Wednesday, May 12, 2010

Highway to Hell...or Cai & Arwen's Very Unexcellent Adventure

Ain't nothing I would rather do
Going down, party time
My friends are gonna be there too
I'm on the Highway to Hell...
Lyrics by ACDC
The hero of my latest story is a big fan of ACDC, so I felt it appropriate to start my blog off with those lyrics. In Sex and Trouble, Rosier escapes his boredom with captivity by blasting heavy metal. I knew when I set off to Romantic Times Book Lovers Convention 2010 in Columbus, Ohio, that I wouldn't be playing a lot of heavy metal, though. You see, I am two people - Cai Smith and Arwen Lynch. One of us, Cai, loves the headbangin' stuff while the other, Arwen, is more of a folkie. We compromise on music and both adore audio books.

When we left Fort Worth, Texas at 5:30 AM Monday morning, we fully expected to arrive at the convention hotel by midnight at the latest since both the GPS and Google Maps told us it was a 15.5 hour drive. Little did we know that the Universe had other things in mind for our journey...

We cruised up the highway to Arkansas--pleased with the time we were making and the journey itself--then on through Tennessee and into Kentucky. And that's where the wheels started to fall off. We stopped regularly for gas, potty breaks and to walk around a bit, stretching those traveling kinks out. On one of those stops at some very nice but nameless roadside rest stop, Cai decided to take her contacts out. Her eyes were tired so it was time for glasses.

Unfortunately, one contact decided not to cooperate. Cai scratched her cornea trying to get the darned thing out. Arwen took over the wheel, but drove only until we reached Elizabethtown, KY. We hit the local ER so Cai's eye could be checked out. Sure enough, she'd injured her eye badly enough to need an antibiotic cream. Two and a half hours later, we were back on the road with Cai behind the wheel once again.

We have a great friendship that goes back many years. One of the things we knwow is that Cai is the driver and Arwen is the passenger. Some day we'll tell you the story of how Arwen nearly drove into a mountain when she saw some unusual animals on the side of the road. "Look! Buffalo," is how that story starts. Cai prefers to arrive alive so she drives the bulk when we go on long trips.

If we ever go on a long trip after this highway to hell excursion, that is! So, there we are in the car, plotting our next book and laughing about the ER being the worst part of the trip. OOPS! Never say that where "They" can hear you. In the darkest part of the night, on one of Kentucky's (and possibly the USA's) most dangerous stretches of highway, we hit a pothole the size of a Newfoundland...I kid you not.


The car shakes and shudders like a bronco on speed as Cai curses and guides the car to the narrowest piece of shoulder we've ever seen. She's so close to the guardrail that Arwen can barely squeeze out of the passenger-side door. Eighteen-wheelers are zooming past so fast and so close that the car vibrates violently. We have blown a tire on a hill about 31 miles south of Cincinnati. This is on Highway 41N and we're also on a bridge. Can you say, "perfect horror movie setup?"

We could.

Once Cai managed to stop shaking, we called AAA. This is when we received the worst customer service EVER! The operator manages to make us feel like the worst idiots in the world because we're on a stretch of highway neither of us has ever traveled before and we don't know what exit we passed last or what the next exit coming up might be. I know it's hard to believe that we didn't mark each exit on the highway that neither of us has ever been on before as we passed it, right? This woman expressed nothing but contempt and irritation while by-passing even the smallest bit of sympathy for our nightmarish situation. The fact that we were calling her with this "emergency roadside issue" at nearly 2AM seemed to have escaped her notice entirely.

She even told us she could not send someone out if she didn't know where we were. Luckily, Arwen and Cai both have GPS phones. We were able to give her the nearest coordinates. AAA will be receiving a very irate letter about that woman's lack of empathy! But she did manage to send us our knight in a shiny roll-back wrecker, Gene! He was our senior by many years.

Gene towed us down the mountain scolding us about our tires and where we were on the road. You felt like your granddad has just told you off! He was a real sweetheart and our hero. After he put the spare (one of those blasted doughnut tires!) on, he assured us we could make it to Columbus if we only went 60MPH. So we did...

When we reached the convention hotel in Columbus, it was 6:30AM EST Tuesday. We collapsed in our hotel room thanking our personal Higher Powers for seeing us safely there - albeit with a tad more excitement than we might have liked.

Have you ever had a "Highway to Hell" road trip? We'd love to hear YOUR adventures!

And, if you like steamy paranormal romantica, check out our hero Rosier in Sex and Trouble, available digitally from Jasmine Jade Publishing-- His adventure involves being released from captivity by a very nice, albeit newbie witch!


Maria said...

Yep- been there done that "Hiway to Hell" seemed like every summer vacation trip with the parents ...there was some sort of incident...anything from flat tires, lost American Express checks or the occasional torn transmission.

Adele Dubois said...

OMG, what a horrible road trip! I hope the convention was worth it. I hate driving long distances and can empathize.

Best--Adele Dubois

J L said...

Hey, give AAA a piece of your mind -- you pay for help, not grief!

As to road trips from hell ... ah, yes, I well remember moving from Pittsburgh to Minnesota. The trip started with a lost cat, a hotel so horrible I slept with my shoes on, and getting lost on the Dan Ryan in Chicago at rush hour ... and it went downhill from there. It's best relegated to the recesses of my memories...

Glad you made it okay and got back okay, and thankfully the eyes are fine. That's the important, stuff, right?

Marilu Mann said...

