Thursday, October 29, 2009

We Win at Road Trip

Awesome Things:

My new car rocks!!

The leaves in New England. A little part of me thought that the autumn colors of red, yellow, and orange were arbitrarily assigned, but no! They’re real! …And they’re beautiful!

Small towns in New England ARE like the Gilmore Girls! And they’re so cute!

Navy Lodges. They are NICE! One of the Navy Lodges we stayed in was only 9 days old!! We win at hotels.

Traffic. We drove at the BEST times for traffic. We actually could DRIVE through New York City and look at the landmarks out the top of the sunroof! We also had smooth drives through Boston, Philadelphia, Washington, D.C. and every other city! We win at traffic.

Seeing New York City landmarks from the car. SO fun! We saw Times Square, the Empire State Building, Central Park, Broadway, the World Trade Site, the Brooklyn Bridge, etc. It was awesome!

Eating a Philly Cheese Steak IN Philly from the original cheesesteak place: Pat’s.

Parking in Washington, D.C. for FREE in front of the Washington Monument! Score.

Gorgeous weather in DC for walking and monument viewing!

Seeing friends in Boston and DC

Viewing a beautiful plantation in Charleston for free before the ticket office opened.

Only on Our Road Trip:

Taking the Boston subway from the airport to the north train station, learning a bus is a better route, taking the subway to the south station, getting on the bus, and stopping at the airport to pick people up. Oh well.

Scenic Byways in North Carolina. Not quite so scenic. My favorite scene was a guy turning the corner of his double-wide and aiming his rifle across the porch towards presumably a critter invading his land.

An Asian cowboy in Washington, D.C.

Gold Teeth Store

The rest of the story, as they say, can only be told in pictures. So I recommend you check out the facebook album.

Monday, October 26, 2009


We made it on the flight from Destin to Dallas and arrived around 9. We ate dinner in the airport and took the shuttle to the Westin that Rob booked for a deal at $69! Yea for Hotwire on the day-of!

Now, as with most of our stand-by trips, we’re in the airport at a time that is known as “seriously early” by those in the know. Hopefully, we’ll make it to Boston early enough to pick up the car and have a decent day of driving and looking at leaves.

You’re picking up a car? You might ask. When did this happen? This actually happened last week, but I didn’t want to count on it until it was more definite. I’m actually kind of excited now. I told Rob that I’m ready to love again.

It’s a blue 2005 Subaru Outback XT Limited. This means it has a turbo engine (which makes the driving more fun), a manual transmission (also makes driving more fun), a big sunroof (a must after my history of convertibles), heated leather seats (for toasty buns), and room to grow! Even though the Mini Cooper Clubman was impossibly fun, it’s room to grow category just wasn’t great. I was sad to give up such a fun, but hope that the fun factor of the turbo is competitive.

This brings me to a new soapbox for me… WHY do no Americans drive manual transmissions???? It is just SAD! I LOVE manual transmissions! They make driving a much more interactive experience. They make me a BETTER driver! Yet, apparently, Americans like to check out while they drive, use one hand to talk on the cell phone, one hand to drink Starbucks, and the left knee to steer rather than clutch. NO other country drives automatic transmissions! You have to pay through the nose to rent an automatic in another country! It is just a travesty in America! Rob thinks I should start my own driving school called “Manual Only” so people can learn. I think it is just so sad.

What do you think? Why drive an automatic?

I’m very excited about our New England trip! I’ve never been to the east coast, besides New York City and am looking forward to this season they call “fall.” The small towns seem just too cute for words and I’m realizing what I thought was fantasy in Gilmore Girls (the cute little small town they live in) may be pretty close to reality in New England! We’ll see…

Murphy's Law

The trip to New England planned out perfectly, my errands all in a list, the truck loaded with dog, dog food, library books to return, etc., I set out. Not yet off the base, the truck simply stops running! No engine, no gas, no nothing. I coast to a safe place (near the Shopette for food, water, and gas) and stop. I turn the key, the engine turns over. Battery fine. I know I filled up recently, not out of gas. I call Rob. This is his busiest day at work. I explain what happened and he asks me a few questions, turn the key, and whatnot. Then, he proceeds to tell me how to change the fuel filter if I can get a ride to the auto parts store. I feel so complimented that he has confidence in me. He then worries that if it’s not the fuel filter, I’ll need a tow anyway and should maybe call our friend Byron (with a tow truck). In about ten minutes, Rob has borrowed a vehicle and arrives to inspect his own. In this 30-minute time frame, I have been asked if I need help by at least 5 passersby. Plus, I have been asked by TWO different security forces patrols how long I plan on being stranded and could I please set out cones behind my vehicle. Thanks. Thanks, a lot.

Rob decides that it’s not the fuel filter or the fuel pump and is frustrated that he doesn’t know what it is or if he can fix it before we are supposed to drive to Tallahassee at 2:30. Plus, the flight we planned on taking out of Tallahassee is full as of this morning. Great. We call the tow truck. Our friend’s tow truck is ironically in the shop and he tells me he’s going to call some of his buddies to see if one of them can come get me. Rob goes back to work. 45 minutes later I get the call that Byron’s got someone coming for me and they should be there in 20 minutes. An hour later, the tow truck arrives. In this span of time, I’ve been guilted by security forces twice more (I think everyone on shift came by), and asked by fellow military people if I needed help AT LEAST 5 times every thirty minutes!! No kidding! People I called can attest that my phone conversations went like this: “Yea, I’m stuck on base. Of all the days that the truck could break, this is just the worst!... Yes, I’m fine. Thanks, but I don’t need any help… So anyway, how’s your day been? Uh huh… Yes, there’s a tow truck coming… Thanks for asking, I’m fine…” And so on. One lady who’d passed me twice brought me water and snacks! So nice!

