RVHer Fulltiming With a Dog and a Dude

Tag Archives: Fulltime

The Whole Object of Travel Is Not to Set Foot on Foreign Land;

it is at last to set foot on one’s own country as a foreign land. ~ Gilbert K. Chesterton

Hello again lovers! How have you been? All is well in the traveling asylum, save for the occasional outbursts of profanity from the Dude. (The PC to Mac switchover has not been an easy trip, so along with that and learning WordPress, and Platform Pro, and Office for Mac 2011, and Dreamweaver, and running a business fulltime, and touring NYC, and let’s face, living with the delight that I am all of the time, and living with a cat and a dog, well, other than the lots of screaming and possibly quiet, private weeping, he’s doing OK, although I fear for the Dude’s blood pressure. To sum up how he feels occasionally is this little wisdom nugget from the Dude: “The next time a person tells me I am ‘living the dream’ I’m gonna kick ’em in the nuts.”)

It is almost Halloween and I have my decorations up and am just missing a pumpkin or two. I shall find a few and carve their little heads right up.

After a not-quite disastrous but in no way fulfilling Canadian trip, we landed in Maine for about three months. (Canada last year was a delight. Canada this year can suck it. I don’t know. The central part with Calgary and up to Banff and standing on a glacier? Wonderful in spite of the Canadian prices. And Vancouver? LOVE. But Toronto and Montreal? Not so much. I mean, it was OK. I got to see Glee! Live (shut up, they’re cute) and Montreal was cool being all French and shit but the whole trip was just lacking something.)

Anyway, we spent a couple of nights on the coast in Belfast, ME, and I had real Maine lobster and once again I can state that I…don’t like lobster very much. I don’t understand the “huzzah, Maine lobster!” hoopla surrounding it. I can’t justify the expense. It’s bland. It’s very chewy/toothsome and not in a good way. We had the whole Maine seafood experience with steamers (clams), lobster stew (incredibly bland and tastes mostly like hot milk, which *hork*, I HATE milk), and boiled lobster. I did have a lobster roll and that was pretty good but still it’s just lobster, mayo, and some celery and still pretty boring.

After Belfast we headed to Bangor to the Pumpkin Patch RV Resort. Lovely place, nice people but I have to deduct points due to them scheduling a “singer” who was actually a preacher and a homophobic one at that. If you know me at all you know that I don’t DO religion of any sort and I certainly don’t put up with homophobia and bigotry. I did not appreciate being told he was a country singer and leaving out the preacher part. I don’t know if I should link to this guy or not but here goes; Jerry Bennett. So, I was going along with his gospel music, sort of (still not knowing he was a preacher) and sort of going along with his uninspired renditions of old C/W favorites like Charley Pride’s Kiss An Angel Good Mornin’ and the random Tony Orlando and Dawn ditty Tie a Yellow Ribbon, dutifully clapping basically just to make the park people feel better, like coddling really. And then he said he was going to do some of his own songs, and first up, a new one that everyone seems to love and requests as an encore. OK, first off, I find it hard to believe that anyone would choose to see this guy because that bad, bad dye job (Just For Men, Child Molester Blue-Black #10) coupled with a rather thin voice and general skeeviness would assure that I would never come back for seconds if I stayed through a whole show but when you sing a song that you wrote that is about how unnatural homosexuality is and you just need to, “…come out to the barn…” to understand, well, I’m done. I got up in the middle and walked out, hoping that the park people saw me. (I was horrified by the song for a number of reasons and then started laughing because “…come out to the barn…” and basically watch the animals have sex is one of the perviest things I have ever heard.) Keep your kids away from this one. Keep yourself away. He will bad touch your brain.

As a way to cleanse my brain from the perv, I decided to stalk visit Stephen King’s house. He lives part of the year in Bangor, and seeing how I am a fan from way back I steeled my will and went to his house to get pictures of his gate, alternately terrified and hopeful that he would come out and say hi.  Sadly, he did not come out to visit with me, as he did a friend of mine. I choose to believe he wasn’t home that day.

We stayed in Pumpkin Patch almost to the end of September and then went to Bar Harbor for a few days. Fun, but a bit like Key West in that it is very small, very touristy, very expensive, and very right on the water. There was an Irish pub though…

The gallery below is a mix of Stephen King’s house, one beer from Bar Harbor, and Bread and Puppet, which was in Vermont. The pics are clickable (the gallery is cutting the tops and bottoms off the pics for some reason) and have some info if you mouse hover. Oh, there are no pics of it but we went to Ben and Jerry’s. That was actually pretty interesting. And I’m very disappointed in most grocery stores for being big pussies and not carrying Schweddy Balls.

One of the funniest SNL skits ever.

So, after Bangor we went to Portland where I had a chance to meet the overlord of Pajiba, the fabulous Dustin Rowles. If you are not already a reader of Pajiba…get out! Nah, but really, you must go now. Go over to Pajiba, I mean. When you’re done here. If you want.

Portland was nice but the parks there close after Columbus Day so we had to hit the road. We are now in New York City, well, Jersey City (and at the Liberty Harbor Marina and RV park, and it is great) but whatever, and we have met up with Thoth and Lila Angelique aka Tribal Baroque, and if you don’t know them you really must. Thoth is the subject of the 2002 Academy Award winning documentary (short subject), Thoth, and Lila is his protege and together they make some of the most beautiful music you will ever hear. And they are spectacular to watch in person. We were lucky enough to meet them in New Orleans earlier this year and have stayed in touch. Awesome sauce.

So far I have seen Avenue Q, Wicked (yet again), and tonight I am going to Seminar starring Alan Rickman. “Hans fuckin’ Gruber” and “Severus fuckin’ Snape” himself. Oh, and I have a front row seat. Because I am awesome. Jerry O’Connell is in it too but “Vern” from Stand By Me, or “Cushman” from Jerry Maguire? Whee.

Oh, and that whole C25K thing? I hurt my tendons in my knees so badly that I couldn’t walk for a week. No joke. Fuck running. BTW, if you decide to start running, do not, DO NOT run in those Skecher shape-up, elliptical shoes. They will jack you up.

Have I told y’all about naked Thanksgiving from last year? The talent show? I’ll tell you about tomorrow. Just remember this: A 65-year-old man, wearing an Annie costume, full red wig and all, and nothing else. *hork*



“Exercise Is Done Against One’s Wishes and

maintained only because the alternative is worse.” – George Sheehan, American physician, author, and running enthuiast.

Well, how delightful for Mr. Sheehan and his credentials. Guess which one of the three I’ll NEVER, EVER be. If you guessed physician, you’d be wrong. There is an outside chance albeit slim that could get accepted to medical school. I can assure you I’ll never be a running “enthusiast.” And you better damn well believe I air-quoted that word. With a sneer. And derision.

