Onward! Broken Car! Motels/Hotels OH MY! And a Cat in a Bag! and the Sun rises in the East…
We moved out of the house we were selling a week in advance so we could shuffle all our things out and scrub it down. To save money we stayed in a Microtel just down the highway from where our stuff was being stored and where we would pick up the u-haul trailer. It sounded like a good place.
This particular Microtel, maybe all of them I’m not familiar with them, was the home to many truck drivers, the way-point for transients, and I’m pretty sure there were a few prostitutes that lived there permanently along with some families that were moving on the cheap, and lots of people that just didn’t want to be seen or bothered. The rooms were small but we made it work. Kind of.
If you can imagine having pet food (and included pets), 3 kids, easy to fix meals (this was hard for us as lovers of nutritious whole foods), and two adults living in such a place brought in interesting problems. First smells. Dog and cat food (Salmon flavor of course!) stinks in that tiny of an area when you can’t lock it up. Dirty laundry, children, a cat box, yeah it adds up quick. It didn’t help that we are people sensitive to smells (outside of nurse related scents for Marilyn HA!) … That became a taxing situation.
Then there was the night of the fire alarm. It just suddenly went off around 1am. Caleb walked out to find out that it was a false alarm but they were waiting on the fire department to come turn it off. It’s hard to go back to sleep with the screaming of fire alarms in the night. After a couple hours they finally turned it off.
October 4th is when we launched the morning after our amazing going away party with many of our friends and relatives at a local beer garten (seriously, the best party ever). Lots of tiny hiccups getting on the road. This is to be expected when you are traveling with children and animals. Getting the 9'x12' trailer hooked up took a lot longer than expected but the gentleman that assisted us was amazing and took great care of us.
Packing up the trailer ended up being a total misadventure. One part waiting on the person that was storing our things to get home from work later than expected. Marilyn walked up to get everyone gyros for lunch while we waited. (silver linings) Then the age ol’ “too many cooks in the kitchen” fiasco. Everyone there wanting to help load which was totally appreciated but later we find out we had no idea how the trailer was organized. Finally, One part long tearful goodbyes. But then the open road was ours….
Before we even made it out of Oklahoma City we had our first hiccup. The air conditioner went out on the car, we both figured it was in part to the extra weight of the trailer initially. Caleb hates being over heated. Marilyn is happy as a sweaty clam. That fateful day was over 95 degrees on a scorching Oklahoma interstate. It was a sweaty, wind blown, day of excitement and new adventure. Windows down, music up and everyone was in good spirits even if it was like driving in a blast furnace.
In early discussions with the children their one fear was the drive. ‘It’s sooooo far!’ they would declare. Yeah it was going to be over 1,000 miles. Over 20 hours of driving. We could power drive through it if we had to. But we made a deal with them. We would drive until the kids no longer wanted to and stop for the night.
Our first stop was this wonderful little motel in Roland, OK. It was called Interstate Inn. The lady at the front desk was so sweet, so accommodating. Think of the most authentically sweet southern mama type ever and that was her. The rooms such a massive improvement from the Microtel. And being able to shower after the drive with no a/c was divine. Only thing that delivered food to the motel was papa john’s. We ended up not eating all of it but that would later be a blessing.
Crossing into Arkansas the decision was made to find a mechanic’s shop. We found one in Ft. Smith that specialized in A/C. Apparently it was bound to go out regardless and the trailer was a sick coincidence. This turned into an all day event. With nowhere to go We all got comfy on the sidewalk outside the mechanic shop and fortunately had almost an entire pizza left to fill our tanks. The kids were offered the TV inside the office and eventually moved inside with Marilyn for supervision, Caleb sat outside with the dogs and cat. Ink was not pleased with sitting on the sidewalk and was less pleased as the shade got smaller and smaller. Eventually the car was fixed and we were on the road again enjoying a pleasant 70 degrees at that.
We pushed hard through Arkansas. With many many MANY bathroom breaks. I mean seriously the bathroom breaks. It’s crazy how often the bathroom breaks occurred. If they could be converted into a currency we would have been rich. Arkansas was the land of bathroom breaks in our adventure. So we established a 0–10 scale (Marilyn is a nurse after all) to hopefully avoid future stressful emergency bathroom searches. 0: you literally just went 5: It’s there but it can wait and 10: Actively soiling yourself. The kids were to notify us at an interval of 6–7.
Sometime in the drive the kids told us they were willing to push onward. We decided we had to just drive on and on until we at least made it into Tennessee. It was late by the time we rolled into Memphis. There was much grumbling earlier in the night about the children not wishing to share beds. Soooo we splurged and reserved a suite with 3 beds. There was a problem.
They had a very very very VERY strict, like iron clad have to sign a document with all the strict rules and if you break the rules the abyss will open up and swallow you for eternity, rules about pets. Mainly we had 3 and they only allowed two. Also. There were cameras everywhere. LIKE EVERYWHERE. Oh and every single door was locked and had the card reader disengaged except for the front entrance. So here we were with a problem. How do you get two dogs and a cat to our room on the 7th floor.
Well the dogs we would just have to walk in. So that’s simple enough. But the cat… The cat box… How do we get the cat…. DUFFLE BAG. We ran recon around the building and working quickly navigated through a back door held open and evaded detection. We are fortunate in that we have a super laid back cat. But even the most easy going feline doesn’t like being shoved into a duffle bag and ran up a back stairwell. She growled, quietly thankfully, the whole way to our room. It could have been worse. She could have turned into the demonic spirit that all felines can be. After we released her from her bag she shunned all of us. How dare you puny life forms shove me into a bag! For the litter box we collected a small bag of litter and scattered it into the bathtub to scoop out and wash up that morning.
In the end it was a success… Except for how hard the beds were. HOTEL YOU CLAIM TO HAVE SUITES BUT THOSE BEDS OW NOT NICE!
Getting out of Oklahoma late, the car issues, the bathroom stops, this all added up to us being behind. We had plans to stop in Knoxville TN to visit our friends but this just wasn’t going to happen due to scheduling issues on both sides. We had to push on to Virginia. We had a time table that had to be maintained.
The goal became to push all the way through Tennessee and find someplace to stay in Virginia. So we drove and drove and drove and drove. Around 8pm we arrived at Abingdon, Virginia, our newly crowned place to rest…. Or so we thought.
For 40 miles in all directions there were no places to stay. All motels, inns, hotels, I’m pretty sure even the stables, were all taken for some event that week. So that’s when we made a decision. We were just going to power drive through the night. Marilyn and Caleb had done it before. It’s a tag team event. We put the backseats down in the Murano, walked the dogs and the cat, fed all the animals and watered them, turned the back area into a bed, and put children and animals back there to ride out the night and maybe get some sleep.
The mad dash drive all the way through Virginia to Maryland began. The objective was to make it to a beach in Maryland so that the kids could see the Sun rise over the ocean, or bay, in the state we would be living in for a while. We ended up in the small cute town of North Beach, MD around 5 am. So two hours to go before sunrise. Marilyn took a nap in the car. Caleb walked around North Beach playing Ingress.
There were mixed reviews among the children about the sun rising. Over all it was a beautiful moment. An appropriate ending to one chapter and the beginning of a whole new chapter.