Friday, July 11, 2008

180410 – or the beginning of the Road Trip from Hell

These photos are of the house and backyard “paradise” as Jubilee and I left, around 7:30AM Friday morning.

The odometer of my 1992 Toyota Camry read 180410. But it didn’t work for several months, so the car probably has more like 190,000 miles or more on it. One thing is for sure: this car will never see Florida again.

Around 9:30, just as I was beginning to enjoy the wild flatlands of central Florida and settle in for the long drive, the A/C stopped working. After trying every trick I knew to get it to start, I tried to talk myself into it. I can do this, I thought. Prisoners live without A/C in Florida. Heck, what about all the indigenous peoples who live in equatorial lands. They do fine without A/C. I thought about the therapeutic benefits of heat. People spend lots of money for saunas, and steam rooms. There’s even an infra-red sauna that supposedly kills cancer cells. Who needs chemo, just drive without A/C.

But by noon, I knew that I couldn’t do it. The inside of the car was well over 100 degrees, and the fan was blowing even hotter air. With both windows down, and trucks whizzing past us on both sides, Jubilee and I were fried, mentally and physically.

John directed us to a Car dealership place in Lake City, a town in northern Florida. Yes, they could fix it, they said. Jubilee and I waited in the very air-conditioned waiting room. I met some fine people from this neck of the woods. One woman lived in a house on the Suwannee River that she had bought for $5000. Another man had grown up near Miami, but couldn’t take the traffic and crowds and moved to Northern Florida. We all talked about how we seemed to have somehow gotten along without air-conditioning 30-40 years ago.

Four and a half hours, and $105 later, they told me that they couldn’t fix it. Something wrong with the compressor, but they didn’t know what it was. By now it was 4:30, and Jubilee and I set out again onto the highway. (Jubilee has to be carried and forced back into the car.)

Within a half and hour, though, we crossed the line into Georgia, and a blessed rain began to fall. Everything cooled down. We could do this, as long as we stayed off the road during the heat of the day! I was getting tired, but determined that I was going to drive as long and as far I could into the night. Maybe we could even make it all the way to Knoxville!

As we approached Macon, the sky darkened, the lighting became surreal, and we headed on into one wicked thunderstorm. The kind where the only thing you have to guide you on the road are the tail lights of the car in front if you, if you’re lucky enough to see them.

I was frazzled. Jubilee and I stayed at the first flea bag motel we could find. We were still 65 miles south of Atlanta, and the room was only $31 for the night. It was fine.

I don’t know if it is because I am older now, or because I don’t quite trust my car (I seriously wonder if it will start again every time I turn it off), but something about this road trip is making me somewhat anxious. The overwhelming heat doesn’t help.

I am beginning to think that it will be a major miracle if we make it to the Center of America.


H.M. said...

I love road stories :)
(He wrote from the comfort of his air-conditioned office....)
Thanks for sharing this.

I know you're frazzled. Hang in there! I'm pullin' for you. It's not just a road trip, it's an adventure! (and I know right now you're wishing it wasn't!)

Best wishes and fond thoughts.

beth said...

Thank, h.m. I hate to say it, but I think I could use some real, honest to goodness, PRAYERS!!!

H.M. said...

Well, I really wanted to use the "p word" but didn't, as we've had that discussion. :)

But since you bring it up...I'll say "I'm praying for you."

That's a hell of a statement from a guy who is almost an atheist these days. :)