Missouri Bugs, Part II, Seriously! (Though, I may have embellished a wee bit here and there)

The cemetery Spider has told on me…

 Today, as I’m leaving a restaurant that serves delicious specialty tacos, I see another Bold Jumping Spider on the side of our truck where the cab and the bed meet. “Hey, here’s another one,” I said, “I’ll get a picture.” And as I did, I saw it’s face, its eyes, its nose; “I have seen this face before, but where?” It was the face of a man, deviously smiling and wearing a really cool pair of sunglasses.IMG_1986

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Suddenly, without warning, it jumped through the air towards me, landing on my hand. I promptly freaked the sh*! out and ass-over-tea-kettled backward. The spider then jumped from my hand back onto the side of the truck and just sat there glaring at me; daring me to again, come close and take another picture. I, with my tail firmly tucked between my legs, raced into the truck and slammed the door, whimpering like a little girl. I was beaten and the damn spider knew it.

I told Lilly to haul-ass and make sure she took a different route home; this (insert expletive here) was making it personal. I looked out at the side mirror (you know objects are larger than they may appear) and saw the little terror crawling on the side of the truck towards the cab. We’re doing 40 mph and yet, still, here he comes; the intrepid hunter.

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Stopping at the handle, he, again, stared at me as if possessing the ability of a Jedi Knight to will those of weak-mind into doing its bidding. I suddenly pulled my hand back towards my lap, which oddly, had begun reaching for the inner door latch. I realized this creature was stalking me, watching and waiting for a chance to freak me out again and claim this truck as its own. The haunting melody of Jaws began echoing in the recesses of my mind. I’m desperate, trapped. I suggested running this side of the truck against a brick wall, building, anything, just scrape it the &%#! off! I’m fighting for my life here. Slowly, it crawls up on to the window’s ledge, watching me through the glass. The face, still smiling. It appeared to be relishing the moment; toying with its human prey.

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I’m lost in awe at the size of brass balls this spider must possess. It would stop, stare and then shake its ass at me; taunting me through the window. Then at the front of the window’s ledge, it sat again, staring. Then its “face” began to shift side to side revealing its hidden incandescent fangs. I’m sitting on the edge of my seat giving a play-by-play of its little dance when Lilly, who is now completely annoyed at the folly, says, “just roll the damn window down and flick it away!” Such a bold move! I was mildly tempted, “it’s not a frickin’ Chihuahua!, I protested. It’s huge, and it might just jump into the cab and then what will we do?” “Idiot,” she replied.

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Facing emasculation, I asked Lilly to pull the truck over in a parking lot. This treacherous little monster must never know where we live or, like its vindictive cemetery cousin, it will spread the word or whatever they do, and this torturous hell will never cease.

It then began to climb up the side of the mirror and when it turned its back, I jumped out of the truck. I found a stick near a bush and bravely stood opposed, staring into one of its “only God knows how many” eyes. I thought my odds of victory were about 54/46 and valiantly lunged forward. The spider, expecting my attack, dodged and squatted as it prepared to leap and deliver its death blow, but I countered quickly and with an unexpected backhand flick and twist, knocked it off the top of the mirror and onto the ground, a single strand of its fine spider’s silk was left blowing gently in the breeze. The spider landed about two feet under the truck; broken and defeated. I tossed my stick towards the bush and raised my hand towards the heavens as I drank to my ancestors from the proverbial well of victory.

But then, to my amazement, the wretched creature arose and began crawling towards me. “What is this dark magic you possess?” I exclaimed. I reached for my stick; it was too far away. This spider was bent on hellish destruction; a killer of men, and as I backed away, it continued to advance towards me. But, like a seasoned chess-master, I sorta-patiently waited and as he was blinded by rage, into my trap, he crawled. I squealed for Lilly to “hit the gas!” The wheels of the truck spun and though he tried to escape, it was too late, and they plowed his plotting, stalking, conniving, evil ass over where he then became one with the tire. I remained vigilant for a minute or two, expecting the monster to rise again, like a phoenix from the ashes, and strike me swiftly from behind. Finally, certain that evil had been truly vanquished, I climbed back into the cab and departed the glorious battlefield; victorious.

