Archive for January 2012

So Long Spangles

Posted: Saturday, January 28, 2012 at 1:30 pm
By: Doug Lund
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spangles xmas sock

I always thought that “Spangles” was a great name for a cat but it wasn’t until last night, on the eve of Spangles’ demise, that I found out how our daughter Suzan and her husband Joe came up with such a clever moniker  nearly 16 years ago. They were living and working in Georgia at the time and visiting friends one evening near Atlanta when they heard a meowing sound coming from beneath their feet. A quick investigation revealed a frightened little orange kitty with big eyes and an attitude had taken refuge there. But the deck was too low for anyone to make a rescue. All attempts to lure it to the light failed. They were about to give up when one drunk fellow  knelt down and, for some reason, started calling the little bugger “Spangles”and to everyone’s amazement, she slowly inched her way forward into his waiting hands. There was much discussion about what to do with the stray cat but no doubt about what to name her. Suzan and Joe already had a male cat called Tempest and weren’t too keen on adding another to the family..especially with their small apartment., but when everyone else passed on adoption, Spangles wound up going home with them anyway. It turned out to be a good arraignment. Tempest soon got used to the notion of being the Alpha male..the big cat of the walk.. and Spangles seemed more than content to serve as his companion and official groomer. They both survived a grueling move clear across country to California where they became Hollywood cats. All was well until shortly after our granddaughter Zoey was born. Suzan discovered Tempest’s lifeless body on the floor one morning. Without warning, the king was dead. Suzan and Joe were devastated, of course, but poor Spangles was just lost.

426797_1827972996580_1757997213_918324_1503867644_nIt took a while, but eventually she took a shine to that new little girl in the house and the feeling was mutual. Zoey was given the cat’s permission to pull her tail, grab little handfuls of orange fur or perform a double-arm squeeze that caused the poor cat’s eyes to bug out. In exchange, Spangles was allowed to snuggle up on her new little friend’s bed each night; an arraignment that has lasted throughout Zoey’s childhood. About seven years ago, the family moved across country again..this time to Lincoln, Nebraska. 428607_1827958956229_1757997213_918309_1407688649_nSpangles had no trouble adapting to her new surroundings. In fact, she thrived there; growing even larger and more beautiful with each passing year and developing a purr as loud as a thousand snowblowers all roaring at once after a Midwest snowstorm. She also had an ear piercing meow which she used to full effect early in the mornings outside our bedroom door when Linda and I would spend a weekend. After I’d let her in, she’d leap up on the bed and..with her engine revved up full blast, would pace back and forth between us until finally settling down at our feet allowing us to sleep a bit longer.  By the time everyone was up and having breakfast at the table, Spangles was right there staring at my granddaughter waiting to be handed her daily treat; the remaining sweet milk from Zoey’s cereal bowl. Life was good and Spangles was in the cat bird’s seat.

Then, the other day, I received the following e-mail from Suzan:

Sad News. Spangles has been declining quickly. The vet thinks she has a tumor. We’re going to have to put her to sleep. Planning for Saturday Morning. We’re all emotional but have talked through it a lot and poor Spangy is just so weak it’s the only humane thing we can do now. Please say a little prayer for’s going to be really hard. Love to you both. Suzan.

Spangles was 16. A good long life for a cat and, of course, ending her suffering was the only option.. but I can’t bear the thought of how this demonstration of mercy is bringing such misery and tears to our loved ones..especially Zoey who, at age ten, has been so close to that old animal all her young life.

This is one of the reasons Linda and I don’t have a pet. She still gets choked up thinking about having to put her dog, Sadie, down over two decades ago and would hate to go through that again. But, I’m pretty sure that even Zoey would say that the heartbreak of today and in the weeks to come is a tiny price to pay for all the wonderful years she shared with that big old orange ball of fur.


R.I.P. Spangles.

A Flag On The Play

Posted: Thursday, January 26, 2012 at 2:08 pm
By: Doug Lund
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As the doctor once told me just prior to snapping on his rubber glove for  my prostate exam, “You might feel some discomfort here, Doug.”

