Vacation Saga Day Seven: In Which We Really Nearly Die

So I said we almost died on Friday.

And part of that was a joke, at least about the hot air balloon. The other stuff could have been fatal.

Still, it was nothing in comparison to how the run turned out this year. Usually the run is fun but tiring. This year… it was a bit more on the scary and terrifying and I’m going to cry scale.

It didn’t start out that way. Granted, I almost forgot my purse in the Acadia, but I sold some books before the starting gun, so it was good and I got my purse just in time. Our trip to Grove City was without incident. We had our coffee and treats and moved on to Litchfield (being about the last car to leave Grove City, actually.)

We made it to Litchfield, took our break, had our cookies, did the annual peek at the GAR museum. Then I got to drive out of Litchfield.

Someone asked me (I don’t think they believed I knew how to drive the Maxwell, but that’s something different) how I drove a car that was older than me. I said, “Very carefully.”

There’s a part of me that wanted to say “the same way I drive any car,” but my car is automatic and not quite older than me (It’s only twenty years old, not a hundred ten.)

I made it out well without grinding any gears (near flawless performance, even got complimented) and drove without trouble into Kingston. Though I normally drive from Kingston into close to Buffalo, Grandpa decided to do that this year.

The route to the high school this time had a roundabout in it. It was fairly close to it and possibly unavoidable, but still… a roundabout. The Maxwell is not the easiest car to stop and restart, and we ended up almost getting hit by a truck that we should have yielded to. Scare number one.

We continue on, eat lunch without incident, and I get to drive again, but of course this time with everyone watching, I can’t find second and grind gears a little. I even had trouble trying to find third and had to start over once we were on the road some.

Despite this, we reached the Hanover stop safely.

Grandpa resumes the driving and we head to Crystal. We have an issue going through the lights on the way there, as Grandpa apparently didn’t want to stop for one of the red lights when the side traffic was clear but there was a jogger and a bicyclist coming and he could have hit them. They were not pleased.

We get closer to Crystal, and here is where we find trouble. A train stops on the tracks, and we were forced to find an alternate route into the stop. We were lead by the tow driver and at one point lost them for a bit which was a little scary. And then we got there and stopped only to find when we left again that the train was still stopped and we couldn’t get past it to get back on the route.

We had to figure out a plan, and it would have been several plans at once except no one knew what to do, but then Mom spoke to the hamm operatior and he led us out and back to the route.

Well, that should have been the end of it, but something went wrong and the car we were following missed the turn. The tow driver came up to help but they ended up leading us way down a path we never go on that was through some creepy places in the city and was really uncomfortable, like people might just come up to the car and reach in, some even came pretty close to it at a stop light.

We continued on, still pretty far from the route, and I knew we were not on it. I was really worried, and we lost a car along the way (I guess they decided to go another way and they did get there faster.) Joe kept checking his GPS and sending Pat updates, and maybe we should have let him lead us with the route he saw, but I think maybe Grandpa liked being behind the tow driver because they did block intersections for us. It still wasn’t great because the car in front of us was too lost without them and slowed down too often and on hills and stuff and almost caused accidents themselves when we couldn’t help getting close to them as they were driving rather erratically because they kept looking for the car behind us or the tow truck. Still, we stuck with the tow truck and eventually made it there, though just about everyone had given up on us and assumed we were out of the run.

Admittedly, so did I at parts because we were so lost and we were not going toward places I recognized and I was sure one of those stop signs or lights would be an accident. I had lots of fun panicking in the back of the Maxwell.

Grandpa made thirty-two out of thirty-two, though.

Vacation Saga Day Six: In Which We Nearly Die

So Friday is the day of the driver’s meeting and tour around Green Lake. It starts off mildly enough, with me somewhat regretting my choice of outfit by the time I left the house as my red satin dress is a bit tight these days and it was super hot by the time we were in New London.

Still, we got the Maxwell out, took it to the Legion, and then there was the annual shopping. I went off to get a chai from the local coffee shop while people were eating (I do believe I’ve stressed many a time that I’m not a breakfast person) and the meeting was over rather quickly as there were no real changes to the route this year, amazingly enough.

