The Gross National Debt

Thursday, April 27, 2017

Travel Log I


For the next few days I am BACHELOR MAN! in the City of Columbus on the banks of the Chattahoochee River in middle Georgia. Next to Phenix (no O thank you very much) Alabama and home to, well, people who live in Columbus.

The day's journey started after I got off the banananananana. Loaded the truck the night before so I was able to hit the road immediately after returning to the plantation. This also means I was able to become immediately worried that I would get lost and not find the hotel and the Georgia Outdoor Writer's Association annual convention until it was over. I get lost on one-day dead end streets.

I did check the All Knowing Source of Any Information You Wish To Know Except What's Behind the Paywalls on the best News Sites (and any porn pay sites are your business and not mine) Google. 

The All Seeing Eye of Sergy Brin told me to get on one road, which I know how to find. Then, merge onto Interstate 185 and go through Ft. Benning. This came with the warning "DO NOT STOP AND TRY TO BUY A TANK! THE MILITARY DOES NOT APPRECIATE YOUR ENTHUSIASM!" I am not kidding. Google knows way too much about me.

I get on the road and immediately get behind a major hemorrhoid who insisted on doing 15 miles an hour under the speed limit. I eventually pass him 

"Merge onto Interstate 185."

Whoops. Sorry about that. CM came by and since we're fishing together in the morning, we had to decide who what when and where. Then we went to the hospitality room. TC, the shine was almost as good as the West Virginia stuff we sampled a while back. Almost.

Anyway, back to 185. I merged. The bottom fell out. Frogs were strangled. Cats and dogs fell from the heavens. A normal good soaking S. Georgia rain in other words. I GOT BEHIND ANOTHER HEMORRHOID DOING 25 MPH WITH HIS HAZARD LIGHTS ON! I had to follow this for several miles until I finally got space to go around him. Now I was within aiming distance of where I actually needed to be.

"Go to some road with 'Airport' in the name and get off the Interstate."

I did.

"Turn Left. Unless you can't, in which case turn right and go down the road until you are almost lost to find a place to make an illegal U turn then go back the way you just came crossing under the 185 Overpass and the hotel should be on the right." That's not the real directions, but it should be because that is what happened.

It worked. I found the hotel, the Doubletree by Hilton. For those of you who do not know, my idea of a fancy hotel is a Motel 6 a yellow bug light out front that stays on 24/7, provided the motel owner remembered to change it the last time it blew out. JJ, this year's incoming president, is in charge of the conference and got to pick the hotel. JJ has an expense account from several different publications so he gets reimbursed at least twice for this kind of trip, so he books fancy.

Next year I plan the conference. Tom Bodett has promised to leave two lights on for us and will not complain if some of us pitch a tent in the yard in back.

As I'm looking for the driveway to the hotel which is in plain sight behind a Burger King, across a raised divider in the road and in the middle of an African jungle of plants, I call me bud DC. We've not seen each other since college. For some reason, he chooses to live here in Columbus. He won't answer the phone (smart man, one of us probably owes the other money and I am dead broke after this trip) and I leave a voice mail.

I walk in. I'm dressed all in black except for my camo hat with ARMED INFIDEL and an AR-14  printed on the front and my red, white & blue suspenders. The PYTs (purty young thangs) behind the counter do their best to smile at me while silently praying "Please don't kill me, mister. I'm too young to die and I'm just working here while I go to college and if you let me live I promise to devote the rest of my life to good works."

TC, I'm telling you this is some seriously good shine. It's only sold in the beltway up where Rebel lives. Rebel, I'll get you the name so you can buy me some.

Meanwhile across the lobby the hotel is hosting a Shrieking Middle Aged Woman Convention Replete With Balloons, Giant Fuzzy Dice, Bags of Junk and People Dressed In Identical Clothing Convention. I quickly determine they do not have any free booze. The women in the banquet room carry on like the Chippendale Dancers are in there. I open the door to check, just in case they need another dancer, and only see a bunch of middle-aged women yelling and waving things that are not dollar bills. Just as well. Left my thong in S. Georgia.

I check in. I get a super discounted rate. Discounted because I am a professional word slinger and the hotel is hoping to get some good PR. Somebody gonna be surprised when this blog goes live. Super, because the guy next to me, also checking in and checking me out with sidewise glances and silently praying "Mister, I'm not a terrorist, please don't kill me because I'm just staying here tonight and I swear to whatever you hold holy that I will be gone before you get up in the morning if you'll just let me live" is shucking out slightly more than $400. My room is considerably cheaper and I'm staying longer than he is.