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Missouri Bugs…

So, I went to a rural cemetery, wandered around for a bit and then returned to my car. Apparently, I left it unlocked, because he’s on the inside looking back at me through the glass. The car is yours pal, I’m not opening that door!

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The Business of Fun is quite the Funny Business.

A trip to Disney World is an all out assault on your eyes and ears. The place is mindbogglingly busy and none of your senses are spared. It’s loud everywhere, all the time. Your eyes are quickly overwhelmed by the spinning, twirling and flashing of everything that can be spun, twirled or flashed. Even in the restroom, its chaos.

About 3 hours in, a headache ensued and I needed ibuprofen. Now, if I wanted glass slippers or a hat with ears, no problem, but something for a headache; not a pill to be found. I’d have better luck finding Bigfoot hiding in the bushes. I finally found a Disney employee who knew “the secret.”

She said that “certain” stores had ibuprofen secured in a drawer behind the counter, but you had to ask for it. “Is there a special password?” I asked. “No, just start asking different store clerks.” As I staggered into the third store, the clerk immediately “knew” what I wanted. “They come in a 2-pack,” she said, “and they’re expensive,” she warned.

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Desperate times, desperate measures. I coughed up the dough; $2.49 for two pills. She then opened a small cabinet behind the counter and handed them to me. “Yesterday was a big day for this stuff!” she said, smiling.  I scowled at her.  She looked at the door; another sensory-overload victim had just wandered in.

After gobbling up the pills, I started doing the math. I wanted to translate the weight of the two pills into a form that I could use to see how it would compare with other products. OCD and I then went for a long walk crunching numbers. By my calculations: It takes ~101 tablets to equal 31 grams, which, by the way, is also a Troy ounce. ~90 tablets equals a regular ounce (28 grams). Which means that to buy a regular ounce of Advil at Disney World would cost me $112.05 or for a Troy ounce (precious metals are weighed using the Troy ounce) it would be $126.99. (Yes, I was bored and Yes, I had too much time on my hands!)

Anyways, buying two Ibuprofen pills at Disney World works out to ~$112.05 an ounce and ~$126.99 for a Troy ounce or ~$4.01 a gram and ~$4.09 a gram (Troy), respectively.  Who cares, Right? Well, I do and here’s why.

  1.  Wal-Mart: 100 Advil Tabs $7.97. That’s ~.28 cents a gram.
  2.  Excellent Russian Beluga Caviar, $90.00 per ounce or ~$3.21 a gram.
  3.  .999 Pure Silver bars, $15-ish a Troy ounce or ~$.49 cents a gram.
  4. Marijuana, $112.00 an ounce in many large cities, globally or ~$4.00 a gram.
  5. Fresh Burgundy Black Truffles, $44.00 an ounce or ~$1.58 a gram.

For around the same price of Disney’s Ibuprofen, I could buy either: ~1400 Advil pills at Wal-Mart, one ounce of a Fancy Russian Beluga Caviar and still have enough money left to buy a barf bag, 8 bars of  shiny .999 Silver or an ounce of an incredible Burgundy Black fresh-picked Truffle.

Who’s the thinker now! I’ve peeked behind the curtain and I’ve seen Disney’s “real” profit center. Now I’m quite certain that they’re secretly in the Ibuprofen business and that the Mouse-thing, well, is just a rouse to lure you into the park to buy their Advil.

 

 

 

 

 

Could you imagine? The most expensive nap ever taken🌻

I love this question: Should I wait to have children until I can afford them? Academically, sure; but most likely, nobody would ever have kids.

Waiting until you can “afford” to travel follows the same path. It’s the land of “I wish I had but now I can’t.”