Bottom is current SD flag Top is proposed new flag

Bottom is current SD flag Top is proposed new flag

I’ve got a couple comments on the proposed new South Dakota state flag and they’re sure to displease two of my favorite people who I admire greatly; South Dakota Magazine publisher and State Representative, Bernie Hunhoff and the brilliant Spearfish artist, Dick Termes, who I recently blogged about here.

Bernie has introduced a bill which would replace the current flag with the one designed in 1989 by Mr. Termes. According to the Rapid City Journal, Bernie has the support of at least 80 others in the legislature but from comments I’ve been seeing on the interweb, it doesn’t have a big fan base among the masses; including me. My objection has nothing to do with legislators wasting their valuable time on the issue or what it might cost to make the change-over. I just don’t care for the look of it. Oh, I get the sunburst representing South Dakota, the sunshine state(which used to be our slogan until it was changed 20 years ago..perhaps after someone pointed out the absurdity of it after 60 days of continuous cloud cover and gloom that usually hang over us in March and April) plus It’s also Florida’s slogan and we certainly didn’t want to confuse tourists about where they were headed. At the center of the proposed new flag are a couple of different colored blue circles and an orange Native American medicine wheel..which, according to Bernie, fits with the effort to promote state unity. I’m afraid, though, that would have to be explained to everyone who saw it..which, I suppose, would be one way of getting the message across.

For the record, I agree that the current state flag is too busy and pretty boring but if it’s to be replaced, I’m not sure if a design that might have been just fine for one of Elvis’ jumpsuits, is the attention grabber its supporters are going for. It was conceived 23 years ago and today could be easily duplicated in five minutes by somebody with photoshop or  a drawing download on their computer.

 I respectfully suggest that Mr. Termes go back to his palate and come up with something less  quilt-like and agenda inspired;  more in keeping with his enormous talents. A design that  simply represents what South Dakota has to offer. Maybe it doesn’t even have to be blue. Red is always a good attention-getter.

But what do I know from art? I’m just an old guy sittin’ here in the desert waiting for 4 O’clock to arrive so me and the misses can head down to Phil’s for the all you can eat  earlybird special.

Ad Nauseum Part 2

Posted: Monday, January 23, 2012 at 2:15 pm
By: Doug Lund
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I have to tread carefully here because if it weren’t for television commercials I probably wouldn’t have had a career

pigbut if I see that helmet-wearing pig tearing down a zip line screaming wheeeee one more time, my eyes will roll back and I’ll go into convulsions sort of like that woman who claimed hearing the voice of South Dakota’s own Mary Hart on TV caused her to have epileptic seizures. The first time Maxwell (yes..the little piggy has a name) appeared in a Geico ad,  he was a student getting a ride home from school  and driving everybody in the van nuts by hollering weeee weeee weeee out the window.  Ha, ha. Clever.  A take-off on the poem that has delighted little barefoot children for years. I get it. But there’s a fine line between novelty and aggravation and whether he’s in a car or suspended from a wire, that little oinker creeps me out. What made the ad even more annoying for me was not being able to understand those two words Maxwell says as he passes a fellow zip liner. After a little Google research, he’s apparently saying “Pure adrenalin.” Wheee.

  I didn’t used to mind the Geico gecko but even this green little pitchman with the cockney accent is wearing mighty thin.

And speaking of insurance company overkill, I think the gal who plays Flo on the Progressive ads is very good but, again, constant repetition of the same commercials just rubs me the wrong way like a starchy stiff collar chafing my neck.

mayhemOh, and what was Allstate thinking when they created that Mayhem character? Here, let’s see if we can scare viewers into buying Allstate insurance with a zombie-like guy in a suit who is immune  to injury while causing  people to crash their vehicles and have life-threatening accidents.

