The Wild Ride to Recovery


travel with jodell haverfieldWhen I left you in July, I told you about my family’s “Old Front Porch” in Texas and promised to tell you about the amazing journey that brought the children of the Civil War veterans, Isaac Roark, and Milo Bennett from Oklahoma to Texas where the two war enemies became best friends while living out the remainder of their lives with their children, Orlando William and Virginia Francis (Fanny) Roark Bennett.

It was an accident that terminated Orlando William Bennett’s family homestead in Oklahoma. In 1905, matches were hard to come by. So, fires were often kindled by carrying a shovel full of coals from one stove to another and it was while doing this task that Fanny’s two-year-old baby girl bumped into her mother causing the live coals to fall on her and catching her clothes on fire. Fanny was alone with her baby and, although she put out the fire, she was so frightened that she went into what is now known as shock. The doctor told William their little girl would not live. However, William was determined. So, he moved his little family to Elk City, Okla., where better medical care was available. While there, the entire family had a bout with smallpox which left Fanny depressed, weak and unable to walk.

William was now trying to care for his badly burned baby and his invalid wife. The doctor said perhaps a warmer, drier climate would help. So, William left Fanny and the baby with family and with his brother, Leslie Jay, and a family friend, made a hurried trip to Texas to claim a new homestead, build a small shelter and hurry back to get his family, wife and baby. They began their long journey in a covered wagon about the first of August 1905 and arrived in their new home in late October of the same year. Each day on their trek, Fanny seemed to gain strength and her zest for life as her baby also improved. They learned to forget the hard struggle for life in the little joys of each day like the beautiful land, new flowers, birds singing, sunsets, coyotes howling at night, hooting owls and rabbits playing in the moonlight. A couple years after arriving in Texas, Fanny had a little boy she named Milo who was my grandfather. My great aunt, “Auntie” as my generation called her, completely recovered from her burns, but carried scars on her back and torso for the remainder of her life which was 90 plus years. I don’t remember noticing any scars, so she was indeed very blessed.

Telling a Southerner to social distance is pretty much like telling a duck to stay out of the water or a little boy to stay out of the cookie jar—it’s just unnatural. But we’d never seen anything as unnatural as a worldwide pandemic that could only be survived by sheltering in place and avoiding each other. Love thy neighbor, but only from across the fence or behind a window. My husband and I were diagnosed with Covid in early July. For several weeks, we were both about as sick as we have ever been.

Now that I have my health back, I have a renewed zest for life and a desire to live my life as fully as I possibly can. That means spending time with my family and traveling till I’m a hundred. The new Covid variants will be resolved and the human spirit’s desire to travel knows no bounds. Positivity must reflect our times. Travel is certainly better than it was in 1905 and approaching much better times. More than 90 cruise ships are sailing again as well as river cruising and land travel. People are booked well into 2023, largely due to vaccines, great rates, and very flexible cancellation policies.

Everyone needs an escape and mine is coming September 17th which also happens to be my birthday! We will be sailing for 9 nights in a balcony suite on a Celebrity cruise to Aruba and Bonaire. I absolutely can’t wait.

We are looking forward to a busy 2022 just around the corner, so watch for our upcoming YouTube posts, podcasts and webinars on our Israel tour, our Viking River Cruise “Exploring the Danube” including the famous Oberammergau Passion Play that was Covid postponed in 2020, as well as a Winter Getaway in Panama Tour from Destin, a Pioneer Woman and Magnolia Market Tour and an Alaska Cruise, all for 2022. Remember, Travel Advisors will save you time as well as money at no cost to you as you navigate your way through planning your leisure travel.

I often think of my great grandparents, William and Fanny, and how they learned to forget the hard struggle for life in the little joys of living each day. Waiting a few hours in an airport due to a flight delay seems minor compared to traveling for months in a covered wagon from one state to the next. Times are crazy right now, traveling and making plans to travel can be frustrating. But I know that in time, we’ll heal the way Southerners always do—together! And, I’m here to help you navigate and make it easy…contact me, JoDell, at or 850.608.3058.