It has been over eight years since HeWho and I went somewhere warm and sunny for a vacation. We decided it was time, so in January we drove to Florida for a few weeks. We still haven’t been somewhere warm and sunny.
Our “adventure” was originally to begin on Dec. 17, 2015. We were going to head to Nashville first, on to New Orleans and finally to Cape Coral to the home of friends. Unfortunately, a few days before that my car wouldn’t start. CAA was called and one service call, a brand new battery and a ding on my credit card later I was good to go. Eventually, I headed out to our favourite butter tart place to pick up some Christmas baking. Doo Doo’s is an award winning bakery and well worth the drive out to the boonies known as Bailieboro. Well, that is until you come out of there laden down with pastries…but your car won’t start. It was a good thing I didn’t ignore the CAA renewal notice a week earlier. My car was towed back to Pickering. Our departure date was moved to Dec. 20th and we crossed New Orleans off our route while we waited to hear the verdict about my car. Did you know a new starter costs over $500? That was the good news. There was another $3,000 plus worth of repairs recommended. But we continued to make plans and finish up our Christmas preparations. I headed back to the boonies to complete my errands and HeWho headed to the local mall. He didn’t have much luck so he called me to meet him at the bigger mall that was between where I was and where he was. We were able to find everything he was looking for in record time and we headed home in our separate vehicles. Within minutes my phone rang. HeWho had pulled out of the mall and his front axle snapped. Did I mention I had just renewed our CAA? The good news was that we weren’t half way to Florida when it happened as this was the car we had wanted to take. The decision was made to scrap the car and our trip was postponed until Dec. 26th. Nashville was now off the itinerary. We scrambled to sort out a new vehicle. That just wasn’t going to happen over the Holidays. My sister in Lewiston, New York, graciously welcomed us as last minute guests for Christmas dinner. My brother-in-law gave my car the once over on Dec. 26th and didn’t think we’d have any problems taking it to Florida, so we drove back home (east of Toronto) to make a new plan. On Dec. 28th I was casually trying to get as much work done as possible before starting to pack. HeWho was on line researching cars and checking weather reports. Suddenly, he stood up. “There’s an ice storm coming. “Let’s get the hell out of here.” I’m pretty sure we broke all kinds of records getting packed (only by the very loosest definition of the word) and loading the car. We headed southwest and ended up smack dab in the middle of the ice storm. Things were not going well inside or outside the vehicle. We stopped overnight before crossing the border. It was the only way to make sure we weren’t killed in the storm. Or killed by each other.
I would like to say that things went smoothly after that, but I’d be lying. My car is a stick. HeWho is really not comfortable driving it. Around the second time I heard him grind the gears I realized I really wasn’t comfortable with him driving it either. So all but about 200K of the 5,500K (round trip) were driven by me. We arrived in Cape Coral in time to have dinner with our hosts on New Year’s Eve. That was right about when the temperatures plummeted and we said good bye to the sunshine. We weren’t that worried about the weather. It was still warmer than it was at home and our friends had an enclosed, heated pool. Of course the pump broke the day we got there and the pool started getting colder and turning a funny colour. Ever the optimist, or as HeWho likes to call me, “Polyanna”, I still bought a bathing suit and a sunhat because I was sure the sun would return or the pool would be fixed before we headed home. Neither happened, but HeWho was amused at my attempts to swim while turning purple and goose bumpy.
Our hosts were wonderful. They welcomed us into their beautiful home and were extremely gracious about our bickering. Even with the weather not co-operating they went out of their way to keep us amused. They made sure we got to see everything and go everywhere we wanted to go. We had pre-arranged a trip to Key West via a catamaran from Fort Myers. Let’s just say…it wasn’t like this…
It was really cold and the water was pretty rough. On the way back it was even colder and rougher. I lost my sweater upon arrival and was freezing. HeWho began throwing up about 30 seconds after he took Dramamine. We had it under control with barf bags until the bag broke and he ended up covered in puke. The crew was kind enough to let us know (after the fact) that we should have double bagged. For four hours he sat there covered in the stuff while continuing to fill up barf bags. “HeWho” became “HeaveHo”. Every time I tried to help, my sympathy gag reflex would kick in and I’d look away. There were, however, more people being sick than not. I ventured to the stern and people were lying on the floor, bags covering their mouths. By the time we hit not so dry land we were all shaken by the experience and it was a pretty quiet ride back to the house.
On Saturday, January 9th, we went to the amazing Cape Coral Festival of the Arts. I even got to use my hat for an hour. The rest of the day was spent relaxing, reading, eating, and of course me attempting to have a swim in the pool. Shortly after supper I started not feeling right. Within minutes I was in agony. Every place I had ever felt pain hurt like hell. I took some pain killers but they didn’t touch it. I excused myself and went to lie down. I knew I was about to lose it and didn’t want to cry in front of our friends. I was lying on the bed in the dark, trying to figure out what was going on and what to do about it. Suddenly, the whole room lit up. Then I heard a commotion at the front door. HeWho had gone outside for a smoke. He lit up, the sky lit up, and the hair on his legs stood straight out. That was the shortest smoke break he’s ever taken. Oh yes…there was a storm a ‘brewin. We decided to watch Jeopardy at 7:30 but at 7:40 the program was interrupted with an emergency weather report about the tornado that had touched down in Cape Coral. Not just any tornado. This was “the strongest tornado in the past 60 years“!
We left the next morning.
It was 24°C (75°F) when we left. We were wearing shorts and no sleeves. By the time we got off the road that night it was -3°C (26°F) and we had stopped several times to change and add layers. We awoke the next morning to the news that David Bowie had passed away — news that I was unable to cope with then, or, quite frankly, now. A celebrity death has never impacted me in this way before. It seemed imperative that I get home as quickly as possible. You know that wasn’t going to happen. We got as far as Erie, Pennsylvania, that night before the blinding snow storm forced us off the road.
Anxious to be on our way the next morning we were disappointed to hear the highways were closed. I’m nothing if not determined and I needed this trip to end. We found our way, slowly and carefully, on a white knuckle route along Lake Erie. Then, magically, as we approached Buffalo, the sun broke through and the snow disappeared.
We crossed into Canada, picked up HeWho’s new ride and headed home.
A few weeks later, I was celebrating Chinese New Year with colleagues over lunch. I finished telling them about my “vacation” and opened my fortune cookie. When we saw what was inside, everyone caught their breath.
I’d say that pretty much sums it up.