“Honey why you callin’ me so late?
It’s kinda hard to talk right now.
Honey why you cryin’, is everything ok?
I gotta whisper ‘cause I can’t be too loud.
Well, my girl’s in the next room,
Sometimes I wish she was you.
I guess we never really moved on …
It’s really good to hear your voice,
Saying my name, it sounds so sweet.
Coming from the lips of an angel,
Hearing those words, it makes me week.
Let it die.
Never want to say goodbye.
But girl you make it hard to be faithful,
With the lips of an angel …”
-- “Lips of an Angel” by Hinder. For some reason, Kellie (apparently) hates this song. It came up on the iPod four times on the drive up and back, and all four times she responded to it starting with either “no!” or “change it!” Just to be safe, I’m gonna go ahead and remove it from the iPod for Floatapalooza Dos next weekend. You’re welcome chica …
Day 1: Thursday, August 4.
* I arrived at DJ and Kellie’s on time for once, sharply at 9am. Zeus met me in the driveway. The poor guy kept trying to hop into the back of the Nitro. He wanted to go on this road trip too. After experiencing it, I can’t blame the guy, I’d have been trying to stow-away as well. (Although how the hell a 100 plus pound dog was going to “stow away”, I have no idea. Just work with it.)
* Once Katie got there and we got the Nitro loaded, it was off for the hilly inclines of western Nebraska. In the first rainfall the KC Metro area has seen in a long, long time. Go figure – any road trip has to involve rain, right?
* The first sign this was going to be a spectacular roadie? Oh hell yes, the Turnpike is now 75 miles an hour for the speed limit! Everyone who drives like a crazy Texan, throw your hands in the aey-er! And wave ‘em around like you just don’t caye-er! (Christ, that was awful, and I’m not even a page into this thing yet.)
* Speaking of crazy Texans, we must have passed 15 Sonata’s with Texas plates on the drive up. Somehow, this led into a discussion of how Kansas is the sex trafficking capital of America, with more arrests occurring in that state than any other. It also led into a Steve rant about how “you’re from Texas! Drive like it!” when none of these people were going anything approaching 85mph. Or 70mph for that matter. Again, you’re from Texas! Drive like it!
* It was a completely uneventful first 2 ½ hours of the trip … until we approached Fort Riley. And wow, there were a ton, and I mean ton, of huge helicopters, trucks, you name it, on the tarmac as you descend the hill on the freeway. As I (sadly) noted when the others in the car expressed shock at the large display of force, “it’s not like we’ve been at war for ten straight years now or anything.” Kinda sobers you up.
* Katie had allergy issues on the drive up. I always have allergy issues, even in the middle of December, but mine are so bad at this time of the year that (pathetically) I have developed a virtual immunity to the drowsiness Benadryl causes you. What passes as “drowsy” medication for me would basically be the equivalent of the horse tranquilizer Frank the Tank took to the neck in “Old School”. And that needle took four minutes and a wrecked kid’s party to kick in for him. So, being the considerate kind, I offer Katie a Benadryl. I assure her “one of these doesn’t even phase me”. Uuh, probably should have rethought that. More to come.
* Our next incident? As soon as we exited I-70 onto US81. Still four lanes, still 75mph, still flying along, only Kellie really, really, really needs to find a restroom. We see an exit sign for the hustling, bustling metropolis of Minneapolis! For god’s sake it’s Minneapolis! Surely they have a damned gas station with a functioning toilet right?
Oh wait, this is Minneapolis … Kansas. Despite the freeway exit sign saying “services” with a right arrow, there weren’t any to be found for nearly 15 minutes. Finally out of desperation, Kellie flags down an elderly gentlemen, who points us in the EXACT OPPOSITE DIRECTION of how the signs told you to go, in order to find a damned bathroom. Hey, on the bright side, I think I just got two new recruits onto the “Stevo wants WyCo, JoCo, and Douglas Counties to secede and form our own state!” bandwagon I’ve been manning since the mid 1990s.
* We stop, get gas, and there, in the bathroom of some quaint little station in central Kansas, is the sign of a lifetime.
On the bathroom wall, written in both English and Spanish, is a sign that simply read “Please Don’t Spit on the Bathroom Floor”.
Now, I (pathetically) admit, I have felt the need to do a lot of things on a bathroom floor in my day. But never once have I ever stared at a tile below me and thought “you know what? This is the PERFECT spot to hawk a loogie at!”, and then done it. I mean, Jesus, what possesses some people? I freely admit I’m a few fries short of the proverbial Happy Meal, but for f*ck’s* sake, are you kidding me? Who the hell thinks spitting on a restroom floor is a good idea?
