I'll keep this one short. (Although for Chapter 1 you should click on here. For all you latecomers!)
Mike and I hit the road the next day at 8:30 a.m. and, believe it or not, it went pretty much as planned. Yes, there were some hairy moments, so to speak, when I feared my cats would bake to death in the back seat of the Honda. (The solution was to put up the window shade and blast the AC. Honestly, once that was done it was nicer in there than in the truck. And it used very little gas, fwiw.)
At the end of the first day of driving we even each felt confident behind the wheel of the beast. The highway is so much easier than the tri-state area, especially once you venture into the heartland. There isn't much traffic and it's easy to get to where you need to go. The rest areas also got progressively less and less crowded as the trip progressed.
Yes, there were some interesting moments all the same. Mike and I had many fantastic and fun coversations, including one where we vowed to remember all the teams that played in the World Series going back to 1990. I think we got them all too.
Another wonderful moment happened as we drove down the freeway shortly after dusk, in Ohio. All of a sudden I looked onto the shoulder of the road and saw what must have been hundreds of lightening bugs flickering on all at once, as if to say welcome to the real America. It was as fantastically beautiful as the world's tiniest meteor shower.
That night we stayed in an Ohio hotel relatively near the Kentucky border. We snuck the cats in, too, and let them run around. Talisker was a wet, matted mess, Cromwell looked none the worse for wear. It brought some real joy to my heart to see them stretch their legs and roam around our room. They seemed intent on exploring every nook and crevice of that room too.
Later that night I heard a rhythmic banging against the wall of the room. I immediately assumed it was Cromwell, as he does that sort of thing. But as I listened more I realized, no, that's no cat. Nope, it was, in fact, a couple next door having happy fun times. And lots of them too, to judge by the frequency with which their fun times persisted. It had actually woken me up, a first. Later that morning they woke me up once more. Mike, for his part, slept through most of it.
The next morning we walked across the street to a Waffle House. The coffee was superb, the actual waffles could make you vomit. I was shocked, up to this point I had thought waffles were one thing that were impossible to get wrong. How naive I was.
As we left a middle-American waitress gave me the once over and asked, "what would you say if I told you you weren't allowed to leave?"
It took a moment for this attempt at seduction to process in my brain. Wait, I had just been hit at, at a Waffle House? I had just found the one thing that made the actual food there seem appetizing by comparison.
"Thank you," I answered. "I am very flattered." Lame, I know. Then we hightailed it out there, before they closed the doors on us, locked us in, and had their waffle-serving way with us both.
The rest of the morning was pleasant and easy. We arrived at my new home in Kentucky by 11:00 a.m. The movers weren't there yet, which I understood. I had been in contact with their dispatcher since the first day of the drive, because I had been so late. The actual move in, in other words, was scheduled to happen a day after we had originally planned. In true Southern fashion the dispatcher, a young woman, was kind and nice about the whole thing.
Soon Randi and her family showed up, the whole coxie army as they say. They brought fried chicken with them too, which was really nice. We opened up the apartment and had some lunch on paper plates on the floor. Then the movers called on the phone, they were here.
I went down our new stairs to see three guys in a fire red Mustang pull up, and all of them were smoking. Yup, we're in Kentucky, I thought. Nonetheless they were professional, friendly and did the entire move in job in two hours, as originally discussed. The job came in at $180.00 as per our original estimate, and when I tipped them $60 they seemed to genuinely appreciate it.
As the move in took place Randi took Stella and our niece Bethany and nephew Daniel to the pool. Oh yeah, we have a pool too. They splashed and played all day until everything was in place, or at least in place for now.
Soon Mike retired to a private room we had rented for a short nap and I headed down to the pool too. I saw my brother in law Kerry and started to describe the entire crazy tip to him, or at least as much as I could in five minutes.
He laughed and laughed. "Dave," he said, "you've got to write about this."