Wednesday, August 12, 2009

Ok people, here goes.

Road trip 2009 began on a Sunday night, seemingly about six months ago now (July 19th), with a concert in Dallas at the Superpages Center. Denise and I packed all morning for the road and gave ourselves about two-and-a-half hours to make it to the gig.

Now, in retrospect, we should have given ourselves a bit more of a cushion. But it usually takes that long to get to Dallas, and when was the last time a concert started on time? Well, this one did, after we spent an extra 45 minutes in some of the worst traffic on I-35 on a Sunday evening that ether of us have ever experienced.

The result of all that was us arriving at the gig just in time to hear ZZ-Top do their last two numbers. Sure enough, they'd opened the concert right on time at 7: 30. Damn! I'd seen them before, not too long ago, so it wasn't a DIASTER to miss them, but still... Shit!

So, after taking the first few shots of them as they finished up and walked off, I headed out to the concessions to look at t-shirts and get my wowman the makin's of her 'Shandy". That's a beer and a large cup of some Sprite like drink... No ice. That and my beer kept us goin' for most of the remaining evening.

A while later, when Aerosmith hit the stage, the arena erupted into applause. I'd never seen them before, so it was pretty exciting to see what they'd come up with.

I was amazed at what a great show they put on. The hits just kept rolling through, and the light show was the best I think I've seen since Roger Waters.

After about an hour of playing, with very little time taken to talk to the audience, Billy Gibbons of ZZ-Top came back out to jam with the boys. They played together, rollin' through some bluesy jam for about fifteen minutes. It was wonderful, and a classic consolation prize for having missed ZZ's show earlier.

In the end, t-shirts in hand, our adrenaline rushing from the exciting evening but exhausted from the heat (it was up in the humid 90s at 11PM when the concert ended), we walked back to the lot where I'd had to park and piled back into the car and headed East. I think I got up on I-30 at 11:30PM, and we didn't stop more than once till we were in Arkansas. We spent the night in Texarkana, at a La Quinta that we've stayed at several times before on earlier trips.

We had breakfast at a Denny's near the hotel the next morning and were on the road again by 10:30. The drive through Arkansas was uneventful until we got close to the "Big Muddy". We stopped at a rest stop about 50 miles west of Memphis.

If you recall, last year we found a stray dog at that stop. The dog wouldn't let anyone near enough to catch her, but some local trucker had named her "Sugar". We stopped by to see if Sugar was still there. Sure enough, As I'd feared, the restroom attendant told us that she'd been run over by a truck several months earlier, her back legs paralysed. He said he'd tried to keep her going, but in the end he'd had to have her put down.

That's a shot of Sugar from last December... The last time we stopped to lay food out for her. Of course, Denise was tearing up as we walked back to the car. It was all very sad. I can't say I'd had too many hopes of seeing Sugar there after all this time, but it was still very sad to hear how she'd met her fate. Poor baby. I tell ya, anyone who'd dump a dog out at a rest stop needs to get their fat asses beat, period!

We drove on through western Tennessee, through Memphis and Nashville, then up I-65 to Kentucky. We finally made it to Denise's daughters place in Bowling Green by about dinner time. It was about 7ish, on Monday, the 20th.

Lynn is very pregnant these days, expecting in late September, so it was great that we could head up there and spend a lot of time with her and her husband Dale. We were too beat to do anything that first night, but the next night they took us out to eat. It was a Mexican food place called Pepper's that's local to Bowling Green. It was GOOOD! Well, it wasn't good like we're used to around here. I mean, this is Texas, by God. But for road trip Mexican, it was damn good.

We stayed there at Lynn's place for a few days, then headed up to Radcliffe on Wednesday morning. The plan was to spend the next few days with Denise's older daughter Chantel and her two boys, and then head back down to Lynn's on Saturday.

As we drove up into town, Denise decided to make a quick stop on Ft. Knox to see some of the folks she used to work with. She lived up there for eighteen years and started working for Central Texas College there. She took a promotion and moved to Texas to work here on the main campus of the college about five years ago.

