Saturday, July 25, 2015

Grandpa on the Trail - Part 2

       When we last heard from our aged correspondent, he had successfully negotiated his way down the long and dusty trail and through the ignominious squeeze chute. He had purchased staples for his journey (including the ever-present Coke Zero that fuels all things Grandpa) and moved on to the loading corral. He’s about to be loaded for shipment…
Photo courtesy of Emirates Airlines
    From the loading corral, we’re hustled (again amid the customary noises and smells of moving livestock in confined spaces) into the “bull-hauler”. Long, long ago the bull-hauler experience was much different. You dressed up for it. They fed and watered you well. They smiled at you. Now, not so much. Now they just run you down a long alley onto the bull-hauler with as many other critters as they can squeeze in there and shut the gate behind you. There used to be signs welcoming you. Now they should have signs like the ones that once graced the Coliseum – “abandon hope, all ye who enter here”. I have dozens of quaint and charming experiences traveling by bull-hauler. Like the sultry summer day when we paused briefly on the tarmac in Newark for two hours to allow some thunderstorms to pass, and shut off the engines to conserve fuel that might have been wasted in keeping the air conditioning on. The Angus bull next to me was soon bathed in perspiration, which he generously shared with me. Or the wonderful in-flight
Photo courtesy of The Ranger
entertainment provided by the vaca loca en route from Atlanta not long ago. She had self medicated with a mix of drugs and alcohol at the loading corral to ease her anxiety (a habit I may well adopt myself) and proceeded to bawl and puke her way up and down the center aisle of the bull-hauler as we flew the friendly skies across the American heartland.
        But the charm of the bull-hauler is all too soon behind us as we once again are herded through the long alley and out to our new home on the range. Sometimes it’s a familiar pasture where we know all the best places to feed, water and rest while we chew our cuds. Sometimes it’s to new and dangerous pastures where I go with a briefcase to places I probably should go with a shotgun. Usually, there’s way too many critters already on what little grass is out there. I mill around for a couple of days and sometimes get rimrocked in the concrete canyons of Washington, DC or bogged down in the creek crossings of Providence, RI. But never quite soon enough, I'm back on the bull- hauler and headed for the home place.
      And I guarantee you my friends, despite all the joy of travel, Judy Garland said it best. There is indeed no place like home.


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