John Grogan - The Longest Trip Home


From Philly to Florida

Sunday, March 07, 2010

Apologies for being AWOL on my blog here for the past several weeks. The month of February was largely consumed by...three guesses...yes, snow shoveling. Here in eastern Pennsylvania, it snowed and it snowed. And it snowed. And, being one of those guys who believes only weenie men hire other men to cut their grass and shovel their driveways, I pretty much made a full-time job out of snow removal. It was fun up to a point. Man against nature, mano a mano, and all that. And then I began rationalizing it as a way to stay fit without joining a gym. Screw the Stairmaster; I had Snowmaster. In the final days, I just gave in and did as my father used to do: offered up my agony to the poor souls in purgatory.

In the midst of the February blizzard month, I got the great idea of a South Florida getaway. It is where Jenny and I spent twelve years of our lives and where all three of our kids were born. Of course, the night before we were supposed to fly out, yet more snow hit. A lot more. I spent five hours plowing and shoveling, getting my tractor stuck (and stuck good) twice. But I did manage to dig us out, and at 6:30 the next morning we were on our way to Philadelphia International Airport, the only car on the road. The computer said our flight was on schedule; and so did an airline rep I reached by phone. We arrived at the airport and were overjoyed to find not a single person in line at security. Our lucky day! Then we got to the gate and I found out why. Our 10 a.m. flight was still sitting in Orlando. The crew was stranded in Pittsburgh. And all runways in Philadelphia were closed. The whole family tried to be philosophical about it. Hey, in every life a few snow emergencies must fall. Scrabble, anyone?

We made it to West Palm Beach six hours late (not bad, considering), and burst out of the airport doors to enjoy the balmy tropical air. Whoa! Retreat! An icy blast greeted us, more worthy of Boston than Boca. Suffice it to say we didn't do a lot of swimming or even sunbathing during our chilly five-day stay, but we did see a lot of old, great friends and had a lot of fun. We visited our old houses in West Palm Beach and Boa Raton and other spots that I described in Marley & Me. I showed the kids where Marley fouled the public beach and where the neighbor girl was stabbed. We went by their old school and favorite park. I didn't know teenagers were capable of such nostalgia. And on the warmest day -- a respectable high of 67 but with biting winds -- all three kids and I threw hypothermia to the wind and went body surfing. Freezing but great fun. When we woke on our last day in Florida, the thermometer read 42 degrees; a few hours later when we landed in Philadelphia, the thermometer read.... this is not a misprint.... 42 degrees.

And now March is here and hints of spring. I spotted my first swamp cabbage popping out of the ground in the marsh, and the forsythia and cherry branches I cut last week and brought inside just burst into glorious bloom. My mother used to force blooms each year in late winter, and now I do, too. And every time I do, I think of her.

I've also been keeping fairly busy on the author front. Last week I participated in a panel discussion sponsored by the Philadelphia Free Library and One Film, One Philadelphia. Our topic was books that have been made into movies. I told the story of how I learned 20th Century Fox wanted to turn my book into a movie (while standing in a parking lot in Stuart, Florida), and how the process went (about as smoothly as any author could hope for). On Friday I spoke to two groups of children at Moravian Academy in Bethlehem, PA, not far from my home. And the day before that I signed copies of my book at the Moravian Book Shop (, which continues to offer signed and personalized copies of all of my books for shipping anywhere in the world. On March 16, I will be in Fort Wayne, Indiana, to speak at a fund-raiser breakfast for Erin's House for Grieving Children. It's a great group that helps a lot of kids who have lost a parent or sibling, and I'm looking forward to speaking there. Come on out if you're in the area.

And finally, my latest illustrated children's book, Marley and the Kittens, is coming off the printing presses as I write this and will be in bookstores late next month. More on that as we get closer.

Happy Almost Spring, everyone. We earned this one.

posted by John Grogan at 9:06 PM


Blogger Erin said...

LOL "Snowmaster."

I've heard a lot about the cold weather in Florida. My aunt recently moved there from Arkansas and says, "So far it's not much warmer."

Also, I'm just finishing your book "The Long Road Home." I have a few chapters left, and I've truly enjoyed it! It's neat to see what was happening between the Marley adventures.

Happy Spring!

8:43 AM  
Blogger Laurie said...

