For more than a week, I have driven two or more hours each day, with some days stretching into the five to six hour range. It is not like I am on a road trip. It is more like now that I am retired I have no excuse not to do the things I want to do. Be careful what you wish for.
In these few short days, I have driven to Bainbridge to watch my grandson, Henry, play soccer for his high school team, the Bainbridge Bearcats. They are having a great season and it is so much fun watching him become more aggressive and skilled in the sport.
I traveled to Compass Lake to replace the battery that was dead in my truck that I leave there. Then I discovered the two batteries in the boat were dead. Chores like that away from home take twice as much time.
The next trip we made was to watch our middle grandson, Will, pitch for his baseball team. He wound up throwing 50 pitches and the opposing team only scored one run. How much fun it is to watch these youngsters run, pitch, and hit with more skill as they learn the game. He is a competitor and loves any sport involving a ball.
I picked up our youngest grandson, Andrew, to take him to Auburn to spend the night with Granny and me. We attended “Barnyard Boogie” at the Gouge Performing Arts Center. He seemed to really like it, though his adult like comment afterwards was “It was a bit too long”. He woke me up at 4:30 in the morning to tell me he was hungry. He must have been because as soon as he ate part of a banana he was back fast asleep.
Returning Andrew the next day back to Dothan, Granny and I got to watch our only granddaughter, Laura, in a production of “Hello Dolly” put on by her high school, Providence Christian Academy. It was truly amazing. I do not think I have ever seen a high school production with so much talent. Anyone who ever questioned funding of the arts for school age kids should see a performance like this.
Arriving back in Auburn near midnight after the play, Mary Lou and I headed to Birmingham the next day to the second game of the NCAA sub-regional tournament with Auburn playing the #1 seed in their bracket, the University of Houston. They played over their heads the first half and collapsed the second half, ending their season. It was still worth the four-hour round trip to follow our team.
The next day we headed for Reynolds’ Plantation at Lake Oconee to watch our nephew, Thomas, play for the University of Alabama golf team. Auburn was not playing in this tournament, so I had no torn loyalties. It is a joy to watch Thomas and see his talent and calm demeanor on the course.
Our next two-hour trip begins in the morning as we head to Dahlonega to visit my brother and sister-in-law. Ernest and Karen have grandchildren to show off and we cannot wait to hold some of the next generation in our arms.
After a couple of days, we will drop by to visit my Mom in Atlanta before heading back to Auburn and hopefully a week of rest. I am not sure if that will happen since we rarely rest these days. Retirement is hard work.
Highlights of the week include staying at the Ritz-Carlton at Lake Oconee. I booked a room on the club level mistakenly thinking the rate quoted was for the entire stay, rather than each night. As we were eating dinner the first evening, I received an alert from American Express telling me that we had been charged almost $2,500 for our two-night stay.
Thinking it was surely a mistake, I went to the front desk only to find out the mistake was mine. I would get $200 back on checkout, but the rooms were still nearly $1,200 per night. It is a nice place, but not that nice.
The next morning, a delightful young lady named Kaci called our room. She was the clerk that I had talked to the night before. She had consulted with her boss and agreed to reduce our room rate by more than half. Money lost. Money found. Kudos to the Ritz-Carlton for making something right, even though it was not their fault. Service at its best.
Another treat was having dinner with our longtime friends, Mike and Patti Cutchens, who we had not seen in seven long years. We took up right where we left off.
Earlier in the day, Mary Lou had asked me a question. I responded by asking “What did you ask?” Her response was “What did I say?” We both laughed hysterically at each other. Growing old is a challenge, but fun, nevertheless.
After all, if I was not getting older, I might never have booked in a $1,200 per night hotel room. Now that I have, it is not likely I will ever do it again.
What a week.
Dan Ponder can be reached at email@example.com