Politics & Policy

On The Road Again

DVDs, butterburgers and storm scares.

It’s about 120 miles to Fargo. Cosmo’s sick and I’ve listened to more Elmo videos than it would take to get the entire al Qaeda leadership to give up Osama’s location. Lucy Tighe Goldberg (baby genius)–now 18 months–is obsessed with Elmo and quite intrigued by Cookie Monster (always my personal favorite epicurean) and other government subsidized, hugely profitable, creatures.

Truth be told, we didn’t want to be one of those families with a DVD player or TV in the car. But Jess had the following conversation with her friend Jen–who has three small kids.

Jessica: “We’re driving cross-country.”

Jen: “You’ll need to get a DVD player for the car.”

Jessica: “I don’t know, we really don’t want to be one of those families that uses the TV as a babysitter and has TVs everywhere….”

Jen: “Mmmm-hmmm. Yeah, well, I understand what you’re saying. You can buy a DVD player here or in Cleveland.”

Jen’s confidence on this point was sort of like the old men in horror movies who sit on a porch and tell the college kids that they’re crazy to go up to the old abandoned summer camp. Fortunately, we listened.

The problem is that prolonged exposure to Elmo’s voice–or pretty much any sound geared toward holding the attention of pre-literate baby humans–has a profound soporific affect on adults. “I can’t figure out why I’m getting so tired,” I said to Jess somewhere outside Toledo. “Maybe it’s because we’ve listened to Mother Goose’s bedtime nursery rhymes 15 times.”

Anyway, if you didn’t figure it out already, the Goldbergs have succumbed once again to the dementia which so often in the past has afflicted us–we are driving across the United States. Unlike previous trips, I don’t really plan on writing a “travelblog” or anything else of the sort. We are trying to get there as fast possible. This means no detours for exotic cured meats. No trips to major national parks. No effort to see Old Faithful again. That doesn’t mean there hasn’t been adventure and discovery. For example, I’ve learned that the best fast-food burger (and patty melt) in the Midwest and, perhaps, in the country is to be found at Culver’s. We had lunch at one in Menomonie, Wisconsin yesterday and it was quite simply outstanding (Culver’s, not Menomonie). Amazingly clean bathrooms, polite service, and truly excellent burgers. (Hint to their secret: They call them “butter burgers.”)

Waiting for the All-Clear

And as for adventure, it’s about ten hours since I wrote the above. We’re staying at the AmericInn in Fergus Falls, Minnesota. While you’re waiting for that pun to set in, let me tell you what just happened. We set the alarm clock for 4:30 A.M.–taking advantage of Lucy’s sleep patterns is an essential part of our battle plan, and staying in Fergus Falls wasn’t a priority, no offense. We were woken up around 3:50 A.M. with a bang on the door. When I finally opened by eyes, I assumed there was a fire because the lights from the parked fire trucks outside the window were so bright and close by. It turned out that those weren’t lights at all, they were lightening flashes. As I’m sure you’ve heard, Otter Tail County had a hurricane warning. We gathered up Lucy and Cosmo, as well as pillows and blankets. Cosmo has come to despise motel rooms, so he didn’t have his usual attitude of “Sir, might I suggest we wait until the platoon is better rested?” He was ready to go.

We sat out in the hall with the other guests and chatted about hurricanes, while Coz & Lucy huddled close to Jessica.

Obviously we weren’t whisked away by the tornado. If we had been I would have obviously put that in the lead paragraph.

Anyway, we gotta hit the road.

One last thing: Our apologies to the Geese of Fergus Falls. Cosmo felt that they should not be fowling the banks of the local pond. So he chased them with considerable vigor for about 12 seconds. Henceforth he will be known as El Cayote Blanco in these parts by the local feathered folks.

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