Mike Hendricks

Mike at Night

Mike Hendricks recently retires as social science, criminal justice instructor at McCook Community College.

A little trip away

Friday, May 3, 2019

My boys and I have always loved the horse races. Me because I grew up with them living in Arkansas and them because I loved them.

But we hadnít been to a live horse race in a long time so back in February, we decided to attend historic Oaklawn Park in Hot Springs, one of the premier thoroughbred horse tracks in America. I called early to get us reservations at the Carousel Club which sits at the south end of the grandstands and offers trackside seating which is what we wanted. It also includes a full buffet, full bar and an ample number of betting windows to ensure we would never have to leave the room once we got there and we didnít.

I flew down on Thursday before the Saturday we were to attend to spend some quality time with my family and it was well worth it. I and 35 other passengers flew United out of North Platte again and the flight was so smooth and quick that I donít remember much about it, which is good. I had a six-hour layover in Denver which I spent in the Delta Airlines Sky Club drinking their drinks and eating their food and although thatís a long time to spend in one place, the people who worked there and the services they offered made it worthwhile. Tried some scrambled eggs covered with salsa and shredded cheese that was right up there with the best Iíve ever had so spending the morning there was well worth it.

I flew out at 1 pm to Minneapolis/St. Paul and after a three-hour layover there, once again spent in the Sky Club, which was much more crowded and hectic than the one in Denver, finally made my final connection to Northwest Arkansas Regional Airport in Fayetteville where Will, my son, was waiting on me. Itís a thirty-minute drive from the airport to Willís house and after 16 hours in airports and on planes, I went to bed right away and slept sounder and longer than Iíve slept in a long time.

Erica, Willís wife, had to work on Friday but Will took the day off so we had a great time of circulating around town and catching up on each otherís lives. When Erica got off work, we all drove to Russellville where Michael, my oldest boy, and his mom were waiting on us. After a delicious meal of Popeyeís fried chicken and good old southern biscuits, we all went to bed and drove to Hot Springs the next morning.

Our reservations ensured us window-side seats in the Carousel Club and the four of us had a wonderful time. Only a couple of us won any money which is pretty typical for going to the races but the camaraderie we all shared was second to none. We drove back to Russellville after the races, spent the night again and then drove to Fayetteville on Sunday. Life was pretty uneventful until my flight back on Tuesday. The first part of it flew me from Fayetteville to Atlanta, Georgia and because my two gates were as far apart from each other as they could possibly be at the largest airport in the U.S., I requested a ride from one to the other.

The guy was at my landing gate with a motorized vehicle but took me only part way before I was abandoned. I kept thinking he would come back but he didnít and since the reason I requested one, to begin with, was I had a very short time between landing and taking off, I walked the rest of the way to my departing gate and made it just in time.

The flight from Atlanta to Denver was long but uneventful and when I landed I had almost three hours before United was to take off for North Platte so I ate a loaded baked potato, washed it down with a big coke and then headed for my departure gate. When I went to pull up my boarding pass on my United app on my phone, it wouldnít work so I approached the gate agent for assistance. She couldnít get it to work either so she ended up printing me a hard copy I could use to get on the plane. Then shortly before boarding, I couldnít find my cell phone so I retraced my steps, taking me even into the bathroom and was incredibly relieved to discover that the woman sitting next to me in the terminal found it underneath my chair.

I was worried about snow and fog preventing us from landing in North Platte but was relieved to find out that the snow had fallen that morning and only a few scattered clouds were present when we arrived. I spent the night at the motel I always stay at, had a free breakfast the next morning at Pennyís Diner, adjacent to the motel and then drove home.

By the way, I didnít see a deer going or coming, if Dick Trail is curious.

It seems like something always throws a wrench in my trips and it did this time as well but thatís just a part of life and I always look forward to the unknowns that happen in ALL of our lives because we never know what theyíre going to be.

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