Now that I knew what Danny had decided about the weekend, we each went to take care of a few other things before the boys called from Texas.When my phone rang, I immediately called for Danny to join me.
“Hi, Poppy,” said Wyatt, and then I heard the other boys greet me as well. “Is Uncle Danny there too?”
“I called him and he’s on his way.”
“Then I’ll wait ‘til he gets there.”Obviously he wanted to tell both of us about their trip at the same time.
“Ok, he’s here now.”
“Hi, Uncle Danny,” said Wyatt, and then we heard the other boys shout greetings to Danny from the background.“We went to an old building today where some guy shot President Kennedy.”
“If you haven’t guessed,” said Brandon as he stood close to Wyatt, “we took the boys to The Sixth Floor Museum at DealeyPlaza.”
“Yes, I figured that out.”
“It was kinda boring,” said Hayden.
“No it wasn’t,” said Joshie.“I liked seeing all the different stuff that they had there.”
“Yeah, it’s an important part of history and it will probably help the rest of you when you learn about it in a history lesson,” said Benny.
“Whatever,” replied Hayden grudgingly.
“After that we went to Fort Worth to see the cattle yards,” said Tristan.
“They’re called the stockyards,” corrected Dion.
“That was a lot more fun,” said Revin, “cuz me and Tristan got to ride on a mechanical bull.”
“Yeah, it was like bein’ in the rodeo,” said Tristan.
“Me and Benny did it too,” said Joshie, “but it was easier to ride than the ones I’ve seen on TV or in the movies.”
“Yeah, it must’ve been set so the younger kids could do it too,” said Benny.
“That seems only fair,” agreed Danny.
“Me, Hayden, and Wyatt didn’t want to try it, but we rode in a stagecoach later,” said Hunter.“It didn’t go really fast or very far, but it was still fun.”
“And you could feel every little bump and pothole it went over,” said Dion. “I’m not sure how passengers in the Old West could stand to ride in it over long distances on dirt roads.”
“Yes, I’m sure it must have been rough on them, but in some cases, like for women, children, and older people, it was probably the only way they could get around.”
“And we got to see a cattle drive down the street,” said Wyatt.
“And the cows had really long horns,” said Hunter with a touch of amazement in his voice.
”They’re steers, not cows, and it was called a Cattle Walk because they didn’t go very fast,” said Brandon.“The cattle are appropriately called long-horn steers because their horns are much longer and more impressive than those on any other types of cattle.”
“And they had cowboys ridin’ on both sides of the steers as they went down the street,” said Revin.
“Technically, those guys are called cattle drovers,” said Dion, “and there were only sixteen steers that the drovers were safely guiding down the street.”
“Yeah, and we learned that the Old West cattle drives used to start out from here when the cowboys drove the cattle to Kansas to be sold,” said Joshie.
“It sounds funny saying they drove them,” said Wyatt, “cuz they didn’t use any cars or trucks.”
“Yes, that does sound a little strange,” I agreed.
“The cattle drives stopped when the ranchers along the way started puttin’ up barbed wire to keep the cattle off of their property,” added Benny.
“And the railroads were growing about the same time,” said Joshie, “so the ranchers started usin’ the trains to move the cattle to the slaughter houses instead.”
“It seems that you learned a lot, but did you have a good time as well?” asked Danny.
“Yeah, it was really neat,” they all chorused back in unison.
“The place is really interesting,” said Brandon.“There were brick walkways, wooden corrals, and some really interesting buildings in the area, so it gave us the feeling of being there when they still made the cattle drives.”
“And we got to walk through a maze too,” said Tristan.
“Yes, it was called the Cowtown Cattlepen Maze,” said Dion.“It’s a wooden structure, and after the boys went through it, we went up to a balcony that overlooked the maze and watched others go through it afterward.”
“Yeah, and it was fun watchin’ them tryin’ to find their way around in there,” said Revin.
“I’m sure others were getting a kick out of watching you boys when you were in there too,” said Brandon.
“I hope you’re taking lots of photos, because I can’t wait to see them,” stated Danny.
“Yes, we are,” said Brandon.
“And we got to dress up in old time clothes to get our picture taken too,” said Wyatt.
