ATLANTIC OCEAN TO PENSACOLA, FLA TO ARLINGTON, TX, 20TH ANNIVERSARY SANDLOT TOUR DAYS 32 & 33...
WE HEAD OUT ON THE SECOND LEG OF THE SANDLOT TOUR, TO ARLINGTON, TEXAS FOR THE 3RD SCREENING, AND THE FIRST IN A MAJOR LEAGUE BASEBALL STADIUM...
It is not easy to leave the beach. There’s powerful mana there. You can feel it, especially where we live. It feels, in a word, good. Physically good because of the sun and the clean ocean air, and emotionally good because it emanates from the water and the sand. But we had about 1,200 miles to to get to Arlington and those miles weren’t gonna roll themselves by. So we got OTR and decided to stop in Pensacola, FLA.
|Surf fishing during down time on the 20th Anniversary Sandlot Tour|
|Meditation. I can stand there for hours and hours just staring at the ocean.|
|The Captain, Maverick, at his favorite place.|
|The Captain. Happy.|
|The Captain getting his "water dog" on.|
|World's most agile tennis ball dog. Sea Shepherd.|
Up till now we The Navigator had been staying ahead of our time/distance by seeking out pet-friendly hotels via iPad (with Retina Display) several hundred miles before we hit our intended destination - city mileage-wise - and that list was made up of Drury Inns, La Quinta Inns and the occasional Marriott Residence Inn (our favorite because they have kitchens). Now, however, she’d googled-onto a chain called Extended Stay America. Clean rooms. Safe locations. All with kitchenettes (although the lack of garbage disposals - or as The Navigator calls them "garberators"- She's Canadian... under the sinks sort of sucks). And with the internet promotional codes plus the AAA discount, you’re talking about $40 or $50 night. That is a tidy deal. So we took it. And it worked out fine. Most all of them also have a nice long grassy area for The Captain to get his TB run on. Even better.
|Extended Stay America - best value on the road anywhere.|
Sidebar: a word or two about roadkill. You see lots of it when you’re OTR all over the country as much as we are on this tour: coyote, raccoon, fox, dog, the occasional cat, opossum, something that resembled a kudu... But by far the animal you see the most of, dead, is the Armadillo - Nature’s Little Tank.
At least in the states we’ve been through so far all through the southern and southern mid west. They re scattered randomly yet continuously like so many thousands of gigantic rigor-mortised Pill Bugs along some endless bocci ball court. I don’t know the current living Armadillo population numbers for the United States (although I’m sure someone somewhere does) but judging by the number of dead ones on the interstates, if we assume that those are a small fraction of the total, then there simply must be trillions of them. Like Tribbles.
|I think this is an Armadillo butcher's chart.|
|Just because it's freakin' hysterical!|
|A dead one.|
|A dead one that someone made funny.|
|A live one.|
Now, we live in Florida. I love Florida, especially where we live. And Florida is the state with, unquestionably, more Automobile Accident Attorney Billboard Advertisements than perhaps the rest of the world combined. They’re everywhere, all up and down every interstate and larger roadway, with catchy phraseology like, “Been injured in a car accident? Call Dewey, Screwim and Howe, Fleecem n’ Grab, Attorney’s at law.” Or my personal favorite, “Accident? Call 123-456-7890.” Right to the point. And I suppose that means that there is a lot of opportunity for the practice of AAL: “Auto Accident Law.” And if circumstantial evidence, like all the accidents littering the sides of the interstates, state troopers, tow trucks and ambulances, is any indicator, then it must be true.
|My vote for most ridiculous attorney ad.|
|"We care..." about your money.|
Which begs this question, “Why?” Why is there such a ridiculously over the top number of auto accidents in Florida? You really have to ask yourself, “Is it the Armadillos?” Does Nature’s Little Tank have both a profound death wish and a simultaneously profound hatred for the Florida driver (from what we can only surmise is a perceived territorial incursion) and seeks, somehow in their tiny brains, to turn back the hands of time to, say, Ponce de Leon (or further to the Seminole era) by leaping out from the bushes into the paths of hurtling vehicles in attempts to kill them all? Kill the drivers that is.
In a word, no. There are so many car accidents in Florida because Florida drivers are idiots. Plain and simple. And I mean that in the sense that they are both plain (indistinguishable from one another in their lack of any sense of velocity) and simple in the sense that they are all simply stupid.
|Right. To. The. Point.|
Let me hit this point a little harder (the horse ain’t quite dead yet), heavy emphasis on the simple, as in simpletons, IQ deficient, morons. So there ya go. You have been warned. The Florida driver as a species engages in more vehicular stupidity than all other states’ drivers combined with the possible exception (as I have mentioned before in my OTR blog posts) the Tennessee driver. And the behavior they engage in most frequently (and I mean ALL OF THEM) is this: the S.N.L.C. Spontaneous Non-Indicative Lane Change. No rhyme, no reason. Just freaking cut you’re ass off in a nano second for no apparent reason, because, frankly, there is no reason. Unless you count that they think it’s fun. And I think they do. Because that’s what moron’s do for fun. Endanger your life.
|Your guess is as good as mine on this one.|
|Not a clue.|
So we skirt along south of the Alabama border for a couple hundred miles and then drive through Mississippi and Louisiana and cross the Texas border. The nice thing is that in some sections for very long stretches the speed limit is 75 mph, which of course means 80 mph. The miles pass quickly at 80 mph. I always drive no more than 5 mph over the limit - Troopers aren’t looking to ticket you at that speed, they’re looking for Ricky Racer doing at least 15 mph over, because most states will hit you for around $300 - $400 for a ticket like that.
