“The day after Thanksgiving is…”Boondoggle Day”
For thirty some odd years, I have spent the day after Thanksgiving hanging out with my Uncle “Woody” participating in an event we have affectionately called Boondoggle Day. To start off with, let me explain that, “Woody”, the youngest of my father’s fairly large family, is a lot like a brother since he is close to my age and, we grew up a few blocks from each other when I was a kid. Over the years we have taken up residence in different areas of the state, so Boondoggle day is perhaps one of the few times we can get together for any length of time without other obligations taking priority.
So right about now, you are probably asking, “What the hell is “Boondoggle Day”?
Well a “Boondoggle” according to Wikipedia, is a project that is a complete waste of time and money. To us it means one special day out of the year for us to get together and, well be “guys”. We began to call it “Boondoggle” a number of years ago since the day typically had no specific plan in mind except to meet at Woody’s garage at some predetermined time. After that, all bets were off and what we would end up doing was anybody’s guess. Inevitably the day would end up featuring some meat sacrificed to the gods of Smoke, some back country road adventure and perhaps a few “barley sodas” while mulling over a rusted hunk of metal found along the way. In a nutshell Boondoggle is our antithesis to “Black Friday”. Some people might say its just a day to goof off. I am sure other people have their “day after Thanksgiving” rituals. This is ours. “Boondoggle Day” was never a plan, it was something that just came to be.
A typical “Boondoggle” day begins with a trip to a local diner for a hearty breakfast. Eggs, Pancakes, grits, country gravy, hash browns with more country gravy, copious amounts of coffee or coke to wash it all down. We then will generally head back to “Woody’s Garage” to get a few things ready, like preparing an obscenely large piece of meat for a daylong sit in the smoker. After we ensure the meat is set up for the long haul, we will adjourn for a trip out into the countryside. No GPS. No map. We just head out and let the road take us.
East? West? South? It all depends on the whims of the pilot and co-pilot. Over the years we have been through multiple counties and journeyed between the central Illinois and Central Indiana. We have visited old farms, investigated derelict homes and probed junk yards hidden in back-country areas, run by itinerant veterans who look at you with just a hint of suspicion when you ask to take a look around. We have meandered through the smallest of towns, ones that most people willingly pass by on the highway, knowing that some of the oddest treasures are often found in the back alleys of these places. All the time we are driving, Woody will be yelling “Slow your ass down”, because going over 20 Mph will likely mean missing a view of that piece of vintage iron stuck in behind some farmer’s barn.
We’ve been down back roads where we had no idea where we were and stumbled upon things that were best not found..such as place we were certain was some “den of inequity” that had obviously been closed down by the Feds…at least that’s what the stickers said… If it is abandoned and has rusting vehicles around it, we are sure to take a moment to stop and look. We have brought back trophies over the years as well…old bottles, pitch forks, rocks, you name it. We have found many an interesting piece of vintage iron too.
Boondoggle Day is one of those types of things that every person needs to have in their life. We often don’t have the time to enjoy company, time to observe the world around us, a time to just be ourselves. We might all be little better off if we scheduled a “Boondoggle Day” for ourselves