Before I started the blog, (under duress, I might add), I was writing stories just the same.  There’s been so much that happened in the last few weeks that has just knocked my socks off, and some stories will come out of all that, but they need to simmer for a bit.  As part of that, I’ve been trying to do some cleaning, and, as it turns out, in my cleaning out some digital lint, I found a story I’d written almost 9 years ago.  That said, I’ve taken another look at it and decided it might be fun to get it out here for you all to see.  With that, let’s go on a road trip, shall we?

Work had been getting busier and busier, and I was really wiped.
I’d had to get about a week’s worth of work done in the first 3 days of the week, and needed a break.

Turns out my friend Dave had an Improv Comedy thing in Portland Friday night.

Michael had Friday off.

Hmmm.

It didn’t take me a whole lot of time to figure out that getting our collective butts out of Dodge would be a good thing.

I got Friday off.

We had originally planned on Cindy coming along for this, but she had to work, so Michael and I went by ourselves.

We’d taken the Saab up to “Andy’s Cabin” last week, (it’s a wide spot in one of the forest service roads just off Highway 97 near Liberty, Washington.  Used to have a cabin on it, belonged to a guy from the Scout Troop named Andy.  Andy’s long passed on, and the cabin burned down decades ago, but it’s still called “Andy’s Cabin” – yeah, go figure.  But tradition is tradition.) …and honestly, I needed something a little different than the Saab for this trip. I needed something for me.  Not that I didn’t trust the Saab. It ran beautifully, got 32 mpg on the trip. I just didn’t have the time to risk if something went wrong, so I decided to rent a car and got a pretty decent rate on a little red ford sedan. We caught a bus up to Hertz and Michael was kind of amazed that we were simply walking out of the house to go out of state overnight with nothing but a duffel bag.

Oh, I’d given him my old leather jacket, and he found the hat he had in the play “Barnum” last year – that, some Jeans, and some sunglasses just made the outfit.

He was working on his “Cool” persona.

The “Cool” Persona

Once we got the car, as you can see, it was awfully hard to get Michael to actually ride in the thing.

Yeah, it was hard to get him to ride in the car.

Last time we did a road trip, we went to California, and Michael ended up listening to “Walk Like an Egyptian” about a zillion times on not only the way down, but back.  It became, we realized later, the ‘theme song’ if you will, of that trip.

We’d made some progress down toward Roy (the plan was to stop in Roy, Hook Mom’s new computer monitor up and visit with her and our friends Lee and Lyndy a little bit and then head down toward Portland.

As we drove down Michael, with the hat and glasses, felt he looked like a movie talent scout. We were listening to one of the CD’s – and came upon the theme song from the Davy Crockett show… Remember that one?

“Born on a mountain top in Tennessee
Greenest state in the land of the free
Raised in the woods so’s he knew every tree,
Kilt him a bar, when he was only three!
(all together now)

Daveyyyyy, Daaaaaaaavey Crockett, King of the Wild Frontier!”

I’m singing this thing at the top of my lungs, and Michael’s not buying it. I’m
getting way too weird for him. He’s used to me in my “responsible father” mode
as opposed to getting a little weird mode…

So… I invited him to sing along.

He didn’t want to.
I invited him again…
He emphatically didn’t want to.
I told him I’d keep playing it until he sang along and had fun doing it.
He made it quite clear that singing that song was not anywhere near the top
of his list of priorities.

Yup, just like peas and lima beans

I felt like I was watching a kid being told to eat peas for dinner.
Eventually, he did sing along. It was fun.

So we did that, got down to mom’s, and she’d made chicken and dumplings, they were SO good. Michael, as usual, needed to put some pepper on his stuff. The lid of the pepper shaker was a little loose, and he ended up with a little more than he was planning on.

Really, he likes pepper. Just not this much.

