Monday, March 12, 2018

The Last Road Trip of Mom's Car Part III: The Final Chapter?

Day 9
Engine Mileage: 222065
Trip Mileage: 2410.3
Gallatin, Tennessee to Raleigh, North Carolina

This ended up being the second longest day of driving, but thankfully, also our last. We left the cold and frozen Tennessee early. The Hotards tried to feed us breakfast and pack us full of beverages. We should have said yes. But, after many polite refusals, they finally relented and reluctantly sent us on our way.
By now we had finished both seasons of Revisionist History podcast, and we moved on to Ridiculous History. Are you sensing a theme? We moved between quite and the podcast. We stopped a lot to stretch our legs.
Dad drove us over The Great Smokey Mountains, and I took a lot of pictures.
Of course I missed the trail head sign for the Appalachian Trail. We came around a bend, and again totally missed getting a picture of the North Carolina sign. I did get some of Maggie Valley, which is where an Aunt of mine lived for about 7 years.
I sent her this picture when we passed and told her where we were. A lengthy text conversation ensued about this and that, as one does with this said Aunt.
Texted the Flying Squirrel Nephew, that we had finally crossed the last state line. Also texted Big Sis, that we were not going to get to the airport in time to pick her up. She was flying in for the weekend! Once into North Carolina, we noticed lots of road work, traffic, and accidents. North Carolina drivers are horrendous! Big Sis landed at 4:30, and Uber-ed to the hotel from the airport. Dad and I finally got to the hotel at 6:45. We were beat, and not looking forward to even more driving to pick up Flying Squirrel Nephew. We met up with Big Sis, who had already checked us in, in her (and I) room. She informed us that Flying Squirrel Nephew could not wait any longer and had hitched a ride with a friend who was coming up to Raleigh to take his girlfriend on a date. A great sigh of relief was heard across the entire state. We had just decided to go eat at the restaurant in the hotel when Flying Squirrel Nephew texted that he had arrived, not 10 minutes later.
We all ate downstairs in the hotel restaurant. I ate some leafy greens to try and get my system back on track (I don't think it worked, but I tried). Everyone was tired, and so we all crashed for the night.

Engine Mileage: 222571
Final Trip Mileage: 2916.9
We all slept in. I wandered downstairs to get coffee. We gathered in Big Sis and I's room and putz a bit and googled where to get the oil changed in the Infinity. Flying Squirrel Nephew just HAD to drive us to get the oil changed. He had pinched a nerve in his neck and couldn't really rotate his head, so it was a bit scary for the rest of us.
Dad asked the guys at the oil place about where to get chains for the car and they just laughed. They said that it hardly ever snows there and when it does, even just a tiny bit, the Governor declares a State of Emergency and the entire state shuts down. Flying Squirrel Nephew confirmed this, and the shop guys all nodded their heads in agreement. So after all the fussing about chains the entire length of the country, the Infinity never did get any. We then went to CVS for Doans and Lidocane patches for Flying Squirrel Nephew. The Girl Scouts were stationed outside the CVS, and Flying Squirrel Nephew told them we'd hit them up on our way out. We certainly did. He bought 10 boxes, 5 each of thin mints and peanut butter patties. I bought one box of Peanut butter patties, because I didn't want to share. And Sis bought a box each of thin mints and peanut butter patties. I think we made their day. Certainly worth standing out there in the cold, freezing their little butts off. On the way out at a stop light, I saw this at the Marathon Gas Station. "Fried Gizzards/Lizards".
Yup. Then we went to lunch, but not at the Marathon Gas Station. We went to a place called Two Guys Grille, that had a Hawaii surf theme and fish tacos. Okay.
Their dipping sauce for the sweet potato fries was very sweet and cinnamon heavy. Big Sis loved it, I ate mine plain. I hit up their bathroom, and then we were off to Flying Squirrels favorite place ever, Wish Upon a Quilt. He stayed in the car. Lame.
Big Sis got her License Plate and Row by Row. Back in the Infinity, Dad and I in the back (we were done with driving), decided to check out Historic Yates Mill Historic Park. No entrance fees. Score!
Big Sis and I took butt loads of pictures, marveled at the construction, and read all the plaques and signage.

They still had their display up for Groundhog Day, and they were pretty snarky about it. Flying Squirrel Nephew looked cold and bored and so we asked the park docent where she thought we should go next. We decided on Mordecai Historic Park. Again, free admission.
We got there and forced Flying Squirrel Nephew to take his picture with the Infinity.
Walked over to the gift shop/museum/information center for them to tell us they were closing. Boo.
We walked around the museum section for about 5 minutes and then we were asked to leave. So we were able to walk around all the buildings and such, but couldn't go inside any of them. Oh Well.
This is Andrew Johnson's house, not it's original location however

Mordecai Plantation
But by now Flying Squirrel Nephew was over getting educated. And so we left and did exciting things like run some errands for him at Best Buy and Target. So exciting. Had dinner at Brixx Pizza. He was feeling pretty good and drove us back to the hotel, and we played cards in the boys room.

