Ten years ago next month I began to publish posts as my alter ego, The Red Man, our rescued Welsh Terrier whose paws walked a mile in my shoes with me for fifteen years. What began in jest with these first stories became the impetus for writing blogs for a decade in the 21st century. From March, 2010 – April, 2014 Red and I had adventures sometimes riding with family, sometimes riding alone in the old Dodge Dakota pickup for the thousand miles between Columbia, South Carolina and Montgomery, Texas. He named us, he claimed us, he made fun of us – but we knew he always loved us.
Red and Pretty in the front yard on Worsham Street
September 29, 2010
So…I’d like to say this is my very own original idea to have a blog, but it’s not. I spent this past weekend at a really cool place called Pet Paradise in Daytona Beach, Florida. I’m talking posh. Had its very own swimming pool for us guests. Inground just like the one at Bee Ridge which I’ll talk about later. Very big. Not that I care about water at all, since I’m a terrier. At any rate, I met this pit bull named Bruno who was in the run next to mine, and we had a lot of time to hang out. Would you believe the big fellow is a literary nut case and talked about getting things off his chest by writing and so I thought that I’d give it a whirl, too. I mean, I really have a lot to say, and I’ll make my peeps think twice about leaving me while they run off to a book convention, for God’s sake. Yessiree, I think I’m going to like this…
Angel’s Diner and the St. John’s River
So, the Peeps pick me up Sunday a.m. and I say adios to Bruno and the rest of the gang and I feel like a new dog! I mean, the Pet Paradise had its perks and all that, but I was ready to blow that popsicle stand! (Plus, I pee much better when I can pick my own spots, if you know what I mean.) I have no idea where we’re going, but I’ll figure that out later. Pretty, Pretty, Pretty is driving the truck and Slow, Getting Slower is the co-pilot studying the GPS and maps so I’ll just check out the scenery in Florida. Maybe catch a few zzzzz’s…that Pet Paradise was a noisy place…gosh, maybe that was me barking and carrying on…I had to announce my presence with authority, after all. Whatever.
We travel along at a pretty good clip on this back road for a while, and I’m thinking I’ll just settle in for the duration and PPP decides to stop in this town called Palatka. The Peeps are hungry, of course. Geez, as soon as they get in the truck, it’s like this gong sounds and they’re off to the food races. Potato chips, Doritos, candy bars, and Diet Cokes. Dear God, how many Diet Cokes can two women drink in the cab of a truck??? I’m serious. Let me count the cans. Sigh.
And, do they ever offer me any? Maybe a last morsel from an almost-empty bag. Now, I’m sure I’d share more than that if I were a Peep. Ha. Fat chance.
Anyway, back to Palatka. Nice enough town, I see. Oh, yeah, now this is what I’m talking about. Take a look at this ancient diner where we’re stopping for lunch. Shiny single wide trailer called Angel’s Diner. What’s that sign say? Open Since 1932 Wow – now that’s OLD! And the place is packed, too – I’m thinking good food here. Pretty tells Slow to get her a cheeseburger and fries while she takes me for a walk. I love walking with Pretty, and I’m always happy to take a break from the back seat of this truck.
Hey, what’s this? We’re walking right up to a very cool park on this BIG river. Picnic tables everywhere. Small boats on the water. Big trees in the park. Sun shining bright. Not too hot. Not too cool. Methinks I sense a touch of fall in the air. Or maybe that’s just me loving the good life walking with Pretty along the St. John’s River in Palatka and knowing for sure there’ll be delicious french fries left over from the Peeps at lunch. They NEVER eat all their fries.
OMG, I’m exhausted. Question: How long does it take to drive across the entire Florida Panhandle from east to west? Answer: An endless amount of time. No, I’m not kidding. Forever. Question: How cramped can you be in the cab of a 2004 Dodge Dakota pickup truck when it’s pouring rain and you have to cram countless boxes of books into the back seat to keep them dry and the Peeps take up almost the entire front seat of the cab and you have nowhere, I repeat, nowhere to stretch out? Answer: Unbelievably cramped. Horribly cramped. Like a can of sardines level cramped. Great planning on their part. And who has to pay the price? Moi.