(*: if you had the last paragraph of page two of today’s post in the “first time Stevo drops the f bomb in any form” pool, congratulations, you’re a f*cking winner!)
And how many people in the bustling sprawl that is Minneapolis, Kansas, had to spit on said floor BEFORE management finally decided “you know what, cleaning up this sh*t is ridiculous, we’re putting a stop to this practice”? Oy.
* We finally get back onto the highway, and hit another city that makes you think “dear God, they are stealing OUR tax dollars to finance people’s education in this place?!?! Secede already!!!”, Concordia**. Kellie and I were hungry. Not hungry, hungry hippos, just hungry. She asks what I want. I reply “I don’t give a sh*t, anything on this street should be fine”. Kellie decided “Taco John’s!”, darts across two lanes of traffic … and misses the entrance.
(**: on the drive back home on Day 4, there was exactly one business open on US81 through Concordia: the bowling alley. As DJ noted: “$5 pitchers!!!” As I pleaded “come on, what’s another 30 minutes at this point?” My way of saying, if we road it up next summer back to “The Bluff”, we’re definitely bringing our bowling equipment.)
So, we park next door at the Pizza Hut, scale a wall***, and enter to place our order.
(***: why do restaurants with adjoining parking lots build three or four feet high walls between them, instead of linking the damned lots together? That makes zero sense. Unless you’re just out to screw with folks like me, then I guess it makes total sense. Boo Concordia Pizza Hut for your damned retaining wall! BOO!)
Let’s just say, this was a mistake. By the time 24 hours had passed, I was sick from the tacos, Kellie was hurting from the Mexi Rolls, and the only one in the car healthy enough to eat a plate full of food without significant medication to calm the stomach down, was Katie.
* As noted on multiple occasions every time we saw another billboard for it, “The Holiday Inn in York has an Applebees in it?!?!”
* Stop at a gas station in Kearney because … well, I really needed to pee. I offered to just go in my Taco John’s cup, but amazingly enough, that was turned down.
This gas station is notable for really, one thing and one thing only: five effing rows of adult entertainment magazines, in full view for anyone to look at or purchase, on their magazine rack. Uuh, not that I counted.
* It’s also notable because they’re one of the few places left you can still find the 2 for 1 Cinnamon Bears packages. Cinnamon Bears rule! Kellie and I plowed through those two packages like they were a tamale at Joe’s. (Although unlike Kellie, I didn’t enjoy the cinnamon bears because “I enjoy biting their heads off”. Although stay tuned, she’ll have her real life Ozzy Osbourne moment, involving a flying creature, come part 4 of this special series of posts. (everyone voice) what the f*ck is Stevo teasing with that?!?!)
* The Platte River was still extremely high, although nowhere near as bad as it was in Plattsmouth and Bellevue for the College World Series. Speaking of which …
* I wore my CWS 2008 t-shirt on the drive up. Was trying to be cool and fit in with the resident Nebraskans. Or is it Nebraskians? (harry doyle voice) Christ, I can’t find it, the hell with it! But, as I noted to Bill and Vickie when we went out to dinner later on Day One: “you all have no idea how hard it was to find something to wear on this trip. 90% of the t-shirts I own are Chiefs t-shirts****.)
(****: was in the heart of donkeys country this weekend. That’s what I meant by the Facebook status on Friday that said “if this place wasn’t 9 ½ hours from Arrowhead, I could totally live here”. If I had to live around die-hard denver fans 24/7/365, I’d have a bigger drinking problem than I already do. And I’m pretty sure I qualify as an alcoholic in 49 states and a couple territories. Pretty sure I’m still ok in the District and possibly South Dakota.)
* We go under the huge highway overpass museum, reach Ofallala … and a 12 mile construction zone. (scooby doo voice) zoinks!
* Flash back a page or two to the “Stevo gives Katie a Benadryl” mention? Yeah, she’s snoring on the front seat while Kellie and I are b*tching about the non-moving traffic. Suddenly, a phone rings, Katie talks for awhile, and then she and Kellie go off into discussing … uuh, how “uncomfortable” it can be to be a female for a few “special” days each month. Let’s just say, that’s 20 some odd minutes of my life I would kill to get back and re-direct in a different fashion.
* Pass the huge headquarters of Cabela’s in Sydney.
* Oh, and when we entered Mountain Time? My phone automatically updated to an hour earlier! The sh*t that fascinates me, I’m telling you*****.
