FROM MY FRONT PORCH
Sam Houston is a syndicated columnist and the publisher of the Hood County News. He is also an author, actor, playwright and entertainment producer/promoter.
Next week, our managing editor, David Montesino, is making a trip to California to visit his family and to take a little time off. David puts in a lot of hours, frequently starting at the paper before 5 a.m., and I was pleased to learn he was going to take some well-deserved vacation. My curiosity arose when he told me instead of flying to the coast, he and his wife, Meg, had decided to make the long drive so they could take their dogs with them on the trip.
I was informed that the Montesino hounds do not like to be placed in a kennel, but I surmise the Montesinos simply do not wish to be away from their “children” for an extended week.
I thought about the many miles of the trip and having two dogs in the backseat. Mind you, these are not lap dogs, but rather the “take up the entire backseat and slobber everywhere” kind of canines. I am talking about a 13-year-old goldendoodle and a 12-year-old Portuguese water dog. I thought about finding hotel accommodations, stopping along the way to let the dogs out and all the other inconveniences associated with such a trip. To each their own, but for me, a big jet plane sounds like a better choice. Then, I got to thinking about what was probably the worst travel trip I ever made in my life.
Back in the mid-1990s, I lived just north of Louisville, Kentucky, and was engaged in the quarter horse business. During the spring breeding season, I would often make trips to North Texas to bring a mare to be serviced by a stallion or to haul a horse back home. The quarter horse business is centered around Fort Worth, and I became very familiar with the ranches and the people who ran them.
There were three men in their 60s who had become my friends. I was in my early 40s, but Gene, Jimmy Lee and Rex loved to come to my ranch and look at the horses and trade horse stories. The three had been friends most all their lives and spent most of their spare time together. They loved horses and they daydreamed about the horse business and the opportunity to perhaps one day travel to North Texas to see some of the legendary ranches and stallions.
I made the mistake of letting the trio know I was planning on heading to Texas in the next several days to take a mare to be serviced, and they jumped at the opportunity to invite themselves to join me. They knew I had personal knowledge of the people and places they wanted to visit, and it would give them access they might not otherwise have.
I knew it was a long drive from Louisville to horse country and pondered perhaps some company would be welcome. We set a time to depart, and sure enough, the three were in my driveway ready to load 30 minutes before the scheduled departure time.
It’s hard to describe the trip. It reminded me of taking a group of 12-year-old boys on a road trip. These three 60-plus-year-old men reverted to being in junior high, and I was the “substitute teacher.” They never stopped talking, had to stop every 60 miles, and picked on each other mercilessly. They would give each other “wet willies,” pass gas, and do about every other personally offensive act you can imagine. Oh, it was all in good fun and harmless, but after the 13-hour trip to get to Texas, my nerves were frayed.
Once we arrived, their attempts to annoy me and to be comedic never stopped. At one ranch, the owner, with whom I been friends a long time, walked out to meet our truck as we arrived. My three caballeros jumped out and ran towards the lady, throwing their arms around the poor soul. They told her they were so glad to see her and had missed her, though they had never previously met her. My rancher friend kept looking at me in complete dismay as the three acted like they had known the rancher for years and years. I was forced to apologize and explain the three “adults” traveling with me had been released from the “home” for a few days as part of their therapy. There was simply no other explanation for their childish behavior.
On the way back to Louisville, no one offered to drive nor did they offer to buy any of the fuel. The three slept most of the way home, snoring at a level so loud the radio could not be heard.
The trip home may well have been the longest night of my life.
Despite all odds, we did make it home. I was worn out more than any trip I had ever taken. A week later, my three traveling companions brought me a T-shirt they had created which was adorned with their photograph and a caption of “I survived a trip to Texas with these guys!” I will admit, they did have a sense of humor.
I hope David and his wife, Meg, have a wonderful time on their vacation. Come to think about it, I think the dogs will make the trip just fine, and I have no doubt they will be better behaved than my three amigos were.
Thought for the day: The average adult hates being treated like a child, unless it suits them.
Until next time.