You must’ve figured out that I just did day two of Couch25K. The whole raison d’etre of the program is to get yo shit off the sofa and in a few weeks be running a 5K. Not going to happen. I mean, there is not a chance in hell that I will sign up for an actual race sort of thing. Don’t care. Not competitive in that way at all. The only way I could get motivated to do that is if YOU paid ME. For sure, if they handed me some ducats at the end I’d consider it but it would have to be some pretty sweet payout.

Me? I’m just proud of myself for even slapping those shoes back on and doing it again because boy howdy, am I sore. I woke up sore, and am even more sore now. And I was pretty sure I was going to pass out once I got back in the house because my face was so red. I just keep thinking: corset, dress, cute clothes, corset, dress, cute clothes, ad infinitum.

This time the Dude went with me, and when I told him we were at the half-way mark he had the same reaction I had yesterday: “WHAT?! Half-way?!” Uh huh. Not so easy is it?

Oh boy, and you know what I had for lunch? Arugula with six green olives, three black olives, and a spritz of lemon juice. (It is actually really tasty and only about two Weight Watchers’ points but that was all I could manage to lift. Apparently this whole jogging thing makes EVERY-FUCKING-THING HURT!)

I am supposed to do this C25K thing three times this week so I reckon I’ll take tomorrow off. Just walk no jog.

I’ll end with a quote I much prefer: “I don’t exercise. If God had wanted me to bend over, he would have put diamonds on the floor.” – Joan Rivers


“College Is the Best Time Of Your Life.

When else are your parents going to spend several thousand dollars a year just for you to go to a strange town and get drunk every night?”  ~David Wood

Yeah, that has nothing to do with the kind of homecoming quote I was looking for but it made me laugh so I’m keeping it.

OK, so new template, new blog entry, new me (soon, I hope), but still returning to my blog.

Anyway, I decided to start Weight Watchers (WW) online and Couch25K (C25K) (That is couch to five K, btw.) today because I needed a change in my life and in for a penny, in for a pound, a journey of a thousand steps starts with one…, whatever, all those sickly platitudes. I know that the last entry said I shouldn’t care but I’m tired of the judgment.

Now, let me just say right up front that I don’t run. I’ll repeat that: I. Do. Not. Run. Maybe if I were being chased by a bear or a guy with a sword, or a cop dressed as a clown, then I might get the urge to move, but even then I might just say, “Fuck it. Gotta die of something.” Also, I have some jacked-up knees, bursitis in my right hip, and my balance is so bad that I can just fall over for no good reason, or if there is lint on the rug. But, since a number of friends have had success with C25K and didn’t die from it I thought I’d give it a shot. Let me also tell you that I have no intentions of running any goddamn 5K. I am only doing this to make my ass look good and to wear cute clothes again. Any other benefit is purely secondary. Longer life? Sweet. Better health? Bonus. Back into the skinny jeans? Fuck yeah! THAT’S what I’m talking about.

As far as the WW goes, well, another friend started on it a few months ago and is now almost 30 lb lighter, and if I’d started when he did then I would be almost 30 lb lighter now but I didn’t so now I’m not but you gotta start somewhere. Right? Again. Better health? Whatever. Tight skirts? Why, thank ya, don’t mind if I do.

I put on a pair of gray leggings and a gray t-shirt, two bras because I don’t own a sports bra, because, come on, why would I, and my tennis shoes. I was pretty self-conscious about the leggings/no shorts thing but decided that I would not give a shit because I’ll be gone in a few days and not see these people again anyway.

I had P!nk as my soundtrack because I love her, love her style, love her attitude and she has a smokin’ hot bod so she can be thinspiration (not the scary pro-ana thinspiration, for the record) for me. Also, as it turns out, she really likes a 4/4 beat and I can walk at a nice pace to her stuff, and then cut-time it on the running parts.

Here’s how it works: You hit Go, there’s a little “ding” then a little voice says, “Warm up,” you start walking. Awesome. Let’s start this bitch. I started walking to Who Knew, which was a nice warm-up piece, walked over to a parking lot, and then the little voice, a guy, said, “Run.” And I did. At least as best as I could given that my happy fat ass doesn’t like to run. At all. Ever.

I had to run for 60 seconds, and the first time was not a problem, because 60 seconds? Big deal. Then the guy said, “Walk,” so I walked for 90 seconds. Beautiful. The goal is to do 5 minutes of warm up, 20 minutes of jog and then walk, and then another 5 minute cool down.

All was well and good until the third “Run” command, and then my nose started running, and I’m starting to breathe hard, and my legs are already tired, and then ahhh, “Walk.” Then “Run.” Then repeat but treble the runny nose, the breathing hard, and the painful legs. Then I heard this little jingly sound, and I thought, “Hell, yeah, I’m done! Hallelujah!” But oh no, that sadistic little bastard said all nonchalant-like and shit, “Half way.” HALF-WAY?! Oh fuck me! And fuck you too, little C25K voice guy! “Walk.” Fine! I’m walking. (I hate you. I hate you.)

By the end of the 31 minutes, I was hot and sticky (thank god it was only 77 today or I’d be dead), and my legs were jelly. I wanted to hunt down voice guy and rip his nuts out through his throat. Supposedly I do this three times this week and then move on to week two but I think that might be overestimating my ability by a lot. I will move on when I’m darn good and ready, mister C25K man! (I plan to update this blog every time I run, which should be three, four times a week. Let’s keep our fingers crossed, shall we?)

Back in the house and time to start charting everything I eat, and I know that will get old pretty quickly but has to be done.

See, I bought this beautiful corset (in red) to use as part of a costume but I can’t wear it right now and I’d like to be close to being able to wear it for Halloween, and if not that then New Year’s and if not that, Mardi Gras. Mardi Gras is about seven months away and it will get here whether I start a new-me program or not. Also, I own a gorgeous, gorgeous Ralph Lauren Purple Label orange linen dress that I have never worn. And I spent way too much money on it to not wear it. I will wear that sombitch next summer, if not sooner. It is shear and bias cut and deadly.

Ok, enough about exercise and shit. Last month I was in Toronto at Indian Line Campground, which is a nice enough place. Kind of rustic, quite a few tent campers in our area but pretty good. I got to see Billy Elliot, which I loved, and not just because it’s a musical. “Carousel” is a musical and I hate it. “Cats.” Cats! Hated it. Oh my god, how I hated it. One good number, “Memory,” (Memory starts around the 3:49 mark. Feel free to skip to it. I’m showing the Tony broadcast because that was the first time I saw Betty Buckley sing, and she blew my 15-year-old brain to bits. The power out of that little bitty body. Dang. She’s Texan, y’all. Whoo!) and the rest is shite. BTW, that one number? Is about the cat dying. I did not know that until I saw it. Fuck that. I can’t listen it to anymore because it makes me sad.

