Thursday, April 16, 2015
53 Hours of Fun
My parents spent this past winter in Texas and with my sisters in Florida. They decided that they would, at the end of their winter trip, leave their motorhome in Tampa to be sold. My sisters and I convinced them to fly back to Missouri rather than drive their tow vehicle, a jeep. I had told my Dad that I would fly down with my wife Lana after all the spring breaks were over, and drive it back up to Indianapolis, and then over to Missouri the following weekend to them. I thought it would be fun to make the trip as Lana and I had not made that drive in at least 25 years. We had settled into a routine of flying over the years.
We set up the trip for this past weekend by leaving last Thursday afternoon. The plan was to fly down to Tampa and spend Thursday night and all day Friday with my sister Patti and her family. My youngest sister Pam would drive over from Orlando to join us for the day. Then the plan would be for Lana and I to leave on Saturday morning whenever we got up. If you know me, that is early. We figured we would drive until we got tired and stop for the night and finish up with a short drive on Sunday. Let me tell you what happened.
We flew on what I now call “The subway of the skies”, or Allegiant Airlines. The one-way tickets cost us $57 each. Want to know why? First, they have no food or drink. Well, they do, but you have to buy them, even a coke. The $57 gets you a strap from the ceiling to hold on to. No seat. For $15 more, I could have brought my own lawn chair and used their seat belt. For $30 more, you get to use their seats.
As we stood there with the other cheap asses, we listened to the pre-flight instructions. We heard the standard stuff we have heard a thousand times. Put your oxygen mask on before your kids or the weak, etc, etc. I looked around and wondered where our masks would fall from. I had a feeling we were screwed. I looked for the nearest weak persons I could wrestle two away from in case of an emergency. Then the flight attendant talked about making sure the tray tables were stowed away for takeoff. I looked down and every single one had been removed in the airplane. Why was she even saying this? What tray tables? Idiots.
We landed and we were met by my sister Patti. My brother-in-law Mark grilled some great steaks on a very big green egg. Hate to see the bird that came out of. The next morning, my sister Pam came over from Orlando to join us on a day of fun as we wandered around. Patti took us to see Manatees but as it turned out, they weren’t there. It was already too warm and they had moved on. We had a great lunch along the gulf coast and saw some sites. Then I parked my butt on a chair as I watched them shop in a clothing store and we finished up in an incredible bakery, where we bought some things for our trip for the next day. Bad move.
We all had dinner at Anthony’s in Brandon, Fl, where my sister lives. It is a pizza place that is fantastic. We came back to Patti’s and polished off some wine and said goodbye to Pam. At 5 a.m. Lana and I both woke for the bathroom. I stayed awake and decided to let her sleep some more. I should have said “let’s go.” At 6 I did.
By 6:30 we headed downstairs. Mark was fixing coffee and no one else was up. We said goodbye to him and off we went. Now this jeep was loaded with all kinds of crap from the motorhome, so I had no visibility from my rearview mirror, just the side mirrors. It also doesn’t have a lot of room on the passenger side, as well as the seat wouldn’t adjust much because of all the crap behind it. Do I need to mention the thing didn’t ride like a luxury car? Anyway, off we go. Adventure, fun, excitement. First I need coffee. It took a few miles but we found some. Then we dove into that box from the bakery. OMG! Pretty much an orgasm in the front seat.
Then I start to notice and it hits me. Hey! It’s Saturday morning and we are on three lanes of traffic and it is bumper to bumper, and we have been driving a while now, like two hours out of Tampa. Where are all these people going? Who are all these people? We start looking at plates. I start looking AT the people. These are not spring break kids. These are snowbirds going home to the north. Oh god! We were suppose to escape this nonsense.
Here’s the good news. All this traffic is going 75 and 80 m.p.h. The bad news is there is a ton of it. It’s like someone just emptied New York City. We all just kept moving north. Lana and I thought at some point people would peel off and this would thin out. WRONG! Each time we went through a major city, this massive car jam would slow to 15 or 20 m.p.h. and then once we cleared the city, speed back up to 75 again. It took us nearly two hours to get through Atlanta alone. I was looking for Pecans to throw at someone.
Lana took over at Chattanooga. She drives faster than me. Much faster. I looked over once and saw the gauge at 85. Yeah, this woman clearly chose the wrong profession. She also probably should have been driving all day but I do like to drive and I figured 75 and 80 was good enough. Clearly I was wrong. I think I’m going to get her a helmet and racing shoes for Christmas. We decided to go for home. If not for the traffic, we would have made it no later than 9 p.m.
I took over the wheel again at Lexington, Ky. We hit the bed at 11:30. Remind me not to do that again. At least if we do that again, let’s do it in May or June next time. There could not have been anyone home in the province of Ontario or in the State of Michigan because we saw them all on the road Saturday. Maybe that's where the Manatees were.