Wednesday, October 31, 2012

Catastrophe on Route 10

By Claire

The weather has changed—it was 41° and we were still in Florida!  Nobody warned us about that.  But, off we went at 8 am to drive through the Florida Panhandle and Alabama to Mississippi.  It was at the third rest stop for our driver switchover that I discovered my backpack was missing.  I had been to the restroom and, on my way back, noticed something I wanted to take a picture of.  My camera is almost always in my backpack.  Chuck and I tore the car apart but it was nowhere to be seen.  All I could think of was that it held my wallet with my credit cards, about $100 in cash, my driver’s license and my camera!  We were very bummed, but decided that we better start figuring it out; so I called the hotel and they checked our room.  It wasn’t there. 

Then I realized that it was in the car at some point, because my phone was sitting right there playing music for us.  I never put my phone in my pocket.  It’s either in the backpack or in my purse.  Then I recalled writing in the amount for the hotel in my little spiral bound notebook that has all the data from our trip and is housed in my backpack.  So.  It had to be in the car.  Or…could someone have stolen it?  We racked our brains and I decided that maybe we hadn’t locked the car when we left for the restrooms.  Maybe someone saw the backpack and just opened the door and snatched it.  Whatever.  We had to act before this hardened criminal could start charging things on two credit cards and a debit card.  Chuck took back the wheel, even though it was my turn.  

I spent the next hour on the phone talking with our main credit card holder, getting cut off at the last minute just when I had given them the hotel address in Austin to send new ones.  So, back to square one.  Imagine doing this as the car is speeding down the highway, it’s noisy and you have the usual high-pitched person on the line and you can barely hear them, let alone understand them.  I persevered, and eventually everything was taken care of. 

We traded driving after stopping for lunch and I started remembering all the things in my wallet that needed replacement.  Chuck started writing them down.  We do have another camera, my old one that only works intermittently and doesn’t have a back-up battery.  I tried to think positively.  It could have been so much worse.  What if they had taken our “tech” bags with our laptop, iPad, Kindles and more?  We got over it.  But then started questioning ourselves and our inability to be in the moment.  Chuck left a beloved shirt behind in the hotel from the day before.  They are shipping that by UPS to our home.  Unfortunately, he won’t have it for the rest of the trip.  Were we getting careless?  Where are our heads?  I can tell you I was very stressed by this.  But, we gained an hour by entering the Central Time Zone and decided that since we had no plans for Mississippi, we would go to a movie.  Which we did. 

Finding the theatre was another nightmare.  Chuck had found a place playing Argo on his iPhone map and the directions were very clear.  However, the streets had no names.  We almost gave up but decided to circle back to where we had been and found it hidden behind another building—all thanks to his electronic map and the little blue bubble that shows us where we are on which streets.  He could see that we were there, it was just over there--on a new street our map did not have!

The movie was fantastic.  Don’t even read about it, just go.  It was a nice escape from our loss and by the time we left, it was after 4 pm, so we drove the remaining 15 miles in search of gas and our hotel. 

Things were looking up when we spotted the hotel AND a gas station with a price of $3.09, the cheapest we’ve seen on this entire trip.  The lines were somewhat long but we were there so we went for it.  Meanwhile, Chuck couldn’t get the pump to work so while he went into the store to get some help, I started looking for maps and tour books for the next leg of the trip.  And what do you know?  The driver’s seat was pulled up because I had last driven, and there was my backpack!  Somehow, it had slipped down behind the seat and then when Chuck got in and put the seat back, it was completely hidden.  So what’s a few canceled cards? 

I was so grateful to know I have my camera back and my driver’s license.  It also made me start thinking about all the technology we have used on this trip.  Here’s a list:  GPS (aka Vicky), iPhone with a rest area app, Yelp app, Google, National Parks app, Where app, app, Living Earth/Clock app (thanks Steph), Chronicle app, USA today app, NY Times app, and the iPhone timer for switching drivers and remembering to put wet laundry into the dryer.  Could we have done this trip without all these things?  Hard to say.  Oh yeah, I forgot the iPad and our laptop. No, I don't think we could be without them.  No blog?  Come on!

We are 12 days from home but we still have things to do and see.  We’re not completely worn down yet.  In fact, walking into our suite this evening, I was just thinking—hey, I could get used to this!

Yesterday, we stopped at one of the many wonderful rest areas and we were doing a little walk to stretch our legs when we spotted the most amazing creatures.  They were not bothered by the cars and trucks going by or the people walking right next to them.  I had to look them up in Google to find out what they were.  

Sandhill Cranes 

We drove past Ponce de Leon State Park and it reminded me that he finally found the fountain of youth, but, alas, Dick Clark was already there.