(*****: at one point the next morning, my cell phone was on “roam”, and was on Eastern Time, the laptop I was playing Free Cell on was on Central Time, and our room clock was on Mountain Time. Yeah. It’s like playing Three Card Monte, except with the time.)
* Apparently there’s some new bypass on Nebraska 71 at Kimball. We were the first of anyone Kellie knew to use it. I feel like you should know that.
* Apparently that route also saves something like 15 minutes on the trip up there. Once they get I-29 reopened and we can take Nebraska 2 to Lincoln, this might be less than a 9 hour trip! Provided me or “The Kid” is driving, of course.
* We hit some range known as “The Wildcats”. Apparently they’re neat. All I know is, I had a massive headache from the altitude change, my ears were poppin, and I couldn’t stop sweating. You’d have thought I was on a plane taking off.
* Somehow, this inspired a “name that bird!” competition. The three of us spent the next 20 minutes reeling off every type of bird we could think of. Yes, we’d been driving for 9 hours at that point, and there was no booze in the car. The stuff you do when you’re sober is always more pathetic than the stuff you do while drunk. Wait, that sounds like it should be Steve Rule 55 …
* OK, first “shocker” of the road trip. I assumed, since Kellie’s dad is a farmer, that they actually lived on a farm. Uuh, nope. Not even close. Kellie pointed out where the farm was (her brother lives there), but we kept right on driving.
* Into a huge freaking subdivision that looked like something out of North Texas or Palm Springs. Well manicured lawns, perfectly curbed streets, nicely painted houses, I mean, all that was missing was Jim Carrey’s oblivious Truman and you’d have thought Ed Harris was directing this last part of the drive*.
(*: I’m done typing *’s in huge succession. In case you missed the reference, it’s to “The Truman Show”. Jesus, my “readership” is so skewered to the young or the old that every pop culture reference I make falls on deaf ears.)
* Kellie’s family home is beyond sweet. If a Boasheao* wants to adopt me, I’d move in.
(*: this will make sense in a few more pages.)
* We no sooner walk in the door, than Kellie’s mom Vickie is there to greet us. If there’s a nicer person in the state of Nebraska, I haven’t met them yet. After some opening greetings and hugs, she walks us down to the bar, and starts hauling cold beers out of the fridge.
Now, this is where she went from “really cool lady” to “wow, does she know me or WHAT?!?!” status, because she turns to me after pulling out a couple Miller Lite’s and Stella’s and goes “I also have vodka Steve, if you’d rather have that.” WOULD I?!?! Sign me up! And she even suggested my favorite mixer to boot, Sprite*!
(*: ok, technically, Gatorade is my favorite mixer, but still, not everyone gets how good vodka and Sprite is. Much better than tonic water.)
* We get a tour of the house, enjoy a couple cocktails, and then Kellie’s mom realizes she needs to pay for the golf tourney that Bill and Wade and DJ are in on Saturday, so she leaves a note saying we’ll be at the Legion, and off to the Legion we go*.
(*: she signed the note “Vickie”, which prompted a lot of laughs. “Like anyone else would leave him a note!” I’m telling you, this roadie was a goldmine in unintentional comedy. And we won't even hit Friday night at “The OT” until part 2!)
* We’re greeted at the Legion by a very nice lady … that, had her hair been six inches shorter, would have at least made you pause and think “dude or chick?” If GSN needs a new show, and God knows they can do better than “Baggage”, “Lingo”, and the god awful remake of “Newlywed Game”, they should launch “Dude or Chick”, where contestants try to figure out if the panelist is a dude or a chick. You could even get the ghost of Brett Somers to host. That’d draw at least a 0.3 rating.
* I got made fun of for not drinking at the Legion. My rationale? My stomach was rumbling from Taco John’s. It got worse from there.
* We head back to Kellie’s folks house, pick up her dad, and we’re off on a quick mini-tour of Gering before hitting up a Mexican joint for dinner. Some highlights of the trip:
1. Gering is getting a new elementary school! Even more impressively …
2. The “Boasheao”’s own an old elementary school! No, that is not a joke, they actually own a freaking school! Now granted, it’s the “pride of the neighborhood”, in that it’s overrun with weeds, the building has been tagged, and there’s concrete steps in the back yard that lead to nowhere. To say nothing of multiple basketball goals missing rims, broken out windows, and apparently a gigantic mess of waste to clean up after Wade threw a party in there a few years ago*. But hey, anytime you can buy a school, you have to do it!
3. Kellie’s mom kept pointing out that “you should have stayed at the Monument Inn”. Well, we tried, but they were booked by the time we could afford to reserve the room. Some of us aren’t rolling in the cash. But for crying out loud, our hotel was literally one left turn (and a couple stoplights) away from the Monument. If you can’t drunk drive one left turn, you really need to improve your drunk driving skills.
