Spring vacation came and went last week, and with it was 28 hours each way in what my Girlfriend and her family called the "Fun-Seeker", a Ford E450 River Sunseeker RV that was prepped and ready for us to head down to Cape Coral, FL.
With me was my girlfriend and her parents who were gracious enough to bring me along to a family reunion of sorts in paradise. This will be my first vacation without the likes of my folks or sister, and my first real PTO experience in my 'big boy' job as the parents like to call it.
Now I am just 23 going on 24 here in April. Becoming a man on my own, and with me aging comes other aging and in the weeks prior to vacation, I have lost my dog and my grandfather. I am not writing this begging for sympathy, or crying for help. Life happens, and with life comes death. Whether it is a lifelong dog, a grandfather, or roadkill, we've all experienced it in one way or another. But it does not make it any easier.
Life Thought #1: A Dog's Love
I'll start on the pet, because some do not want to admit it but they have more effect than anyone can ever imagine the day they drive that little buddy home from the shelter/store/breeder/etc. Everyone knows that they will not be along your side for the rest of your life the day you sign on to becoming his/her caretaker, but we all do it regardless. We live through their highs and suffer through their lows. Whether they chase cars, whine through the first nights as they are kenneled or live by your side, the genuine excitement from the dog welcoming you home is felt by everyone.
We all know the day will always come the day you bring him/her home. But that day is often forgot about, because the purity of its love towards you and your family overrides any dreading of the day that will inevitably come.
All may laugh, but a dog's love is the most pure. Those dogs love their owners more than any family member ever could, because it is what they are raised to do. And I can truthfully say that about Sport. Rest easy pal.
I have not been home since my dog has passed, and the feeling of walking into a home that is more empty than it was prior is something I dread, but with his health issues that progressed, it was best for all parties involved to make that call, and leave us all in better places. Him in a palace of bones and peanut butter, and us remembering him as the healthy, happy pup that always welcomed people into the Raines' family home.
Life Thought #2: Family Matters
The death of a grandparent can be always tricky. Some are very close to theirs, and others are not. But the truth of the matter is, whether you are close with them or not, those are your parent's parents, and they have left an effect on you bigger than anyone can ever imagine. Those very same grandparents have raised your folks, and all those quirks had to come from somewhere, I'm just happy mine left our family with a good head of hair, a love of America's pastime, and a father who has learned from the man before him.
With the loss felt this year, all you can do is support those that are in need. Be a shoulder to cry on, a fan to talk sports with, and most of all someone to laugh with. In the end, death is what is at the end of this road called life, and no one will ever be able to escape it. So when it inevitably occurs, if it is a dog or a family member, all you can do is support those in need.
Life Thought #3: Ferris Bueller was Right...
First things first, if you are unsure of who is Ferris Bueller, I have some homework for you... But in all seriousness, I am not looking for sympathy. Like I said, life happens, and with life comes death. Life can be dreary, but the best things about life is that it moves pretty fast, and in the 56 hours I spent in the "Fun-Seeker" I had a chance to stop, look around quite a bit, and log the things I saw and thought about during our trip to Cape Coral, Florida.
So without further ado, a much happier tone as I gathered my thoughts and put them ink to paper here for all of you to read.
The Collective List of Thoughts
Why do boomerangs come back? If there is a scientist, please someone explain this to me.
It's a terrible, terrible shame that MLB does not recognize arguably the best defensive centerfielder of all time, the youngest ever to hit a home run in the World Series, and the better Jones in Atlanta at the time as a Hall of Famer... A true shame.
I like to consider myself a member of the United Nations sometimes at dinner. Mixing a French Dip with an Italian Beef is the stuff of legends. I'd say suck on that peace core Kennedy, but you know, your head is kind of... gone.
What artist do you think knew they had the best lyric as they wrote it? And why is it Taylor Swift saying "It's me. Hi! I'm the problem. It's me."
Side note to previous thought... If you think it's Eminem, you read the dictionary entirely too much.
The Tik Tok trend of reminiscing on all-time teams that did not win a title to Morgan Wallen's " '98 Braves " song is my favorite trend of all time.
Riding in the back of the RV, looking out the back window watching all the cars fly by in the night... Someone hit "Life is a Highway" and hit me with a Ka-Chow!
I really, really want the Mario shoes that Red Wing came out with... Catch me hopping around the city on mushrooms expecting to grow double the size.
I am partially convinced that Southern Illinois cities were named by throwing names on a dartboard to come up with a five-to-six letter combinations. Peoria, Neoga?
Side note: learned that most of these are named after Native American tribes. After learning such information, why aren't all cities named after these tribes?
On to hour sixteen. Not a sight of a wild animal. Kind of hoping to see something out of the ordinary in the next few hours.
Heard a man at the gas station ask another man if he could have some booger sugar. Not too sure if he meant cocaine or pixie dust candy, either way... Neither should probably be snorted.
The whole life on the road thing sounds awesome Then you get on the road and it is still kind of awesome. Kind of wish I was a trucker.
Check that. I wish I was an ICE ROAD TRUCKER.
I'd challenge anyone to a seatbelted-in dance competition. Nobody wiggles these shoulders while safely being a passenger/driver quite like me.
Status update on the wild animal hunt. Hour 18. Not a thing in sight. I will keep a look out. Stay tuned.
Here's a ranking I had no clue I was going to do, but here we are. Reno Lake has the best water tower these eyes have ever seen.
Update: Saw three deer on the side of interstate 57. Not quite the out of the ordinary animal but you can check that one off the non-existent scavenger hunt.
Lots of cities that end in -Ville in the state of Tennessee.
Hour 22: My girlfriend is very tired of the Ten-I-See joke. I've said it twice.
Kind of want my girlfriend and I to name our kids after pasta. That would be wildly Italian of us.
We are not Italian. But Alfredo Raines is a baller.
Check that, my first kid's name will be Storm. Storm Raines coming at you on ABC7 Weather.
Buc-ee's is an 8.5/10. Not as fantastic as everyone points out. But still very good. Nothing to write home about. Just very good.
I just watched the lady's dog eat a fly. Attacked it, caught it. Peak athleticism. Now she's gnawing on it like a bone. Dog life sounds/looks sick.
I've only slept through traffic jams.
Sarasota's water tower is huge. Biggest one that I saw in the 56 hours. Worst color of all I saw as well.
That wraps up the rest of thoughts. Nothing too serious, but enough to stop, slow down and not miss the paths that we had traveled on.
Life is heavy. Life moves fast. But Life is always going to be good when you slow down and enjoy the moment. Whether it's Andruw Jones, water towers, or potential roadkill.
Thanks for taking the trip with my thoughts throughout the 56 hour fun-seeker travel. Hug your loved ones, pet your dog, and as always...