Weekend at the Mint Julep

Last week my buddy Kip came down to visit. He lives a couple hour drive away. It was his house I was returning from when the windshield on the motor home almost fell out. Kip’s a nice guy, so he came down to work on my motor home. I’m a lucky man. I have several friends that help me when needed. I have a 36 foot gas powered motor home with a wheelchair lift and several modifications to it so I can move my wheelchair around in it. I love my motor home, but if you’re going to buy one and have it modified for use with a wheelchair, buy a diesel pusher. They are based in a diesel semi truck frame unlike the gas powered motor homes which are based on a Ford or Chevy truck frame. My motor home has only 68,000 miles and the frame is ALL bent and twisted. But the mint julep is the motor home I have, so it’s what I have to work with. Oh, in full disclosure I didn’t buy the mint julep my brothers and sisters bought it for me. I’ve never had the money to buy one.

On my way home from a trip to Marquette Michigan back in 2002 the signs of my aging disabled body slapped me in the face. I pulled into North Platte Nebraska, a town I like to spend the night if I’m traveling through on a certain night. I haven’t been to Marquette since 2004, so I can’t remember what night was comedy night at a motel in North Platte, but if I was driving through it would come back to me. Anyway, I pulled into town tired from driving and parked in front if a restaurant. Then it happened, I couldn’t transfer out of the driver’s seat into my wheelchair. I didn’t have the strength. Driving across the country in my 92 Ford van was taking its toll. I slept for a few hours in the 90 degree heat in the driver’s seat, missing the comedy show, until I had the strength to do the transfer. The next night in the next town it was the same thing. I pulled into San Jose knowing that was the last time I’d drive across the country in my van. I had driven to 40 states in my van. I was done. It was becoming too hard on my body and it wasn’t fun anymore.

I wasn’t ready to quit traveling, so after a lot of thought, I asked my brothers and sisters to buy me a motor home. I figured a motor home wouldn’t be so taxing on my body, which it isn’t. I could stop driving anytime I wanted and be in a living room to relax. My parents would never buy me one, so they weren’t an option. After a vote, my brothers and sister gave me the money to buy the mint julep, so she’s what I have to work with. Now Kip came down, with a friend, to fix her up.

But I’m not a slave driver, all work and no play makes Jer a dull boy. After a good start building an angle iron wall in the back of the motor home to add strength so the cabin wouldn’t flex as much, it’s my guess why the front windshield pops out and a few other projects, I suggested we head to Santa Cruz to watch the free Eddy Money concert on the beach. The free concerts on the board walk are always fun. I usually go there two or three times a year then to the bowling alley bar afterwards for the local band.

I don’t think we were in the bar watching the band for more then a half hour when someone asked Dave, Kip’s friend to dance. A few minutes later a beautiful woman asked me to dance. Before the night was over Kip was dancing as well. I love getting out of the house. I feel sorry for those who stay home all the time. There is a wonderful world out there. I don’t recall the lovely lady’s name I danced with, but I’d like to thank her for a great time. We must have danced for close to an hour. I should have asked her for her number, but I’m not very smart. One doesn’t stay single for this long by being smart.

When I was seven years old my mother, father, twin sister Jean and I went for a ride in my great grandfather’s ’36 Ford car. We went to Michigamme to look for a cabin my father was thinking about buying. The ride took us down country road 607 over four concrete bridges so narrow that it requires one car at a time to pass over them, then on a gravel road that hadn’t been maintained for decades. Most of the road was long mud ruts were you hoped you’d make it through to the dry ground a quarter mile away. The road hadn’t been maintained so the trees were over growing most of the road. My great grandfather’s car had to been scratched up pretty bad from our drive. Then we came to a wooden bridge that looked like it was going to fall into the river. My father told us to walk across after he slowly drove the car over. After driving up and down these old logging roads for a few hours, we finally stopped at the end of one of them. You couldn’t see anything but trees, but my father was sure we were close. We got out of the car and instantly the mosquitoes attacked us. We didn’t have any bug spray. After a few minutes, my father found what looked like a path going somewhere. We follow it to the cabin we were looking for. It was a two room tarpaper shack. But 100 feet away was a beautiful inland lake that Michigan is famous for.

My father purchased the cabin and the land. Over the years he built a few buildings and fixed the road. We used to go to camp every weekend even in the winter time. My father had a snowmobile trailer that carried three arctic cat snowmobiles, a cat cutter and a sled or two. We’d park the Jeep Wagoneer and trailer at the beginning of the gravel road then we’d snowmobile the rest of the three miles over the unplowed gravel road. For the first several years there was always a little work to do, but then it was play time. There was a lake which was a mile long to swim in. It had bass and other fish, so we went fishing. My father had two 20 foot Styrofoam sailboats that were impossible to sail. Well they were for a 12 year old boy anyway. I tried sailing them, but I could never get them to turn or tack around. My father also had mini bikes and snowmobiles for us to ride. Growing up riding them were a lot of fun. I have never been the best at any sports, but riding mini bikes and snow mobiles you can become the best you can be at them. I loved pushing them to the limit or my limits anyway. We were always allowed to bring friends out to camp, so going to camp was a lot of fun. Then on Sunday night on the way home we’d pickup Vila Capri pizzas. To this day, when I visit Marquette, I always have a Villa pizza along with pasties and Togo’s. We have Togo’s but I never have them. They’re not the same, not as good. I’ve heard the very first Togo’s was in Marquette and the next ones were here in San Jose, then I’ve heard it was just the opposite. I’ll have to ask Whitney or Kate. I believe they’re related to one of the founders, either Tom or Gorge. Togo’s is from ‘’to’’ from Tom and ‘’go’’ from Gorge that much I know for sure.

We ended up staying at the motor home until Monday. Kip and Dave completed several projects I had for the Mint Julep. Kip fabricated two angel iron walls to strengthen the cabin so my windshields won’t pop out any more. Dave cut holes and installed my rear speakers for the stereo. The motor home came with two front stereo speakers over the driver’s and passenger’s heads and the rear speakers in the bedroom. If you had people sitting on the couch, they couldn’t hear the music very well unless it was turned up louder which would isolate the driver and passenger from the conversations behind them. Instead of having the rear speakers in the bedroom where they are useless, now they are over the couch so now the volume is even for everyone. Dave also installed a new roof vent that is remote controlled operated. That is nice. Now it opens and the fan turns on with the push of a button. They also repaired the wheelchair lifts in both the motor home and my van and installed a flat panel TV in the bedroom. They did a lot of work which reminded me of going to my parent’s camp, especially the early years. Sometimes going to camp meant doing some work before play. For my parents, it was a little work before relaxing. Now that I’m 50 years old, I’m in the relaxing camp. The weekend at the motor home was fun. There was work on my ‘’mobile cabin’’ and relaxing afterwards. Next week I’ll have the windshield people put the windows back into place then I’ll head up to Kips to finish the upgrades. Then we’ll load up the Mint Julep and take her to Yosemite for a few days. The Mint Julep is a lot of work. A few months ago we had to replace the refrigerator. But that’s part of the fun. You fix her up then you get to enjoy her. I’m glad my family bought me a motor home. I don’t think they have a clue how much it means to me and how hard it was to ask them for it.