Sunday, June 22, 2008

If You Want to Make God Laugh...

tell Him your plans.

I think that old phrase could sum up the story of our trip to Florida over the past several days. Suffice to say, we never made it to Florida. The original plan was like this:

Wed Night 9pm - leave my school and travel to Lafayette, IN. About 150 or so miles.
Thursday - Lafayette, IN - Marietta, GA. About 600 miles.
Friday - Marietta - St. Augustine. About 400 miles.

Instead of filling my blog with nice pictures of historical and religious places of St. Augustine and the surrounding area, I will include the story of our aborted trip.

The Beginning

Wednesday night went as planned. We ended up at a Lees Inn in Lafayette around 1:30 local time (Eastern). I wasn't particularly impressed with the room. It wasn't all that well kept, the blankets had holes from extensive usage in them. But for the relatively cheap amount and the fact that we were going to be there a very short amount of time it was passable.

We left the next morning about 8. It wasn't as early as we would have preferred, but we got up at 6:30 and it just took time for us to all really wake up, pack everything back together, check out, walk the dogs, and get going.

I Would Drive 600 Miles

The plan was to get to Marietta, Georgia by the end of the day. We were actually doing pretty good. At the very least I felt like we were accomplishing a lot. We knocked through Indiana, passed through Louisville one of my favorite places, through horse country to Tennessee. The day started to drag on though.

Objects in Mirror

The stress was mounting. The dogs weren't handling the trip very well at this point. Ali wasn't too bad, but Coco refused to drink anything. The air was on in the car, but it started to catch up with her. I don't know if it was related to this, but we took her for a potty run in the parking lot of a McD's and she collapsed. It was like something out of a cartoon. Her knees went wobbly and buckled and she went down. I had to pick her up like a sack of potatoes and bring her back to the car. We did get her to drink a little then and she picked back up then.

Welcome to Tennessee

The day was really dragging on now though. Tennessee just seemed to last forever. It was hot, humid, and taking its toll on us. We did finally get through into Georgia, but it was still 100 miles from Chattanooga to Marietta. By the time we got to the Drury Inn in Marietta everyone had enough. We had been cramped in our van for 12 full hours. We looked around the area for something to eat and ended up with a combo of take-out Ruby Tuesday, Taco Bell, and KFC, very healthy stuff there.

The night wore on, and my Mom realized she hadn't handled the trip very well. She has bad varicose veins in her leg and from all the sitting in the car that day her leg had swelled up and was hurting. She weighed her options. It was still about another 400 miles to St. Augustine (and we figured 800 round trip to get back to where we were). We made the sad decision to turn around and come back.

Coco in the Car

The Return

We made reservations in the morning on Friday for a Drury Inn in a city called Bowling Green in Kentucky. It was approximately 300 miles from where we were in Georgia. My Mom would spend the rest of the trip in the third seat of our van with her leg up (which helped the situation greatly). We began our return trip home through Georgia. I had saved a particular line to use for the rest of the trip to Florida which I now couldn't use. I told Dad that I had wanted to ask if we were going to go through the state like 'Sherman through Georgia', but now it seemed inappropriate. In keeping with the Civil War imagery Dad mentioned that the Union spent the first several years of the war retreating back north, and that is what we were doing.

We went through Georgia, through Cobb County, which as I remarked seemed to be the scene for many police chase videos. Back to Tennessee and through the Mountains.

We stopped at a Cracker Barrel for lunch. We limped all the way to Bowling Green, where we found refuge at a Drury Inn. Along the way we got stuck in a traffic jam related to an accident that had already been cleaned up (they just hadn't removed the signs saying the left lane was closed yet) which made us end up stuck in Nashville rush hour traffic. This traffic seemed worse to me than the previous 12 hour day. I think Dad felt the same. Thursday was a long and hard day, but we felt like we were accomplishing something. Being stuck in this traffic was just maddening.

I don't know if anyone else has ever stayed at a Drury Inn, we've stayed in several, and I've always found them to be a very nice hotel. All the ones I have ever been in have been been nice and clean. Average price and a good deal. They aren't a fancy hotel, but we have always enjoyed them and they allow our dogs.

Ali in the Car

We decided that our next step should be to stop in Indianapolis. Its only 200 miles from Bowling Green, but we felt that 400 miles back to Chicago was too far. We would just have it broken into two very short days. We had planned on staying at another Drury Inn, but they were all booked up for Saturday night. We scoured the internet for pet friendly hotels in Indianapolis and the surrounding area. We found several, but some had extra fees like $25 per dog or $75 a night for pets. There were some in the downtown area that didn't look too bad, but we didn't really want to get stuck in the downtown traffic either.