They’re all doing it; trying to save us money on insurance through ads that, I guess, are supposed to be humorous. Oh, yeah..can’t stop laughing when that Farmer’s insurance guy uses a flame thrower to ignite a big ball of lint or when an old NASA space capsule comes crashing through the roof  onto a giant Jack-In-The-Box. Even my own insurance company sees fit to spend hundreds of millions to run irritating ads like the ones that feature a guy who keeps wrecking his car and calling State Farm for help even though he’d recently  dropped his coverage for something cheaper.  Or the 3 a.m. phone conversation the husband is having with his State Farm agent that sounds like he’s talking to his mistress which arouses the suspicions of his wife.

So Lund, if you can’t stand those commercials..why not switch channels,after all, the remote is always within reach. It’s true, I have worn out several remotes but it seems that even competing networks take their commercial breaks at the exact same time so there’s no escape.  When we’re home I record most everything on the DVR so I can zap through the ads faster than a screaming pig on a zip line.

To be fair, there have been a few TV commercials past and present that I never grew tired of.

Old Home filler up and keep on truckin' cafe

Old Home filler up and keep on truckin' cafe

Remember C.W. McCall and Mavis “Old Home” ads? We’d see them every night, of course, during the Keloland 10 O’clock weather which was sponsored by Metz Baking Company. It was always a big deal when a new spot came out featuring the dog-eyed truck driver and gum-chomping waitress..not to mention the catchy lyrics, narration  and music from the brilliant mind of Bill Fries an Omaha ad agency executive who came up with the characters and also wrote the song “Convoy” which stayed atop both the country and pop charts for six weeks in 1975 .

Oh, and who can forget the deliciously funny commercials by the late Jim Varney who became a national phenomena with his bumbling rubber-faced character Ernest P. Worrell.

Lewis Stores hired Varney for an ad campaign

Lewis Stores hired Varney for an ad campaign

The site of him mugging the camera talking to his pal, Vern, about various products, then getting his fingers smashed by a falling window or being shocked by a TV set with a shorrrrrrt in it, never failed to break me up.  

More recently, those commercials featuring the E-Trade baby always bring a smile as did the Geico spot featuring Abe and Mary Todd Lincoln in which she asks her husband for his “honest” opinion on whether or not the dress she had on made her butt look big and he was forced to answer truthfully bringing priceless reactions.

Okay, maybe I do watch a lot of commercials. I know I’m looking forward to the Super Bowl not only to see if New York can work its magic on New England again but to observe all those mega-million dollar advertisements. I can’t wait to see how the Budweiser Clydesdales will try tug at the heartstrings this year or the humorous ways Doritos has come up with to peddle tortilla chips or to find out

Danica: Racy in more ways than one

Danica: Racy in more ways than one

 how brazenly will attempt to sell web site domains by exposing the diminutive bosoms of it’s spokesperson, race car driver, Danica Patrick.

The only problem with Super Bowl Sunday is finding time away from the TV to go grab some of the food and beverage products advertised or relieve oneself of what’s already been consumed..which, now that I’ve just turned another year older, is a requirement that occurs with even more frequency. Knowwaddamean Vern?

Now This Is More Like It!

Posted: Thursday, January 19, 2012 at 11:44 am
By: Doug Lund
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My crippled crumpled back is finally feeling better which leaves me with a couple options: continue to rest until the healing process is complete..or man up and get out there on the golf course and play through the pain. I have chosen the latter and much to my surprise it went fine. In fact, the only pain I felt was the realization and confirmation that my game still sucks. I’m like every other golfer who believes he has never played up to his potential and that one day all the stars will be in proper alignment and struck balls will fly straighter and putts will run truer than ever before confirming that the skills were there all the time.

az golf and bob's 012

My playing partners yesterday (in the Fountain Hills American Legion League) included two guys from Minnesota who’ve been coming out here for years. Bill, it turned out was from actually from Valley Springs, South Dakota and recognized me right away from TV. It turned out to be a lovely day with wonderful weather and great camaraderie; almost enough to make up for rather lousy scores. I’m trying it again today at a place called Gold Canyon with some of my pals who play regularly in our Brandon group and spend time out here in the winter. I’ve already started slamming back the Advil to discourage any pangs of back discomfort from creeping in to spoil the day.

