I travel quite a bit in my life of book sales and speaking engagements.

I used to enjoy exploring new places along the journey from point A to point B. Oftentimes, I would even take a different route home just to try new roads and to see if I could find a route that cut off miles.

Lately I’ve noticed a change in my modus operandi. I tend to seek routine, or perhaps a sense of normalcy. I also enjoy the coming home part more than I used to.

Over Thanksgiving, I travelled to Florida to make a book delivery to Der Dutchman Restaurant in Sarasota, Florida.
There is an area in Sarasota known as Pinecraft.

Just as the swallows return to Capistrano or the Monarch butterflies migrate to Mexico, so too do Amish and Mennonite folks return to this Mecca in the south.

They come to pay homage to the warmth that eludes them in their northern abodes.

This creates a good opportunity for this bookseller to reach a sizable portion of likeminded people with similar backgrounds to mine.

I myself have made this 1100-mile pilgrimage numerous times.

I’ve discovered a pattern of stopping at the same places along this route.

My first stop is always Beckley, West Virginia, at a well-lit service center. It’s an easy 250-mile ride from home and where I can fill up with gas and grab some sustenance for the journey ahead. I occasionally drive the entire distance to Florida without getting a motel room.

I prefer not to have a reservation because if I’m not sleepy, why stop? Yes, you probably don’t want to travel with me.

North Carolina has a speed trap near Statesville. Several miles outside Statesville on the interstate the speed limit drops to 55 MPH. There is no reasonable reason to drop the speed except to extort money from folks whose cruise control is still set at 70 MPH. Yes, I did make a contribution several years ago. It’s uncalled for and so unnecessary.

I was quite aware that I was approaching that trap and was prepared to slow down.
Apparently enough drivers have been made aware of this trap and not enough revenue was flowing through the municipal streams.

The coppers have moved out away from that trap and set up shop several miles before that 55 MPH sign.
I was minding my business in the driving lane when I saw him. He was hiding behind a cluster of trees. Since I wasn’t in the passing lane, I assumed I was OK.

Soon the flashing lights were behind me. I slowed down to let him pass. He didn’t. He wanted me. I pulled over and was met by the grumpiest patrolman I’ve ever met.

I was exasperated, and he knew it. “I wasn’t even in the passing lane,” I complained. He informed me I was traveling at 87 MPH when he clocked me. Well, isn’t 87 the new 67?

This man had no humor and wrote out a ticket. He said I had to appear in court in person to pay the fine. You’ve got to be kidding! He wasn’t. “You could hire an attorney to appear for you,” he said. Can you imagine driving 800 miles round trip just for a speeding ticket? I can’t, and I may become a fugitive.

Later that week, I read a news article about Judge Judy being stopped for speeding in New York. She was stopped for going 117 MPH. The article said she would be allowed to send in the money for her ticket. I think I’ve been discriminated against.

One part of travel I enjoy is meeting people. Especially in restaurants. The restaurant business was my life for many years so It’s easy to strike up a conversation with restaurant servers. I had several interesting encounters on my last Florida trip.

One young lady who served me was festooned with a variety of tattoos. I’ll refrain from writing a treatise or making a judgment on the wisdom or lack thereof of marking one’s body with ink. Never the less, it always interests me why some item, thought, or event is so important that it needs to forever reside on a body part.

This young girl has an arm sleeve tattoo of a young lady. I enquired whose visage graced her arm. It was an image of a girl from a video game she was enamored with. One can almost imagine the importance of that!

“You should see my brother’s tattoos,” she said. Since he wasn’t available to be inspected, she informed me of one particular tattoo he had.

He has the two words “YOUR NAME” tattooed on his backside. By backside, I don’t mean his back. It was tattooed on his … let’s just keep it above board and say his “hiney.” She used a more graphic term.

Why would someone do that? He makes a lot of money with that tattoo. In bars he goes up to someone and says I have your name tattooed on my behind. A wager is made, and the wager is lost to the sucker who went for it.

It’s good to know the country will be in good hands with geniuses like him in charge.

I also met a waiter who is an actor and has been in Hallmark movies. Every profession has its own unique jokes. He told me a good one about actors.

It goes like this: “I’m an actor.” “Oh, where do you wait tables?”

I left Sarasota at noon. I planned to stop for the night around Wytheville, Virginia. It took a bit longer than I thought it might, but that was because my cruise control was set at 68 through North Carolina.

I arrived in Wytheville around 2 AM. Less than 100 miles would bring me to the Beckley Service Center.

I had done it before, why not again? The “it” was sleeping in the well-lit parking lot at the service center.
At 3 AM, my sleepy self arrived at the service center where I nestled down in the back of my vehicle and wrapped some blankets around me and slept until some of the 29 degrees outside crept inside the vehicle. I started the car to warm up and slept another two hours.

At 7 AM I awoke to sunlight streaming in my vehicle and a group of people milling about in the parking lot, unaware of the event about to unfold.

As I opened the side door to exit my vehicle, my foot got trapped in the seat belt and I tumbled headfirst out of the vehicle and fell face and body flat on the pavement.

I was momentarily stunned and sat up and quickly dusted my broken pride from my body.

Not much more one could do except pretend that’s how I always exited my vehicle.

A few minutes later, I had coffee in hand and was on the road again.
Oh, the joys of travel!

  • David Lee Stutzman

    C Paul, You sure have a way of adding interest and excitement to what for some folks is as simple as getting there and back home again. GOOD STORIES as always!

  • Suzanne Roebuck

    Thank you for continuing to share lifes funny turns,! Since obtaining your latest book,(and autograph) in Berlin, I am purposely reading slowly, to think through the lessons and insights that the Lord gave you on this journey. The setting reminded me of the book “Sailing Acts” by Linford Stutzman -a relative of yours?? By the way , “phalactery factory” was a laugh out loud moment! Thank you for sharing your gift of storytelling.