The trip had been planned for awhile. Six days playing that horrid game of golf, somewhere on the west coast of Oregon, at a place called Bandon Dunes.
    One of my oldest friends had put it together. Eight guys, all flying in from around the country---except me.
   "Are you nuts?" my friend asked when I told him I was driving. "Itís at least nine hours."
   Nine glorious hours. Thatís the way I looked at it. My friend and three other knuckleheads from the Bay Area had chartered a plane to take them to this obscure place and wanted me to join them. I was having none of it.
   I donít do private planes. Never have, never will. Not only am I too scared, Iím too cheap. If Iím going to die, at least Iíll be doing it while saving money.
   Besides, my friend and the other three knuckleheads happened to be attorneys. Their time was worth $300-$500 per hour, making the cost of a chartered plane well worth it. The latest bid for my time wasÖ.well, actually there were no bids. The drive could take about 334 days and Iíd still come out ahead.
    I left after dinner on Thursday night and drove about 3 hours up Insterstate 5 before stopping at a Motel 6. Clean room, cable TV and a lovely shower, all for $42.00. Life doesnít get much better than that.
    Bright-eyed and bushy-tailed, I left early the next morning and marveled at the sights of the majestic Mt. Shasta area, then cruised through Ashland, Oregon before making a left to the coast and a pastoral ride through some absolutely gorgeous countryside.
    I arrived in Bandon, Oregon about 2 p.m. and wasnít even disappointed to see that the private plane and the four knuckleheads had made it as well. I secretly knew that their chances were good.
    "How was the flight?" I asked, hoping to hear tales of horrendous turbulence and sheer terror.
    "Smooth and fast," my friend replied, with a bit of a smirk. "How was the drive?"
    "Slow and spectacular," I replied. "I thoroughly enjoyed it."
    No one bought it, but it was true. The memories of the drive became even fonder after our first round of golf. We were greeted with 50 mph gusts, freezing weather and ridiculous conditions. Which apparently is the norm for Bandon Dunes.
   Some billionaire from Chicago, an avid golfer, built these courses in the middle of nowhere. The idea was to re-create the link-style courses native to the birthplace of golfóScotland. Bad idea, at least in my opinion.
   Six days in the middle of June and I never took off my coat. Scotland looks like St. Tropez compared to Bandon, Oregon. The wind never stops blowing and the temperature never rises. After two days, I began looking forward to my drive home.
   I was going to take the coastal route, all the way down Highway 101 right to the exit to my house. The day I left happened to be my birthday, last Thursday.
   "Youíre going to spend 10 hours in the car, alone, on your birthday?" my friend asked a couple of days before my departure. "Are you nuts?"
   "Iíll leave at 7:00 in the morning and Iíll be home by 5:00," I replied. "Iíll have dinner with my family, happy to be alive." (I was assuming the private plane would never make it, but I didnít tell him that.)
   I left the morning of my birthday and thoroughly enjoyed one of the most beautiful drives imaginable. Down the Oregon Coast and then through the Redwood Empire; it was mind-boggling, riveting scenery.
   I think I was getting close to Garberville, California, around 2:00 p.m., when my friend called. He was in his office. He had left Bandon at 10:00 a.m. and was already back at work, billing away.
    "Howís the drive going?" he asked.
    I was genuinely happy his plane hadnít crashed. I took a sip of my diet Coke and looked longingly at my half-eaten Snickers bar. Another 10 miles and I could have another bite.
   I turned down the CD and gazed at the road ahead. There was a big turn coming up, and I had no idea what vista would appear around the corner.
   "Itís been a great birthday," I replied. "Iím alive, Iíll be home soon, and I never had to leave the ground."

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