I started my blog in September of 2017. A lot of stuff has happened since then, and I have added a lot of posts. I have recently purchased a domain – jimgblack.blog – through WordPress.com, who has been posting my blogs from the beginning, and so I am editing this post to bring it up to date.
So…the title, Broken Anvil…what does it mean? I hear you asking. When I was younger my daddy used to say I could tear up an anvil, if I could ever get my hands on one. It wasn’t that I was a destructive little brat (depending on whom you ask), just very inquisitive as to how things worked. So, I would tear things apart to get to the insides. I just never could put them back together – hence the reason I’m not a surgeon.
Anyway, I have often thought that Broken Anvil would be a good name for a lot of things, none of which I could ever get around to creating. So I figured, what the heck? Use it as the title for my blog. If you look at my profile, you will see that I started this venture to practice my writing and just have fun with it.
I am starting my first book, and welcome any and all help, advice, tips, tricks and criticisms I can get. I hope you will read and follow my posts, and recommend me to others. My two biggest wishes are that I will become a better writer, and that you will just enjoy what you read. I have a lot of interests, and will write on a variety of things. Some serious. Some humorous. But always from the heart and my warped perspective on things. You can also follow me on Twitter and my writing page on Facebook, which I see needs a lot of serious work, by clicking on the social media icons found on each page. I hope you like what you see. If you do, please leave a like and/or a comment. And feel free to recommend my blog to others who might enjoy it.
Why, you ask? How do you know it’s safe? It looks abandoned. Does it even work? Look at the CAUTION tape hanging down.
Think about this…
How many times do you think that elevator is used every day? Every week? Every month? Tens? Hundreds? Thousands? That’s a lot of times those buttons have been pushed.
What if you get inside, the doors close, you push the button and nothing happens? Then you can’t get the doors open. You’ll be stuck in there and who will know where you are?
When was the last time it was inspected? How often do the gears and pulleys and cables get checked to make sure they are in proper operating condition?
Suppose I go first and this is the instant the cables give way to the weight of the car, and it plummets to the basement, killing me. Then you could take the stairs and get away safe.
Or, just maybe, it delivers me safe to my floor and comes back up for you. What if the second trip is the one that crashes to the basement, killing you?
Kind of like elevator Russian roulette, isn’t it. Maybe it’s the one trip that will be the last. Maybe it’s the other one. Or maybe both trips will be successful and the elevator will operate without incident.
It’s been a long time since I last posted anything. I know I’ve got an Author Spotlight to get finished and shared, but I thought I’d go a different way with this post. If you’ve followed and/or read my blog for a while, you know it’s just a lot of rambling, so, here’s some more rambling.
I work nights – 7am to 7pm and my meal choices after a certain time are limited to 24 hour chain restaurants and convenience store cuisine. This all gets old real quick, so I, on occasion, bring my own food. It started out being frozen dinners, which, quite frankly, leave little to be desired to a guy who’s six foot three and three hundred pounds. After some thought I decided I could create my own meals, which would not only be edible and filling, but also economical. By shopping at dollar stores and hitting sales on other store brands, I can create four and five meals for just a few dollars each.
It all comes down to creativity and a lot of experimentation, and it doesn’t have to be difficult or take a lot of time in the kitchen. Stores have a lot of prepackaged, non-frozen foods that make it easy to put something together. Now, I said non-frozen, but don’t count them out. Dollar stores have some nice choices of frozen entrees that can easily be added to for a hearty meal.
For the meal pictured above I heated the brats in the microwave and placed them in the buns. For the slaw I took some prepackaged slaw mix, enough for the two brats, and mixed it with a teaspoon of Dijon mustard with horseradish to top them off. The shells and cheese are a store brand microwaveable bowl; just add water and then mix in the cheese. It’s just that easy.
For the fish tacos I heated up the filets in the microwave (no, not the one at the office!), spread some homemade tarter sauce on the tortillas and added the shredded fish filets. To top them off I mixed a teaspoon of cocktail sauce with a half teaspoon of hot sauce, then lightly coated some of the slaw mix with it. Again, easy and didn’t take a long time.
