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Gas Pains

Tom grew up in Milwaukee, bartended in Wauwatosa in the '70s and moved here in 1984.

Commentary, observations and musings about the outdoors, life in general and maybe Tosa politics and personalities will be the order of the day. He savors a lively debate as much as terrific cooking.

On The Road Again

Family, Life Is Good, Roadside Curiosities

I like driving.

More than one person has said something to the effect of - Tom, you would make a good over the road truck driver.

And I would not disagree.

As a matter of fact I like nothing more than a good old-fashioned road trip.  I just wish I had more time to scratch that itch.

I suppose this all stems from those family vacations we took when I was a youngster. 

The earliest was a camping trip to Manitowish Waters.  Dad outfitted the Rambler station wagon with some jury-rigged screens to put in the windows, a double air mattress in the back for him and mom and I slept on the front seat.  With an ice chest, a box of pots and pans and a borrowed Coleman stove we hit the road.

This was followed by all sorts of trips south and west - all in cars that had vinyl seats and no air conditioning.

I have carried that torch ever since.

Vehicle number three in my life was a 1969 Volkswagen Westphalia edition camper. 

Just like this one-

Some fella in Missouri is selling this.  

I asked my wife if I could drive down there and take it for a spin and talk to him about buying it.

I got the all-knowing look in response.

But honey, we could take road trips just like I did in college.  It would be a blast.  Just think of the fun we would have.  I even have some room in the machine shed to park it.  Puhleeese.

For the second time I got the all-knowing look which means it is time to drop the subject.

Anyway, that VW bus of mine traveled all-over.  My kid brother and I took it on a trek through Canada one summer.  It traveled to the Smokey Mountains and the Carolinas. Many weekends it could be found in any number of Wisconsin state parks.  It carried about a dozen people home from the bar during Oktoberfest in LaCrosse.  

Factory-equipped with an ice box, sink, fresh water supply and all manner of cabinets and bins to hold my stuff I could hit the road at a moment's notice - no packing necessary.  I added a Craig stereo with a couple of two-way speakers in the front and two more strategically mounted in the ceiling above the (hubba hubba) double bed in the back.

On so many levels it was the perfect vehicle for a guy in college.

From time-to-time mom and dad would  talk me into letting them use it for a weekend.

Tom, can we use your camper next weekend?.  Maybe you could keep an eye on the house for us while we're away?  Deal?

I'm thinking - You want to leave the house to me, all by myself, for an entire weekend?

Um. Sure.  Bring the bus back in one piece would you.  After-all I'm going to be putting in some late hours looking after your house. 

I miss that bus. 

So after all these years and countless thousands of miles of trekking I have been to every Canadian province and all of the states except Delaware, Alaska and Hawaii.  Most of the time it has been road-tripping.

Lately my ride has been this buggy-

It can accommodate my big dog and her big crate, it has comfy leather seating, all-wheel drive and a kick-ass stereo with ten Bose speakers.  Sub-woofer too.

No double bed in the back.  Sigh.

This year my lovely wife and I hit the road to visit the kids and the in-laws in the deep south -  Mississippi and Louisiana to be exact. 

We were invited to join them at their fish camp in Grand Isle, Louisiana.

Did you know that the Governor of Louisiana is Bobby Jindal?

I'm told he's a rising star in the GOP and someone you might want to keep on your radar screen.

He runs a very hospitable state.  He's a much more hospitable fella than that squishy Governor Doyle we have here in Wisconsin.

This all has something to do with a stop the kids said we had to make just south of New Orleans.

Be absolutely sure to drop by the Blue Ape.

Blue Ape?

Yep.  You can't miss it.  There's a big blue monkey out in front.

You see southern Louisiana is populated by these roadside daiquiri stands.  I am not making this up.  They're all over the place.  Our stop at the Blue Ape was on a Tuesday and the Lenten special was two-for-one daiquiris as every Tuesday was Fat Tuesday. 

Louisiana Catholics you know.

If you go to the drive-up window and order a couple of frozen daiquiris they'll serve your beverage in a giant Styrofoam cup with a lid.  Furthermore, they leave a one inch remnant of the paper sleeve on the straw making your to-go cocktail entirely legal.

I might just be inclined to vote for this Jindal guy if he ever runs for president.

There is so much more to tell about this trip so check-n from time to time and thanks for reading.

Until then - here's some music from back in the day of that VW micro bus-

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