Ahhh...the silly things we do when we're young and dumb.
The year was 1987 or so and I was having a blast working at the Boca Raton News in South Florida.
My years there were pretty much the best of my working life -- particularly the first four or five years.
I was roughly 10 years older than most of the coworkers I hung out with. A few were older than that and one or two were even older than I; but for the most part, I was the senior member and more often than not ring master of the circus.
We were the envy of many and the nemesis of others at the paper. We didn't didn't care one way or the other; we were just having a blast.
Paychecks were less than motivating, but we managed to have about $100 a week in fun and that made the pay easier to swallow.
In the spirit of making the most of things, a couple of us came up with the bright idea of taking a weekend and visiting all the Hooters restaurants in South Florida.
A relatively new chain, most of the stores at that time were concentrated in Florida with the original being in Clearwater.
Our plan was to leave Boca Raton on a Saturday morning with stop No. 1 being the Ft. Lauderdale store. Our schedule then had us sprinting across Alligator Alley to Florida's west coast where we would hit the Hooters in Naples, Bradenton, St. Petersburg, Clearwater and Tampa on the first day.
We were to overnight in Tampa and then continue on to the Lakeland and Orlando stores on Sunday before running down the east coast to the West Palm Beach Hooters on Sunday evening.
We judged the Hooters in Jacksonville to be a bridge too far. In fact, we scratched Miami from itinerary as well.
We rented a Ford Windstar minivan and loaded it up with five guys with way too much time on our hands. It's what happens when everyone is single and an apartment dweller with no weekend chores or responsibilities. (Those were the days.)
What a wild 36 hours!
When we finally arrived at the Bradenton store, it occurred to us to mention to the manager the mission in which we were engaged. This prompted him to call several of the servers over for photos. We also got a few freebees in the way of wings and beer. Before departing he asked where we were going next. We told him St. Pete, and he wrote a note for us to pass on the the manager of that store.
This happened at every Hooters from there forward.
Rolling back into Boca Raton around 11 PM on Sunday night, we were whipped. It was over 500 miles and who knows how many pounds of chicken wings? We even got our security deposit back on the minivan rental.
Now I hit wineries in Napa and distilleries on Kentucky's Bourbon Trail. But none of those outings hold a candle to the Great Hooters Pilgrimage of 1987.