It has been fun, strategically shopping for ingredients and experimenting with different combinations (although, not all of them have come out as I thought they would). I’ve been doing this for over a year now and, although I don’t have plans to turn this into a food blog, this may not be the last post of this kind you’ll see from me. I have an idea for leftover tortillas and frozen breakfast entrees for this weekend’s rotation. Stay tuned, and stay hungry, my readers.
When I started my own writing journey, I wanted to connect with other writers and bloggers. This led me to Twitter and the #writingcommunity. One of the first authors with whom I connected is the very talented multi-genre Canadian indie author, Barbara Avon, who over the past six years has written and self-published twenty-one books. I have read several of her books and wanted to introduce her to an audience that may not have, as yet, had the opportunity to know her or her writing, so I posed several questions and she graciously answered.
Barb was born in a quaint little town in Switzerland and now makes her home in Ottawa, Canada. She says that she’s always felt like an outsider, as her name literally translates to Mysterious Stranger.
“I think it suits me! You can unravel the
mystery by ‘reading me’ in my stories.”
She attended Brock University in St Catharines, Ontario, Canada, majoring in English Literature and, while she says she is happy for that experience, it has not been an influence on her writing.
Barb stated that the words have always been in her and that telling stories comes naturally. She says she started out writing “poetry, riddled with teenage angst”, and when she was in high school one of her English teachers gave her an A+ on a short fiction story. That was when she knew that one day she would write a novel. She finished her first novel in 2002, but didn’t publish it until 2015. She says that telling stories comes naturally to her, and that she feels writing is more of a calling.
“As my characters come to life, they become real to me.
They are a part of me. The dream was always to share
And self-publishing makes that possible. When I’m gone,
I’ll live on in my stories. They are my legacy.”
And what a legacy she has started. To date she has self-published twenty-one books in the genres of Romance (with suspense elements), Horror, Fantasy (time travel), Thrillers, Paranormal Romance and has also written three children’s books that allow the child to draw the illustrations. She says she still writes Poetry, although she’s drawn to dark stories. “There’s something hauntingly beautiful about them.” She self-publishes all of her books in e-book and paperback format, and will delve into the audiobook format sometime this year. All of her books are available online at Kobo, Barnes and Noble, Amazon, and other digital stores.
When asked if she has a favorite character that she’s written, she stated that’s the impossible question, saying that she feels as if she’s cheating on her other characters if she were to pick a favorite, adding that they are all a part of her. Her protagonists are always male and she loves them as if they were real-life love interests.
I also asked her which of her books was the hardest to write, in which she answered “none of them”, as she doesn’t find writing difficult for her. Again, going back to being a natural storyteller.
And her storytelling/writing has paid off for her over the past six years, having won a local award in Ottawa in 2018 for “Favorite Female Author” and SpillWords “Author of the Month”. Her latest novel, the psychological horror, “Sacrilege” has been nominated for “New Book of the Year”. “The greatest award, however, is the feedback I receive from my readers.”
“I’d like my readers to know how special they are to me.
Without them, none of this matters. I will always write,
But as I mentioned earlier, the joy comes from sharing
my stories. When I receive messages from readers telling
me that a book has touched them, and stayed with them –
that is how I define success.”
For more information on Barb and her books, and to follow her progress, she can be found on Twitter (@barb_avon), where she is an active member of the Writing Community, her Amazon author page or her website: Barbara Avon – Author.
Bonus Book Review of Sacrilege by Barbara Avon
As I stated at the beginning I have read several of her books and would be remiss if I didn’t add a bonus review of her latest psychological horror novel, Sacrilege. To start off I can tell you that the title definitely fits the book, and it will keep you reading to see what happens next. Ex-priest, Cris Corelli has turned his back on his faith and disappeared into the night, destined for nowhere. He finds himself at a boarding house at two in the morning, wanting a room. The house is managed by Jules, who possesses a seemingly tough-as-nails disposition and shows that she is not in the mood for foolishness at two a.m. Both of them are harboring deep secrets, which come to light as the story unfolds and brings the two together in a love-hate relationship. The boarding house holds a key that is realized in the end, when things come burning down around them. I highly recommend this book if you are a fan of dark and twisted psychological horror. Barb even has a disclaimer that the book contains dark and sensitive themes throughout.
