A few minutes ago I let our dog Andy (Black Lips Houlihan) out to sling some urine and whatnot, and was standing on the porch officiating. I was enjoying a cup of Eight O’clock coffee, amazed at how beautiful it was out there: perfect fall weather. Sometimes I forget about the real world.
Then a bee buzzed me, and a couple seconds later… another one. What the hell, man? Bees don’t scare me much, but when it gets this late in the season they become a little crazy. Ya know? And these things seemed like they were trying to make a point of some kind.
So, I walked out into the middle of the yard, and away from the bushes near our front door. I figured those shrubs might be Ground Zero for the bees, and they’d leave me alone if I walked away.
Andy was doing that annoying thing where he was turning circles — round and round and round — trying to divine the perfect spot to dump. And I was yelling at him: “Hurry up, dammit! If you’re gonna shit, shit!!” Experience has told me that putting pressure on him only makes matters worse, but I can’t physically stop myself from doing it.
And at the very moment the first yard cruller FINALLY appeared, something hit the back of my neck and went partway down the collar of my t-shirt. I shrieked like a schoolgirl, jumped two feet in the air, and slung coffee halfway to the street. My heart lurched into action, and I braced for the pain of a bee sting.
Yeah, but it was only a leaf. Good stuff.
During the past two weeks I worked nearly 120 hours, and still posted updates here most weekdays. Not all of them were stellar… but I gave it a shot. I’ll be working a lot this week, as well. But next week I’m going to West Virginia.
I don’t see my parents nearly enough, and that fact is number 178 on my Big List of Things I Feel Guilty About. My mom and dad spend winters in Florida, so I’m going to do a quick solo run to their house before they pack it up for the year.
When I told them I was coming, I got the extremely flattering response: “Just you?” Yes, it’s heartwarming. Will somebody hand me a tissue? I’m getting a little emotional here.
What they don’t understand — or believe — is that it’s nearly impossible for all of us to get four or five days off in a row. There’s school, swim team, jobs, juvenile delinquency… So, I’m just gonna go.
In fact, I’m looking forward to it. It’s a long drive (516 miles each way), and I think all that alone time will be good therapy. My brain is racing every waking moment, and it’ll be nice to maybe clear my head via white line fever and Arctic Monkeys. I’ll be driving on Wednesday and Saturday, and doing family stuff on the days between.
However… this site can’t sit dormant for all that time. October is an important month, for reasons I’ll explain later. So, I’m going to try to post a daily update from the road. I’ll have my laptop and camera, and will attempt to document the trip, day by day. And it won’t just be tales of pot roast and mashed potatoes (although that will hopefully be part of it)… I have some ideas to make it interesting. So, please stay tuned. It’s gonna be fun, and out of the ordinary.
For our Question o’ the Day, I’d like to know about your most memorable road trips. What was the longest one? The craziest one? The one that turned out to be the most fun? And… of course, the biggest disasters. It wouldn’t be the Surf Report without the disasters.
Please tell us your road tales in the comments section below. And I’ll be back tomorrow, my friends.
Have yourselves a great day!
Now playing in the bunker
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Most fun was going to Ocean City Maryland but it was also the most terrifying, my husband drove there and it was smooth sailing, I drove home, we had the whole family in the car and we were on the PA turnpike when a huge downpour hit, I mean this was the heaviest rain I ever saw in my life and im trying to drive in it. All the cars were going like 20 mph with their hazards on, I couldn’t even see right in front of me. Pulling to the side of the road was not an option. It lasted a good 15-20 minutes. By the time we got out of it I swore I would have gray hair.
Road trip from Columbus Ohio to San Diego for the 1982 Holiday Bowl. Nothing like stumbling around drunk, in the dark, at the rim of the Grand Canyon in December, or being accosted by hookers in Vegas (Baby!). The car we took threw a rod in the San Gabriel mountains and we wound up being stranded out there for almost 3 weeks. First time I ever missed being home for Christmas. Oh – but the Buckeyes won, so there’s that.
Jeff, I understand your lawn terror. We have a bad coyote problem and the other night I found myself “Scat, Git Git” -ting a grey Adirondak chair at dusk.
