Thursday, March 02, 2006

Now, back to our program

Previously on "The Tosa Move":

The 19 Minutes household steals out of Flagstaff, Arizona in the dead of mid-afternoon on a Thursday. Not that dramatic, but with 310 days of sunshine a year, Flagstaff's not that dramatic a place.

Three hours later, the wheels come off the move - metaphorically speaking, anyway - as we break down in Gallup, New Mexico, home of not one, not two, but zero Volkswagen repair shops. Our car is subsequently towed to Albuquerque, and we follow a day or so later. The Jetta wagon makes plenty of noise as it's winched aboard the tow truck, but I don't notice as my right ear has blown its alternator, too, or at least become infected.

The car is fixed by mid-day Saturday and Sunday, we're on our way across eastern New Mexico and into Texas, concurrently crossing into the Central Time Zone, otherwise known as "The Land Where the Daily Show Is On at 10 pm." We'll be back with tonight's program after these words from Mounds and Almond Joy:

[We'll pause while you hit 'fast-forward' on your Tivos.]

Sunday, 3:00 p.m. The western part of the Texas panhandle looks a lot like the eastern part of New Mexico, except for two things: There are vast ranches with nothing on them in Texas, whereas in New Mexico there were just vast areas of nothing at all; and the Texas panhandle also features an enormous cross in the town of Groom, which -- depending on whom you believe - is either the largest or second-largest free-standing cross in the Western Hemisphere. It's definitely the largest cross in Groom, Texas, and seems to broadcast a message like: There might not be much else here, but at least we gave you something to look at for the past 8 miles, which is more than we can say for Vega, Texas..."

Sunday, 3:25 p.m. We're all getting most peckish. Amarillo looms in the distance. The promise of 72-ounce steaks, or at least a Quizno's beckons. We're two miles from town, and more than four hours out of Albuquerque. Check the back seat. Sylvi has just fallen asleep. Opt for the Arby's drive-thru, and keep heading for Oklahoma City.

Sunday, 5:00 p.m. We're into Oklahoma. Last time we drove through the state, it was on the way out to Arizona, on a hot and humid afternoon in early May when the air seemed improbably thick - almost chowder-like. Our first thought was, "Gee, it'd be hard to imagine tornados coming through this part of the country." Hours later, we were in Albuquerque and a slew of F5 tornados tore through Oklahoma. We decide to keep our weather thoughts to ourselves this time.

Sunday, 6:30 p.m. It doesn't work, as the first (and, as it turns out, only) crappy weather of the trip greets us a half-hour or so outside Oklahoma City. It's spitting snow and sleet. The roads are merely wet, so the driving conditions wouldn't normally have been too bad, but unbeknownst to us, we're arriving just in time for the annual convention of Tractor Trailer Drivers Who Have Never Seen Snow, and so we barrel into Oklahoma City, slowing down for the trucks that are doing 9 m.p.h. in the left lane, and trying to get out of the way of the other trucks, which are doing 130 in the right lane, or perhaps in the shoulder.

Sunday, 7:30 p.m. We arrive at the Crowne Plaza in Oklahoma City, thanking our lucky stars that we Pricelined a room off the beaten path of the 18-wheelers. It's roughly 7 degrees out, and the parking lot is full of slush and ice. We ask the desk clerk when it stopped snowing and she replies, "Oh, Friday morning, I think." The room is exactly what we needed after eight hours in the car - a comfortable bed and plenty of room for Sylvi to bounce off the walls. By this, her fourth straight night in a hotel, she's named an honorary member of The Who for her ability to trash a hotel room within 45 seconds of arriving.

Sunday, 8:00 p.m. We're hungry again. Within shouting distance of our hotel are two options: Hooters, which sort of appealed to me in a humorously surreal way (I mean hey, four days of melodramatically horrible moving experiences followed by dinner at the Oklahoma City Hooters -- come on, that's beautiful) and which Gretchen nixes immediately; and Sonic, which would normally be okay, except the last thing you really want to do after eight hours in the car is eat in your car. So we ask the desk clerk what the bext pizza delivery place in the area is. "Domino's," she replies. You only live once. We call Domino's and prepare for dining thrills.

Sunday, 8:45 p.m. Much to our surprise, the local Domino's isn't half bad. Sylvi scarfs down almost three full-size slices herself, which is less of a surprise considering the calories she's burned tearing up the hotel room for the past hour.

Monday, 2:35 a.m. Sylvi barfs up nearly three full slices of Domino's Pizza. We enjoy the comfort of the Crowne Plaza's bed by sitting up until 3:30 watching the Sesame Street 25th Anniversary Special on DVD. And nothing says 3:12 a.m. in Oklahoma City like "Happy Tapping with Elmo".

At this rate, the story will never make it to Wisconsin, so I'll note there wasn't much of interest on our trip from Oklahoma City to Kansas City - except for gas prices under $2.00 and a rest area with picnic shelters shaped like teepees (something that probably wouldn't fly back in northern Arizona). There also wasn't much to report from our Kansas City-to-Cedar Rapids drive or, for that matter, the Cedar Rapids-to-Milwaukee leg.

So when we return, we'll flash forward to Wauwatosa, Wisconsin: Will the local credit union, as claimed, be able to access our account in Arizona and cut us a check for a zillion dollars in time for the closing? And will our protagonist, as expected, pass out cold when the closing agent starts putting random pieces of paper in front of him for his signature? And - most importantly - what kind of swell gifts will the mortgage officer bring to the closing?

Admittedly, this isn't much to hold your attention, but tune in anyway, as we wrap this up and get back to making fun of poorly written press releases.

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