Oh, and of course, who can forget the great fun we all had as we sang that memorable 60s hit Tallahassee Lassie when we drove through the land of the Florida State Seminoles? The Peeps usually can’t remember all the words to ANY songs, but, as luck would have it, they knew the words and the artist Freddie Something-or-Other and were so pleased with themselves that they sang it ad nauseum. All in all, a banner traveling day for me.
So, you see how happy I was to arrive in Daphne, Alabama, which is on the east side of Mobile. My accommodations at the La Quinta are perfect. Thank God for the La Quinta Inns, by the way. They LOVE having me stay with them. If you don’t believe me, just ask them. And, since the Peeps reached elite status, we receive the deluxe treatment in the discount motel industry. It has to do with points and all the nights that we stay with them or something like that. Whatever. We have a king size bed, a big screen tv and a jacuzzi and I’m hoping for sunshine tomorrow.
September 30, 2010
Well, I feel much better after a great night’s sleep at the bottom of a comfy king size bed, I can tell you! Had a brief walk around the grounds with Slow, Getting Slower and then waited for Pretty, Pretty, Pretty to take a shower and get all of our stuff together. Headed to the truck to crank it up for another day on the road…I see the boxes of books weren’t stolen during the night. Lucky us.
Pretty and Slow are in a much better mood today, I see. And, no, I really couldn’t tell you why, since I was dead to the world. Go figure…
Hey, what’s this? We’re driving up to the Mobile Regional Airport this a.m. Is somebody taking the Big Bird somewhere today?? I better be extra vigilant or these traveling Peeps will do something foolish! Aha. We’re coming in to the Rental Car entrance. Looks like somebody is taking the high road and somebody else is taking a low one. As usual, I’ll be the one in the middle.
So, Pretty went in and was gone for a while and Slow walked with me around the parking lot. Dull. They paved paradise, etc. Cement, cement, cement. As far as the eye can see. Boring. Oh, well. You piss where you can.
Now, Pretty is driving up in another regular looking car. Well, there go the boxes of books to that car, thank God. I swear that Pretty loves her some books. As far as I’m concerned, she can HAVE them…good riddance. Plus, she’s taking a suitcase, hanging bag of clothes and her trusty oversized pocket book. Just look at them hugging and kissing in front of me. They’re all mooney and everything. Looks like Pretty is heading north and east to South Carolina and Slow is going south and west to TEXAS, for heaven’s sake. No wonder Slow has been pouring over maps and fiddling obsessively with the GPS for the past couple of days. They were trying to make a plan to get to both places at the same time. Maybe they should try time travel. Hahaha. (I have to laugh at my own jokes sometimes.)
I ended up with Slow in the pickup truck headed to Texas. It’s not so bad with half the stuff gone. I’m riding in the front seat where I, of course, SHOULD be riding. My view is much better, and I like to stand in the seat with my nose in the air condtioning vents. Honestly, this old thing doesn’t have the best a/c any more, especially since it’ll have a hundred thousand miles on it after this trip. So, I need to get the coolest air I can find, and if it means standing, well, then, I’ll just stand. At least, the sun’s shining today.
October 02, 2010
Ok. So me and Slow were “Welcomed to Mississippi” not too long after we left Pretty as she made a left turn and we turned right. I could see Slow was going to mope around the rest of the trip, and God knows how long it would take to get to Texas. I decided to focus on the scenery and try to ignore Slow and her ridiculous mooning over Pretty. Slow always acts like it’s the End of the World when Pretty isn’t around. Get a life, will you.
Mississippi was a blur – a blip on the radar screen. I mean, it’s Biloxi, casinos, billboards and I’m talking HUGE billboards, UGLY billboards, a big bridge and Presto! Now, we’re equally welcomed to Louisiana. How nice. I thrive on southern hospitality. However, I’m now thinking we need to take a little break so I steal a glance at Slow, who appears to be in a trance-like state with some goal that precludes stopping for a piss. Curses. Foiled again. Pretty always likes to stop.
Baton Rouge, home of the LSU Tigers and a very large stadium to accommodate all those SEC football games and screaming fans. Anybody want to stop in Baton Rouge and look around? Evidently not. I know. I’ve got an idea. Why don’t we just drive ’til we run out of gas? Heh, heh. Now, that’ll never happen with Slow, old Safety First Slow. Sure enough, she’s pulling over now at this El Cheapo station. Not much greenery around, I see. Oh, well. You take what you can get.