Worst road trip was when my mother -in-law’s husband (not Beloved’s father) passed away. We left NY on Thursday, got to Florida Friday, attended this bogus service officiated by “Preacher Hollywood” on Saturday and were back in New York on Sunday. I had the goddamn road jitters for abiut 3 days after that.
I wrote a journal on my trip from Mexico-to-Canada-to-Mexico. I’ll have to dig it out when I get home.
Practical Parsimony says
Longest? It was a one-day drive from Nuevo Laredo, TX to Memphis, TN. Texas is a BIG state. We did not think we would ever get out.
Worst? Anytime my husband drove. On a trip from Memphis to Rochester, he got off the interstate and just kept turning onto smaller and smaller roads. Once he turnd onto a road/path with grass growing over the gravel, he did decide he made a wrong turn. Okay, maybe a dozen wrong turns. This trip is four lane, interstates all the way.
Lost? We went from Memphis, TN to Rochester, NY and ended up in Youngstown, OH, way off the beaten path, five years in a row. We just had an ice cream cone every year.
Most fun? Trip to St. Augustine, FL when I took charge of the trip and the money. The kids said it was the most fun vacation we ever had. Imagine having an ice cream cone before lunch. Husband was freaking out over children not eating lunch and how I was spending all HIS money. We actually came home in the black for once.
Have you ever read the Stephen King short story “You Know They’ve Got a Hell of a Band”? It’s about a guy who can’t admit he’s lost.
Practical Parsimony says
No. Is it scary? I have never read a Stephen King story and only watched on movie because I live alone and scary things cannot be read or watched here.
Well, I’m sure you all (possibly) remember a lot of my concert trips. I think the most memorable (and horrible) road trip I ever went on was when my husband and I decided it would be a good idea to drive from Chicago to Southern California in 2.5 days for a Phish festival. When we arrived in the Texas panhandle we were driving down the street and passed “The Big Texan”, to which we laughed at because of the giant cowboy on the front, and decided to go to Cracker Barrel (a few months later, The Big Texan was featured on best places to eat in the country on Travel Channel – needless to say we were kicking ourselves in the ass) and the waitress kept saying ‘ya’ll!, ya’ll!’ (no offense to any Texan residents, I just don’t care for the word ‘ya’ll’, much like I’m sure someone from Texas may be annoyed with our annoying “Chicago accents”), then, she proceeded to tell us that we still had a 4 hour drive to New Mexico. I immediately got the shits, and I thought my husband was going to start crying. Turns out, New Mexico was 45 minutes away. Although the ride there and back was awful, it turned out to a pretty good story with a lot of amazing veiws, sunrises and sunsets, driving through the mountains in Flagstaff, camping under palm trees next to the mountains…It was really an awesome experience. We’ve been on a few trips after that, but the California roadtrip was the best. Also, if anyone lives in Wisconsin, I highly recommend taking a trip to the New Glarus brewery. That place is beautiful!
Practical Parsimony says
So, she was saying “45” and not “4 hour”? Her accent confused you?
No, she was saying 4 hours…and it was only 45 minutes. I just don’t think she ever traveled anywhere outside the pandhandle.
Mrs. L. Bangs says
Death Valley in a 1978 Wanderlodge, 2 kids, No A/C in August 2012.
Big John says
I too.. love to head to the back yard.. send the dogs to do their sinful business… and then.. in the dark of the night.. riffle off a huge fart.. followed by wizzin’ off the back porch!.. This is truly a man’s event.. And as a homeowner.. I feel it’s my God given right to always.. late at night.. go with my dog in my own yard!.. GOD BLESS AMERICA!!
That right there is what is is all about.
Brittany, maybe the 4 hour estimate was dependent on which menu item you chose that day.
