Saturday, September 20, 2014

Tourism, Day Twelve: The Agony of the Seat

Friday, 5 June, 2014.  We arrived in the waters just offshore of Seattle sometime around dawn, but didn't get completely docked until breakfast was nearly over. Once docked, though, we were given instructions to line up on deck five, and wait for our release.

Apparently, my friend (in her wheelchair) was given an easier out, and everybody else from her cabin went with her. They were away from the ship and comfortably waiting on a bench on the other side of Customs within a half hour. I was still standing and wincing and wishing I could trade in my knees for just about anything an hour after the line-up began. Go chasing a city bus just one time, and you pay forever after…

Finally, after working my way through the system, I joined the gang again, with minutes to spare before my friend's niece saw her friend drive up. That was not only her ride, but the chariot for my friend to get back to the truck, parked at the Motel 6 in Renton. I said my farewells to the niece, telling her that, as soon as it was possible for her to come back to town, she should be sure to look me up. I might not be a party girl, but I did enjoy her company during my less cranky times, and let her know so.

They loaded up her bags, and the three of them left.

A little less than two hours later, the big red pickup truck arrived. We loaded up our gear, strapped my friend's wheelchair onto its platform on the back, and made our way away from the Pacific Northwest.

It was here that she informed me that, not only were we not going to stop overnight near Wall, SD, but we were going to drive straight through the night and get home Saturday night.


Well, at least we'd looked at printed atlases and Google maps, and plotted the fastest route from Seattle, WA, to Monmouth, IL: drive straight across the mass of the nation on Interstate 90 to Sioux Falls, then cut south on I-29, to Sioux City, where we could pick up I-80 to Des Moines, then angle down on US-63 to Ottumwa and, finally, home on US-34.

Easy peasy.


A minimum of 29 hours on the road, without rest, without stops for any reasonable amount of time to stretch and unkink my already problematic knees. 29 hours sitting in a mostly-closed cabin, with three people who, when tired or stressed out, could not stop lighting up cigarettes, and my antihistamines already maxed out.

I was going to have a swell time.

We weren't even going to stop for meals. We had, I was told, enough crap loaded up, if we wanted to pick up foods, we'd have to pick out whatever the truck stops had to offer.

But wait – it gets worse,

The power converter my friend had originally bought for this trip, so she could plug in her computer and do her work for her graduate studies had been swapped out by one of the men in her household, and she was left with an old, unreliable one which, during the drive out was iffy, but by fifteen minutes into the drive home, was proven to be completely worthless. She effing couldn't do her effing homework, and she was effing…well, you get the picture. I had quietly, meekly tried to suggest we check out a truck stop, because places like Pilot occasionally carried odd electronic stuff, and we might find a working replacement I'd be willing to spring for with my remaining funds, but I doubt she even heard what I was saying.

There was zero conversation.

She drove, burning through cigarette after cigarette.

The boys, having spent the previous week consuming all manner of fatty foods and great quantities of beer, had become greenhouse gas factories.

On the open highway, a window rolled down was too noisy, and bothered the driver.

I stared out my window and prayed to whatever god might hear me. Mostly, I prayed for unconsciousness to take me for the duration of the drive.

Meanwhile, I took pictures to distract myself. You can embiggen them to see better, by clicking on them.
Yay! Leaving Seattle! And traffic vanishes!

Peek at the peak of Mt Rainier
Somewhere around Snoqualmie Pass

Uh. Mah. Gahd. We're getting run over by a train. Please please please…

All the pretty horses

Not far from Spokane

Near Coeur d'Alene

Toward Montana

And here is where the whole country becomes
one great, beautiful, terrible nightmare, in my mind.

Or, put more succinctly, 
I have no idea which state I'm in, by now

but I'm pretty sure I'm in or approaching Montana
because we were halfway across it at sunset

when she decided there would be a change of course. The light went out in my soul.
Darkness was coming when she looked again at the route charted, and announced, "I'm not gonna [expletive deleted]ing drive all the way across South Dakota. [Bad word]ing South [naughty word]ing Dakota!"

I still have no idea what she has against South Dakota. It houses Mount Rushmore, Wall Drug Store, and the most awesome Badlands. And the weather forecast over most of it was clear and warm. But she was, as usual, adamant.

So she reprogrammed her satellite guidance system to take us due south, toward Laramie and Interstate 80, instead of the easy slope southward we had originally been given.

Sure. No big deal. Except for two things: (1) under optimal conditions, the abrupt drop south would add roughly two hours to our drive, and (2) we were not looking at optimal conditions, with fog, drizzle, and construction along the first half of the trip down Wyoming, which added a couple of hours to the drive. So, now, we were looking at the likelihood of missing supper, and, unless conditions were to improve, not getting home until well after dark.

I had been in the car for ten hours, and would not have been looking forward to another twenty-four straight hours in that truck, even if I had been in a jolly humor. And I was far from that.

Aside from the knee and back pain, my restless leg had finally started to act up, my feet and legs were beginning to swell from lack of motion, and I was getting a migraine.

I suppose it could have been worse. I could have had the backhouse trots.

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