The Way Home

     We had a wonderful visit with my parents and my sister’s family.  Princess had reconnected with a little friend across the street and made good use of his video games and his motorized vehicles and water slide/pool and trampoline.  And there was a four foot black snake my brother in law had to kill as it was climbing his tree….which was even more interesting to her when it developed maggots in the sun.

  We were also introduced to Wii Fit and engaged in a hotly contested 100 pin bowling tournament with my mother, sister and brother in law.  It was a relaxing three days.    My parents left for Florida on Monday morning after breakfast.  Princess and I planned to leave for home around 7 or 8 a.m. on Tuesday.

I woke up suddenly on Tuesday morning to pitch dark.  Wide awake.  I checked around for a clock and ended up waking the Princess up as I looked for her phone to check the time.  It was 5:15 a.m.  I looked at her and she looked at me and we decided to hit the road.  We gathered our things, stripped the bed in my neice’s room where we had slept, packed the car and we were on our way.  All of this without waking anyone in the house.  I was figuring on a 13 hour drive getting us home in time for her make up soccer camp session at 6:30 and the Prince’s summer soccer league game at 9:30 p.m. 

Heh.

Feeling a little guilty about leaving without saying good by, I called my sister’s phone at six thirty and apologized…even offered to turn around and come back for breakfast.  Really.  But she just laughed and said to keep in touch while we were on the road….and probably rolled over and went back to sleep.

Probably.

There are some nice things about driving so early in the morning.  Its quiet.  The roads are clear and you get to see the sun come up.  It was beautiful rising over the kudzu covered grottos we were passing.  Really beautiful.  Princess dozed in the back and I steered the car.  We made pretty good time.

Okay….we made excellent time. 

I crossed the North Carolina border pondering the name of the French Broad River…..and subsequent river basins.  Was it named so because it was wide?  Or because some early trapper or explorer was enamored with a particular ethnic woman on the trail?  Planned to google that one some time.  ‘Google’ is my new favorite verb.

Princess slept through North Carolina and part of Tennessee.  She was dumbfounded to have ‘missed a WHOLE state.’  We stopped for breakfast at an exit in Kentucky that was a favorite of my dad’s when he was making the same drive. 

Kentucky.

Usually it’s my favorite part of this drive.  Beautiful, hilly, horse filled, pristine lines of white fencing that stretch endlessly…there is always something to look at.   We decided to make a quick stop at a small K-Mart to walk around after filling the gas tank.  We had been making such good travel time but our bones were achey.  We shopped a bit, bought some red twizzlers and a couple of magazines and then headed back to I-75 headed north.

We were diverted by police officers at the closed on ramp.  Diverted!

I pulled into a gas station to watch what was happening.  Three emergency vehicles careened down the ramp and more and more cars were being directed away from the on ramp.  Hmmm.  Traffic was moving on the interstate so I decided to back track and pass the ramp.

I crossed the bridge to the southbound I-75 ramp and made my way to the previous exit.  All the while the bland little voice on the GPS device was entreating me to ‘turn around now.’  We had dubbed her ‘Gladys Garmin’ when my husband purchased it with a Christmas giftcard several years before.  She can be a bossy little whazoo.  The vioce did not stop until I was – once again – steering the car north….into totally stopped traffic.  And there we sat in the blistering heat for nearly two hours.

Cars were moving slowly…2.5 miles per hour for the most part.  So my decision to back track had not been a good one after all.  At first we left the windows down and read our magazines.  When sweat began dripping down the sides of our faces, we rolled the windows up and turned on the air conditioning.  By the time I was making my way through an article about the surprising friendship between actresses Maggie Gyllenhall and Emma Thompson for the third time, the relaxing part of waiting patiently was beginning to wear thin.  Impatient drivers were pulling up and cutting into miniscule openings between other waiting cars.  One guy even rolled his car onto the widened and blacktopped shoulder and essentially created a THIRD lane.  People apparently assumed he knew a faster way to get ahead and pulled up beside him. They were ALL trying to cut in front of drivers that had been waiting just as long as them.  This caused at least three police vehicles to have to speed to the ramp on the very steep inclining grass next to the road.  Not good.

Once we finally made it to the closed ramp, we were being diverted again and I finally ended up turning off the protesting ‘Gladys’ and followed traffic.  We ended up taking a detour back to I-75 through a gorgeous – and much cooler – state park area.  It was Highway 141.  That road took  us to a TVA dam.  Princess and I had passed a bigger facility on the way down and I had explained the process of damming rivers to create hydro-electric power….and what such projects did to family farms established along those rivers.  This time we were actually able to stop and look and then drive across the top.  Very cool.  And as interesting as it all was, it was definitely good to be back on north bound I-75 again.  Except this time, we managed to hit a rain storm.

Traffic was slower as we drove through the storm toward Cincinnati.  I looked in the back seat to see Princess huddled under a blanket.  The rain hitting the windows, thundering and whip-whapping of the wipers were too much.  She was very relieved when we finally pulled away from the black clouds about 45 minutes later.  And just like that it was bright again.  Blue skies, billowy white clouds and no rain.

And then the phone rang.  It was an elderly neighbor saying that she needed someone to drive her to the hospital.  ‘Betty’ has been a bit of a project for the Princess for years.  She has mowed her lawn and shoveled her walks, taken baked goods over to her, taken our dogs to visit her and just knocked on the door to see if she was okay.  So now, this request set the Princess into a full scale panic mode.  We were in Kentucky and unable to help.  I told her to ask if it was an emergency or did she have an appointment.  It was an emergency.  We told her to hang up the phone and we would call HRH so he could contact our local 911 services.  Help would be there shortly.

There were a flurry of calls on both of our cell phones.  I called HRH – who was still at work – and explained the situation….twice.  He hung up and said he would call right back.  SHE called Betty on her phone to tell her that Dad was taking care of it only to receive directions to leave a message.  HRH called to say he needed an address or phone number to give to 911.  She gave him the incoming number on her phone….and then called another neighbor to ask her to go sit with Betty until EMS got there.  he friend was out shopping but would be home in ‘about 10 minutes.’  That friend called back later to say a police officer wanted to talk to Princess.  He wanted to know if Betty had asked them to call 911…what was her dad’s name and when was his birthdate.  She hung up and asked if she was in trouble with the police.  I said they were probably trying to determine if it was a prank call and that Dad would take care of it when he got home.  HRH then called to say that he was there and the police had forced their way into the house but there was no one there.  NO ONE.  It took about 40 minutes and several more phone calls but a friend named ‘Sarah’ returned a message on Betty’s phone to say that SHE had driven her to the hospital and they were waiting in the ER.  And the police officer remembered Princess from the Youth Police Academy the summer before and told her Dad she did exactly the right thing in an emergency.  All was well.

Except for the broken screen door which HRH repaired…..and the stomach ache Princess developed from worrying about her friend.  And the additional worry of wondering if she was okay in the ER.  And when we crossed into Cincinnati, it was raining again.  Sigh.

We were on the road for 17 hours and didn’t make it home until 10:38 pm.  We missed the make up soccer camp session and the Prince’s 9:30 pm soccer game (which he won and was laughing about because one of his club soccer team mates was playing against his team and was determined -unsucessfully – to score on the Prince).  It was good to be home.

And at least ONE family member was ecstatic to have me back because, you see, this is how he usually rolls….and he has to have ME there to do it!

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One Comment on “The Way Home”

  1. Pam/Wordgirl Says:

    You’re such a great writer I was with you the whole time!

    Wow, princess sounds like such a wonderful young woman — so thoughtful and devoted to a friend —

    You have done well my friend!

    P


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