John Eliot joked about hiring someone to sabotage Grandpa’s car so that he’d be the only one who’d done all the runs, but he said they were unsuccessful.

Unfortunately, someone else almost was.

While we were on the lake tour, we were on the final lap, which I actually have driven the last few years but somewhat auspiciously had not done this year. You see, as we were turning the corner where last year a car almost went off the road and into the lake, the Ford group had stopped for a photo opportunity, so first we almost hit them because the one in front of us was going slow. Then once they pulled out of the way, we continued down the hill and almost hit the guy in the other Ford who was turning around to park for the photo.

Yes, I almost died because someone wanted a picture. I am still NOT AMUSED. That was a dumb place to stop and take a picture with so many old cars behind you on a hill. Had I been behind the wheel and not Grandpa, we would have collided with that Ford for sure (I don’t stop well with the foot pedal brake. I pull up the lever for safety.)

Anyway, we survived that (barely,) and went to park for root beer floats. We end up staying in Spicer longer than intended because the spedometer died and we were trying to find a replacement battery. No such luck.

On to round two of us very nearly dying. So… Grandpa informs me that I am driving back to New London. I can’t remember doing it before. I ask him if he’s sure because I haven’t driven in a year. He says, “You have thirty seconds to remember how.”

And so we set off. We’re turning the corner out of the parking lot, Grandpa flips the lever on the steering wheel, and the Maxwell dies. It does not want to start again. Naturally, everyone thinks I killed the car. (I didn’t, it was fine until Grandpa touched the lever.) Fiddle with the battery clamps and suddenly it starts again. So we have to go, and people are waiting and they make me go first (such fun times, I love humiliating myself in front of a crowd) and so we start off.

I think I’m in first, but I’m in reverse and I almost hit Steve from the car club and owed him a radiator.

Then Grandpa tells me to cross the highway once we’re in New London. I swear it’s clear when I start, but then I must have looked down to change gears and um… there was an SUV, and it almost hit us… and I can only say that I swear it wasn’t there when I started. Still scary. Still not good.

I was booted from the driver’s seat not long after. So… the drive to the park for pictures was more or less without incident and we were done with that easily enough. The plan was to continue searching for the battery, but it got a little sidetracked.

And then Joe and Pat from the car club came while Mom and I were on our battery hunt, so when we got back before the parade line up time, they were wanting to know if we wanted to go see a big game hunter’s house and his animals and stuff. They said food was involved and an air show, so I went along.

I was a bit sad to see the poor animals, but they were beautiful, too. The house was very large and well decorated with a huge gun safe and even a minature golf course outside. I missed taking a video of the planes and I refused to get on the big gun the National Guard had there like Joe wanted, but I did go for the hot air balloon.

I mean, it was tethered to for trucks, but it was still a risk (and goodness, getting in with my skirt was interesting, though Pat had a rougher time.) They said it wasn’t a very far drop, but… It could have been bad. It wasn’t. It was super fun even if it was short, and I was glad I went despite getting too hot and sunburned and everything while waiting to go up. We got back to New London late (I’m sure those poor people closing A & W weren’t thrilled with us) but it was fun.

Vacation Saga Day Five: An Auspicious Seat Choice

The day was a rather mild one, fairly usual for this part of the journey. We got up, loaded the car, and set off to New London.

There was construction so we had to take a different route, but it went well. The usual things happened, too, like parking the trailer, unloading the Maxwell, and going to where we usually stay.

In fact, it was so ordinary a day it almost felt like there was nothing to talk about.

One thing of distinction, I suppose, comes in that they had a Thursday night meal that I actually liked and was willing to eat, me being a picky eater and all. So I joined Grandpa and Mom at the dinner to meet the tow drivers (for the first time in years) and ended up sitting down next to someone who was interested in my books.

So I showed off the ones I had in print and ended up selling one of each book I have in print two times over.

