"Mom, could you send my…"

Paige Pennington

If you are a young man considering taking a shot at the new Professional Bowler's Tour, I would like you to consider a couple of suggestions. Marry a woman with a FANTASTIC job, or eight school age children who will never consider travelling with you. Or, become a "Momma's boy." Stay at home, where you will taken care of by your parents! If you choose not to take my advice, then you will have to deal with all of the things I do before you leave whatever city the office will be putting next to your name on the squad roster. Everyone has gone on vacation at some time in their life. Leaving home for a week is a little inconvenient. Walter Ray and I often leave home for eight or nine weeks at a time. There is a lot to take care of when you are in our situation.

The House: Make sure to clean out the fridge. Tomatoes are not pretty after being left in there for eight weeks. Even if they are in their special little "veggie drawer" you still won't recognize them. Right before you leave sneak down to the local shopping center and throw away your trash. Don't get caught…you will get a ticket. You could put the trash by the curb in the can and ask a neighbor to bring it up for you after trash day, if you were ever home long enough to meet them.

I have a black-thumb; so houseplants are not really a problem for me. All the greenery in my house is fake. But, if you do have houseplants you will have to make arrangements for their care. I do have a few potted palms on the back porch. A friend comes by once a week and waters them for me. You could just put all your plants out in the yard and hope it rains!

We live in a gated community and the guardhouse knows when we are gone. They have a couple of emergency numbers for folks who have a key to our house. Try to let someone you trust know that you will be gone and give someone a key…just in case.

The Yard: Unless you live in an isolated area your neighbors will probably not appreciate you letting your yard go wild for eight weeks. That means you have to hire someone to take care of your yard…or beg a friend or relative.

The Mail: Figuring out how to get your mail while you are out on tour is a major problem. When we moved to Florida, we were fortunate to discover a fantastic place called PakMail. There are businesses like this all over the country and they are usually franchise operations. You can establish a relationship with the folks who run it and hopefully they will take care of you as well as Anne & Jim Mewborne take care of us. Before I leave, I give them a deposit and a schedule of where we will be. They forward our mail to us once a week. The only way this solution works is if you receive all of your mail there! We try to never give our true "physical address" to anyone. Everyone gets our PakMail address. We didn't even put a mailbox up at our house. We want people who try to send something to our physical address to get it back. That way they will know that they need to contact us.

Another way to handle your mail is to have a friend or relative go to your house, pick up your mail and then send it out to you. They may do this for a while, but after a while they will get tired of doing it. And you will start to feel guilty for asking them. Some guys I know open joint checking accounts with someone they trust and just have them pay their bills for them. This cuts way down on how much stuff has to get forwarded to tour, but once again…becomes a pain for the person having to handle it for you.

Your Stuff: How many pair of underwear do you need for eight weeks? That depends on how often you are willing to do laundry. We are lucky in that we travel in a large fifth wheel RV, so we can take more "stuff" than most of the guys. They will only let you take so much stuff on a plane you know. This particular swing was difficult to pack for, since we would have both nice warm weather and then head north into the cold. Tshirts and sweaters…shorts and sweats. Sometimes you just pack badly. In that case, you can always buy new stuff. However, then you have extra stuff and if you are like me, your suitcase was crammed when you left. I will let you in on a little secret that I learned about twelve years ago. If you go out to the Player Services truck during the week, they will usually have a couple of four ball boxes lying around. You can stuff a lot of dirty clothes into those boxes. I have sent them home to my folks with a note explaining that I like fabric softener in my sweaters. Sometimes I come home to find my dirty clothes still in the box in the garage…sometimes they are clean, folded and smell like Downy.

If you take any prescription medicines, you will have to get enough of it to last you through the swing. Or, once again, have someone refill it for you and send it out. Fortunately, our prescriptions are not highly controlled substances. I can usually convince a doctor to give me enough antihistamine to last me through the swing.

There are what seem to be a million other little things to remember. Extra checks would be handy (these are usually what I forget, then my Mom gets a phone call asking her to send them out to me). Don't forget your address book. Also, computer and related paraphernalia, envelopes to send checks home to your bank, cell phone, stamps, etc. Don't forget to have your car serviced and make all your hotel reservations. Oh yeah, don't forget your bowling equipment…yes, it has happened! No, I won't name anyone. I have been sworn to secrecy!

I am sure, by now, you grasp the point of this little tongue-in-cheek article. Many people that I meet across the country tell me how glamorous and wonderful my life must be travelling around the country. What they don't realize is what a logistical nightmare and wholly inconvenient it can also be. Don't get me wrong, I know how lucky we are. Walter Ray is having a fantastic career and I am fortunate enough to get to be with him. I have met some wonderful people and seen a good portion of our fabulous country. But trying to find a Laundromat you aren't afraid to spend the afternoon in, and not knowing where to find the toilet paper in the "grocery store of the week" can sometimes be really irritating.

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