TRAVELOGUE DAY ONE: We made it to stop #1: Scranton, PA. What can one say about Scranton, PA? The room is nice. This is the first time we’ve traveled with the dogs. While we went out to the car to get something, Chuey, the cairn terrier, sprawled out on the bed while Dala, the corgi, tried ordering room service. Thank goodness she didn’t know our room number! While we were at breakfast in our hotel, I spotted an old guy using a walker with a stainless steel cup mounted on the front. I suggested that Judy drop some change into the cup and maybe pat him on the arm… But she kicked me. Now I have to use a walker to get around! Now if I could only find a stainless steel cup to mount on the handlebars…
TRAVELOGUE DAY TWO: Today, we had lunch at a Chinese buffet. Now I know that the Chinese aren’t typically the tallest people on the earth, but the urinals in the mens room were so low to the floor a two-year old stand and could use them! It felt as though I was peeing on my shoes! (I wasn’t) I’ve seen some low-mounted urinals… like the ones for young boys… but these were RIDICULOUS! A hamster could drink from one of these (if he wasn’t too particular). When I first walked into the men’s room I thought they were showers for Barbie and Ken dolls! But I digress… Driving through the mountains of Pennsylvania was a trip! We kept driving in and out of torrential rain. I’m talking rain of Biblical proportions! Pairs of animals were trying to hitch rides! Speaking of which… Ever wonder how Noah managed to get a pair of penguins, kangaroos, and polar bears? And, when he was collecting all those millions of species of fish and bugs… how did he know when he had one male and one female? But I digress again… We got to see our son Mike and his friends at his college tonight. Very cool. Mike is making us breakfast tomorrow before we leave for Rolla, Missouri.
TRAVELOGUE DAY THREE: Not to start a scatological theme, but my first impression of Indiana was the billboard that read, “Best Restrooms on I-70!” This was followed by a second billboard which simply read, “AWESOME RESTROOMS!” Which led me to wonder… What makes Indiana’s restrooms so special? Are patrons greeted and seated by a Potty Concierge? Is there a professional ‘wiper’ in each stall offering a choice of lotion or ‘finishing powder’? Billboards: Unlike Maine, where they are refreshingly illegal, Indiana has lots and lots of billboards. Big ones and even bigger ones. They advertise not only restaurants and hotels but establishments like “Adultorama” and “Pleasure Palace Lingerie and Novelties.”
In all fairness to Indiana, they also have humongous billboards with messages like, “Need Directions? Read your Bible.” and “Jesus gave his life so that you could drive while making small talk on your cell phone eating Cheetos.” Illinois was sort of flat and dull but with far less billboards. Judy and I had a thoughtful discussion about the act of worrying… and how it can lead to worry lines, worry warts and worry stones (which are typically hard to pass.) Missouri was my first real smack-in-the-head with country music. I don’t mean the Hank Snow or Hank Williams (‘double-hanky’) kind of country western music but the modern stuff where a singer from New Jersey sings a pop song with a fake southern accent and then they dub in a pedal steel guitar. Missouri was also sort of hilly, in contrast to Ohio, Indiana and Illinois. What is it about hills and country music?? If I was to climb the Himalayas would I reach the top just to find some Tibetan monk throat-singing Merle Haggard songs ? Our next stop is Elk City, Oklahoma.
TRAVELOGUE DAY FOUR: The town of Rolla, Missouri isn’t only famous for its half-scale model of Stonehenge (often called ‘Stubby Stonehenge”)
…but it also boasts a “Vacuum Museum”. We pondered this a bit. Did the museum display vacuum cleaners or just the absence of air?
Parent: “What did you see at the museum?”
Parent: “How was the museum?”
Child: “It sucked!”
After spending many hours leaving Missouri (pronounced Mah-zoo-rah) we reached Oklahoma. It turns out Oklahoma has the same love affair with billboards. Imagine driving past DOZENS of billboards advertising strip clubs (like ‘Hayseed Hank’s Gentlemen’s Club’) , porn shops, and adult video emporiums when you suddenly spot a huge sign that said, “KUM & GO”. Where would YOUR mind go? It turns out it’s a gas station…
But, while driving through the state that spends so much money advertising porn, I saw was a billboard that read: “MARRIAGE= ONE MAN + ONE WOMAN. Any Questions? Just ask! Signed, God.” I was reminded of a comedy song I wrote back in the day called “I’ve Been Saved”. The chorus was…“There’s amazing grace all over my face, Why can’t you see things my way?If you don’t follow him, Then that sweet God of Love, Will burn your sweet ass in hell!” I’ll refrain from ranting here. I’m sure you get the point.We passed the “Risen Ranch Cowboy Church”. I know that sounds like a name I made up… I promise it was an actual church. Another particularly odd sign we repeatedly passed along the road read, “Do not drive into smoke” Say what??
I had a delicious dinner at a local restaurant. Catfish (cooked to perfection), French fries and hush puppies. Hush puppies automatically come with each meal. If you order a Coke or an ice cream cone in Oklahoma it probably comes with hush puppies. For those of you New Englanders who have no idea what hush puppies are, imagine ‘Corn McNuggets’ without the dipping sauce. My meal also came with a memorable salad which consisted of both lettuce AND tomatoes! I’m guessing they think of salad as one of those sissy things from the non-cowboy states.Now we’re in Elk City, OK.
Tomorrow, we drive about 7 more hours through the panhandle of Texas and home to Santa Fe, NM.
TRAVELOGUE LAST DAY: I’ve come to the conclusion that you can learn a lot about an area from its billboards and signs. On our way out of Oklahoma, I spotted a huge sign for Oral Roberts University (not to be confused with his brother Anal Roberts, who operates an adult video store in Tulsa).
Crossing into Texas, I immediately noticed the absence of porn shop billboards. Now all they advertised was Jesus and steaks.
“Come to Big Vern’s Steakhouse” The photo of “Big Vern” made New Orleans chef, Paul Prudhomme look anorexic!
“JESUS IS LORD TRAVEL CENTER”
“THE BIG TEXAN STEAK RANCH: Home of the 72 Oz. Steak!”
(In case you’re curious, the deal is…If you can finish it in one hour, it’s free!)
We actually saw Jesus on a package of incense! I had to wonder what fragrance that must be, since it wasn’t indicated on the package… and then it came to me: Sandalwood?
That’s my best guess, anyway.
We finally reached the sign, “Welcome to New Mexico!” We stopped the car and took a picture and welcomed each other ‘home’.
We drove to our house. Empty as it is,we were both pretty excited about it. We kept reminding ourselves that we were NOT on vacation this time. We actually LIVE here! We went out to eat at one of our favorite restaurants and had Margaritas to celebrate. We took the dogs for a walk on Canyon Rd before checking into a hotel in town.
2600+ miles later… we made it. We’re here! 🙂