Have you ever been in a situation that seemed totally surreal . . . in a really bad way? Like a nightmare from which you hope to suddenly awaken, and everything will be fine? That’s what our never-ending drive home from Tulsa, OK seemed like last Monday and Tuesday! Thankfully, the NatureWorks Art show that weekend was wonderful as always! The charming staff takes such good care of its artists, helping out in so many ways and feeding us very well! A big heart felt thanks, from Wes and I, goes out to them and to our wonderful collectors who took many of our paintings home with them, thus making this a successful show for us! We enjoyed visiting and laughing with our attending collector friends, as well as the other artists, and enjoyed eating out with some of them a couple of nights for dinner.
We also enjoyed a lovely walk along the river walk there in Tulsa, with artist Peter Blackwell and his sister-n-law Michael joining us. With the beautiful weather that Thursday afternoon, who would’ve ever imagined what lay ahead! Friday afternoon, Wes and I spent at the beautiful Oklahoma Aquarium, which was a real treat, once again this year! I have to say that the highlight for me was getting to watch them feed the electric eel! There’s a sound meter that registers the current being emitted, and it started making noise before the eel was fed the first treat, sounding his excitement about his fast approaching meal! Each time the worker would tap him gently with the piece of fish, he would send out a major current, with which to stun the “prey”, causing the sound meter to sizzle! Of course each time this happened I couldn’t help but giggle with complete amusement! The opening of NatureWorks that evening was well attended with a huge crowd, and thankfully took place before the winter storm moved in on Sunday.
After breaking down Sunday evening and helping many of the artists loading their stuff in less than desirable weather conditions, we joined several other artist friends for dinner that evening. With the temps hovering around 0, and feeling like -9 with the wind chill, it took a big step of bravery for me personally to leave the warmth of the big hotel and walk to the shuttle car! It was the coldest air I’ve ever been in so far in my life, and hopefully will ever be in! It was snowing like crazy when we walked out of the restaurant a couple of hours later, and snowed through the night. With traffic moving well along the road the next morning, and our path looking pretty good for our return trip home, like many others, we decided to head home. It was actually quite beautiful, and all fun and games until about 4:30 Monday afternoon, when it started being a little icy in Arkansas. The trees looked like they were made of crystal, and once while stopped for road construction, I rolled my window down and just listened to the crystal forest clack and clank like a chime made of glass, being blown by the wind. It was an amazing, almost eerie sound.
It became even more beautiful as the sun descended lower on the horizon, back lighting it all, with a pink and orange sky behind! By this time, out in the middle of nowhere, we were stopped to a slow roll, of about .02 to 1 mph. The road was suddenly encased in ice, like we had all just passed an invisible line! Unfortunately, the creeping progress remained the norm for the next 12 hours! We learned the hard way that Arkansas obviously doesn’t plow their roads! So began the arduous task of trying to cross what appeared like the surface of the moon, only very slippery, in our panel van, that doesn’t do well in these driving conditions. I made us peanut butter sandwiches, which we ate in the van, while crawling along. And I cannot express how immensely thankful I was that Wes remembered our handy “redneck port-o-potty”, an old 5 gallon bucket with a lid! We don’t do long road trips with out it anymore! We went along as this snail’s pace, with periodical stops mixed in, until 10:30 that night.
At that point we decided to try to get a room at a hotel. So after a big gulp and praying for the best, Wes turned the van, and slowly drove along the un-plowed, and thickly snow covered off ramp. What seemed like fifteen minutes later, we finally got to the main road, which was really no better. And after plowing through the pile of snow in the middle of the intersection, we started slowly making our way into the hotel parking lot. Wes slid into the front door, and quickly came back out . . . they were all booked up! With no other options, we decided to go back to the road, but got stuck on the way out. Thankfully Wes had a bag of kitty litter in the back of the van to use for traction, so after three attempts, he was finally able to coax our van our of the icy, snow pile and move forward. We returned to the ice-covered road, and soon found ourselves traveling along with trucks we recognized. “Crip”, who had obviously slid into something and ripped and crumpled a big section of the side of his trailer. Then there was “Square one”, who had slid backwards into something, which left a big impression of a square in the back of his trailer. Each time we joined back up with him, we looked at each other and said . . . “We’re back to square one!” There was also the one semi truck, in which either the truck or the driver was having major difficulties and issues! It was constantly revving, causing the entire cab to jump up and down, while making a loud Grrrr . . . Grrrr . . . Grrrr noise! We were stuck by this crazy truck for what seemed like hours while it did this over and over and over! Then there were the many cars that had their windshield wipers frozen and sticking straight out, and those whose back wiper was busted and dangling from a wire. It looked like a battle zone for the numerous vehicles fighting their way through this seemingly never ending war with the ice!
At about 10:30, we came to a complete halt, and there we sat! Wes warmed the van up really good, and then turned the engine off and we kept warm under blankets, then sometime later he turned it back on and warmed it back up. This went on and on for the next three hours! We took turns keeping watch, while the other one tried to sleep. Finally at about 2:30 AM, we started slowly inching forward and saw later where a semi had wrecked. There were vehicles off the road and scattered in the woods all along the way! I decided then and there, that I had had enough of winter! We finally managed to pull off the road and get to a gas station at about 4:30. We grabbed something to eat, and I noticed on the way back to the van, a red-spattered spot in the snow. I was immediately sure someone had fallen and busted something! Wes assured me that was not the case, that it was a cherry icy. I’m still not sure about that . . . hmmm. We carefully made our way safely up and over the overpass and back onto the road. It seemed like as soon as we hit the Tennessee State line, the roads were plowed and safe to travel once again. We finally got home later Tuesday afternoon, after 30 very, very long hours on the road. When we pulled into our driveway, I could just imagine our van’s large tongue falling out from in between the grill and it going “phhbbbbbb” as it let the air out of it’s tires, completely wore out from that nightmare road trip!
~ Currently on the easel ~
The current miniature painting, on which Wes is working. Can you guess what it is? Visit my blog next week to find out!
~ “Exquisite Miniatures” will be on exhibit at the beautiful Wildlife Experience in Parker, CO through April 6th 2014.
~ AMERICAN STILL LIFES
Produced by David J. Wagner, L.L.C.
David J. Wagner, Ph.D., Curator/Tour Director
March 3 – May 25, 2014: Premiering at the R.W. Norton Art Gallery, Shreveport, LA
~ 23rd Masterworks In Miniature
March 7-22, 2014: Gallery One, Mentor, OH
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Until next time ~ Rachelle