Ramblings from the Gryphon Rose

Monday, January 24, 2005

The Longest Couch Trip Ever

Sorry I haven’t posted in a bit. Here’s why:
My dad came up on Saturday the 15th. He visited with us for a day, and then he and I drove a rented minivan down to NC on Sunday. Our plan was: get there Sunday evening, pack up all my books and comics and papers (basically everything I still had in the house in Greenville), load it all into the van along with a couch and a table, and then drive back up Wednesday.
No problem, right? Well, almost.
The drive down actually went perfectly, which should have been our first warning. It normally takes about nine hours, and we managed in just over eight. Had dinner with some of my dad’s friends, and then went to the house. Which, thanks to a temperature change a few weeks ago and the fact that all the windows and shades have been closed for months, was filled with mold. Lovely. We spent Sunday night cleaning and surveying, and getting things moved about in my room so I could reach the wall of books and comics. It was a question as to whether the couch would fit in the van at all.
Monday we took the day off and drove up to Chapel Hill to see my youngest sister. That was great—she had just gotten back a few days before from her trip to Israel, and we got to see all the pictures and hear all about it. I’m so jealous—apparently this trip existed when I was her age, but I had no idea. We came back and had dinner with a few more of my dad’s friends, which was nice. Then I started boxing things up.
Now, while visiting my sister my dad had made a fatal mistake. He pointed out to her that, considering the house had been basically unoccupied for two years, it was really doing surprisingly well. No major problems, no appliance failures, nothing. You can see where this is going, right?
So it’s 1am on Monday/Tuesday. I’m going to bed. Dad’s just taken a shower, but the water’s gone from hot to warm halfway through. He figures he’d better check the hot-water heater in case the pilot light’s gone out. Five minutes later he yells up that I’d better get dressed and come down. I find him standing near said heater. And my shoes squelch as I walk over. Because the floor is sopping wet.
Yep. Dead hot-water heater. Very dead.
And here’s the problem. The hot-water heater was installed in a small room in the house’s garage. But when my parents bought the house they decided they didn’t need a garage as much as they needed—a library. So they bricked it in, carpeted it, and installed bookcases everywhere. And since then the aisles in between have also been filled. By boxes. Of records and books.
So my dad and I spent the next three hours moving boxes out of the way, emptying soaked boxes, wiping off soaked records and books, and spreading them all over the kitchen, living room, and family room. We finally got to bed around 4:30.
At 8:30 the plumber showed up with a new hot-water heater. And right behind him were the maids Dad had called the other day to clean out the kitchen and bathroom (which they couldn’t do because there was no hot water), and the carpet cleaner guys to clean out the library carpet. I’m glad they were all able to come out so early, but at the same time, operating on four hours of sleep (and no shower, obviously) was not so good.
Spent the morning dealing with all that, and the afternoon packing. Turns out I have a lot more comics and books there than I realized. Forty-five boxes worth, to be precise. And that’s not counting all the ones I culled. Oy.
Had dinner with some more family friends that night—we went to a fun cafeteria-style barbeque place, which was quite good. Then went back and I finished packing.
The next morning we got up and got ready to go. The carpet cleaner guys were nice enough to carry out the couch and the table for us, and the couch really did fit—but once both of those were in, we didn’t have much space left for boxes. We only got about fifteen of the forty-five. But at least the rest are all packed and ready to go, so it’ll be easier to get them next time.
Then we started driving. We left at 11am. Should be a nine-hour drive, which means getting back home at 8pm. Instead we got home at 11pm. Why? Several reasons. First, the snowstorm we hit in upper NC and Virginia. Visibility was a few hundred feet at best—we were both staring out the front, searching for cars in front of us. Then, where 295 merges back to 95 outside Richmond, we hit an accident. A tractor-trailer had broken down, apparently, and was covering all three lanes. Traffic was backed up for FIVE MILES! We managed to turn off and take 1 North, which is slow and has traffic lights but got us past the accident. That delayed us enough, however, that we hit D.C. and Baltimore just in time for the middle of evening rush hour. And, although the snow shower itself was over, there was snow and slush everywhere, being kicked up by all the vehicles, so our visibility was as bad as or worse than it had been during the actual storm. Truly a lovely day.
We finally got home and collapsed. Oh yes, I’d also gotten a cold Wednesday, from the combination of cold temperatures, mold, and dust. Made the drive that much more exciting, let me tell you.
Thursday I dragged myself to work despite my cold. And that night Mook came out and helped me carry the futon upstairs to my office—we wound up having to go around the house with it, because it was just a hair too wide to fit up the basement stairs, and almost didn’t fit up the second-floor stairs either—the table into the dining room, and the couch into the basement. We also pulled the boxes out of the van and put them in the garage, and put the seats back into the van (we’d pulled the back rows out before we’d left, to give us more room). Then we went out for dinner, and then went grocery shopping. Then back home to collapse again.
That was the end of the trip, but not the end of the long week. More on the rest of it later. The trip actually wasn’t that bad—I got to spend time with my dad and my sister, see several family friends, pack up my room, sort through my things, and get a couch and a table for the house. It was just really long, particularly from Monday night to Wednesday night. We were very glad we’d rented a brand new minivan, though. We’d thought about simply driving my dad’s van back up instead, and that thing doesn’t have working windshield washers—without that, the front windshield would have been completely obscured by grit and mush in minutes, and we’d have had to give up and pull over for at least a night before trying again.

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