The Charlie Bravo Story

The Pack Rat

The pack rat

Mom and I made a whirlwind trip out to the coast to drive a Uhaul of Oba’s belongings back to the Casa in preparation of her inevitable transplantation. According to your proclivities, I’m either A: the guy you want to make a long road trip with, or B: the guy you would hate to make a road trip with. If you want to cover a lot of real estate in a hurry, I’m your man. If twelve hours in the saddle sounds like a death march, you might want to steer clear of my driving services, as this is just getting warmed up.

Time spent in a motel is time better spent getting where I’m going, where I can then do the things I would rather be doing, like rasslin’ with a horde of obnoxious dogs. That’s my rationale, or at least my alibi, as far as mom is concerned.

It’s been over thirty years since my first trip out to the coast where I first met mom and she decided that she just HAD to have me. And I understand that; what woman wouldn’t be driven to the arms of a stumpy hillbilly with a smart mouth and zero financial prospects? And that is a rhetorical question, requiring absolutely no rebuttals or suggestions, but thanks for asking.

Life is like a road trip, where a dead armadillo(a possum on the half shell) or some other object of note appears in the distance. It appears stationary, like you will never get there. But then, regardless of how steady you attempt to hold your speed, the closing distance begins to quicken until the moment that seemed so far away just yesterday flashes by on the shoulder and rapidly vanishes in your rear view mirrors.

This is especially evident to me with the imminent arrival of Jude Beren, or the Baby Bear, in just a few short weeks. No hurries here, as if I’ve learned anything from my travels, it’s that the sheer exhilaration of first-discovery can never be repeated, as there are no “do-overs”. It will get here when it gets here, and how many things in the moment do we miss by fixating on the future?

This was the case on a past solo motorcycle trip to the Smoky Mountains. The tiny, twisty asphalt road claws it’s way up the Tennessee side of the range; by far the tightest road I’ve ever had the joy of twisting a throttle on. At the North Carolina state line it intersects the Appalachian Trail, then reveals its true nature by transforming into the dust from whence it came, descending down, down, down into until the Big Creek Country Store magically appears out of the swirling mist.

Of course, there is an easy way in, a scant two mile stretch of paved road in from I-40, but where’s the adventure in that? I can’t imagine the impact of finding this gem of a place the same if I hadn’t had to pinch a hickey on my under drawers during my descent into the holler.

The BCCS is a trip back into a simpler time, for many generations a family home that at one time was on the verge of being dismantled. The great great granddaughter had the forethought to realize what a shame this would be, and decided to transform it into a waypoint for travelers on the Appalachian Trail, as well as a place for the locals to gather and stock up on supplies.

I could easily spend the rest of my life there.

Moonshine, whitewater and scenery are the primary draws to the area, with neither of those three going very far towards paying the bills, but somehow the young proprietress continues to make it work. She is constantly in search of ways to expand her customer base, including jumping through bureaucratical hoops to single handedly transform the century old structure into a deli and grocery.

It was during this time that she found a large mass of clutter tucked way back in the attic; the remains of an old pack rat’s nest. Ladles, spoons, random playing cards, articles of clothing, all manner of generational flotsam and jetsam that had been spirited away from the humans inhabiting the world below. I can only imagine to the strife this must have caused over the years, with Aunt Lou accusing Cousin Mabel of not returning her cutlery after potluck, and both fading from the scene with their enmity still intact, never realizing that the source of their squabble was a small mammal lurking upstairs.

Life is too short and time too fleeting to dwell on what is stashed away upstairs; sometimes you just have to clean it out before you can move on towards better things. But then again, some thing are better being remembered; I personally prefer an unsanitized world where a pack rat can still slip in and engage in a bit of clandestine plunder, possibly unaware of the mayhem that he is causing down below.

But I REALLY like to imagine him perched amidst his hoard of goodies and giggling maniacally to himself, and that he knew EXACTLY what he was doing all along; I can better identify with that mindset.

See you in the attic…

Dad 02/2020

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