Well, the day finally came and went: the day when The Kid moved down to Asheville, NC this weekend (Friday to be exact).
Let’s just say that nothing went as “planned”. Not that they guys make plans. You see, I often get told that plans are useless because they get “overtaken by events”. In reality, a good plan is flexible enough to deal with any unforeseen events as they come along.
The first non-planned item was how to get his stuff down there. Originally the idea (not a plan) was to use a friend’s Expedition to move the queen sized bed, but no one actually talked to said friend until too late. Friend had to use it to transport his friends and family for the 4th, but we didn’t know this until a day or two before moving day. Then the plan was to use BF’s trailer to transport it, but then there was a weather report calling for rain which meant that renting an enclosed trailer was suddenly very necessary. This research was done late Wednesday night. At the same time, they knew they’d need to rent a car dollie to take The Kid’s Mustang down to NC (this research was also done Wednesday night).
In case you didn’t know: Budget and Penske ONLY rent car dollies when they’ll be attached to their trucks. We didn’t want to rent a truck, so that meant going with U-Haul, which also you need to know: U-Haul doesn’t rent tow-able vehicles (car dollies, trailers, etc) when they will be towed behind 1995-2000 Ford Explorers. Guess what BF has 3 of? Luckily, SUV #4 is my 1997 Mercury Mountaineer, which in case you didn’t know, is essentially a Ford Explorer with a different name, but one that U-Haul will rent to. So, while I was at work, BF drove to Portsmouth (where I work just down the street from a U-Haul dealer) stole my Mercury for about an hour to rent the enclosed trailer. He made arrangements to rent a car dollie (to be picked up via another friend’s non-Ford Explorer), but even though they said that they’d call him when and where one was available in “about an hour”, they actually sent a text that he didn’t read until after he’d called to complain 3 hours later. Since it was too late in the day by then (and in VA Beach), it was decided on Thursday evening that they’d forego the car dollie and I’d drive the Explorer that The Kid needs to live in the mountains.
Ugh. In case you didn’t know, I only got my license in 2012, at the age of 22 when I got jury duty and had no one to drive me to court. Since then, my driving has been limited to “need to go basis only”. I hate driving. One reason I love BF is that he loves to drive and I love to be a passenger. I tend to get lost very easily, which I hate. I’ve also only driven for over an hour twice: once when I drove all the way home from a visit to my alma mater (UVA) post graduation and then during that horrible snow storm earlier this year when it took me an hour and a half to get home. Okay…there might be some examples of me doing deliveries around town for work that took longer than an hour, but anyway, I’d never driven a solid 7 hours by myself before. Needless to say, I was terrified.
BF and the Kid started throwing around the idea of having a caravan with walkie talkies on the same channel and BF’s CB (or finding enough CB’s lying around the house). This is when I decided to put my foot down. If I was going to drive, I was going to do it my way.
The first thing was that I wasn’t going to rely on BF and the Kid for directions. I went to Google, found the route, printed it out and had them double check that it was going the right way. I was told to cut out the first 3rd and simply take 58W to I-85S. This was good advice, so I accepted it. Then I made myself simplified directions–essentially I cut 2 pages of Google Maps directions down to 5 simple steps: names of the major hwys and their corresponding exits. Just enough to easily memorize for the trip, knowing that I’d have to reference my Google printout once I got to Asheville to navigate the final few miles. My simplified directions fit on a notecard with large print to be easily referenced by a quick glance at the passenger seat.
The second thing I did was telling the boys to make sure my Explorer was packed before The Kid went to work on Friday (since he’s going down there without a job lined up he was thinking about working half a day before heading down). He ended up not going to work because packing didn’t go as he planned… Instead of leaving at 10 am, I ended up leaving at 11:30, but that worked out well because I didn’t want to get too far ahead of them. You see, the main reason I didn’t want to caravan is because BF and the Kid both speed and I like to take my time and pass only when necessary. I knew my driving would stress them out if they were trying to keep with me and would stress me out if I tried to keep up with them. It was generally acknowledged that I’d leave 2 hours before them and they’d arrive 3 hours before me, which was actually a great plan if I do say so myself. Anyway, I’m not sure what time they left, but they stayed behind me the whole way–apparently a U-Haul truck caught fire and stopped traffic between us (I hit very little traffic except during a huge downpour).
BF had tried to tell the Kid that they needed to stay together because BF wasn’t sure where he was going, but instead of making this a mandate (as I would have) it came out more as a suggestion as usual. So, they had fun. At first BF was in the Mustang, but the Kid complained that he was getting left behind in the Explorer with the trailer (I mean Mountaineer), so they swapped, which is a good thing because the Explodineer has the GPS and the Kid left BF in his dust. BF was not amused. So, as I cruised my way down south cursing because every time I finally caught a good song on the radio with decent reception one of them would call me, BF was getting a bit nervous trying to catch up because he didn’t want to get to town while not knowing his destination (luckily it was in the GPS from our last visit).
