Thursday, June 19, 2008

It's like the Odyssey... only longer

So this week as everyone knows has been a bit rough. Sallie lost her job. She hit a pole at a gas station with the car. Our lease is going to eat up her entire severance package. You know, normal stuff. Well we decided that we should pack up some of our stuff and make the drive back to Missouri to attend a friends marraige. That way we aren't burning money out of boredom in Myrtle Beach while all our friends are working. This is the story of that trip home all the way up until this morning.

We spent most the night Tuesday night cleaning stuff, making it cat proof, packing boxes, and clearing out Sallie's desk at her former work. We went to be around three, but neither of us really slept. There was this anxious, nervous, excitedness (plus my back was screaming in pain) that cause us to maybe each get four good hours of sleep. I woke up, loaded the car, got the oil changed and on the road we went. We were making great timing all the way into a South Carolina national forest at the base of the Smokie Mountains when we felt like the car was vibrating a bit violently. We pulled over, inspected the wheels, and found nothing wrong. I get back on the road and a loud, metal getting shreded sound filled the car. I pulled over again and half our tire has been shreded. We must have picked up some sort of tool that was about eight inches long and was the diameter of a fat pencil. The thing spun around the wheel well tearing the back corner bumper off, scraping the wheel well, and then tearing the metal on the front part of the frame while tearing the outer ten or so layers of the tire off. We found a piece of whatever it was we rolled over lodged deep into the tire.

I prayed that there was a spare and after unloading all of our luggage and boxes from the back of the car, found the spare... but it was flat. I wrestled with one of the lug nuts for the better part of an hour because it was on the tire so tight. We called everyone we knew for advice, only to get decent advice from my brother and Sallie's father. Eventually with all of my weight on the tool after hammering the crap outta the nut, it came loose. We had no way to get out of our situation without putting the flat tire on and making our way to the next rest stop, which thank God was only a mile away. At the rest stop we discovered a Wal Mart that was supposed to have a tire center was about ten miles up the road. By this point we'd lost two and a half hours of our travel time and it was 4:30. I made Sallie call the Wal Mart to make sure they were open past five before we got there only to find out that this Wal Mart did not have a tire center. I pulled off at the first gas station I saw, figuring its time to suck it up and call a tow truck only to have a Goodyear Tire building appear out of nowhere. It was owned by one man that you couldn't understand, but I didn't care. He fixed our tire in about fifteen minutes and only charged us for the tire.

We got back on the road wanting to just get out of South Carolina. The next issue that came up was our directions from Google maps. We were looking for exit 32b in South Carolina so we could start heading to Tennessee. Problem is I passed it. The next exit so we could turn around was at exit 14, almost twenty miles down the road. I turned around and low and behold no exit 32b. We cruise by where it should be only to find the next exit to turn around on that side wasn't until mile marker 42. When we came back we again couldn't find it. I pulled over, grabbed the directions and in small print that didn't show up so well on the map it says "Enter North Carolina." Essentially we had to drive another 100 miles before we were at this exit 32b we were supposed to take.

Tennessee was surprisingly friendly besides the amount of one lane roads we ended up driving through. It wasn't until South Illinois that we ran into trouble again... or rather it ran into us.

We were directed to take some back country roads and as we entered them Sallie says "watch out for deer." As she says this I look left and there is a fairly large doe running head down trying to ram us. She would've hit about where the front wheel was, but I swerved in time and she smashed her head on our mirror, breaking the glass, banded her head on the door denting it and smeared deer snot all over the side of the car. I spend the next five minutes breathing hard, honking my horn, and flashing my blinders down the road scaring away any wildlife.

Its now about 3:30 in the morning our time. We've been working on getting home (an 11 hour drive) since 9 a.m. running on little sleep from the night before. We're sweaty, tired, and fed up. Google maps decides to fail us again on these back roads. We spend almost an hour trying to navigate to their route only to find that some of the streets they want us to turn on to either don't have signs or don't exist. Sallie finds a way on my atlas, and we eventually get home at what was 4:30 eastern time. I was so tired I started seeing shadow men and phantom animals out of my peripheral vision.

We sleep like dead people... until 8:30 this morning. I get a call from my boss. I was supposed to work all next week for a sweet $25 an hour to help pay some of our bills. My boss informs me that yesterday, while Sallie and I were constantly toying with death, the schoold distict dropped funding for the school I taught at. This means not only would I not have a job in the fall like I was supposed to, but I also can't work at all next week. So, two stories in one family were both laid off this week. Our next plan is to move back to St. Louis, live cheaply with my mom, and try to find real jobs again, to once again start paying off debt.