Road Trip

Traveling is hard work. You basically wear the same outfit for days, live out of a suitcase, and sleep on crummy hotel pillows

Before setting out for our six-week Great American Road Trip we did what all responsible travelers must do to prepare for the unforeseen dangers and dire emergencies of the highway and we packed our fifty-dollar essential oil diffuser.

I know that some young men out there might be wondering what a diffuser is. But if you are a married man you are probably nodding and saying, “Yes, my wife also spends our hard earned mortgage money on essential oils, too, then pours these oils into a diffuser.”

A diffuser is basically a smell-good machine that sprays out scented fog laced with essential oils that make the air smell like cinnamon and cause you to feel drowsy.

There are supposed health benefits from diffusers. But I can only speak from experience when I say that I have been breathing diffused air for years and I, personally, have received more health benefits from Anheuser-Busch products.

Either way, we do not leave home without our fifty-dollar diffuser.

We do not travel light. My wife could take a one-night trip to her mother’s house and still bring a Coleman cooler, a king-sized comforter, half her hanging clothes, an electric fan, a harpsichord, and of course the diffuser.

The diffuser isn’t usually a problem unless you travel by airline. In which case we put the diffuser in my carry-on bag and it becomes national news.

Whenever I go through airport security, the TSA employees always zero in on this device and squint at it doubtfully, at times even smelling it. Then they glare at me and call in the German shepherds.

But getting back to our road trip. We have been all over the place this last month, doing my one-man show. Alabama, Georgia, Florida, Lousianna, Mississippi, Tennessee, New York, Pennsylvania.

Traveling is hard work. You basically wear the same outfit for days, live out of a suitcase, and sleep on crummy hotel pillows.

Each night before bed, our pet sitter would send cellphone pictures of our bloodhound and alleged Labrador. My wife would look at these photos and become so emotional about our dogs that she would fall asleep clutching her cellphone and forget to refill her diffuser. So I would have to refill it for her.

That’s probably the hardest part about traveling, missing the dogs. Our dogs are our children.

Thelma Lou is our mascot. And Otis Campbell, serves as our vacuum. He patrols our floors for food-like debris, eats it, then vomits it onto the couch for further examination. Then eats it again.

Otis is so vigilant that whenever he hears the sound of our fridge opening, he is already sitting beside you. Whereupon he stares at the floor, waiting for more debris to fall so he can hurry up and get straight to puking. That’s how committed he is to his job.

A few weeks ago, we were in a New York hotel, staring at cellphone pictures of Otis and Thelma. We were homesick and tired. We hadn’t had a single moment to ourselves in days. We’d been driving rental cars, eating airport food, and we were beginning to wear thin.

Each day, I had been delivering a speech in some town. Then we would drive half the night so I could deliver almost the same speech in another town. And so on.

The funny thing is, no audience ever reacts in the same way. Sometimes people are in good moods and laugh at my jokes. At other events such as, for example, continuing education conferences in big hotels, people show as much enthusiasm as medical school cadavers.

Mostly, at conferences, the attendees regard a keynote speaker as the idiot who they have to listen to before they can go to dinner and receive free beverage service.

You can imagine how draining this is for a keynote speaker. So at the end of each night, we would get back to our hotel and collapse on the bed. We would be so tired that we would look at photos of our dogs, get misty-eyed, and stoop to ordering room service.

Which shows you how desperate we were.

Because most room service food tastes like expired school-cafeteria food prepared by Communists without the aid of heat or salt shakers. Even the room-service delivery-person knows your food is going to suck.

He or she is usually so embarrassed that they sprint away before you actually see your food and discover that your hamburger patty is better suited for a National Hockey League championship game.

Before bedtime, you take a shower. And every hotel shower is different. Some have two knobs, where you mix hot and cold water. Others have the one big knob from hell. And it’s an adventure. After about ten minutes fiddling with the knob, you understand what third-degree burns are.

But I am not complaining. I feel very lucky to be doing what I do. I feel fortunate to see the U.S. go by my window at eye-level. To play my songs and tell stories in new places for some very nice people. I feel even more lucky that my wife is beside me.

Even so, as much fun as it has been for these past six weeks, when we pulled into our driveway this morning and heard the familiar barking, I felt good all over.

My cheeks are sore from smiling. And I have the happy, cinnamon-scented feeling that comes from being back home. Or maybe it’s coming from our fifty-dollar diffuser.

Otis just threw up.


  1. Sandi. - November 12, 2019 7:17 am

    As Dorothy said when she clicked her ruby red slippers together three times, “There’s no place like home.” Glad you and Jamie are safely back in yours, Sean.

  2. Carolyn from Georgia - November 12, 2019 8:39 am

    Welcome home!!! ♡♡♡

  3. Robert Chiles - November 12, 2019 11:14 am

    My wife and I have been to Scotland and Ireland (which I highly recommend) but over there EVERY SINGLE shower control is different and takes 20 minutes to figure out. Welcome home.

  4. elizabeth - November 12, 2019 11:41 am

    You crack me up! Welcome home!

  5. Cathy Weaver - November 12, 2019 1:04 pm

    Can’t wait for you to take another short road trip to Columbus, Ga this Friday to speak to a roomful of nice people. ❤️Hey to Jamie, Otis and Thelma Lou.

