The saying goes, “Things happen for a reason”. Of course that saying is an affirmation of god’s plan for us and as such a denial of free will. It’s more accurate to say that people can invent a reason for anything. My favorite invention is that god is a failed sit-com writer. It explains a great number of things that happen in life. (God thinks of herself as a writer of dramas and would do better to embrace her sit-com side) But sometimes circumstances happen in a peculiar way and it makes you wonder.
In May or June, my friend Shel had had it with her NASA contractor job in Houston and said “Screw it” to her bosses and quit. She nearly immediately got a job with better pay and lower stress in a part of the country with lower cost of living; Huntsville, AL. My mothers car and non-UPS’ed things had to get from Norman, OK to Raleigh, NC and guess what just happened to be smack in between. Coincidence?
My driving started off before I even got to take time off to start. For work, I had to take a day trip to Denton and back. What I was doing wasn’t really relevant to the driving. But that was a 400 mile, 6 hour practice drive on the Thursday before my trip out in my mom’s Corolla. The trip itself was going to be ten hours to Huntsville on Saturday. Followed by another ten hours from Huntsville to Raleigh on Sunday. And just a word on Corolla’s; I find them to be smaller than they appear. In much the same way that I find my Civic to be larger than it appears.
Nothing goes exactly as planned. I had envisioned looking at the scenery and stopping and taking pictures along the way. I hadn’t foreseen drizzle. Before I got out of Oklahoma, I was using the intermittent wipers and they pretty much stayed on the whole trip. Rain might have been preferable. At least with rain most of the people driving turn on their lights. With drizzle, you have to look at the lights ahead of you and decide if they are brake lights or running lights or not functioning at all. If it weren’t for Audible, I’m sure that I would have been completely road-hypnotized. (I listened to Saint Odd on the way to Huntsville)
Shel was the greatest of hostesses. She thought of everything. Pillows, comforter, fan, TV, night-light, Coke, booze, chocolate-chip cookies. She even de-dandered the bedroom from her cats. Her house is both comfortable and frickin’ huge. All I could offer in return was my brief company and taking her and Matt to dinner. My interest in everything intersects with Matt’s interest in 3D printing and milling so we had a lot to talk about since that’s what he’s doing these days. When I visit Shel again, I’ll be flying into Birmingham and driving the 90 minutes north. With the drizzle and odd construction, it was closer to a twelve-hour drive. That’s just too long.
Speaking of Birmingham, that is the direction I headed Sunday morning. It was a decision. The two ways to get to Raleigh from Shel’s were through Atlanta or through the foothills of Tennessee. When we moved Shel from Oklahoma to Maryland two decades previously, it was through those hills. And it was drizzling then too. I remembered it has harrowing hairpin turns at speed down thirty degree inclines with tractor trailers expressing their interest in my license plate. By google’s calculation, it added twenty minutes to go through Atlanta but it was straighter, flatter, and six-lane most of the way. Unfortunately, it was drizzling along that route too. If you’re familiar with the route, you can tell me if it was my imagination or not but it seemed at the time like Atlanta started about twenty minutes outside of Birmingham and didn’t end until a giant peach water tower in Gaffney.
I got into Raleigh some eleven hours after I started out. Even with the Atlanta traffic and drizzle, I got there sooner than I thought. Maybe it was because I was now listening, at Shel’s suggestion, to “The Martian”. It’s a pretty fast-paced story. I was keeping up with traffic (meaning speeding) and the miles fell away. Shel was texting me to make sure I was okay. Nikki was texting to make sure I was going to make it. I did alright considering the discomfort of the miles and the car seat.
My sister’s house needs work. But they are still moving in. So what did I expect. I put Alek out of his room and he took the couch. The upstairs air was on the fritz. The basement isn’t yet finished. The third floor is going to become Alek’s studio apartment. It’s still plenty large and will be improving all the time. It helps that Wil is a remodeler by profession.
So at that point, it had been four days and I had driven some seventeen hundred miles. I did a day layover at my sister’s. and hopped a plane back to OKC. I did establish a new record for myself at the Raleigh-Durham airport. Drop-off to gate in seven minutes. TSA basically took my hand and we went through all the checks as quickly as possible. I went back to work for three days before Thea and I were back in a car. This time headed west to Albuquerque. So, nine days twenty-two hundred miles.
We stayed six days with Terri and Greg (That’s in posts to come) and headed back home on Friday. That’s a fifteen day tally of twenty-seven hundred miles. If I wanted to count the trip up to Sandia Peak and the one into Santa Fe, it’d be closer to three thousand. But let’s not. (Greg was driving on those runs anyway.)