Linda doesn’t drive out here so she’s stuck at home during those hours when I’m off gallivanting around the links but insists she welcomes the opportunity to do nothing other than read any of the books she has downloaded onto her NOOK (There’s a sentence that wouldn’t have made any sense five years ago.) or do her nails or just sit outside on the patio soaking in the sunshine. She doesn’t say it, but I’m pretty sure she finds time away from me to be relaxing in itself.

Good pizza and great big band jazz on Wednesdays

Good pizza and great big band jazz on Wednesdays

We joined up with cousin, Donny Gruseth and his wife, Arlene for a fun evening in Mesa at a place called the “Pizza Mart” on Wednesday night. My friend and fellow musician, Rich Smith of Sioux Falls, plays  bass in a band that’s made up almost entirely of elderly snowbirds who, at first glance, didn’t look like they could play a lick. But from the very first note it was obvious we were in for something special. Playing music transforms people. Years melt away when they stand up to take a ride or belt out a familiar tune on the microphone. Sit-ins are welcome and I confess to cringing a bit when an old lady was barely able to hobble up from out of the big crowd to the stage but when she began to sing an old torch-light song with the band following along perfectly, this elderly woman became what she obviously had been all those decades ago; a heart breaker who would send men swooning ala Lena Horne. When she finished to thunderous applause, the band leader announced there was a guy from Sioux Falls in the audience we’d like to call up here. Oh, No, I thought. Now I know how the comedian must have felt on the Ed Sullivan Show when he had to follow The Beatles. But I clomped up there and gave my best effort at singing Bye Bye Blackbird and just like that it was time to say Bye Bye because tents fold up early around here. Donny and Arlene thought we should grab a bite to eat but neither of us knew what would still be open in Mesa after we agreed to rendezvous at a later date.  Perhaps Friday. It’s Karaoke night at the Legion and our daughter already has songs picked out for me to try.

Golf and music. Now that’s more like it.

Janklow, The Fear Factor

Posted: Friday, January 13, 2012 at 1:47 pm
By: Doug Lund
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BillJanklowAre you suffering from Bill Janklow overload yet?

It’s going to take a lot of air time and column space trying to summarize and analyze the life and career of Janklow who died Thursday only a few weeks after announcing that his quick demise was immanent. I just have a few comments from my personal encounters with the man.  Few South Dakotans have ever been so complicated…so popular and so reviled as our longtime governor, short time congressman and tragic soul who served 100 days jail time for manslaughter.

The word I most associate with Janklow is “fear.” I think he really enjoyed putting the fear of god into people. At least that was the case during my years in TV news and his as governor. His calls to reporters, anchors or station managers and owners complaining or wishing to “enlighten” them, about a story he had issues with, were legendary. He’d beat you down with statistics and ask you questions you couldn’t answer then scold you for being uninformed and under qualified while insisting you take down the number of the legislative research council and get your blankety blank facts straight. I received a few of those intimidating tongue lashings and have heard him say more than once he was never talking to KELO again but after a while he’d simmer down and we’d all be back on speaking terms.

As the eulogies continue in the days ahead, you’ll be hearing a lot about Janklow’s quieter compassionate side. That was never more evident to me than when he helped organize the huge World War II Veterans celebration on the grounds of the State Capitol in 2001. Janklow epitomized the slogan “Once a Marine always a Marine” crediting the Corps with turning him from a wild juvenile delinquent into a disciplined responsible man.  His  appreciation for the men and women in uniform and his patriotism in general was on fire that day as he spoke so passionately to the thousands of South Dakota’s war vets gathered on that cloudy rainy September afternoon. It was one of the most eloquent speeches of his public life made even more poignant by the fact that it came just hours after the terrorist attacks on New York and Washington DC.  I interviewed Janklow shortly after that address and asked if, in light of 9-11, he’d considered postponing the event. Never, Doug..he said. Never. The people that we are honoring here today stood up and answered the call to fight and perhaps die for this country. What would they think if we caved-in to those thugs who despise the very freedom these World War II veterans so bravely sacrificed to preserve? No sir.

