I'm not lost. I'm taking the scenic route.

A lot of this is a love note to my wife but there will occasionally be a random thought thrown in every once in a while.

Thursday, March 02, 2006

Please Tell Me Its Over

We have been back from Cali for two days and I am still tired. I guess I should catch you up before I give the ups and downs of the trip to Cali. My dad had a defibulator put in his chest in December. About a month ago his chest started turning red around the defib. He went to the doctor in Cali and he told him he needed to get to OKC and go to the hospital. He did and the had to crack his chest open to take a wire from the defib out of his heart that had a Staff Infection. Yeah. A Staff Infection in his heart. Not a good thing. Since he is going to be in OKC for a while he did not want to leave his truck and trailer in Cali so he asked me to go out there and drive it back. I have no job, still, so I was pumped on the excuse to take the kids to Disneyland. (I do have an interview today)
Back to the trip. Joy and I decided to take Amber and Rikki with us because they have obviously never been to Disney or seen the ocean. After talking about it we decided to take Sara also because she is the PERFECT age for Disney. I will let Joy cover all the "good stuff" from the trip, (joyketch.blogspot.com) and I will cover the crappy stuff.
The flight to Cali was uneventful. There were no beatings administered and all was well. Joy had everything lined out for the car rental and hotel. We go to National to pick up our car and the girl asks us for a credit card. This is pretty much how the conversation went:
Girl: That card will not work.
Joy: But it is a Visa and we have never had this trouble before.
Girl: We cannot accept this card. Do you have a return ticket?
Joy: No. We are driving back in my father-in-law's car.
Girl: I cannot not release the car without a major credit card or a return ticket.
Joy: This is crazy. I have never had this trouble before and the car is already paid for through Priceline.
Girl: Sorry ma'am. We need a major credit card or a return ticket.
Monty: This is shit. Get me a manager.
Girl leaves.
Joy: Monty calm down.
A man in the next window starts talking to his little helper about what is going on at our little window and quickly gets a "Go to Hell and I happen to have a map you can use" look from me.
Girl comes back.
Girl: We cannot release the car without a major credit card or a return ticket.
I call my uncle who lives about five minutes away from the airport to see if we can use his CC. He starts to laugh and tells me he is not in town and cannot help. Damn. We call my mom to see if she will let us use her CC. She says no problem.
Joy: Ok. We have a CC that we can use. Would you like to talk to the person who owns it?
Girl: We have to see the CC ma'am.
Monty: This is shit. Get me a manager.
Girl leaves.
Joy: Monty calm down.
Joy asks me to go check on the kids as she can tell I am about to explode all over this girl. As I am turning around to come back Joy has walked off and is talking to a guy in another line.
Nice Guy: Here is what you need to do. Go get a refundable ticket. It does not matter what it costs just get it, bring it back, show it to them and refund the ticket. I have had to do this before.
We go directly BACK to the airport, explain the situation to the lady at the ticket counter and she says, "No problem. If you can get back here in thirty minutes I can refund the ticket and the money will never be taken out of your account."
We go back to National, show them the ticket and get our car. There was a new guy at the counter so the transaction went like it was supposed to. As we were pulling out of the parking lot I look back at the girls and gave them this warning; "Hang on girls. Daddy is gonna drive this car like he stole it" and screeched out of the National lot.
We went to Laguna Beach and had a great time. Joy took lots of pictures. We then decided to go to L.A. By this time we were pushing five o'clock and we got into L.A. during crawl hour. It sucked! Enough said.
Now for the drive home. My dads truck is a 3/4 ton extended cab. His trailer is a 28' fifth wheel. I have pulled many trailers but never a fifth wheel and my first experience puling one is going to be over mountains and desert half way across the country. There is nothing like trial by fire. We get underway and everything is moving great. I am going slow so we are cool. The scenery is beautiful as we get into the mountains. Then they start throwing road signs at me. The first is a "Deer Crossing" sign. No sweat, we see those in Oklahoma. Then its a "Steep Grade" sign. We are in the mountains, its to be expected. Then a "Falling Rock" sign. Why are they throwing rocks at me? Then, oh yes there is more, there is a post with a wind sock that says, "Beware of strong gusts." So now I am being attacked by deer, pushed down a steep hill with rocks being thrown at me while the wind is trying to blow me off the road. Lets hear it for road trips!!! We survuve all that and make it to Flagstaff to bed down for the night. We find a motel and there is just enough room to pull the truck and trailer in. Joy goes and talks to Abu about the charges. He says it will be sixty dollars. Joy tells him thank you and we begin to leave. About then the guy comes running outside to catch Joy. She