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Somehow, if we’re careful, we manage to have children and thrive anyway. Following your travel dreams is no different, You just “make it work” or alternatively, you roll the dice and wait until you retire. Good luck with that…

  • No, this isn’t a crime scene, they’re asleep!🙄

 

And Three’s a Charm…

The third book is done and printed! The Diary of Francis Kelley. Amazon has been “struggling” with paperbacks lately, so the books are on my site: Travelinggump.Com under “menu” and the eBook versions are on Amazon. Just search “Travelinggump”

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Order here Thru Paypal and get Free Shipping!

Traveling Zen:::The Paperback Version is now Available!

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I Think I’ll just have a Tantrum!

 

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It will take a true traveler to appreciate this. Everyone else will most likely be unsympathetic and follow the thought with the statement “stop whining”. So be it.

Traveling is not just going from A to B, it’s a passion. I love it from choosing the destination, the planning, the getting there, the “there” and even the coming home. I love the “trip” almost as much as the destination.

This time last year, we were packed and on the 28th of February, we left for Asia; Vietnam, Cambodia and China. This was a big deal and I was anxious to see the results of all the planning, from using Airline Miles, Hotel Points and well, everything. It was a Grand Adventure.

Here’s the whining part. I have been melancholy all day. I am missing the adventure and due to “life”, there are no adventures planned in the near future. Nothing is horribly wrong, fortunately, but our travel has been put on hold. My writing simply pales in conveying the passion that a true traveler feels at being “grounded”, unable to explore the world.

Tomorrow will be a long day. I am thankful that I’ve been able to travel as much as I have and I realize that many others can’t travel and…Ugh, this is Crap!, blah, blah, blah… So, I’m a selfish #!@&! and this is all about me! I want more and I’m gonna sit here with my arms crossed and my bottom lip hanging out until I get my way.  I may even hold my breath or stomp my feet, me, me, me whatever; It’s time to go!

 

Trying Something New; A Video

Some thoughts just have to be spoken. Let me know what you think. I know it’s too long, but if you survive, an opinion would be appreciated. I’m reading and at few points the language gets kinda “salty”. 🤭🤓

Winter Park Florida, No You Didn’t!

I came to Winter Park to find a Trader Joe’s and you had one! Also nearby is an Irish Pub and a Shake Shack?! I Love Shakes! I must go in. One chocolate shake please, no crap on top. What, double chocolate? Um Yeah!!! Dee-lish! This is the perfect town! And, it’s a glorious 78 degrees outside. So if you’re stuck inside for a meeting or it’s cold outside, well, Sucks to be you!

Finding the Gate to Hell; Culture shock in a Chinese Bathroom.

This is a cautionary tale of travel. Ok, cautionary but hilarious. I was thumbing through my pictures of our trip to China and oddly, I found this photo. It looks like a bathroom floor but in reality, it’s the entrance to hell; at least that’s what I thought that day…

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So how did I end up staring into the abyss? It started in Vietnam. When we travel, we like to wander and we wandered into a “restaurant”, for lack of a better word, for some Pho. The #1 Rule of travel is “don’t drink the water” especially in countries that have signs everywhere that say “don’t drink the water”. The first thing I noticed as we enter, is a lady sitting on the floor pulling cooked chicken off the bones and putting the meat in a bowl. The stack of bones was about two feet tall, so I concluded that she had been at it a while.

We sit down, order Pho and drink some strange packaged beverage while we’re waiting. By the way, Pho is a noodle/vegetable soup kinda thing and I ordered mine with meat (not chicken).

Our meal came, it was good and we left. I spent the next hour trying to identify what kind of mystery meat was in my soup and finally gave up as it was probably better not to know. That night, my stomach was not very happy. Soon we go to Cambodia and things go bad fast. Four days later we’re in China and while I felt okay, my digestive system was having epic problems.