Hi Maria,
Thanks for stopping by! I don't remember bad road trips with my family - mainly because my father planned everything within an inch and nothing would DARE to go wrong on one of his excursions! LOL Still, I'm sure there are things I don't remember about the "getting there" even though I do remember the stuff that happened once we did get there. :)


Marilu Mann said...

Hi Adele,

The Convention was SO worth it! We both had a great time once we recovered...of course, we had to plan a different route home due to the tornados and flooding that hit the route we'd taken on the way UP to Ohio, but that's another story for another time. Still, we reconnected wtih some great folks, met some new friends, and completely enjoyed ourselves.


Marilu Mann said...

Hey JL,
Believe me, AAA DID get a letter from me, detailing exactly how that operator (who shall remain nameless in this blog) acted and her lack of empathy. Since I've been a member of AAA since 1980-something, I sincerely hope they'll talk to her about her lack of compassion!
Sounds like you know exactly where we're coming from with the RTFH (road trip from Hell) - I think I've been to one of those motels you're talking about - only the one I remember was in Nebraska and I slept leaning against the wall because I was afraid to get in the you said, another story for another time!


Lyla Sinclair said...

Most of my trips like this were taken as a child. My dad loved road trips that went on forever--I saw 45 out of 50 states by car before I was 18. Some several times.

My parents were opposites, my dad the adventurer, my mom the worrier. Nearly every trip, my dad would find a "short cut" on the map he wanted to try which would end up being a one-lane (but two-way) winding mountain road with no guard rail, or a gravel road that caused a rock to break our gas tank in the middle of nowhere in 100 degrees, or we'd end up in a motel somewhere that was practially sitting on the railroad tracks because it was the only one for miles and it was the middle of the night.

However, the cool thing was that whenever a teacher or someone mentioned a place in the U.S., I had a mental picture of it.

Marilu Mann said...

Hey Lyla,
That DOES sound like some awesome adventures. Isn't it interesting how those things stick in our memories, though? Excellent that you were able to picture so clearly the areas of country your teachers were talking about!

Nina Pierce said...

Oh, that sounds about like most of my trips. Sorry you ladies went through that. On the up side ... I heard it was a great convention!

When my girls were little I took 25 Girl Scout/Brownies on a trip. Three cars. Three Cars. Three moms. In the willy wags of Maine I got a flat tire on the van. Two of us changed the tire while the third mom entertained the girls off the highway. No one drove by until the lugnuts were all in place. We all still talk about it today.

Laurann Dohner said...

Oh man. What an 'adventure' you could have done without. LOL. Mr. Laurann's parents decided to spend a summer up in Big Bear in their Motorhome so we loaded up our 4 kids and hit the mountains. My van started to overheat on the way there but we made it. Then we were coming home and it turns out 3 of our children get VIOLENTLY car sick heading down curvy mountains. A 2 hour trip took 6 hours between stopping every 10 minutes while they took turns getting ill, a tire blew but AAA was there fast, and by the time we got home all three kids were down to their undies since we'd used up every bag, piece of clothing, anything to clean them up. LOL.I told my in-laws NEVER again. If they decide to spend another summer up there... they can drive down to us!

Keri Stevens said...

Next time you pass my house with a ripped cornea on your way to a pothole, call me. I have an air mattress and Cheetos.

Marilu Mann said...

Hi Nina,
Thanks for stopping by! I hear you on the GS adventures - Arwen & I have a few of those to share as well - and I have a few more with my own Diva Daughter! LOL They're always the ones you remember the longest...
In fact, I still remember camping as a GS and my Mom as my leader and having the Rangers come through telling us we were in an area that was about to flood. We were each allowed to grab one thing and get in the car. Turns out we'd have been much safer staying right where we were as the campground was the only area that DIDN'T go underwater for several miles!


Marilu Mann said...

OMG, Laurann! What a horrible trip! I guess that trumps a scratched cornea and a blowout! Thanks for stopping by! :)


Marilu Mann said...

Keri, thank you! Your Tweets were one bright spot in that otherwise dreary evening! Believe me, if we're driving in that area again, we'll let you know ahead of time so you can watch out for us! :)


Anonymous said...

Cai/Arwen, what a trip. My adventures usually are because I can't tell North from South and the map is upside down. In the middle of California it doesn't much matter, in Detroit and D.C. the difference between a right turn and a left turn can mean all the difference in the world.

Marilu Mann said...

Hi Jill,

Though I usually have a fairly decent sense of direction, I found myself baffled by some of the streets in DC and the fact that I really was going the wrong way on a one-way street...right by the FBI Building!! LOL


Tarot By Arwen said...

Thanks for stopping by, everyone! It was an insane trip up followed by a great convention and then the long (but thankfully uneventful) trip home.
MM/Arwen :)

Helen Scott Taylor said...

Wow, what a horrible journey. At least you were together and not a lone woman traveller. Being stuck with a blown tire alone would have been even worse. I hope RT was super fantastic to make up for the bad trip. What was the trip back like?

Marilu Mann said...

Hi Helen,

Thanks for stopping by! The return trip took on a whole new theme when the tornadoes ripped through Arkansas, Tennessee and surrounding areas. Since that was the way we'd gone TO Ohio, we had to find an alternate route home.

We wound up going through Indiana to Missouri and then into Oklahoma and on to Texas. The return was fairly uneventful, thank goodness! LOL


Joanne said...

Wow, what a trip. Luckily you were together, and the convention made the road "adventure" well worth it.