Funny I should happen to read your blog today. This morning I was just thinking about how nice it would be to go to S. FL for a few days. It's drizzling and dreary here in MN. The snow is not quite gone. It's too nasty to go for a walk with the dogs, and I have taken them out most everyday this winter.
This is the time of year I take out my Bob Marley CD's. It brightens things up. I've been doing it for many years.
I also started reading Marley & Me yesterday, for about the 4th or 5th time. I originally read it 4 years ago about this same time of year, and it has gotten to be a bit of a tradition while Waiting In Vain for spring and Three Little Birds to Satisfy My Soul.

8:46 AM  
Blogger Mark + Audrey Lestan said...

That's funny. I am a Michigander transplanted down here in Jax since January and you are not kidding. Thought I had hit the jackpot. Not so with that bitter wind. What's that the Republicans are saying about climate change not being real?

9:15 PM  
Blogger Tina said...

Happy to have you back.

I live in NH. While the winter here has been okay- has far as snow goes- compared to last year -- it has been a COLD winter. I am ready for Spring!

3:30 PM  
Blogger xgabrielx said...

ciao sono simona e sono italiana... nn so se leggerai queste parole ma devo scrivere assolutamente per ringraziarti, con Marley ho riso e pianto tanto ,e' in assoluto il mio film preferito e il libro che ho letto con maggior entusiasmo! Ho tre cani che sono il mio mondo si chiamano Ringhio Pippo e Leonardo (Leo in famiglia).Non credo di aver scelto il posto migliore per lasciarti i miei ringraziamenti, il mio non e' un commento su quello che hai scritto ma solo una sincera ammirazione per un uomo e per una famiglia che ha saputo dare cosi' tanto e che e' riuscita a creare un rapporto cosi' magico con il proprio compagno a 4 zampe, ti ringrazio perche' hai reso pubblico un amore che purtroppo non tutti capiscono,le persone che non hanno mai avuto un cane non potranno mai capire quanto e' profondo, leale, magico e senza nessun secondo fine se non quello di regalarsi gioia e comprensione in ogni momento della giornata senza riserve.Grazie non finiro' mai di ripeterlo, questa storia mi ha regalato tante emozioni, quelle emozioni che non passano e che non dimentichi perche' sono cosi' vere e io le provo tutti i giorni con i miei bambini che oltretutto sono terremoti dolcissimi proprio come Marley.Grazie a tutta la bellissima famiglia Grogan. Grazie

8:26 AM  
Blogger valinhas said...

This post has been removed by the author.

1:34 PM  
Blogger valinhas said...

Hi John,

I have been reading your blog for a while now, but never posted any comments before. I thought this post would be a good one to start. :)

I just find it amazing how you seem to be so optimistic even about things that could really upset you. It shows in your writing. I can only imagine how it's like to have winters like yours -- I live in Brazil and it's hotter than ever here. But I'm pretty sure that there's not a lot of people that have such a sense of humor to deal with it. That is truly a virtue.

Best wishes,

Maria Clara
Belo Horizonte - Brasil

1:35 PM  
Blogger dnbruotolo said...

Greetings here from chilly Dallas TX. Yup- March 21st and we're looking at 4 inches of snow! But, perfect weather to finish the Longest Trip Home. How can your childhood in Michigan be so much like mine in Dunmore PA? We baby boomers are traveling much the same road from childhood to mid-life. I laughed and cried, as I recognized so many of the same characters in my Catholic upbringing. We have much the same philosophical issues with the church.
Thanks for letting me know we are not traveling the road alone.
Debbie Pronitis-Ruotolo Dallas, TX

1:04 PM  
Blogger ALynott said...

Hi John,

Greetings from Leitrim, Ireland.Just watched Marley and Me for the first time last week. Blubbered into a teatowel at the end. We just lost our dog a few weeks ago so it was very raw. Had read the book a few years ago so knew I would be a basket case. Loved the few scenes from Ireland.. very Irish! Going to buy your next book now as I enjoy the writing so much and I am sure I will be able to relate to the impact of Catholisism! Good luck to you and yours. You are an inspiration to tell a really good story.

3:45 PM  
Blogger Michelle said...

I LIVE in NW fla, and the cold was BLISTERING this winter.My mom, in Sunrise thought she had never seen anything so cold. Come onto FB.there's some people I want you to meet.

4:27 PM  

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