  6. Melanie - November 12, 2019 2:01 pm

    Aren’t pet sitters wonderful? Ours does the same thing – sending pictures of them “in action” (sleeping on the couches in spite of their comforter-covered, orthopedic, baby crib mattresses on the floor). Our dogs are our children as well as we never had the 2-legged kind. Sure hope I get to see you sometime if I ever get back home to Dothan. Love to you Jamie and the doggies ❤️

  7. Beth Brooks - November 12, 2019 2:06 pm

    Maybe you need a new job…

  8. Connie Havard Ryland - November 12, 2019 2:06 pm

    Welcome home. I love to travel but coming home is always lovely. And I always miss our little dogs. They are demon children and I love them madly. Glad y’all had a good trip.

  9. Steve Winfield - November 12, 2019 2:09 pm

    The life & times of a big successful writer. Couldn’t be happier for you. Hate that the dogs have to be away from y’all but I feel sure they’re well taken care of.
    I genuinely hope these trips are putting your book sales in overdrive. I really love hearing about the travels.
    Love, Steve.

  10. Stephanie Grahn Krantz - November 12, 2019 2:12 pm

    Thank you for making my day with this – I laughed so hard with respect to the dogs. It was like you had been in my house too. Please don’t stop writing for all of us !

  11. Sharon - November 12, 2019 2:23 pm

    You make my day Sean with each column whether I laugh or cry. I too pack like each car road trip is the upcoming apocalypse. I never know what I am going to need. Welcome home and give Jamie my best.

  12. Shelton A. - November 12, 2019 2:31 pm

    I can only stand 4 or 5 days away from my dog. You have earned the oak cluster with stars and genuine pewter dog bones for 6 weeks away from your dogs. I won’t bet on who was happiest to see who. Now you can share the diffuser with the dogs again. I’m surprised Otis hasn’t licked the thing clean already. Does your insurance pay for diffusers broken by dog noses and tongues? Welcome home and glad you had safe travels. Come to Jacksonville, FL-please! God bless you and Jamie and the dogs.

  13. Betty F. - November 12, 2019 3:23 pm

    Welcome home. Thank you for sharing yourselves with us- live and in print. You have no idea how it enriches us- sorry for the personal cost. Thank Thelma Lou for restoring you both for your next adventure

  14. Jack - November 12, 2019 3:50 pm

    You’re not in Kansas anymore!

  15. Suzanne - November 12, 2019 4:01 pm

    We purchased an RV so we could take our dog traveling in the summer months to cooler climates than Florida. Love having my own sheets, stove, refrigerator, and dog sleeping between hubby and me at night. Might want to take that under consideration…love your stories!

  16. Edna B. - November 12, 2019 4:41 pm

    I’m glad you both made it back home safely. I Etake my little dog everywhere with me. I couldn’t leave him behind that long with someone else. That RV sounds like a good idea. You have a wonderful day, hugs, Edna B.

  17. Linda Moon - November 12, 2019 4:47 pm

    Some years ago, we often traveled with our children, grandchildren, and four petchildren. I love your one-man shows. Your road trips sometimes give me an excuse to travel to a Live Event. No matter how many times I attend one of your events, I promise to never be a cadaver unless some of the aforementioned family has sold it to research my enthusiastic reactions to good songs, stories, and jokes: YOURS! Six Weeks On The Road and you were welcomed home by Otis’ debris! Welcome Home, Sean and Jamie!!

  18. Steve - November 12, 2019 5:31 pm

    When I was younger, much younger, my buddy and I bought a VW Camper Bus and drove from Alabama to Alaska and back. A six month adventure! We fixed it up nice. Put mud grip tires on the back. Foam for mattresses and bought a case of spam, beanie-weanies, and old-Milwaukee. We were ready. The Volkswagen “Love Bus” broke down before we could leave my parents eyesight. But we had a dog. A Heinz 57 named Wooter. Thank God for that dog. She crawled in my sleeping bag every night. It’s cold in the Yukon and even colder in Alaska. I held on to that dog for dear life. Our six month adventure was great, but nothing was better than arriving home.

  19. Ala Red Clay Girl - November 12, 2019 6:01 pm

    Travels are wonderful but nothing compares to coming home to your own bed and shower….and, of course, your animal roommates!

  20. Sue Long - November 12, 2019 10:21 pm

    I laughed so hard reading your column about your Great American Road Trip! You reminded me of Dave Barry whose columns my mother would send me when we were at one of our 18 Army posts during my husband’s 23 year military career! I could not pay you a higher compliment! And you endeared yourself to me when you named your pooches after characters in the Andy Griffith show which I adore!

  21. Judy - November 14, 2019 3:22 am

    The best part of going away is coming home! Thank you for the daily column. Your stories enrich my life!

  22. Nancy M - November 14, 2019 4:48 am

    Thank you for writing and for traveling and putting on your shows. I hope to see you again some time, we saw you in Pintlala. I’m sure the diffuser helps your hotel rooms smell like home. I’m glad you and Jamie travel together. How miserable you would be without each other!

  23. Carolyn Skelton - December 8, 2019 5:34 am

    What? No way!


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