(TRAVEL) Where Mom Has Been

Seems like many people would really love to know all the places that Mom has visited.  She recently had to fill out some government-type form which required a complete list of countries she has been in, so we thought we would share the list with you.  In just a couple of weeks she will be able to add India and the United Arab Emirates (Dubai and Abu Dhabi), but for now, here is the list:

  • Antigua
  • Argentina
  • Australia
  • Austria
  • Bahamas
  • Barbados
  • Belgium
  • Belize
  • Bermuda
  • Brazil
  • Canada
  • Cayman Islands
  • Chile
  • China
  • Columbia
  • Costa Rica
  • Croatia
  • Curacao
  • Cyprus
  • Czech Republic
  • Denmark
  • England
  • Estonia
  • Fiji
  • Finland
  • France
  • French Guiana
  • French Polynesia
  • Germany
  • Greece
  • Granada
  • Guernsey
  • Hong Kong
  • Hungary
  • Ireland
  • Isle Of Man
  • Italy
  • Jamaica
  • Kenya
  • Luxembourg
  • Malta
  • Martinique
  • Mexico
  • Monaco
  • Morocco
  • Netherlands
  • Norway
  • Panama
  • Peru
  • Portugal
  • Puerto Rico
  • Russia
  • Scotland
  • Slovakia
  • St. Lucia
  • St. Martin
  • Seychelles
  • St. Maarten
  • South Africa
  • Spain
  • Sweden
  • Switzerland
  • Tanzania
  • Turkey
  • USA (all but N. Dakota)
  • Venezuela
  • Virgin Islands
  • Wales
  • West Indies

Mom’s Too Slow

Mom loves speed and thrills….on roller coasters, that is.  In fact, she used to go to Knott’s Berry Farm with the kids and me, and while I had the excuse to sit with the youngest child while the others rode the scariest rides, Mom was happy to be their chaperone.  She had the reputation for being the cool grandma as onlookers watched her laughing and having a great time being whipped around every which way.

But Mom gets all her speed needs met on the thrill rides and is a very conservative driver in her own vehicle.  In fact, she sometimes goes a bit too slow.

One time she and Grandma were driving separately home from some event and Mom was in the lead.  She didn’t want to be rude and leave her mother behind, so she diligently watched the rear view mirror to make sure she could see Grandma’s headlights right behind her.  Noticing that those headlights were falling slightly behind, Mom slowed down.  The headlights slowed down, too.  Mom slowed more, wanting to give Grandma the chance to catch up a little better.  But once again, Mom thought the headlights were starting to lag a little, so she slowed again.  By this time she was going about 40 mph on the freeway (in the slow lane, of course!), and she couldn’t figure out why her mother couldn’t step on it a little.

Mom looked again into the rear view mirror, and her stomach dropped.  Instead of seeing Grandma’s headlights, she saw police lights.  Mom always tries so hard to obey all the laws that she has had very few run-ins with the police, and she was nervous.  Why would he be pulling her over?  She certainly wasn’t speeding!

The policeman approached Mom’s car and with a puzzled look on his face, asked, “Why were you going so slow?”

Always so honest, Mom told the truth.   “I thought you were my mom,” she said.

Either the officer understood Mom’s silly logic, or he just didn’t want to bother with her anymore, but he let her go with a warning, telling her to drive faster from now on.  It’s not too often you hear that from the Highway Patrol!

The freeway is not the only place Mom has been known to drive too slowly.  When I was young, we used to have ATCs (three-wheelers) which we frequently took to the desert.  On one such trip, Mom and Dad took off with an uncle to go for a ride on the ATCs.  They rode around for a while and ended up in the bottom of a cone of sand.  Dad and my uncle were both very logical and exited the cone in the usual manner of winding around in a spiral all the way to the top. Mom, however, is not logical.  She thought she might save time by climbing straight up the side of the very steep hill.  This might have worked if Mom were going fast enough, but apparently she wasn’t.

She didn’t have enough momentum.   Almost as if in slow-motion, the front wheel left the sand, and Mom felt herself falling backwards.  Any normal person might have let go of the handles and just slid off gracefully.  But Mom doesn’t do normal.  As she landed in the sand, she pulled the heavy vehicle right on top of her.

Mom’s troubles didn’t stop there.   Apparently ATCs are not meant to be up-side-down.  The gas cap works great when the vehicle is on all three wheels, but not so much when it is inverted.  As Mom lay on her back with the ATC pinning her down, gas began spilling all over her.

Mom tried to get up, but all she accomplished was much flailing of arms and legs.  Then a funny thought popped into her head:  she thought that she was just like an up-side-down turtle.  And that’s when the giggles hit her.  Here she was, pinned in the hot sand with a heavy vehicle on top of her, and covered in flammable gas, and Mom couldn’t stop laughing.

