I had a totally empty calendar last week. No plans. No appointments.

I’m a planner. I have a day planner where all my phone numbers/extensions/birthdays/appointments. I need to have my life all neatly planned out to operate. As long as I’ve got it on my calendar,  I’m good. Chemo in Mt. Zion? No problem. It’s in my book.

So last week I was totally open. that week was untouched. We went to the coast a day early and stayed a day longer. Then we just up and decided to go to San Diego to pick up some car parts,down by the border. It’s only about seven hours away and who doesn’t stay awake for seven hours? (I forgot that the trip was also 7 hours BACK.) We took all the little shortcuts (I used to live in LA and my boyfriend was in San Diego. I spent a lot of time on that stretch of road.)

We pick up the car parts,which pretty much filled up my entire car. We get about an hour away and realize that we didn’t see the guys load up the crankshaft. So we get off the freeway, scramble around in the car; nope, it’s not there. We call Motorworks and yep, we were right, That crankshaft was right on the table. So we flip around and head back to the border.

We jump back on the 5  and the next thing I know,we are in WORSE than bumper to bumper traffic on the 101, which in one instant is all flying down the freeway and the next instant all stopped dead. Which is what we would have been had Darling not jumped into the empty carpool lane.

Right about then, Darling mentions that his folks are in town and visiting his brother Joe. We haven’t been to their place in about five years and it took us about an hour to find it and only because we accidentally found the street.

I am not a fan of Joe’s. When my Da died, he didn’t come to the funeral but the next time I saw him,he said something appropriately comforting “I head about your Dad. Golly, I’m sorry.”  So I started to tell him  “We were able to keep…”, when he held up his hand and said, really pleasantly,”I really don’t care.I only mentioned it so I didn’t look like a jerk.”

So I manage to avoid him. If by chance he is visiting Mom and Dad when we are (we try to avoid that), I’ll be polite and then do the dishes or scrub the toilet or knit lace. Far away from him. He is one of those sports nuts who watches every game and knows about every one on every team. I’m not, so it’s not as if we share any interests.

So after a couple of hours, it’s time for us to leave. Joe gives us “better” directions to get out of town, which we took, went to the next town and got a hotel room. We were there for an hour when I realized I left my handbag on the couch. We called Joe and yepperoni, it was there. When he came back into the house, BEFORE WE LEFT. He saw it but figured I’d come back for it if I needed it. So we drove back an ENTIRE HOUR, snagged the handbag and left. (So far this 14 hour trip has taken 13 hours and we are still about 4 hours from home.)

We scored with the hotel. It had the best and most welcome bed in the entire state. It wasn’t too soft or too hard or too fluffy; it was clean and the pillows were good. And the breakfast! Gosh, you wouldn’t have guessed it.  Great,fresh,lots of selections AND orange, mango, passionfruit, cranberry, crangrape and four or five other juices. It was the RODEWAY INN IN CASTAIC and it was great. We very seldom make reservations anyway, but have usually lucked out with our hotel selections. This was serendipitously great. We eat breakfast and then off we go, down the 5.

So now,we are three hours from home, on the 99, and all of a sudden, black rubber starts flying up into the windshield. Maybe we have a flat,which CAN’T be possible since we only got these tires in June.

But we hop out and sure enough, the tire is not only flat, it is totally shredded.My lug nuts have a special key ( yes, I knew exactly where it is.)

But where is my little change a tire kit? The one with a movers pad, so you don’t have to be lying in the mud. It has a little rain tent, in case it’s raining.The jack and all the other stuff is in there, along with a flashlight, flares and emergency candy bars. IT IS NOT IN THE BOOT or anywhere else in the car.

We can call AAA but do we know where we are? On the 99, north of Bakersfield. BUT there is a road sign about a mile back, so I start trotting down the side of the road to figure out where we are. Do I take my phone so I can call Darling so he can call AAA? Don’t be silly. In fact, one second he was talking to me and the next second, I was jogging down the side of the road.

We are north of the Wasco exit and south of Delano,  In the big flat middle of nowhere,sort of close to Pond. But we watch the cars flying by and pretty soon the guy shows up and yes! I do have the key for the lug nuts. So the ruined tire gets tossed in the back, with all the motor stuff and we limp on home.

Our 14 hour trip ended up taking, oh, 22 hours, not  counting the best hotel in California. Not fancy, just clean and welcome and lots of hot water and plenty of towels.

Next week, I ‘m all booked up. No surprises.

Just the way I like it.

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