Our trip out was a disaster.
Here is how it all began, 2 days before our trip. I was in the middle of a 3 shift stretch and not sleeping well because I knew there was a bunch to do before we left. I woke up early on Wednesday (1:45pm) and decided to take our 4 dogs to the vet to get their shots updated so they could go to the boarding kennel. I get the Suburban pulled up in front of the house and load the first dog, then go back and get the 2 golden retrievers on their leashes. Open vehicle door, right hand wrapped up in the 2 leashes, and naughty dog in the vehicle launches out and starts a dog fight with the 2 tied to my hand! I wrestle them to the back of the vehicle, get one leash looped onto the trailer hitch, and finally get the dogs separated. Tie naughty dog in the back of the vehicle and load everybody up. My hand is purple, and I can't move my middle and pointer fingers due to swelling. Try to start the Suburban....the battery is dead. Yup. Great times. Put naughty dog in the house and load the other 3 into my new car. Sigh and want to cry. Go get dogs' shots done, find out naughty dog only needs the kennel cough vaccination and they will let me take it home with me, score me! Get home just in time to shower before my 12 hour shift, but no time to eat. Oh well.
Work until 5am, go home. By 6am develop cough and cold that requires the use of cold medicine to sleep. Fall asleep sometime after 7am. Get up at 11am, pack my bag and part of the bathroom bag, all while coughing and puffing on inhaler. Drive 2 hours north to pick up oldest son. Drive back home. Pack up vehicles, dogs are dropped off at the kennel, and drive 2½ hours to Little Falls, arrive about 9pm. Help my disabled mom and her husband pack, load their stuff in my trunk. Go to my in-laws house to sleep for a few hours, help out there until about 10:45pm. Try to sleep, but they have been smoking in the house and did not air it out before I arrived. Now, I love my in-laws. I won the lottery there, no kidding! But they smoke a lot, in the house. I love them so much I still risk week long asthma flare-ups to spend time with them. Wake up every 5-15 minutes until 11:30pm. Get up and go the the ER as I have now used 27 puffs of my inhaler since 6am and am still having trouble breathing. Blood pressure and pulse are high, go figure. Get steroid prescription and first dose administered in the ER. ER nurse insists that I can't go sleep in my car (there was no way I was going back to the in-laws with the smoky house) and sends me to the lobby with a pillow and blankets. Sleep fitfully until about 2am. Get up and go shower at the in-laws, then pack everyone up in our 2 cars and leave Little Falls by 4am. We are now on time. It doesn't last long. Stop in St. Cloud to pick up my prescription. Lose 20 minutes. Get to Minneapolis to pick up Charlene and Dakota at 6:09am. We should have been at the airport at 6am. Dakota is ready at the curb, Charlene is still in bed. 15 minutes later everyone and their stuff is back in the cars. Get to the exit ramp for the airport, and there is a detour, we miss our turn and waste 20 minutes getting to the airport. My mom had a stroke in 2006, and she walks very slowly with a walker. She is just as stubborn as I am. She does not want to sit on her walker and be pushed because she bought a walker that is not rated for her weight. My mom and her husband define the term "cheap".... I love my family :) I tell my mom to SIT DOWN AND LET US PUSH HER OR WE ARE GOING TO MISS OUR PLANE. She complies about half of the time. Light rail to the airport tram to the terminal, then hunt for the right desk to ask for the wheelchair we requested when we booked the flight. It is now 7am. Our flight starts boarding at 7:25am, mom has a bag to check, and we need to get through security yet. My mom, her husband, and I wait for the wheelchair for 15 minutes while the rest head for security. We go through the special needs line. Her husband does not want to remove his shoes at security.... sigh. Argue with Dennis about his shoes and get him to understand that he will have to take his shoes off if he plans to get on the airplane. Hear Last Call for our flight. Ride the golf cart at high speed to the last gate on the terminal and make the flight, but my hubby and kids miss it. And Dakota looses his drivers license somewhere between security and the gate! Oh, and mom thinks she is going to use the bathroom before boarding the plane even though they are ready to close the doors. Not happening.
Jamie had the keys for the cabin in California with him, and I had the keys for my car with me. My steroids were in my car.... and my asthma was giving me hell. Put it this way, I was coughing so much the Asian dude sitting in front of me (did not speak English) put on his mask about 5 minutes after I sat down. Long flight with everyone freshly showered and perfumed aggravating my asthma even more... and mom uses the bathroom in the airplane twice and I double as her walker to get to and from the bathroom. I now discover that mom has incontinence issues, not Over Active Bladder. Poor mom!! No wonder she is so anxious about this trip! The flight attendants are super sweet and keep bringing me more hot water for my tea to help with my cough.
