The Long Journey Part III – the not so ‘welcome center’

We follow the Garmin’s instructions, turn off the main road, and follow the smaller private paved road for another mile and a half.  We round the final bend to a line of work trucks and cheap sedans waiting to get in.  Security guards check as Mexicans make their way through.

“Henry mentioned it being gated – but I didn’t expect this much traffic.” I mused to my wife.

“Henry’s waiting for me!” I belted out to the guard when it finally came my turn.  He returned a look of total non commitment, slowly looking down to his clip board.  He gave it one of those page flip and glances where I knew he didn’t actually look.


They have no idea who Henry is, who I am, and clearly have no intention of ever finding out.  I finally pull forward, and call Henry on the mufflamaphone.

“Meet me at the welcome center” Henry tells me.

Long story short – the welcome center isn’t welcoming at all!  If truth in advertising had any teeth at all it would be called the bend over and take it center.  It turns out my license had expired – they couldn’t let me in!  “Seriously young lady – you’re not a real cop!” probably shouldn’t have been my response – I was still the same person on the license.  Although I did flash back to driving through Jacksonville without trailer lights, wonder what jail time that might have led to.  A full hour later and a daily $25 charge, with Henry signing his life away, I was  busted through the gate.  That’s correct, I had to pay to go to work.

Not a great start to the day.  I finally get the privilege of entering not only the grounds, but also a level of pissed off I haven’t seen in awhile.  Wonderful.

My wife reminds it’s still before noon.  “true” I think.  “I’ll roll these bad boys off, get some screws in, and be done by 5!”

I follow Henry to the site, he pulls into the driveway of a modest looking home.  It looks like a late 70’s model – somewhat contemporary, two stories with tall slender windows.  A small, narrow, circular drive led to the front door that we needed to get to.  The circular driveway might fit a small Subaru, maybe.  But not a truck- definitely not my truck with a 20′ trailer.  We need to back into the driveway on the side of the house, then carry the stairs.

As I expertly guide the trailer backward into the side lot, with the skill and precision that only comes from years of backing up hay wagons.  I caught the vision of Henry in my right mirror.  He’s fanatically waving his arms, yelling at the top of his lungs “NOT THE GRASS, NOT THE GRASS!!”

“You can’t hit even a blade of grass”  He’s gasps between breaths, exhausted from his sprint to the truck  “If you hit even a blade we have to reseed the entire lawn.”  “AGAIN!”

“I guess we’re not on the farm anymore”  I say under my breath to the wife.

The simple backup turns into a 20 point turn as well as an exercise in near futility, but we finally get backed in.

Eight large, strong Mexican’s waited as I undid the tarps. They were so large, in fact, they could have been Cubans.  ‘It doesn’t look too heavy’ one of the english speaking fellows mentioned.  Nobody said that again – an hour later we finally struggled it through the door.  Guess we could’ve used a ninth.

One initial glitch – there’s a wall under the stair that can’t be there.  A quick look at the pattern and prints leaves Henry unable to argue that it was anything but their mistake.  I vaguely remember Henry shouting “WIRES, WIRES, WIRES!!”  as I took a sawzall to the wall.



With deft hand and years of experience with my ‘trim’ sawzall I remove the drywall to within a layer of paper.  Tearing down the wall reveals a wad of electric component wiring.  A few 2 x 4’s to cut through and the wall comes down.

The stair fits in perfectly!

We were only allowed to work until 5 pm.  God forbid anyone actually have to endured seeing the people that bids their dirty work!  We joined the quickly moving sea of cheap cars and Mexicans and we were on our way to our ‘resort’ destination.

It was less than 3 miles from the job site. it was on the water and fit into our budget.  What more could we ask for?  We pulled up to a70’s style motel,  two stories, older, but with a fresh coat of white paint with bright blue trim.  We paid the attendant, and dragged our bags to our room.

“there’s food and drink at the bar” he said as he swiped our card pointing around the corner.

After showering we headed to the west side of the resort, or what most people might call ‘around the corner’.  As we round the corner there it was, basking in the glow of the setting sun over the bay – A TIKI BAR !!! a tiki bar with a grill and live music- all within crawling distance of our room!

26 hrs on the road, thunderstorms, no lights, the not-so-welcome center a misplaced wall all with blades of grass not to be touched – but here now was an oasis in the desert!

Without a doubt, without question, the best tasting corona I’ve ever tasted!


Join us next week for our final installment for our long trip south. Until then take 5!





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