It's fall break, and it's raining. My plan for orchards and pumpkin patches and haunted corn mazes is in a holding pattern until the sun returns. This is only a minor setback, but it does call to mind a time that my plans went wrong in a much bigger way. I've come to call it The Trip of the Damned. I, unfortunately, was the damned.
The plan was simple: fly to Las Vegas, cross the desert to the southern California coast, swing by Palm Springs and then into Arizona before returning to Las Vegas for the flight home. It was October, so the crowds would be low and the weather ideal, or so I thought.
It began uneventfully. The flight was on time and landed in Vegas without a hitch. The first sign of trouble came when picking up the rental car. Somehow we only had a debit card with us, and, as we quickly learned, you cannot rent a car with a debit card. No, they will not take a deposit. No, you cannot call someone and use their credit card. No, no, no. No credit card = no car. Who knew? (Ok, quite possibly everyone, but not me!) We were referred to the one rental company who didn't know this rule and would accept a debit card. Smelling blood, they saw our desperation as an opportunity to make a Very Large Profit. Frustrated and out an extra $150, we took the keys to our Geo Metro and headed west across the desert.
The next "event" occurred at 6am two days later. I woke up and couldn't move. My back was having a series of painful spasms, and I was unable to get out of bed for 45 minutes. When I could finally move, the pain was intense, and it took at least ten minutes each time I got up to fully straighten my body. I'd never had back trouble before (or since) and can hardly imagine what it's like to experience this regularly. It's truly miserable not to be able to walk and sit and rise with ease. It was nine days before the pain subsided enough that I could move semi-normally.
My hunched self made it through Palm Springs and into Arizona without incident. Things were going smoothly until we drove through what looked like mud on a backroad in Arizona. It was thick on the road and splashed up to nearly cover the car, but we didn't think anything of it. Until, that is, we stopped for lunch. Upon exiting the car, there was a horrible farm smell in the air. We were in town, so it was surprising that it would be so strong. It took several minutes before we realized that we were the source of the smell. The "mud" was in fact manure, and it was caked on the car from top to bottom. There is an old saying that "No one ever washed a rental car." Whoever said that never encountered the manure-mobile.
To be continued ... (translation: Yes, it gets worse.)