“That was done at the Jersey Lily Photo Parlor,” said Brandon.“It was a group photo and we all dressed up to look as if we were living in the Wild West.”
“It was really neat,” said Revin.
“Yeah, it was, and I got to wear an ammunition belt over my chest and hold a pistol,” said Tristan.
“The ammunition belt is called a bandolier and the pistol was a replica that didn’t actually work,” said Brandon.
“Yeah, but it looked real,” said Tristan, not willing to give in.
“Yes, it did,” said Brandon relenting slightly.
“And I got to hold a rifle,” said Revin.
“And most of us got to wear cowboy hats too,” said Hunter, “but Grandma Brenda wore a bonnet.”
“And she looked really nice in it too,” said Hayden.
“They had me put on a fancy white shirt with black arm bands on the sleeves,” said Benny, “and then they had me sit down at the piano and make believe I was playing it.We didn’t have to undress first and just put that stuff on over what we was wearin’.”
“And they had me dress up like an old time preacher,” said Joshie, “and then they had me lean against the piano.It was an upright one, not like the piano that Elliot has at home.”
“That was really fun and it’s too bad Holly wasn’t here, cuz they had some old-time dresses that she could have put on,” said Hayden.“Grandma Brenda wore one of those dresses and she looked really nice in it.”
“And they had Dad B, Uncle Dion, and Grandpa Pat sit at a round table and act like they was playing cards and gamblin’, cuz they had fake money on the table too,” said Tristan.“The table was near the piano so they could get us all in one picture.”
“Yeah, and the rest of us stood next to them when the guy took the picture,” said Revin.“It’s really neat looking.”
“I can’t wait to see it,” said Danny.
“It sounds like you’re having a lot of fun,” I followed.
“Yeah, we are,” they all said at nearly the same time again.
“Do you know what you’re doing tomorrow?” asked Danny.
“Yes, we’re heading to Galveston next,” said Brandon, “and we’ll be spending a couple of days there.”
“How are your parents holding up?”
“They’re hanging in there like troopers, but they’ve been going to bed early every night.I know they enjoy hanging out with the boys and seeing them having fun, but it’s taking a lot out of them.”
“It sounds as if it is costing them a pretty penny too.”
“Yes, but my dad said he’d put money away for this and told us not to worry about what it costs.I’m chipping in and covering a few things to help out, so I hope he’s being honest with me.”
“Yes, I am too.”
“We’ll call you again tomorrow night about the same time.”
“You’ll have to call us separately tomorrow and Saturday, because I’m taking the others to HersheyPark, but Danny isn’t going with us.He says he has too much to do here and can’t join us.”
“I’m glad the others are getting’ to do that, cuz we already went to a ‘musement park,” said Wyatt.“We’ll call you one at a time then.”
As soon as Brandon had taken his phone off speaker, Danny and Brandon went first as we chatted with our spouses. “How are things going with the internships?” asked Brandon.
“Fine, but it’s a lot of work.When we proposed it, I obviously forgot about how it worked when I did my internship and didn’t realize everything was going to start up in July.For some reason, I thought it wouldn’t get underway until school got started in the fall, and I could kick myself for forgetting that my internship started in July as well.It means I didn’t have as much time to prepare as I thought I would in order to get ready, so now I’m playing catch up and it’s causing me to put in very long hours.”
“I’m sure you’re doing a great job and everything’s going well.I can’t wait to see you again when I get back.”
I won’t relay any of their personal discussion, but when they finished speaking with one another, Dion and I got an opportunity to talk in private as well.While we were doing that, Danny headed upstairs to get ready for bed, and when I finished I did the same thing.
Friday turned out to be a very busy day. Since there was a lot going on, I had Ryan fix scrambled eggs, bacon, and toast this time.
“How come you aren’t teachin’ Elliot how to cook as well.”
“Brandon and Grandpa Josh both tried to teach him how to cook a few things before, but he wasn’t really interested.He told them he has enough money so he can eat every meal out if he wants, so they stopped trying to teach him.”
While the boys were filling their bellies, I decided to inform them about something.
“Grandpa Jake isn’t going with us and he’s going to ask one of his friends to help him work on the tree house instead.”
“Damn, Ian and I won’t be here to help him then.”
