On the road again (in 29 days or so)…

Protecting the innocent from having to admit that they must travel with me.

This is your captain speaking. I’m about to wax poetic and write long about a subject few people will care about. In addition, I’m going to bury the food hook. Please keep your seatbelt fastened and enjoy the trip.

Only a few truly know the pain. The Wife. Phil. Jeremy. My sister. A couple of co-workers. Of the overall population, we’re talking a percentage stretched out to eight or nine decimals. Yet, for the few people in America that have ever traveled with me, the experience is a recurring nightmare. Like a relapse of a chronic disease, it hits you head on. You grit your teeth for 12 or so hours and, hopefully, it passes.

According to the countdown clock widget on my desktop, there are 29 days and a handful of hours (as of this writing) until I leave the office on vacation. That means 30 days until we leave and 31 until check-in to our house in Nags Head, N.C. And if you think this is mere obsession over a long-overdue vacation, you must be in the camp that believes Congressman Anthony Weiner is going to survive this Twitter thing intact.

I have first-hand experience with obsessive-compulsive disorder. This is not OCD, though I’ve been accused of having an obsessive personality (for the record, I’ve also been labeled as having an addictive personality, an intense personality, an irreverent personality and no personality at all). No no. This is simply what happens when I travel. Few things are left to chance.

I’ll use a GPS, but I already know the route I’m taking (Side note: Like most men, I can go some place once and remember the way. I call it the Sherpa gene.). The genius on my dashboard is simply for detours and road work alerts (TomTom‘s lifetime traffic is 16 different ways of awesome and fairly inexpensive). In the well sticking out of a seam on my dashboard is a list of exits along the way, as well as the mileage in between each stop. I’ve spent the better part of the weekend reading websites and forums where others like me have reported road work, toll increases and other things that the rest of the world would be surprised by.

I don’t like surprises.

So, why do I obsess? This week long trip to North Carolina is the rest stop on my annual turnpike. When I return, I’ll be knee deep into the ramp up to Walk To End Alzheimer’s (our fall event). The past year has been as grueling as the past. This is the oasis for the annum. About a dozen of us (the faces and numbers fluctuate yearly) gather each year, lugging our children, laptops and books, for a week at the beach (though we rarely go to the beach; the smell of sea air is enough). It’s a chance to reconnect and tell the same tired stories over and over as if we have never heard them before. These people are my extended family…my Bona family. The men of the group spent hours together at the college newspaper or sports information department. In the process, we developed our own bond and social circle that brings us together each July. The women? A few were St. Bonaventure SID widows. Some came late to the game. It’s the family reunion that no one dreads going to because if you offend someone, it’s not like your mother or father is going to give you a guilt trip over it.

Why does this rambling treatise belong on a food blog? Because we eat too much. Well, that’s not entirely true. We eat far less than we did during our younger days when potato chips, Heluva Good dip, Cherry Coke and Yuengling were the staples. The quantities have stepped back, but the quality has gotten better. There are still the gluttonous walks of shame to Captain George’s Seafood Buffet and Trough, where we eat crab legs until we sweat seafood broth. But there are less burgers and dogs and more things like citrus-ginger chicken and whiskey-marinated London broil. Sure, we have fries and tater tots, but edamame make regular appearances at the table.

So, I look fondly at walking out of here in 29 days and I’ll likely be posting from the trip if we do something of culinary note. Until then, I’ll be on my couch monitoring gas prices at Wawa‘s on Route 13 in Delaware and Maryland and determining the precise moment we should leave to miss traffic on I-95 in Wilmington.

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