Okay, here we are, Monday morning. Haven't posted since Tuesday. We set out early Friday morning for Florence, Oregon. My sister, her daughter, my kids, and the dog all crammed into Sam's former primary vehicle, the Taurus wagon. I'd been driving it around town for weeks, and had the tranny fluid checked Thursday afternoon - no problem. We decided to caravan with my mom and stepdad, which turned out to be a good call. We made it across the Oregon border and as far south as the north Eugene area, when suddenly the wagon started losing power.
Fortunately, we were at an offramp, and the vehicle was easily pushed off the road and into the parking lot of a quasi-1950s theme diner - a bunch of Ricky Nelson, Johnny Mathis and Elvis memorabilia lining the walls... high cheese factor, but charming people. We had shakes and floats and waited for my stepdad to return with some tranny fluid. After sucking up 6 quarts of the stuff, it was decided to tentatively press onward. We made it about 10 more miles but there was just no power. We ended up in a Home Depot parking lot in Eugene, checking the state of the tranny leak. The wound bled like a stuck pig. Main seal kaput.
So I got on the phone and got a rental car (actually an SUV) for $400 - my rental car budget being $0. Stepdad ran me out to Eugene airport to pick it up, and we transferred passengers and cargo back at Home Depot. Even with the transmission debacle, we were only 2 hours late. Had dinner at Mo's (kind of like a posh, family-owned Skippers). Our reservations at the good motel on the strip right outside Florence proper had not gone through, so we were booked in a cabin across the road. Very nice upscale thing, crammed full with the 5 people from my car, plus my brother and SIL (and the dog). I got about 4 hours sleep. Motel beds and I don't get along.
Breakfast at a nice country kitchen there on the motel grounds. Yum.
Went into Florence and headed out to the retirement community where my great aunt resides. The sister of my grandfather, the 80 y/o birthday girl. Still smokes like a chimney and swears like a sailor, but by the time you get 80 I kinda figure you've earned some vulgarity points to spend. Ducked out for lunch with my sibs and our cousin we've not seen in over 20 years (and her hubby). They redeemed much of the trip. We checked in at the motel we were supposed to stay in the first night, I managed a 15 minute nap, and we congregated at the Florence Elk's Club for dinner.
Where to begin... The first thing we were told was that they were out of prime rib, oysters and baked potatoes. Good start, as it was only 7:PM. We were seated at a long table with vinyl rolling chairs circa 1971. Sea shells and sand dollars hung from the brandy snifter chandeliers. A duet of keyboard and guitar performed renditions of old standards with a disturbing country/lounge vibe. Open mic karaoke would have been an improvement. The "bread" consisted of packaged dinner rolls with a foot of flour on them. Their beer on tap selection consisted of Bud, Bud Light, Coors, Coors Light and MGD. Sis, cousin, cousin's hubby and I all got bottles of Widmer Hefeweitzen. Hearing they had that was like finding an oasis in the desert.
After we ordered, we were informed they were out of rice. Let me repeat for effect... Out. Of. Rice. How exactly does one run out of rice, at a restaurant on Saturday night? It's not exactly hard to stock up ahead of time, and it keeps for a long while. The "garlic mashed potatoes" were from a package. My brother's fried chicken was still frozen on the inside. Just amazing. Even the veteran Elk's diners said we were getting the dregs.
Took my sis and the kids to Dairy Queen for blizzards afterwards. Went back to the motel and fell into bed. Slept better, and awoke early to take a shower before heading home... three guesses what was wrong with that plan. The power was out. And the water was on a pump system, so no luck there. Found out my grandfather had gotten a bad case of bowel trouble from the food the previous night. At that point, my sister and I were more than ready to hit the road. Bro and SIL were not far behind. We drove almost straight through, and the kids were great together the whole trip. We left at 8:AM, had lunch in Vancouver, WA by Noon, and were back home in Seattle shortly after 3. Sis still had a 2 hour drive back to Bellingham, so she didn't stay long. My back was severely shot. But I arrived to find Caleb taking out my garbage and his German friend Jonas vacuuming the carpet. They even went out for Papa Murphy's pizza. Thank you C & J. You guys rock. Grabbed a shower and took some drugs for the spine.
Soon after, Ron arrived with Andrew in tow. He'd blown out his voice on 2 days of chatting with Ron over beer and/or Krispy Kremes (thanks for the clarification, Andrew!), so we were quite the pair. Watched a great deal of Justice League and Will Ferrell SNL videos.
This week, I get to take the kids to swimming lessons and figure out what we're going to do with Sam's wagon. Hooray for road trips.