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» Saturday, November 28, 2015On a Painful Road to a Happy Reunion
Our plan for Friday morning: get up at seven, pack up the car and mount the bike carrier for the rollator, since there's no way to get in Bobby and Sherii's house with the power chair, load the fids, and get on the road. Then we'd make a quick stop at Best Buy where I'd run inside to pick up season eight of Big Bang Theory (since they were open yesterday evening, I expected it to be like last year, totally dead on Black Friday morning itself), maybe a stop at Office Depot and I'd run in for a wireless mouse, and then a quickie stop at Barnes & Noble because all magazines were 30 percent off (a big help with those British cross-stitch magazines—but we could also stop at the one in Spartanburg if we arrived early).
Well, so much for that. Neither of us got more than a few winks of sleep. James' leg twitch has suddenly become intensely painful, like a muscle cramp, and he had been feeling terrible after we arrived home last night, just wiped out and tired, and I just kept waking up, and waking up, and waking up, getting progressively more frustrated that I was so tired but could not sleep. I shut the alarm off after the fourth visit to the bathroom. We finally got up after nine, after having managed two more hours of sleep on top of four, made a decision to carry one, tossed everything in the car, leashed Tucker in the back and sat Snowy in the front with his carry box, picked up lunch (since it was after eleven by the time we left the house), and marched on. Now, Gaffney, SC, where James' sister and brother-in-law live, is pretty much a cinch, straight up I-85, a little bit over three hours. But James was not only still in pain, but evidently something he ate didn't agree with him. He started driving, but we had to swap off at Commerce because his leg was cramping so badly. We decided we'd stop in Anderson, SC, just over the line, to make a final decision whether to go or stay.
James had a long restroom visit in Anderson, but his leg had un-kinked a bit and we went on, and he eventually was able to drive the last hour into Gaffney. We stopped once for gas (25 cents a gallon cheaper in SC!) and I walked Tucker both there and at Anderson, and Snowy sang for four solid hours to the mirror in his carry box, and we listed to an episode of "A Way With Words" and half of "The Tech Guy," and then Gaelic Storm during James' last leg. We were staying at the Quality Inn just off an exit north of the Gaffney Tanger outlet mall. It was a plain old motel room, clean and basic, with some handicap options. We did not need the little tray I'd put into the trunk and instead put Snowy's cage on the desk/table in the room and tilted the television so he could watch, but I half-covered him in hopes he would chill out a little. Once we were settled inside I took Tucker for another walk.
We found out Sherii's place was just down the road about twelve miles from our motel; we just went out the back of the parking lot and turned left. We asked them if we could bring Tucker along; this was his first motel and we were unsure if he would bark. They said sure; they have a boxer named Bristol who is very mellow.
They live way out in the country; we've been out here at least once, years ago, but we didn't remember the way. The GPS did the trick this time, and took us past homes with sprawling yards against an absolutely stunning orange-red-and-purple sunset, and then past big open farm fields, one full of unharvested cotton, one where the farmer was just driving his cultivator off the field and back home, and soon we had arrived.
One of the reasons we wanted to visit is that James' mom and sister had gone up there for Thanksgiving, and Nicki (his sister's daughter) and her husband Vinny and their new baby Maxon had driven down from New Jersey for the holiday. Sherii's daughter was also there with her new baby, Cathy. So we had a big dinner of Thanksgiving leftovers, and we got to meet Max, who's a real smiler. He stared with big eyes at Tucker. I was very amused to listen to Nicki, who is the quintessential southern girl, now talking with a New Jersey accent! She has become a sweet mother. Tucker also had a good time, although he and Bristol mainly seemed to indulge in those doggy mutual sniffing activities that seem to be essential in canine society. He tried to get her to play, but she was tired out from company, and he was all energized from having been cooped up in the car all afternoon.
Finally started to zone out about nine o'clock and went back to the motel. Walked Tucker again and spent the rest of the evening surfing Barnes & Noble's and Amazon's sites to use up their Black Friday coupons. Got the new Revels CD and a mystery book from Amazon and the history book Death by Petticoat from B&N. Sorry we didn't get to the Spartanburg store, but it was twenty miles back and we were wiped. I like to go to bookstores and look in their local interest section for books about the area.
