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March 24, 2010




Willy Boy is always in a dither before we hit the road. He worries that we will have too much luggage, often accusing the Jimbobalouie’ clan of over-packing for a week`s vacation. Long before we left he told my daughter, The Smurf, that hed be leaving her behind if she packed a huge bag like she did two years ago.

“It`s my vehicle,” he proclaimed. TRANSLATION: Willy Boy calls the shots.

Sometimes Willy Boy forgets that there are four of us and three of them. No matter, by the time he reaches my house to pick us up he`s edgy and, as his daughter says,”He’s in one of his moods, Jimbo!” She`ll also constantly ask, `Why are you so grumpy, dad?”

When Willy Boy saw the pile of our duffle bags on the kitchen floor he just shook his head and sighed. Mind you, we had downsized an incredible amount. Soft bags are easier to manipulate, right.

Anyhow, we had to wait for the Smurf to get home from College because she had a midterm in the morning. Once she arrived we’d pack the van and head off to pick up Sher at her school. We were all in countdown mode as Willy Boy grumbled and paced.

But, The Smurf and I had a plan. We loaded a huge piece of luggage with towels. This was the biggest piece in her set and would take up at least half of the van’s storage space. We secreted it inside the closet in her room.

So, when the daughter arrived, Willy Boy began to pack the van. Amid his huffs and puffs, he did an admirable job and had the entire luggage packed with little room to spare. It was obvious that we would be using the side mirrors for all of our lane changes and navigation.

That’s when the Smurf emerged from the house dragging the humongous bag. She said in the sweetest voice, “Where are we going to put this, Uncle Willy?”

I thought my buddy was going to have a stroke as “F” bombs dropped in a Blitzkrieg of profanity. Friends, there’s nothing funnier than a short Mennonite man blowing his top. Those Groucho eyebrows were bobbing up and down like a tap dancing Hooter girl’s bosom.

We finally calmed him down after telling him that we had “punked” him big time.

After all was said and done, I didn’t have the heart to mention two important things to Willy Boy.

We still have to pick up the Skim Boarder in Florida and bring him home along with his bags and other paraphernalia. My boy is pushing six feet tall, so you know he’s going to take up cabin space.

The Shopping Crew is bound and determined to purchase at least 500 pounds of goods in Florida. Their “shop-till-you-drop” mentality is a legend onto itself. There will be bags and boxes and any number of non-storable items to contend with on the return trip.

Better to leave sleeping dogs lie, right.

Life is a Highway (NOT!)

“Life is a highway. I want to ride it all night long.”    Tom Cochrane

I remember when there was this crazy lady in Delhi who would walk the streets singing this song by Tom. She always had a smile on her face as she pranced about town.

Highway 75, even though we rode it all night long, is not an experience anywhere close, neither in meaning nor intent, to those great lyrics.

This is space deprivation to the max, which is almost akin to an experiment in isolation. You constantly breathe in what others are breathing out or expelling from their less noticeable orifices. Indeed, there are enough fluorocarbon emissions in the cabin to cause a one degree increase in the Earth’s temperature once we open the windows.

Surrounded by bags of snacks, soft coolers with drinks, maps, books, and all the rest, the six of us are packed in the van like pickles in a jar. You almost have to be double jointed to scratch your ass.

We usually drive for five hours at a time, only stopping to get gas and relieve ourselves. I admit that, for the daughters in the back seat, it was an amazing accomplishment for them to even get out of the van. I discovered that their bladder capacity has no bounds.Fortunately, the Shoppers slept most of the time, obviously saving their energy for those imminent surgical strikes on American retail.

Willy Boy and I had full control of the cockpit, which, of course, included access to the CD player and the tunes. However, seeing as we are ten years apart in age, our tastes are quite different. In the past we had a few dust ups over what was to be played. Our solution was to designate the person riding shotgun as the DJ.

This works well, of course, except when Willy Boy is driving. He seems to institute the, “I’m the driver, so I get to choose the music rule!” I had to hold the line when he wanted to go back-to-back with Supertramp!

Our diets are hit and miss because we speed down the road with only one thing in mind – beating our previous record drive of 21 hours. The longer we drive, the more our NASCAR mentality takes over.

Willy Boy goes over the Five Rules of driving that all UPS Drivers are trained to follow, then he breaks every one of those rules himself. I drive about 10 mph faster than I usually do. We both are in the zone when behind the wheel.

We chew on Beef Jerky, suck on red licorice, crunch on hard candies, and drink bottled water. Our stomachs are bloated; our asses are sore and are minds are numb. When we emerge from the van for our pit stops we look and smell like homeless people. We make Nick Nolte’s mug shot look like he’s a cover boy for Men’s Health Magazine.

I know I couldn’t last for long on the International Space Station because over 20 hours in this Florida bound capsule is as claustrophobic as being buried alive.

But, we do endure. We are the closest of friends, you see, and it would take something drastic to break that sentiment into bits. We laugh, we joke, we tease and we mock; all in good fun, of course.

When we hit the Florida border, on go the Jimmy Buffett tunes.

“Wastin’ away in Margaritaville!”

Well hell, yes! We’re ready for massive amounts of Landshark Lager, my friends.

We all sing and carry on as if we were riding in a luxury limo.


Well, we’ve traversed the US of A from top to bottom and we know that we won’t have to “ride that highway all night long” for at least another week. There will be six days of fun in the sun.

The Snowbirds have landed.  What the flock?

Lot’s more to come. Stay tuned!

Hi! Ho!