Also I was told an interesting story about a mountain rescue and maybe have a new story idea? I’m not sure I have enough details or know how exactly to do it, but it’s a thought.

So it was productive, if a little quiet.

Vacation Saga Day Four: If the Yardwork Doesn’t Kill You

If the yardwork doesn’t kill you, apparently your scarf will.

Um… yeah.

So today Grandpa had a funeral to do with the color guard, and we thought we were released from projects. Alas, such optimism was really a trick as there was… edging to do.

Fifteen years worth of edging, to be precise, not that Grandpa mentioned that when setting us to work with the edger. It didn’t want to go, and Mom was definitely struggling with it. I would say that I sort of had the easier job in that I went and got a broom and swept the grass up behind her, except I got my blister first and it took the skin off my hand right where I need to hold to crank the Maxwell.

(Incidentally, I did that later, cranked the Maxwell. It started for me first time… but I couldn’t feel my arm afterward. Fun times.)

Anyway… the edging was a slow moving process. We only managed to get part of it done before both Mom and I were wiped and even with the easier job, I was way too hot and getting migrainy. So we called it for now to be resumed at a later time.

Still, having run short of my stuff for my migraines, I wanted to go get some before we headed to New London, and to that end, I tossed a scarf on over my tank top to cover the grease stains on my shoulders that I got putting the Maxwell in the trailer and as we were leaving, I walked out the door and my scarf got caught, trapping me on the step. It didn’t want to come loose without opening the door up completely, and even then it tried to catch again.

And again when I got in the car.

See? If the yardwork doesn’t get you…

Vacation Saga Day Three: When You Should Hire a Landscaper

The suburban America obsession with lawn care mystifies me. I simply do not see the point in it. In some sense, I would probably prefer to live where grass can grow wild. In other ways, I am too used to my modern comforts to be okay with that. It’s not that we didn’t live outside of town when I was growing up, but nowadays almost everything is right nearby so I’m able to get anything I need, and if I can’t, there’s the internet, so I’m spoiled.

The point of that is… I really don’t know what to think of yardwork. It certainly isn’t fun for someone with a tendency to get sick in the heat and carpal tunnel.

Still, Grandpa needed help with his yard, and since we are here, we are rather easy targets.

So… um… Grandpa’s yard looks a bit like it was mowed by a drunk person. Not, of course, that I was drinking while doing lawn care, other than coffee before and after, that is, but I can’t drive a mower in a straight line.

Mom even went back and fixed stuff I did because I somehow missed a row completely. And by the downspout, supposedly, though I swear I tried to do that.

I think it just goes to show that you would be much better off not asking me to take care of your lawn.

Vacation Saga Three: The Return of the Mysterious Squeak

Monday morning the first week of vacation almost always means working on the Maxwell.

(My Maxwell is at home. I miss him. But my kitty does not travel well.)

I started being tasked with cleaning the back tires free of grease. I got my bright green gloves and my special cleaner, and Grandpa jacked up the Maxwell so I could spin the tires. For some reason, it lifted lop-sided, where the passenger side was higher and driver’s side low. Still, it was enough.

I got the tires nice and clean and also did the splash pans and the hood. The car leaked so I had to do the splash pans twices. Also the hood as Grandpa was not satisfied with my first attempt.

We were about to break for tea when Grandpa discovered that there was another squeak. I was like, “but we fixed the squeak last year.”

And we couldn’t figure out what was making the noise.

After Mom trimmed the hedge, she came over to see what our status was, and she helped look for the squeak, but it couldn’t be found. It seemed to be coming from the area of the gas tank, which made no sense. Mom asked if it was because the Maxwell was on the jack, and I asked if Grandpa had heard the squeak before yesterday. He said it shouldn’t be the jack and that while he hadn’t heard it yesterday, it was there anyway.

We went back in for tea, and when we returned, Grandpa continued to search for the squeak.

We still couldn’t find it, but we ended up letting the Maxwell off the jack.

Yes, you guessed it. There was no more squeak. Funny how that goes.