I told him I liked his speech and he told me thanks.

Finally a conversation without fear.

The Rusty Spur

Posted: Tuesday, January 10, 2012 at 3:21 pm
By: Doug Lund
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I just got off the phone with my South Dakota golf buddies; not to gloat about being out here where the weather is sunny and warm (even though it is) but to see if they were still playing in this odd month of January. Sure enough, two groups of them were waiting to tee off at Brandon Golf Course just like they did yesterday and last week. I could hear them snickering in the background..especially after I confessed that my clubs were still in the trunk having not been touched since leaving South Dakota other than to be moved around to make room for groceries. I don’t know if it’s fate or if somebody is sticking pins in a Doug Lund doll but I’m really laid up this time. The cough and cold that had been slowing me up have pretty much gone away but then, last Saturday while stepping out of the shower, the lower left side of my big back slipped into an awkward and excruciatingly painful position. It was all I could do to stand up, get dried off and schlump downstairs to the Advil bottle. The last time this happened was when I was mowing the lawn and stepped into a depression I wasn’t expecting to be there. It took months to heal. So now, I’m coping with my impairment with ample doses of Ibuprofen and Smirnoff..but I don’t see golf anywhere in the near future short of a miracle.

Speaking of adult beverages, Linda and I visited an old friend the other day; The Rusty Spur Saloon in Old Town Scottsdale.

Arizona 2012 010

It’s the last of the old time watering holes in the valley. It began life in 1921 as the Farmer’s State Bank of Scottsdale. Then, just 12 years later, in the depths of the Depression, the governor of Arizona called for a “Bank Holiday” and that was the end of it. Farmer’s State Bank never reopened its doors..leaving lots of angry fruit and vegetable farmers in the valley high and dry.

The building housed the Chamber of Commerce and a real estate office for a time but in the 50’s it became the Rusty Spur where, it’s said, cowboy’s watered their horses with buckets of beer. Our desert daughter, Christy,  introduced us to the spur when we first started coming out here 16 years ago. Visitors to Old Town had no trouble finding the tiny tavern. You just had to listen for the non-stop live country music and watch for cigarette smoke wafting out the swinging front doors. You’re only chance of finding a place to sit down was to stand and wait patiently for a table or wall-side bench to open up. Once seated, our waitress came by to take our order and bring by a big bucket of salted in the shell peanuts to munch on and throw the shells to the floor.(A practice that has since ended after somebody in a position of authroity decided it to be a health hazard. No smoking anymore either, of course.)  


The evening entertainment was, and still is, Phychobilly and the Rodeo Cowboys; a real fun time country band that, at Christy’s suggestion, let me get up and sing a few songs with them every year including Kawliga..the old Hank Williams and Charley Pride tune that  never fails to bring the crowd to its feet and the dance floor. Back then, the place had…what the Antiques Road Show appraisers would call; Patina.

Arizona 2012 019

The big game animal heads, license plates (from every state) beer signs and photographs were covered with decades of dust and stale smoke. The rest room was…well, a place to do your business and get the hell out again. Ten years ago, Ron Anderson and his  wife, Susan,  took over the Spur and have since cleaned up some of the disgusting elements but kept the fun atmosphere including good food and live music every day and every night of the year. One notable absence now, though, is the skinny little old cowboy who never missed a night at the spur always sitting on a stool next to the bandstand. He was as much a part of the décor as the dollar bills pinned to the walls and ceiling.

Arizona 2012 024All the regulars knew Teddy who became sort of a celebrity..especially with Psychobilly’s band who’d invite him up to sing “Cheatin’ Heart” every night. I liked the way the band and the crowd treated Teddy with respect and applause. Sadly, Teddy Hanna went to that bar stool in the sky this last year. I also liked the way Ron permanently placed a photograph in Teddy’s honor over the place where Arizona’s singin’ cowboy spent so many hours. But the Spur still attracts it’s share of colorful this heavy set gent who uses a modified Louisville Slugger baseball bat for a cane.