So…I have started a new weight loss journey. I won’t go into it here, because that’s not what this blog is about. I’ll discuss it more at another time.
This blog is titled “Get Steppin’”. Sounds like a line out of a movie, doesn’t it? One of the things this new program encourages and allows is to set a step goal and reach it each day. We’ve all heard that the optimum goal is ten thousand steps a day. Yes, I typed that correctly…TEN THOUSAND STEPS A DAY! That sounds like a lot of steps and can be daunting to anyone just starting out. But, there is good news. You don’t have to start out walking ten thousand steps a day. The key is to set goals, attainable goals, and work your way up to it. You may start out by setting your goal at one thousand or two thousand. Whatever you feel you can do per day. This program started me out at two thousand steps, and adds three hundred at a time for every day I reach my goal. Some days I reach my goal and others I far exceed my goal. I’ll get into that in a minute, but do you want to hear some more good news? EVERY STEP COUNTS!! Keep reading (please?).
As I said above, some days I reach my step goal, while other days I far exceed it. These coincide with my work and off days. It’s very easy for me to exceed my daily step goals on the nights I work, because my job requires me to walk and check buildings. Before I know it, I’ve already reached more than half of my goal midway through my shift. But what about the nights you’re off? I hear you ask. Remember what I said above (I’ll give you a moment to go back and look), EVERY STEP COUNTS!! You don’t have to do all of your steps at once. Every step you take doing your regular daily routine counts towards your goal, whether it’s going from the bedroom to the bathroom, the bedroom to the living room, the living room to the kitchen, going outside to get the paper or the mail. You get the idea. And the best part is, you are adding up your steps and you don’t even have to think about it. At some point during the day you want to check your step count, and may even have to add some steps all at once to reach your goal, but you’ll see that it won’t be as many as you might think.
I use the Health app on my iPhone to track my steps. If you have an app on your phone, or some other device you can use to track your activities, that’s good. You might even want to buy some kind of pedometer to track your steps. I’ve been tracking my steps daily and have been pleasantly surprised at my progress. One of the things it makes me want to do is pass the next hundred step mark (so, if I’m at 2,340 steps, I shoot for 2,400 steps, etc).
On November 9-15, my college alma mater, Presbyterian College held its inaugural ScotTrot Virtual 5K to help raise money for student athletes. I was more than happy to register for this event as PC Athletics holds a special place in my heart. On Friday, November 13, after being awake for fifteen hours, working twelve of those and logging close to four thousand steps since midnight that morning, I went home, changed clothes and walked the 5K, bringing my step count for the day to well over ten thousand! This is not typical, but I proved to myself I could do it. I have another 5K in mind for this weekend. I’ll never win any awards or trophies for my 5K times, but I was pleased with the results. When I was younger and hiking every month I was doing about a twelve to fourteen minute mile. Now, thirty-five to forty years later, about one hundred fifty pounds heavier with bad knees, hypertension and asthma, I still averaged about twenty-one minutes and seventeen seconds a mile. I’ll take it.
Nineteen years ago we adopted a stray kitten (one of many over the years), a little ball of gray fur that fit well into the palm of my hand. We instantly fell in love with the little kitten and the kids were trying to come up with a name for him. One wanted to call him Charlie and the other wanted to call him Roger, so he was, forever to us – and the vet’s office – Charlie Roger Black.
He was the typical kitten; playful, mischievous, adventurous, a good hunter and affectionate. When we had the screen porch built onto the back of the house, we had a little space at the top of the door that wasn’t closed in yet. Charlie Roger was the first one of the cats to climb all the way up to the top of the screen and jump off the top of the door, landing with a thud on the floor below. And he did it often (until we had the space closed up). I think he lost most of his teeth, and three or four lives, jumping off that door.
