Wow...What a day....woke up in Illinois to an unbelievably violent rainstorm...rattled the crap outta me...didn't know what the hell was going on!! I can sleep through a gunfight between the Crips and the Bloods on Flatbush Ave....no prob...but JESUS, the noise it made this morning at about 6! We were ready and raring to go...after buying some last minute supplies (and, bein' one who can't pass a Crane Machine, I actually had to win a stuffed Minnie Mouse...in one try) we were set to go. I received a call from Enterprise Rental Car, where i had booked my car in advance, with no chance of screw-ups....to ask if I still wanted my car "Yes!" I said "of course...I was just about to call and see if I could pick it up early!" and he said..."Uh, actually, I was hoping we could keep it a noon"...ummm....dang...but OK...that's what we AGREED TO WHEN I BOOKED IT...AND GAVE YOU MY CREDIT CARD NUMBER...AND ALL MY INFO"...so...we went to my little bro, Tim's place (His gal, Heidi's, place, really!) and borrowed his GPS thing-a-majiggy....then went to the rental place. What a buzz wrecker. This nerdy dude there, Mike (as mom said, "such a wuss"!!!!!!!!!!!!!!) said "Tom! Hi! GUESS WHAT!!?? I'm gonna do you a FAVOR and upgrade you!!"...i said "huh?"...he said "we don't actually have the car you ordered...so we're gonna give you an EXPLORER!!" I said "I don't WANT an Explorer" He whined "Hey, i thought i was doin the 'nice guy' thing for ya there, buddy!"...I said "Really...this is my Mom...she's 76...she can't get up into an Explorer...i booked a car in advance. And this is the ONLY thing you have? " And this jackass kept going on about 'doin the nice guy thing.."I can cut you a deal, too...a tank of gas".."Oh, really...a tank of gas? How much gas do you think we'll be going through in the mountains of Tennessee in an EXPLORER??? And do you think my mother could drive it if she had to??" Idiot..OH!..then the chubby chick behind a desk said to MY mother...."Awwww, how come you can't get up into the truck....ARE YOU A LIL' SHORTY????" Whoa. She obviously had never met Ma Clark. Mom said "No...I've had two spinal surgeries." Oh, man....my mom was about to go show her who a 'Lil' Shorty' was!! I could see it. Remember, she raised five boys. I laid into him some more then said a fewmore choice words..then said "So...where else can I get a car?" and he mumbled..."Uhhh, well you could wait two hours and I'll have a Charger here".....No thanks, Jackass. "There's a Hertz a couple doors down"....We sat in the car outside and I just stared to make him nervous. Then...we went next door to Hertz....The Skies Opened Up...The Angels Sang....and we met Ryan...Saviour of the Trip. He not only matched the deal...we got extra days, extra gas...a GREAT car...and unbelievably courteous service. Am I gushing? Yes. Do I mean it? Yes. Here's the best part. The Very Very Very Best Part. As we drove off (and the whole transaction only took 15 minutes and we were off the lot!)...I was following behind my sweet, dear , grey haired mother in her car...I saw her motherly hand reach out the window...and flip the bird to the fat ass at Enterprise. This is a GOOD trip so far, and we hadn't even left Dekalb.
We hit some rain heading south...having a beautiful drive...as we rolled through a town of 1100 called Ramsey, Illinois...ma said "Who's that again...Tex Williams?"...I said "WHAT???!!!" She said "the sign said "Home of Tex Williams"......screeeeeeeech! U-TURN!....had to have my pic taken next to THAT sign.....yes...Tex "Smoke, Smoke, Smoke That Cigarette" Williams...is from Illinois. I guess 'Tex' sounded a heckuva lot better than "Illinois Williams".....yep, GREAT trip so far. And we ate at a place called Five Brothers in southern illinois that was amazing. Real Mom and Pop Place (not the burger chain, either)...huge bowl of homeade soup, the biggest cheeseburger you ever saw and fries. $5.75. Yep. Pics to follow. Oh, and the biggest freakin' Deer head on the wall..ever. So far, so good. And this Best Western in Paducha is pretty damn nice, too. xoxoxo Tom and Mom