The van ride

I recently went on a Mens’ Retreat with our church. My friend, Jim, and I made the mistake of taking the van there and back.

1.) We rode the church van to the Men’s Retreat. On that particular ride, Jim and I chose our seating arrangement poorly and sat directly behind two gentlemen who decided that since deodorant was not on the list of items to bring, they should not bring any. Since we were sitting behind them and they favored riding with the windows open, my gag reflex was serving as a much-desired distraction from the poor handling of said vehicle in which we were riding.

Neither Jim, nor I knew that the van would be piloted by NASCAR driver, Dale Earnhardt Jr. Had we known, we may have chosen differently our transportation arrangement. Dale drove as though the van we were in had a rear spoiler and 600 HP engine with dual overhead cams. It may have had a rear spoiler, but it was probably knocked off on one of the hairpin turns executed at 95 MPH in the forest when we were lost.

The good news is that there was an air conditioner in the van. The bad news is that it was more like a deep freeze refrigeration unit. It blew freezing cold air on us about 50% of the time with no ability to reduce fan speed because the fan switch was inoperable. However, when we were going uphill and the van had to work a little harder, the AC would stop working and it would begin blowing HOT air on us instead. Fortunately, we only lost 2 or 3 people to hypothermia so it wasn’t that bad.

2.) The second ride we had was on the return voyage home. Again, Jim and I were in the same van but during our camping trip, gremlins had seen to it that we would not suffer the same AC problems again. Thank you, gremlins. This time, the deep freeze unit just plain didn’t work at all. I think you’d have had a very pleasant trip the whole way. The van was about 130º for the entire trip. The two gentlemen who had previously sat in front of us had found other rides home so we were not treated to the bouquet of olfactory sensory overload a second time. The second trip was really nothing more than a pleasant van ride in an oven set to “self-clean” mode.

Imagine hell… then take away all the fun and cotton candy. That was the second ride.

At one point, a crispy-looking man with no moisture left in his body turned to me and said in a grating sand-paper voice, “I don’t remember how to do math. I think that part of my brain has been boiled away.”

We didn’t complain, though. After all, this was a “men’s retreat,” not a “little baby girl retreat.” We tightened up our skirts and took it like men. Jim only cried once… and not for very long because his tear ducts were too dry.