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Holiday Road Trip Tips

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8:00 p.m. Nov. 19

I just downsized my holiday road plans because I dropped $99 for a Rickey Henderson autograph at the Sun-Times sports collector's show held earlier today near O'Hare Airport in Chicago. The Style Dog--now there's a guy who always knew where he was going. I don't collect a lot of autographs, but Rickey is one of the most complete baseball players of my generation (1,406 stolen bases). Plus he was a colorful cuss, sometimes known as the "King of I" or "Rickey Flash." I've never paid that much for an autograph. Rickey signed a picture of himself screaming and holding up home plate after he hit a home run to become the all-time leader in runs scored (2,246). I said, "Thanks for the memories."
The Style Dog laughed and I walked away into the sweaty, unshaven sea of lonely sports collectors. I bought some wacky stocking stuffers, a 1976 Greyhound bus brochure promoting the art of the stolen base, a football card of a guy named Jerry Tubbs. My payback is that my final road trip of the year will now be spent in fleabag motels where a lone lightbulb dangles like a sad participle.
So it is time to share these tips for the Provident Traveler:

The list of road trip tips was inspired by the Texas band Reckless Kelly, who over the summer released a live DVD and 2 CD set called "Reckless Kelly Was Here" (Sugar Hill Records). They're a great bunch of guys who early in their career sounded like a great bunch of gnarly Steve Earles. There's a common ground between that attitude and the attitude of Rickey Flash.
The DVD has some bonus footage where Reckless Kelly offers pointers from a well-seasoned touring band. Some of their better tips were:
MAKING COFFEE: Combine the decaffeniated and regular complimentary coffee filters offered in your motel room for a stronger brew.
KEEPING TRACK OF DIRTY LAUNDRY: Roll clean underwear up and secure it with a rubber band. Once the rubber band is removed, you know the underwear has been worn.
CLEANING UP IN A GAS STATION: Place your head under the sink, then use your t-shirt as a towel to dry off. Use the now-damp t-shirt as a wash cloth to clean other areas. Put on a new shirt.
That's disgusting.
BONUS TIP FROM DAVID HILDAGO OF LOS LOBOS: Turn your iron into a hot plate by placing it with the handle down on top of an empty tissue box. Turn the iron on and place the food on top.
PREVENT MOTEL ROOM THEFT: Turn the television on, raise the volume, and place the "Do Not Disturb" sign on the door knob. Lots of people do that.
But here's some road trip tips that Reckless Kelly missed:
MIRRORS ARE UNDER UTILIZED: Get some eyeliner or lipstick and dedicate a haiku to your maid on the nearest mirror.
LOOK UNDER THE BED: During the 1985 New Orleans Jazz & Heritage Festival, I spent one night on the floor of a dive motel near the airport. When I awoke I saw a fedora and a perfectly good pair of slacks underneath the bed. The ensemble would have fetched at least $15 at a Chicago Salvation Army.
BEST CABLE STATION TO GET A LAUGH TO START YOUR DAY: Country Music Television, especially if you catch country music videos in the morning. They're cheesy-mini soap operas. No matter what mission you're on when you leave your hotel, it won't be as bad as this crap.
BE NEIGHBOR AWARE: When stopping at a roadside motel during the Holiday Season never get a room next to a unit where a Weber grill and lawn furniture are situated outside the front door.
FOOD THAT NEVER GOES BAD: Mountan Dew, Tostitos Light (with one gram of fat) and one Keebler's Chips Deluxe cookie before you go to bed.
OHHHH JESUS! It sounds like your neighbors in 202 are on their honeymoon night. Or on a sordid affair. The walls are knocking, the Thomas Kincaid artwork is tilting and you can't get to sleep. Call the front desk. Say YOU are in 202 and kindly request a copy of the Gideon Bible since 'yours' has been removed from the room. The front desk will always promptly deliver the Bible and you're off to dreamland.

