It’s that time of year again—the time when we pack up the house in Florida and head back to Cape Cod. As I write this, the temperature in Cape Coral is 84 degrees, while the temperature up north is 44 degrees. Clearly this raises the question, what the hell am I doing going back now? I used to tell people that I wouldn’t go back until the temperature was higher than my age. Without giving away state secrets, I will tell you that the temperature on Cape Cod has more than twenty degrees to go. But no matter what the temperature, I still have to go back for business that simply won’t wait and can’t be delayed.
The Lovely Louise takes full charge of our getting ready to go. My part is to simply say either “What do you need me to do?” or “Can I help you with that?” The answer is usually “nothing,” or just no. If it were left to me I would probably just bring the keys to the boat into the house, turn the air conditioning down, lock all the doors and then drive away. Louise won’t let me. Some of the things I know we’ll have to do include:
Wash down the boat, add fuel stabilizer, take down the top and install the boat cover.
Bring all the outdoor furniture inside. This includes the grill, but it must be clean first.
Clean the entire house (although I don’t know why, since we won’t be here).
Shut off all the water and flush toilets.
Install plastic wrap over the toilets so rats and small animals can’t get into the house through the sewer system. Also, place a brick on the toilet seat. These are not my ideas.
Strip the beds and wash all the sheets. Again, I don’t really know why.
Give all perishable food to the neighbors.
Set the timer on the hose to the pool to keep it full.
Decide what needs to come up north with us. This involves making lists and then crossing out things that we already have up north or that can easily be replaced. This process takes days.
Emotional and tearful goodbyes to all of the neighbors. This is Louise. For my part, I wave and yell, “See you in October!”
I’m sure there’s a lot more to it, and if I ask Louise, I’m pretty sure I’ll get a much more comprehensive list. I’ve done it several times already and this is about all I can remember, which is why I’m absolutely certain that I’m wrong and have forgotten pages of things that need to be done. I’m not worried though; I have Louise to take care of me.
I do want to wash the new truck and clean the interior. It’s always more pleasant to start a trip in a clean vehicle, even though I know it’s going to trashed on the way back. I’m slightly concerned about driving the new truck in Massachusetts. Up there, you are required to have license plates on the front and rear of a vehicle and an inspection sticker. Florida only requires one plate, so Louise put a plate of the British flag on the front of our truck. Florida also does not require state inspections, so there is no sticker. I guess down here, if you can start it you can damn well drive it. Given some of the rat traps I’ve seen on the road, I think they should start inspecting everything.
We also need to plan the route home. I know we have to stop in Raleigh, North Carolina to see our son, Alex. We have other friends there as well, but I’m usually anxious to get back so I try to keep the visits to a minimum. I don’t think we know anyone in Georgia, but I’m pretty sure we could arrange stops in just about every state on the way back. Well, except for Delaware. I’m not sure anyone really lives in Delaware. If I didn’t put some limits on our stops, we’d have to leave in the middle of March to get back by April 15.
We’ve got a pretty good system worked out for getting back. We each take a two-hour driving shift. That way no one gets overly tired and it’s right about the time that the coffee kicks in and we need a restroom. Since we’re on a mission to get back, the food is not at all what we’re used to: Chick-fil-A, MacDonald’s, Burger King, Wawa and other fast food stops keep both our energy and our waistlines up. By the time we get back, I always swear I will never eat at those places again … well, at least until October when we make the return trip.
So be sure to think of me next week when I’m wandering around the house asking Louise what I can do. Hopefully, she’ll only give me one task at a time. This is because I’m only a man, and I can only do one thing at a time. Give me a chore, and when I’m done I’ll ask you what’s next. Then you can give me my next assignment. That’s the best way to keep me on track.