I’m not really a Willie Nelson fan, but I hear his voice in my head every time I use those words.
So my boss has a pickup truck in Maine that he’d really like to have in Florida. I have a bunch of stuff in Maine that needs to go to Florida. Hmm… There might be a way to combine these two things into a useful expedition.
Let me just say that driving from Maine to Florida alone is not a whole lot of fun. Doing it with somebody else could either be a bonding experience or the end of a friendship – I guess it would be a defining moment in any relationship. It is a bit liberating to do it by yourself – left to the whims of your stamina, your stomach, and your bladder. A Tour de Force of Rest Stops of the Eastern Seaboard (check the non-fiction downloads on Amazon in the near future). I’m kidding. (mostly) I am thankful, however, that I do not possess any sort of phobia related to public restrooms.
On a related note, I did get to live out one of my worst nightmares. Let’s say a guy is driving for long hours on the highway, and the waistband of his jeans begins to bind in a very uncomfortable way. Maybe he would unbutton his jeans in the interest of comfort, seeing as how he’s sitting there for hours and hours – nobody will even see that the top button of his jeans is undone. It’s not like he’s exposing himself or anything. Let’s further assume that this same guy drove for several hours in this state, drifting further and further into a sort of grey zone where the miles slide by and time passes without notice. Eventually, this guy is made aware of a certain biological imperative, and he pulls into a crowded rest area on I-95 in Georgia to take care of a pressing need that now takes up much of his consciousness.
That guy might just find himself standing in a very crowded parking lot with his unbuttoned jeans suddenly down around his knees. Very much like that dream where you find yourself at school without the benefit of pants. That experience might not be nearly as humiliating as you’ve built it up to be in your mind.
Anyway, there were some other highlights of the trip that were of a slightly less personal nature:
I observed a tractor-trailer driving blithely along with the trailer fully engulfed in flames.
New Jersey smells exactly like it did when I left it in 2003.
If you happen to live in Connecticut – I’m sorry.
It’s just my opinion, but I think it should be a lot harder to find the headquarters of the NSA. A sign stating “NSA Entrance 1 Mile” is a bit obvious. The one on the exit ramp that says “NSA – Employees Only” was quite humorous. Is there a separate entrance for tour groups?
It was late morning on the second day when I crossed the Florida border. I decided to stop for gas and an early lunch. I took the first promising exit that mentioned gas, and found myself at a gas station/truck stop/Subway/Florida visitor information center. I thought the combination was a bit strange, but I went in anyway. I was not prepared. Not at all.
I quickly realized that I was the only non-employee in the entire building who was not wearing at least one article of camouflage. This includes women, children, and infants. Employees were dressed more professionally – some with highlights of blaze orange. I assume this was so those dressed in camouflage didn’t mistake them for game and shoot them. I’m not sure, since despite living in Maine I’m not part of this demographic. Maine tends more toward flannel than camo.
After ordering my sandwich, I passed by the Visitor Information Center on my way out. This seemed to consist of a low-walled area occupied by three young women with name tags who were involved in an animated conversation amongst themselves. I think there were a few Visitors seeking Information, but they weren’t getting much attention. What got my attention was the prominent display of shellacked baby alligator heads.
Baby. Alligator. Heads. Just the heads – jaws wide open in that threatening way all baby alligators have. You know the one. Surely you’ve seen the Animal Planet documentaries with armies of baby alligators storming the neighborhoods.
Welcome to Florida! We have dead things! Why not buy one! Nature!
There was also a big sign that said “DO NOT TOUCH!!!!!” Don’t worry – that’s not going to be a problem. This is not something I want to proudly display on my coffee table. I don’t even want to use it as a doorstop. If I ever need to furnish a nightmare, I’ll come back and see you.
As far as I can tell from roadside advertising, the entire central portion of the state is devoted to three things: Citrus fruit, fireworks, and personal injury lawyers. I spent far too much time thinking about the ways in which these three things could come together in glorious failure. Stuffing grapefruit with pyrotechnics; blasting oranges out of trees; exploding lawyers.
I think I’m going to have fun here.