goes back in and negotiates it down to forty dollars. Yes, my wife can barter like and Arab horse trader. No offense meant toward any Arab horse traders who may be reading, take it as a compliment. The next morning I see that there is no easy or direct way to pull the trailer out so I have to back up. Did I mention that I cannot see out the back window? Anyway, Joy is behind me with a walkie talkie radio giving me directions. I have now successfully backed up a fifth wheel with no casualities. Go me! We are back on the road. That day we are all tired and the kids are driving us nuts. There are some neat things to see on the trip back to OKC and one of them is a meteor crater. Yes, we stopped to see a big hole in the ground that was caused by a large chunk of metal falling from the sky. It was actually pretty cool. While there, we had the kids run as much as possible so they would be less likely to talk the whole trip. Everything was great until it was time to leave. There were some pretty rocks in the gift shop that the girls liked so we decided to get a couple. The older girls got theirs and then Sara, our six year old picked hers out. It is a pretty pink stone that had been sliced very thin to show all the colors. Joy told her to be careful with just before she dropped it...the first time. The second time she dropped it the rock broke. Sara no longer wanted that one. There are signs ALL in this shop that explain if you break it you bought it. Try explaining that one to a six year old. There was crying, a huge temper tantrum and spanking. Back on the road everythign ran smooth. We stopped in Gallup, NM for lunch. To our suprise we found a Greek restaurant. It was great accept Joy almost got our food spit on. Here is little pointer on Greeks. Most of them hate it whem you pronounce one of their words wrong. Example: Gyro is pronounced Yee-ro, not Gi-ro. Joy ordered Moussaka. Pronounced Moo-sa-kah correct way to say it. With out looking up from her order pad the waitress said, "Sure." I ordered Slouvaki. The girls got things that were easier to pronounce. When the waitress came back to fill our water glasses I asked her if they had Ouzo since this was a Greek restaurant. She looked at me like she did not know what that was and said they could not serve liquor on Sunday. I said ok. When she brought our food out she placed Joy's in front of her and made sure she pronounced it correctly. Joy had to correct her again. When she placed my plate down she said, "And here is whatever you ordered." She did not even try to say it. She was not hateful or ugly about it. In fact she was very nice. I explained to her that Joy was Greek and we all kind of chuckled about the whole thing. If you ever travel through Gallup, stop at the Olympic Cafe. It is very good.
We got to Tucumcari, NM and heard from the locals what a miserable little place it is. When we stopped for gas all the attendants were like. "Get the hell out while you can." What was wierd is that two of the three guys that we talked to went there because of women and had gotten stuck there. Further proof that men will do anything for love (or pussy). Hopped up on energy drink I felt like I could make it back home that night but the wife and kids had other plans. They were all tired and wanted to stop for the night in Amarillo. I conceded and we slept for about 7 hours.
The final leg of our journey looked to be the easiest. The lanscape between Amarillo and OKC is relatively flat. We are in the great plains here people. Now, while the flatness means no climbing uphill it also means nothing to block the wind. The wind was terrible! Did I mention that this was my first time to pull a fifth wheel? We pull into our last gas stop and I have to pull over to the diesel pumps where the BIG trucks get fuel. As I am fueling up a trucker walks by and says, "I wish they would turn off the fan." Truckers are funny. We get fuel and are on our way. About an hour from home (YEAH!) a guy pulls up next to the truck and starts pointing for us to pull over. I look out the window and the one of the over hang arms has come loose from the top of the trailer. DAMN IT! I pull over, get out, Joy wants to get home so bad she climbs up the ladder to try and fix it. When she comes down I go up and tie the thing back down. Problem solved. We are on the road a whole five minutes before the next disaster strikes. This time the front of the over hang comes loose. I think, "Ok. I will get off at the next exit and fix this one too." But it can't hang on. It breaks loose from the top, falls on the highway at 65mph and sparks fly...literally. The wind is blowing like crazy, I have now way of getting up high enough to fix the over hang at the top of the trailer and the whole thing is bent all to hell. I have no option but to sacrifice the over hang. I get it detached from the trailer and tape down the slider arms that are still attached to the trailer. Side note: The only reason why they did not get left is because they are attached at the top of the trailer and I did not want to climb up there to get them. I had always wondered why I would see those things on the side of the road sometimes...now I know. We finally make it back home! All in all it was a great trip. We made it back safe and sound if not a little more insane.

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