Anyway, I also saw Glee! Live!, which was a lot of fun and I was only 12 rows from the stage. And I saw Zoe Keating again. You remember her. I told you about her last year, which I believe was only two or three posts ago because I suck.

I had my first root canal in Toronto, and all I can say about that is thank god for anesthesia, the good kind, the kind in a vein. I can handle anything you got as far as stuff to my face and teeth but long ago I heard that a root canal was the worst thing ever and it has become thisclose to a phobia for me. So I got some good shit, was completely aware of what was happening to me, and did not give one bit of one tenth of a shit about it. I highly recommend dental anesthesia. I should also say, “Floss your teeth, kids. Every day. Not once in a while. Not once a week. Every day, at least once.”

We made friends with the guy next door, Paul, and he introduced us to some female travelers who were delightful and I was sad to see them go. We met Carly and Sam(antha) from Australia, and Julia from Germany. Ladies? You are welcome to visit, anywhere, any time.

But here is the cool story about how small a world it really is: (backstory) Once upon a time my mom worked at a place called E-Systems in Garland, TX. E-Systems was (is?) a defense contractor and my mom worked as a technical writer then proposals specialist for them for, oh, 20+ years, and when she was made redundant ended up at a place in Rockwall, TX (where she lives, and has lived since 1989ish) called L-3 Comcepts. She has been with them about five years now.

One day at Indian Line the Dude came over and asked if I’d seen the fifth-wheels with the Texas plates. “No,” I replied but I was of course interested because 1) It’s always nice to see American plates when you are in Canada, 2) It’s always nice to see Texas plates when you are anywhere outside of Texas, provided, of course, that you ARE a Texan or hold Texas dear for whatever reason, and 3) It’s always especially nice to see when 1 and 2 go together somehow.

It being laundry day and all, and laundry being pretty much my chore, which I don’t mind because it gets me out of the RV for a while, and some public solitude is always a nice thing, a respite, if you will, I went down to the campground laundromat, saw a car parked out in front with TEXAS plates, walked in and asked the only person there, “Are you ‘Texas?’” And she said, “Yes,” and to use a Texism, we got to talkin’.

We do a little jawin’ about RVing through Canada, and how we like the park, and I say that I’m from Texas. And she asks where and I give the whole spiel, which goes a little like this, “Well, I was born in Baytown, outside of Houston, and lived there when I was little, and while most of my family is there I grew up in the Dallas area where my momma is. She is in Rockwall, which is just east of Dallas.” And she said, “I live in Rockwall.”

Well, hell. I almost said, “Get the fuck out!” but I didn’t because my momma raised me right and I’m not about to cuss in front of a woman who could be my momma. I thought it but I said, “Nuh uh! Where?” Turns out she lives in the neighborhood we started out in.

I tell her all of this, and we marvel at the coincidence, and exchange names. She is Susan and we continue with the conversation, like you do, about how we love Texas, and how big Rockwall has gotten, and how glad we were that the city council wised up and let beer and wine sales in and thank god for the Kroger, and how nice it is now that they have remodeled, and how great it is to not have to drive 30 damn minutes into Dallas to Dolphin Road, or all the way out to McClindon-Chisholm just to buy some damn beer for the party, and even though they opened Mobil City (Sigel’s! Represent!), it was still a bitch because, damn! It was always so crowded.

That convo peters out and then she asked what my mom does. Is she still working? Have any hobbies, etc? I tell her that yes ma’am, my mom is still working and has a terrific job with a place right down the street from the house, called L-3 Comcept. Susan says, “I know L-3. The company I work for gets volunteers from there, and every year L-3 sponsors one of our families.” (The families that have a hard time with making ends meet, which are more and more everyday, thank you so very fucking much Shrub and your hell-bound cronies. But I digress.)

Whoa. Another coincidence. Now it’s time to tell her mom’s name because they obviously have some folks in common. Susan doesn’t recognize my mom’s name and she tells me her last name and her husband’s name, Larry and Susan Lazinski. The only “Lazinskis” in Rockwall. We talk about defense contracting for a minute and then she says that Larry worked outside of Rockwall in Greenville for a few years at, and I say it with her, “E-Systems.” “Yes,” she said, and before that in Garland. At this point I just put my head down on the washer. “My mom worked there for over 20 years.”

We were both just flabbergasted that not only were we Texans in Toronto, but Texans from Rockwall in Toronto, but Texans from Rockwall in Toronto whose family members worked at the same places. We made a plan to meet the next day for cocktails, and I went back to the RV, called my mom and asked her if she knew Larry Lazinski. “Yes, I know Larry. We worked together quite a bit at E-Systems. Oh, and I just thought of him yesterday because I got the Habitat for Humanity flyer.” Turns out Larry is quite involved with HfH, and my mom worked on a build.

This is a tiny, tiny planet, y’all. And, I have a standing invitation to dinner with Susan the next time I’m home.

If you still check in on this blog, thanks. I will keep you posted. By the way, my knees and hip are yelling at me. Thank you so very much Exercise! Pffffffttttt to you, and a big middle finger salute!

Talk to you tomorrow or the next day.

No, I’ve Never Been Arrested, Asked to Leave a Country, Etc

Ok, we’re going to do the blog equivalent of speed-dating. I will set my alarm for three minutes and I will type what I can–WITHOUT going back and correcting typos and grammar FUBARS, mind you–and then switch to the next town/topic. Ready?

::bing:we left Oklahoma we made it to Auburn, NE, where I saw the biggest deer ever bound past the RV. Mt. Rushmore and the Crazy Horse Monument are really, truly awesome. And kind of freaky because shockingly large things with…faces…are. Freaky.  After those South Dakota “must sees” we took off to Devil’s Tower and it is also truly awesome and still just as freaky. I think it’s because of the whole “Close Encounters” thing but who knows.

OK, after that we went to Billings, MT, I think. We were two days ahead of the tornatdo. Montana is gorgeous. I was scared out of my mind by a trip around the

::bing:we left Mt and sopped for gas at the border. I bought some lottery ticets and go my money bak and froze my ass off in and out of thes tore. Good god, it’s June. we went to Calgary. The trip was horrifying because it was raingt sideways and we got rain in the RV so bad taht I ahd to put papaer towels in every window. And we alomst ran off the road but it was exciting and scarey and it took, for ever but we made it to clagary and

::bing::Calgary is really falt. As flat at Dallas but preittier becahyse the mountains arein the background.  We went to dinner at the Calgary tower but it was os fucking hot in there (not AC and no blingfs on the windows) that the experience kind of sucked even if the dinner was pretty good. The mosqutioes are huge. big as horses and maean as hell.