(*: here’s a brilliant idea: throw a huge raging kegger in the middle of winter in a building with no heat, no working plumbing, and no electricity! Nobody will have to use the bathroom, need to vomit, and/or otherwise deal with chugging a few kegs on a negative 10 degree night, right? Jesus, and to think people think I’m walking around a few fries short of the proverbial Happy Meal.)
* We get to the Mexican restaurant (sorry, I don’t remember the name … although in my defense, I am TURRIBLE with names), sit down, order some drinks and chips, and this nice dude about my age comes up to our table and goes “excuse me, did you arrive in the Nitro?” Uuh, yes, yes we did. Turns out, Bill left the car door wide open. And nobody had been drinking yet. A sign of a good night to come!
* After dinner at the restaurant, we decide to spend the rest of the evening at the Union Bar in downtown Gering. At this point in our party, it’s me, Kellie, Katie, and Kellie’s mom. We’re still waiting for the rest of the core group to arrive, because they were flying into Denver and then driving up.
* So, while killing time waiting for people, we start telling stories. Kellie tells us about the time she made it onto TV in the first grade. A huge moment to be sure. So the news dude asks her how to spell her name, so that they can run it on a crawl beneath her interview. Well, apparently, she had issues at the age of six with saying "r" properly, because it came out as "Brashear. Boasheao". No, seriously, the news folks spelled her last name as "Boasheao". I'm guessing that whoever set up that broadcast isn't working on a national feed nowadays.
* Also told some classic Dusty stories. Hey, speaking of the guy I affectionately call "The Kid" ...
* So, here’s their journey up as recapped by Dusty. You tell me which of the following 10 quotations is NOT a nearly verbatim accurate statement*, as retold on the drive home yesterday, of the Jones’ clan’s journey to Gering:
(*: I typed as fast as I could. I should have hauled out the camera and just recorded the damned brainstorming session.)
1. “I had to listen to my mom and my aunt b*tch about the world on the drive to the airport. You think your ride up was tough Stevo? Try riding in a car with your mom and your aunt!”
2. “When we got there (to the airport), Donnie came up to us and said “come with me”. Turns out, he managed to get us onto the plane 20 minutes before anyone else!”
3. “Unfortunately, we were delayed for 90 minutes because of rain in Denver.”
4. “There were screaming kids everywhere. Plus the kid behind us kept hitting our chairs, and their mom did nothing to stop them.”
5. “Mom and I fought over which car to rent. I won. (pause) WINNING!”
6. “The whole drive up, mom kept b*tching about me driving over 80. Jesus, has she never ridden with me before?”
7. “Mom didn’t believe me that there were wind farms in Nebraska.”
8. “She nearly caused me to wreck the car when she screamed “There’s One!” as we passed close by a wind turbine. I nearly wrecked the car from her screaming.”
9. “I pointed out where the farm was to mom and Aunt Vickie, and they thought it looked cool.”
10. “I am never riding in a car with my mom and my aunt anywhere again. NEVER! AGAIN!”
The answer? 9. They couldn’t see the farm in the dark.
* So, with DJ, Beth and Vickie there, plus Kellie’s friend Tiffany joining us, it was time to do what some of us do best: close the bar down!
Unfortunately … the bars in western Nebraska close at 1am … with a 12:30 last call. (steve in utter shock, awe, and disgust voice) REALLY?!?! 12:30AM?!?! I mean, I am not what you call a “party person”, amazingly enough. Yes, I drink more than the average bear, but I am not a bar hopper, I certainly am not a club person, and I sure as all hell do not tend to stay out until all hours of the night on a regular basis. So when I’m willing to get my drink on, I kind of expect to, you know, get my drink on. A 12:30am last call kind of prevents that from happening.
* After Union Bar shuts down, Kellie’s friend Tiffany graciously offers to take me and Katie back to the hotel. We say our goodbyes, DJ and Kellie promise to take us to Joe’s for breakfast, and it’s off for our temporary home.
Where we spend a solid 30 minutes standing and talking to Tiffany in the parking lot about her job, her life, etc. Which is wonderful, I enjoy meeting new people and anytime I can spend time with a fellow adopted Texan, I am all over that. But I really, really, really had to pee. Finally, about 1:30, it’s up to the room, and bed.
Coming later today (hopefully) … Day 2: Friday August 5th. The day this guy who is scared of heights, snakes, and earthquakes took on two of those fears at once, and somehow lived to tell about it …