Becky and I have been best friends for what seems like forever. We have fought like sisters, had each other’s back when people stuck their nose in our fights, and through it all, the thick and thin, boyfriends, parents, through high school and beyond, marriage and even children… she and I have always been close since day one.
Unlike me, Becky is a bit of a goodie-two-shoe, doesn't smoke, rarely drinks and in high school was voted “Most likely to become a missionary and save the world from people like me.” But like they say, opposite attracts.
Someone once asked me, “Do you know the difference between a best friend and a good friend?” It is a very fine line but a good friend will bail you out 2 am and a best friend will be sitting next to you in the jail cell saying, “Dang that was fun HUH? He didn't look like a cop.” Becky would be the type of friend sitting next to me probably asking me how I talked her into whatever it was we did to be put in jail.
Well as I said Becky doesn't smoke and we were in her new 2010 Dodge Journey. She had a strict no smoking policy in her “new” car. Seeing as how we had an almost 12 hour drive ahead of us, thank God I had packed some great Swedish snus!
Although I usually smoke on average 4 to 5 cigarettes on a bad day. When I drive, at least anything more than 20 miles, I tend to smoke a little more. OK, a lot more. I tend to kill a whole pack on the same 600 mile trip with Mick to Myrtle Beach. It is sort of like drinking and smoking, or coffee and smoking in the 50’s. They just tend to go hand in hand. Sort like peanut butter and jelly.
I don’t honestly remember what Snus was packed for the trip last year but I do have the fondest of memories of that trip. And so did my friend Becky. So much so that by the end of said weekend we were already planning this year’s trip, and who we could kidnap to bring with us. Well I was planning a little more like what snus to bring because over the weekend I spent a lot of time on the beach or slowing us down on the road due to smoke breaks.
So welcome to Mom’s Gone Wild Weekend 2013.
By the third week of January 2013 we had as many as 6 or 7 additional “Moms” who wanted to join us for this year’s annual craziness after hearing about our trip last year. I think we’re gonna need a bigger car. In the end people dropped out due to a number of reasons, timing, money, no one to watch the kids. It ended up being just three of us, Becky, me, and my cousin Sarah, who also doesn't smoke.
After remembering last year’s nicotine deprived weekend due to last minute planning I started my packing list with what snus I was taking. Mick helped me by packing a Crushed Ice Xtra Strong by Nick and Johnny and the new white portion Lab Series 12 Fresh Mint strong snus by Swedish Match.
The prior week, Becky and I started our countdown until we were to leave at 4pm on February 28. We teased each other about how much we had packed or really needed to pack for the trip. Becky is a planner, where as I am the type to throw some stuff in a bag and just go where ever the ketchup bottle pointed. Like my husband, for her it was all about what we would see and do once we got there, where as for me it is all about the journey getting there. Lucky for me Mick understands both my habits and how Becky is about traveling and planned most of my snus for the trip.
We got an early start and the weather was OK for the moment, but we knew we were heading into snow in West Virginia where we were to pick up Sarah. With my N & J snus in my mouth I was feeling fine until we got about 20 miles out of town. I noticed I had a death grip on the steering wheel. I was getting my nicotine but as a smoker I couldn't relax my hands. I was always use to having my cigarette between my fingers and that somewhat calming ring of smoke around my head. Realizing we needed ice in the cooler we made a quick pit stop at a Circle K just south of Columbus. Noticing I was a bit fidgety Becky suggested I find something to keep my hands busy while I was driving.
Looking around the store I now realized why people have trouble quitting smoking and become fidgety. Why they tend to gain weight, or give up and go back to smoking, even people who try to quit using the Big Pharma way with the gum, patch or pill. When you have been use to having something in between your fingers for years it is hard to stop, hence why people substitute things like food, lollipops and or half a dozen other things (usually sweet and just as bad for you) to have something to do with their hands.
So I picked up a FIN E-cig for $10, with only 1.6 mg of nicotine in it that was supposed to be equal to 2 packs of smokes. I had tried other E-cigs before and never found they could curve my want for nicotine. But with my Nick and Johnny in my lip giving me the nicotine I craved and now something to do with my hands I found I didn't really need to light up a real smoke.
So with a large coffee in my cup holder, my Nick and Johnny snus in my lip and close at hand my new FIN E-cig, I was a happy camper and was already at Sarah’s 180 miles closer to Myrtle before I knew it without needing to stop for a smoke break as I had the year before.
Our second pit stop was in Wytheville, Virginia for gas. If we had not needed gas or more coffee, I was still good to go. We ate a late dinner, called the husbands around 10 pm to let them know where we were, we were through the snow and wish them good night. After buying a few knickknacks we were back on the road. GPS set, fresh coffee in the mug, a fresh portion pouch of Nick and Johnny snus in my lip, gassed up, and settled in for another 300 miles of road time.
