|On Saturday morning, Mary's temperature was back to normal,
and Joshua was starting to feel a little better, too. She was still up and
down all night long, but at least she allowed us to get more sleep than the
Having stayed up very late the night before, we all had a tough time getting motivated that morning. While we slowly trudged through the morning, trying to get ready to go, the kids played very nicely together in the TV room…that is, until Joshua hit Mary in the head! I walked into the hallway just in time to witness the attack. I scooped up Mary and kissed her boo-boo, while Richard scooped up Joshua to reprimand him for hitting girls.
Since the kids were feeling a little better, we all decided to take a short trip out to Lake Murray, so that we could see Lotte and Richard's lake house. We left around 10:00 that morning, after I had finished packing up our suitcases.
The trip to the lake house was a long one, mainly because we kept getting stuck at railroad crossings. The first one took place only a couple of miles from Lotte and Richard's home. The crossing gates were down, but we did not see a train coming for several minutes. Soon, we saw the engine slowly edging its way down the tracks, going about two miles an hour and slowing down as it approached the intersection. About ten feet from the gate, it stopped…and there it sat for about five or ten minutes.
People all around us were getting irate. Two cars decided to drive around the crossing gates - it wasn't as if there was any sort of danger present. John shouted out the window, "I THINK I CAN! I THINK I CAN!" Lotte even got out of her vehicle - not once, but twice - to yell at the conductor to get his caboose moving. Finally, after what seemed like an eternity, the train began to move again…at a top speed of about fifteen miles an hour. Eighty-four cars and fifteen minutes later, the train finally cleared the intersection. The gates went up, and we were free to go.
The second one happened after we exited the freeway, on Chapin Road. Fortunately, this one did not delay us for very long, because it was actually moving at a high rate of speed. We were only detained for about three minutes before the train was gone.
We arrived at the house on Lake Murray around 10:45. There we found Lotte and Richard's new motorhome (which we had seen when the came to visit in October 2001), as well as their jet skis, parked under a ramada. At the end of the long driveway, though, was the cute little lake house. Painted a cheery yellow, the lake house was not much different than the mountain house, in that it was cozy and charming and fully furnished - it was a "turnkey operation", as Richard called it.
Behind the lake house, there was a screened porch facing the lake and their own private dock, where they had a park bench and a chimenea fireplace set out. They also had a boat parked out on the water. It was a nice little set-up, one that John and I would love to take advantage of someday. (We had been invited to stay there while we were in Columbia, but the lake house did not have central heating…and it was simply too cold outside!)
During our short visit, we took the children over to Rick and Shirley's house, which was two doors down. They had a lovely home there, painted sky blue, with bright green grass in the backyard. Next to the lake, they also had a sandy beach, which Bill had made for them while he and Erika were visiting in June 2001. Mary had a fantastic time playing in the sand with Joshua (we all know that Mary loves playing in the sand), but neither one of them wanted to share the beach toys that were scattered about.
At the end of our visit, it was time for us to say our good-byes to Lotte and Richard and Joshua - and to Rick and Shirley, too - because it was time for us to leave Columbia. After having lunch with Grandma and Grandpa Chakowski, we would set out on our three-hour drive back to Atlanta, so that we could catch our early morning flight.
The drive to Atlanta was far from uneventful…but at least it was quiet, because Mary slept for most of it. The skies, which had been threatening all day long, finally opened up on us about thirty miles from Atlanta. The storm started out as a light sprinkle while we were stopped at a Circle K, off of I-20, but as soon as we started driving again, the rain came down in torrents. By the time we reached the Best Western, near the Atlanta Airport, the rain was beginning to die down, but the temperature had dropped significantly.
We arrived in Atlanta around dinnertime, so immediately after we unpacked the rental car, we went in search of food. The concierge recommended a place called Malone's, located only a few miles from the hotel. It turned out to be one of the best restaurants we had tried during the whole vacation. While we were there, we watched two of the NCAA March Madness games on the big screen (it was a bar and grill, after all) and ate a delicious meal.
Mary, on the other hand, was having a miserable time. She didn't want to eat, and she threw a temper tantrum in the restaurant. Unfortunately, her fever was back up again. When we got her back to the hotel, we medicated her and gave her a tepid bath, which helped to reduce her fever. However, we had a rough time getting her to go to sleep that night. She was up and down most of the night. I was getting quite worried about her...
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