My van, is now the primary mode of transportation for the newly formed Day Camp Division of Camp-Run-A-Pup.
The director of Day Camp (my teen) claims that his Audi is not an appropriate dog vehicle, and the VW bug is too small. The van—once MY van—is just right. With a few modification, of course.
The van now sports Camp-Run-A-Pup magnetic advertising signs on both sides and the rear bumper. The option of flipping people off no longer exists. My teen reminded me that I never honk at other drivers, much less flip them off. True, but I enjoyed the option.
Four crates have replaced my back passenger seats. The good news, I still have a passenger seat. And, my teen explained, the grocery bags can now ride in a crate; this prevents the bags from tipping over and my cantaloup and little Cokes from rolling all over the van. Woo Hoo.
I think I know how Henry Ford felt when his son joined the business.
Next, my young whippersnapper informed me that buying two side loading crates would make the side-crate doors more accessible. I agreed and informed him that his Day Camp budget could fund the crates. Ha! Camp CEO scores a point, and the whippersnapper hits Craigslist.
Several hours later, he found two side-loading crates in good condition for a bargain price. In Freeport, Illinois, 180 miles from Chicago. Before I could add miles, gas, and snacks to his bargain he started selling me on the fun of a mother-son road trip. The child I gave birth to was tricking his mother into funding the road trip for his bargain crates. No way. He then reminded me that one of his best friends had just left for college. He may have had a tear in his eye. Way.
As we traveled on the I-90 towards Rockford, work crews were tolling away. We’ve traveled this road often over the last three years, wondering if the tollway would ever be finished. It will be. In 2018, this $3.4 billion dollar construction project will wrap up. The IL tollway sign at the Starbucks Oasis told us so! The State of Illinois wouldn’t lie, would it?
The landscape along the drive was pretty, miles and miles of bright yellow fields. Let’s hope that the fields glowed from the change of seasons and not from Monsanto’s products. The trees aren’t changing yet, but they are on the verge of bursting into color.
We reached Freeport and drove to our final destination. The exchange of cash for crates was remarkable easy. My teen and I aren’t used to easy. We were grateful but a bit uneasy. Were the crates stolen property? Would we be apprehended before we crossed the city limits. It could happen—to us.
Living on the edge, we decided to stick around town a bit and explore Freeport. We discovered Freeport’s nickname is “Pretzel City.” Let me share the twisted, salty tale. It all started when Freeport was an outpost settled by German immigrants. The city had at least six breweries in the late 1800s and, according to local legend, produced more beer at the time than Milwaukee. To complement the local brew, the Billerbeck Bakery produced a steady supply of salty pretzels. In fact, Billerbeck produced so many pretzel that the local newspaper in 1895 dubbed it “Pretzel City.”
The name of the football stadium is Pretzel Field. The high school cheers for the Pretzels. Mothers of pretzels (M.O.P’s) is the name of the school’s mothers association. The city does not have a pretzel monument, at least not one that we could find.
Learning about pretzels made us hungry. Yelp reviews recommended a downtown grill called “This Is It Eatery.” We hoped that the name wasn’t an omen of things to come.
Arriving, we took it as a good sign that the This Is It Eatery seemed like a popular hometown place. Seated at a table next to an older couple, we could not help but notice their lack of conversation. The sour twosome did not utter one word to each other before, during, or after their meal, and they seemed to resent that we were having a good time. We found this funny, which did not improve table relations. My cheeky son was just about to inquire if their steak was good, when our focus shifted. A parade of homecoming girls walked into the restaurant.
These girls caught our attention with their unimaginably ugly and unbecoming dresses. The whole restaurant seemed to be in shock. Cole wondered what they were thinking; I wondered what their mothers were thinking.
Antagonizing the Grumps and judging the homecoming dresses ended when our food arrived. It was tasty and the bill reasonable.
Back in the car, we continued our homecoming dress discussion. “Awful,” I exclaimed. Cole agreed. I couldn’t imagine why the girls’ mom’s let them buy such unattractive dresses. I would have directed my daughter to a different style of dress. My teen told me that if I had done this, my daughter would have developed poor self-esteem, eating disorders, and cut herself. Perhaps, but her homecoming dress would have been attractive and would have fit. Later, she would have thanked me. Priorities, dear boy. My teen then reminded me, once again, how lucky I am to have a boy. I smiled. Road trips are the perfect vehicle to have heart-to-heart conversations with your son.
No dessert justified a second Starbucks on the way home. I have a $50 gift card. Don’t judge. Besides, I needed to visit the ladies’ room. Let me review it for you. It was clean. An arm pull made it unnecessary to open the door with your hands. The flush handle was designed to keep the flush and germs minimal. A sign hung on the hand dryer prompting us to feel good for saving the environment by not using paper towels.
The effort to create a more germ free, ecologically conscious bathroom would have been more appreciated if I hadn’t dropped my keys into the toilet. In a panic, I recovered the keys, and while washing both my hands and the keys, I wondered why they didn’t provide a net for key-fishing purposes. That would be helpful. And germ free.
When I told my teen about my key-fishing expedition, his response was to worry if the water had damaged the electronic part of my key. No, it hadn’t. What is the opposite of a germaphobe? That would describe us.
The rest of the trip home was uneventful. It was a beautiful evening, traffic was light, and my teen and I exchanged lighthearted banter. Once home, my boy headed off to be with friends. Our time together had ended.
The ‘road-trip’ cost more than the bargain crates, but I got a steal.
Odd Loves Company,
New Modification – Rascal Approved.
Start of Fall.