Monday, September 13, 2004

Alas in Blunderland - Mother's Day Week 2003

The following is taken from an email sent out to family and friends after a very "eventful" trip to Nevada last year. Names have been removed to protect privacy.


Have I got a tale to tell *you*! We just got back from Nevada this past week.

We left home early on the 2nd of May anticipating a wonderful visit with my wife's mother and step-father. We had our youngest son (age 17) with us as well as the ashes of my wife's sister. (Her sister had passed on August 31st of 2002.)

The trip started out as most trips do. We were late getting out of the house and onto the road. The tank was full, sodas were cold, the tunes were cranked, and the road stretched out before us.

As per proper operating procedure, I got us majorly lost at least once. In hindsight I can see that getting lost in Portland was a good thing. Future events were going to put us where we needed to be when the news came.

As we approached Roseburg, Oregon we got a call on the cell phone from my wife's step-father. Her reaction to the news left no doubt as to what had happened. Her mother had died that morning at around 9am.

As you can imagine, my wife was extremely distraught. Roseburg has a VA Hospital, and we're both Disabled Veterans, so I thought it best to take her there and try to get her help. They evaluated her condition and ended up giving her tranquilizers to calm her down and help her cope.

We arrived at her folk's home in Pahrump, Nevada on Saturday, the 3rd. The remaining sister and her husband were already there as were my mother-in-law's sister and her husband. Quite a full house of tears and a web of support. Arrangements were made with the Neptune Society for a viewing and cremation. We also obtained the proper permits to scatter the ashes in the local mountains. We flew our youngest daughter out to Las Vegas the next day and bussed her home after the viewing.

Monday, the 5th was the viewing and we recieved the ashes late Saturday evening. Sunday was Mother's Day. We drove out to the base of the chosen resting place and, with the combined ashes of Mother and Daughter in my backpack, climbed the lower reaches. The climb was steady yet difficult for those of us feeling our age. The view at the top of the second ridge was beautiful with a breathtaking vista of the valley below. The disrought husband insisted on having a place to visit, so, instead of scattering the ashes, we buried them in a crevice and marked the place with a cairn.

That afternoon we were back on the road hoping to reach Reno before nightfall.

We didn't make it to Reno.

About 30 miles north of Tonopah, NV the engine of the Windstar threw a rod. It took several hours to get someone to stop and give us a ride back to Tonopah. We checked into the Clown Motel (--Yes! It's real!) and I arranged to tow the van back to town to the local mechanic. The next morning I called Ford Mercury of Tonopah to learn the van's conditition. After assessing their diagnostic fee, I was told that I needed a new engine --to the tune of $3,596.55. This only counted shipping, not labor. I finally found a buyer for the van --got a WHOLE $225.00 for it! I can't
begin to tell you how thrilled I was.

Dejected, I called my father-in-law for help. He mistakenly assumed I wanted him to buy me a new engine. After explaining that I was only trying to get my family home, he helped us obtain bus tickets back to Tacoma.

There are a dozen other details of the trip that don't need repeating and are best left forgotten. If I didn't have documentation for most of this even *I* would have trouble believing what happened.

My wife is now locked into depression, anger, resentment, hopelessness, self-doubt, self-blame --hell, a profusion of feelings that are tearing her apart. I'm trying to get her into grief counselling, but her therapist at the VA isn't available until late June. I'm also checking local sources online.

Now we're broke, with no car, and trying to grope our way through this mess.

Well, That was an exciting trip through Blunderland! I hope everything is working out better for you and yours.


In the beginning there were no radiators


Mention those two letters and everybody thinks the same thing --the Bug, the Beetle, The LOVE BUG, the Insect on Wheels, the 'Round-Topped Skateboard, The People's Kar, THE CAR the whole world fell in love with. How elegant, how simple, how so Down - Right - Ugly - It's - Beautiful.

I had a Bug of my dreams --a '69 Type I Beetle. I loved that car. I've regretted selling it. I had to. I'm not a mechanic and I couldn't keep the clutch cable in place. About every 200 miles it would fall off and I would spend days trying to hook it back in place. It's gone, but the memories still bring me a smile.

Now I have a '70 Type II Transporter. It a Bus, folks. My wife thinks it's the ugliest thing in the world. I keep telling her it's not a Thing* --That was a VW of a different kind ;) It used to be red, but now it's a light primer blue. The back bumper is missing and it has an oil cooler sticking out on the driver's side in the rear. The floorboard under the driver's door has rotted through and you can see road. The electrical was mangled by a previous owner who should have his hands slapped if he ever gets near a spool of wire or a fuse again. I need a new tail light, a new set of exhaust pipes, two new heater boxes and the winning numbers for the lottery.

She's my BIG BUG, folks. And she makes me happy!

* For those of you who don't get the joke, a VW Thing is also known as a Safari. It's a blocky-looking Bug that you can take the doors and roof off of. It looks a lot like a malformed Jeep.