We left Calgary and headed to Banff. We stayed in Canmore, and went to a beautiful place for lunch on Canada Day, and went o a place in Banff where I had a gorgeous charcurtie platter of duck, sausage, cheeses, etc. I also reode on te tra m to the top of the hill and almost vomited from the swaying the of the tram. The view waw gorgeious but oh, so scary.


very difficult. we had reservationd for a place that told us that they had 50 amp and wifi but they had a dirty connection 30 amp on a two-pringed outlet and our comp;uters crashed to we headed out after an alreeay long day (8 hours) to  boonddaock atg a little town ourside of Kamloopds.

::bing: Kamloops to Vancouver is a scary ass drive of brakeing., not braking, stepp grades up ahead, jesus christ, where the hell is our cell coverage, wifi what?, slow down!, woo  prettyk, thank ya jesus for getting through the mountain,s no that’s not it,

::bing: Wow, I really like Vancouver. the wifi sucks it. Damn it, I need to be in teh statats. Cananda is 5 yeas behind Amercia. Whales! Shoes~! I can’t wait to be in America. fireworiks!  Best Chinese food I’v hea outside of Singapore, which isn’t Chinea. Lots of homeless. not as perfect as I thought. oLYMPICS! i STAYED RIGHT THERE.



Note: All names have been changed.

I have listened to a lot of stories about the Dude’s siblings. He has four but he mostly talks about Cassie. He told me how she was a good sister to him. How she helped him when he needed it. How she backed him up when he needed it. He told me how she was so smart and talkative and lively and how her personality could fill a room and how she was impossible to ignore, even if occasionally he wanted to.

On the way to Calgary we stopped in Oklahoma. I met Cassie, and her husband, Tom. I met their son, the handsome Todd, and his lovely wife, Lisa, and their beautiful girls, Lizzy and Madison. I met Cassie and Tom’s daughter, the beautiful Missy, and her awesome kids, Alissa and Hunter. [This family is, and I’m not kidding, like a TV family. The kids are well behaved and gorgeous and listen to their parents and have beautiful manners and talk to adults as if they were adults themselves. (OK, maybe the two-year-old didn’t carry on adult convo, but she had good manners.) (Hunter: I’m not including you in the “kids.” You, Killer, are head and shoulders above the other persons-of-your-age I have met. May you long rock on.)]

I watched and listened to Missy interacting with her kids and seeing how much she really seemed to LIKE them, and how they liked her. (What is, “T-Dog?” I think that is what y’all said.) They talked like friends, but they obviously respected her as mom. I watched the 17-year-old Hunter love on his grandma and order dinner for her. (A gentleman, that one. Good job, Missy.) I watched Lisa and Todd play with and comfort their girls. I watched Tom pay attention to his grandkids and pet on them. I watched these people talk to the Dude like it was just yesterday that they had seen him, not years ago. I listened and watched and saw a beautiful, amazing, unique family.

I also listened and watched as Cassie told a story, and then listened and watched as she told the story again, and then again. I listened to this family tell the Dude how much Cassie has changed in three years, and how much she had declined in the last six months. I listened as the family asked, “Where is Grandma,” and looked around, everyone quiet, tense, aware.

While the Dude talked to the family, I looked at the family pictures and there was Cassie, the vibrant, bright-eyed woman I’d heard about. I saw her engaged with the camera. I saw a fierce intelligence and independence, and maybe a bit of stubbornness. I saw her eyes reflected in the grandkids. I watched the Dude’s composure falter. I watched Alissa ask Missy a question. I watched Missy tell Alissa that there were no guarantees in this world. Alissa is gorgeous, and smart, and wise beyond her years but she is also only 10.

I don’t know when we will be back this way but I hope to meet this family again. I don’t think Cassie will remember us, though. Cassie is 63, younger than my beloved momma, and three years ago was diagnosed with early onset Alzheimer’s. It is genetic. It is fucking cruel.

There are no guarantees.

Renovations. Inspired or Masochistic? Discuss.

So, while we are stuck in Montgomery, Alabama, where it rains every effin’ day, three times a day, we have decided to do away with the stock valances and day/night shades and replace them with pull-down shades, sheers, and curtains. It seemed like an easy thing to do. Unscrew this, screw in this, hang up that, but what has been happening is this: Unscrew this, screw in this, hang up that.

Trying to maneuver curtain rods and blinds up the steps and past each other and not step on a cat or dog and not whack the shit out of something thereby causing yet another repair for the Dude would be comical in a Larry, Moe, and Curly kind of way IF the Dude had even the tiniest bit of humor left but seven months of nonstop RV repairs and still working a full-time job and adjusting to this new lifestyle have kind of sucked the whimsy right out of him. I mostly just try to do exactly what he says, anticipate what he wants next (aka read his damn mind), and stay the hell outta the way.

Now add to the previously mentioned fact that it rains every day, and the Dude has repairs that have to take place outside and we are running out of time to get to Canada, you can see how the renovations that should’ve been a piece of cake are fraught with DRAMA.

“Grab it! GRAB IT,” screamed the Dude, who just seconds before had been talking to himself and the curtain bracket. How was I to know that his exclamations were directed at me and not the disobedient bracket that had failed earlier to grasp the rod?

“God damned pieces of shit! Retailers must believe that Americans want the cheapest shit available. Does anyone ever try their products?! What, the Chinese had these screws on sale this week? These don’t even fit this bracket!” Thus began a 10-minute rant lecture well-thought-out talk about American consumers, the state of our consumerism, the retail industry, and China.

“Hand me my keys,” said the Dude. I look around for keys. “Did you hear me!” asked the Dude when I don’t answer quickly enough. “Do you see the blinds that go in the kitchen,” asks the Dude. “Yes,” I swiftly and decisively answer. “Stop, stop! You said it too quickly. I thought we had a bad connection,” said the Dude, sans irony. (Y’all, excuse me for a few moments, won’t you? I have to go and find my eyeballs. I think they rolled under the couch.)

And so I sit here, writing this, waiting for the Dude to get back from Lowe’s, wondering what today will bring. Will it be easy and the last curtain set goes up easily, or will it be another diatribe on the lack of quality in our products these days, or perhaps I’ll get snapped at. Yet again.

I’ll let you know how it goes.