We had several more cats and kittens – all strayed or rescued – when Charlie first came around, and they all along quite well, but it was easy to see who had the hearts of the kids.
That’s Charlie on the far left with brothers, Wicket and Yellow Kitty.
As the years went by Charlie was showing signs of age. His eyesight was all but gone and his hearing was, as well. I took to calling him Charlie Roomba (after the robot vacuum cleaner), because he would walk into something, back up and go another way, until he ran into something else. Then he would repeat the pattern until he got where he was going. In spite of this he still knew where his food and water were, and how to get to his favorite sleeping places.
Two nights ago I sat and held Charlie for, what I was sure, was the last time. I expected to say goodbye while I had him in my arms, but he was stronger-willed than we thought and hung in there a little longer. As I type this, we are in the room as he takes his last breaths and crosses over that bridge. We are confident that we did all we could over the years to make sure he was safe, taken care of and loved.
Thank you, Charlie Roger ‘Roomba’ Black, for the laughs, the love and the blessings you brought to our home and to our lives. Rest In Peace.
Wow! What a day I had Thursday, the 16th. To start off, I had a message on my Facebook writing page from a woman who started the Laurens County Writers Guild in our county back in 2016. Up until Thursday morning I wasn’t even aware that we had a guild in Laurens county. Anyway, she asked if I would come to their meeting sometime and speak about my blog and my writing journey. I was very humbled at the invitation, and will try and get to their meeting soon. Also, I thought it was a great way to start the day that I, along with two other members of the Newberry chapter of the South Carolina Writers Association were to be on the local AM radio station in Newberry, to talk about our work and the Association.
I started my day early, getting up and showering for the radio interview. After a quick breakfast I drove the thirty minutes over to Newberry and WKDK Radio AM 1240. WKDK is an institution in Newberry and has been in the same building since it first went on the air in 1946. For decades it has been the voice of the (Newberry College) Wolves and the (Newberry High School) Bulldogs. It is your typical, small town, brick exterior radio station, decorated inside with album covers, autographs and posters of shows through the years. Our interview ran live for thirty minutes with a couple breaks and it was a lot of fun. You can find them online at wkdk.com, or download their app from the App Store.
After the interview I had to drive all the way to the middle of Laurens County to the tax office to pay property taxes. Now…I could have taken the quick and easy route, jumping over to the interstate, heading north to Laurens. However, those of you that know me, know that, given a nice warm day and an opportunity, I’m going to take the back highways and make a journey of it. And I did! Knowing my way around this area like I do, I got on the nearest highway, Highway 121 in Newberry, and headed toward Highway 34 which would take me past farms and fields, through the small town of Silverstreet, and over to Highway 39, which would take me over to Laurens.
Silverstreet is a small, unincorporated town in Newberry County. According to Wikipedia, it is three and a half square miles with a population of two hundred-sixteen people, as of the 2000 census. Driving through I saw a small park that looked as if it had not been used for a while and Smitty’s Country Store that seemed to be pretty popular. I drove across Little River, however, the trees are grown over so thick on either side of the bridge, I wasn’t able to stop and take a good picture. Oh, well, on with the trip.
From Highway 34, I got onto Highway 39 in Chappells, on the southern tip of Newberry County. I had been driving through some pretty parts of the county, noticing the old wood and cement block buildings, long since abandoned and slowly being taken back by nature, but, at the intersection where the two highways meet, there was a new chain discount store. I won’t mention the name, and I’m sure the locals are glad to have it there, but it just took away from the old country charm though which I had been driving and enjoying so much.
Highway 39 took me into Cross Hill in Laurens County. In a past life I worked all of the county and Cross Hill was one of my favorite towns to work. It is a small, old town with great little restaurants and some nice places on the lake. I could have taken Highway 39 all the way to Highway 221 and gone into Laurens, but again, knowing the area like I do, I had to make a couple side trips. From Cross Hill over to Waterloo and down Old Laurens Road to Harris Landing on Lake Greenwood for lunch. I had been by Harris Landing Restaurant and Tiki Bar many times, but had never stopped to eat. I have some good friends who are regulars and I have heard that the food is excellent. What better time to try it out for myself?