Arizona 2012 033

After leaving the Spur, we heard music of a different sort coming from across the street. It was this guy playing Jerry Lee Lewis stuff on his electric piano. He was remarkable. We sat listening, making requests and putting bills in his tip jar until it was time to move on.

Arizona 2012 043

God, I love this town..even if I’m denied the joy of winter golf while my pals are playing at home.

It’s still worth the trip

Laid Back And Laid Up

Posted: Thursday, January 5, 2012 at 3:34 pm
By: Doug Lund
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Wow! Our first week in the desert and it’s been one non-stop party; visiting all the touristy places by day and all the hot night spots after sundown.

Shortly after we arrived at our home away from home. It was Christy's birthday so why am I getting the hugs?

Shortly after we arrived at our home away from home. It was Christy's birthday so why am I getting the hugs?

Actually, that’s a bunch of bunk. I’m embarrassed to report that Linda and I have mostly been laying low trying to heal up. A few days before we left, I developed one of those colds that presents itself through a recurring clump of mucus (sorry) that forms about halfway down the windpipe. It causes a tickle that can only be freed by persistent, often involuntary, coughing which eventually becomes incredibly annoying and hurts. Hurts a lot. . Each hack sends a separate but equal jolt of pain to the forehead and ribcage that’s enough to buckle you over. I killed off a couple bottles of Tussin with codeine, a few hundred cough drops and lots of Advil trying to end my agony. Meanwhile, Linda’s mobility has been drastically limited because of dropping something on her foot which, as is typical for people of our advanced age, turned her entire instep a lovely shade of purple and limited her footwear options to a pair of Dearfoams slippers she picked up at Wallyworld. Her foot is getting better (more of a yellowish green now) and she’s able to wear her tennies for a few hours at a time. But, now she’s caught my cold. For her it’s a cough, runny nose and a voice that makes her sound like Ernestine the phone operator on Laugh In. (One ringy dingy) So, nobody’s called the cops on us yet for excessive rowdiness but wait until next week when we’re back to 100%.

We did find time to do a bit of shopping the other day followed by a perfectly lovely afternoon here at a place called VU for obvious reasons.

Arizona 2012 006

The food and grown up beverages are pretty spendy but it’s worth every penny to just sit out on the patio and drink-in the delicious wine and magnificent views which of course includes my lovely but ailing travel companion.

Arizona 2012 005

Also, whether we’re feeling up to it or not, there are two other priority places here in Fountain Hills we absolutely must visit upon arrival. First is the American Legion club where our desert daughter, Christy, is a member in good standing. She was invited by her neighbors years ago to be their guest and really liked the place because of the nice people there and the fact that smoking was allowed. In order to join herself, she had to submit the service record of her great grandfather who served in World War I.   Through the Legion, Linda and I have gotten to know those same people and been invited to their functions including golf every Wednesday. The other must-go-to stop is Pei Wei Asian restaurant. I’ve mentioned this place before but it is absolutely the best tasting Asian cuisine I’ve ever had..and I like Szechuan in Sioux Falls a LOT.  I know, I wrote here a few weeks ago about the abundance of Chinese restaurants at home but if a Pei Wei, or its parent company P.F. Chang’s, were to come to town, I’d be one delirious diner.

Speaking of food; one of the local TV stations down here does a cooking segment which reminded me a lot of “Monday Menu” we used to feature on Keloland’s Early News. I used to look forward to that segment each week as did a lot of our viewers although I believe many  of them tuned in not so much for the recipes as to see Angela and my reactions when we tasted what guests had prepared.

Hey, that’s an idea for a blog; memories of the most delightful and most disgusting foods we were forced to consume on Monday Menu. Stay Tuned.

