2014-03-26 / Columns

Ma & Pa And The Happy Hill Gang

Grand Ol’ Belle
by Judy Mize

As always the Happy hill Gang wanted to continue being together and it was Gma’s birthday weekend so we left the “Farm” and headed South. Again we had two cars and eight people, the Close Cousin Five and a mom. We drove to Clarksville on the border near Kentucky. We checked into two rooms in a nice Best Western for the night. We had to miss going to our churches to have this trip and our daughter works nights so we had to have her home before 10:00 p.m. on Sunday.

Sunday morning after our free breakfast we headed to the Bass Pro Shop. Daughter and the kids loved looking around at the Outdoor World store. That place is “something else,” I suggest you make a trip there. It is more than a store. It is a destination. We have been to several, but we like the one in Clarksville, Indiana the best.

We picked the right day to show up. We didn’t know it but there was a fishing seminar for kids happening on the main floor near the aquarium. They taught the kids how to cast borrowed fishing poles. After they had the technique down they got to go fishing in a big tank full of little fish. All five of the kids were able to catch a fish and the youngest caught two. The teachers took their pictures while they were holding up their wiggly fish and smiling. The fish went back into the tank to be caught again.

Ma & Pa and the Happy Hill Gang on vacation. (Courtesy Photo) Ma & Pa and the Happy Hill Gang on vacation. (Courtesy Photo) After the adventure at the Bass Pro Shop we headed farther South to our real destination of the Belle of Louisville. She is celebrating her 100th birthday soon (1914-2014). The Belle of Louisville is the oldest operating Mississippi River-style steamboat in the world. Completely paddlewheel-driven with a steel hull that draws only 5’ of water. She has the distinction of being the most widely traveled river steamboat in the nation. The Belle was named a National Historic Landmark on June 30, 1989.

Pa and I have ridden the Belle before during a time when they went through the locks. That would have been a fun trip for everybody this year but we missed it by a week. I’ve ridden a few times with my family as a kid. I’ve enjoyed every trip. I wanted my Grandchildren to experience a trip on the Ol’ Belle, too.

The weather could have been better. We take what God gives us. There was no sun and it was misting a light rain. The chairs on the deck were wet. A young man on staff was drying them off as fast as he could but the rain was winning. Pa says that was good because he didn’t want any of the kids getting that close to the railing anyway. He didn’t want to have to fish anyone out of the Ohio River.

All the Gang enjoyed the cruise. The kids kept changing seats. They couldn’t decide where to sit; they wanted a good view of the river from every angle. Pa said it was fine as long as they stayed away from the railing seats. With it misting rain we all needed to stay under roof anyway.

During the last half of the cruise the boat staff had games and prizes for the kids downstairs in the ballroom. There was lots of loud music and dancing, the kind of things kids love to do and older folks love watching. The kids loved showing off their moves. They were having so much fun they were oblivious to the fact that they had adults watching them. Everyone disembarked the boat with shining beads around their necks and a new love for the ol’ riverboat, The Belle of Louisville.

Each family and group had their picture taken before boarding. The picture here is a copy of the one Gpa and I got to keep. Our silly Gkids wanted to have a crazy picture taken, too. Their moms got to have the crazy pictures, you know with the bunny ears and monkey faces. Little JJ wanted to stand in front of the life preserver.

After the boat ride we headed home. Everyone was chattering about our weekend to help celebrate Gma’s birthday and looking forward to our next Happy Hill adventure. We are going to the Pumpkin Patch next.

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It looks like Spring is almost ready to stick around. What activity are you looking forward to the most?