To make a long story short, a christmas angel (a neighbor of the kennel) took pity on us and our dog and offered to take him in! She was wonderful, and after letting Milo run around in her backyard for a bit, he apparently passed inspection and we gave her his food (including his beloved cottage cheese!) and instructions for his care.
Once we hit the road, we settled into the drive and, despite some sticky traffic leaving the Bay Area, the drive down Interstate 5 was mostly uneventful. Our new Garmin StreetPilot III GPS navigation system performed flawlessly, much to Steve's amusement. At any point in the trip, we can instantly calculate the distance to our destination or the nearest rest stop, and get such obscure and useless data such as our altitude (accurate to within 20 feet!) and the current location and phase of the moon. We arrived at Grandma Judy's house in LA at around 10:30, and all collapsed for a good night's sleep.
|Footnote: We have season tickets for the Golden State Warriors, our local NBA basketball team. Despite their mostly dismal won/loss record, occasionally they manage to score more than 100 points in a game. The Warriors have an endorsement deal with Taco Bell whereby whenever they manage to break 100 points, everybody in the Arena gets a coupon good for a free Beef Chalupa at Taco Bell. Doreen, Max and Sam always manage to get a few coupons each (Steve invariably only gets one).|
After about 20 minutes, Steve all of a sudden realized that we had forgotten to gas up the Rover. Much to our horror, we realized that the low fuel warning light was already on, and Doreen hadn't noticed when it had lit up. We quickly pulled off the highway. According to the beloved GPS, we were about midway between Beaumont (where we had stopped for lunch) and the next exit on Interstate 10 with "Services", which was the hamlet of Vicksburg. It was about 18 miles in either direction, and at about 15 miles per gallon, it seemed as though we were probably better off continuing forward.
Doreen was still driving, and after about 10 minutes, the Rover began that fateful bucking and skipping, and it was apparent we were going to have to ditch. Or at least pull to the side of the road. Steve was very concerned about Doreen navigating the 4,000 pound vehicle to the gravel shoulder with no power steering and no power brakes. But she rose to the occasion (as she always does) and got us safely off the road.
The GPS said we had landed exactly 2.1 miles from Vicksburg, which was actually visible in the distance. We got out of the car and surveyed the lunar-like landscape. Steve attempted to contact the auto club, but the cellphone service, which had been remarkably available throughout the trip, failed us. Fortunately, the phone was able to reach a 911 operator, who referred me to a "DPS" person. I assume that meant "Department of Public Safety", but it wasn't clear. Nevertheless, the operator said she would dispatch "an officer", and we began our wait.
Steve set up a few pieces of random garbage on a nearby barbed wire fence, and the kids passed the time trying to knock the flotsam and jetsam from the fence. Much fun was had, and fortunately the scorpions and snakes were kept at bay.
Nevertheless, after a half hour and hundreds of passing cars, we were still stranded with no sign of assistance.
Doreen encouraged Max to try to be "part of the solution", and Max fashioned a sign. Finally, after what seemed like hours (but was just one hour), a man arrived in a pickup truck with a couple gallons of gas.
He cheerfully filled our tank. While doing so, I said that he could stop after a gallon or so. He muttered something about me getting "my five dollars' worth". I thought I would take an extra five dollars out of my wallet as a gratuity. However, when the gentleman finished his services, he (again) cheerfully detailed the charges for the service:
I offered him $40.00 cash, and fortunately he accepted. It still seemed steep. But we were back on our way, wiser for the experience!
We arrived at the Westward Look Hotel in Tucson just after 7:00 PM. Our dear friends the Zalls from Colorado were there, and we had a wonderful reunion pizza feast in our hotel rooms. Doreen's parents Al and Sylvia joined us, and the kids hung out in the other hotel room. Much fun was had by all, and our second day came to a happy conclusion.
After a few fun-filled hours in the pool, Steve fired up his DVD-equipped laptop with a thoughtful gift that Stuart brought, "National Lampoon's Family Vacation", from which we are gleaning many helpful and informative travel tips and techniques. We only hope to be the well-oiled traveling machine that the Griswolds are.
Sunday was also the day of Howard and Bobbi Paley's 25th wedding anniversary party, which was held at the Old Pueblo Grill. Here are some photos from the evening's festivities.