Anyway, so, as I'm drivin' up to the front gate of the base, I'm thinkin' is good that we're in my car this time, with my base sticker and ID from Ft. Hood. And then I remember the loaded pistol on the pocket behind the passenger seat. And wouldn't you know, as we drove up to the gate the security folks decided to do a random check. SHIT!

We went through the whole thing, with them asking me for my ID and papers, and just as they were about to lift the barrier and wave me through the dude asked "Do you have any weapons or ammo in the car?" In a split second, all my options were laid out for me. I could lie and say no, and then the guy could wave me through and everything would be cool. But, he could also say "OK buddy, drive over there and we're gonna do the real check." Then I'd really be fucked! So, I was honest. I dunno, I guess it's just the way I was taught. The best policy, and all that.

So I 'fessed up about the gun. Boy howdy, that's when all the magnificent bureaucratic machinery went into action. Questions were asked and forms were filled out. I showed them where the pistol was and they took it out of the car. Thing is, the main security dude there at the gate didn't know how to unload a revolver! You could have knocked me over with a feather. I had to get out of the car and walk over to where he was tryin' to take the bullets out of the gun and show him how to do it myself. He mumbled nervously, something about only ever working with semi-auto guns, but I had to stop myself from laughing out loud. Hasn't this dumb ass ever even seen a Western? Shit.

So, in the end, everything was cool. They gave me the bullets and put the revolver in the trunk and turned us around. They told us that we had to take the gun somewhere and store it and then we could come back. So that's what we did. We just headed over to Chantel's house and waited to come back to the base till the next day. No sweat. Just a bit more drama for me to tell you all about later. Yea, yer thinkin' "What about the AR-15 in the trunk?" Well, I'd left that little toy at Lynn's house in Bowling Green, so it wasn't an issue.

When we got to Chantel's, we found a new member of the family. This is Sara, and new German Shepherd that Chantel was given a little while ago. She's a sweetie. Gutsy as hell. Sadie, the big Golden Retriever, still rules the roost, But the tide is gonna shift quick when Sara grows into those ears.

I spent much of my time there hangin' with Colin. We visited the base and connected with some of Denise's old friends in Radcliffe, but the evenings and mornings were spent playin' with the dogs and watchin' Colin play his computer games.

On Thursday, Denise, Bryce (the eldest grandson), Colin and I piled into my car and I drove us up to Dayton Ohio to meet up with Pat Houseworth and his wife and walk through the Air Force Museum.

I'd been there with my folks in the mid 1970s, and couldn't wait to see it again. It lived up to my expectations. You can click over here and see the pictures I took there. I'm still working on some of them, but the rest'll be posted soon.

We met up with Pat and his wife in the lobby and started in the WW2 hanger.

I think we made it through that hanger together, but then somehow got split up as we moved on to the Korea/Vietnam exhibits.

You see, Colin and I got sidetracked in the exhibit on flight, where they have lots of interactive displays showing how planes really work and the force of the wind, etc. Colin was in his element, and I didn't have the heart to push him along. They had one display where you got to land a little wooden plane on a carrier, with the plane sliding down a line, controlled by a joystick. You manipulated the lever to raise and lower the plane to try to hook the arresting line. Colin did it the first time. All that time on the video games was obviously coming in handy.

By the time we got into the exhibit on the 1950s and 60s, Pat and his wife were way out ahead of us and we didn't see very much of them after that. I felt bad about that, but the kids were having a great time checking out the exhibits and taking a turn at a flight simulator they had set up there.

We continued through the hangers until we finally met up with them as they were about to leave to head over to their son's place. So, before Denise and the kids and I were finished looking at all the planes, we joined Pat and his wife out in front of the museum and took a few parting shots.

One of them was a timed shot, with the camera placed on top of a trash can (I think). It worked out really well.

And then I wouldn't let Pat get away without taking the traditional "grab ya by the neck and stick the arm out" shot. It turned out really well too.

It was great to see my buddy again and meet his lovely wife. Maybe next year, road trip 2010 will have him driving down to Harriman for a little Sky Cop porch time. That'd be cool. I'd love to sit in and get some shots of that.

