Sunday, December 2, 2012

The Professor and Mary Ann

Thanksgiving Vacation: Part 2

The auto repair shop called last week to let us know the van was fixed. All it was was a clogged fuel filter. Simple. Larry was kicking himself for not checking it, and if he'd only had some tools, he could have fixed it himself and saved us the big repair bill. Oh well. We took off around 11 yesterday and drove back to Beaufort to pick it up. We got there an hour or so before dark, drove out with the van and were feeling great. We had booked a hotel room in Orangeburg, SC for the night, and were looking forward to going out to eat and enjoying a little time to ourselves.

I was following Larry in my car, and about ten miles outside of Beaufort, I noticed him slowing down. Wayyy down. I called him, and he said, "It's not fixed! It's doing the SAME thing again!!" Ugh. We pulled off, and it stopped and would not start again. This time we had brought some tools, so he plugged in our little diagnostic code reader. 4 codes, all reading "ignition". He opened the distributor and blew out a bunch of dust. It would then start, and we took off. Yay! About 10 miles down the road, he pulled off at a rest area, and it coughed to a stop again. Dust in the distributor was not the problem either. We let it cool down awhile, and it started again. By the next exit it was really bad, and he coasted to a stop in a parking lot. We had made it to Walterboro. We took off in my car and found an auto parts store where Larry ran in just as they were closing and purchased a new distributor.

Back in the parking lot, by the light of a street light and with me holding a flashlight, Larry installed the new part. The van would start! We took off and headed to Orangeburg. The timing wasn't exact, but it stayed running and never coughed or sputtered.

As we neared Orangeburg, Larry realized that he had forgotten to bring his insulin, syringes and glucose meter. We checked into our hotel and went seeking an open pharmacy. It was only about 7:00, but they were all closed. CVS, Walgreen's (Really? Just the store is open 24-7? What good is that??), WalMart and KMart. All closed. A customer at one of them told us that the hospital pharmacy was open until 11, so we went there. They wanted to charge us $130 for one little bottle of insulin! In the end Larry decided to just not eat. It was 9:00 by then, so we stopped at Wendy's and I got a small Frosty (so much for my diet for that day!).

The van continued to run, and we got back safely today.

I remember watching Gilligan's Island as a kid, and I always loved The Professor. He was so handy, and could build or fix anything. I'm so glad that I married my own handy dandy Professor! He may have a little of the Absent-minded Professor thrown in, but that's okay - I think I'll keep him!

Sunday, November 25, 2012

Thanksgiving Camping Trip

Wow. Time has gotten away from me, and I have been a most unfaithful blogger. Stupid Facebook!

We took a little camping trip to Hunting Island State Park in South Carolina for Thanksgiving. It was very memorable. Larry usually gets sick every time he's out of school, so of course, Tuesday night he started feeling like he was coming down with something. I told him I'd just take the girls and go camping, but he didn't think that would be such a good idea, so he came with us.

We loaded up the car Wednesday morning, not so bright and early. The first half of the drive down was not too bad, except for a lot of crazy drivers. People were starting to exit and then changing their mind, creeping back into traffic without looking, traffic was slowing for no apparent reason, and we even saw a truck carrying a load that had chipped off the underside of a bridge. Luckily the other lane was clear, and we were able to swerve over and miss them. It sort of reminded me of one of those tire commercials where the car swerves to miss lots of obstacles

I was still in good spirits when we stopped at a Taco Bell for lunch. We didn't see the sign out front that said it was the slowest Taco Bell in the nation. (Not really, but if there was a prize for that, it would definitely win it.) We had the dog with us, so Larry was outside with him, trying to tell me stuff through the window that I couldn't understand. I think what he was saying was, "let's get out of here!". Then I got a text message from our neighbor saying that their little boy had head lice. Mia had been playing with him the night before. About 20 minutes into our wait, Claire dropped a cup of water on the floor. I mopped it up with napkins while Claire watched. There was a nice man in line who kept opening the trash can flapper for me.

We sat in the parking lot and ate our food, trying to decide if we should just forget the beach, go back home and buy cold medicine and lice treatment. A big blob of my bean burrito dropped onto my boob, and that got us to laughing. We decided the trip was doomed, but we were still alive, so we'd just go on, lice or no lice.