Arrive in San Fransisco, stop in the bathroom with mom again. The airport attendant that brings the wheelchair to the gate is not amused to stop at the bathroom first. Discover that our car-rental facility is really off-site of the the airport. Mom had booked her car before I did, even though I asked her to let me make the arrangements. So I had to use the same company to avoid confusion and hassle. Take airport tram to their light rail to the last stop. Wheelchair guy is again not amused that we need the wheelchair for such a long ride and tries to convince me to leave mom and Dennis at the airport while I pick up the car. BAD IDEA. They would stress out even more, then I would never find them again in the airport! Hunt for the car rental shuttle pick up. Have mom sit on walker and lock brakes, walk away to help mom's husband with luggage cart. Mom unlocks her brakes and starts to roll down the handicap curb access into traffic, thank God I have great reflexes! The shuttle driver does not seem to know how to use the lift, but I convince him that my mother is not going to be able to climb the 12" risers on the bus steps to get on board, then watch him like a hawk as he figures out how to work the lift and mom boards shuttle without incident. (I used to operate these kinds of lifts and was standing by to take over if necessary)
My mom is renting a car and we are renting a car, Jamie and I are going to be driving. I have the credit card that our car was prepaid with. The rental place initially does not want to let us sign both contracts and leave one on the lot for my hubby to pick up. It takes 3 hours to get that straightened out. Otherwise I would have had to wait for the rest to arrive at about 9pm to get the second vehicle! We did go get lunch at a nice seaside place while waiting for the evening manager to come on duty so he could deal with our issues. I spent most of lunch making phone calls to problem solve. Oh yeah, the airlines told my hubby they could catch the 9am flight, for an extra $1500/person. No, I think not. So they have to wait for the 5:30pm flight and only get charged an extra $50/person.Their flight is then delayed until 7pm....
Call the cabin owner to see if there is a spare key we can use to get in. Yes!! Leave San Fransisco at 3pm.
The freeway is a parking lot. A 3 hour drive takes 6 hours, with four 20 minute potty stops for mom. At one of the stops, a very intoxicated older fellow and his equally intoxicated buddy take a shine to my mom and want to assist her into the store and back into the car. That was a little challenging, but my years as an ER nurse were quite helpful there!
Mom and Dennis are the worst back seat drivers! Dennis keeps telling me that he wishes Jamie was with because only women get lost, and they both keep telling me I am driving too fast and to watch out for this, that, and the other thing. We are not lost, I repeat over and over again. We never were lost. They were just so nervous! My patience runs out about 5 hours down the road. I tell Dennis he is not allowed to say the word "lost" one more time! I want to tell him to get out and walk! I also at some point say "Who in this car can say they have never crashed a vehicle? Hmmm. I am the only one. You two can stop telling me how to drive right now!" Dennis crashed for the 3rd time in the last 10 years on Sept 4th, when he changed lanes into a semi. This is the reason Jamie and I had to drive separate vehicles to the airport, so we could pick up mom & Dennis. I hit a little below the belt. Yup. Not so proud of myself.
Arrive in Sonora area in the mountains and my cell phone has no coverage so google maps is no longer a resource, and then the phone battery dies while I am talking to my aunt Jan. It is dark, and I can no longer safely read directions from the letter I got from the cabin owner AND drive at the same time. Stop at a gas station and look for a pay phone. Call Jan and she wants to meet at a different gas station further up the mountain to lead me to the cabin, hoping to help ease my stress level. Mom insists on using the bathroom.....again. Take several unintended side trips using Jan's directions to the other gas station because she forgot about a couple sets of stop lights. We are NOT LOST! :)
Finally arrive at the cabin at about 9pm. Jan has brought me some lovely loose leaf tea. She offered wine, but I don't drink much and just wanted some soothing tea :) I settle mom and Dennis in their bunk house and prepare the beds for the rest of the family. Fall asleep about 11:45pm. Awaken with the worst charlie horse I have ever had (my calf was tender and bruised for a week after that) at 1:47am. I am pretty sure I was not drinking enough fluids. I find that Jamie and the kids have just pulled into the driveway. Relief! We are all together, safe and sound!
The next morning I was able to tackle the last of the problems with the trip out- Jan took me to a Rapid Care Center to get another prescription for steroids, and got it filled at the drug store in Sonora. Then we went to the Farmers Market, which was fabulous! It started to pour rain while we were there and everyone around us was so excited. Charlene and I couldn't figure out why at first, since it had been rainy for much of the month in Minnesota. Then we heard that this was the first rain of any kind that they had gotten in the area since June! We said "You're welcome, we brought it with us just for you" :)
The rest of the trip was pretty good. I spent most of my waking hours helping mom, but we had a great time with my aunts and uncles and got to go to the Celebration of Life for my uncle's husband Robert, my Auntie Bo-Bo.
Pretty cool bowling alley, huh.
Then we traveled a little further up the foothills to Big Trees State Park. The trees there are really big :) Geoffrey looks like a toy!
Dakota in front of another huge tree.
I have tons of photos to play with for scrapbooking now!!
And if you made it through this whole post, wow. I can understand if you couldn't read the whole thing. Do you have a travel story to share? I would love to hear it!