And we’re off. I know I feel better about life in general after a nice potty break. Full tank of gas, and we’re pointed west. Hmmm….what’s this new view? We’re riding over the longest, flattest bridges I’ve ever seen. Oh, what is this called? We’ve been on it a dozen times, and I can’t think of the name. Actually, I like this part of the drive. The highway is surrounded by water with floating crud covering most of it and small bare tree trunks poking up out of it. It’s like some kind of swamp. I can’t see those horrible creatures that would eat me, but I know they’re there.
Swamp!! That’s it…the Atchafalaya Swamp. I knew I’d remember that name if I thought about it for a while. Who’s surprised that I can spell that name?? I really like it. It’s the only part of Louisiana that grabs me. When we drive the top parts of the states, Mississippi and Alabama have beautiful scenery. In Louisiana, however, only the lower part interests me slightly. But, being a terrier, I’m just not one for the coast drives. All this water makes me a little nervous, to tell you the truth. I mean, how old ARE these bridges really?? Infrastructure crumbling around us…could they mean THESE bridges? I shudder to think.
Aha. The highlight of the Swamp. Leaving it. We’re almost to Lafayette, and I’m sure we’ll stop at Boudin’s for the fried shrimp basket. Slow and Pretty LOVE the food at Boudin’s. Yep. I see the exit and the sign, and Slow’s spirits appear to be brighter. I’m thinking I’ll be having leftover french fries for lunch today.
October 03, 2010
I Knew We’d Make It!
Well, the french fries at Boudin’s were as good as I remembered from the last visit, and I had a great walk around Landrys, the seafood restaurant for interstate tourists. It’s right next door to Boudin’s, but the clientele is very different. Slow and Pretty and the local Cajuns patronize Boudin’s, and the I-10 travelers eat at Landry’s. Slow was so pleased with her fried shrimp and catfish that she called Pretty to make her jealous. Pretty WAS jealous, since she hadn’t had any lunch at all. Honestly, you’d think they hadn’t talked in forever. Chit-chat, chit-chat, chit-chat.
I, on the other hand, was more interested in stretching my legs in the green grass surrounding Landry’s, and Slow let me lead the way in exploring the grassy areas and the old Amish furniture store that was now a ghost building with all the windows boarded up. Hand made furniture, the faded sign said. Sigh…I hope they just moved to another place. I try to be optimistic.
Hmmm…I smell something familiar around here. Yes, I definitely recognize that scent: cat. C-A-T. No getting around that odor. Maybe I could track it down, but is it really worth it in the end? So, you find it. Then what? I bark. The cat hisses. Blah. Blah. Blah. Big deal. I’ll leave that for another day. We’ve got to keep driving.
Lafayette…Lake Charles. Say goodbye to Louisiana and Welcome to Texas, where it’s only 895 miles to El Paso, according to the last sign. Are you kidding me?? Thank God I’m not going to El Paso. This is one BIG state! It’s as far to El Paso as it is to South Carolina. Whatever.
We drove through Beaumont and left the interstate for Texas Highway 105. I’m surprised we didn’t stop to see Slow’s favorite aunt. She must really be worried it’s going to get dark before we make Montgomery or she definitely would have stopped in Beaumont. Hey, Aunt Lucille – sorry we couldn’t visit, but we’re on a mission right now. The end is in sight, and Slow has the pedal to the metal in this rattletrap.
Highway 105 is interesting for me, but it’s pretty busy today, and it’s getting late. It seems like we’ve been driving forever, and I am so BORED. Help!! Can Anyone Get Me Out of This Boring Truck????
Slow made one last potty stop for me in some little place called Moss Hill. The Moss Hill Assembly of God Church parking lot. Swell. Typical for her to pick a church parking lot to stop. Unimaginative. Ho. Hum. I’ll do my best to find something suitable to piss on in a God-forsaken parking lot. Now, what’s she doing? Oh, for goodness’ sake. She’s actually taking a picture of me sitting in the truck with that ridiculous cell phone camera. She gets really goofy about taking pictures with that tiny phone. I’m not in the mood at the moment.
Cleveland…Conroe. Eleven miles to Montgomery, the sign just said. Only a few minutes more…
We made it! I’m in the yard at our house, and I’m LOVING it! Yippeeeeeeeeee!!!! I think I’ll bark a few times just to let everybody know I’m back! Hallelujah – I’ve been set free again!!