“I know, but he felt he could do that as long as he wasn’t going, but there will be more you can do when you get back.”
“Then when I see him tonight I’ll tell him if he gets the materials we’ll need, Ian and I will work on it during the week.We can all work on it together next weekend.”
“Ok, I’m sure he’ll be fine with that.”
Ryan came downstairs shortly after I finished speaking with Elliot and Ian, so today I worked with him on preparing some Velveeta Macaroni and Cheese and boiled hot dogs for lunch.I figured I could teach him how to make the macaroni and cheese from scratch at another time.
After we finished our meal, Ryan cleaned up the mess while Elliot and I got together to reserve the hotel rooms and purchase the tickets for HersheyPark online.Now, we were ready to move on to the next tasks.
I made sure that Ryan had packed his things before I let him go spend some time with Owen, and I told him to have Owen bring an overnight bag with him when he came here later.That’s when Ian announced that he had brought his overnight bag with him when they arrived at the house the previous night, and Elliot told me that he was also going to drive his car to HersheyPark.
“I’m only doing it so Ian and I won’t be crammed into the SUV next to the others during the ride.”
I didn’t have a problem with this and merely asked that we follow one another in case there were any problems along the way, which Elliot agreed would be fine.The rest of the day was a blur, since there was so much left to do.I brought the puppies’ beds downstairs and put their food where Pop would find it.I wasn’t worried about Danny and Pop getting enough to eat, because I felt they could either dine out or have food delivered while we were away, since neither of them is very good in the kitchen.Pop does alright with breakfast, because he had helped Dad do it so often, and he was also capable of helping with other meals as well, but he just couldn’t prepare them alone.
After those things were taken care of, I went out to wash the SUV and check the fluids for the trip, and Elliot and Ian did the same with Elliot’s car.I also told Elliot to make sure his car was parked behind the SUV, so the others wouldn’t block us in when they arrived home, and then we loaded whatever we could into our vehicles.
Ryan showed up an hour later, but Owen didn’t come with him, since he wanted to spend more time with his grandparents.They dropped him off a couple of hours later and I went out to put his bag in the SUV with everything else, and after that was taken care of they played video games while I was fixing dinner.
When the others arrived home later, I got to meet Holly’s coworker and friend.“Uncle Trey, this is my friend, Brittany Cunningham.”
“Welcome to our home and I hope you’ll excuse my curiosity, but were you named after Britney Spears?”
“No, my name is Brit-tan-ee, not Brit-nee.I’m a little older than Holly and not even sure if Britney Spears was popular or even known about when I was born.”
“I see, and I hope I didn’t offend you.”
“No, I get that all the time.”
As soon as everyone was there, we sat down to eat, and during the meal Elliot and Pop discussed their plans about working on the tree house.Jake agreed to pick up all the supplies they would need so Elliot and Ian could work on it during the week.Ryan and Owen offered to help them as well.
After we finished our meal, Holly and Brittany helped me clear the table and do the dishes.“Brittany, you don’t have to do this,” I told her.
“I don’t mind.I share an apartment with a couple of friends and we all help to clean up after meals, so I’m used to doing this.”
“That’s kinda what I told him too, when I first came here to live,” said Holly.“I used to help my mom do these things before she got sick, and then I did them all by myself when she couldn’t do it any more, so it wasn’t a big deal.”
“I’m sorry you lost your mom,” said Brittany, sincerely.
“I also felt I should help out, seeing you’re letting me come with you guys to HersheyPark,” said Brittany after turning her attention back to me.“Just let me know how much I owe you,”
“In due time, but it’s our pleasure to have you join us, seeing you’re Holly’s friend.”
“Thank you, and she’s told me all about what you guys have done for her and her brothers.”
“That’s mostly Danny and Brandon.”
“Yes, I know them from work, but she says the rest of you have been really great too.”
“I’m glad she feels that way.”
Once the dishes were taken care of, I took Brittany’s bag out and loaded it into the SUV.When Holly heard that Elliot was also driving, she asked him a question.
“Can Brittany and I ride with you, so we’ll have more room?”
Elliot looked at Ian, and when he nodded Elliot answered.
“Yes, that will be fine, since we’re all heading to the same place.”