I Don’t Think That We Will EVER Actually “Hit The Road.”

We are sitting at a Freightliner shop…Hold up, check that, we are DYING IN THE HEAT at a Freightliner shop in Montgomery, Alabama…waiting for some mechanics to do whatever it is they need to do to get the Phaeton working properly so that we may actually leave the south to get to Canada. “What? ‘Alabama,’ you say? ‘Canada? Phaeton?’ Who the? What the?”

Note: I was going to erase the following rant but this is the stuff that goes through my head when I fight with the Dude. Or get my feelings hurt, and they get hurt easily. Too easily, and I know that. I am traveling in  a relatively small home with a dude and three animals and we ALL get on each others’ nerves occasionally. You can keep your sense of humor for a long time but sometimes you lose it, and then you lose it! Anyway, it would be disingenuous of me to pretend that this travelin’ life is a beautiful picnic all of the time. It has its bumps just like life in a static place. Remember, I was mad when I wrote this so don’t judge the Dude.

<rant> OK, I’m going to go off on a tangent here. This next stuff has absolutely nothing to do with travels. I’d like to know whose blog this is. No, really, whose is it? Why, I do believe it’s MINE, which means I can write about what I want to but I have a partner who only wants me to write about the topics he cares about and can’t find anything nice to say about the topics he doesn’t like. He read my last posting, the ONE-OFF on Texas, and this is what I got: “Nice blog about Texas. I thought this was supposed to be about your travels.” What the fuck? I’m not even going to tell him when I update anymore because he can’t even be assed to care unless he chooses the subject. You know, if he doesn’t care, why the fuck should a random stranger care? I get it, he hates Texas but this is something I wrote. If I make something to eat that he doesn’t like he at least has the decency to appreciate the effort. The last few entries have garnered nothing but derision from him. “Well, you’re not writing it for me.” You’re right, Dude, I’m not, but being a dick about my creative output because it’s not what you want to read is a shit-heel move. <sarcasm>Makes me just super motivated to write more.</sarcasm>

Seriously, what is a personal blog? Isn’t about you and what you’re doing and what’s on your mind? Doesn’t it make sense that traveling around the country might make you appreciate stuff that you miss? OH, oh, and if I ever say that I miss [whatever] I get attitude and phrases like, “Well, you can just go back there,” or “Why the fuck did we buy an RV?” Like he takes it as a personal affront that I would miss the few friends I had in Philly or would want to see my friends in Texas. Just because we are traveling doesn’t negate or erase the past. Just because I miss [whatever] doesn’t mean that I don’t want to see and experience the future. Missing one thing does not mean I want to move back to wherever. I miss my friend, Liga, but I don’t want to move back to Philly. I miss going to A&M football games but that doesn’t mean I want to move back to College Station. Appreciating where you came from and what was there does not mean I don’t want to see other stuff. I mean, I like Philly cheesesteaks but I’d like to try other regional foods, which you can only experience by traveling. I might find something/someplace else that I will miss BUT IT DOESN’T MEAN I WANT TO STAY THERE.

And wouldn’t traveling around bring up all kinds of emotions? This is a journey and you learn things about yourself and have emotions you’ve never had before.  And that Texas post was titled as a ONE-OFF. And THIS post was supposed to be about what has been happening since the NuRVers gathering but I’ll be damned if I tell him that this is about traveling. Fuck that.

And, and, is it wrong to want and expect the person closest to you to LIKE your output, even if it isn’t his cup of tea? Hey, Dude, I don’t know fuck all about electrical stuff and RV mechanics but I tell you all the time how much I appreciate all you do and how much I appreciate the effort it takes you to do it. I don’t say, “Nice, but I couldn’t care less.” “Nice, but so? Means nothing to me.” “Nice, but I hate mechanical shit.” “Nice. And?” See, sounds shitty, doesn’t it?

He couldn’t be bothered to say, “Well, Texas isn’t my favorite anymore but that paragraph about the fair was fun,” or “You know, I don’t like Texas but that makes me miss some of the good stuff.” Hey, Dude, did your dad treat you like that and make you feel bad about your creations, because this sounds familiar to the shit he did to you.

Anyway, it’s stuff like that that makes me less inclined to write. I made something that I put my heart into and worked hard at and the person closest to me couldn’t care less. But that’s not supposed to hurt, I guess.</rant>

And now, back to our regularly scheduled program called, I Don’t Think We Will EVER Actually “Hit the Road.”

So after practically dying in the heat at the Freightliner place we got back to our latest RV park, which is in Montgomery, Alabama, which, uhm, is not so great. We are in not the nicest area and it’s pretty sketchy here. This a huge change after Daphne and Fairhope. (It’ll make sense in a minute.)

After the gathering in Gonzales (TEXAS), we traveled to Dallas (oops, there’s Texas again…sorry, Dude) to see some friends and family. (Correction, MY friends and family.) The lovely and talented, DeAnn, braved having dinner with my mom, brother, his girlfriend, and my nephew, and she drove to Rockwall to do it. DeAnn is over there > in the blogroll. She’s the photographer (Big Tex stuff–whoops, there’s that Texas again. Funny how living there for quite a while makes some memories that get talked about occasionally. My apologies, Dude.) and all-around groovy chick I mention sometimes. I have known her since 1995. We met at Saturn of Mesquite (RIP). I sold cars for a while (!) and she keeps the place from falling apart, and knows where the bodies are buried, if you get my meaning.

Anyway, after we left the-State-That-Shall-Not-Be-Mentioned we drove to Daphne, Alabama to look at a Phaeton. The Dude had been in contact with a car dealer about trading the Winnebago for the Phaeton, pretty much a “mine for yours” sort of deal. It took us only a day to get to Daphne (traveling the god-awful roads of Louisiana yet again) and we got to the dealership after it was closed and we took a look at the Phaeton.

After that we drove a few more miles to Fairhope, which is just a beautiful little town, to the Coastal Haven RV Park. We had planned to only be there for a couple of days, just long enough to (possibly) trade the Chieftain and move into the Phaeton but (dun dun DUN) that’s not exactly how it worked out.

The actual deal was made in a day but moving from one coach to another is HARD. You’d think it would be easy. You just park next to the new coach, walk your stuff from one to the other, and done. But no. Huh uh. You are talking about moving from two sets of closets to one closet. From one chest of drawers to no chest. From one set of cabinets to an entirely new set of cabinets. From one fridge to another that is set up completely different. Not an easy thing.

