No place like home

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Spring break is a long-standing tradition in Arkansas. Some families head south to the beach for warmer weather. 

Not us, we pack up and head west into the mountains. This year we traveled to Winter Park, Colo., with a couple of other families. One of the families in our group was traveling slower than usual because they were hauling a horse trailer with them. They planned to stop on the way home and pick up a horse near Colorado Springs. This made it easier to pack some “extra” stuff for the trip – much to my husband’s dismay.

We finally stopped for the evening in Hays, Kan. It was hilarious watching the faces of onlookers as we rolled in with that horse trailer and a pile of children. They probably wondered if there was an animal in there or more children. We checked in and got a good night’s rest before the remainder of the trek.

We roosted the teenagers and hit the road again the next morning. Once we made it to Denver, it was not much further. We checked into the house. One family made their famous lasagna and put it in the oven. We are a frugal bunch. We plan everything ahead and pack what we are going to need for the week – including meals. Everyone got settled into their room and unpacked for the busy day ahead. The house smelled wonderful. We ate dinner together and got to bed early.

As I plugged in my phone charger behind the night stand of our room, I noticed mouse droppings on the floor behind the furniture. Gross. We live on a farm and rodents are occasionally something we deal with. I hated the idea of this at a vacation home.

The following morning, I went upstairs. I was enjoying coffee in the living room area and noticed a box of Girl Scout cookies had been destroyed on the floor near the fireplace. When my husband came in the room, I told him about the droppings and showed him the cookie box. It had to be a giant rat. My eyes were burning, and I was stuffed up because I am allergic to rodents. We called maintenance and they graciously brought a live trap to catch the mystery guest.

We went skiing and had a great time. When we returned, the trap was set. Our boys were enjoying the hot tub and a mother fox walked up nearby and was watching to see if they would throw a snack to her out in the snow. It was a beautiful backdrop at the end of a great day.

The next morning, we had company in the live trap. It was the biggest, fattest field mouse with the longest tail I had ever seen. The maintenance folks got a good chuckle when they picked it up. Meanwhile my allergies were getting worse. I felt fine away from the house but when we came back I was a snotty stuffed up mess. The reservations staff graciously offered our large party another home for the remainder of our vacation. 

It was a beautiful home nearby in Tabernash. I am sure the neighborhood had no idea what to think when our crew rolled in with a horse trailer and a bunch of kids. You can take the rednecks off the farm and into the mountains. We always take a little redneck with us, wherever we go. 

It was a great trip and memories were made. We returned a week later to Arkansas. We enjoyed a weekend of sunshine and garden preparation. Wherever we travel – it is always good to come back home, neighbor.

Jody Harris is a freelance communications specialist, gardener, ranch wife and mother of four. She and her family raise Angus beef cattle and other critters on their northwest Arkansas ranch. She is a graduate of Missouri State University. To contact Jody, go to ozarksfn.com and click on ‘Contact Us.’

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