Tuesday, July 15, 2008

Round and Round We Go!

Last week, my husband and I set off on great traveling adventures--in different directions. From our home base in Chicagoland, I drove to The Farm in Winona MN. As you long-time readers will recall, that's where I "hide" to write, which is my labor. George hopped in his friend's car and off they journeyed toward Naples FL. As you long-time readers will recall, George is retired.

--TEST ONE: Notice anything missing from our travel plans? (RIGHT! AIRPLANES! Yippee! )

I always drive to MN. Since I currently have two book projects in the works, I fill up my little SUV with bins and boxes, notebooks and a laptop, food and miscellaneous supplies. I bet these days it would cost me no less than $500 to check or ship all my stuff. George and Butch, his long-time friend, first considered flying to FL to cheer up their ailing buddy. But then they got to talking about how much fun it would be to stop on their way and visit another friend. After all, Aiken SC wasn't that far off the trail. And hey! If they drove, they could take their golf clubs, a cooler, and any size liquid or gel products they wanted! A no brainer.

Helen, Butch's wife, stayed home in WI to hold down their homestead, continue her part-time and volunteer jobs, do some weeding, and command complete power over their remote control. Oh, and to cut the grass. For the first time ever. Yes, they have a riding mower, but Butch claims it cuts the grass too short. Helen could use their non-riding self-powered machine.

When Helen told me what she was about to do, I shared with her a few details from my virgin mowing experience. "I somehow accidentally ran over the bagger and mowed a hole in it. That's the last time George 'let me' mow."

--TEST TWO: Who's the dummy? (RIGHT! )

But back to our road trips. Let me render a few traveling stats. I get 19-22 miles per gallon in my vehicle. The journey to The Farm is about 300 miles, takes one tank of gasoline and 4.5 – 5 hours, depending on a few things, mostly my bladder. Kornflake, our big red mutt dog, rides in the back seat. He has a bladder of steel. Once I arrive, it takes me about a half-hour to unload my car and drag everything in. Neither Kornflake nor the cows help with this process; they just stare—although I find them to be a relaxing audience.

Butch's Honda Civic Hybrid manages about 50-55 miles per gallon. The guys switch drivers every two hours. They need a couple twelve-hour days to get to their destination. Add another day for their Aiken-buddy stop, a few days in Naples, an overnight and a round of golf or two on the way home . . . . I'd venture to say a few tanks of gas will be in order, along with some great camaraderie and memory building.

--TEST THREE: Who did I say was retired, and who is still working, mowing, volunteering and typing? (RIGHT!)

George, Butch and I travel with cell phones. When I'm at The Farm, where I'm forced to use dial-up, I still manage to log on once or twice a day. When Butch and Helen were on cruises together, George and I would receive emails from them. Butch has even managed to send off a line or two during this road trip, too. Woman to woman, guys to gals, guys together on the golf course, we are all staying connected. This is one of the wonders of modern-day travel.
Our round-robin "touch-bases" with each other can be summed up a number of ways. Let me line out a few:

For instance, George called just to tell me that Butch likes Waffle House as much as I do. George isn't a big fan of Waffle House, so I found this tidbit very entertaining!

Why isn't George picking up his cell phone! I have a piece of business he needs to know about.

"We didn't want the phone to interrupt our golf game."

I used to golf, so I get that. Nonetheless, I am frustrated I can't go on vacation right now!

We all take comfort knowing that those whom we love are safely tucked in for the night.

George loved hearing how our granddaughter enjoyed the tilt-a-whirl at the county fair. (Hey, I get to have some fun here in MN, what with family just 20 minutes away. Check out that county fair find! Aren't those three little--okay, biggie--piggies adorable?) George found it very humorous that as I staggered toward a bench after our round-and-round ride, I had to say to our beaming granddaughter, "Grannie B needs to sit down for a minute." The feeling in my gut, dear reader, could best be described as one of a Round-and-Round Traveling Travesty.

--TEST FOUR: Can you say hurl? (PLEASE DON'T!)

What you can say, however, is thank you. Yes, give thanks that we live in a time when traveling spouses, family members and friends can head out in separate directions, or stay home and hold down the fort, and still remain in touch. We can collect and share travelogues as we go, sometimes in Real Time and with instant pictures!

--TEST FIVE: Is it funny to laugh at someone's Round-and-Round Traveling Travesty? (WHY NOT? HOW ELSE WILL WE STAY SANE?)

Besides, the whole tilt-a-whirling incident kinda reminds me of business air travel today. Before you can take off, you gotta secure yourself with safety equipment. You are crammed in. You don't have control. You're not sure when the "ride" will end—or begin. When you finally get off, you often feel like you've been going round and round between websites, customer service, canceled flights and your sanity. Sometimes you're so exhausted and dizzy from it all that you just wanna hurl.

But you don't. After all, someone's grandchild might have her eye on you, beckoning you to hop right on that colorful Twirling Dragon. I believe you might be able to compare this dizzying adventure to connecting flights between AA to UA.
But you, dear seasoned traveler, are smart enough to say NO.

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