The Vacation Trip To Hell, Level Two
Welcome to the Second Level of the Vacation Trip To Hell. As I related earlier, Di and our daughters made a long road trip from California to points east of the Mississippi to visit family. My spouse and I left as confident, cheerful adults and returned as burnt, used-up shells of humanity. The two respective visits to our respective parents went well, overall, after some mishaps on the drive out. We were, at that point, still at least confident. However, once we hit the interstate to return to California, little did we know the events that would overtake us. We departed Mom’s house a man, a woman, and two girls. We arrived home a man, two women, and a girl. And now for the gory details…
Somewhere on the highway between Illinois (silent ‘s’) and Oklahoma, yours truly began developing a headache. These events are rare enough for me that at the first available pee break, I dug through the dense cargo hold of the Blazer and located some Motrin. All was well for the next few hundred miles. The girls were being teenage females, and after the entirety of the trip thus far, boredom reigned supreme in the back seat. Arguments over the CD player, the CD’s, the pens, the paper, and which line of stitches in the seat marked territory blended into a dull roar. Di and I were numb to this and just rode in sullen, boiling silence. The knot at the base of my melon seemed to be subsiding, and Di offered to drive to let me attempt a recuperative nap.
At some point in Texas, I awake to warm water dripping on my legs and Di whacking me. From under the dash, putrid chemicals were dripping on my feet, and – no kidding – dense white fog was rolling out of the AC vents. We sprang into action, shut down the AC, rolled down the windows, and pulled over. We had no idea what just went wrong but speculated that the condenser / evaporator / AC thingamabobber had failed catastrophically. Ever resourceful, Di located a phone book and in ten minutes we were back in business with a shop in Tucumcari waiting for us. I rode along, noting that the Motrin was failing miserably, and that I now had what I believed to be an Alien growing somwhere inside my big, fat head. As we rolled down I-40 in August, Daughter Unit The Second wails helpfully, “I’m hooooooot.” There were seven syllables in ‘hot’ in her version.
By the time we rolled up on Tucumcari, I was useless. The throbbing in my head was audible, though Di denied being able to hear it. She attempted to solicit my help in directions to our anticipated repair shop, and I supported her by saying, “Guhmmphalthp. Brrthp.” I honestly don’t recall a lot of the rest of that day, but at some point in the evening we were packed into a motel room while the Blazer was resurrected. The girls, without break, moved their Squabbling War into the room and launched new offensives for new territories. Through the fog of pain, Di gently wakes me to inform me that Daughter Unit The First officially became a woman. I replied in Bantu that I was thrilled.
More hours passed, the room grew quiet. I regained the ability to speak, but my head hurt so intensely that I was nauseous. Di emerged from a long session in the bathroom with The First, and I waved her over. I whispered (because that’s all I could manage) my concerns.
- ME: “Is Daughter Unit still in the bathroom?”
- DI: “Yes, why?”
- ME: “She needs to get out now.”
- DI: “She’s having a big day and dealing with this, don’t be an ass.”
- ME: “I’m sure she’ll be thrilled to watch me projectile-vomit in the next three minutes, then.”
- DI: “Oh.”
My only coherent recollections of the period between Tucumcari and Fort Irwin were broken shards of consciousness experienced from a contorted sleep in the front passenger seat. At some point, I was moved to the back seat and collapsed further into the fetal position. The Migraine of the Gods continued all the way to California, where the helpful staff at the post hospital concluded there was nothing wrong with me. Di saved the day, as she would many times to come.
In many ways this trip completely and forever killed the fun and adventure of cross country road trips, at least for Di and me. We tried one after my return from Afghanistan but after only half of Iowa behind us, Di lost it about all the corn. I knew the cause, and regretted the loss of the Road Trip Adventure.