In the end, after seeing the whole place and taking time to eat a little something in the cafeteria, we piled back into my car and drove back down to Radcliffe.

When we got back to the house, the dogs were as rambunctious as ever. I got the idea to set up some kind of dog run in the back yard. They don't have a fence, so they can't just put Sadie out in the yard and let her run. Notice the gouge she's put there in the living room carpet.

We delighted in watching as Sara would sneak up behind Sadie and steal her bone. I tell ya, one of these days the tide will turn. It's gonna be hilarious to watch, but I'm glad I don't live in that house full time. I'm tempted to call the Dog Whisperer.

The last night we were there, Denise and I went out to Lowe's. While she was looking at Washers and Dryers, looking to buy a set for Chantel, who is in the middle of a divorce and doesn't have a set, I was going around looking for the parts to set up that dog run. Two sturdy steel poles and a fifty foot plastic covered cable to run between. I even had to get a good sized mallet so that I could drive the poles into the ground.

When we got back to the house I set up shop in the garage, puttin' the whole thing together. In the end I took it all out into the back yard and set it up, showin' Bryce and Chantel how to clip Sadie's leash to it so she can run from one end to the other. Turned out, the friggin' dog would just sit in the middle of the run and stare at the back door. Bast laid plans, eh. And in the process of building the damn thing, I lost my favorite pocket knife. It's ether out there in the grass or in the dogs stool. Ether way, it's history. THAT pissed me off, but what can ya do? Serves me right for not sittin' on my ass and watchin' TV.

We drove back down to Bowling Green Saturday afternoon, spending two more nights down there. Lynn made us lasagna one night as a treat. It was great stuff. When Sunday night rolled around I started to load all of our stuff in the car for our early morning trip to the Airport in Nashville.

We got up at 5:30 and were on the road shortly after that. It takes about an hour to get to the Airport from Lynn's place. We made it right on time. I took Denise in to get her ticket and we waited by the security for her time to get to her plane. It was a bummer, seeing her go through security and know that she wasn't going to be able to continue with me to Harriman and Memphis, but she'd been unable to get more than a week off from work.

Having said that, when she'd gone through the line and walked out of sight, the excitement began to build in me. It was as if her vacation was coming to an end, but mine was just getting started. I was gonna drive further east for a few hours and spend a few days with Mushy and Judy and their family, and then the two of them were gonna drive west with me and spend a few nights on Beale Street in memphis. It was gonna be a great time, and I couldn't wait to get back in the car and point it East. I cranked up the sattelite radio, lit a big, fat cigar and I was off.

Two hours later, after one stop for gas and a pit stop, I was rollin' into Harriman and finding a room at one of the local hotels. The Week ahead would prove to be some of the best fun I've had with these folks, but you'll have to read about that in the next post. Cheers!


PRH....... said...

Good Work...time waiting is worth is in the long run. And yes, let's hope we can all get together in Tennessee, and Obummer doesn't have us all in jail or broke by that time: :)


Mushy said...

My wore out all over again! Don't think I could have done all that driving when I was a young!

BRUNO said...

In re. to Mushy---Hell, when I was young, at least the CAR ran out of gas before ME!

Of course in our younger-days, the cars were built better than---and most rode about the same as!---some of the better armored-vehicles of today...!

FHB said...

Man, I shoulda got me one of them jobs as a long haul trucker. I can dive all day.

BRUNO said...

An' he can DRIVE, too! That, and DIVE at the same time!

No wonder this guy gets paid the big-bucks!

(I used to "dive" every time the wife drove---but now I just cover my face, an' scream....!)

FHB said...

You dove while she drove? Now, I can see that the other way around, but I think that fat head of yours would get in the way of the shifter!

I'm just sayin', not boastin'.

BRUNO said...

Yeah, it DID! An' it HURT! Hence the "cover-and-scream"!

Although I kinda miss the exercise, since the "duck-n'-cover" WAS good for the ol' abs....!!!

Suldog said...

Sounds like an excellent road trip (except for the sadness about Sugar.) Nice shots of the concert!