I had a good travel plan in place. However, it was thwarted just a wee bit. Let me explain. Because the Xterra is a gas hog and because the check engine light was on, I didn’t want to try to take it all the way to Idaho (a five-hour drive from Utah) for a long, weekend visit. My plan was to head for Idaho after work on Thursday and come back on Monday, and I came up with a pland that was economical and not too bad logistically. It went like this: 1) Drive to work (Spanish Fork to Lehi), 2) after work drive to the Lehi train station; park and leave Xterra, take the Frontrunner to Ogden, 3) my daughter, Katie, picks me up in Ogden and takes me to the boarding point for the Salt Lake Express, my ride to Rexburg, Idaho, where a family member picks me up; reverse for the trip home. That was the plan—but you know what they say about the best laid plans . . . .
This is what happened instead. Wednesday night I get the house (mostly) cleaned, pack my bag, and even get to bed at a reasonable time (a small miracle, that). Thursday morning, I’m up and ready for work, and I am even going in early so I can leave a bit early, miss rush-hour traffic, and not lose any time on the clock. I head out the door, ready to brave the cold, and it is pretty brisk out there which means issue number one occurs even before I get out of the driveway. The driver’s side door won’t open even though the rest of the doors do open (you may remember my blog post from last year when this happened). This has happened several times now. The door won’t open until the Xterra warms up, and I can’t start it until I am in the driver’s seat because you have to push in the on clutch in order to start it—rather a catch 22 here; but, I’ve figured out a way around it. I can go in through the front passenger side, and by the time I arrive at my destination, the Xterra has warmed up and I can open the driver’s side door to get out. (Getting out of the driver’s seat through the passenger’s door isn’t something I even want to contemplate attempting as I know I would probably end up getting stuck and having done that before, I’m not taking any chances on a repeat.)
Sighing, I loaded my overnight bag and suitcase in the back and then head around to the front passenger side to get into the driver’s seat by the aforementioned lift-and-slide method I’ve perfected. Even though it’s kind of a pain, I CAN (barely) get my leg over the console and gear shift in the middle and slide into the driver’s seat, and exit normally once I arrive at my destination.
As I’m getting in, I notice, too late, that there’s a soda cup in the cup holder, and when I scooted over the middle console, I caught it and tipped the slushy-icy contents into the seat, my backside following immediately thereafter. Let’s just say it was rather, umm brisk, and sticky. But because of the aforementioned difficulty of getting out the passenger side, and the driver side still being stuck—I had to suck it up and drive, freezing, sticky butt and all. My plan was to change pants once I was able to get out because I had my suitcase with clean clothes right there in the back.
I get on the freeway, headed to work, and just as I passed the first exit on the way, a strange, high-pitched sound started coming from the engine, then moments later, smoke started coming out from under the hood (but it didn’t smell like coolant). At this point, I decided that I’d better get off the freeway, and took the next exit. Fortuitously, it happened to be the nearest exit to my daughter, Brittanie’s, work. So I drove slowly and made it to her office safely. She was sympathetic to my plight, and I would expect no less; however recounting of my encounter with the spilled drink did make her grin, my sticky buns notwithstanding. I figured my options to get to work would be A) Brittanie could drive me to work, B) she could let me take her car to work, or C) she could take me to the train, and I could have a co-worker pick me up after the forty-minute train ride. Because she had a meeting about to start, we went with option D) I would drive her car to the train station, and someone gives her a ride over there later to pick it up. By this point I was roughly 45 minutes late for work. Sigh.
She gave me her car keys, and I gave her the keys to the Xterra. Just as I was leaving, she let me know I would need to put some gas in her car in order to make it to the train station, because she had barely had enough to make it in to work. Not a problem, there’s a gas station just before the freeway entrance, and it’s all good. I drive her car over to the Xterra, load my bag, grab my winter coat and purse, and then head out toward the freeway—except, just as I was pulling out of the parking lot, I realized I had left my suitcase locked up in the Xterra. So, I had to go back to Brittanie’s office, where the meeting was now in full swing, to get the key to the Xterra. And of course when I went in, a smart aleck remark, “Did you forget to get some gas money?” was made, engendering laughter all around. I smiled, faintly, caught the Xterra keys Britt tossed to me, headed back to the cars and retrieved my suitcase, and decided I would just leave the Xterra keys in Brittanie’s car with her key when I locked it up at the train station.