Amazingly, we both actually slept, which most times is odd in strange beds, although after Thursday night's debacle I would have expected to pass out as soon as I hit the (really teeny) pillows. I woke up a few times, at first cold and turned up the A/C and then too hot and turned it back down, and once used the bathroom, and once someone thumped on the ceiling and another time there was a thump in the next room. Urgh. Unfortunately James woke up with a lot of pain and cramping from his leg. Sherii had invited us back over this morning, and we almost passed on it, but God knows when we'll see Nicki and Vinny again, so we availed ourselves of the free breakfast (not bad: toast, eggs, bacon, waffles, three kinds of cereal, instant oatmeal and grits, two kinds of juice, and, oh goodness, milk in gallons instead of those puny little pints), packed up the car, loaded up the fids, checked out, and then drove back out to their place. It turned out all the young folks save one (Nicki, Vinny, Jessicca, etc) had some kind of stomach complaint and were all abed, so it was just Mom, Sherii, Bobby, Candy (taking care of Max), James and I talking (Jessicca did emerge with baby Cathy eventually, but then she went back to lie down before she had to drive home). Tucker had better luck in enticing Bristol to play this morning, and they romped about; Tucker would come trotting back to me with this big doggy grin every so often. When he wasn't playing, he was leaping up on the back of the sofa—Sherii said it was okay—to look out the front window, as if he were some crazy cat. I had Snowy on my knee for a while, then put his carry box on a tray next to James. He sang his little heart out and Bristol sat in front of his box, cocking her head trying to figure out what was making that funny chirping noise.
We left about noon. The one thing I wanted to do before getting on the road was to stop at the Gaffney outlet and run quickly into the Hanes store and get some new socks; mine have been getting picked off one by one with little holes in the sole or the anklet part. James wanted some new briefs as well. But by the time we got to Tanger his leg was hurting badly again. The place was packed, but by using the "Points Inside" app, I found the exact building the store was in and found a parking space about halfway down the row down from it. James got out and stretched out the leg while I ran in and bought the socks and underwear; they were all 25 percent off.
It was a rotten drive home (except for the weather; it was sunny and warm yesterday, but slightly overcast today, at least until we drove into Georgia). When I first saw the mileage sign outside of Gaffney that said "Atlanta 169 miles" I wanted to cry because I didn't think we could make it. James was in so much pain he couldn't keep his leg still. We finally had to put Snowy's carry box between us. (This was very funny sometimes because we had part of the box covered with a flannel shirt. I would look down when it was safe to do so and I would see Snowy's cute little face and those black button eyes staring back up at me. Yes, he sang the whole way home again, accompanying another episode of "A Way With Words," the rest of "The Tech Guy" with his favorite radio host Leo Laporte, and more Gaelic Storm, except after it got dark.) James' intestinal problem was still acting up, so we stopped several times to use the rest room, once when we stopped for gas, once back at Anderson where James picked up some sugarless candy and enough peppermint bark for occasional desserts to last until next Christmas. By that time I'd done a turn driving, he'd gotten the leg calmed down enough to take an hour's turn. Our last stop was just before Commerce, where the big Georgia outlet mall is (a huge place, set on both sides of the road, unlike the Tanger in Jonesboro and the North Georgia Premium Outlets in Cumming). From there it should have been 74 easy miles back to Atlanta.
Like bloody hell. Traffic jammed up just before and after Commerce, and before and after every stupid shopping mall (Sugarloaf Mills and Mall of Georgia) because of the marching morons doing their Black Friday shopping. Plus it was sunset. Apparently half the drivers in Georgia have no idea what to do with a sun visor. Ten to twenty miles per hour every single time the freeway faced into the sun. The only mall that didn't block traffic was Gwinnett (which I suspect is a sad commentary on the state of that mall). By the time we got home it was after six. Six hours to do a trip that should have been four hours with stops. Damn.
We got Snowy set up back in his cage on the bookcase, and Tucker back in the dining room, and brought in just what we needed for tonight (the suitcase and the dirty clothes and Tucker's bedding and food dishes), and we took the rollator and the bike rack off the car. James ordered Chinese for us and we watched the news and then switched to our usual "Christmas Starters": the "Merry Gentleman" episode of All Creatures Great and Small, and the holiday episodes of To the Manor Born and The Good Life. This was the only reason we stayed up as late as we did (11:30). For Saturday night, that's practically in bed with the chickens for us.