The restaurant itself is a brick building which sits lakeside, just off the Old Laurens Road. The inside is decorated with pine siding, plastered with decorated one dollar bills, and a nice bar where patrons can sit and eat lunch. I looked over the menu and it had a lot of great looking choices. I opted for the catfish special. I would have taken a picture, but I was too taken with how delicious it looked and the food didn’t last too long. It wasn’t Keto friendly, so, Dee, if you’re reading this, forgive me lol. I had a great seat with an excellent view of the lake while I ate. For more info on Harris Landing Restaurant, their hours, menu and directions, visit their Facebook page.
I said I made a couple side trips. Well, about a month ago, I bought a little, lightweight telescoping rod and reel at a discount store. I own more rods and reels and fishing stuff than I’ll ever need or use, however, it was not only discount priced, but sell priced on top of that, so, I had to buy it! The thing had been sitting in my backseat, still attached to the cardboard backing, since I bought it (I told you I have more than I’d ever need or use), so I said to myself, “Jim” (I always call myself Jim), “you’re at the lake, the tax office doesn’t close for another five hours, and you’ve got that little rod and reel that NEEDS to be tried out!” So, I drove over to the DNR public fishing pier, unpackaged my new rod and reel, telescoped it out and put a little lure on it. I always keep a couple rods and reels and a tackle box in the Expedition, for just such an emergency. When I say it is a lightweight rod; it has four-pound test line on it and the little lure I put on the end bent the tip of it lol! It’s a neat little setup, though. With just the weight of the lure it cast out about thirty yards and the retrieval was smooth. It’ll be a nice thing to have when I have more time to bream fish, or take my next road trip. Like I said, the purpose for stopping was to try out the new rod and reel, plus it was a nice few stolen moments on the water.
After leaving the lake I made my way into Laurens and the judicial and government building; a place I’m all too familiar with after spending nine years of my past life there.
I paid my taxes and visited a few people who were working, then went for a haircut and back home. It was a great day to be on the road and I am looking forward to my next local road trip.
WKDK – Google Images
Harris Landing Tiki Bar – Jim G Black; used with permission from the owner
Fishing Stuff – Jim G Black
Laurens County Judicial and Services Center – Google Images
My wife wanted a live Christmas tree last year. I wasn’t happy with the idea, because we would spend Christmas Eve at my parents’ house and Christmas morning at our daughter’s. No one would be here to see it.
“I will,” she said.
One day, after waking from my after work nap, she happily announced that she had bought a Christmas tree.
“It’s a small tree and won’t take up much room.”
I went out and found the stand, placed the tree in the stand and brought it in the house. She was right, it wasn’t a big tree, standing only about five feet tall and not very big around. In fact, the dress on the angel tree topper that we use was almost as big around as the tree itself! Not wanting to dig through the box for the old lights, I bought some new lights and put them on the tree for her. Her eyes lit up brighter than the tree lights when she saw her tree. The kids brought down the box of ornaments and another box with some other decorations, and soon had a couple dozen ornaments on the tree and the hearth decorated. It wasn’t much, but it looked like Christmas.
Our son took the tree out after Christmas. He lay it across my makeshift table, where I fill up my bird feeders and cut the limbs off, putting them in our little fire ring. Today, when I went to fill up my feeders, I saw the trunk still laying across my table. I thought of how happy my wife was when she announced she has bought a tree, and how it lit up the living room each night during the season.
I picked up the trunk, and stroked the few needles it had left on it as I carried it over to the fire pit. I thanked that little tree for making my wife so happy at Christmas, and gently placed it across the top of the ring.
The State of Tennessee took the old farm place, up on the side of Rhône Mountain in Kingston, Tennessee for a new highway. They called it eminent domain, which is, “the power of the state to take private property for public use with payment of compensation to the owner” (Dictionary.com). Being too young to understand what was going on, (Why did they need another highway? They already had one that ran right by the farm!) I only knew that my grandparent’s farm wasn’t going to be my grandparent’s farm anymore.
