Shame on Me!
Coming home from work the day after this plan had hatched, I was still trying to wrap my mind around the extreme spontaneity that had became almost as foreign as my usual travel list. One thing that was certain: I looked white as a ghost and needed to catch some "flava" so as not to roast by absorbing unlimited sun and surf.
Stretched out in the backyard, I could reach out and touch a piece of my created Midwest paradise. There's no denying I've contracted chronic island fever; often terminal at times. The thought of beach whetted my appetite, but I remembered what the Texas coasts were like. When coming back inside, I wrote this potential journal description/overview exposing my spoiled beach snobbery all but shamelessly:
• Have you ever wanted apple pie and been stuck eatin' cherry? Chances are, you settled for what ever was served. Galveston was to be "my slice" tiding me over till the holidays in Bayahibe. It's like taking a lunch break while Christmas shopping and getting a hungering for pie. All they're still serving is Thanksgiving pumpkin...imploding inward from suckin' the life out of those preserved till Jesus come additives. So how bad do you want that pie?
Unavoidable Departure Screws & Blues
What is it about that last shift before leaving that always ends up being the roughest, toughest, busiest day you'll likely put in for the entire month...not even counting the fact you're mentally already checked-out? Surely there's others that can affirm the absolute torture during those final hours - whether anticipating a hot date for the night or long-earned vacation break.
I was coming off 11 days straight without time off and was all but delirious just wanting to break the hell out. Of course this turned out to be the first Friday night we'd had to work for the season, the largest of the groups running almost an hour behind, and our boss came up with a "this needs to be done" project. Thankfully, co-workers covered allowing me to slip out at 7:30 p.m. Raring to go, my travel partners were almost another 30-minutes late picking me up. Seems to be such is life...
Women can't talk and drive
There was no problem piling into the back seat and letting the ladies drive. Once turning off the Will Rogers Turnpike in Oklahoma, Highway 69 is our closest alternative heading for Texas. The key word is "highway"; passing through these little redneck towns that are nothing but speed traps cutting into travel time. Using cruise control was futile.
Fading off from the conversation, I must have gotten hypnotized from watching the speedometer going back and forth ever so slowly. However, speed zones weren't the only problem. The more Donna and Naomi talked and were into conversation, the slower they drove!
Under Major Construction
The SUV jerking and a rash of panicked instructions startled me from my brief nap. Still reclined, I peered up through the windows to see what looked like the set from some science fiction movie. North of Dallas where I-75 connects to I-635 which loops around the outer city, there's some major construction underway with a new interchange project entangling at least four towering lanes high! It was one of the most unnaturally bizarre things I've ever seen.
Wandering wonder of it all
Early Saturday morning, small talk broke out with the couple also waiting for campsite check-in. They were from San Marcos, Texas pulling one of those accommodating, deluxe "did we forget anything from home" trailers. They'd hoped to stay through the following 4th of July weekend, but camp was already totally reserved for the holiday.
We got to talkin'; told them we were from Missouri. He asked how long we planned on staying, and I indicated only one night cause everyone had to be back for work Monday morning. We exchanged "seriouslys" in ask/answer fashion; the guy asked again how long we planned on staying. I ran through our brief itinerary. Then he called his wife over and had me repeat it again. He asks, "well what part of Missouri?" as if a couple of more hundred miles would've made a difference...
Won't you be my Neighbor?
Campers are always so friendly in such a curious sort of way. Our first priority was finding a dry spot; the added bonus was campsites were vacant on both sides and remained that way. While setting up camp, I'd noticed the curtains move a couple of times from the large travel trailer a couple of spaces down.
Later when heading off to the beach, the lady down the block just happened to be coming towards me. She smiled and with southern drawl issued a warm greeting. I smiled back offering a "buenas tardes" figuring I'd clue her in, while also breaking her in slowly to what was on tap that night for at least the music...
Can You See Me Now? Cellular Postcards
To heck with buying postcards and stamps. Cellular phones instantly transmit that "look where I'm at and you're not" opportunity to gloat provided subject of envy has a model to receive pictures. And for those that don't, having to shout while explaining it's not static but tides pounding in the background works just as well.
Hot off the Grill
Part of our Go Ghetto plan had been to raid our refrigerators and pantries for items "cooler friendly" while filling without much effort. For dinner we had steaks, baked potatoes and beans. For breakfast, fresh mangos, papayas and peaches along with quesadillas from leftover steak, and breakfast burritos with cheese, scrambled eggs and grilled hot dogs.
Perhaps something different might have been nice for the occasion. Change the baked potato to rice, the hot dog to chorizo and that's the kind of stuff I usually eat anyway. Oh yeh, there was something different - loads of junk food you'd never find in my house. Well, except for the pork rinds / chicharrónes - the islands' popcorn.
A Tough Nut to Crack
No matter where you go or how you're getting there, it's always a boost to look out and see that first swaying, slender and fringed seductress of a palm tree hinting the tropical transport that waits ahead. Ours was a row of Ornamental Date palms around a car lot outside of Houston at dawn.
Since you're not allowed to bring back coconuts from the islands, I was on the hunt for a pair of rotten ones to plant for future palm trees. Along the way, I found King Jack, Majesty, Palmetto, Oriental Fan, and Sago Needle varieties, but there wasn't a coconut palm to be had on Galveston Island or within these Texas parts; only kinds transplanted by landscape companies. We kept passing their nurseries and storage lots. Looking out the window without even having chance to ask, I was told I couldn't buy one to strap across the roof...
Blast Off...with a detour
I'm a firm believer when it's time to go, it's time to go! But there was no sneaking passed the pair of exits pointing towards the NASA Space Center. I was outnumbered...by vote and cars trying to veer towards the exit lanes.
The 15-minute, northward drive off interstate was along the crappiest roads we encountered in the entire state of Texas! I'd told the girls to have cameras ready and I'd drive slow without inviting anyone to kiss the bumper. Turning left at the main entrance, there were assorted rockets just off the side. Trouble was a security check-point situated between us and small parking lot just beyond.
The military security guard, looking like he was filling some high school internship, insisted we go to the visitor's center and buy tickets for the trolley if we wanted closer viewing. His smile erased their quest for rocket shots. Pulling away, all they wanted was finding room to take the kid home, too! I offered swinging back around to catch a shot of them standing with the guard. Knowing I was serious enough to subject them to such foolishness was permission pass for heading back to the interstate.
Beverages vs. Pit Stops
There comes a certain point while making long-hauls when beverages sustaining coherence begin dictating too many bathroom breaks defeating purpose of rapid travel. Eagerly volunteering to drive the 669-miles home, concerted yawning after midnight was my cue for frequent intake which involved stopping for purchases while redepositing the last rounds.
Coffee has always been my faithful companion, but this was first time trying so-called Natural Super Energy Supplements. SoBe No Fear won over Red Bull simply because 16oz. cans were bigger. Also got my first taste of Pimp Juice to see what all the controversy was about. Don't know that I was impressed with either; likely because I'd been sippin' Mama Juana all weekend; the Dominican natural elixir.