We've lived in Florida for 36.5 years now. That's more than half our lives so while we often refer to a trip back to Kansas as "going home," truth is Florida is more than just where we live. Kansas is where we grew up; Florida is our real home.
I wish I'd kept track of just how many trips we made "home" to Kansas...it would be a bunch. It's probably 150 or more as there haven't been many years we only went once. As our parents aged, we've made multiple trips only months apart so it all adds up.
The biggest majority of those trips have been along the same route simply because it's the shortest. Here to Mobile on I-10, diagonal across Mississippi to catch I-20 and head west to Texas. From there we can either continue westward to Dallas where we make a right turn on I-35 or we take some lesser-traveled state roads and travel through Texas and Oklahoma at more of an angle. There are pluses and minuses to both so we do both just to have a little variety.
But the stretch between here and Longview, Texas, is always the same. Needless to say, we know everything on that road. We've stopped at every rest area, every service center, and every restaurant. OK....that's an exaggeration but you get the idea; we know that road well.
So on the trip a few weeks ago, I suggested we stop somewhere new just to shake things up a bit. Let's see what there is to see at the Duck Commander headquarters in West Monroe, Louisiana. We'll call it a Duck Detour although it really wasn't much of a detour at all since the warehouse is less than five blocks off the interstate we'd already be on.
You kind of have to be living under a rock not to know about Duck Dynasty but if you're not familiar with the Quack Pack, it's a realty-based television show about the Robertson family that's made being a redneck cool. The men all sport long beards and love duck hunting. Actually, they made tons of money selling duck calls and parlayed that into the most-watched, non-fiction cable television show of all time. If nothing else, you've got to appreciate them for their merchandising skills because their names and/or faces are everywhere now, from greeting cards to apparel to home decor.
And while I'm not a regular viewer, I do see a repeat episode now and then. They range from silly to really funny but what I like most is they're just good, clean entertainment. At the end of each show, the family gathers together around a dinner table with Phil, the patriarch, giving a blessing. One of the T-shirts for sale in the warehouse carried their catch-phrase: Faith. Family. Ducks. I might not buy into the Ducks part but there's a lot to be said about their priorities and the fact that they embrace who they are.
What I did buy is a pretty pinky-red T-shirt with the words Happy. Happy. Happy. on the front of it. That's a phrase spoken frequently by Phil Robertson about anything that delights him. One Happy isn't enough; he's Happy-Happy-Happy. It was just what I was looking for...I want to triple my happiness quotient too. Besides, it was the perfect place to take a break from hours of asphalt on a road we're all too familiar with.
It isn't a big place and actually there wasn't as much merchandise available there as I expected. It could be that much of it is exclusive to places like Walmart, etc. But it was fun to look around and we did see Jep, the youngest son and member of the television cast, in the store.
Having said I'm not a regular viewer, I do think I'll have to set the DVR to record the Duck Dynasty Christmas Special on December 11. Those bearded boys recreating the manger scene is sure to "quack" me up and I'll bet they'll be "ducking" a few halls as well. Who knows...next trip home to Kansas I might be graduating from T-shirt to a Jase bobble-head doll or Uncle Si's tea cup. Or not. There are, you see, limits to my embrace of the duck.