Since my days are spent behind the wheel, no particular day stands out. The most fun though are the ones going through the most backway possible (ie: the grass growing over the road mentioned above). I’ve found myself in banjo country. I’ve found dead end roads that where not marked dead end after driving a few miles. I’ve stumbled on roads that cross THROUGH the river (didn’t cross since I was in my work truck, and did not want to explain why I got the work truck stuck in a river, had that occurred). I’ve taken roads that turned into a field access road, I’ve ended up in the middle of a farmers homestead all while just following the tracks from the main road. Oddest was actually on a road, again wasn’t marked dead end, and it was continuous on my map, turned into one of those two track field roads with lots of 90º turnd and the soy beans getting closer and closer to the truck, only to find myself… facing a locked gate at a natural gas pumping station. WTF? Some signage would have been nice to have, and a turn-around would have been even better. Good thing there was no rain cause some soy beans got flattened in the process of turning back.
Longest behind the wheel was 12 hours, all interstate, only stopping to get gas, and piss.
Practical Parsimony says
We were on a schedule and needed to get to NY, not sight see. Not only was there grass on the road, but eventually the road was overgrown with small hardwoods. Otherwise, 1957 would have been the last anyone saw us. Oh, I had found out I was pregnant and we had no ac in the car. I could not close my eyes without him just turning willy nilly. You know how you see a sign with the name of the town you want but know it is just a little meandering road through lots of towns? Or, you can take the next exit, get on another interstate and make time. We were all about making time because we could only afford one night in a motel. Consequently, I could never sleep when we drove. I took my turn driving and had to stay awake watching him so he would not wander off on another pig trail. This was not the occasion to take the scenic route.
Very well could have been…
Longest, and also most memorable… nonstop from Albany, NY to Wheaton, Illinois on a 450cc motorbike. It was pretty much full throttle the whole way, and I learned what “drafting” really does for you; a big thank you to those truckers on the Thruway. And even in 1982, I was struck by the difference in attitude and demeanor between the Canadian and the US border officials.
Another contender for most memorable was the trip from Albany to Tampa, Florida. We had 24 hours to get there before the casket was closed and made it in 19 by switching off the driving duties. At one point I stopped for gas or a piss or something; the wife was asleep in that passenger seat and I asked if she needed bathroom or food or anything. Without waking up, she said “watch out for burning bicycles on the bridge”. Hm, OK, I’ll keep my eyes peeled. This trip was also the first exposure, for both of us, to “Pedro says…” Oddly, we saw not one single cop until after crossing into Florida, at which point I-95 was lousy with them.
And there was the move from Albany to DC. Somewhere along the Jersey Turnpike, at night, I stopped the U-Haul to take a picture of the car on fire in the median strip (a genius move, thanks). Weeks later after getting the film developed, I saw that there was a previously-unnoticed guy standing there watching the car burn.
I’m not sure I’d call any of these trips “fun”; they are generally more fun to remember and talk about than to actually experience.
Phantom Railfan says
Recently took my elderly diabetic father to Michigan’s upper peninsula to look at fall colors. His insulin pump got screwed up and he had a severe low-blood sugar episode in the middle of the night at a motel in a remote UP outpost. (think incoherent, eye-rolling, slobbering, etc.) Not fun, but the rest of the trip went pretty well.
Chicago to Anchorage in 1968 Hearse
Harold and Maude.
4 Harolds, no Maudes
Buzz in Wheeling says
Well, Jeff, I hope you’re not expecting a magnificently colorful autumn extravaganza here in West By God. My birthday is Oct 9 and usually about a week later the Living Color show starts. This year? Ain’t happening. So you know what’s gonna happen: everything will get nice & dry and then a bigass windstorm will come along and seeya next year.
The most memorable ride I can remember happened many years ago when I was in the USAF. (Think Last Picture Show.)
Anyway, I flew into Dallas on commercial, then had to take a *bus* across half of west Texas to where I was to start tech school – Goodfellow AFB, San Angelo, Texas. (No Interstates in west Texas in those days – check a map – there still isn’t.)
The bus was not crowded, but it wasn’t empty either. About 30 minutes into this 6-hour bus ride, the couple in the seats right in front of me started up. They began with major necking and progressed to serious slap & tickle in no time.
They kept this up for the *entire* 6 hours. I could only get glimpses now & then, but I could hear plenty. And here I am, an 18 year old kid who had got to second base maybe 3 times witnessing this theater of the erotic. (Did I mention that the guy was also an airman in full Class A uniform. Uh, yep.)