Mississippi and Louisiana are so much the same topographically that they are virtually indistinguishable and they probably should never have been carved up into two states in the first place. Making it one big state and combining the names - Mississiana or Louisianippi - would’ve, either one, been a suitably easy way to solve the problem I think. Plus those names are way funnier than their root names. Try saying Mississiana without spitting, or Louisianippi without sounding like an idiot. Hysterical.
|I like the pelican.|
|Dear Mississippi DOT, is this the best we can do with the design for the welcome sign?|
We arrive in Arlington, Texas in the early evening and head straight of a Whole Foods nearby the Marriott Residence Inn. We grocery-up, grab the end of day beers and head to the hotel.
Now the last thing you want to happen after long drives, is to have your hotel reservations botched. And this is exactly what happens when I walk into the lobby of the Marriott Residence Inn in Arlington, Texas - which is wonderfully located about a mile from the baseball stadium. The boys at Mission Control in Los Angeles have, indeed, made the reservation, but apparently this Residence Inn, and only this one, does not take credit card authorization forms over the phone, or internet or anything. Which would be fine if they told you that when you made the reservation, which they do not.
Add to this the fact that though there is only a single Couple in front of me that the desk jockey girl is helping check in, she nonetheless takes three separate people before me (who were behind me - purchasing cancer causing processed food-like snack things) making me wait far longer than I should’ve. By the time, and this took a good 30 minutes, I get to the front desk I am, in a word, seething. The conversation went something like this:
DME: “Why did you take the people who were behind me, before me?”
Stupid Marriott Desk Person: “I didn’t see you.”
DME: “Yes you did. You looked directly at me every time you helped each of the three people you helped before me, whom you should not have. Whom you have should told to wait their turn. So, clearly, you are lying.”
Stupid Marriott Desk Person: Silence.
|An actual photograph of the desk person at the Marriott residence Inn, Arlington, Texas. I snapped this gem myself as this person was staring at me without a clue in the world about anything.|
DME: “So that’s it? You’re not going to apologize? Is this some new Marriott customer service protocol that I, as a Gold Marriott Rewards Member have not been yet made aware of in my monthly newsletter?”
The words “protocol” may have thrown her here, I am pretty sure she had never heard the word before because of the blank vacant stare I got from her - the only thing missing weas drool from the side of her mouth.
Stupid Marriott Desk Person: “How may I help you, sir?”
DME: “With a Time Machine.”
Stupid Marriott Desk Person: “What?”
DME: “With a Time Machine you could go back 30 minutes and do your job correctly. Then you wouldn’t have to apologize, which you are clearly incapable of doing.”
|I was so captivated, in a looking at roadkill sort of way, that I got out my old Leica camera and snapped a few B&W's of the Stupid Desk Person at the Marriott residence Inn, Arlington, Texas. Quite artful I think.|
Stupid Marriott Desk Person: “Will you be checking in this evening?”
DME: “I really have no idea. Since you can’t manage to adhere to and complete the simplest of all human courtesies, the taking of each person in line in their turn, my confidence that you can complete a much more complicated task like using a computer to check-in a hotel guest is almost non-existent. So I would ask you the same question, Will I be checking-in? In other words, do you have any idea at all what the hell you are doing?”
Stupid Marriott Desk Person: “What is the name on the reservation?”
Stupid Marriott Desk Person: “Yes, I have your reservation here.”
Stupid Marriott Desk Person: “Would you like to check-in?”
DME: “Only if there are no more people waiting in line behind me that you need to help before you help me.”
Stupid Marriott Desk Person: “There is no one behind you in line. I’ll just need a credit card.”
DME: “What? Why?”
Stupid Marriott Desk Person: “To check you in.”
DME: “No, the company made the reservation and paid for the entire stay including parking fees and pet fees. Their credit card should be on file.”
Stupid Marriott Desk Person: “It is. But I can’t use it.”
DME: “Wait. What? You can’t use the credit card with which you granted the reservation?”
Stupid Marriott Desk Person: “No.”
DME: “How can that be? How can you guarantee a hotel reservation with a credit card that you cannot use to pay for the room? That makes absolutely no sense whatsoever. It’s tantamount to saying you will make a hotel reservation with no verification of ability to pay. Is this another new Marriott protocol I wasn’t made aware of?”
Stupid Marriott Desk Person: “I don’t know.”
DME: “I believe you. In fact, you don’t seem to know anything except stupid things. So if I had made the reservation with my credit card, and then walked in here to pay for my room you would not accept as payment the card with which I made the reservation?”
Stupid Marriott Desk person: “What?”
DME: “Christ almighty... are you serious?!”
At this point I punched my self in the face just to be sure I wasn’t having some ridiculous nightmare. It hurt. I was, indeed, wide awake. So just as the overwhelming urge to leap over the counter and throat-punch this employee over-took me, I turned and walked away.
Outside, I turned the entire sad episode over to The Navigator. She called the boss at FOX who showed up in no time at all and settled the entire thing in a few minutes. Thank you, Stacey! Thank you, Christine!
And with that it was end of day beer time. Actually two. And then to sleep, because there was a full day of press tomorrow to advertise the screening on the day following that. And I was going to get to reconnect with Pat Renna (who played the character “Ham” in The Sandlot) after twenty years. Something I was very much looking forward to.
|End of day beer. I had two of these.|
One final note: Dear Marriott Residence Inn Arlington, Texas. That huge pile of dog sh*t right in the middle of the courtyard walkway? That was The Captain. You’re welcome. I suggest you fire the Stupid Desk Person and replace her with an actual functioning, thinking human being. Or perhaps an Armadillo, which, of course, would be a step up the costumer service ladder.
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