"The notion that such persons are gay of heart and carefree is curiously untrue. They lead, as a matter of fact, an existence of jumpiness and apprehension. They sit on the edge of the chair of Literature. In the house of Life they have the feeling that they have never taken off their overcoats."
- James Thurber, My Life and Hard Times

Sunday, March 21, 2010

This has nothing to do with writing, except that I wrote it.

We're home, thank God. Did you miss me?

Hubby, son, and I took two different trips to northern California on two consecutive weekends. Marcus auditioned for two all-state choirs, performing on back-to-back weekends. At the time he was auditioning, I explained the meaning of "back-to-back" weekends, family finances, blah-blah-blah. He stared blankly, so I said, "Go ahead and apply for both. We'll let God make the call."

God has such a sense of humor, especially with me. Marcus made both choirs.

So, last Wednesday, we left Orange County around 5 p.m. for Sacramento. Yes, I know it's a seven hour drive. Yes, I know 5 p.m. is late. What can I say? Dale and Marcus wanted tacos.

Since Dale's hands were busy stuffing his face, I volunteered to drive. I thought I'd at least get us through the Grapevine. (For those of you who are unfamiliar with California, there are a very few routes north from the southern end of the state. The most common road is Interstate 5, which cuts across the Tejon Pass of the Tehachapi Mountains along a route we call the Grapevine. It consists of four lanes, straight uphill for half the distance, followed by straight downhill in the second half, where semis fill the right two lanes and cars are left with the other two.)

Off we went, the sun slowly sinking toward my eyeballs as we drove west on the I-210 toward the I-5. By the time we started the long haul uphill through the pass, the sun had disappeared and I was wondering if I could drive and dig the Excedrin out of my tote at the same time. I had just turned the headlights on when I saw the big sign on the roadside: "Left Two Lanes Closed at Vista Del Lago Road. Two Hour Delay."

NOOOOOOOO! Okay, I told myself, maybe it was left up from road construction earlier today. Maybe the traffic's already cleared. Maybe it's not as bad as it… is.

Turns out, the horrific winds blowing sideways through the pass (how do they do that?) had blown a semi pulling one of those half-a-prefab-homes onto its side. We crept for an hour or more, slowly scrunching our way over lanes, jockeying for position with other creepers, until we could survey the damage, after which, we were on our way.

We made it to Sacramento around one in the morning, had a great time, and were home by ten o'clock Saturday night.

Oh, some quick observations about Sacramento:
1. The Capitol building is really pretty. So's the park.
2. Loved the Train Museum.
3. Saw the Guvernator. That man's head is too big for his body. Seriously. He's his own Bobblehead doll.

The following Wednesday, we had to go to San Jose. Once again, Dale wanted tacos, and once again, I volunteered to drive. What was the worst that could happen?

Nothing, you negative Nellys. We got to San Jose around ten thirty. San Jose was a love/hate city. We did some fun things, Dale got to watch lots of basketball in the lounge (NCAA championships, baby), but that city is SOOOO expensive. I'm telling you, it bled us D.R.Y.

On Saturday night, we knew we'd have a long trip home. The concert didn't end until 9 p.m., but I just couldn't justify one more night in the Fairmont, which gave us a group rate but nickel-and-dimed us for everything. I mean, $14 for WiFi? Really?

Dale drove. All we had to do was go down the 101, across the 152 to the I-5, then straight home. That's alllll we had to do…

It's not Dale's fault, but he missed the turnoff to the 152. Lola, his GPS, cooed the instructions, but he just didn't follow them. I've done this before. Your mind goes somewhere else for a minute and suddenly you're not where you want to be. Much like the rest of my life.

Lola, in her usual Zen-like calm, recalculated and told Dale to get off on the next road, which he did. We thought she would take him on a parallel road that would lead back to the 152.

God knows she tried.

We drove miles and miles, down dark country highways. Four miles here, then turn left, then four more miles and turn right. At some point, he and Lola stopped speaking the same language. She would tell him to take a "slight" right and he'd take a "hard" right. She'd recalculate. At one point, she told him to take a road that had been closed due to construction. When she started telling us to drive eight miles, then make a legal U-turn, even Dale wanted to slap her.

By ten thirty, we weren't even past Gilroy yet. To add to the stress, we were low on gas, and the radio found a station that played the most progressive-rock, fuzzy-stoner-guitar-riddled, acid-trip-to-hell music I've ever heard. I was pretty certain the cast of the Texas Chainsaw Massacre were going to jump from behind a tree at some point.

In an attempt to keep from screaming, I played with Wanda, the GPS lady in my cell phone. According to her, we were on Route 25, which would wind through King City before dumping us back on the 101. I didn't know whether I'd cry because we'd wasted an hour wandering in a circle, or I'd weep for joy that we were back on a major highway, but I knew there'd be tears involved.

But Lola prevailed, and finally got us back to the 152 toward Gilroy and Interstate 5. I may have "whooped" a little when we got to the interstate, after which I fell into that restless sleep of the car passenger with no pillow.

In the end, we were home by 3:30 Sunday morning. Thank God.

P.S. Here's what Marcus did in Sacramento (he's the first male soloist):


B. Miller said...

Cool post! Glad you had a great trip. The video is awesome - Marcus did a wonderful job! Thanks for sharing!

Witness said...

I like the 101-152-5 route when coming from SF. I love the smell of garlic through my window!

Loved the singing.

Gayle Carline said...

I like Gilroy, too. Fresh garlic has such a different odor than the stuff in the stores (or in my food). It's almost delicate.

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