Along The Dusty Trail

Posted: Tuesday, January 3, 2012 at 5:22 pm
By: Doug Lund
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 Linda and I have officially slipped into Arizona adjustment mode. It happened on the final leg of our trip to Fountain Hills.
We were cruising along Interstate 40 just outside of Holbrook, when we spotted, what appeared to be, a skinny German shepherd dog prancing alongside the highway. “Look,” she said, “ a Ky-OAT-ee!”  That’s right Ky-OAT-ee..not Ky-Oat like the Lord and most Midwesterners know to be the correct pronunciation. But, when in Rome, you know.

Our trip was, thankfully, uneventful and, aside from gale-force winds in Colorado and New Mexico, Big Red, our well-traveled Lincoln, did just fine aside from inhaling lots of expensive fuel which is the price you pay for all those Town Car amenities. The timing of our gas stops was not good either. For example, I had just filled up near Pueblo, Colorado for the ridiculously high  amount of $3.49 a gallon only to drive 50 miles farther down the road to see it for sale at $2.82. Sixty Cents difference?  It is quite literally highway robbery taking place out there and there’s absolutely nothing I can do about it aside from staying home or trading down to a bare bones vehicle that gets 35 miles to the gallon but offers none of the things that make motoring enjoyable like heated seats to keep my tootsie’s  tushey toasty on those frosty mornings.  We spent New Year’s eve at the Gallup, New Mexico Rodeway Inn. After nearly 11 hours on the road we were ready to stop. I’d made the reservation on-line the night before and thought 50 bucks was a good price considering the 85 I’d spent at the Comfort Inn our first night out. I always figured from a quality level Roadway Inns were right up there but when we pulled in, my first instinct was to pull right out again.

Wern't Roadway Inns once considered up there with Comfort Inns and Best Westerns?

Wern't Roadway Inns once considered up there with Comfort Inns and Best Westerns?

The place just looked run down but we were too tired to find someplace else so chose to take our chances. Once again, the English language was foreign to those behind the desk which makes no sense at all if you’re in a business that requires a certain amount of communication. After a few times of me saying “huh?..What?..say again? My reservation was confirmed. They didn’t bother with reservation forms to fill out; the guy just ran my card and gave me a key. The parking lot was filled with pot holes deep enough to swallow up smaller vehicles but we made it to our room which was illuminated  on the outside by a million candle power fluorescent light over the front door. After opening said front door we were nearly overcome by a blast of fumes from Bon Ami or some other powerful cleansers you see advertised on late night infomercials by guys with thick British accents or bearded dead guys. “Well, it smells clean,” Linda said as she is wont to do with her “make the best of it” attitude. Then she nervously tip toed into the bathroom to inspect the floor, shower and toilet. Of course the TV and internet didn’t work so I had to have another conversation with the owner who put down his curry long enough to holler for his teenage son to visit our room and fix the problems. The boy was very nice and got both functioning properly within a few seconds.  We were both hungry but, rather than go out, decided to fill a couple Red Solo Cups with vodka and coke and have a party. (Heard that Toby Keith novelty song about a dozen times on the car radio coming down here.)YouTube Preview Image

We dined on a couple remaining ham sandwiches Linda had packed for the trip..then toasted in the New Year early at 8:30 PM. Our cups were still about half full when we both fell asleep in front of the TV and were deep into REM sleep when I was startled from my slumber by the sound of bombs exploding along with yelling and laughter from men, women and children outside the concrete bunker that was our room. The next thing I saw was the tragic figure of Dick Clark on TV ushering in 2012 from Times Square. I thought about waking Linda up for a little New Year’s smooch but concluded she’d probably much prefer to let the next few hours pass in an unconscious state. As we were vacating our noisy nest that morning, some of the other guests were just arriving to their rooms in various states of inebriation from a night of reveling with booze and fireworks along this famous stretch of Route 66.

We were only too happy to be galloping out of Gallup aboard Big Red; back on the dusty trail..only perhaps not quite as dusty as our overnight campsite. HeeAww.