We have finally arrived at Joe's house!
It's only 4:00 am!
So, to make things clear, here's the cast of characters on this little trip.
- Those travelling
- Gregory, who I've known since high school.
- Tom, who I've known since elementary school.
- Russ, who I've known since high school.
- Kurt, who I've known since college (although we did not attend college together).
- Jeff, who I've known since college (although we did not attend college together).
- Myself, who I've known all my life.
- Those at the Destination
- Joe, who I've known since middle school.
- Kelly, Joe's wife.
- Their three kids.
- Joe's family (two sisters and father).
- Larry, who I've known since high school (and I just found out he moved to the area).
So with that, I can continue with the trip.
Sometime during the night, we stop off at some gas station somewhere in North Forida. Tom gets out of the van and as he's looking around, notices the ground is covered in bird droppings. He then looks up.
“Um, guys,” he says. “I think we better move the van.”
We moved the van.
Joe lives in a rual place.
A very rural place.
So rural that you need a hand pump to water the lawn.
So here we are, Gregory, Tom, Russ, Jeff, Kurt and myself, really in the middle of nowhere, visiting our friend Joe for the weekend. We awoke around 8:00 am to Joe's son running into the living room, jumping into the huge king size 3′ thick air mattress Gregory was sleeping on, and yelling “You are realy him?”
There wasn't much point in sleeping any longer.
Heck, there wasn't much quiet to sleep any longer.
An hour or so later and a party of seven (Gregory, Tom, Russ, Jeff, Kurt, Joe and myself) are in Joe's van headed towards a local restaurant for breakfast. The only remarkable things about the restaurant was the vast choice of food (two eggs, two eggs and bacon, two eggs and ham, two eggs and saugage, two eggs with grits, two eggs with grits and bacon, two eggs with grits and ham, two eggs with hashbrowns, two eggs with hashbrowns and bacon, two eggs with hashbrowns and sausage, two eggs with hashbrowns and ham, and even two eggs with pancakes! Wooooo) and the inability of our waitron to keep our orders straight (I wonder why).
By early afternoon we found ourselves on Joe's Family Farm (owned by his parents for over 30 years). The original homestead had long since fallen apart, leaving only the chimney, but it's not like the farm is in disuse. There's a new house on site, and a replacement barn (steel with a reinforced concrete foundation to support a car lift) and a lot of heavy equipment (Gregory got to take the tractor for a spin—we weren't allowed to drive the backhoe).
While there, we met up with our friend Larry, who just quit his job as an insurance agent (which now means I have to find a new agent) to follow his dream of selling hot dogs. It beats having to talk to angry customers on the phone.
Foreground: Larry showing off his hotdog stand
Background, left to right: Russ, Greg
On the way to lunch, Gregory expressed concern over the state of the back tires on Joe's van. Joe shrugged the concern off, saying the tires have lasted this long—they'll certainly last until we get back to his house.
After having lunch at Sunny's BBQ, we were headed back to Joe's house when we heard a large thump and the van started to shake violently. Joe maneuvered the van off the side of I-10 and yup. We had a blowout.
Fortunately, eating at Sunny's probably saved our lives, as the increase in weight stabalized the van to keep it from flipping over (anyone from Sunny's take note: we're available for an add campaign—Sunny's saved our lives!). The outer thread of the tire flew right off and much of the steel band was exposed. Once Kurt got the tail pipe untangled from the wheel, the changing of the tire went pretty quickly, and we safely made it back to Joe's.
The rest of the day was spent playing a role playing game, and those that weren't playing were catching up on sleep. Around dinner time, those that weren't asleep (sleeping: Gregory, Kurt) nor having to attend to a bunch of kids (Joe) headed out for dinner (Tom, Russ, Jeff, myself). We first thought of going to this Mexican restaurant we saw in downtown Blountstown, but upon a closer inspection, it looked more like a bar than a restaurant (and the patrons sitting outside looked a bit rough), so instead we went across the street to the local Chinese buffet.
The Chinese place certainly catered to their clientel—not only your typical American-Chinese fare (sweet-n-sour pork, fried rice, egg rolls) were some Southern touches (greens, okra, etc). The food wasn't bad, given the price.
Then it was back to Joe's, where we finished out the night playing games. Then to sleep.