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Notes from the Road - V

That night at the Doubletree I was entirely sure that the car was dead. At that point, I was completely sure that I was not going to be able to drive my car again so, my epitaph was:

It was fun while it lasted, little car. I am very, very sorry. You have no idea, little car, at how sorry I am!

I got two “White Claws” from the bar and went to my room to try to figure out what plan B and/or C would be. I decided my plan B would be to rent a car and drive to Michigan and buy a plane ticket back eventually. Alternatively, Paul could drive and pick me up somewhere.

I had forgotten how big this country is. In my mind, I think I compress most of Wyoming, Nebraska, and Iowa together since it’s all the same scenery for miles and miles. That is the beauty and horror of driving. It just goes on forever, this country of ours, but there is a lot of beauty….and a lot of space. I got to see, what I assume was, an antelope mother and her two yearlings right by the side of the road in Wyoming. That’s not what I picture Wyoming as. I guess that’s because I have mostly gone the upper route to Michigan? The Wyoming that I remembered was all mountains, not the prairies that I had driven through.

I crawled into bed around 9 pm. Sleep would make the time go faster. After all, I couldn’t really plan anything until I knew what was going on.

I woke up at about 12:30 am. I don’t know why I woke up then, but what followed almost immediately is probably what had done it. There was a loud bang on my door. A bit later, I heard yelling reverberating around the large interior courtyard of the hotel. It sounded like a kid, maybe anywhere from five to 15, but I couldn’t tell for sure. A bit later, there was another bang on the door and more yelling.

The first thing I did was run to the bathroom and put my contacts back in. Unless you are nearly blind like me, you just don’t know how disconcerting it is to basically only see shadows. I decided to call down to the desk. A woman answers, not the same one that had checked me in.

“Something is going on out there,” I say to her.

“Yeah, I know,” she says, “ I was just up there but I didn’t see anything. Did it sound like a kid?”

“Yes,” I say.

“I don’t know what’s going on, but it’s really creeping me out,” she says to me. Creeping HER out, I think, this is coming within 24 hours of me being locked in a hotel room!

“Maybe I should call someone,” she half-mutters.

“Yes,” I agree, “Maybe you should.”

I hung up after that. I heard more yelling, but it stopped eventually. I don’t know if the kids just got tired or if the woman at the front desk did call someone, but fortunately that was the end of it. Eventually, I fell back to sleep.

Brandon had told me that the man who worked on Toyotas for them would be in at 8:00 the next morning. I called and the woman who answered told me that they don’t open until 9:00 am. So I waited. I checked out of the hotel and the woman at the front desk, who was NOT the woman from the night before or the middle of the night call (because I asked her) allowed me to store my bags in a locked area.

Despite being overpriced, breakfast did not come free with the Doubletree Hotel stay so I ended up paying another $16 for another truly lousy breakfast “bar”. Cold scrambled potatoes and undercooked potatoes were all that there was available for a vegetarian. There was plenty of bacon, ham, and sausage for the average Midwesterner, though. Ah, well. Good thing I’m not vegan, I thought once again. You are pretty much out of luck in the middle of the United States if you are vegan.

After breakfast, I wandered over to the bar area which was now closed. No one was around. I called my mother to explain the circumstances. I called my friend Sara, who I was supposed to meet on Friday (two days away) to explain the circumstances. And I waited.

Finally, much later than I had hoped, I got a call from the auto place.

“Someone put way too much oil in this,” the man at the other end of the line said. “There was about five gallons in there! Our guy had to keep bringing buckets over to empty it!”

“That was me,” I said guiltily.

“We are going to change the oil and give it a test drive. We will call you back after that.”

“Okay,” I say sheepishly.

I was elated at first. But then the fatalist voice in me kept telling me that it wouldn’t work. The engine had failed completely and it just didn’t seem possible that it was just too much oil. Still, I felt like a fucking idiot for not even being able to properly check the oil in my own car.

So, I was left to wait again.

Finally, they called me back at about 1 pm. It was done and ready to go, he said. I still had my doubts that what had happened could have been caused by too much oil (except the smoke out of the tailpipe). So, I asked him if that could have caused the engine to stop in the middle of the road without any warning. He asked me a few more questions about it and so I asked him if what happened could have been caused by the oil.

“Ah…not really,” he replied, “That sounds more like it might be an intermittent fuel pump problem.”

I asked if he could replace the fuel pump because I did NOT want to go through that again. He told me that he could get the part in the morning. I decided it was worth another night at the Doubletree Hotel in Davenport, Iowa to not go through that again. I decided to go ahead with changing the fuel pump.

I went over to the front desk and checked myself back in. She gave me the same room. I headed back up to my old room. The maids were just coming out and they gave me a surprised look. “I just came out of this room, but I had to check back in,” I explained. “Oh, well at least you got clean towels now.”

So, I moved back into my old room.

I decided to walk to find the wonderful sky bridge that was touted in the 10 best things to do in Davenport. I saw it about a block behind the hotel. I walked over toward it when suddenly something flew and grabbed at my hair. I turned to see a red-winged blackbird about to ascend again. I walked more quickly and tried to wave it away, but it grabbed my head 3 more times. And I mean he literally grabbed my hair. I finally picked up a rock and threw it past him. He left me alone after that, though it was probably more that I had just gotten beyond the area he was defending. Sheesh.

I walked over to the bridge and took the elevator up. Not that impressive, really. Another million dollars that could have gone for something more useful, but oh well.

After I had descended the bridge, I walked a bit farther until I found the Figge Museum. It was free for the month of July so in I went. Actually, it was a pretty nice museum for such a small town. Unfortunately, for me, the docents saw me as prime meat since I was alone. “This gallery exists because of paper bags,” One tells me. It is the Grant Wood gallery – the guy that painted American Gothic.

“Wow,” I nod. I don’t really care. She continues to talk as I try to sneak away. Fortunately for me, a couple walked in and the docent’s attention switched to them.

I left the museum because I was getting hungry. I wandered down the street until I found a nice little brew pub that actually had good beer and good food (spicy shrimp quesadilla that turned out to be the size of a serving platter).

I wandered back to the hotel and watched TV for the rest of the evening. My exciting life.


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