The Eastern New Mexico News - Serving Clovis, Portales and the Surrounding Communities

Lessons learned while traveling


August 22, 2006

As I prepared for my 10th high school class reunion, I couldn’t help but think about the class motto we’d decided on that fateful senior year: “A journey of a thousand miles begins with one small step.”

A decade later, I realize that’s a load of bull.

If you’re a consistent reader of my column (and if you’re not, you made a bad choice because this is neither funny nor insightful), you’d know that

I’d been getting ready for my 10-year high school reunion in Montana.

Maybe a journey of a thousand miles starts with a small step, but this was a journey of 1,250 miles. With the long trek in mind, I made an inventory of what snacks I could possibly need on the way.

I added crackers, fruit snacks and candy — but I was just wasting my time. I was wasting time for I would only spend my snacking energy on one food — beef jerky, quite possibly the world’s perfect travel food.

Every trip I take, I’m reminded that beef jerky is the best because:

l It covers the two basic food groups, meat and vegetables (if it’s peppered beef jerky, that is). The other food groups, bread and milk, you can get in any boring restaurant.

• It’s one food that really hasn’t changed since its inception. Oh sure, you can try different recipes, but it all ends with dried meat. How can you not love the simplicity?

• Because it’s dried meat, you can always imagine that if you keep a strip of jerky in your mouth long enough with some water, it will soak in the water and turn into a prime cut of beef. I can’t be the only person who’s thought of this.

Now that we’ve got it straight that beef jerky is the most enjoyable part of travel, let’s go to the worst part of road travel: The hotel.

By the time you actually need to go to sleep, there are no good hotels available, and I hate to make reservations when I’m traveling so many miles. What if I get into a city three hours in advance and I have no choice but to watch TV and play with the ice machine until I’m tired?

And the baths. Don’t get me started about the baths. Who did they design these bathtubs for? It couldn’t have possibly been a man taller than 4-foot-1 and 115 pounds, because that’s about all of me that would fit in this fiberglass nightmare — the other 21 inches and 100 pounds weren’t so comfortable, and they weren’t enjoying the water.

I’m beginning to think that these bathtubs were never actually intended for people to bathe. I think there was a religious movement in ... oh, let’s say 1962. From hotel to hotel, Baptist ministers and their followers spread the word of Jesus. They dedicated all of their time and resources to installing bathtubs that would fit children fit to be baptized. It’s the perfect explanation, because it also tells you why the Bibles are always there.

As I dried myself off from this partial bath, I looked around my room, which was requested as a non-smoking room. The hotel staff assured me of this by giving me an ashtray on the counter, placed upside down with a “No Smoking” sign on it.

I’ll admit that I realized fairly early that this was a non-smoking room, but I wondered if it would been a more effective and efficient message ... with no ashtray. This kept me up all night, and I was very tired for my next day of travel.

So I’ve learned this: Beef jerky good, hotels bad. I think that’s a much better class motto.


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