I returned to work after a two-week vacation, a week of which was spent in Florida visiting Friends and Family. I really shouldn’t have requested my first Friday back to work off—but we had a full contingent—including the Float, so I did. The reason? My 40th High School Reunion Dinner was on Saturday in Florida. In the past I’ve left after work on Friday, or very early Saturday morning, attended the dinner, then driven back to Texas on Sunday. It’s doable. But I really wanted a less hectic weekend as well as spending a little time in NOLA visiting friends. Little did I realize how Drama-laden this trip would be. I normally have a little drama in my life. I tend to thrive on a little drama. I like a little drama. I laugh at a little drama—maybe not while I’m in the drama—more like after the drama. But this trip I thought of my red and white, crown-toped, Now Panic and Freak Out mug. Frequently.
The Reunion Dinner itself was relaxing and I was able to catch up with Friends I hadn’t seen or Face-Booked in a while. I saved money by staying in a Friends Guest Apartment in NOLA—a town I dearly love to frequent as often as possible. I ate fantastic food as usual. It was all very pleasant. For the most part. Until the Trip-Drama, Moggy-Drama, and Bandit-Drama almost sent me over the edge.
Anticipating the Trip-Drama, I developed an effective two-pronged plan of action. On the return drive from my recent vacation in Panama City Florida, I noticed a detour sign on the west side of Baton Rouge directing west-bound traffic to Hwy 190. Had I realized this was actually US Hwy 190 that passes within a stone throw of my Texas home, I would have followed their advice. However, I did not realize it and all of my atlases and maps were at home so I could not check to see how far out of the way this detour might take me. Also, traffic was backing up and I did not want to lose my place in line by pulling over and googling a map. As a result, I stayed in line and was stuck in post-Baton Rouge traffic for two hours. Back in Texas I looked at the map and discovered I should have followed the DOTadvice. This trip I decided to go the alternate route even though the detour sign was not posted. I love to explore and the time looked to be roughly equivalent. However, that was on the return drive—we’ll get to that later.
On the way to the Reunion Dinner I allotted 6 hours for the drive from NOLA to Crestview—almost twice the time needed, because in past years the traffic in and around Mobile has been stop-and-go, to the point I arrived very late one year. If I arrived in C-view early this year, I could always visit a friend who does not attend the Reunion Dinners. As it was, traffic was backed up even further and longer than ever before, and I arrived at the Dinner after everyone had been seated and the wait-staff were in the process of taking final orders. I placed my order and socialized with my table mates. I had a blast. It was great seeing friends I haven’t seen in 40 years, and catching up with others I only see on Facebook. The trip back to NOLA was uneventful.
The Moggy-Drama came in the form of my Domestic Short Hair rescue cat. In 2005, Hurricane Katrina flooded Bill and Alicia home in Gert Town. When they rebuilt, they split their home into a home and two apartments for a couple of Bills employees who were then homeless thanks to Katrina. One of the apartments is now used as the Guest Apartment for out of town friends—that is where we stayed. Gert Town continues to slowly rebuild even eleven years after Katina. Bill and Aliciasneighborhood adjoins his welding business and is located between Xavier University and the historic Art Deco inspired Blue Plated Mayonnaise Factory. It is a rough neighborhood with drug deals and drive-by shootings—their home sports a couple of bullet holes as proof. Friday night, after taking Bandit outside for his last potty-break of the day, Moggy decided he was going out on the town. I saw him through the glass storm door. He was lying in wait. I almost succeeded in catching him before he made it outside. Almost.
It took me an hour and a half to coax Moggy close enough for me to nab him and return him to the safety of the guest apartment…where I found Bandit demolishing one of his toys.
Bandit loves all of his toys to death—within the first few minutes of playtime. He had ripped off the leg of this particular toy, a brilliantly colored stuffed monkey, and given him a lobotomy the night before. I found him on this occasion disemboweling him. He loves to shred the stuffing almost as much as he loves to perform a squeekyetomy. I laughingly called this my Bandit-Drama. Oh for that to have been the case. Little did I know the true extent of my coming Bandit-Drama.
Sunday morning dawned on an overcast day—my favorite type of travel day. I was well rested and feeling refreshed—ready to tackle the drive back and looking forward to my planned detour. My SUV NavNinny (Navigation Girl—who I swear to you picks fights with me and pretends to not understand my accent—which is nonexistent y’all) fought with me tooth and nail. I finally shut her up. I had looked at the map and knew I would talk the “alternate I-10” aka US Hwy 190 to Hwy 171, where I could rejoin my normal route in Beaumont (or many places along I-10 once I cleared the construction zone), or go north to Jasper and pick up US Hwy 190 again. It seemed out of the way, but the time computed to roughly the same, and like I said, I’m almost always up for a detour. I opted to go to Jasper and see some new countryside. I would still arrive in time to rest prior to returning to work on Monday.
We arrived in some small town and I happened to see a cute bike hanging about the time Moggy meowed. I realized he had been in his carrier for a while and thought I should change him to the crate which is fitted with a litter box. I have previously tried him on a leash; however, he slinks on it and refuses to potty. So I turned into the parking lot of the antique store with this cute, aqua painted bike suspended from a fuchsia painted swing set frame. The bike had a bunch of spring flowers in the handlebar basket. Very cute. I took a photo. Then I set about rearranging Moggys accommodations. While I was busy with Moggy, Bandit hopped out of the car. I figured he needed to potty as well—I know I was ready to myself. However, Bandit disappeared. One second he was there and the next he was not. If dogs were involved in the Rapture I would have thought it had occurred—that’s how fast it happened. The parking lot was below at the bottom of a slight decline from the highway. I trudged up it. No Bandit. I checked the woods next to the parking lot. No Bandit. I walked around the back of the building. No Bandit. I backed the SUV back onto the highway and drove to the nearest house, and down their long driveway, all the time looking and calling for Bandit. Finally, as I was getting ready to give the home owners my contact information so I could get gas (I tend to drive far too close to empty), in case he showed up before I returned, I spotted him. He was between the carport and a fenced garden. I was very lucky to have seen the slight movement he made.
Relieved, I gathered up my BadBoy and we continued on our adventure. Only the fun of it had dissipated. Distracted by my thoughts I somehow lost US Hwy 190. I ended up turning NavNinny back on and meekly followed her directions, which of course did not get me home via US Hwy 190. Instead I came home a different way. A way she always wants to take me, even though it’s out of the way.
I think this weekend we will stay home safe and sound. No drama-laden trips…although….I haven’t been to see my Aunt in Dallas in quite some time and she’s been asking for a specific photo of Daddy…