The clerk tells me my room is on the 2nd floor. I call DC again. He makes the mistake of answering We plan (lie) to meet up sometime this weekend. I drive around the parking lot in a driving rain looking for my room, a technique I like to call "looking for an open parking space that will be on the far side of the hotel from my room because the place is full of hemorrhoids." I park across from the main swimming pool and the emergency backup swimming pool also known as a parking lot. I literally wade, I am not kidding, around my truck. I step on the running rail to get out of the water. Still talking to DC.

He expresses surprise that I drove through the weather. I later learn Columbus was under a tornado watch. Warning? Whichever one means a tornado could happen, but has not been seen yet. The weather forecasting (lying) industry needs to make this easier to understand. I suggest this terminology for the future: "Tornado warning/watch" = a tornado may happen. "Flying mobile home" = a tornado is on the ground and trying to juggle livestock, vehicles and trailers. Check in with The Weather Channel. "We're here in Columbus, Georgia, where the area is under a tornado watch. We're having heavy rain and some lightning. The tornado warning is expected to last until 9 p.m." Then, a few minutes later, "Columbus is experiencing a flying mobile home. The twister is moving at 60 MPH on a NE track." See? Much easier to understand.

Anyway, I told Dennis, "I'm from S. Georgia." I then START to complain about the hemorrhoid on 185. DC interrupts me before I even get that far.

"Yeah. You got behind someone doing 20 miles an hour with his flashers on," he says.

"DOOD! YOU WERE BEHIND HIM TOO!" This is amazing.

No, DC assures me. This is how people drive in Columbus. I begin to doubt the wisdom of coming here.

Up to my room. 

On the second floor, a lamp greets me. Well, not so much greets me as stands there next to the elevator shedding some light. I later find it's one of a matched pair. I'm guessing this is an artistic expression of the neo-classical, post-modern, totally Lost-His-Freaking-Mind School of Turning Fossilized Turds Into Art. There may be an uglier lamp in the world, but I hope not. When I later find it is matched pair, I briefly consider suicide.

I get to my room. Unlike the motels I am used to, this room is spacious. More importantly, THE AC IS ALREADY ON! I check it, intending to turn the thermostat to the "meat locker" setting. It says, "thermostat is on the wall." Jeeeeeeez. This is a Hilton hotel and it's going to be that crappy, I think. I find the thermostat. I turn it down to "WW and MW will be very concerned about the very low temperatures overnight." WW & MW are my Canadian family.

Awe. Some. Ness.

Having missed the hospitality meeting in a place I could not find anyway, I wander down to the hotel restaurant planning to pay way too much for a way too tiny meal.

The maitre'd sits me in a booth. I manage to squeeze in without a come-along and a crowbar. A few minutes later the PYT responsible for making sure I pay my bill comes up behind me and starts talking. As in Comes Up Behind Me and Starts Talking. Exactly like a Georgia State Trooper does. I expect her to say "You in a heap of trouble now boy, your card done been declined."

She doesn't. I order a craft beer. She disappears. She's gone so long I assume she's brewing my beer. It's served in a small wine glass. The amount of beer is about a Pony Miller. It is very good beer. Not Blue Moon, but definitely tasty.

After watching an arthritic tortoise marathon race from start to finish, she comes back and takes my order. The menn prices are not too bad for a something-star hotel. I get a burger. You wanna make me happy with food? Bacon. Ham. Burger. She takes my order and goes back to the kitchen to raise a calf to adulthood and slaughter it, age the beef, grind it, wait for an oak tree to mature, harvest it, make coals from the logs and grill the burger.

All kidding aside. I ordered a burger with shrooms and provolone cheese. They seared the cheese and the shrooms together and threw it on the burger. Oy. Vey. That was amazing.

While I wait, I memorize the menu celebrate a few birthdays, then stare around the place. I see a security camera over the entrance. Dunno about you, but a security camera in a joint that charges 15 bucks for burger just screams class to me. I stare the lens in the eye and fish around on my side for my keys. I keep nail trimmers on my keychain. Still staring dead into the lens, I make sure my fingernails are clean. They are … when I'm done.

Back to my room, and CM shows up. Now, I need a refill of shine so I can do some work for which I actually get paid.

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