I hooked mom’s new monitor up and put her old desktop on it – it was nice to see that again (it’s the picture of Paddington Station that Corbis has, from the Windows 98 plus pack, with the travel theme.) –

It was the first thing we kind of ‘got back’ since her car was stolen. (so was the computer in it, but that’s another story)…

After lunch, Mom and Michael and Lyndy went out to feed the horses, and tried to get Michael to feed them, too. He kept pulling his hand away as soon as he felt their lips trying to nibble at the apple. You can see Lyndy holding his hand here in the first picture,

Lyndy, Michael, Mom, and apples

…trying to keep it there for the horse. Problem was, he kept seeing those big teeth and thought he was going to get bitten.

The horses, after nibbling on apples

He actually had good reason to think that.

Some time back we were walking through a field on the way back from Grandma Danny’s and there was this horse that first looked like it was being friendly, then it tried to take a bite out of Michael’s hat (actually the one in the picture), and then it nudged him pretty good. It became obvious the horse wasn’t nibbling in a friendly way, so I told Michael to go get through the fence while I took care of the horse.

The horse tried to nibble on me, so I smacked the crap out of it every time it did, and got to the gate as fast as I could, just barely making it over before I got the butt of my jeans ripped out by the dang thing. At first I thought I was imagining things, but then later realized, while I was looking at one of the 4 x 4 fenceposts that was barely holding up the gate I’d climbed over and that the horse was on the other side of, that I wasn’t imagining anything.

The fencepost looked like an apple core – the horse had eaten it all off.

It was very, very strange.

Then I looked a little closer still and realized the fencepost the horse had been nibbling on was pressure treated lumber.  I don’t know what all chemicals they put in pressure treated lumber, but I do remember them being rather poisonous, so I can’t imagine it did good things for the horse, and I think the horse was a little crazy from it. So that’s why Michael wasn’t all that interested in horses nibbling anywhere near him.

He ended up feeding one of the horses one apple, and that was enough.  But by that time, it was time to go, so I had Michael get in the car.

Michael decided he wanted the left seat.

As you can see, it was again, awfully difficult getting him to get ready to leave.

We waved goodbye to Mom and Lyndy, who waved back, thanked them both for a delicious meal…

One last wave to Mom & Lyndy, then we were off

…and we hit the gas, cranked up the tunes, and off we went.

Oh, the tunes…

We thought about all the times we’d seen, rather, heard people with stereos thumping wondering what the heck they were listening to. We waited till we were well away from civilization before cranking it up too loud, and when we did, we realized that we might be hurting our ears a bit. So, um, we put earplugs in.

And turned it up more.

So imagine two guys in a red Mustang, blasting down the freeway, with earplugs in, windows down, and the music blasting so loud you could feel it.

Now imagine them doing it to this song.

Yup… Michael and me.

We could not only hear the music, but feel it! It was great.

I have no idea how many times we listened to it, and how many times we just played it again and again and again – with no breaks, but we never got tired of it.

And the music we were listening to?  “Under the Sea” (if you didn’t click on the link above, we had a Disney CD with us)

Here Michael’s shucking and jiving to…

Each Little Clam here…

“Each little clam here
Know how to jam here

Each little slug here
Cutting a rug here

Each little snail here
Know how to wail here

That’s why it’s hotter
Under the water

… and so on…

After several hours of driving, (and listening to the song, over and over and over) we got there, with just enough time to get a place to stay almost within spitting distance (across the parking lot) from the church it was at. The improv was part of a conference in Drama in the Ministry.  It was very eye opening, how sometimes telling a 5 minute story, a parable, if you will, can hit home a lot harder than a one hour sermon.

It was a wonderful experience.

After that was the improv, which the pictures I took simply don’t do justice to.

There was a party game, in which people had to be some sort of church member, and also have a strange personality trait.

Some of them:

  • The sound man, who’s deaf.
  • A youth pastor who loved to dance,
  • A kleptomaniac pastor’s wife, and so on.

Then there was the Alphabet game, where you were given two characters (mother/daughter, etc…) in a situation – and they had to start the first sentence with a letter picked out by members of the audience, then each subsequent sentence with the next letter. That ended up being a lot of fun. One of the most challenging ones was with one character being a mortician and the other being his prospective client.

Then there was the game that every sentence had to be a question – or maybe they combined the two. It was just a lot of laughter that made for a lot, a lot of fun.

