Voyage of the Darned

The trip to my parents’ house was so full of first world problems, I don’t even know where to begin.

We didn’t get trapped in snow in the Sierra Nevada’s for months and end up having to eat one another like the Donner Party, but it sometimes felt like that it could happen at any time.

We didn’t run out of fruit & all die of scurvy but only because I packed enough apples.

There weren’t any plagues of locusts, that I noticed, but there were several stink bugs.

Saturday drive-196

One giant suitcase, one carry on suitcase, one military backpack, two normal backpacks & my Bag of Holding. Not pictured – a small laundry basket full of snacks & beverages.

Problems began 20 minutes away from the house, in the school parking lot, as I attempted to load the boys’ chosen movies into our 6 disc DVD changer. It took the first one just fine. It didn’t take a second one, but acted as though it had & lit that number up as though it had. So I loaded the second disc into the 3rd slot.

And then it all went haywire.

No more discs would load. The discs in there wouldn’t play. The discs wouldn’t eject.

And the player, cycling through each disc cartridge, made a grinding noise & would not stop. It just kept cycling & cycling, grinding & grinding.

We stopped by Crutchfield (an auto electronics store) to see if they could do something but they said they don’t repair, they only replace. But for about $500 they’d be happy to install a new player & screen onto the roof of the car.

Except we already have a screen there, but apparently not one any of their players works with.

Can you say “What a scam!”?

Can you also say “Technology hates me?”

Eventually we did get it to stop cycling so we could at least listen to a book in peace. (The DVD player also has the AUX jack the mp3 player runs through, to turn the AUX on you have to turn the DVD player on, this will important later)

By the time we thought of using a portable DVD player we were nearly 2 hours away from home, where we have two, with dual monitors (though possibly one doesn’t work) & owning two, we were not about to buy another. Even though a single monitor one costs about $30 at Wal Mart. First of all, it’s a stop gap solution. Secondly, it’s not much of a solution. The second row are captains chairs. There is no place in between them to put a single monitor so someone would have to hold it, leading the other to whine about his brother won’t let him see the screen.

So the boys were forced to listen to Guards, Guards by Terry Pratchett with us. Fortunately our listening selection this time is the mostly family friendly Discworld series & not some of the stuff we have listened to in the past.

They also played their Nintendo DSes, at least until the batteries ran out and we had no car charger. That was rectified for the trip back by my ordering one from my phone’s Amazon app ($2.99 & free 2 day shipping) for delivery to my folks’ place.

We had to talk to one another!

We’re not a social bunch. We actually look forward to eating our annual snack chips while indulging in our annual two day long passive entertainment festival of peace & quiet.

But no…

We got lost around Lynchburg as usual, once again missing the exit/turn/whatever it might be, we wouldn’t know having never seen it.

Saturday drive-212

Ahsoka proved as useless as her other Jedi brethren.

Then we got lost, missed exits or went the wrong direction 3 more times, including trying to find our hotel, which was hiding behind another hotel & was in no way visible from the road.

We finally got to bed at nearly midnight, a full two hours later than we’d planned.

Saturday drive-205

And of course we were up at 6am because of boys jumping on beds.

Saturday drive-198

Walterboro, SC Waffle House in the predawn light

It was hoped this day would be better.

But no.

We didn’t get lost – much. We were on I95 by this point & it’s sort of hard to get lost on I95. So instead the steering began making strange noises as we reached the Georgia-Florida state line.

Saturday drive-220

Welcome to Florida. Please check your fluids.

Then we eventually turned onto I4 and from there to US 27, where Google maps LET US DOWN and got us lost trying to find our next hotel.

I KNOW! Who’d a thought it?

Eventually we do find the Best Western in WinterHaven, but only because I remembered my mom saying it was across the street from Legoland & we followed the Legoland signs.

We made the mistake of thinking that since we’d arrived at our destination for the night, nothing else bad could happen & we could relax.

But no!

First the lock jammed and it took about 8 tries to get into the room with the keycard.

Then the lock jammed and it took even more tries to get OUT OF the room.

No lie, my parents had to call the front desk to get maintenance sent up because they COULD NOT GET THEIR DOOR OPEN FROM INSDIE THE ROOM.

Yes, my 70 something parents were trapped inside their hotel room by a faulty door lock.

And it happened again after the lock was ‘fixed’.

Also, none of the lights worked in our room. Turns out this is because they were not plugged in. Turns out that was because all of the outlets in the room were so loose that they couldn’t hold a plug for more than 10 seconds.

Made recharging the DSes impossible.

Until maintenance showed up with some duct tape.

We went to supper at Ruby Tuesdays, which was next to the Best Western, where we waited over 45 minutes to be served two lukewarm kids burgers, a cold steak and a turkey burger that was actually a chicken breast.

Saturday drive-229

Oh that includes a 15 minute wait for a strawberry margarita.

I got my meal (except margarita) for free & we got 30% off the rest when a manager was finally located & I had my replacement burger packed up to go since everyone else was done eating by the time it arrived.

Because we know when we are beaten, we went to bed early.

Sunday we went to Legoland


More on that when I get the photos edited.

We were there until the place closed at 6pm & then we began the last 3 hour part of our journey.

DH asked if I got directions from my folks on how to get to their place (They had left about 3pm) and I said

“No, we have Google Maps.”

and he says “Brave choice.”

Sure enough, before we were 5 miles from Legoland Google Maps got us lost looking for US17.

But my folks’ directions wouldn’t have been much better since they wanted me to get on SR80 and there is no SR80 in this part of Florida.

Then a demon possessed the DVD player.

It began cycling through the discs, grinding every time & we could not stop it. None of our previous tricks could make it stop. It went on for about 30 minutes, then fell silent for about 5 minutes.

Just long enough to give us hope.

Then it began making an even louder whirring & grinding noise. Not even turning the car off entirely could make it stop. After about 45 minutes off it I could take it no longer.

I did the only thing you can do when confronted with demonic possession.

I stabbed the DVD player through the heart with the knife of DH’s multi tool.

Sunday drive-196

That silenced it and the rest of the trip passed quietly & in peace, with no wrong turns or missed exits whatsoever.

I think the demon was the cause of all the bad luck.

I should have staked it back in the school parking lot.

DH has to take the dash apart this week & pull out the DVD player. The two movies that are stuck in it are from Netflix & we need to mail them back. Part of me hopes by taking it apart & reassembling it we’ll fix whatever was making it jam up. But just in case I did price replacement players for our vehicle model. $250 for a used one & then I found a couple You Tube videos on how to replace it ourselves.

Let us hope that at the very least it taking it apart will exorcise the demon for our trip home.

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