Every now and then the van would start lurching a little, and Larry said it had been doing that since his last fill-up. Hmm - bad gas? Anyway, unlike anything I've ever seen him do, he said if he floored it, it seemed to go away. Okay...

At one point, just after an exit, traffic came to a standstill. We backed up the merging ramp and cut over to another parallel road. Someone (ahem) couldn't read the map very well, so after a few miles and wrong turns, we got back over to the interstate and it was clear the rest of the way to Hunting Island. We checked in, set up camp, saw the beach in the dark, and had a nice campfire. All was great! We had Andy's crate, and he slept in the tent in that and did really well. Claire's air mattress stayed aired up, but ours and Mia's were flat by morning, but hey, that's just part of camping. Cold showers the next day --- hey, that's just part of camping. 

That morning Larry realized that the battery in his glucose meter was dead. He looked at the camp store, but they didn't have that kind, so he decided to drive in to Beaufort (about 30 miles) to Walgreen's and get one. We packed all of the food, my purse and techology stuff into the van, rather than leave them at the campsite unattended. The girls, Andy and I were out on the beach having fun and snapping pictures when Larry called. He was about 10 miles out, on his way back from Beaufort, and the car had stopped and would not start again. The camp store was closing in 30 minutes, but they let me look through the phone book and get him some numbers of car repair places in the area. Weird - I  went to the campground "chaplain" to see if he knew of any good repair places close by. When I started telling him my tale of woe, he gave me this very definite look of "oh no, she's going to ask me for something", just like I probably give the bums who head my way to ask for money. I'm reconsidering how I treat them. The chaplain was no help.  Larry found someone to tow him, but not to repair until later. Finally, after many phone calls back and forth, a few hours later, a tow truck brought him and the food to the campground, and took our van off to who knows where. 

We had only rented our campsite for Wednesday and Thursday nights. Larry went to the camp store to see about staying over another night, but all the sites were booked for Friday night, so we took down our tent and packed up, not knowing what to do. A lady overheard the conversation in the camp store, and offered to help us. She arranged for us to camp on the site with the camp hosts - people that live in their RV and travel from place to place staying for a month or two and volunteering. We didn't set our tent back up until almost dark, because we didn't know what was happening with the van. The repair guys could not figure out what was wrong with it, so in the end we had to stay Friday night. Larry's sister's husband drove down from Charlotte and got us Saturday morning. His SUV was too small to carry all of us and our stuff, so we left some of our stuff there, and the lady and her husband from the campground, who happen to live in Inman, SC brought the rest home with them. At some point we'll go down and get it, and at some other point, if our van gets repaired, we'll go back down and pick it up. We are borrowing our brother-in-law's SUV for now. 

Thursday night we almost lost the dog, too. I had gone across the road to the bathroom, Claire was in the tent, and Larry and Mia didn't notice that Andy's rope got too near the fire and burned in half. He wandered off to find me. A few minutes after I got back, Mia pointed at a couple walking by - "Hey, look! They have a Westie, too!" They said, "Are you missing a dog?" and we said, "Apparently we are!".

Yes, the whole trip was doomed from the start, but it still turned out to be fun.

As we left down there, I asked the girls if they want me to make reservations for next Thanksgiving, expecting them to say no for sure. They yelled out "YES!".

Here are some pictures in no particular order. I have a few more of Mia, because she and I took Andy on a long walk down the beach one morning after watching the sunrise.

We had a great campsite.

 Note to self: bring Andy a chair next time.

 These washed-out trees were so neat looking.

 Sunrise Friday

 Sunset Thursday

Andy was a good little camper. Notice the leaf stuck in his beard. He walked a lot and slept well.

 Waiting for the sun to rise.

Friday afternoon, homeless...

Sunday, July 8, 2012

4th of July Photos

 We went for a little hike on the 4th of July, up on the parkway to try to beat the heat. The dog was eager to go, but the girls --- not so much. But once we got going, they were okay, and Mia even wanted to keep going up higher.

We stopped at an overlook of Looking Glass Rock. If you look closely, you can see a rainstorm to the right of it. Larry and I hiked up to that rock once - a long time ago when I was younger, and didn't have achy breaky feet!

Saturday, March 31, 2012


I think everything in our neighborhood is bloomed out already. I couldn't resist taking a few pictures of the girls today. Claire had her friend Meagan over, and they went back inside before I could snap very many of them, so most of these are of Mia.