They moved from Tennessee to Georgia back in the early seventies, when I was only six or seven years old, however, I still have a lot of memories of the old place. Thinking back on it, it seems as if I was much older when they moved away. Even though I grew up in Hixson, a suburb of Chattanooga, I spent a lot of time there – during school breaks and vacations – and experienced things that the other kids my age never did.
I can still remember the old house before it burned and the mobile home replaced it. My parents say that I was too young to remember that house, but, although I don’t have complete memories of it, I can still describe certain parts of the layout and the color and pattern of some of the wallpaper. I even remember the single wire hanging from the ceiling with a lone bulb swinging on the end. I remember the outside of it as being black, although I’m sure that wasn’t the case.
There were fields and barns and gardens and woods and a big pond where cows used to drink. As a kid I used to drink water from the pond, too. I didn’t know anything about dirty water and bacteria back then. I never got sick from it though. I remember climbing up into the hay loft and jumping down on the bales and loose hay below. After one of my many daredevil jumps I looked beside me, and into the face of a fat corn snake who had decided that the hay was a nice place for a nap. I could swear that he had a grin on his face and a wink in his eye, approving of the fun I was having. Once, when walking around the dirt road from the pond, I found a small hog-nosed snake. When I picked it up – yes, I played with snakes – it curled up and turned upside down, appearing to die. I was afraid if killed it until it rolled back over and started crawling around my fingers. I put it in the pocket of my overalls and it slept in there most of the day.
During the growing seasons I would spend most days in the garden, weeding up and down the rows, between and around the vegetables. Some days lunch would be a pickled pig’s foot, some saltine crackers and a bottle of hot sauce, washed down with cool water from the spring. Other days I’d pick something from the vine and eat it there in the garden. Speaking of the spring, there was a fresh water spring at the end of the driveway, that fed into a cement block cistern and overflowed into a little pond that ran under the road and to the nearby creek. We kept a dipping gourd hanging by the spring box for drinking. That was the coldest and best tasting water I have ever had, and haven’t had any like it since they left the farm. The little pond was always filled with watercress that was always fresh and tasted so good on a hot day.
There were other amenities that you would find on most farms. Aside from the spring box, hay barn and pond, we also had a chicken house, where I would go get eggs for breakfast. Mama chickens can get mean when you go to get their eggs! There was a smoke house, where I always thought the older men went to smoke cigarettes and tell dirty jokes, because we kids were never allowed to go into the smoke house. And lots of woods. I think this was my favorite part of the farm. When I was a kid my dad was the scout master of our local Boy Scout troop. The troop built a camp in the woods at the old farm and spent three or four summer camps there. I used to go and spend a few nights during the week until mom came and then I would spend the rest of the week with her and my grandparents at the trailer. Even when they weren’t camping, I still loved to go to the campsites and “just be”. It was like I held some kind of ownership in those sites, because I had camped there, too, and that was my realm.
Other memories I have of the old place and of the town of Kingston during that time was the dairy farm across the road that had the creek running through it where my granddaddy and I used to fish. My older brother caught a carp in that creek one day, and granddaddy told him to take it to my grandmother to cook up, wrapped in a cow paddy! He threw the carp back lol! The first time I ever flew was when the owner of the dairy farm, Mt Bacon, took us up in his single engine plane, flying us around the farms so we could see them in their entirety. There was also a little country store close to the farm that had the meat and cheese counter in the back, barrels of pickles and crackers and other goods, jars of pickled pig’s feet, sausages and eggs and lots of baskets filled with fresh fruits and vegetables.
The town has changed a lot since then, but some of the town I remember can still be seen if you know where to look. I’m not sure what prompted this journey down memory lane, but it’s been nice to revisit the old farm and walk though the woods and fields again. Thank you for walking along with me. This truly was a ramble.
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Nope, this isn’t a follow up to my previous blog, “Take Your Time” (see my blog from April 29, 2019). This as a trip down memory lane for my American readers, and anyone who has been to America and driven our interstate highways. Yes, I’m talking about those islands of the interstates
The monarchs of the motorways
Those blue sign bastions of the byways
The park-eat-use the bathroom-spend money in our vending machines-take a break from driving, usually a godsend for long-haul truckers and long distance drivers (this was just too long to italicize).