But…it gets better for BF. The Kid, taking lessons from Dad on how to not-plan, decided at some point that we’d stop for dinner at a pizza place just down the mountain from their new digs. I got the call telling me to stop there and wait for them to catch up and while the Kid kindly gave me directions while assuming that I was coming in the exact way he was (I wasn’t), I smiled and nodded and waited for the 3 bits of useful information he could give me: the name of the road, which luckily was on my print out (given the ultimate location, of course it would be), the name of the place (Blue Ridge Pizza Company–good pizza, by the way), and that there’s an old Texico sign in the parking lot (indeed!). The Kid didn’t explain it well over the phone, but his plan was to get pizza to go for him and his girlfriend for their first meal in their new place (he’s sentimental like that) and for BF and me to stay there and eat to give them time alone. BF was not amused again when he learned this because the GPS had taken him a completely different route into town as me and the Kid and he didn’t know if he’d find the place. At least the Kid paid for our dinner.
I did a victory dance in my seat at the restaurant because I didn’t get lost! It’s quite an accomplishment! Like I said, I was 99% sure that my route would be different from the Kid’s, so when he mentioned the restaurant, I figured I’d either pass it on the way to their house or it’d be behind me, so a little driving out of the way wouldn’t hurt much (turns out it was at the turn towards their house, which was perfect). Yay contingency plans that aren’t necessary!
Anyway, I’d already established that I was NOT driving the rest of the way to the house, especially with dusk falling. The Kid’s girlfriend drove him down so he could drive the Explorer up and I rode with Girlfriend. It worked well until a Ford E-250 van came careening down the mountain on a blind curve doing 65 when he should be at 30 max. I heard the squeal of his tires/brakes before I saw him, BF (who was ahead of us) saw him up on 2 wheels. BF worried that he was going to take out the trailer and then us girls, Kid’s girlfriend was like “okay then” and calmly avoided him as he brushed our side of the line. I said a mild “holy crap”. She said that that wasn’t even the best (i.e. craziest) person she’d seen take that curve. The Kid behind us was slightly oblivious of the excitement. We made it up the mountain without anymore hitches if you don’t count the traffic jam of a huge pickup truck trying to come down while BF went up (it’s a 1 lane road).
We stayed the night at their new place. I got a twin size inflatable mattress, while BF suffered on the Queen sized one that Girlfriend’s cat had recently put a hole in. He had to re-inflate it once before he fell asleep and twice during the night. I kept waking up to the “incredible shrinking man” because his air mattress was a good foot higher than mine when inflated and he was on the floor playing the filling for a taco when it was flat. He had to inflate it in order to get out of it in the morning! I should have taken a picture. I told him we could share the twin, but he didn’t like that plan (I didn’t like the plan of me being on the defective mattress).
We hung around a bit and met the Girlfriend’s parents and one of her sisters. We like them a lot and apparently they like us, too :-). Then we made to leave and BF was like “hey, Waffle House! I wonder if they were serious” so we met up again with The Kid, the Girlfriend and her sister to eat lunch. After lunch we finally started our way back home.
We made it about 4 hours of the 6.5 when the “oil sending unit” decided to blow. Burnt oil and a cloud of smoke doesn’t smell good. We stopped on the side of the road for a few minutes while BF discovered the reason for the smoke. He started to call a tow truck, but decided to limp her off the road and we ended up parked at a Cracker Barrel. Gonna say that if you’re going to break down, Cracker Barrel is a nice place to do so. I’d only brought one book on this trip and had finished it before we left the kids, so my first order of business was looking through the store for a book. Unfortunately this one didn’t have a good selection of physical books (lots of audio books, though), but I did find 1001 People Who Made America which worked for me.
BF was going to eat with me, but he found an auto parts store that was open on the 4th of July and was looking for a ride there. He ended up not finding someone, so he got permission from the manager to drop the U-Haul trailer, stuffed the Explodineer full of oil and limped to the store. The kind folks there didn’t know about the special tool that he needed to change it, but they did let him trial and error with their sockets. I ended up sitting at a table in Cracker Barrel for a good hour and a half waiting for him to get back and the waitresses (we ended up getting transferred to a second one) were good about keeping an eye on me. He was able to eat when he got back and everyone was really sympathetic to our plight. Kind folks at Cracker Barrel, thank you!
We about died of laughter when we got into the Explodineer to continue on our merry way (total time stopped was only about 3 hours) and the car wouldn’t start. BF told me that the starter got soaked in oil and yeah, it wasn’t the last time it wouldn’t start. He wiggled a few wires, turned everything off and it started.
We finally got home at 12:30am.
To a mess. And plenty of The Kid’s stuff that he forgot. And his room….oh. my. god. Oh. My. God. Sigh. It’s going to be a long week/month/year…