Friday, August 15, 2008

Santa Drives a Cab in Summertime???

Thanks to everyone who sent Thor sympathy yesterday for having no one to play with. He was miserable because Jeffrey had left for college a few days earlier, since he's an RA this year, and we were taking Kellie to college for the first time, with Cass. Patrick was still home, but most of Thor's people left Wednesday night, and Thor was Not Pleased!

Now, before you hear this story, you have to know a couple of things about me: First, I love driving. I do all of the driving in our household. I've done Cheyenne to Peoria in one day (yes, 1000 miles) once. I've driven the 750 miles to Myrtle Beach leaving my house at 10PM, and arriving there for breakfast. So 375 miles is no big deal to me. Second, I hate traffic jams. I've been known to wander 50 miles of back roads to avoid worshipping at a 20 mile long PENN
DOT erected shrine to Our Lady of Perpetual Road Construction. Single lane traffic on an interstate makes me crazy! Finally, I don't have GPS, and never consult maps. I always know where I am. I'm never lost. I can find my way anywhere.

So, Kellie and Cass filled the back of the Suburban (look at this picture: the bags were 3 feet deep, plus some in the second and third seats), leaving them to watch the back of my "black bus" whenever I needed to change lanes. And off we went at 7:30PM. Not much in the way of construction messes had me very happy. A stop at Perkins for dinner had everyone else happy (except for my dearly beloved, who doesn't like leaving home AT ALL!). So on we went merrily, until Cumberland, Maryland. Around 1:30 AM, at mile 46, there was a flashing sign warning of an accident and "all lanes of traffic blocked" at exit 43A. Oh, c**p! At exit 43D, I ducked off the exit ramp, beside already-parked traffic, and dropped down (literally) into Cumberland.

Cumberland is a very old city with narrow streets (not really large enough for my Suburban), nestled into a hillside, below I-68. As such, the streets don't run parallel to the highway. So I rambled along a mile or 2, until I saw a cab parked in a closed shopping center. I pulled up alongside it, and the driver looked like Santa with a couple of teeth missing, wearing a wife-beater and shorts. I explained the interstate parking lot, and asked if he could direct me to a point beyone exit 43A, and he responded, "Wail, no, ah cain't. But ah'll lead you there!" So I wound around narrow streets, once having to make a u-turn in the middle of a road blocked by a train; the girls were cheering in glee at this turn of events. When he turned into a gravel alley between a white cinderblock building and a bridge, a great roar of joy erupted from the back of my Suburban, and continued for the half mile or so. Bouncing over curbs, ignoring stop signs, it was classic movie chase scene, or as my girls said, "Just like being in a real, live video game!" He got me to a mile from the highway, pointed me in the right direction, and refused my money. Did I mention that I've always been fond of Santa Claus? Anyway, I got back on the highway, and NEVER again saw another car on my side of the highway. Not for another 70 miles. It must have been one heckuva pileup, to have shut down all traffic! But at least I didn't have to park on the highway. (You now know how much I hate to do that!) My Suburban was acting up a bit in Cumberland, and I did threaten to turn into the next dealership and dump it in favor of a 4WD pickup, which seemed to scare it into better behaviour. (Am I the only lunatic who talks to and threatens my vehicles? Sometimes it works, really, and sometimes they call your bluff.)

So we got my daughters moved into their rooms, and Ryan was in tears leaving his sisters and brother behind (Mom hid her distraught feelings well). No car problems after I threatened my "bus" with abandonment, and now my house is far too quiet, empty, lonely....
Edited to add: I just looked at my photo again, and had to laugh at how big this vehicle is. Well, I got 16mpg on this trip (I might have done better had I not exceeded posted speed limits), and all 5 people in this car other than me were stretched out and "chillin'," as the girls would say. I do love big cars (and trucks).


Paula said...

What an adventure! I'm sure the kids will always remember the real life video game ride getting the girls off to school. Kellie looks great with her new bed coverings, too! Are the girls rooming together?

I bet your house is quiet without the older kids around. I don't even like it when my girls are gone during the day at school! Ryan has a big heart; I knew I liked that kid! (He looks like he's sprouted skyward some more!) I bet the car ride home was a tad more sedate without the girls, and without Santa, too!

And you are sooo not alone in talking to your cars. Although my brother in law takes it a step further and actually names his vehicles.

Pam said...

What a great story! I love driving too but I am directionally impaired. I am sure it was hard to say goodbye to your girls.

Pam said...

My youngest leaves this weekend. She drives herself up, which is good, because I can get lost just leaving my driveway. Really, I have no sense if direction whatsoever.

gaylen said...

I do not have your sense of adventure. I would have just started knitting while we were stopped. Of course, I never would have been driving in the first place.

Hope somebody plays with Thor soon. The older kids will be back again before you know it and Ryan won't be lonely anymore. g

noble pig said...

Wow, looka t all that stuff, thank goodness for the Burban'!

Miriam in KS said...

16 mpg with 5 people and all the "payload"? I think you did great! Didn't you make up for it on the way home with a lighter load?! I am just impressed that you got all that stuff and 5 people in one vehicle. Maybe it's because I'm remembering the trips I've seen other folks make for one child to live in campus housing that required a rental vehicle in addition to their Suburban.

What a great story and adventure!

Firefly Nights said...

I will also drive far out of my way to avoid sitting in a traffic backup. Cumberland is a beautiful city when viewed from the interstate with all of those church steeples, but a little rat maze of streets if you're actually in the city. So glad the backup didn't happen when we were on one of our trips through there.

No, we don't talk to or threaten our vehicles. We save it all for the GPS unit.