Saturday, November 28, 2009

Three Dogs + Two Cars + Snow and Ice = Today!

The trip back down to Manassas today was anything but dull. Because my sister is a bit too overwhelmed at present to take on an extra three dogs, my parents decided that the little creatures had to travel with us (not my parents' brightest idea). Dad and my brother-in-law John hit the road at 4:00 this morning, while Mom and I chose to wait until 7:00. And, the Midwest being what it is, we naturally were accompanied by some rather wet snow. The day showed immediate promise of being interesting, to say the least.

Around Marshall, Michigan, I unexpectedly hit a patch of ice on the road, and nearly lost control of my car. With my heart settling into a new residence in my left ear, I spent the next forty minutes or so dodging icy patches and clinging desperately to the wheel of my car. I'm actually pretty skilled at winter driving, having grown up in Michigan, but I don't think any amount of experience can take the fear and tension out of driving on ice. To lighten the mood, Mom and I played Christmas CDs. The three dogs, meanwhile, were determined to be anything but ideal passengers. Although I had spread their three beds into a pleasing array in the back seat, Mitzi and Abby were determined that their proper place was on a lap up front, and thus had to be continually scolded and placed back in their appropriate location. Jasper, as usual, was the second cousin to an angel (he tried to come up front a few times, then gave up and went to sleep).

Shortly after Mom and I reached Ohio, John called to warn us of worse things ahead, and to inform us that he and my father had hit ice at seventy MPH and had had an accident. Fortunately (praise God), they were both unhurt, and miraculously (again, praise God), although the car had hit the road divider with great force and speed, it sustained no damage (aside from a few scratches, that is). While we were quite relieved to hear that they and the car had been spared, Mom and I became quite nervous about what experiences awaited us.

Although Dad and John continued to struggle through icy and/or slushy roads and passed accident after accident, Mom and I met with mostly clear roads and only passed two accidents. The weather was ugly and menacing, and the wind roared with homicidal intentions, but my little yellow Aveo5 did just fine, hugging the road as if it were a bosom companion. I have to say, once again, that I am very impressed with this car! Of course, it also helped that Mom and I were hitting areas later than Dad and John, and the salt trucks had had time to work their magic.

While the car behaved beautifully, the dogs continued to test us. About halfway down, realizing how little space was available in the backseat, I pulled off at a rest area and folded my back seats up, then rearranged things so that the dogs had a large, comfortable space to themselves. Did they appreciate it? Of course not! The little demons devoted themselves to leaping the barrier (the folded-up seats) in order to reach the front passenger seat, at which they were scolded and tossed back, which then energized them to try harder the next time. In accompaniment to the lovely Christmas music, the dejected pooches whimpered and whined in a frequent, maddening chorus. I made a mental note never to have triplets.

Mom and I eventually sauntered into Manassas at a little after seven this evening to discover that Dad and John had diligently completed most of the loading of my belongings into the moving van. Mitzi and Abby immediately christened the carpet with urine and feces, much to my dismay. Dad and John finished loading the truck, minimally assisted by Mom and I (there honestly was very little left to do, plus they were the ones with the dolly). After a tasty dinner of Thanksgiving leftovers brought from home (sadly, there was nothing left of Aunt Diane's delectable broccoli casserole, which would have been marvelous after such a journey), I rounded off my meal by trying to finish some of the ice cream left in my freezer. Since my entire kitchen is already packed, this proved amusing. Has anyone else ever tried chocolate chip cookie dough ice cream served on a paper plate and eaten with a fork, using a laundry hamper as a makeshift table? I heartily recommend it, sheerly for the laughter it induces.

And now that Mitzi and Abby have finally ceased their indignant protests over being put to bed early (Jasper, as always, was a perfect dear about bedtime, since he sleeps in the same room as I do), I am going to put this blog to bed and try to rest up for the move tomorrow. The Manassas chapter of my life is written and finished, the villains will punish themselves with their own stupidity and general ineptness, and our heroine, Stephanie, is now ready for "Liberty University II: The Graduate Years". Stay tuned!

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"Passage—immediate passage! the blood burns in my veins! Away, O soul! hoist instantly the anchor!
Cut the hawsers—haul out—shake out every sail!
Have we not stood here like trees in the ground long enough?
Have we not grovell’d here long enough, eating and drinking like mere brutes?
Have we not darken’d and dazed ourselves with books long enough?

Sail forth! steer for the deep waters only!
Reckless, O soul, exploring, I with thee, and thou with me;
For we are bound where mariner has not yet dared to go, And we will risk the ship, ourselves and all.

O my brave soul!
O farther, farther sail!
O daring joy, but safe! Are they not all the seas of God?
O farther, farther, farther sail!"

~Walt Whitman, "Passage to India"