Tag Archives: travel

My GPS Wants Me Dead

hellThere is evil in the world. You don’t have to look too far to find it, actually. I only had to go as far as my own garage. All this time that I’ve been in love with my car (and I do love my car), it’s been quietly festering a hatred for me. And maybe it’s not the entire car that hates me, but for sure the GPS has a desire to see me dead. Recently, it came pretty close to getting its wish!

One night last week I went to a meeting near downtown Houston. I plugged the address into my GPS, believing naively that I’d take the most direct route to my destination. My GPS, however, thought we’d take some crazy joy ride through some weird side streets and loop around through a few neighborhoods before we got to the destination. Since I definitely had somewhere to be, I thought this wasn’t really the time for a nasty confrontation with my car, so I bit my tongue and followed directions.

That was my first mistake. My car now realized what a mushy pushover I could be. When I come out of this meeting, it’s late and dark. I tell the GPS to take me home because I’ve gotten so turned around getting to this place that I’m not completely sure how to get back out. That was my second mistake.

My GPS, hell-bent on taking me down the Trail of Transportation Terror, sends me through parts of Houston that only a truck-mounted automatic assault rifle would make me feel good in. The GPS told me to turn on streets I’d passed two blocks before, to go the wrong way on one-way streets, and to turn onto streets that didn’t even exist. My car had decided I’d suddenly developed a crystal meth habit and needed a dealer, that it was time to make a few bucks “the hard way,” or it just wanted me dead. Those were the only possible reasons it was doing this to me.

I finally made it home in one piece, and I’ve managed to forgive my car. We all have those moments when we go off the grid. But I’m smarter now. Not only do I own a paper map, but I can read it and fold it. Take that GPS! Now who wins?!

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Our First Holiday Without Him

tgivingThis Thanksgiving, I joined the countless other forgotten, unloved parents who raised ungrateful, thoughtless children who have the unthinkable audacity to grow up, go away to school, get lives of their own and forget to come home for major holidays. (Insert pathetic sob here.) That’s right, my college student did not spend Thanksgiving Day with us. I always knew one day he’d break our hearts. Instead of being here within the clawing grasp of our loving arms, he went to Toronto instead.

Despite pointing out that he’d have plenty of time to hang out with his friends and see the world after we were dead, he went off anyway. So we cried. Just a little. We can only have small crying fits as crying upsets the dog. And the dog is really old, probably just one upset away from the Rainbow Bridge. Not that it matters, because Buster is so old he probably doesn’t remember that we even have a rotten son. Unfortunately, the rest of us aren’t that old and will likely die of a broken heart long before we can get that old. Not that this matters to anyone in Toronto.

Oh sure, he tried to sort of make it better by coming home for a few days before his little adventure. This was probably an attempt to get us use to what the future holds for us: the days when he’ll speed past our nursing home and honk twice, too busy to actually stop in and wipe the Ensure® off our trembling chins. Never the less, we’ll still be telling the nursing staff what a good son he is in our thin, failing voice, the whole time hoping we haven’t been dumped in the next facility to be investigated by Channel 11 for health code violations.

Honestly, I blame myself. It was me, after all, that raised him to be independent, to jump on opportunity when he sees it, and to chase down every adventure. And I’m not too proud, though, to say I was wrong. Those were bad parenting decisions on my part. Therefore, I think it’s now on him to realize that, forget that whole independent thing, and be home with me every chance he gets. There are millions of kids still living at home with mom, refusing to be launched! Why, oh why, did I get the one that won’t land?! (Insert big sigh here.)

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Texas v Colorado

Flag-Pins-Texas-ColoradoI’m a firm believer that everyone should travel. You learn a lot about other places and people, and then you really appreciate what you’ve got when you get back home. Go ahead and hop in the car for a road trip past the state line (which, if you live in Texas, will take you a couple of days to reach – yeehaw Texas)! Personally, I just spent a bit of time outside of this great State and was amazed at how odd some of our nearby neighbors can be. Let’s take a look at Colorado, for example.

First of all, Open Carry has a completely different meaning there. In Texas, we’re all packing. But we’re packing a weapon that, until recently, was concealed and now is proudly slung on the hip John Wayne style. In Colorado, they’re packing spray. Bear spray. Because in Colorado, you’re going to get eaten by bears not gators and probably trampled by moose instead of bulls. And just so you know, bear spray is not applied the same way that mosquito spray is. To a bear, covering yourself in a fine film of bear spray is not unlike putting butter on popcorn. In the same way you’re not going to spritz each little individual skeeter that threatens to drain a pint. Things there are just a bit weird.

Did I say weird? Let’s just huddle up and sing a round of “Kumbayah” while we talk about some of the local folks. These are people that have graduated with honors from the Willie Nelson Master Gardener Program. It seems every corner is crowded with a liquor store, snack shop, and a dispensary. A dispensary is where you can go for your “organic healing” and to meet with your “alternative medical practitioner.” All of which is very likely driving business to the liquor store and the snack shop, if I have to guess.

Like wow man, that is totally so cosmic and psychedelic fur shur, but, well, not for me. I think I’ll stick with my Cigna-approved providers, skip the energy healing, pass a drug test with flying colors and just head on back home to Texas where taking a trip means you’re heading to Austin for the weekend. Dorothy had it right when she told the Wizard of Oz that “there’s no place like home.” Texas may not be heaven, but it’s got Whataburger and, for me, that’s close enough for now.

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Prisoner at 30,000 feet

Indiana

I fly internationally a lot, so I’ve sat next to some interesting people. In most cases, that’s pretty cool. In the case of the Bangladeshi guy who had yet to discover the wonders of Western hygiene and deodorant or the Italian three-year old with a non-stop, high-pitched, full volume screaming fit for four hours, it wasn’t so cool. My last flight to London, though, I sat next to an archeology professor from Cambridge University.

I know you’re thinking, “Wow! Indiana Jones!” Okay, you can think that. But unless they cast the older, heftier uncle of Harry Potter’s best buddy Ron Weasley as Indiana Jones, then it wasn’t him. I’m not saying that it wasn’t still cool to sit next to Uncle Weasley, the Cambridge archeologist, it just wasn’t a young Harrison Ford. And because of that, after a nice chat during take-off, I was ready to put on my airline-issued headphones and watch a movie.

Let’s stop right there. You have to remember, when this man is not crawling around ancient digs in obscure parts of Africa, he’s standing in front of some of the brightest young minds in the world and lecturing. Lecturing = talking for extended periods without interruption from the audience. Since we were short a few bright young minds on this particular flight, he had me. And I was trapped. The flight attendant pointed out that it was not a full flight if we wanted to spread out a bit in our section, which I would have quickly done, except I was pinned against the window. Curse the window seat!

For nearly nine hours from Houston into London’s Heathrow Airport, I was lectured on the importance of African archeology, the impact of past cultures on today’s political environment and an incredible amount of other obscure knowledge that way over-pressurized my brain. Face it, I’m blonde; I’d just spent two weeks living with my sick parents in a retirement community and; quite frankly, there just wasn’t enough alcohol on that flight to make it okay for me.

By the time we touched down in London, I’d developed a twitch in my left eye and a strong aversion to men in sweater vests. I’ve decided I’m too old to be that polite. And from here on out, I’ll never say another bad thing about the Bangladeshi guy, because, suddenly, he doesn’t seem quite so bad.

I’m hopping that same flight later this week. Did you get that, Harrison Ford? Here’s to hoping for a smooth flight, happy landings and a seatmate who wont blow up my brain!

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