And here is where it is very good to hail from the Beverly Neighborhood of Chicago.
Why? Because you simply pick up the phone and call whichever pal is also vacationing in Florida. Because Beverly people are EVERYWHERE.
I used to get freaked out when Joe and I would travel to random and obscure places only to bump into Beverly folks. Joe once shared the story of how his uncle was hiking up Pikes Peak when he suddenly heard:
HEY LARRY! Dat you? It's me...PATRICK. You know...from the NEIGHBORHOOD!
It's kinda like being in Goodfellas.
As luck would have it, Miniature Friend and her family were staying in nearby St. Augustine. We agreed to meet up and check out the local Alligator Farm:
|Hey, kids! Look here for a picture! LOOK HERE! All together!! oh forget it|
|You know Danny's having fun when he actually smiles for a pic.|
|Joey and his future prom date (fingers crossed)|
|I did not like the feeling of only a layer of glass keeping us safe from this man-eater. I took this pic and RAN. LIKE. HELL.|
|I hope you can tell why Miniature Friend is named that. You can pretty much fit her in your purse.|
|What do people from the southside of Chicago do best? They stand around "and bullsh*t" (talk). FOR HOURS. Case in point.|
|I'm not quite sure WHO took this picture as I am actually in it. It may be the only proof that I even exist.|
Sadly, our vacation was over and we packed up the minivan the next morning. That was when things really got interesting.
Our ride home would result in one of the most scarcest of marital admissions known to man:
You were right.
It came as a result of Joe suggesting we book our hotel in advance for the midway point of our drive. I brushed him off:
We'll just stop when we're tired and stay wherever.
How was I supposed to know that the perfect storm of the NCAA tournament, a huge cattle show, an international chess tournament, a Harley Davidson convention, and Spring Break would prohibit us from getting a single room anywhere along I-75?
We had to drive straight through.
At about 4 o'clock in the morning, I noticed my husband was fading. I valiantly offered to drive, having not taken the steering wheel once during the entire trip. We switched positions and Joe was snoring away within seconds. I zapped on the old Cruise Control (it totally helps you save on gas), and I relished my selfless contribution to our family's safety and well-being.
I was practically Joan of Arc.
Until all the warning lights started going on 20 minutes later.
I nudged Joe in a panic.
"Oh, Marianne..." he mumbled, barely opening one eye, "those are the dashboard lights for the CRUISE CONTROL."
I looked again.
"But why are they orange?"
Joe leaned over to take a better look and immediately started yelling:
PULL OVER PULL OVER PULL OVER!
Were you guys aware of this whole "coolant" thing? Apparently minivans, when forced to go straight through the mountains of Tennessee only to continue on for 12 more hours at 80 mph, have a tendency to overheat.
Joe got the car cooled down after saying the F-word about 762 times. We managed to buy coolant at the next exit and Joe also re-took the wheel. Although he denies it, I know he believes I broke the car. You know....in 20 minutes. Upon our 7 am return to Beverly, we forked over $500 for a new radiator and went to bed. We then ate Macaroni and Cheese for a week because who knew this vacation was going to cost us another $500?
I tell myself it is all okay. Because this kind of material simply does not come cheap.