Just so you don’t think some madman barged into the Times-News newsroom and began pecking on a computer, I’ll offer this as a brief introduction: My name’s Paul Dunn, and I’m the newest member of the Times-News features department. I hail from North Carolina via half a dozen other states, but you’ll never read or hear me use the term “y’all” unless I’ve had a few mint juleps before sitting down to write.
• • •
I could almost hear Joyce — my British-voiced companion — sigh as we neared Twin Falls. It was Monday morning, Nov. 19.
Joyce, who I’m pretty sure resembles Helen Mirren — and cats Ruthie and Shirley manning the tailgunner position in the Matrix — had accompanied me for nearly 2,500 miles. Over the previous four days, we’d bounced our way like a pogo stick with wheels through North Carolina, the Virginias, Kentucky, Indiana, Iowa, Illinois, Missouri, Nebraska, Wyoming and finally Idaho.
But now Joyce was silent, scratching her noggin, I figured, as she tried to unravel the directional boo-boo I’d made. I couldn’t see her, of course, but I could surmise her expression based on that eerie silence. Meanwhile, our 14-foot U-Haul truck idled, the Toyota on the tow dolly in back patiently waiting.
Finally, Joyce returned: “Turn around when possible, take the first left and then take the motorway on the right,” she commanded.
Fortunately, this was the last time Joyce had to admonish me. The four of us soon cruised into Twin Falls, Joyce finally uttering the words I longed to hear: “You have reached your destination.”
Joyce, as you have probably guessed by now, is my Tomtom GPS narrator. The past several weeks, she’s been helping me find my way around Twin Falls, and I suspect that won’t change anytime soon. But that’s OK: Her lilting accent is music to my ears.
• • •
At the end of my second day on the road, I found a Motel 6 in Blue Springs, Mo., to spend the night. Motel 6 is one of the rare motel chains that allows pets in the rooms at no extra charge. Ruthie and Shirley, ensconced beneath the passenger seat of the Matrix, must have figured a funky hotel room beat shivering in the car, so they eventually ventured out and I nabbed them.
During the night, they did what loving cats do — jumping on and off the bed, purring in my ears and exploring every nook and cranny of the small room. But the real adventure came the next morning when I made a crucial mistake. Instead of immediately nabbing the girls and shoving them into their cat carriers, I opened the motel room door to start loading other stuff into the truck. That triggered their panic and subsequent scurrying for cover under the twin beds.
As I wrestled with one bed to get them out, they slithered under the other. This went on for a good 15 minutes as I virtually rearranged the room to get at them. Finally, as sweat rolled from my forehead and not-so-dainty epithets bounced off the room’s walls, they finally surrendered and I was able to get them to the car. The following two mornings I made sure to get them arranged before opening the motels’ front doors. I’ve learned that to get by in life, I have to be smarter than the cats. Sometimes I fall short.
• • •
I’ve prowled the aisles of Fred Meyer almost every day since I arrived in Twin Falls two weeks ago. You name it, I’ve needed it — almost. The day after Thanksgiving, I once more found myself in the store, this time seeking an over-the-door clothes rack, a kitchen bowl and a few other odds and ends.
No sooner had I begun searching for the items, when a box on a front shelf caught my eye and pulled me like a magnet straight to it.
“So, who do you think’s going to buy this?” I asked a nearby clerk, pointing to the object in question.
“Why, you are,” he answered. “It looks like just the thing you need.”
The thing was a 2.5-pound box of Whitman’s assorted chocolates about as big as the aforementioned U-Haul truck.
“I dunno,” I replied. “It would take me about two nights to get through it if I didn’t eat anything else. I’d die afterward, no doubt, but I’d be happy.”
• • •
So ... enough about me. From now on I intend to focus on you — the people of Twin Falls and surrounding communities. I consider ours a symbiotic partnership that I’m sure will yield mutually beneficial results.
But for that to happen, I need your help.
Please contact me with any story ideas you think Times-News readers will enjoy. I’m especially interested in newsworthy information about area restaurants and issues concerning religion, area churches and snow sports — an odd combination, I know, but so goes the reporting business.
I may be reached three ways: by phone at 208-735-3380 (office) or 252-558-3396 (cell) and at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Thanks. I look forward to hearing from you.