Vacation Saga Two: Unfortunate Carpet and Unlikely Win

Day two of vacation had us arriving at our destination too tired to do much more than say hello and crawl in bed.

That whole overnight thing… I’m not sure I can do it anymore. I used to be fine going all night on our drives, but not so much anymore. At any rate, we were feeling rather mellow for the day as we were both still very tired even after the nap.

I discovered to my dismay that my record player is malfunctioning.

And then it was time for food. We went to eat at a local hotel’s restaurant which was quite tasty (the gumbo was spicy but very good and my sandwich was so huge I had to finish it today.) Still, Grandpa and Mom both noticed the unfortunate carpet pattern on our way in, and I was like, “what?”

So after the meal, I go back out and look and sure enough… The pattern on this carpet is an odd mixture of colors done to alternate in random ways kind of like those graphs you see when its a needle on a polygraph (I may watch too many crime shows) and where one of the colors was looked more like the carpet had completely worn away and so it looked pretty bad. It also clashed with the grain on the wood.

We were joking about how we’d be easy pickings for Whist and shouldn’t get paired up because it would be too easy. And it’s true, really. I’m a terrible Whist player. Like… awful. People really complain about me as a partner. So I figured it would be bad.

Only… I won for the first time ever playing Whist. Well, Mom did, but you know… it’s still a win.

Vacation Saga 2018: Spills and Fears of White Vans

We got a later start on getting on the road this year, owing in part to my varied… er, issues? I was a bit scatterbrained all the way through packing, relying heavily on lists to get by and still managing to forget what I was doing about two seconds later.

There were upsets like “wow, none of my jeans fit, what happened???” and there were “crap, I can’t find that” panics and then there was… my new talent for spilling things.

If it was on me, I’d be tempted to quote Airplane and “that as much as anything led to my drinking problem,” but I didn’t actually spill anything on me. First I knocked over a thermos full of water trying to get a suitcase out the door.

Then as I was packing my dress bag, I knocked over my coffee cup, spilling the last of my precious coffee all over the floor.

Still, in spite of that, we made it on the road. In addition to the usual game of watching for horses (Mom totally won and possibly cheated as she ended with thirty-seven and I got three) we were on the lookout for white vans like the one that stalked us last year.

We did actually see several, and a few of them acted a little suspicious, but we ended up leaving them all behind or they turned off, so no stalking occurred.

Then I was starting to get a little fuzzy like maybe a migraine might be coming on, and so I stopped driving to rest, and I was just trying to move the box of crackers when I lost control of it and dumped it all over the floor of the car for spill number three.

Those are good crackers, too. It was a real shame.

Still, we made it through the night minus a few crackers and no white vans, so that has to count as a victory, right?

My Light Is You

Author’s Note: I knew this scene was what I wanted to do with the lyrics from Do You Believe? I did, but I didn’t know how to get right, and having put it down on paper, it still feels wrong. The end was hard to do, and I don’t know that this would make the final version of the book, but this does at least get my intent across.

My eyes will open to the darkness
And in the darkness will be you
And in the darkness my only light is you
And in the darkness the light is in your eyes

My Light Is You

She was trapped. Her nails scraped along the metal, fingers finding no purchase as she tried to free herself. She couldn’t get out, couldn’t make anything move. She couldn’t breathe, the air was so thin and she could practically feel it disappearing. She couldn’t get enough breath in her lungs, and panic had taken hold of her, making her want to scream and cry and pound on the walls.

Someone had to hear her. They had to let her out. She just needed some help. She could get out, she could still make it. She could live. She would get out of here. She just needed a little more time, a little more air… If someone would just hear her…

“Mackenna, wake up.”

She heard Carson’s voice and looked around in confusion. The room was too dark. They’d actually fallen asleep in bed for a change, not on the couch or one of the cars, and it was almost black in here with those curtains. She normally preferred that over shadows—she only slept in full light or full darkness—but not tonight.


He leaned over her, and she couldn’t see much, just his eyes, which should have been creepy, but it was good to know he was there.