And that’s how Dad and my uncle found her.  It wasn’t long before they realized Mom wasn’t with them and turned around to look for her.  What a sight they saw.  They couldn’t see Mom’s head or body under the ATC, but they saw the underside of the vehicle and Mom’s legs and arms sprawled out to the sides, wiggling around.  Dad thought she looked funny too, but rather than think of a turtle, he thought she looked like a bug.

Either bug or turtle, we can always count on Mom to do something silly and keep us all entertained.

Mom looks much better when upright on the ATC!

Mom looks much better when upright on the ATC!

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Gotta love those 70s clothes!

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We had a lot of fun times in the desert.

The Bank Robbery

Mom has often had trouble with credit cards while on a trip.  One time her purse got stolen the night before a trip and she lost her credit cards, which turned out to be a nightmare for her.  And several times her cards have been denied in faraway lands because the card company was trying to prevent fraud (even though Mom always tells her credit card companies where she is going…no one ever listens to Mom!).  All these experiences have made Mom want to protect her cards, no matter what – even during a robbery.

Mom was preparing to leave for some exotic location by visiting her bank to get foreign currency. She didn’t think she would be very long in the bank, so she left Grandma sitting in the car with our dog while she ran in to get the money.  While waiting in line, Mom thought of all the things that still needed to be done before leaving in a couple of days.

Completely wrapped up in her own thoughts (and being a very jumpy person to start with), Mom was caught off guard when the bank was suddenly filled with the noise of two gun shots.  Of course, Mom screamed at the top of her lungs at the sound.

The shots were immediately followed by someone yelling at everyone to get on the floor.  Mom looked around and saw people start dropping instantly, but Silly Mom thought that she must surely be on candid camera, and glibly watched as others responded to the threatening intruder.  Some inner instinct kept Mom from looking directly at the shooter, but she was intensely aware of his presence when he yelled at her (actually swore at her) to get on the floor NOW!  All thoughts of Candid Camera gone, she said, “Yes, Sir!” and dropped to the ground as fast as she could.

Now, Mom does not think like a regular person.  Rather than paying attention to what was happening in the bank at that moment, all Mom could think about was her credit cards getting stolen again right before a big trip.  There was no way she was letting that happen!  Mom was determined to keep her credit cards away from this thief at all costs.

Very carefully, and moving slowly so as not to draw attention to herself, Mom snuck her hand into her purse, extracted a credit card, and then very stealthily slipped it into her bra.  Card after card was quietly transferred into a place she hoped the robber would never look.  And just for good measure, Mom put her wedding ring in along with the cards.

She was so intent on her mission of saving her cards from thievery that Mom didn’t realize the robber had taken his loot and left.  One of the tellers had to reassure Mom twice that the coast was clear before she finally realized it was safe to get up.

This whole time, during the robbery and the time it took the police to arrive and question the witnesses, Grandma sat patiently in the car, wondering why Mom was taking so long in the bank.  The police noticed her sitting in the car and wondered if she might be a potential witness.  Grandma admitted that she had seen someone run out of the bank, but she hadn’t paid any attention to him.  The policeman then informed her that the bank had just been robbed.  Silly Grandma’s only response was, “Oh, so that’s what’s taking her so long!”

After the police left Grandma, the car phone rang (this was in the days before people had cell phones, but ever on the cutting edge of technology, Dad had portable phones installed in the cars).  It was Dad, wanting to talk to Mom.

“The bank got robbed,” Grandma told him, “and Marci is still inside.”

“OK,” Dad responded, “Have her call me when she comes out.”

They were both so used to Mom getting into unusual predicaments, that it didn’t faze either of them.

Mom finally did return to the car and called Dad right away to tell him the news.  “Were you worried about me?” she asked.

“No,” he casually responded.  “I knew that if you were in the bank answering questions that you must have been okay.”  Dear Dad is always so logical!

“Well, I am,” Mom declared, a little disappointed that he was neither surprised nor concerned over her situation.  But she was extremely pleased with herself over one thing, and she let him know it:  “And so are the credit cards!” She proudly proclaimed.

** As a side note, here is some factual information on the bank robber:

Known as “The Shootist,” Johnny Madison Williams Jr., was one of the most successful bank robbers in American history.  He admitted to robbing 56 banks by the time he was arrested in 1994.  His method of shooting into the air when he entered the bank was in order to promote terror and compliance.  His wife helped him with the get-aways, and she kept all the records of their robberies.  He was a very organized and calculating bank robber, who planned his heists well in advance with great attention to detail.  It took eight years for the police to finally catch him.