* * * COUNTDOWN: 20 DAYS TO LA/XC-3 * * *
All right, I think it’s about time I admit it. My annual September road trip across America with Ricky the Beagle is no longer about driving the beloved family
dog out to see our poor homesick boy in far-away California. Oh, sure, it started out that way. And don’t get me wrong: Robby will still be elated when I arrive on campus with his pup. But now, the third time around, it’s a little less about boy-sees-dog and a little more about Beagle Man’s Excellent Adventure.
Take a look: Four of the last five posts have been about LA/XC-3 — and the scheduled departure date is still three weeks away. So clearly, it’s been top-of-mind. Also, I now begin piecing together my projected route months in advance; in fact, I already
have a file going for LA/XC-4! I’m sure I’ve mentioned that I’ve started working on a book that eventually will be compared, undoubtedly, to Travels With Charley, The Iliad, and The Odyssey. My annual journey even has its own logo: This year’s (see photo, right; the 2012 logo is to the left) will be a random road sign photographed the day of that particular post, accompanied by the words “LA/XC-3″ and “2013.” All in all, how big a deal is this road trip for me? Well, this year when I told Robby the projected date of my arrival in L.A., he said he wouldn’t be there; he was traveling to College Station for Texas A&M vs. Alabama. And I was going to go anyway! (Ultimately I shamed him into changing his plans.)
Oh, and that photo of Hank’s Farmstand? Nope — not from the wheat fields of Iowa. That’s a spot in Southampton we pass every time we drive out to Montauk. I’ve included it not only to show off this year’s logo, but to finally put to rest an obsession: Each year I think, wouldn’t it be a fun little feature if every day we stopped at some place called “Ricky’s This” or “Hank’s That” and posed together for a picture? I even mentioned several of these potential side trips in a post last December: Check It Out: Ricky’s Bar & Grill, Hank’s Fine Furniture! The thing is, the more essential elements of our travels — seeing Mt. Rushmore, the Grand Canyon, et al; visiting far-flung pals; piling up the mileage; keeping up with Ricky’s meds, and grabbing a meal here and there — don’t leave us with a helluva lot of discretionary time. So I’ve
decided once and for all I’m not going to lose any more sleep over missing out on Ricky’s Nails in Morrisville, Pennsylvania or Hank’s Ice Cream in Houston.
I’m sure you’ve noticed that I haven’t run one of my Beagle Man contests for awhile. That’s because the last several times I did so, the entire internet crashed due to the volume of responses from my followers. But I can’t resist giving you all one more shot at a big payday. And now — before I reveal the stop-by-stop itinerary for LA/XC-3 — is the perfect time to announce my Guess-the-Total-Mileage Contest. I’m looking for the all-inclusive number: westbound travel + eastbound travel + all the mileage Ricky and the Beagle Man tack on while gallivanting around the West Coast. FYI, the total for LA/XC-1 (2011) was 7,643; for LA/XC-2 last year, it was 8,060. (Yup, that’s right. America got bigger.) Come closest to the 2013 mileage total, and win a very special trip souvenir to be hand-picked by Ricky himself! Please send your entries via “Comments” to the blog. Entries must be posted by midnight, August 25.
LOOK FOR A NEW BEAGLE MAN POST EVERY THURSDAY. OR PRETTY CLOSE TO THURSDAY. COULD BE WEDNESDAY. OR FRIDAY. LET’S NOT GET TOO OBSESSIVE HERE . . . OH, AND BTW, YOU CAN ALSO FOLLOW ME ON FACEBOOK AND TWITTER