AND, the Phaeton didn’t have a TV worth a damn nor a satellite dish and the speakers didn’t work right, and the tires were shot, and the AC crapped out, and the ice maker didn’t work, and, and, and. (Now, when we finally left LazyDays way back in, what, November (?), the Dude had to make pretty much all the same repairs and add-ons to the Chieftain that he was having to make yet again to the Phaeton so I have been instructed to smack him if he decides he wants to make a change to another coach in the next year. I might smack him anyway just because.)

So we were in Fairhope for about three weeks and although we didn’t do any sight-seeing we did manage to befriend a cutie calico who I named Hope and get her fixed and possibly adopted. I took her to Eastern Shore Pet Hospital, which is active in TNR and they gave us a discounted price on Hope’s spaying. We ended up not taking the discount and giving them a donation on account of the fact that they kept Hope to find her a home. She was soo friendly and soo pretty that they kept her even though they said they didn’t have room. I didn’t get a pic of her. Boo.

The Dude also found a blackberry patch on the edge of the RV park and picked so many berries that we had pie and cobbler a lot. Apparently blackberries just grow all over Alabama because the park we’re at now has them everywhere. Excellent! (The Dude had to do all of the picking because you know, spiders.)

So, after all the work on the Phaeton at Coastal Haven, the Dude gets brand-spanking new tires put on and we drive to Montgomery only to wake up with a flat because the mentally feeble at the tire store put the wrong size stems or something on the tires. And those same idjits didn’t attach the hubcaps properly so one blew off on the highway. Deeeelightful!

The Dude was able to air up the flat so that we could drive over to Freightliner and the tire store, and here we are now, sitting at the sketchiest RV park we’ve been to, waiting for some more parts so that we might, might, just might actually “hit the road” by next Wednesday so that we can get to Canada so that the Dude can teach a couple of classes. We will be seeing Calgary (missing out on the Stampede, though) and Vancouver!!! Yay, I loved the couple of days I had there for the Olympics so it’ll be great to see more of it.

And since we’re not seeing anything other than the RV park I might have to write about something in the past, write about something I know, and that might include something about, oh, I don’t know, TEXAS!

But hey, it’s my blog, right?

Enfermedad de Key West, Parte Dos

The third time is supposed to be the charm, right?

Our plan was to ride the trolley around Key West, getting off at the touristy spots, already conveniently marked as stops. The only place not an actual stop on the tour was the Key West cemetery, but considering that Key West is only four miles long and two miles wide walking to the cemetery wasn’t a big deal.


We got on the trolley around 12:30 and rode one stop to Duval Street. We were headed to Salsa Loca, the restaurant owned by Nancy who is the women the Dude met on the plane out of Key West. We walked a couple of blocks to where google maps said it should be, but no, no Salsa Loca. I looked it up on my POS phone (The Dude got rid of our Blackberries so I was back to using a primitive form of communication. You know, no QWERTY, no aps, priiiimmmmiiitttiivvve, might as well be using a tin can and a piece of string or drums or smoke signals or a public phone.) and finally found the real address, 10 blocks away from where were. So, we turned around and walked right past our first trolley stop and then right past the next stop and down to the next stop, which was right at the corner we needed and had we stayed on the trolley we wouldn’t be almost an hour behind already. Oh well, it was a nice day.

I’m just going to tell you now that we never got back on the trolley so we spent over $70.00 to ride one stop. Just one. Makes our Universal Studios fiasco look like a goddamn bargain, don’t it?


We went in and looked for a place to sit and I almost stopped right by the door but rethought it and walked farther in. We started to sit down, noticed the pack of ferals, oops, children, so we moved back to the original table. A cute little dog strolled over and as I was petting her and trying to find an owner, the woman next to me asked if the dog was bothering me. I told her that no, the dog wasn’t bothering me. The dog’s name was Roxie and she belonged to the lady. Roxie wandered off and a few seconds later it occurred to me that the dog was so comfortable there probably because she spent a lot of time there and therefore the lady next to me was probably the owner. “Oh, excuse me. Are you the owner?” “Yes, Ah am.” Excellent!

I introduced myself and told her how I’d heard about her and her restaurant and then the Dude wandered up and they started visiting. Nancy is from Alabama and I don’t know how long she has been in Key West but her accent is still there. Always nice to hear someone who sounds familiar. Nancy is a real force of nature. Tiny with the energy of 10, she treats you like you’re a relative she hasn’t seen in 20 years. The kind of person you just instantly like and wish you could be friends with. Or at least go to her parties. Should you find yourself in the Keys, stop by Salsa Loca. Lots of vegetarian options, good salsa, cool owner. Margarita was pretty good too.

After lunch we walked a few blocks to the Hemingway Home.

I am ashamed to admit it but I’ve never read any Hemingway. I very familiar with his works and his legacy and his history but somehow actually reading one of his works? Hasn’t happened yet. I know, I know. Shame on me. Bad English major. No Master’s degree for you.

Yummy Beaches

Our tour guide sailed to Key West with his wife a few years ago for a vacation and just never left. (That’s his story and he’s sticking with it whether it’s true or not. Adds to the charm, I reckon.) He had a dangly earring, wore a captain’s hat, and carried a flask that he dipped into regularly. A peg leg would not have looked out of place.

He told us the story of the Hemingway Home and how the pool and the penny

came to be and how the polydactyly cats came to live there. I, of course, had to pet as many of the kitties as possible. The ticket taker told me that I couldn’t pick up a cat but whatever else might happen between the cat and me was up to the cat. Pft, like that’s any different from any other cat. “Hi, kitty. Can I pet you?” “Uhm, mebbe. Let’s wait and see, shall we?” But I, being the cat whisper, found kitties everywhere and only one was indifferent to my charms. Fucker.

Oh, just because I found it amusing, here is how the Hemingway Home got chandeliers. Seems that the second (He would have four.) Mrs. Hemingway, Pauline, was from a very rich family and was quite accustomed to the niceties of upper crust living and couldn’t handle the heinous monstrosities and assaults on her precious senses that were ceiling fans. She therefore had every ceiling fan removed and replaced with custom-made, hand-finished, blown-glass chandeliers. In a place that sees 90% humidity and 92 degree weather and in a house without central air. (Our tour guide hopes that Mrs. Hemingway is enjoying her time in Hades right now since he has to deal with her custom-made, hand-blown hell every summer.)

We finished up there and walked to Kermit’s Key Lime store so that I could get some of their lotion. (It is lovely. It smells great and doesn’t degrade into that weird rancid smell that most lotions do after an hour. You smell like lime zest all day. Yummy.)