I always believed that I had two things going for me; a garbage gut and a twisted sense of humor. The first was a mess, the second was having a heyday. I couldn’t help but think of all those movies in which so and so slipped a laxative into someone’s drink and the hysterical bathroom scene that followed. I looked around for cameras, thankfully there weren’t any.

While in China, we took a bus tour and ended up near Changping. After forcing myself to eat lunch, the proverbial “sh#t hit the fan” and I was in desperate need of a bathroom. It was a chilly day and I was wearing multiple layers of shirts and a coat. I finally found a bathroom, sort of.  Picture a large room with stalls and no doors. On the floor, a hole. No rails, no hooks and to my horror, no toilet paper. Apparently it was a “bring your own” kinda place.

I stood over the hole, peering into the abyss seeing only darkness with no bottom; I expected flames. People were walking by. I realized that I was now in hell and was running out of options quick.

They say necessity is the father of invention and I was at critical mass. I learned three things that day; The gate to hell is way too small, Pho is an evil soup and that I came in wearing a t-shirt and left in a halter top. Desperate times and all that.

Finding the exit as fast as possible, I stealthily made my way to the bus, waiting for the maintenance crew to run screaming from the building in search of the culprit.

Ultimately, I was able to leave the country without being arrested and forced to clean that building. It took an additional two weeks to clear that nightmare from my system. It never occurred to me that I would ever catch a stomach bug, but I forgot one important thing; Pho is a soup and that soup usually has a broth and that broth is made with water and that water probably came from a faucet that has a sign above it that says “don’t drink the water”. I do also hope the maintenance guy is done with his therapy and back to living a normal life.

Happy Travels

 

 

 

Going From A to B. The Second Half of 2017; By the Numbers.

 

Our return from St. Louis marked the end of our 2017 Travels.  It’s been an amazing year and I am looking forward to 2018.  Our next trip is to Florida in January. In an article dated July 31st, 2017, I broke the numbers down for the first half of our year.  I’ll list the numbers for the second half of the year and then I’ll do a grand total for 2017. We started the second half with a trip to Santa Fe, NM and ended the year in St. Louis, MO.

  1. 12 trips, ranging from 1-7 days
  2. Stayed in 12 different hotel Brands
  3. Stayed in 1 VRBO
  4. Stayed in 1 AirBnB
  5. Flew ~11,000 Air Miles
  6. Drove ~8,740 Miles
  7. Rented 6 Vehicles
  8. Used 3 Ubers
  9. Endured 9 different Airports
  10. Held Lilly’s hand for 24 airplane take-offs and landings
  11. Visited 12 US States

Clearly the second half of the year was a bit more sedate than the first half.

Here are the combined numbers for Travelinggump.com’s 2017 Travels:

  1. 28 Trips, ranging from 1-17 days.
  2. Stayed a total of 119 nights in various Hotels
  3. Stayed in 2 VRBO’s
  4. Stayed in 1 AirBnB
  5. Flew ~60,000 Air Miles
  6. Drove ~15,440 Miles
  7. Rented 13 vehicles
  8. Endured 31 Airports ( A few more than once).
  9. Held Lilly’s hand for 86 take-offs and landings
  10. Visited 19 US States
  11. Visited 5 different Countries
  12. Took 7 buses
  13. Took 4 Taxi’s
  14. Used Uber 9 times
  15. Used Lyft once
  16. Used one Roller Coaster to get to and from the Great Wall of China
  17. Used 3 Tuk-Tuks
  18. Added well over 1.5 Million Points/Miles to my travel portfolio
  19. Reached Diamond status with Hilton, Platinum with Marriott/Ritz and Starwood, Spire Elite with IHG (Intercontinental and Holiday Inn) and Discoverist with Hyatt (Ho-Hum).
  20. Loved Every Single Minute Of It All! (except maybe the tummy bug I caught in Vietnam, not so much).

Wishing you Happy Travels and a Wonderful 2018!

Michael