So I found one listed online Wingate by Wyndham. There were a few in the area, but the one by the airport seemed to be in the right place. They had a $25 fee, but it was combined for both dogs, and it was getting late to find a hotel that still had rooms open. We made the reservations, and made our way through Kentucky and Indiana to Indianapolis.


The trip to Indianapolis was rather uneventful. It was a pretty short trip. We stopped at another Cracker Barrel for dinner. And we arrived at the Wingate about 5ish I believe. We checked into our room, 113. Honestly, I didn't notice it at first but from the first moment we walked into the room my Mom noticed something wasn't right about the room. Something was catching her in her throat. She decided it wasn't anything, but the longer we stayed in the room it got worse. She began to notice the tell-tale signs of flooding in the room. Water lines, mushy drywall, and the like.

Her and my Dad went to the front desk to ask about it. The clerk says that she though it was 117 that was the problem. She said that the 'toil....shower flooded' from the above room and that we shouldn't have been given that room. She gave us another room on the second floor. We moved all our stuff onto the second floor. We relaxed for a little while. Mom and I decided that we would go out and get Panera sandwiches for everyone for dinner. We got in the car, which was parked out in front, and drove to Panera. When we returned there we no more spots in the front so we parked along the side door.

We didn't do much for the rest of the night. We just relaxed, I looked at some job listing that I might send in my resume for, and I played the Sims 2. I was still up at 1:30 when suddenly the hotel phone rang. Thoughts of bad things that now could have happened popped into my head because its never good when the phone rings that late at night. My Dad awoke from his sleep and answered the phone. He spoke a few words and said 'I'll be down there in a minute, just let me get dressed'.

Now What Can Go Wrong?

We all looked at him wide-eyed to find out what thing had befallen us now. He replied that the police were downstairs, someone had broken into our van. He and my Mom got dressed to go downstairs and we did a mental inventory of anything worthwhile that could be in the car.

The GPS was in the glove compartment. Mom's phone was in the center console, although its not a very expensive one. My $10 little refurbished MP3 player was in the back. There wasn't anything else worth taking other than that, and lets face it except for the GPS that stuff wasn't worth taking either. The rest of the car was full of food, dirty clothes, and the junk that would would expect to see from 4 people and 2 dogs stuck in a crowded van for 3 days.


My parents went down and spoke to the police and inspected the damage. The front passenger side window was shattered, but still in tact. At least then we knew nothing was taken. It was a sheer act of random vandalism. 5 or 6 other cars right in the area had similar damage. And from frequent discussions with hotel staff it seems that it happened last Saturday night, and perhaps was something that went on rather frequently. Mom noted that several of the large lights that should be lighting the parking lot were dark, leaving large areas of the lot unlit, perfect for mischief.


So from about 2am my Mom began calling shops that could be able to repair the window. Most places were either not open at all on Sunday or wouldn't be able to do it or get the materials until Monday afternoon. They made the trek back to the front desk to hassle them for a name of someone that could do it on a Sunday. They gave them a name of a guy, who they called and did come out this morning around 8. He fixed the window, although it looks a little off because it doesn't have the same tint as the rest of the windows, but we needed to get back so it doesn't matter.


Now we've finally made it back to good ol' Chi-town. We're all tired, but we are home. With everything that was going on we didn't get a chance to go to Mass this morning, but we can make it at our local parish at 4:30, so we'll be going in a little while for that.

I'm sad we didn't make it to St. Augustine. Maybe we can try it again next year, with better planning. I am however glad that the whole ordeal is over now.


Additional stuff.

Early on Thursday we passed this group of military vehicles going down the highway. Dad gave them the thumbs up as often as he could catch their eye.

Stay Back


There is a lot more billboards and signs outside of Chicago that are of a religious nature.

This was in Louisville if I remember correctly.

Right next to an adult store.

Pickup in Cracker Barrel Parking Lot
In a Cracker Barrel parking lot.

And who can forget the truckers with whom we shared the road.

Patriotic Truck

The trip through my eyes.


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About Me

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Catholic and politically conservative, I graduated with a BA in History (concentration in American) and Political Science. I'm between two parishes; one in Wisconsin that is fairly traditional, and one in Illinois that is fairly liberal. I teach CCD. I work in the food service industry, which basically means I'm working in fast food until I find a better job. I'd like to work for the church somehow. Right now I'm working on getting my teaching certification, although I'm unsure thats the correct path for me. This blog is as random as I am. I hope you enjoy.