Monday, September 04, 2006

A long summer is finally over

I know, I know. I've been away an unconscionable amount of time. I've missed so many Friday's I've lost track myself. Of course, I've also chased so many squirrels that I've lost track, but the yard has been safe, due in large part to my ferocious efforts.

Ankle-Biter and I have covered thousands of miles this summer, comfortably sitting in the back seat while Alpha drove. We've seen many things, and marked much new territory, most of it along I-35 and its connectors. It's nice to be home again, where we can wander down to Lenny's bar-and-grill-and-swapmeet to sit in the air conditioning and share a bowl of beer (A-B doesn't care for beer, for which I am grateful).

Like so many of the humans at Lenny's, we talk while we sip. The only difference is that we curl up by the door instead up on the stools at the bar.

We reminisce about the places we've been, the things we've seen, and the people we've met. It's been a long enough trip that I dare not try to cover it all at once: I'll try to spead the highlights out over a few days.

On the way out, and again on the way back, we passed through Wichita, Kansas. Outbound, we took I-335 toward Topeka. It's a pleasant enough run from there up into Nebraska to visit family (and from thence on through Iowa into Minnesota, to visit more family, and friends as well).

Homeward-bound, we came south farther west, dropping down to hook into I-135 north of Salina and on down into Wichita.

There are some important differences between I-335 and I-135. For one thing, I-335 is the United States Submarine Veterans' Memorial Highway and I-135 is the World War II Veterans' Memorial Highway (a stretch of I-135 is also the Ben E. Vidricksen Highway. He served several terms as a senator in the Kansas legislature, earning the nickname "Mr. Highways," and twenty-plus miles of interstate named after him). Another is that I-335 is a green line in the Rand-McNally, and I-135 is a blue line. This means that I-335 is part of the Kansas Turnpike - a toll road, and I-135 is a freebie. So, as a result, the submarine vets have to pay about four cents a mile to travel "their" road, while the War II vets travel on "theirs" for free. That seems a dubious way to honor the submariners.

Of course, declaring highways to be veterans' memorials seems gratuitous to me anyway. It's like frosting with no cake - they'd be better served by a closer V.A. clinic, whether it cost a few bones or not. At least at Lenny's we can buy them a beer.

Enough pontificating.

There's a story floating around the internet, one I saw first at A Smile a Day, and then just recently at G'Day Mate, so it's covering the planet pretty thoroughly. Thing is, both of those places are treating it as a joke (and yes, they've stripped out some of the details), but I happen to know that it's a true story, because I was there at Lenny's when it happened:

Len's mom, Ellie, came into the bar the other afternoon and found Len wandering around behind the bar with a fly-swatter.

"Lenny," she said. "Whatcha doin'?"

"Swattin' flies, Mamma. Just swattin' flies."

"Get any yet?"

"Yep, five. Three males and a couple females."

"How d'you know what sex they were?!?"

"Three were on beer cans and two were on the phone."

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