This meant that only Noah, Ryan, and Owen would be riding with me, so if I hadn’t already washed and loaded the SUV I could have taken the car instead and left Pop the keys to the SUV.It seems like a waste of gas to be taking the SUV now, but it was too late to change my plans.
Noah sat in front with me, while Ryan and Owen sat behind us.As we started out, I made a comment to Noah.“I guess you’ll be sharing a room with me now.”
“Yeah, and I’m ok with that, so Ryan and Owen can have their own beds.”
“You mean we’re getting our own room?” asked Owen.
“Yes, so don’t abuse the privilege.”
“Ok, we won’t.”
Shortly after we started out, Noah asked me a question.“Do you think me and Holly will still be driving back and forth to work after Dad B gets back?”
“I’m not sure, but I suspect that might be the case.In fact, he might even ask to ride with you two, seeing Dad D will be using the car and working late most nights.If he rides with you and Holly then he can leave the SUV at home during the day, seeing it uses more gas than a car, and he’ll probably give you gas money as well.”
“That will definitely help.”
Since it was summer and the sun set later, we were able to make most of the drive in the daylight, but when the sun began to set Elliot and my headlights came on before we reached the hotel.After checking in and getting our key cards, we went up to our rooms.Prior to going inside, I reminded everyone about the time we’d be getting up so we could take advantage of the complimentary breakfast before we left for the park.They were all ok with this, so we entered our rooms for the night.
Noah turned on the TV almost immediately and scanned the program guide, and as soon as he found something to watch he settled onto his bed and got comfortable.I sat down on my bed and watched it with him for a short time and then my phone rang.I answered it and went into the bathroom so I didn’t bother Noah.
“Hi, Poppy.We already talked to Uncle Danny.”
“That’s good, so what did you do today?” I asked.
“We had to ride a long time in the SUV again,” said Wyatt, “but then we got to spend some time at the beach.”
“Yeah, it was on the ocean,” said Hayden and Hunter simultaneously.
“Yes, it’s technically the ocean, but that body of water is actually called the Gulf of Mexico,” I explained, and then I realized I was beginning to sound more like Dad every day.
“Hey, we’re not in Mexico,” screamed Hayden.
“No, but you’re not very far from there.Not only that, but Texas, California, Utah, New Mexico, Arizona, Nevada, and Colorado all used to be part of Mexico and it’s what they call the arm of the ocean that goes from Florida to Texas.”
“Really?We didn’t know that.”I think he was referring to himself and his brother, because they often spoke of themselves collectively.
“And now you do.So did you have fun playing in the waves?”
“Yeah, it was cool,” said Wyatt and the twins in unison.
“But Hayden almost drowned,” said Revin.
“No he didn’t,” countered Joshie.“He just got knocked over by a wave and he fell in the water.”
“His face was underwater for a short time and Dad B had to race over to pick him up so he didn’t drown.” Protested Revin.0
“And he coulda drowned if Dad B hadn’t done that,” said Tristan in support of his friend.“Grandma Brenda and Grandpa Pat were worried about Hayden too.”
“They were just worried that he might have swallowed some of the saltwater and it would make him sick,” said Dion, “but he didn’t nearly drown.It wasn’t that deep where it happened and Hayden could have just stood up again, if Brandon hadn’t gotten to him first.”
“Well, I’m glad he’s ok, along with the rest of you,” I said.
“That’s what Dad D said too,” stated Hunter.“He didn’t seem to be worried about it, since Dad B got to Hayden so quickly.”
“I’m sure that made a big difference.So what are you guys doing tomorrow?”
“There are some other things to see here,” said Brandon, “but I don’t want to tell you about them yet.”He then whispered the next part while holding the phone close to his mouth so the boys wouldn’t hear what he was saying.“I’ll just tell you the same thing I told Danny.I’m worried that if the boys find out what we’ll be doing tomorrow then it might keep them from getting a good night’s sleep tonight, so I won’t say it very loud.”He then spoke even more softly as he told me what they were going to do.
“Just have fun and I want you boys to be good tomorrow, as well as having sweet dreams tonight.”
Once I got off the phone, I decided to shower and get ready for bed.When I finished and exited the bathroom, Noah went in to shower, and shortly after he came out, we both hopped into bed and I turned off the lamp.