My wife keeps frighteningly meticulous records. I, on the other hand, assume I will remember things. I don’t. Not unless reminded.
Today, she reminded me of the trip I made to Florida back in 2007. She pulled out credit card receipts from that time and, as I scanned the list of expenses from the Fall of that year, I remembered that trip.
My brother and his wife, who retired to Mexico several years ago, had successfully bid on an eBay auction for a mid-nineties Mercedes convertible from a couple in Florida. My brother asked me if I would pick it up for him and drive it back to Texas, where he and his wife would pick it up and drive it up to their “other” home in Portland, Oregon. I readily agreed, as I love road trips. He paid my airfare to fly over; I don’t recall if I flew into Fort Lauderdale or West Palm Beach, not that it matters. I flew in, arriving mid-morning on October 23, 2007 (two days after my birthday), and took a taxi to their house.
I think they lived in West Palm Beach. Their house was on a waterway; entering the front door of the home, I was immediately struck by the entire wall of glass looking out over the waterway, where their large, luxurious sailboat was moored. The pleasantries lasted only a few moments, then we went outside to get me acquainted with the car. They guy cautioned me to be VERY careful not to open the convertible top without first releasing a couple or three fasteners; he said it would damage the hydraulics that lift the top. Rather than muck with it at the time, I decided to just head out with the top up. As it turned out, I didn’t put the top down during the entire trip to Dallas.
That first day was most memorable for what I witnessed as I drove across Florida. I saw the Space Shuttle Discovery just seconds after its launch. I had been listening to live coverage of the launch on the radio, but it hadn’t occurred to me that I might actually be able to see it. I don’t know how far away the launch site was, but even in the midday brilliance of a blue sky I could see the bright light of the rocket fuel burning and the trail of exhaust the shuttle left as it streaked across the sky. That was an unexpected treat. I don’t know whether I saw the shuttle before or after I bought gas at a Citgo station in Wildwood, Florida.
The credit card record of the trip revealed that I ate dinner at Los Compadres Mexican restaurant in Tallahassee, Florida, then stayed overnight at a Howard Johnson’s motel, which cost $64.64.
The following day, October 24, I bought gas not far from Tallahassee at an Amoco station in Quincy, Florida. I recall from that day that, almost an hour into my trip, I realized I had left my cell phone at the Howard Johnson’s. The reason I had reached for my phone in the first place was to call my wife to let her know my trip might be delayed because an accident ahead of me had shut the highway. My first reaction to the absence of my phone was to want to call the motel; I quickly realized how utterly mindless that was, as I had no way to call them. So I crept ahead to a nearby exit, drove back, got the phone, then hit the road again.
I stopped for gas at a Shell station in Biloxi, Mississippi before continuing west toward lunch.
The credit card record revealed that I had lunch in Slidell, Louisiana, at a place called Bad to the Bone BBQ. Lunch was a flat $11; based on the menu for the place today, unless the prices haven’t gone up in more than four years, I suspect I had the 2-meat combo.
I drove straight through to Alexandria, Louisiana, where I bought gas at a Texas station.
Next up, the credit card record reveals that I stayed overnight at a Days Inn in Shreveport, Louisiana. It was more reasonably priced for a place to just lay my head: $49.71.
The trail goes cold there, but considering the distance, I am sure I just drove on home that day, arriving back in Dallas on Thursday, October 25, 2007. I parked that beautiful green Mercedes convertible in my garage for a month or two before my brother and sister-in-law came to visit. Before they did, though, I discovered that the convertible top did not work properly, so after conferring with my brother, I had it repaired at a horrifically expensive shop that specializes in Mercedes repair. But there’s no record of that repair on this particular credit card statement, so I’m relying strictly on memory for that last bit.