Wednesday, September 1, 2010

Can't Get Out of Red Rock - the Move Odyssey: Day 1

Years ago I watched a movie Red Rock West with Nick Cage.  I don't recall a thing about the plot, but I remember that he kept trying to leave this town, and would end up having to circle back to the town of Red Rock once again. Today feels a lot like that.

Today we're moving, damnit!

It's Monday, so the tag office is open.  Quantum runs off to get a replacement tag, to the hefty expenditure of $7. Whew! At least something is going right. For the second time in a row we load the critters into the trucks and head for the storage unit.

At this point I'm barefoot, my sneakers (already half destroyed by Zen's shoe fetish) having pretty much fallen apart during the chase after Squeaky. And of course, any other shoes I own are already packed and inaccessible somewhere in the trailer.

It's maybe 11am by the time we reach there, and everything should go smooth, right? After all we did a dry run yesterday. (Oh yeah, and they managed to take the tire and get it fixed while I was trying to find Squeaks.)  Except today something's broken with the jack on the front of the big trailer, and CK can't get it to raise high enough to slip it onto the pickup's tow ball. While we're contemplating this, Steve, Jesse and Steve's kid show up and save the day by taking over the problem and fixing it.

Quantum goes off to buy me some shoes, since I can't even walk into a store barefoot. He's got a friend who owns a dance store and sells very inexpensive (and comfortable) dance sneakers. Unfortunately when he returns, he's bought a half-size too small.  So I find a pair of sandals (that I can barely walk in, and had given me giant blisters a few days back) and go exchange them for a pair that fit.  By the time I get back, both trailers are hooked up, and we're almost ready to go. 1pm Monday afternoon we finally set off.

We're in the wind! We head up the 408, Quantum in the lead, me and Zen next, in the T-Bird, and CK following up. Fortunately Zen is very good in the car, and he's having a great time alternating between sticking his nose out the window and doing all he can to sit in my lap.

Unfortunately, somebody seems to have moved the entrance to the turnpike. No, I'm really not kidding. The highway department has been working on the roads and changing them around for years, and I've connected to the turnpike from the 408 before, but now we can't find it.  And even if I could get WiFi on my laptop, for some reason the darn thing isn't working off the battery. So we get off the road to ask directions. But the place we get off not only says "no re-entry northbound" but there's not a sign of civilization in sight. No gas stations, nothing but roads going every which way into nowhere. Twenty minutes later we see a sign, "Winter Park 14 miles." I almost cried. We'd been driving for 3 hours and we were only 14 miles from our old home.

We get off the road somewhere in Apopka, find a gas station, ask directions and buy a map. The place looks like crackhead central. Very scary people hanging around nearby. Sadly I'm not in on the conversation, since I'm walking the puppy. If I had been, I would have known that driving through Mt. Dora was a way bad idea.

We're also having two other problems. First, CK is reporting trouble with the pickup and telling us it sounds like it's going to blow up, trying to tow the huge trailer (30 foot and heavily packed).  I'm pretty upset with this idea, since we've just poured our lungs into the damn thing, getting a rebuilt motor and such.  The second problem is that in the chaos of moving Quantum and CK can't find the walkie talkies.  We'd bought two sets so we could keep communication. So I have the cell phone, CK has his cell phone.  Quantum has nothing.  Over this and the successive days, this will begin to drive us into madness.

So we head up through Mt. Dora to find the turnpike. Florida is basically flat, and Mt. Dora is, I think, the highest elevation in the state. It's all up and down hills. Quantum stops and asks directions again, because the map isn't meshing with what we're seeing of road signs. Some idiot sends us right INTO the town of Mt. Dora proper (once again, if I'd understood that's where we were going, I'd have stopped us. I've been here before for art fairs, and I know that not only is the town even MORE of a mess of hills and valleys, but that the road deadends at a lake. This is NOT the way to the turnpike. We drive through the tiny artsy town.  CK's brakes are squealing, trying to stop at the multiple red lights and stop signs. To help, it's started to drizzle. We get to the dead end by the lake and contemplate the horror of trying to get back up the hill and through all those stops.

We make it back up and stop at the police/fire station for directions. Once again our caravan is on the road. We finally find the turnpike! YAY! It's late now and we're exhausted. We decide we'll stop at the rest area and spend the night there. We make a last pit stop, grab gas and beer, and Quantum says we'll get food at the rest stop. All the rest areas have restaurants, don't they? Umm, no they don't.

Meanwhile, CK, who has been whining about being able to make comfortable turns with his rig, decides he's not going to follow us to make a turnaround to get back on the turnpike. Now I can't blame him for being concerned about this. What I can blame him for is being a whiny baby about it. Throughout the entire trip he is constantly crying about how hard we're making things on him. So he finds a way across without following us, gets on the road ahead of us and doesn't bother to inform us of this. We get up the ramp onto the turnpike, going slow, hugging the shoulder and looking in our rearviews for CK. After about a mile, Quantum pulls over and I follow. No sign of CK. Quantum gets out - at night, in the dark, with semi's roaring past only inches away, and makes his way to me. I call CK's cell and wouldn't you know, the bastard is way up the road ahead of us. I later tell him that if he ever puts my husband's life in danger like that I will cut off certain parts of his anatomy and stuff them down his throat. "What was I supposed to do? Not make the easy turn?"  "No, idiot, you were supposed to wait for us on the on-ramp, or at least tell us what you were doing."

Despite Quantum's prediction, there are no restaurants at the rest stop. We get back on the road and head for Ocala. According to Google Maps, this is supposed to be a 2 hour 6 minute journey at most. We left at 1pm, it's now 11:30 at night. We find a place to park behind a hotel, where some other trucks and RVs are set up, and I go off for McDisgustings. $18 later, everyone's too tired to be hungry, even the puppy. CK doesn't want to bother coming out of his trailer and across the grass to get his food. I'm barefoot, because my new shoes aren't broken in yet and my feet hurt. Quantum has reported fire ants in the area and has a welt to prove it. So I tell CK I'll let the raccoons have it, and leave it on his bumper. Quantum and I crawl into bed in the back of the trailer and go to sleep to the sound of crickets and trucks whizzing by on the turnpike. It's humid, hot and uncomfortable, and the puppy, unaccustomed to sleeping alone is upset that we've barricaded him out of the bedroom area, so that the cat can be safe. He starts barking and doesn't stop for an hour or more. About 3am we wake up and each choke down a cheeseburger. The rest of the food ends up going bad in the fridge (which of course doesn't have power).

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