The one that was literally the killer was when they played “chain murder” – kind
of like clue  where you try to solve a murder, but with a couple of twists:

    • There are 4 people.
    • Three of them leave, the last one is told, by the audience, the who/where/what of the murder.
    • The other players enter the room, one at a time, and the first person tries to get them to figure it out.
    • With pantomime, and gibberish.  No words.

As an example, the first one ended up being

A Fireman,
In a Broom closet,
With the little things you stick into the end of an ear of corn to hold it because it’s too hot.

One person brought the house down on that one as the person was pantomiming the fireman and the broom closet.  He’d guessed, “A fireman… at the Gates of Mordor?”

The second one was:

The Good Humor man,
In the belly of a whale,
With a waffle iron.

They got worse from there.

When it was over, Michael and I kidnapped Dave, but he had to be the navigator and tell us where we were kidnapping him to since we only had directions to the church and the hotel right next door. It ended up being a Shari’s Restaurant, where we tried really hard to order something.

However, we soon realized that at 11:00 at night, we were actually more in the mood for breakfast than anything else, so we tried to order, and somehow “scrambled toast” came out. We first confused the waiter so much that he ended up bringing Dave an extra hot cocoa –

Our goofing off got David an extra hot chocolate

which ended up being part of many jokes. Then the waiter got into the “scrambled toast” bit and we just went off, kind of like the “Four Yorkshiremen” sketch, complete with British accents and everything…

“Oh, I remember having scrambled toast when I was a boy…

“Too bad they don’t make the toast scramblers anymore”

“Yeah, that’s a shame… They stopped making them in the ’40’s, you know, had to take the factories and change them over to making machine guns for the war effort.”

— and it went on…

Ration cards,

Grampa remembering when they had to scramble toast by hand.

Which led to “When I was a boy…” stories, like…

Walking to school in the winter…

…in 10 feet of snow…

Up Hill…

Both ways…

I had to staple barbed wire to my feet to get traction…

to which David countered, “You were lucky, I had to use railroad spikes!”

Michael could hardly keep his food down he was laughing so hard.  Come to think of it, we were, too.

We finally realized we needed to call it a night, and as we’re heading out, I realized I wanted to take one picture of David and Michael, so I asked them to pose in front of the Shari’s sign.

They posed.

David and Michael posing for the picture

I suggested that maybe, just MAYBE, it might be better if we were to get their faces into the picture… Right about that time we were trying to figure out what we’d had, since it wasn’t Breakfast, nor was it Lunch, and it most certainly wasn’t dinner. We decided it was “Brupper” – and here we have Michael and David, Brupping in front of the Shari’s restaurant.

Michael and David, Brupping

We went back, and got David to his car and headed home. Michael and I totally crashed and slept the sleep of the dead — and the next morning managed to drag our butts out of bed, and got out of our room around 11:00 and had to tear out of there (Portland) in time to get to Michael’s soccer game (in Seattle) at 1:00. (I thought the game was at 1:30). Needless to say, the trip was a fast one for me, and a semi-conscious one for Michael.

Michael, holding down the passenger’s seat.

A little different than the trip down, but it worked.

We made it to the soccer game, lost, Michael messed around with some of the other kids after the game for a bit,

Michael showing Brian that He Who Has The Longest Arms wins.

…then we took the car up to the rental place, where we cleaned it out, dropped it off, and ran to the bus stop, just in time to have the bus meet us as it pulled out.

We rode the bus home, and since we’d been listening to “Under the Sea” so much, Michael wondered if we had the video. He found it, we did, and he wanted to watch it, and sing with it as the movie played. We both started, and got a few bars into it and then both of us just let it go. Neither one of us remembered anything from those few bars until Ariel has legs (about 40 minutes later, I think.)

All in all, it was a fast, short, weekend (actually, now that I think about it, it was less than 24 hours total), but well, well worth it.

October 3-4, 2003

I don’t know if there’s a moral to the story, other than “Spend time, enjoy the time you have with your kids while you have them, it goes by so quickly.”

Seriously – take the risk and do something weird with them.

Make memories with them.

Hug them.

Sing silly songs with them.

Laugh with them.

Above all else, love them.

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