We decided it was time to head to the cemetery and since the trolley didn’t stop there we had to hoof it. No biggie, little island. We passed by a wine shop on the way that I will get back to before we leave from our little slice of heaven in the ocean. They had, what, 30 different fruit wines and I got to sample a few of them and they are tasty. (Back off, wine snobs. You weren’t there. I worked in the liquor and wine business and you can trust me when I tell you that these weren’t Mogen David or Boone’s.)

It is now 5:00 and the cemetery is a few blocks away. Cool. The Dude had read about the cemetery and there were supposed to be some really beautiful headstones and a few funny epitaphs, like this: “I Told You I Was Sick.” The cemetery was one of the Musts for the Dude so I was happy to oblige. I get a kick out of cemeteries anyway.

We reached the gate at 5:15 and the sign said that it closed at 6:00. Awesome. Plenty of time to wander around. We go off in separate directions, looking for the funny and obscure but mostly found hard to read things. I did notice that many of the headstones had photos in them and I’d never seen that before. They don’t hold up well. They fade.

The Dude calls me at 5:30 and he walks to where I am, which is at the other end of the cemetery. We ask two guys if there is another way out and one says that there are gates along all sides. Great. We walk to one and it’s locked. We walk to another and it’s locked. We walk as far down the side as we can and all gates. Are. Locked. Nice, anonymous guy. Yeah, there were gates and I guess it was our fault for not specifying that we were looking for an open one.

Obviously we are going to have to leave from where we entered. We were walking that way anyway. We wander over to the gate. And it. Is. Locked. It’s only 5:45 but it’s locked. Shit. That can’t be good.

Well, what to do? Can I crawl under the gate? There is some space but alas, no. We already know that the other gates are locked. Can we go over the fence? Uhm, hell no. Eight feet tall and filled with pointy suicide. Or splatty suicide should the pointy fail at its task.

We climb up on a few of the, I don’t know, tombs (lots of above ground crypt things, like in New Orleans), looking for some way out of this predicament. Some people ride by on bikes. The Dude hollers to them that we’re locked in. Some people on bikes keep riding by. While laughing. Some people on bikes are assholes.

At this point you should know that I have very bad balance. I am completely deaf in my left ear and my balance is borked so the idea of climbing up and onto and over an 8-foot tall fence that could impale me or toss me off the other side is about as appealing as performing my own dentistry. Tell you what, why I don’t I just let you beat me with a stick and we’ll call it a day.

I’m about ready to cry because I don’t see any alternative than one or both of us having to scale that fence and even if his balance is fine the Dude isn’t exactly 20 years old anymore when suddenly? Our saviors appear out of nowhere. This handsome couple comes strolling up and offers assistance. They are appropriately amused at our situation but realize that we are really and truly stuck. (In case you should be in need of Saviors, here’s how you can recognize them: They are about 40 years old. He is about 6’4”, supremely confident, and wears khakis and a lightly pressed pink shirt with an unironic sweater thrown over his shoulders. Not kidding. He pulled off this look with ease. She is about 5’10”, super fit and super friendly, wears black shorts and a zippered black sweat shirt. It should be obvious but I’ll tell you anyway that they are fantastic looking.)

Male Savior (MS) coolly assesses the situation, walks to the fence, finds the lowest and most stable point and begins to instruct the Dude on what is about to go down. Let me point out that MS was not in the least bit pushy or bossy. He just seemed to know exactly what he was doing and that he had it covered and let’s do this and we didn’t question him at all. Female Savior (FS) was there to lend the moral support and back up MS and his actions. FS also told me that I would be fine (I was starting to cry.) and that MS really knew what he was doing. She sounded like he had experience at these kinds of situations but when and where would someone need rescuing from behind a fence?

As I am pondering rescue scenarios and just as the Dude was about to step on top of the fence, our third Savior rolled up. No, really, she was driving a Jeep. We’ll call her JS. I think you know why. JS pulled up, asked if there was anything she could do, and within a few seconds MS had reevaluated his options, had JS back the Jeep up to the fence and the Dude was up and over, courtesy of JS’s spare tire. Ta da!

But wait, now it’s my turn. Oh shit. I don’t think I can do this. I really don’t. Visions of impalement and broken limbs and shattered skulls are racing through my still intact brain, which is the way I’d like to keep it. But MS insists I can do this and that he won’t let me fall and the Dude is there to help also and FS assures me that this is a piece of cake and that MS really knows what he’s doing so I put my left foot on the top of the fence like MS says to and he holds it like he said he would and he’s holding my hand to keep my balance and I grab the Dude’s hand and put my right foot up on the fence and the Dude holds that and MS says to move my left foot while he’s still holding it to the top of the tire and even though I can’t see where I’m going MS guides my foot to the tire and holds my waist while the Dude helps me move my right foot to the Jeep’s bumper and then I’m on solid ground on solid footing outside the fence. Hmm, I’ll be damned.

We thank our Saviors profusely and I give JS a hug and she drives off in the night to rescue other people. (She was actually headed to her bartending job but hey, bartenders rescue people in a sense so I’m still right.) We visit with MS and FS for a few minutes and find out the reason MS was/is so awesome and knew what to do and kept a level head and was so confident: He’s a retired Federal Marshal. No shit. It’s true. We were rescued by the motherfuckin’ Feds and it didn’t involve handcuffs or jail time and for that I am extremely grateful.

It’s a Small World Where the Boys Are

Hey, welcome back! When last we met I said I’d tell you about what has happened since we left LazyDays. So, buckle up and get ready, ‘cause here we go.

Our first stop after finally leaving LazyDays was at Thousand Trails Orlando (TTO), which is actually located in Clermont, FL, and is about 30 minutes from DisneyWorld, Epcot, Universal Studios, etc.

Now, TTO was alright. We were there for about two weeks and during that time I shopped at the nicest Target you will ever see, got glasses, picked limes and lemons, played host to a turtle the size of a 15″ laptop for a few minutes,and saw Jesus. (Scary plastic Jesus, not the real Jesus I met at Sigel’s in Dallas. Ask nicely and I’ll tell you about her.)

We also went to Universal Studios and saw The Wizarding World of Harry Potter in its beginning stages. From the little that I could see, that is going to be amazing. I hope we come back through Orlando, just so I can see the finished product.

I didn’t really want to go to DisneyWorld or Epcot because I hated DisneyLAND (hated it as an adult but loved that shit as a child. “It’s a small world after all…”) and the whole Disney “fun” park thing doesn’t sound fun when you really look at it because it is overwhelmingly too, too much. And, jeebus. Have you tried to buy tickets to go there? It’s not like Six Flags where you just, you know, buy a ticket and walk in the gate. It’s option after option after option that makes you say either, “Fuck it. We’re not going,” or “Fuck it, Mickey. Here’s my card. Just tell me when to bend over so I’m a little prepared.”

