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11/23/07 21:47:29 - Trip to Nowhere

“Raindrops on roses and whiskers on kittens…” We all know the song, but there’s a point I want to make here. If you listen carefully, you’ll find that “road trips” don’t make the cut of “My Favorite Things”; the writers of the song obviously felt the same way as I do about them. If they had been on the one we attempted this Thanksgiving, the feeling would have been even stronger.
We started off on the drive in our (relatively) slightly larger car. Upon checking the air pressure in the tires, however, we realized that one of them was losing about 20 psi per day and that it wouldn’t be safe to drive 350 miles round trip with that kind of problem. The feeling was augmented by the fact that last time we drove to Phoenix (in our now-useless car), we had to replace our tires after having one of them blow out in a gas station parking lot. We went home, transferred all of our cargo into the Hyundai Accent (2-door) and headed off.

The problem here is that I’m 6’1” and weigh 240 lbs. Even with nobody else in the back seat, I can’t say that comfort comes easily when I’m stuffed into a compact car. Once you add two kids and all the accoutrements that go with them on a trip lasting more than, say, 90 minutes, and it becomes almost painful.

I’ve come up with a few ways to try to cope on these longer trips. I usually wear sandals and slip them off once we hit the road so my feet can more easily move around in their limited space. This time, I also tried removing everything I hoped I would need for the trip from my bag, which I then stashed in the trunk. This meant that, while I no longer had a large-ish laptop bag competing with my legs for the small amount of space between my seat and the dashboard, I had lost the ability to work on my laptop for the duration. More importantly, I had two of the three books that I figured I would work on during the trip perched precariously on the dashboard (the other was in my lap) and my iPod and two sets of headphones jammed into the map pocket of the door. The cooler with the food was behind me, wedged between the two kids. I could almost reach it, but it was just more practical to have Aren get whatever we needed. (If you have a 7-year old, you will understand this really means that it was inconvenient to the point of physical pain for me to get stuff myself, because depending on a boy of that age to get things for you is rarely a simple task, regardless of how helpful the kid is.)

So, there we were, 30 minutes into our 3 ½ hour drive, and a mere 200 meters (or less) from the freeway, which takes us all the way to Katharine’s house, except for the last 2 or so miles. We were almost set. As we approached the last stoplight, however, a car turned left in front of us. MaryBeth hit the brakes and muttered something like “wow, that guy’s pushing it; that was really close”. Then we saw the car behind him follow immediately after, turning directly into our path.

While MaryBeth had slowed down some in order to avoid the first car, there was nothing we could do about this one. We hit the passenger’s side at somewhere between 20-30 mph. The impact resulted in a number of things. The SUV’s side was now essentially concave, and the front of our car flattened pretty much entirely. Both of the kids started screaming immediately, and a stream of uncharacteristically colorful words issued from my own mouth. MaryBeth started yelling for us to get out of the car NOW and that I needed to get Tania out NOW NOW NOW! I don’t know if it was the steam boiling up from our crushed radiator, the fact that the car she drove as a teenager actually burst into flame for no apparent reason, or possibly that she watched a few too many episodes of “CHiPs” as a child, but she was very worried that we’d be in serious trouble if we didn’t move immediately.

We got out of the car quickly enough, and walked over to the nearest corner. We soon discovered that we had no serious injuries. MaryBeth ended up with a very nasty bruise from the seatbelt on her chest; Aren had some chafing on his neck from his own seatbelt. I had a semi-detached toenail (I had taken off my sandals for the drive), and some bruising on my knees and upper shins from hitting the dashboard. (Unfortunately, those bruises are not visible, so I don’t have anything to show off, other than my toenail, which hasn’t even turned black yet.) Tania was apparently completely uninjured. Once we took her out of her car seat, she was happy as can be. An RN who happened to be on the scene asked if she could hold Tania to help us out, and as far as Tania was concerned, she may as well have been one of the family.

Oops...
The other family had a few more scrapes than we did, especially on the right arms of those who were on the passengers’ side, but again, there was nothing serious. So we waited around, gave the police our statement, and managed to convince a friend to leave work and pick us up and take us back home. After, of course we went to the impound yard, unpacked the car again and re-packed it into our friend’s SUV.

By the time we got home and unpacked it, we were done. With everything. The Fates had conspired against our holiday in Phoenix, so we decided that it would probably be best to just cancel the trip. Well, that and the fact that we had no way to drive that far, anyway.

Even had we been given another car, however, I think I was officially at a point where very little could have convinced me to take ANY road trip. In fact, I still AM at that point. While I do enjoy the scenery of cross-country trips, and it’s rather nice to be able to not worry about things for a few hours, I’m just done. I didn’t like them before, but now my dislike of them is now complete.

Unfortunately, our plane tickets for Christmas are out of Phoenix. I wonder if it’s too late to change those…

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Comments

Velda wrote:
Good times... I'm thankful you're all okay. And hey, had you had your laptop on your lap at the time you might not be. :-/
24/11 05:10:08

Randon wrote:
Hey Rick, I agree 100 percent with the trip mentality. Plan as you might, everything that can go wrong always seems to go wrong. I am much happier knowing that you are safe at your home. Stay there, never leave, lock the doors, get guard dogs, whatever else it takes to keep you from traveling outside the necessary functioning radius! You guys take care down there and if you need I would be happy to mail some of the snow we have here in Logan, but then again, that is probably while you are in Arizona, eh?
10/02 12:05:40

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