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2000.07.16 Florida Vacation

posted Mar 26, 2010, 6:30 AM by Troy Cheek   [ updated Mar 26, 2010, 6:32 AM ]

Hi folks! This is Barb talking. Troy's down at the hospital with my husband Bob, so Troy asked me to write this month's column. Don't worry about Troy. I'm sure he'll be just fine. Bob's hit himself with that weed whacker many a time, and he's always been "treated and released," and he barely clipped Troy at all today.

I don't know why men make such a big deal out of yardwork. If they'd just get a couple of push mowers, they'd be finished in the time it takes them to change the oil in the lawn tractor. It seems like they're always re-building, re-wiring, or re-welding something. And when they're not, they're griping at me because I don't.

Take my car, for instance. So maybe I don't check the oil quite as often as I should. Is that really such a big deal? The mechanic says it blowing up had absolutely nothing to do with the oil. Oh, but I'm getting ahead of myself a little. Troy wanted me to tell the story from the beginning.

As Troy might have mentioned, even though we have a perfectly good house, Bob wanted a camper/trailer sort of thing. Bob says it's because I always want to travel and hotels are too expensive. I think this is just because he wanted an excuse to buy a really big truck to haul it around with. We bought the camper and the truck, going back to trade to larger models more than once. Finally, we were all set for a big family trip to Florida. My folks were scheduled to come down from up north, and we'd all ride down and stay together. We'd take my car along to make little side trips once we got there. Everything was all planned out like Bob likes to do.

The first thing that wasn't in the plan was that as I was driving home from work, my car suddenly stopped running. I tried starting it up again, but all it would do was make a clanking noise like somebody beating the inside of the hood. Bob said I probably lost a belt or bent a pulley or something. But when he got back from seeing the mechanic, he told me I'd broken the crankshaft and blown every gasket and wanted to know how I'd managed that. I had no idea, and told him so. Repairing or replacing the engine would cost several hundred dollars, and couldn't be finished before we were scheduled to leave, so we decided we'd just have to do without.

Deciding to take no chances, Bob took the truck to the dealership. It had been making a little rattling noise and Bob figured it'd be best to tighten those screws (or whatever) before making the long drive. The dealer guy came out and listened to the truck. Then he brought out a mechanic to listen to the truck. The mechanic said something like "Yeah, that's it" and went back inside. The dealer guy started writing down stuff. Bob asked him why.

"Oh, I need your VIN to order your new engine."

That stands for Vehicle Identification Number, Troy told me later. At that time, though, Bob was busy threatening bodily harm to the dealer guy. It seemed that this particular model truck engine had been recalled due to some kind of gasket that didn't fit right. Bob had to take the truck in last year to get the gasket replaced. However, the dealer guy told us, sometimes enough of whatever the stuff the gasket was supposed to keep in would leak out into wherever the gasket was supposed to be protecting before the gasket was replaced to cause permanent engine damage that only shows up later. Silly way to design a truck, if you ask me. Installing the new engine would take until just about the time we were planning to leave, if there were no problems. By now, Bob was planning for problems.

Bob explained that we had plans the next week. No problem, said the dealer guy. They'd lease a vehicle for us. Bob explained about the trailer hitch and special electrical connections and the fancy trailer brake box. The dealer guy wrote it all down and said he'd have no problem finding something like that for us by the next week.

The next week I drove Bob back to the dealership. We found the dealer guy and he was with this other guy. Introductions all around. The other guy gave Bob a set of keys and tells him "It's the white one parked right outside."

Bob looked. "I don't see a white truck outside."

The other guy kind of smiled. "Oh, we didn't have a truck available. Yours is the Geo."

While Bob started foaming at the mouth, I explained that we couldn't take us and my family to Florida in a Geo, let alone tow a trailer.

"Oh," said the other guy. "You should have mentioned that earlier." He reached to take the keys back from Bob. "Our insurance won't let you take any car you lease from us out of state."

I snatched the keys back. "At least Bob can drive it to work while we make other arrangements."

Bob immediately got on the phone. He must have called every rental place in two states, but nobody had a truck like we needed available. He decided to cancel the trip, but changed that decision when he found out he'd not be able to get his deposit back from the boat guy he'd hired to take us to all the good fishing places. He then decided that we were still going, but we'd stay in a motel instead of camping.

"I finally found us a place," Bob told me later. "It's only $100 a night and only 13 minutes from the beach. By the way, did you know the National Rabbit Wholesaler Organization has their annual convention in Florida every year about this time?"

Once we got down there, the stay was fairly pleasant, except for the fishing trip. Troy told us to take our sea-sickness medication the night before, the morning of, and in the middle of, the boat ride. We did, and I guessed it helped me a little. It put the kids to sleep, which I suppose was for the best. It didn't help Bob at all. He was sick as a dog. He kept telling me to go to the captain and ask him to turn the boat around. "If I had my gun, Barb," he told me, "I'd shoot him and turn the boat around myself." Once I pointed out that neither of us could find our way back to the mainland, he changed that to "If I had my gun, I'd shoot myself and put me out of my misery."

Bob perked up a little when we hooked our first fish, but after he reeled it in, he staggered back to the cabin. He pulled a chair over in front of the air conditioning vent and fell asleep there. This started a cycle: He'd wake up, reel in a fish, then go back to sleep in front of the vent. He kept this up the full six hours of the boat ride. Now I've got a freezer full of fish we'll never eat.

Speaking of eating, the good thing about letting Troy house sit for you is that you don't have to clean out your refrigerator before you leave. Troy will take care of that just fine on his own. He'll even point things out to you when you get back that you never knew before. Did you know that butter has an expiration date? Anyway, I don't know how he can stand to stay here. I'm always looking for a chance to get away, but he says it's nice and peaceful.

Well, that's all I have time for today. I've got to go check Troy out of the hospital, then we've got to drive down to every truck stop we stopped at on the way back from Florida. Seems that one of the kids was playing in Mommy's purse and left all my keys on a table somewhere along the way. Oh, well. We should have Troy back home by next week, and I'm sure he'll be able to type again by then. He's such a baby when it comes to ligament damage.

Bye from Barb!