This is “Ruby.” Yes I name my vehicles… so suit me. As much as I love my car, she was an integral part of my weekend and the adventures I’d have. To be fair, I know there are some major maintenance needs on her part and I’ve planned to address them but she just forced to address one sooner than I had planned.
Remember what Bilbo used to say – ‘It’s a dangerous business, Frodo, going out of your door. You step onto the road and if you don’t keep your feet, there’s no knowing where you might be swept off to.’ – Frodo Baggins, “The Fellowship of the Ring,” JRR Tolkien.
This particular quote really fits this past weekend for me. I had no idea that stepping out my door would mean one adventure after another. While most was good, or good for me, some was not exactly ideal. Just to be clear – my weekends are Sunday/Monday so after work last Saturday, May 4, I headed to Los Angeles to see a good friend of mine, Dave. He is visiting from Colorado and invited me out to see him so we could go to Disneyland together. Little did I know the adventure I would have despite knowing that I was in for some fun given where I was headed. Please keep in mind that LA is about a four hour drive (one way) from where I live.
It all started with the mix up with the directions. Dave decided to stay at the same hotel he stayed at when I saw him three years ago when he visited LA. This was great for me because it meant an easy way there because I already knew how to get there, so I thought. I got off of work and needed to do a few last minute things including write down the directions from the Internet. In the back of my mind I was getting quite nervous because the last two trips I made to LA using Internet directions, whether that be MapQuest or Google Maps, well it ended up meaning a lot of gas spent and some interesting tours of the not so touristy areas of LA. So there I was, about three hours or more into my trip doing fine, when I came to yet another highway change (there’s a million of them in California because it feels like there’s a million highways). I became a bit nervous because there was two different ways to go either Highway 60 or Highway 60 Alt, which apparently is the one I should have taken because I didn’t and it really messed me up. Before I knew it, I was getting on Highway 101, was around Hollywood and well north of where I needed to be, which was Buena Park. *Sigh*
I called my pal, Dave, so he knew where I was because by now I wasn’t where I needed to be when I thought I’d be there. Finally I pulled over to a shady looking gas station and pulled out my handy-dandy map (yes I still use maps. Given my Internet fiascos I’m not sure I’d trust GPS in that situation either – LA is tricky business if you ask me.). Please note that this road map that I use is probably from the late 1980s or early 1990s at best, and I still trust it more than some alternatives – it’s served me well in the past. Anyway, I finally managed to right myself and realized that I virtually missed two exits by missing the one. Trust me on this – it’s difficult to explain otherwise and I’d probably lose readers as I got lost. It was a little like Bilbo getting lost in Mirkwood – I wasn’t exactly chasing elves to get out but certainly was looking for anything that indicated finding my way back out of that mess.
The weekend started inauspiciously enough but it would soon right itself. Dave was beyond awesome and paid for my way to not one park, but two – Disneyland and California Adventure. I had a blast! I’d never been to California Adventure before and there are some really awesome rides. In that park, we rode the Hollywood Tower Hotel (more commonly known as the Hollywood Tower of Terror), Soarin’ Over California (which is like an Imax experience but with smaller grouped seats that lifts you off the ground and makes you feel like you’re flying – also like Bilbo in “The Hobbit” riding with the Eagles) and we had lunch as Flo’s V8 Café (Flo is a character in the movie “Cars” for those who don’t watch Pixar flicks). The tower was probably my favorite. I laughed so hard I cried. I couldn’t scream (not that I’m much of a screamer on amusement park rides anyway) because I was laughing too hard. If you don’t know, the tower is an elevator that lifts you, then drops you a few “floors” then lifts you again then drops you again. Apparently the number of times it does this is different every time, so says my friendly Disney expert Dave. Doesn’t matter – I loved it. At Disney, naturally we rode The Pirates of the Caribbean, the Haunted Mansion, The Wild Ride with Mr. Toad, Jungle Cruise and of course, Indiana Jones – another favorite of mine from the day. I loved them all but Jones and the Tower were standouts for me. I suppose the Jones ride would be a little like riding in barrels in “The Hobbit” but less bruises.
Quite possibly the best part of the entire deal was that given the nature of amusement parks, there’s almost always crying babies, couples fighting, parents yelling, etc., etc. It’s hardly “the happiest place on Earth,” but in this instance it pretty much lived up to that slogan. There was very few crying babies, no one was fighting or yelling and plenty of the staff were genuinely happy and friendly. One gentleman in particular had a great sense of humor and amused Dave, myself and a few others with some voice impersonations, including “Gollum,” which was fantastic. He was so good at it. The weather was cooler and windy but that was fine because when you’re waiting in line, it’s really not a good time to have it be too hot. The only catch there was again, in all my brilliance, I forgot to take a sweater with me despite having checked the weather and knowing it would be cooler than normal. I stood in my doorway ready to leave and took inventory and though… hmm I’m forgetting something but somehow rationalized I wasn’t and left. Go figure. So, this meant having to spend money I didn’t really have to get a hoodie, but the good news is that at least I love it. Anyway, suffice it to say Sunday was marvelous! It was the most fun I’ve had in quite a while – thanks Dave!
The “best” part was waiting for me though. I got up and left Dave yesterday morning (Monday) about 9ish or so. Good thing too because as it would turn out, one of the tires I knew would need to be replaced soon decided now would be best. I was driving along I-15, making some good time but bam! I heard a peculiar noise, felt something odd about my car and immediately pulled over. I got out of the car only to find I had completely blown the tire! There was virtually nothing left of the tire and it was wheel to pavement. Excellent. So I thought great… I forgot to check the doughnut’s air pressure but hope it’s good -thank God it was. I attempted to take the “tire” off and change it to the doughnut (spare tire) but that wasn’t happening. Finally remembering I had enough good sense to put my car insurance information in the glove compartment for a change, I pulled it out and called for emergency roadside service, mostly to get the tire changed because I knew I wasn’t too far from Barstow and could get to a tire shop. It was about 11 a.m. or so and I still had about half my trip to go – remember – it’s about a four hour trip and now I would have to get at least one tire. Knowing the other three were in similar condition and that I still had quite a ways to go, I didn’t really want to risk one or more tires choosing to follow suit and in a place that would be much more inconvenient, so I swallowed the pill and bought four new tires. What is normally about a four hour drive, turned into eight and a half after waiting for new tires, balancing and alignment and about $400 to get home (that doesn’t include gas). It was definitely a comfort food day so while in Barstow I had some Chipotle and took some to go even.
It was far from ideal but I’m really glad it wasn’t something worse, something like my timing belt. That has happened to me in the past and that was such eerie feeling – suddenly the car starts loosing power in the fast lane just barely out of the construction zone. Somehow I managed to get over to the side but it was not a good feeling to be stranded on the side of a major interstate knowing that I would have to get a tow and major work would be needed. This time around, I plan to get that timing belt taken care of before that happens. So anywho (yep I do mean anywho), it was an interesting weekend – mostly fun with a few extra experiences for good measure. I suppose Bilbo was right – any day can be very unexpected especially when you least expect it.