Short story long: saw the guy on base 2 days later, says to him, “Did you and your wife get settled in OK?” He says, “Hell, I’m not married.” “But I saw you on the bus”, says I. “Oh, I met her in the bus station before we left – we got a hotel room when we got here. I think her name was Carol.”
And right there was a Life Lesson that sailed completely over young airman Buzz’s head. And I’ve been trying to catch up ever since.
ZZ Top’s “Waitin’ For The Bus” brings back some good ole memories.
Phil Jett says
In 1982 I drove non-stop from Orlando to Columbus in my 1971 Nova only stopping for gas. I packed a bunch of Mt. Dew and Doritos and when I arrived in Columbus, I picked up a buddy from high school and we left for Ohiopyle, Pa. for a rafting trip on the Youghiogheny the next morning,
Had a great time on the river but the drive was a bitch.
Dullest road trip ever was driving from Southern CA to NV for Thanksgiving at 6:00 in the morning listening to talk radio about brining turkey in apple juice vs. water DULL!
Best road trip was San Francisco -> El Paso -> Maine -> Toronto -> San Francisco. I want to do a road trip from here (Philadelphia) to the Arctic Circle in Alaska and back, but I don’t see when I’m going to get the time.
I like cars, I like driving, I like seeing new things… road trips are my idea of fun 🙂
Rat Bastard says
Longest? Pittsburgh to New Orleans. The drive down was scary, because I’m a skinny, longhaired, tattooed Yankee and I was sure that some Southern Deputy was going to pull us over, toss the car, and throw my ass into some backwater jail for the weekend on some bullshit charge. The drive home was a brutal, hungover, exhausting mess.
Most fun? Anytime our band is on the road. Touring in Europe was fun, we had a driver and we could drink in the van with no worries. Border cops were the only shitty thing about that trip.
Driving back from Duncan Donuts on Sunday in lovely Solon, OH I felt something on my elbow and it was a yellow jacket. I shrieked and slapped the life out of that thing but was on edge the rest of the morning.
Then we went to a pumpkin patch and the fuckers were everywhere. I guess the super nice weather and lots of cider and apples were like an end of the year bee orgy.
In 2000 or so I drove from Cincy to Austin, TX for no reason. I spent the day hanging out with my friend Patrick, went to the Hole in the Wall and Toy Joy.
Then I drove to Atlanta and met up with my friend Lisa and just happened to catch a Drive By Truckers show at the Star Bar, they were doing a run through of the Southern Rock Opera. I think that was that trip. Then I drove to Cincinnati.
While perhaps not the most thrilling road trip ever, the trip up and back to Smith Mountain Lake this past July to fetch an airplane was a very pleasant drive inasmuch as the second leg of it was just me and country roads. Perfect.
Also good – Driving south from Grand Rapids MI and seeing the sun coming up over the fields in the middle of Bob Evans territory on a late fall day. Mist rising up, looked like a daggone postcard. A five-minute highlight of a 15-hour trip…
Fetch an airplane? What’d you get?
If you find yourself with an hour of down time when you’re back in WV, look me up. I’ll buy you a beer.
Spring break 2011 was the best road trip I’ve ever had. Six of my good friends in a Honda minivan. We drove from Akron, OH to Corpus Christi, then to New Orleans and back to Akron. About 3,100 miles in 7 days.
Loved all of it.
best trip until the return to Akron! I kid I kid.
Rick in the UK now says
About 25 odd years ago while stationed in Omaha NE, my buddy and I ended up having the same two days off in our respective shift rotations. We decided we had to *do something*, so we drove see the heads at Mount Rushmore, drank a beer in the parking lot, then drove back. Totally spur of the moment stuff. Good times.
In 1980 we moved from Michigan to Arizona in a pickup truck and I think -1967- suicide-door Lincoln with us, three teenagers and a year-old baby. Gas tank fell off the car, motorcycle fell off the back of the pickup, no money so we slept in the car and on top of the load in the truck. Had a curse-hissing argument at the top of the continental divide, lost my wallet, picked up a kidnapper and baby (his, he said…). I win!