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hey dave,

i have a travel tip that my father said worked like a charm. During college my dad drove to California on RT 66. to save time and money, he rolled hotdogs in tin foil and placed them on the manifold of his car's engine. After a couple of miles, the hot dogs were cooked and he had a fast meal on the go.
Secondly, never forget alcohol swabs on a trip anywhere. Remember the kind that came in the size of a postage stamp from places like Chicken Unlimited or KFC? They are easily placed in pockets and don't take up too much space. There is nothing worse than being away from home in a run down gas station or at a stadium watching a ball game and nature calls with a vengeance! With alcohol swabs, just wipe up the toilet seat and complete your business. no worries about contracting an unknown disease or an unsighlty looking rash.

Mike Reischl

Mike, This is superb!
I have to get this in the newspaper.

Hey Dave,

Another important travel tip! Never under any circumstances introduce your 4 year old to a classic song geared toward children on a long road trip! During my 586 mile drive to visit the in-laws, I heard Peter, Paul and Mary belt out "Puff, the Magic Dragon" more times than I care to recall. After miles of my son yelling, "Play it again! Again Daddy!", I ceased my mighty roar for another choice of CD and sadly wanted to slip into a cave!
I was saved by a Christmas present from my wife on the return trip. She bought me the recently released Steve Goodman CD with a nicely written intro in the inside cover from some guy with a Dutch name. Can't remember his name though! Anyway, I enjoyed every song on the CD with the exception of Goodman's classic City of New Orleans. Seemed very hurried and uninspired. Almost like he was tired of singing his famous song and was unable to drop it from his play list because of its popularity among his fans. Sort of like he wanted to get it over with fast and move on to his new material. Still giving the CD a thumbs up with the prediction that "Hand it to you" will end up as a country hit by someone at sometime!

Happy New Year

Mike Reischl

Very good story; we gotta print these.
Also, re; Goodman, "The Family Tree" would be perfect for his old friend Jimmy Buffett---who sang the National Anthem for Steve at the first game of the Cubs '84 playoffs, 13-0 over the Padres on a cloudless day at Wrigley.
Still my favorite Cubs memory.


Hey dave,

i was trying to cure my winter blues last weekend and started to re-read John Steinbeck's novel Travels with Charlie. I think that the novel was the first book I ever actually read for Sister Mary George Ann's 8th grade class at St. Gertrude's Grammar School.
Basically, Steinbeck and his dog Charlie travel across America writing about the people he meets and the places he visits. Steinbeck in the novel invented an interesting way of washing clothes in an RV during a road trip. He placed his dirty clothes in a bucket and filled it with soap and water. He proceeded to hang the bucket from a rod in the closet insuring that the bucket had enough room to sway back and forth. As he drove down the road, the momentum of the RV caused the bucket to bounce up and down and swing from side to side. Hence, he was recreating the actions of a washing machine thru the movements of his RV. When he stopped to camp, he removed the bucket, rinsed the clothes in water and hung them on a line to dry in the wind. The next day Steinbeck was good to go with fresh clothes.

Might want to keep this one in mind when the Bears go to the Super Bowl next year and you have to drive the RV to Arizona!

Mike Reischl

My favorite go to sleep food is vanilla ice cream with Herseys choc. syrup. Couple that with a Yanni cd softly playing and you have it made. WBR LeoP

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Dave Hoekstra

Dave Hoekstra has been a Chicago Sun-Times staff writer since 1985. His collection of Sun-Times travel columns, "Ticket To Everywhere," was published in 2000 by Lake Claremont Press. He was lead writer for "Farm Aid: Song for America" (Rodale Press, 2005) which commemorated the 20th anniversary of the Willie Nelson inspired effort.
He won a 1987 Chicago Newspaper Guild Stick O-Type Award for Column Writing. Hoekstra wrote and co-proudced the WTTW-Channel 11 PBS special: "The Staple Singers and the Civil Rights Movement," nominated for a 2001-02 Chicago Emmy for a documentary program/cultural significance.
He lives in Chicago.


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This page contains a single entry by David Hoekstra published on November 19, 2006 8:06 PM.

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