Wednesday, March 25, 2009

All's Well That Ends Well

The day started out great. My in-laws were here for a visit. Rick took a couple days of very light duty paperwork so we could do some sightseeing and visit with our company. The evening before we had made a list of things we wanted to see and do. The first thing on the list was the Patton Museum at Fort Knox.

So, we loaded up in the in-law's Suburban, programed our destination into the GPS and took off. Now I'd like to give you a word of warning here--When trying to enter an Army base, the invisible lady who gives turn-by-turn directions might not always know the best way in. She may even try to get you into some trouble by taking you in through the area where shipments, and trucks and such are supposed to enter. Without proper military I.D., a very BIG guy wearing a uniform and a stern face with a gold tooth, might look at you funny when you try to explain that you were just obeying the woman trapped behind the dashboard.

The guard ended up being a lot nicer than he looked when he told us where to turn around, but he was quick to promise that if we didn't do as we were told, he would come after us with sirens blaring!

Rick put Ms. Navigation into shut up mode and following the nice soldier's instructions, we made it to the museum in good time.
Rick thought his dad might really enjoy it.It is hard to tell from the picture whether he enjoyed it or not, but at least he tolerated it well.There were tanks, many tanks. Big tanks and bigger tanks. Old tanks and newer tanks.
One tank (like the ones used in Operation Iraqi Freedom) had these cute little "windshield wipers." They are barely big enough to wipe raindrops off my grandma-reading glasses!But its gun was too big to get in one photo. These words, painted on the barrel, made me want to clap and shout, "Yeah!"My favorite tank was called an anti-tank tank. I know that if I met this one on the road, it would be an anti-EVERYTHING tank!
Just looking at the picture makes me want to throw my hands up in surrender! Where's my white flag? (I sure am glad the guard with the gold tooth didn't have one of these parked at the gate!)
There was other cool stuff in the museum too. Like a hunk of the Berlin Wall. Do you remember the Cold War?
And the head of a statue--one of the spoils of war. Can you name this evil tyrant?
After we tired of reading plaques and looking at tanks, we watched enough of a film about Patton to learn that he was not a very nice man. A war hero yes, but a likable fellow? Not so much.
We climbed back into the car and headed for--what I wanted to see--the attraction that makes Fort Knox famous. The nation's GOLD.

I knew I wouldn't get to see the gold itself, but a glimpse of the building where it is stored would be enough to satisfy me. I always want to share my adventures with you, my faithful readers and friends, so I needed one thing more than a glimpse. A photo!

Now for those of you who are one step ahead of me here, you must understand that I don't have a criminal bone in my body or thought in my head. That's my disclaimer for what happened next.

Rick at the wheel, his dad riding shotgun, my mother-in-law and I in the back seat, and the loudmouthed know-it-all trapped behind the dash, traveled the not-too-far distance from the museum to the entrance near the Fort Knox Bullion Depository. As we drove past the Depository (which was probably at least a half a mile from the road) I fumbled to get my camera out of its case. Rick was driving too fast, I couldn't get the zipper opened in time, trees got in my way, and I didn't get the picture.

No problem. The building up ahead had signs posted that read, "Visitor Center." There was a little parking lot where we could park, and I could walk a few yards so that I could snap my picture without trees blocking too much of the view.

It was a good plan and we followed it to the point past parking, getting out with camera in hand, and starting our little walk to a clear view, but stopped short when...

"NO! NO! NO!

Someone was yelling, and I mean LOUD, HOSTILE, yelling. I turned to see who was yelling at whom and saw another uniformed guard RUNNING toward us. And YELLING AT ME!

It took me a minute to realize I was the object of his hostility. It was a surreal moment when I didn't know whether to run, try to hide, or throw something at him. Instead I froze. As it turned out, that was the right choice. I don't remember everything he shouted at me, and he may have yelled some instruction that prompted my correct choice, I don't know. But I'm just glad I didn't throw something at him!

He approached quickly and with full authority informed us we couldn't take another step. Apparently taking pictures of the Depository is a no no. And standing around looking at it isn't permitted either.

He said that we must not have seen the sign forbidding such activity when we turned off the main road, then mumbled something about it falling down some time back and that no one has bothered to put it up again. (Yet I was the stupid one for trying to take a picture.)

Rick asked him if we could pick up some information in the visitor's center. The uniformed official said that the building was not really a visitor's center but a security check point. (So the signs that lead us to believe it was a visitor's center were just a decoy meant to trap criminals or terrorists?) The guy went on to tell us that the base went into some high security mode in mid January and visitors are no longer allowed on base. (It was nice of them to get the word out.)

I tried to explain that I had no evil intentions, but simply wanted to show my friends where I had been. He suggested going back to the museum, buying a postcard picturing the Depository, taking a picture of the card, photo-shopping myself onto that photo, and then telling my friends I was there. (With that one I rolled my eyes. No disrespect intended.)

By now the guy was starting to understand that we were innocent tourists but he still had little sympathy. He said that if we wanted to know anything about the Fort Knox Depository, we should watch the Discovery Channel. (Thank you very much.)

Because we were being watched by hidden cameras, I showed him my camera so he could be certain that I had not taken any pictures. That, he said, would insure that we would not be surrounded by dozens of cars with flashing lights and loud sirens as we tried to leave the area. (Thanks for the favor.)

I didn't ever tell the guard my name and I was so glad that we were in my in-law's Suburban and it was their tag number caught on security film!

So I don't have any pictures of the Depository to show you. You're simply going to have to take my word for it-- the building is there, and so are the security guards! If you want any more information than that, watch the Discovery Channel and buy a postcard!

(More about my outing to come later.)


Tricia said...

I just keep seeing an "I Love Lucy" episode here...Lucy visits Ft. Knox. Sounds kinda like one anyway! I'm really puzzled by the Visitor's Center/ Security Checkpoint...kinda strange!

Talkin' Texan said...

I'm going to be laughing all day with the vision of Lucy and Ricky & Fred and Ethel trying to get a picture... Kind of like the time she wouldn't give up and leave Hollywood without John Wayne's foot prints combine with the show where she needed her "passa porta"!
Thanks for the mental picture! Too Funny!

Kris said...

I love your pictures! Absolutely beautiful. And you're a wonderful storyteller. Why you think you need a "real" website to reach out to other RV-ers is beyond me. What you have created with something simple like blogspot is great. I think you could do it this way and reach lots of people. We will talk more. Great stories!
Kris Collins

ktwalden said...

Love the pictures and the narrative....I agree that you are a great storyteller. You always put a smile on my face with the pictures you paint in my mind...

Billy Coffey said...

Love your pictures. Looks and sounds like you had a wonderful time despite a few bumps in the road.

I really like what's painted on the barrel of that tank.

Alene said...

Girl, thanks for sharing. I swear we must be sisters at the hip. I have been in more trouble with MP's and cops in foreign countries hollaring and yelling and at me for various things. Jeepers - it can be scary. I'm glad you all had fun as a family. Great memories.

Talkin' Texan said...

Kris & Kt
Thanks for the encouraging words. I long to bring a little joy and a godly focus into the lives of all who read.

Yes we had a good time and I'm glad you enjoyed the pictures. It was a "guy" type of outing, but interesting all the same. :)

I remember reading about your exciting trip into Canada. I actually thought about you and that post as we drove away. Thanks for the laughs. I wonder what would happen if we took a trip together? Now THAT could be an "I Love Lucy" episode! ;)