Tuesday, August 25, 2009

"Oh By The Way"

Deb cringes anytime I start a conversation with "Oh By The Way" - Dunno why.

I have a project coming up in South Florida soon. Late this past Friday afternoon I decided to make a quick trip on Monday to check things out in person. Too many questions. Too much design guesswork & I needed answers. Unfortunately, I didn't think much about work once I left the office. Late Saturday, as my mind drifted into "idea mode", I hit Deb with "Oh By The Way", I gotta go check somethin' out. Wanna go with me on a quick road trip? C'mon let's pack a bag & get goin'." (I came up with 300 reasons why this was a totally brilliant idea. I keep a Rolodex of these things handy & Deb, after all these years, already knows I'm an impulsive, but good-natured, nutcase.)

Took about an hour to get everything ready to roll. No big deal. Really. (Hint: I don't do the packing.) I did collect the mail.

We jumped onto I-95, set the cruise control, shut off the cell phone & chatted our way south. Everything was going along swimmingly - 'til the A/C blitzed out.

Me - "Oh well, no big deal. Can't get it fixed on the weekend anyway so we'll hafta put the windows down."
Deb - "What about my hair?"
Me - "Put a hat on. I got a new Nike hat in the back seat."
Deb - "I'm not wearin' a stupid baseball hat."
Me - "Gonna be awfully hot. Already 92 degrees. Hey - is that sweat on your upper lip?" (Quickly pointed to the thingy that shows outside temp, direction & (gulp) gas mileage, while handing her the dark blue hat. The sweat comment clearly didn't have the desired effect.)
Deb - (Somewhat disgustedly) "This doesn't even match." (Duh. Pastels just ain't me.)
Me - (sigh) "Gonna be awfully hot. Up to 93 now. Still have 2 hours to go." I reach for the window button.
Deb - (Grumbling) "Okay okay, but don't put the windows down 'til I fix my hair & get this stupid hat on."
Me - "Fix your hair? Uh.... Never mind. Just tell me when. I can drip for a little while longer."

It only took 5 minutes for Deb to find the whatchamacallit for tying her hair back, fishing the "pony tail" through the hat & getting it placed just right. No big deal. Nothin' a coupla quarts of Gatorade couldn't fix, though the thought of an IV did cross my mind.

Finally, we cruised into Boca Raton to find our hotel.

We pulled into a small park along the intracoastal waterway so Deb could take some pictures. While she snapped away, I opened the hood & pretended to be looking for the A/C problem. (Like I could EVEN figure that out.) 10 minutes later, we were on the road again..... & the A/C was miraculously working.
Deb - "You fixed the air conditioning!"
Me - "Yep!"
Deb - "But how?"
Me - "Oh, I don't wanna go explainin' all that technical stuff - it's all kinda complicated. You know, all those hoses n' wires n' stuff." (I won't seem so heroic after Deb reads this, but, it was really cool being THE MAN.)

BTW - Nice back yards huh???

On the way home we cruised A1A. I blogged about A1A a few months back (go look it up!). If we stay on that road, it'll take us home, though we'd have to cross lots of bridges & causeways. The speed limits also tend to be annoying - no match for my driving style. This is Palm Beach. Big houses. Big money. Puny waves.

Wonder why they call it Palm Beach? Could it be the trees? Hope the bug guts don't show up in this picture. Tough doin' that windshield photography stuff while drivin', drinkin' Starbucks coffee, & talkin' on the phone. (Just kiddin' - Deb takes the pics for this blog.)

The highlight of our latest 'road trip' was a visit to Sebastian Inlet. The last time I visited this place I was 12 years old & I spent a whole week of my young life fishing & shrimping with my dad. That trip ranks as one of my top 10 childhood memories. [It was an emotional kind of visit - my dad passed away 6 years ago almost to the day of this trip.] But forget the nostalgic meanderings of an old guy - This place is awesome. Deb just about overloaded the memory card. Good thing she always carries more than one camera.

Now anyone that reads my stuff knows that the kids in my book(s) are surfers. Like these kids.

Ever see such a crowded beach?

Can't wait 'til my grandson Jack does this stuff. (Uh, my real-life grandson.)

He could get started now. Like this little guy. I could teach 'im in about 2 hours.

This lil' squirt went all the way out into the big surf with the older kids. Couldn't catch him riding - the light was fading.

When the scenery turned ugly - we headed for home. I don't know what these are, but they're ugly. Don't these birds make ya feel like eatin' a Vlasic Pickle?

Saturday, August 1, 2009

The Georgia Drive

I spent last week in Atlanta - drove up Sunday & back Friday night. My first sign of trouble was at the rental car counter. I'd reserved a full size vehicle. They gave me a Hyundai Sonata. "Uh... where's the rest of it?" says me. "That's all we've got!" Grudgingly I drove off in the Sonata. Thirty miles later I called the rental company thinking maybe I could dump it for something better once I reached Atlanta.

Me: "I need to swap cars in Atlanta - this one's not working out for me."

Rental dude: "What's the problem?"

Me: Uh... It shimmies between 92 & 94 mph."

Rental dude: "I suggest you slow down then. Have a nice day sir." Click

Okay - So it's me n' the Hyundai. I'd manage for a week.

Crossed into Georgia via I 75 & everything changed. A whole new Interstate kind of world. The first oddity - 3 separate pick-up trucks, all towing large wagons overflowing with watermelons, broken down on the shoulder. Maybe that doesn't sound particularly odd, but these were separate breakdowns - spread a mile or two apart.

Next surprise - Georgia must have a law that no portion of the Interstate can be left without orange barrels, concrete barricades & at least one piece of rusted construction equipment (with weeds growin' through 'em!) for any stretch longer than seven miles. Naturally the speed limit drops to TURTLE RACE. State Troopers are only too happy to double the fine - 'cause it's a construction zone dontchyaknow.

Finally - THE SIGNS. Billboards every thirty yards. Like reading one of those old-time flip comics that made the characters appear to be moving. It was easy enough to read 'em all, I was in a construction zone most of the time for cryin' out loud.

I'll admit, many of the signs, were confusing & Mapquest was no help. I should have anticipated this when Mapquest kept leaving off parts of the directions with purple question marks.

Seriously - would you figure this out in your own?

How 'bout this one?

How's your confidence holdin' up with this one?

Local kids & their families must have it tough....

Here's why they hafta run....

At least they post warnings for outta towners like me....

There's no shortage of informational signs tellin' evryone about places to eat n' sleep - lots of extended stay kinda stuff....

This sign makes my top TEN!!!

Seriously - The people in Georgia couldn't have been friendlier & the Sonata only shimmied in Florida (Hah!). For my friend Ronnie in Georgia (As Larry The Cable Guy would say) RONNIE - I apologize for this post & bless them starvin' lil' fellers in New Guinea. Amen.