I’m talking about…the REST AREA!
The trophy wife and I have been doing a good bit of traveling by car over the past month or so. A couple trips to the coasts of North and South Carolinas and a couple trips up to the mountains to escape the stifling heat of the South, and we usually stop at a rest area (or Welcome Center, when we cross state lines) to stretch our legs and use the bathroom. As I’ve been driving and stopping, or just looking over as we drive by one of them, I can’t help but remember the days of traveling before there were rest areas.
I was born in Chattanooga Tennessee, the suburb of Hixson to be exact. We moved to South Carolina when I was fifteen. I remember some trips to middle Tennessee, Alabama and up to Ohio, where we would stop on the way to stretch, use the bathroom and maybe eat lunch, but there were no nice, state-maintained facilities. There were, however, woods! Yep, if you had to go, you stopped on the side of the road, ran behind the nearest tree and did what you had to do – or doo doo, if that was the case.
The trips I remember best, though, are the trips we took to Surfside Beach South Carolina before we moved over here. For three or four summers my mom’s family would rent a two-story house at Surfside for a week-long beach trip. The families would gather at my aunt and uncle’s house in Georgia, then we would have a long convoy to the beach. Each car had a CB radio in it, so the families could communicate from car to car on the way (not only was this before there were rest areas, but it was also before modern society and conveniences; you know, the good old days). When we needed to stop, the drivers would tell one another over the CB and pick a place to stop. I remember dad pulling our green Country Squire station wagon – with the wood grain siding – over to the side of the highway, with all of the family cars behind us, and the women making a beeline for the gap in the barbwire fencing, toilet paper in hand, to find the nearest secluded tree. When they were done the men would then follow suit. If it was lunch time dad would drop the tailgate on the station wagon and pull out the ice chest where the bologna, cheese, kool aid and condiments were stored and the bags with the bread and chips. After everyone washed their hands, lunch was prepared and we ate under the shade of the trees along the highway. One time another car pulled in behind our convoy, and a young couple got out and headed for the woods. When they came out, dad asked, “hey, y’all want a sammich?” And that’s the way it was; pee in the woods and then have a sammich and maybe make a new friend with the others who might pull in behind you.
When I was thinking of this blog I thought, Jim (I always call myself Jim), you’ve got people in other parts of the world who will read this (I hope) and not know what you’re talking about. I also thought, that’s a pretty good thought, so I asked my highly intelligent, well-travelled friend, Jo if they had anything like a rest area in England. She told me they had service stations that were buildings, usually with bathrooms and maybe a restaurant inside, with a hotel attached to some of them. I told her we had convenience stores that were set up like that, but without the attached hotel. She didn’t think there was anything like our rest area in England. Wanting to really see what I could find in the subject, I went to Wikipedia to see if they had anything. Well, folks, if you think this post is long, go look up Rest Area on Wikipedia! You’ll spend a lot more time on there than you will reading this rambling, I promise you.
Anyway, not to give a full history and description of rest areas in other countries (I do invite you to go to Wikipedia and read what it says about the subject though. It’s really interesting), I did learn that the UK and Ireland have what are called Lay-bys, which are the most comparable to our rest areas here. Some are only big enough for a vehicle or two, while others can hold several. Germany and Austria have Rastplatz, which may or may not have bathrooms (and I’m not sure about the “tree” rule). And France has Aire de repos, which is basically a picnic area. The Wikipedia site also talks about rest areas (or whatever they are referred to) in Asia, Australia, and North America – what…they don’t have any in Antarctica? Maybe one of my future trips will be to that continent. Then I can come back and update the Wikipedia site.
So…this is my latest rambling. I hope you liked reading it as much as I liked writing it. I always say that any day you learn something new is a good day. Until next time, I hope you get some time to Take A Rest.
Photo Credits: Jim G Black
Location: I-20 Eastbound, just outside of Columbia SC