By LEON YOUNGBLOOD
I like road trips after I finally get started, but the older I get, the more their appeal diminishes. Stuff happens, though, when you drive that brings you nearer to the “heartbeat of America,” or something like that, and you are edified and become a better person for it.
It’s sort of like the old Route 66 TV show, but my road adventures are cheap and “watered down”—a sort of Route 66 you’d get from a dollar store.
I travelled a lot over the holidays. I was in Oklahoma, then Texas, and then through all the states between Texas and Florida, the purpose being to visit family and friends. Here are some of the “adventures” I had—all pretty tame, when it comes right down to it—and some of the things I learned:
The weather was agreeable enough through Christmas. Christmas day, I was with the immediate family. We had made no real plans, and virtually no preparations, so Christmas dinner was at a Chinese buffet restaurant.
The place was not spectacular, but it served our purposes. They boasted about the half-dozen varieties of ice-cream from the “serve yourself” freezer. After the main course, I went and speculated on it; but when I read the handwritten bold-lettered notice, PLEASE DO NOT LICK THE SCOOP PUT IN WATER—well, what can I say.
I skipped dessert. If customers were licking the ice cream scoops, were they licking the hot and sour soup spoon, or the spoon from the fried rice, and every other dish, too? It was suggestive, to me, that they had put up a sign asking patrons to not lick the serving utensils.
My wife agreed and wished I had told her before I brought her bowl of “Cookies ‘n’ Cream.”
But it was Christmas Day, they were hard working people, and we left a generous tip. I reaffirmed to myself, though, look out for those Oriental buffets. They are as big a risk as eating at church “pot luck” dinners.
I waited until our miserably cold winter weather arrived to go to Florida to visit my Mom. That’s when I found out the heater had died in my old truck. I have a $20 “gentleman’s bet” that my dilapidated F-150 will make it to at least 350,000 miles before it has to be euthanized, but the heater died, and I was not certain of its passing until I began the 700+ mile trip.
I dressed for the freezing temperatures, though I needed thicker underwear. I took two dogs with me, and saw to it they were heavily blanketed. We lasted till about 10 p.m., when we gave up and hunted motel lodging in a small Louisiana town.
The first of only two choices would have cost over $100 a night, due to the pets. I did not want to contribute that much to the local economy for a few hours’ sleep while I thawed out. The clerk, a wonderful young lady, was sympathetic, and suggested I check out the other motel, and gave me directions.
I checked it out and ended up getting a room for the night. It was a “cash only” establishment in a seedy part of town, but I loved it! I would not have been at all surprised to hear drunken brawls or even gunshots in the night. My dogs and I stayed for $50, plus a $5 key deposit.
The lady who met me at the night window and took my money, and allowed my pets regardless of their “no pet” policy, was Hindu. She had immigrated from India, and had a few icons of her pagan faith in her office, but she treated me well.
I tried, by example, to share my faith by not engaging in any drunken brawls, firing any guns, sneaking in any prostitutes, and I had two fine, exemplary dogs who vouched for my moral character.
Checking out the next morning, she gave back the $5 key deposit. I gave it to her, saying, “This is for you. Thank you for your kindness, Ma’am, and may God bless.”
It’s odd, but we seemed to have a mutual respect and liking for each other. I hope to see her again someday, though it isn’t likely.
But I’m out of space. More, next week.
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