Day 11
We all slept in again. It rained for most of the day. We found a Massage Envy for Flying Squirrel Nephew, who's appointment was at 1pm. So we went across the parking lot for lunch at Bob Evan's (we all had breakfast), apparently the place to be. It was quite tasty. I wanted to keep eating, but my stomach couldn't hold anymore. Those biscuits were super yummy. While Flying Squirrel Nephew was getting elbowed in the back, we went to another Target (to find him a space heater) and filled up the Infinity...  for the last time (sniff sniff). Flying Squirrel Nephew came out of Massage Envy with the largest grin on his face. He said it hurt like hell, but that he felt great! We then went to Apex North Carolina to visit with friends of Big Sis whom she hadn't seen in 20 years! They told us we had to eat at Smithfields Chicken N' Bar-B-Q, and so after our visit we went off to find one. Good fried chicken. Hush puppies aren't worth writing home about though. After dinner, we came back to the hotel (double checked that we got everything out of the car that was ours) and played cards and watched the super bowl... commercials.
The game ended up being pretty good, so we often got distracted by football during our card game. Too soon it was time for Flying Squirrel Nephew to head back to base. We walked him down to the lobby and gave him hugs to last till the next time we get to see him. And told him to text his mommy when he gets back to base. It was hard to say goodbye, but surprisingly it was hard to say goodbye to the Infinity too. Dad, Big Sis, and I asked for a late check-out, and walked back up to our rooms and Big Sis and I watched the Puppy Bowl. It was silly. And cheesy. So much so, that we had to turn it off.

Day 12
We slept in once again. And today, we fly home. But first, lunch... at the hotel restaurant. We then took the airport shuttle to the airport. It's tiny. The airport, not the shuttle. There was no line at security. I got stopped of course. Got a pat down because I have  patch on my pants that covers a hole. And I forgot to take my ipad out of the bag. But whatever. We have time to kill, because our plane doesn't leave till 5pm. So we walk the terminal a few times, and then sit down in the food court and eat onion rings and play cards.

We fly 800 miles to Chicago (Midway), and circle for 20 minutes while they plow the runways. It's snowing. We land just fine, and pull up to the gate.

Once inside we look at the departures and see that we are delayed 2 hours plus our initial 1 hour layover. Ugh... And so we walk the terminals and the food court. Big Sis and I decide on the Irish pub and Dad gets a sub sandwich. We eat in the pub, and then walk some more. I texted Artist Nephew, who had been taking care of the cats, that he needed to let them inside, one last time. We need chocolate, so into the sweets shop and out with candy and chocolate. We sit in the food court and play more cards. Because we have hours to kill.
We walk back down the terminal to our gate and settle in, to hear we've been moved to a gate on the other side of the terminal. Yay. We walk back down to the other side. Our plane finally arrives and we get to board. We watch our luggage get loaded. It has snow it.
So I think, wouldn't it be funny (not really) if the ginormous bath bomb I got from the Hotards gets so wet that it explodes? It didn't, by the way. We then sat there for another 15 minutes while we got de-iced. That was a new one.

We were finally in the air by 11pm. And so the last 2,166 miles back to San Jose was underway. That last flight was the longest four and a half hours of my life. The only saving grace was that the plane was only half full so everyone got to spread out and got extra snacks from the flight crew. I started to go a bit stir crazy, and made what I thought was a hilarious video.

But my god, my legs hurt. We landed around 1:30am. We were the last flight in. Interesting to see an empty airport. They were waxing the floors. Big Sis' Big Man came and picked us up. We got home around 2:30am. Artist Nephew left the cats in the house, and they promptly ignored me. I unpacked. Bath bomb mostly intact. I had asked Artist Nephew to wash my sheets, since he had been sleeping in my bed, and I put them in the dryer. I showered because I felt gross. I made my bed. The cats finally came out of their hiding places. I noticed that Quirk's eye was swollen. So Dad pinned him down, and I tried to put goop in his eye. He didn't like it, of course.  I crawled into bed at 4am. Trip over.

end note: A week later Dad got a call from Flying Squirrel Nephew. He asked, "what does the maintenance required light mean"? He figured out that a sensor went bad, and needed to be replaced. So, luckily it wasn't anything major. And then just a few days ago, this happened.
A private didn't know how to back out of a parking spot and ripped the Infinitiy's back bumper off. How he didn't realize he hit the car next to him is beyond me. I guess he just committed and went for it. So is this the end of its life? We don't think so. Flying Squirrel Nephew for the time being, drives it with the bumper in the back seats. The insurance will pay to get it fixed (or salvaged), and a new bumper will get put on. The infinity will live on to drive Flying Squirrel Nephew to where he needs to go for a little bit longer.

Other end note: Quirk ended up having an abscess on his head that had drained into his eye. So he got a reverse mohawk haircut, his abscess flushed, and two shots. He didn't like me that day. But he's better now, and his fur has grown back.

And so I will leave and finally end this story with this: Mom certainly knew how to pick a good road trip car. Her last pick, this Infinity, was probably her best. It was hard to say goodbye. It was worth spending the money and time driving it across the country, one last time. We rest assured that it is with family, being used, and cared for. That bumper will get fixed! And leave you with a place my mom had a great adventure with the Infinity. Out on the prairie with the greasewood and rabbits. The birth place and homestead where my Grandma lived in a tiny speck of a town called Bill, Wyoming.