I love my motor home. Prior to it I was traveling across the country in my 1992 Ford van. It served me well. I still have her. She’s old and is now living up to her name, ford (fix or repair daily). Ford lovers, don’t send me letters. She has over 200,000 miles. All vehicles with high milage have problems. Then before the 1992 Ford van was the 1984 Ford van that I bought without the interior which my family and friends helped me with the interior.
Now I have this condition called CRS (can’t remember shit), so if I start repeating my stories, please bare with me. You’re allowed to laugh at me. I laugh at myself all the time. Hey, I’m 50 years old and happy. Laughter is healthy. So if you’re laughing at me, I’m helping you live longer. I feel sorry for those who look for the negative in everything.
Crap, what was I going to write about? Traveling. When one is paralyzed from the chest down and especially with paralyzed hands, the very simple things in life become very difficult if not impossible. A few months ago I was sewing something on my ‘’so called’‘ heavy duty sewing machine. The fabric became tangled and the machine jammed or locked up. I thought if I removed the needle, I could unjam it. After getting pissed off some, I finally broke the fabric loose. Now I had to reinstall the needle. That little screw was a pain to put back in. It took me over an hour to get it back in place. Now after a few minutes of trying and failing, I could have given up and called a friend or two or three to help, but I felt I could do it, and I did. It just took me an hour to do something you wouldn’t think twice about doing in 30 seconds or less. I just finished drinking my morning can of mountain dew, so I’m a little wired on the caffeine and sugar. Lets see if I can remember my point to this story? When I can’t get a small screw in my sewing machine, no one dies. If a small screw falls out of my ford van when I’m traveling alone, I could be in trouble. Traveling alone is a lot scarier then sewing alone?
But it’s a dream of mine to travel. When I was lying in a hospital bed it was my dream to get a passport and travel the world with my family and friends. Well, that takes money, money I didn’t have, so I decided I was going to travel across america. After I went to Vegas for the important fours days with Mike, I knew I needed to travel. But I was a long ways away from traveling alone. Then fate stepped in. A few weeks after returning home from Vegas, I received a phone call from my brother John. He was in Green Bay Wisconsin and needed a ride home. Why? That’s his story to tell. But after giving him money so he could pay ‘‘someone,’’ we started talking on the way back to Marquette. His plans for leaving Marquette fell through. Somehow spring break in florida came up, he had a friend living in florida, I had 1979 blue Chevrolet Monte Carlo, so lets go to florida. (this is a year before the 1984 ford van)
A few weeks later we pack up the trunk of my Monte Carlo with two suite cases for me. One with clothes and the pretty rose colored one. I’m sure I had ‘‘everything’’ I thought I could possibly need because the trunk was packed full and John had only one small suite case. To this day I still travel like that. I take two or twice as much of everything I ‘‘think’’ I might possibly need. Then I always forget something very important. My last trip to Florida, two years ago, I forgot the charging cord for my samsung digital camera. I’m finally taking pictures. I’ve traveled for years without taking them. I know, I was stupid. These stories would be so much better with pictures. Plus the hairdos people had and the clothes we thought were cool? How about the 80’s when everyone had a mustache?
Driving to Florida was as exciting as it was scary for me. When my life changed on May 13, 1979, the family house on 322 East Ridge street became my sanctuary. Especially my bedroom in the basement. The house was built in 1880. The foundation (basement) was made from sandstone and poured concrete walls two feet thick. My bedroom was at the opposite end of the house from the basement door, so there was a long hallway with the thick stone walls leading to my bedroom. My bedroom sanctuary was like my own little cave that protected me from the cruel world. Even my bedroom door was 100 years old made from 2 inches of solid hard wood that when locked could keep out seal team six. I even had a TV, fridge and microwave in my bedroom. I could survive for days without ever having to leave my room.
But I wasn’t driving to florida alone, I had the security of knowing my brother John was there riding with me in the passenger seat of my car. Florida is the second longest state you’ll ever drive in. The excitement from driving over the Florida boarder from Georgia soon ends when you read the road sign that informs you you still have 400 miles to Miami. The longest state to drive in is by far Michigan. When you drive home from a three week trip to Florida and you cross over the Ohio – Michigan boarder, you don’t need a road sign informing you you still have a long nine hour drive still before you arrive home in Marquette. It’s like Christmas morning and you receive the coolest toy ‘‘ever’’ but it requires six D batteries and you searched every flashlight in the house only to find five. The coolest toy ever is going to sit there for a whole day unplayed with until you can get the last D battery.
Florida was like a whole new world for me. Although I had been there a few times, the previous time I was 16 years old, I was still a child traveling with my parents. On that trip I met the son of my parents friends the lived in Ft. Myers Beach. He was into cars. He had an old Ford two door with a 390 cubic inch motor. It was all stripped down to loose weight and it had racing slicks on it. The car wasn’t street legal. But just outside of town there was a straight stretch of road that the locals would drag race on. There was one or two police cars there to make sure everything was under control. It was so cool to watch the cars pair off and race. During one race with my new friend, I even got to sit in the passenger seat on a milk crate. There was only the drivers seat in the car. We lost. My friends car had a shitty shifter. He had to double clutch to shift. You’re not going to win many drag races double clutching. I’ll never forget the most important thing about motors my new friend told me. A motor is a big air pump. The faster you can get the air through the motor, the faster your car will go. If you’re going to put on a big 780 holly double pumper carburetor on the top of the motor, you’ll need larger freer flowing exhaust (headers) on the rear to allow the increased volume of air to leave the motor. When I got home from that trip I had two baseball caps made. I don’t remember the first one, but the second one said, ‘‘stock sucks.’’ It wasn’t just about high performance is better then stock, but also a play on the air pump idea. A stock motor doesn’t suck enough air through the motor fast enough. When I was in the hospital right after the accident, my sister Connie told me my younger brother Jay wore that hat everyday. Of everyone in my family, my brother Jay has the biggest heart, by far!
My brother John’s friend Spenser was a great host on our stay in North Miami. Spencer was 18 or 19 with two room mates of the same age. We were all young, so we were doing something every day or night. They took us to the beaches where I seen thousands of beautiful girls in bikinis. We went to the bars and clubs. Went to Ft Lauderdale for spring break a few times. There was a movie out around that time called, ‘‘where the boys are.’’ That was spring break in Ft Lauderdale when we were there. We were in all those bars and more. I saw my first wet t-shirt contest. I flirted with every girl I talked too. I was too stupid to know how to pick them up, but I had fun trying. We went to Bush Gardens and several other touristy things.
That trip was a blast. I changed so much because of it. I now seen my bedroom sanctuary as the cave it truly was. Now that bedroom was for sleeping, only. The world was big and beautiful. The people in it are friendly and helpful. I know how Lewis and Clark felt when they seen the Mississippi river, the great plains, the rocky mountains and finally the pacific ocean for the first time. Exploring was a drug and they were addicted to it. A couple of months later the 4th of July weekend came and I was arrested. But it was too late. I was addicted to enjoying life. An addiction I hope I’m never cured of.
A few weeks ago I got my hair cut by the lovely Angela. I brought my birth certificate with me, so on the way home I could apply for a passport. I arrived at the passport office at 3:10 and it closed at 3 sharp, but two days later I made it on time. A few days ago I got the call that it was approved. Someday soon my travel stories will involve getting a stamp from a foreign country.
Thanks John and Spenser for the spring break that changed my life.
my passport photo, well same shirt and hair cut