About Universal Studios: I had been to the original version in LA two times and loved it. I think it was because I was on an actual studio set where we couldn’t go down certain “streets” because Desperate Housewives was filming or a movie was at a critical shot. I saw the town square where Back to the Future was filmed and the “London” streets where Austin Powers danced and the Psycho house. I was in a live version of “Fear Factor” (for about 5 minutes as I was the first to let go of the bar, plummeting to the ground).

Also, unlike other “amusement” parks, you can buy an adult beverage.  I cannot tell you how surprised I was to learn that not only could I buy a beer but I could buy a Guinness! A real Guinness! “And I don’t mean just like in no paper cup, I’m talking about a glass of beer.” At Six Fl…Universal Studios! Go Scientologists! Or atheists. Or whatever power decided alcohol was good at an amusement park.

Unfortunately, if Universal Studios Orlando is a working studio, they don’t tell you about it. It was all just rides based on movies. The rides were fun but I had to ride them all alone because? The Dude rode two rides, got motion sickness and had to go home. (One of the rides was the  Jimmy Neutron’s Nicktoon Blast!, which is the Universal Studios name for “the ride that makes your boyfriend yell out loud in front of children that his balls are bouncing off the seat.”

Well, whee. Wasn’t THAT fun? $69.00 per person = $34.50 per ride. I hardly think that was worth it. Although seeing the looks on the kids’ faces when the Dude hollered about his nuts was pretty funny.

Come to think of it, though, because he went home I was able to be a single rider and bypass all of the lines. Should you go to any theme parks that offer this option, take it. No, really. You can’t talk on rides anyway and unless you want to buy the overpriced, stupid “AHHHHHHHHHHHHH, JESUS CHRIST,*breathe*, AWWWWWWWWWWWWWWW!” picture of your screaming face next to another family member’s screaming face, it’s worth pretending you and everyone in your party is a single rider. Trust me. It is very satisfying to wave at all the sheeple, standing in line, as you are walking past them, get on the ride, have a great time, and wave at the same exact sheeple, still standing in line, on the way out. Peace out, bitches.

And peace out, Orlando aka Clermont. Off to Fort Lauderdale.

Our trip to Fort Lauderdale was pretty uneventful. Actually, I don’t really remember going there it was that calm. We stayed at Sunshine Holiday Resort about six miles from the beach. I looked around for anything resembling Where the Boys Are [A fabulous movie, BTW, and years ahead of its time as far as Merritt’s (Dolores Hart who twice starred with Elvis and then went on to become a nun) take on sex.] but that was a long time ago and although those beaches are still there that view is gone. Pity. Although a bunch of the motels are probably the same. They’ve been renovated but you cannot change the late 50s/early 60s architecture unless you tear it down. I’m glad no one did because I love that shit. Florida motels are the epitome of “motel.” Love!

Sunshine Holiday is wildly popular with the Quebecois. As you go along and look at the plates, it’s all, “Quebec, Quebec, Quebec, Quebec, Florida. Quebec, Quebec, Quebec, New York.” They all smoked Gauloises (for real), played petanque, sunbathed without sunblock, carried good wine to their parties, and dressed up just to walk the dogs or do the laundry. I wished we had stayed there longer than a week because I would’ve gone to every park party. “But, Her, you don’t speak French. You wouldn’t have understood them.” You’re right. Don’t give a shit. They were cool. Cooler than you. Cooler than me. Even their dogs were cool.

So, while in Fort Lauderdale, we discussed where to go next and when. While we were still in Philly, the Dude talked about how he really, really wanted to spend the winter in the Keys. I really wanted to spend the winter in Texas with my friends and family. But because of our late start getting out of LazyDays we missed our window of opportunity to drive to Texas before the winter set in so it was off to the Florida Keys!

Next: The Holiday Season–Keys Style

Leaving VA

October 10, 2009

Our next stop on the way to Florida was Florence, SC, where we would hook up with some friends for dinner. My choice, even though the Dude is vegetarian? South Carolina vinegar-based BBQ. After doing some research and asking our friends, the only choice was Roger’s (www.yelp.com/biz/rogers-barbeque-florence).

As a general rule I avoid all things “barbeque,” especially ketchup/tomato-brown sugar-molasses-based BBQ because I hate that sweet shit [Dickey’s (www.dickeys.com/index.aspx) is palatable because their sauce is not sweet.)] slathered all over a perfectly good piece of beef, and I don’t really like pork, and I cannot stand BBQed chicken, much less chicken on the bone on the grill, or chicken to begin with for that matter…so really I don’t like barbeque at all. But, since I’m a good foodie and not a food weenie (definition: Someone afraid to try a food/cuisine because he/she “might not like it”) and since we were driving through South Carolina and since part of this journey is to try regional foods, well, Carolina-style BBQ was up.

We met with our friends at Roger’s and I have to say that the vinegary mustardy sauce was great. Tangy but didn’t cover up the flavor of what it was on. Make sure you try their hot shredded BBQ beef. It is black pepper hot and if you are not prepared you will cough up a lung (also, don’t take a big whiff because that black pepper will get you that way too). The buffet was a gorgeous example of Southern foodways (www.southernfoodways.com) and a vegetarian’s nightmare with mac and cheese, squash casserole, hush puppies, fried chicken and fish, collard greens with ham, coleslaw, green beans (probably seasoned with ham), and cobblers, along with iced tea (of course it was sweet, what else?). (I think the Dude was able to eat the mac and cheese and coleslaw.) The tables had bottles of Trappey’s Peppers in Vinegar Good on 'most anything, which I love, and free refills on everything.

We visited for a couple of hours and then it was off to our stop for the night in Manning, SC. We stayed at another Holiday Inn Express but this one used to be a Motel 6 or Red Roof or something because it was obviously a refurb. I wonder if each HI Express is individually owned like a franchise because there were no goody bags for the fur kids and the toiletries, while the same brand, were lacking in quantity and type. For example, the HI Express in Stafford had face soap, bath soap, shampoo, conditioner, body lotion, a shower cap (does anyone use these anymore?), and had toothbrushes and toothpaste at the front counter (ours were “packed” in the truck, somewhere), but the HI Express in Manning had shampoo, lotion, and body soap. I went to the front desk to ask for conditioner (another thing that was still packed in the truck and therefore inaccessible) and the lady said they didn’t even carry it. So, maybe each hotel buys their extras and this owner was just cheap? Who knows.

The day was not too long and the visit with friends was nice and the Dude and I didn’t wish harm on each other even once. It was a good day.

Next installment? Finally, finally into Florida and Biketoberfest in Daytona.