana push me in a wheelchair. I felt so tired and so discouraged at this point. I knew I had to do something.This was really a spectacular stop. It leads you through all the wars and battles that our soldiers have fought in. There is a room that takes you back like you were in Vietnam, they even have a warning on the outside door that it may cause flashbacks enter at your own risk…That part made my tummy hurt. With the meds in my system, some of the displays that were realistic made me very dizzy! We had to check out the local Wal-Mart. Got us some snack food and I bought a new comfy dress. There was no way I could wear the fitted dress I had originally brought and heels haha! It was also very hot! After that we went to relax at the hotel only one more night until we get to see Donnie! We got a text from him that was nice. Also got the first picture from him! He looked so good! Movies on tv and medicine I was OUT! The best sleep this whole trip! Next Up Graduation Day!