I love to drive at night because there tends to be less traffic and less BS. I share the road with truckers and the few crazy people like me who prefer to drive at night. While the girls slept, I set the cruise control, as I listened to the 80’s station and talked to a few of the truckers on the CB radio. Every now and then I would talk to one about my snus before we would part ways.
Many of them would like a way to quit smoking because many of the trucking companies are going smoke free in the trucks. So of course I would tell them about SnusCentral.org, the SnusCentral.com Snus Shop, and about the difference between Swedish Snus and that American want-a-be snus.
We finally arrived at our hotel, Ocean Reef, just before 4 am, which was easily 9 hours before check in time. The clerk, bless his heart, could see we were tired and made arrangements to get us in at that time, on the 15th floor, at an angle facing the ocean.
It was like a two bedroom, two bath, efficiency apartment with all sorts of great things like a washer and dryer in the room, full kitchen with a dish washer and garbage disposal… but no ashtrays. Dang anti’s have stuck again. After unpacking and getting settled in, the girls decided to take a quick nap before going out on the beach to watch the sun rise. I on the other hand was still wide awake and couldn't wait to hit the beach. So down I went.
As I sat there pondering the meaning of life as I always do when waiting for the sun to come up, I lit up my first cigarette of the trip and noticed it tasted strange to me. I am not sure how to explain it, just it was bizarre. I think I might have smoked less than half of it and then put it out. I slipped another Nick and Johnny snus portion under my lip and fiddled with my new E-cig. I didn't even take a hit off of it; just sort of sat there with it in my hand.
When I saw the first rays of light beginning to break the edge of the ocean I ran back up stairs to wake the girls for our first sunrise of our trip. Sarah was tired but eager to see it and Becky mumbled something about she wasn’t moving in her sleep and rolled over. Walking the beach with Sarah without a cigarette hanging out of my mouth, I found I could enjoy the walk more, I could smell the salt in the air, and I could taste it on my tongue and was not as out of breath. Even with as little as I smoke I could feel the difference now.
Day One: What a difference Snus makes on Vacation
Our first day we went down on the Boardwalk in downtown Myrtle. We went shopping on the strip and were in and out of stores up one side and down the other. Normally I would have been either putting out a smoke to go into a store or waiting outside for my friends to come back out, but with my snus in my lip, I walked in and out with them and no one was the wiser.
We made our way around to the Gay Dolphin Gift Shop, which is a must if ever you find yourself in Myrtle Beach. There are 8 cram-packed levels of knickknacks in this place ranging from $0.99 to $1200.00 and literally you could get lost in it. Believe me I have on more than one occasion.
While there, I met a really sweet older gentleman whose name escapes me now. I think it was John or James. (If you’re reading this, forgive me for not remembering.) Somehow we got to talking about smoking and his desire to quit. So I pulled out my handy dandy can of Nick and Johnny and told him about Swedish Snus. Showed him how I put it in my upper lip and told him how there is no spitting involved.
A few minutes later we met up on the Boardwalk where he introduced me to his charming wife. She told me how she and the doctors had been trying to get him to quit for years, because of the lung damage he had suffered in Viet Nam.
Again I explained how Swedish Snus was great because for starters he could get the nicotine he wanted without any smoke going in his lungs. I explained how Swedish Snus is pasteurized and had a best buy date, and was regulated by the Swedish FDA and not the ATF. I gave him and his wife the web site and told them to come check it out. They said they would and that they looked forward to the day he would stop smoking.
After some lunch on the pier, dinner at an all you can eat seafood restaurant in addition to some hard core shopping we finally made our way back to our room around 8:30/9pm. We settled in with some adult drinks and talking about our day. As I said earlier drinking and smoking tend to go together like PB&J for me. I popped in a LS 12 snus portion and sat back and enjoyed the conversation instead of hiding out on the balcony and feeling like the bubble boy always on the outside looking in.
On our second day we got up early had breakfast and headed another 100 miles south to Charleston, South Carolina to see Fort Sumner, something called a slave market and any other trouble we could find. And boy did we ever find it.
Our first adventure of the day was Fort Sumner. I had never really been on anything bigger than a pontoon boat to go fishing in a lake so the ferry boat out into the bay and out to the Fort was a bit of a concern for me. The theme from Gilligan’s Island played in the back of my mind as we waited to board.
Ok I guess I should explain, yes I can swim, very well, but the thought of being out in the bay and how the ocean currents can pull you out to sea in what really is the northern part of the Bermuda Triangle, had crossed my mind more than a few times. Just how safe was this “boat” and what was I in for?
Of course the more nervous I am the more nicotine was needed to keep me calm. So just before boarding I slipped a second of Nick and Johnny’s in. Now with a double portion of Nick and Johnny in my upper lip, I looked like I had been in a prize fight with Mohamed Ali. After a few minutes I was A LOT calmer but looked like I had an over dose of Valium.
My friend Becky tried to get me to come inside to the sitting area and relax, as if that was going to happen. I went out on the bow of the boat where I felt if the boat was going to go down at least I would see it coming and feel I could have some control as to the direction in which I was going to die. I was going down happy with a big smile and an upper lip full of snus.