Next up, stopping for gas at the Maverick. Of course I pulled up the wrong way, the gas tank was on the other side; so I circle around to get to an open station, headed the right direction. I’m ready to get the gas, but then I can’t find the latch to release the gas-tank door. It wasn’t on the floor, the steering wheel, the control panel, the glove compartment —zip. By this point, I was an hour late for work and nearly in tears, but I WAS NOT going to call Brittanie, again. Instead, I called my daughter, Katie because she also drives a Hyundai so I thought maybe she would know where the latch would be located. She didn’t know, but she googled it for me (why didn’t I think of that?!); Hyundai Santa Fe is the first search result for that search, which did make me feel a bit better, knowing I’m not the only one who has had the problem of not being able to find it, and of course the latch was easy to see, once I knew where it was (on the door panel, below the door handle), just where you would expect the gas latch to be, right?
I successfully got gas, drove to Provo, stopped at Micky Dee’s for some sustenance because by now I was late for work, with a sticky butt, and getting hangry. The sausage and biscuit McMuffin tasted wonderful and was definitely worth the dollar-forty-nine I paid for it. I made it to the train with at least two minutes to spare and headed into Lehi, where my co-worker came and picked me up. We got to the office and I walked in trailing my suitcase, because you know, it’s fashionable to take a suitcase to the office with you, especially when you don’t have a car to leave it in. All told, I was only an hour-and-a-half late for work.
I worked efficiently, to make sure I got everything done before I needed to catch the train, and head to Ogden. My plan originally was to catch the train at 4:00 and be in Ogden just after 5:00, and then board the shuttle at 6:40. But, because we had a winter storm warning going on, I decided I’d better catch the earlier train at 3:15. Another co-worker had agreed to take me to the station. I got busy working and lost track of time. At about 3:05 I’m like crap, I’m going to miss the train, but my coworker has mad driving skills, and we made it to the train with a minute-and-a-half to spare. My train ride was lovely. I didn’t have to think; just ride.
I got off in Layton where Katie picked me up, and then we drove through the nasty weather, in rush-hour traffic, to the Flying J where I was to take the shuttle. We were early; which is better than being late, so, as there was a Denny’s attached to the Flying J, Katie treated me to dinner and we enjoyed pleasant conversation until time had come, and gone, for my shuttle. Just my luck, it was delayed because of the weather.
Eventually, it arrived, I boarded, and drove through the night, hearing the slush hitting the underside of the van, not able to see the nasty roads, but feeling the van slide every now and then, and getting a bit carsick from the wind-induced swaying; but we made it to Rexburg, the normally two-and-a-half hour trip taking four hours—ten if you count the time since I left my house in the morning, we pulled in around 11:00 p.m. and I was so glad to see my brother when he arrived to pick me up. I never did get my pants changed. . . good thing they were the same color as the soda,! That was my adventure on Thursday. Here’s hoping my return trip will be less eventful.
Post Script: The Return . . . was relatively uneventful: 1) Catch shuttle in Rexburg (late again), 2) arrive in Ogden where Katie picked me up, fed me, and gave me a bed to sleep in, and in the morning took me to the train station, 3) my son, Cameron, picks me up at the train station and takes me to my office where I work all day, and then my coworker once again gives me a ride to the train station after work (this time in plenty of time), and 4) my son-in-law picks me up at the train station and then we stop at his house for a quick supper and then we’re off to watch my grand daughter’s holiday concert, after which my daughter gives me a ride to my house where Captain Underfoot is excited to see me. Whew! That was quite an adventure, right?