The tow truck that arrived made me laugh at the continuance of the ridiculousness of the day! It was an antique! I seriously worried that WE’D need a tow once it had Rob’s big truck on its platform. Then of course I still had Gus. The very amiable driver (a loving dog-person) said it was fine for Gus to ride in the cab with us. So of course, my giant dog chose the very middle of the bench seat right in front of the shifter so the guy had to reach around Gus’ body while his head rested in his lap to change gears! I WISH I’d taken a picture! We arrived at the repair shop and dropped off the truck at 1:30-ish (I broke down at 10). Lovely Heidi was there with lunch for me and a ride to the car rental place. Rob rented a car one-way to the airport in Destin for a measly $39!! We were planning on $10 a day for parking! Excellent! After dropping off Gus at the Jestice House (he gets to stay with his friends!), Heidi took me to the airport where I picked up my BRIGHT yellow Chevy Cobalt rental car. Heidi also completed a few of my errands for me too! Thank you, Heidi!!

I picked up Rob with barely any time to spare before we needed to be on the road to catch our flight. We actually missed our planned flight to Dallas, but made the last one. Whew! Although the truck breaking down was terribly inconvenient at the time, it was MUCH better than it breaking down in the middle of nowhere on the way to a cancelled flight! I mean, seriously, I got snacks, Rob and friends were close by, the repair shop was close by, and I had my pick of help from strangers! Even though it completely disrupted my original plan, it was the best breaking down experience ever.


We've been doing well.

After a very long and frustrating search, we decided to purchase a car in New Hampshire. It's a Subaru Outback XT Limited with a manual transmission. I'm cautiously excited about it.

We decided it would be fun to take a road trip from New Hampshire back down to Florida rather than ship the car.

Presently, we are on said road trip and are having a GREAT time!

The next few blogs are about that trip.

Wednesday, October 14, 2009

Frutti di Mare

Per the usual, our weekend in Florida was wonderful! We had such a great time at the beach last Saturday, we woke up and did it again - Rob fished while I did yoga and soaked up some sun. This time, Rob caught a fish! Two, in fact! We took them home and cooked them for brunch! They were pretty bony though and made for delicate eating.

Sunday, after church, we went sailing. We have to remember to bring the camera next time. We don't take it on the boat, well... because... something would definitely go wrong if we did. But we're loving sailing from the beach in the bay when we don't have to raise and lower the mast! So much happier! We had a great time sailing and I even captained some!

Rob picked up a conch from the bay and we took it home and ate it Andrew Zimmerman style! I know! SO daring! It was actually kinda tasty.

Monday, we slept in as long as we could and it was glorious! Then, we took the dog to the beach. He's not allowed on the beach at Tyndall where we've been fishing, so this was a beach trip to the next county just for Gus. He met another dog and they ran around the beach getting tired. Eventually, we watched the sun begin to set and then headed home.

It was a great "frutti di mare" fruits of the sea weekend!

Thursday, October 8, 2009

Fall in Florida

It's beautiful. Last weekend, we went to the beach on Saturday morning where Rob fished and I did some yoga. It was simply lovely! And we had the beach totally to ourselves!

The squadron celebrated the end of the fiscal year (October 1 through September 30) with a lobsterfest! Rob and I each got our own lobsters and we all brought our own claw-cracking tools (we used a set of pliers).

Rob holding the biggest one - an eight pounder we dubbed "Lobzilla."

Through our time amid the Florida produce, we have discovered the best hash browns are made with fresh potatoes, grated in a food processor and fried up real nice. Mmmm. Just a note for future reference.

This is our latest box of produce goodies! green apples, gala apples, kiwi, cantaloupe, crimini mushrooms, red seedless grapes, black seed grapes, sweet potatoes, dragon tongue green beans, yellow squash, carnival squash, spinach, romaine, carrots, and that long green thing in the top of the photo next to the sweet potatoes. What is that?? How do I cook it? Any ides?

Wednesday, October 7, 2009

Car and Driver

I still don't have a car.

I have decided relationships with cars are like relationships with people. I was in a perfect relationship with my one and only for many years and it ended abruptly before either of us were ready, but I still trust God's timing was perfect. But, it just makes it ten times harder for me to enter into another relationship.

I often would wonder, "If I could buy any car right now, what would it be?" and ALWAYS my answer was "this EXACT same car." She was just perfect. And yes, I've thought trying to get her back, but I know I would have to sell her again and I couldn't bear the double heartbreak. And yes, I've thought about getting another Miata, but I know I would only compare the new one to my old one and that wouldn't be fair. I also don't want a silver car, because that would only remind me of my lost one. Therefore, I must get something different.

I know many of you may not have the same kind of relationship with your car as I do, but I truly want a car I can LOVE.

I have just closed about 15 windows of used cars in frustration (going on hundreds). So far, my wants, needs, and wallet are still in three very different places.

Wants: FUN car, manual transmission, large sunroof, fast and sporty, heated seats, charcoal grey exterior, not too old, low mileage (ie, Mini Cooper Clubman S)

Needs: running car, decent in snow and ice (ie, Subaru Outback (but want turbo with leather heated seats))

Wallet: cheap (ie, Pontiac Vibe (but want GT))

Hindrances to my search: manual transmissions are rare!!, manual transmissions are a cheaper option and usually do not come on the cars that have sunroofs (an expensive option)

So... I just needed a little venting. My car search has been very vexing and not nearly as fun as all those commercials make it out to be. *sigh*