Thoughts – Life on the Road, with Lizards

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Gabby and Cedric on the road.

 

It hasn’t gone as I liked, but things tend to work out.

I left Saturday to take my son down to college. He made a circle through Western Virginia to visit friends and I left a couple of days behind him. We were going to meet up in Richmond, at my sisters, and travel the rest of the way down, over two days. That broke the trip into manageable chunks and while I could have pounded through in two days. I didn’t like the idea of arriving in the Orlando area exhausted. I had had a small issue with my Trooper the week before but I got that cleared up. I had a fresh oil change.

Off I went. Me, a ton of my son’s stuff and two lizards in two large aquariums.

Yeah, you heard me right, lizards. Bearded dragons to be precise. Not my thing. I prefer my pets warm-blooded, furry and cuddly. They aren’t a problem. In fact, the scaley ones are actually easy to take care of. Feed them every now and then. Give them some water when you remember to. Keep them warm. They like warm, those lizards, so I had heat lamps and such to use at my sister’s house to keep them properly toasty the first night down. The next day I’d be in Savannah and they would be properly warm in the back of the truck. Easy peasy.

They like warm, those lizards, so I had heat lamps and such to use at my sister’s house to keep them properly toasty the first night down. The next day I’d be in Savannah and they would be properly warm in the back of the truck. Easy peasy.

I wasn’t in the best of moods, when I left. It had been a rough week. Car issues. Work stuff. and other stuff. Some of the normal stuff that goes on when a kid goes off to college. I won’t go into detail. The details are the not important, Suffice it to say a variety of things had me in a foul humor as I left early Saturday morning. I didn’t even want to be with me. But I had a job to do, get my son down and settled for college. And off I went.

Road time is good for me. As I drove, I think I realized I had too much on my mind these days. Nothing really awful or bad, just too much. And I don’t do as well with too much as I once did. As the miles went by, my mood improved. Past Albany, down the New YOrk Throughway, down the New Jersey Turnpike, over the Delaware Memorial Bridge and then that yellow light. We’re not talking about the yellow light like a stoplight. No, this one was on my dashboard. It said “Reduced Power”. I didn’t really need to be told by a light however, the engine was nearly stalled, would not go more than about 15 miles an hour. On I-95. At

We’re not talking about the yellow light like a stoplight. No, this one was on my dashboard. It said “Reduced Power”. I didn’t really need to be told by a light however, the engine was nearly stalled, would not go more than about 15 miles an hour. On I-95. At fourish on a Saturday afternoon. That would have been the light I had had had fixed at my local mechanic just the week before. There went my better mood. At fifteen miles an hour.

Oh I was a popular person, let me tell you, cruising at 15, blinkers blinking. I know I was popular because of all the people honking as they piled up behind me and then raced around me.

Three cheers for Triple A. They diligently called around to find me a shop open at that hour and finally found a Pep Boys. I crawled my way there, enjoying my popularity in Newark, Delaware as much as I had enjoyed it on the interstate. I got there shortly before they closed. And somehow they were not happy to see me. Pretty rude actually. They looked at it, but there was no one to hook me up to the diagnostic machine. I’d have to come back in the morning.

I had no choice. I was going to spend the night in Newark. If I could find a room.

Which turned out to be harder than finding a shop open late on Saturday. Oh, there were a few rooms available. For me. Not for the lizards. Nope. No one wanted their reptilian little selves in their rooms. I did finally find a place, a little extra special far away, but they had a room for me AND the reptiles, so I tootled along and got there. I had no idea how many types of horns there are in cars. But I do now.

I got to the hotel. It was small and old and had narrow doors and while they would let me keep the lizards, they had no intention of helping me get them TO the room. So I unloaded all the stuff around them to get them in the truck, and one by one, managed to get them on those little roller things hotels have for bags, all of which are way too short for long  55 gallon aquariums.

DId I mention too short? I might also mention too narrow, as in the doors in the hotel. So at each doorway, I had to do a funky twist and turn and angle and move and angle thing with each one till I got them into the room.Two trips. No one wanted to help, but I have to say this – the hotel was full of small kids and they were flat out fascinated by Gabby and Cedric. I felt like the pied piper with my parade of little kids behind me through the lobby, down the hall and to my room. (Yes, moms and dad’s just let them follow me. I guess people with lizards are trustworthy.).

I was not in a good mood. My trip was a bust so far. I had no idea what I had to face the next day, but I knew travel plans were messed up. I was back and forth with my son, but unable to give him plans, unable to tell him when I might be on the road again, or what the cost would be until I knew what the story was on the Trooper.

I like things to go smoothly. Well-planned trips make for smooth trips. No stress trips. I like no stress. But I was feeling stress. If anything happened to those lizards….

I found a place to eat. I read a while. I crashed. I had strange dreams, none of them ending well. Good thing I was not a drinking man. I’d still be a puddle.

The next day, things turned.

The Pep boys people. Remember them? The rude ones? Well, they were all there on Sunday morning. And cheery as they could be.  Way helpful. Like they had had a brain transplant. Or at least a mood transplant. They stuck me in first. Figured it out. Got me on the road in an hour or so. Cheap. (if you ignore the hotel room and meals). My son decided to head down to Savannah as planned and I would just drive till I got there. I made the call to the hotel to let them know to let him in and they were crazy chipper and cheery and helpful. And then I hit the road.

14 1/2 hours on Interstate 95.

For some people, that would seem like hell, but it was just what the doctor ordered for me. I had a few calls back and forth with the woman I love. I thought about her a lot, actually, and our future together. Such a good thing. I thought about things to write. I thought about spring. I thought about my upcoming Easter sermon. I thought about nothing. A lot about nothing.

I got to Savannah a bit before midnight, but the people at the hotel were bright and upbeat. I didn’t have to haul lizards. They could spend the night in the truck. I mean really, whose gonna break into a truck with two beady-eyed lizards staring at them? I guess it was possible, but, who knew? The bellhop loved Bearded Dragons. “I got the night shift.” he said. “I’ll put them where I can keep an eye on them all night.”

I talked with my son a while, learned some good things about his journey, about his head space on this new journey of his, then slept like a stone, emotionally drained from my down and up two days.

That is how life works, isn’t it. Up. Down. Sometimes in a slow fall and rise, sometimes instantly. Nothing has changed in my life. The stuff that sucked two days ago still suck. but the good things offset it. I’m in a better place. In perspective, We made it here on the day we needed to so we could check in. We spent today setting things up. Tomorrow, we’ll go to Disney for a day, and then I am on my way home, hopefully with two long 12 hour drives.

In perspective, We made it here on the day we needed to so we could check in. We spent today setting things up his apartment. Tomorrow, we’ll go to Disney for a day, and then I am on my way home, hopefully with two long 12 hour drives ready to let him begin starting his new adventure and to start one of my own. Gabby and Cedric are happily esconced on the kitchen counter. They are going to like Florida, I think.

I have a lot to write about. Stuff in my head that’s been floating around vague but unignorable.  It likely won’t get written till next week. But I am grateful, even for the crap stuff. It forced me to think on things that I don’t normally think on. On how I react to things (not always as well as I like) and how I like having time to process and think things through because I don’t trust my initial reactions as much as I wish I could. About how I have learned to do that, and how grateful I am. I’ve had time to think about my time with my kids, and the journeys they have made, and my part in that journey, and on the miracle of starting new things, even at my age.

Yeah, I like long trips, Even alone. It hasn’t gone as I would wish. But things work out. And that’s a lesson that bears repeating.

Be well. Travel wisely, (With or without lizards)

Tom

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