We recently returned from one of our longest vacations ever (8 days) which involved driving half-way across the country:
On day 1, we checked into our hotel. The hotel clerk handed me the key along with a typed note detailing the high crime in the area and advising us to not leave anything in our car. We carried everything into the room then locked ourselves inside until dawn.
Actually we did go out for dinner and enjoyed a pleasant evening on a deck overlooking the river where 2 guys sang and played guitars. One guy performed while he smoked a cigarette. When he played, he held the cigarette in his mouth, and when he sang he strummed the guitar with the cigarette in his fingers. America’s got talent.
On day 2, we struggled driving through massive storms in Arkansas which eventually brought traffic to a halt. St. Pauli Girl doesn’t like to sit still and told me she was going to drive the car down a steep embankment, through the grassy median to the other side of the interstate where we could then plan an alternate route. Luckily traffic started moving before she could proceed with her plan. Later when traffic stopped again, she gunned the car through a construction area and did a U-turn on the interstate.
Day Two’s Lesson: Never order “Fish and Chips” at a truck stop. Unless you grew up in the 70’s and loved fish sticks.
We finally made it all the way to Memphis where of course we had to go to Graceland. They provide you with a set of headphones for your own personal audio walking tour. The narrator pointed out that flash photography is not allowed in the mansion. The bus driver reiterated this warning, followed by additional warnings from tour guides as we got off the bus and just before we entered the mansion. Within 30 seconds of entering the mansion, flashes started going off. But the cool thing was that activated a hidden, pre-recorded, booming voice in the house which once again advised against flash photography. A less sophisticated person would think it was Elvis’ voice from beyond the grave. But more than likely, it was the Colonel’s.
That night we actually had a great time on Beale Street which I expected to be a big tourist trap. We stumbled onto the Brandon Santini Band which I highly recommend to anyone who enjoys great music. At one point, St. Pauli Girl asked me to get her a chardonnay in this sketchy blues club which specialized in Pabst Blue Ribbon in Big Gulp cups. “If I do that, they might kick my ass,” I told her.
I finally went up to the bar and told the bartender loudly, “PBR in the big cup,” then whispered while shrugging and rolling my eyes, “and a chardonnay for the little lady.” I successfully came back with drinks to the table and no fisticuffs.
We arrived in Cincinnati where my brother had set up golf tee-times at his exclusive country club. Of course it rained, and we had to cancel. I accused my brother of never having ever belonged to even the local putt-putt course as this was the third time we had been rained out at playing at one of his “exclusive” clubs. The scary thing is this means my brother can control the weather.
Day 5: Duck Fat French Fries!
I confess that I love a good wedding. It’s just one of those great, feel-good celebrations where everyone is joyous except for those involved in the planning and those that get their car dinged in the church parking lot. A great wedding needs three things:
1. Alcohol (a cash bar is fine)
2. Heavy hors d'oeuvres (or full sit-down dinner)
3. Dancing (including at least 2 or 3 polka songs)
(optional) A fight and/or wardrobe malfunction between women trying to catch the bridal bouquet
Luckily this wedding had all three and then some! But the wedding and our entire trip was almost ruined when the DJ cut off “Kung Fu Fighting” in the middle of the song. He should probably have his license revoked. So really, the full-length version of “Kung Fu Fighting” is the fourth thing a great wedding needs. And it must be the Carl Douglas version. But if you don't have music then a real kung fu fight is also acceptable.
On our way home, we stopped at a hotel and asked for a non-smoking room. We received a room where the ashtray had been turned upside down. (And if you guessed Arkansas, you win a free lifetime membership to this blog.)