After a little more than a 30 minute ride out to the Fort we were given a do’s and don’ts speech about where, when and what we could and couldn't do while on the island. Top of the list… NO SMOKING. Five minutes later we were turned loose on the island for about 45 minutes to check the Fort out. My friend and I listened to the well thought out and planned speech of the ranger about the Fort and then allowed wandered around for a little bit before it was time to get back on the boat for the grueling 30 plus minute ride back to the dock.
While Sarah and Becky wandered around I started to ask questions about the Fort. At some point I needed to remove the double barrel portion of snus in my lip and realized my catch lid was full. So I asked the ranger where the trash can was.
While I was, I thought, quietly removing the portions and emptying my catch lid, a lady ranger approached and said, “Yeah there really is no lady like way to remove those is there?” I looked up and in the palm of her hand was a can of General snus as she came over and emptied her catch lid too.
We smiled at each other and just walked away. In a way it was nice to see a fellow lady snuser. Someone who understood and enjoyed the same pleasures of tobacco as I did. Even on the forums it is a rare place to find a fellow FEMALE snuser. All of a sudden I didn’t feel so alone in the world, and I only had to drive over 700 miles to find her.
It is funny how many people want to quit smoking but feel they have no choice but the “Big Pharma” way or just plain cold turkey. Why can’t the Anti-smoking Nazi’s understand the difference in snus and see it as a way to step away from the cigarettes. The patch has levels of nicotine to slowly lower your addiction to the nicotine. Why can’t people use snus in the same manner?
Even on the boat ride back a young lady caught me slipping in a portion and made the most God awful face at me. As if I was going to spit tobacco juice on her new heels. Fortunately the guy next to me noticed the can and asked me what brand I used. I was so happy to tell him about it and how with good Snus such as the Swedish stuff I DIDN’T have to spit, loud enough she could hear me. She rolled her eyes again.
Through the rest of the afternoon I followed Becky and Sarah through the market, in and out of little shops and around the small streets we came to see. It was nice to not have to worry about my tobacco use for a change, and not having to feel like a burden to them waiting on me to either put out or finish a smoke. Over dinner Becky had asked if I was OK as she had not seen me with a cigarette all day. I just smiled and showed her my snus and said I am fine. Then we drove back to Myrtle still talking about the day and how she wanted to bring her husband and daughter down.
Day 3: Snus and the Emu
On our third and last full day, we decided to start the day at a local Zoo out in the middle of nowhere. Waccatee Zoological Farm is a strange place at best and calling it a Zoo is a bit of a stretch on the finest of days. It started as a personal collection of misfit animals collected by an older gentleman in the early 70’s and after he passed his family opened it to the public as a zoo in 1988. Since then they have collected more “misfit” animals to care for and the money raised all goes back to care for these beautiful animals.
Either way it is a fun place to visit. You can buy a large freezer bag of “food” you can feed almost any of the animals except the pot belly pig, Corky, who is on a diet. The big cats which just sort of look at you funny for trying to feed them the mixture of dog food, peanuts, large fish pullets and corn. They have just about everything there, from chickens to a camel named Clyde. Like any zoo, it is strictly a NO SMOKING place.
Unlike many modern zoos there are no paved paths and warning signs everywhere tell you to be careful of the tree roots. They have several large pens with a various animals. All know when they see that bag or large yellow cup you have food for them.
I was walking beside a fence with an empty food cup and had to get rid of my used portion of snus, so I spit it into the cup temporarily until I found a trash can to empty my full catch lid when slipped on a root and one of the emu’s stuck it’s head through a break in the fence and down into my cup full of used snus. Before I could react it pulled back with a beak full of used LS 12 snus portions rolling its eyes and squawking at me as if to say, “MMMm Minty BUT where is the food chic?” We laughed for the rest of the day about it. Silly bird, snus is for peoples!
After a bit more shopping, which I was not minding so much now that I found I could snus my way through it. We found dinner and back to the hotel for a little swimming and relaxing before packing and getting ready for the long trip home.
Living Better with Snus
And before you have to ask yes I found there is little to nothing you can’t do while having a full portion of snus in your lip including swimming, shopping, driving, flirting, long walks on the beach, talking to new people about snus, spending time with old friends… you name it and I am betting you can do it with snus in your lip without anyone even noticing.
I guess the moral of my story is this: Just because you smoke and the rest of the world around you doesn’t… does not mean you have to choose between the non- smoking and smoking worlds. You don’t have to give up the things you love. When I can’t smoke I can and will use snus. If nothing else this has proven to me that as long as I can have snus… I can have it all, and have fun doing it. So go ahead and flip that government sign “This is a tobacco free zone” the bird by slipping in a portion of your favorite Swedish snus.
A Mom Gone Wild (for a Weekend)
On the Road for SnusCENTRAL.org