Finally Madam invited me to join her on a summer road trip. Unlike last year, this time we would not be heading to the mounted cowboy shooting finals in Keokuk, Iowa. Instead, she promised something new, a summer encampment. I soon learned that encampment did not mean a tent pitched in the Boundary Waters Canoe Area.
“Noah, you are about to experience a fabulous feast for the mind, body and spirit,” she declared. “Our destination is called Chautauqua, and the week long theme features The Pursuit of Happiness.”
That sounded like heaven to me, especially after spending the month of July under a blanket of biting insects. The mind, body, spirit part sounded a tad new agey, yet my next book involves our Irish friend Minty and me tracking down happiness.
So, I borrowed the Landlord’s Hoover upright and gave the Comfy Sundowner a good cleaning. Once everyone packed and kissed the small pets goodbye, we set out in the general direction of New York. Our traveling companions included Madam, her First Born, and friend Jennifer, plus an adolescent chipmunk that failed to exit the trailer before the gate closed.
Anyhoo, I felt a little anxious as we prepared to leave. Not that I don’t like road trips but because neither Madam nor her First Born knew fiddly about operating the GPS. Besides, Google Maps excluded all detours and summer road construction. Summer construction impacts most Midwest roadways causing travelers major driving missteps. In addition to a lack of Google assistance, Jennifer’s iPhone guide Suri could not even spell Chautauqua much less locate it. So, after a brief discussion, I suggested we buy a map at the gas station, drive straight east and look for the Chautauqua exit. This might not have been the best solution but it got us out the driveway.
All went smoothly enough until we rounded Lake Erie, shot past Jamestown, New York and landed in the middle of the Allegany Indian Reservation. The Androids and iPhones were immediately pressed into action. The Travelers placed calls to everyone from Jennifer’s mother-in-law to the Ellicottville Chamber of Commerce. All this resulted in a pleasant stop for dinner and three runs through Jamestown’s business district past an impressive mural of Lucille Ball. We arrived in Chautauqua at midnight.
The Traveler’s need for a map and a good guide dog persisted. Madam misplaced her gate pass within 24 hours of our arrival. This prompted two trips to the Maple Inn Guest Reception where she reported the loss. A nice man reclining on a couch said he would keep an eye out for the missing pass. Then came the problem of the rollaway bed mysteriously parked in Traveler’s kitchenette. After two days Madam’s First Born headed for the hospitable Maple Inn Guest Reception to request a rollaway removal. Again, the same courteous man promised to find someone to remove the offending bed. Several days later Madam and the First Born discovered that they had been reporting their troubles to a polite fellow holed up in his private apartment, not the Maple Inn Guest Reception. Both women insisted that his door was wide open, a sure sign of welcome to Maple Inn guests in need.
Well, we finally settled into the Encampment rhythm and spent a delightful week enjoying music, dance, inspired speakers, glorious gardens and altogether joyful activities. I even met a team of Belgians from Buffalo and a pony from Cleveland named Dan. All and all it was a fine adventure, plus I brought home enough pursuit of happiness material to write my next book!