“You had the nightmare this time,” he said, reaching over to brush back some of her hair. “I had a hard time waking you. Are you… Do you want to talk about it?”

She sighed. Not particularly, but she did push him to share his—partially because his involved memories he’d needed to unlock—so she should reciprocate once and a while. “It was… dumb. I just… For some reason, I was… it was me in the trunk, like that man we found… and I was alive when I was put in there, and I couldn’t get out. It was dark. I was trapped. I panicked. It… I feel stupid.”

“Um, no, you’re very intelligent, and we don’t know who he was or how he ended up in the trunk of the car. I’m no expert, and I didn’t get a good look, but we technically only suspect it was a man because of the clothes. It could have been a woman. We’ll have to wait for someone else to tell us that part,” Carson said, being frustratingly logical about it. “And it’s only human to be curious. Your mind was working on the problem while you slept, that’s all.”

She nodded. “I know. I just… I hate feeling like that, hate being so helpless… I swore that wouldn’t be me again after those years in that tenement. I fix things. I don’t… I would never want to be trapped anywhere. I like driving in open cars and not hiding, no small enclosed spaces…”

“Small enclosed arms no good, either?”

She laughed. “Yours are just the right size, not that small, even if you’re not the size of Larry. And if you were trying to hint about holding me, just do it already. I thought I married you for a reason.”

“Hmm. I thought it was for my car.”

“And the funny socks.”

“And those,” he said, wrapping his arms around her and pulling her close, spooning her against him. “Though I am glad I can be of some service like this.”

She shook her head. He wasn’t just of some service. He was the only reason she was even in here trying to sleep like a normal person. He was a lot more than socks or the antique car they’d be restoring together. No, she wouldn’t say he was everything, not that cliché, but he helped her and she helped him and it mattered.

“Would you like to do something distracting until you can fall asleep again? We can play the song game for a bit if you think it might help.”

“Hmm. I suppose a couple come to mind at the moment.”

“Let’s see… Candle on the Water?”

“That works,” she said. “Try another.”

“Is there a theme here or should I just do another random stab in the dark? Or is that too terrible a pun at the moment?”

“It’s pretty terrible, but you know there’s a bit of comfort in terrible puns, too,” she said, and he nodded before kissing her temple. She smiled. “You do realize you now have to hum the song until I fall asleep again and that could take hours.”

He laughed. “I don’t mind. You’ve seen me through plenty of nightmares. It’s only fair I do it for you, too. Though… are you sure you want the humming? I mean, I like the idea of humming because I’m too tired to come up with anything better, but I think I’m even tone deaf when I hum, so…”

“I like anything that involves your voice,” she admitted. It was soothing, and she was already used to falling asleep to it after their nights on the phone or in person, and she liked it more and more by the day. “Whatever you say or don’t say or hum or anything at all… it’ll probably work.”

“I like your certainty.”

She shrugged. “I already feel better. This… us… the way we talk… it helped.”

He managed to snuggle them even closer, and she closed her eyes, no longer fearing the darkness.

Do You Believe

This song has lots of little gems of imagery and feeling.

Do you believe it’s morning?

Generally speaking, I don’t want to, but that’s me.

I’m alive but that’s the last thing on my mind

This. I just don’t know how to think of it.

If our nighttime words mean good-bye
Let our morning words be kind

I like that. Not entirely sure why, but maybe it’s about making up in the morning?

Didn’t your eyes say you’d never change your mind
Didn’t my eyes say I do believe your eyes
I do believe them, I do believe your eyes

I’m reminded, of course, of Cauldette Colbert’s character’s “Swearing by [her] eyes,” but that makes this even better in some ways.

My eyes will open to the darkness
And in the darkness will be you
And in the darkness my only light is you
And in the darkness the light is in your eyes

And I just love the idea of someone being the light in our darkness. That’s very appealing to me.

Kabobbles Sing Along is just what I think when I hear songs. I sometimes see images when I hear lyrics, pictures or movies in my head. Sometimes I relate it to stories. My interpretation of the songs and lyrics are probably nothing like their original intent.