Thursday, July 9, 2009

Diet Pills and Roadkill

Due to a monumental, cross-country job change, we have found ourselves residents Florida.

Specifically, "I" have found myself in Florida for now~ unpacking, arranging, weeding, mopping, cleaning and pretty much everything that goes along with occupying a house that has been vacant for who-knows-how-long. Two-thirds of my children have joined me, making the afore-mentioned tasks just that much more difficult, seeing as one of them has to be watched constantly because, unsupervised, she is two minutes away from electrocution, drowning or falling into the freshwater canal that is our backyard. The other one, although seven years older, has regressed to wetting the bed, dragging his blankey around the house 24/7 and flopping over in tantrum-like rages when told "no," he can't purchase the entire DVD series of ICarly at Target for $24.99.

I made it to Florida, the Tallahassee area specifically, in less than 24 hours thanks to my two wonderful friends (the Katy's) and a blatant abuse of diet pills prescribed just before my departure from Iowa. I lured the younger Kaat into accompanying me to Florida with flowery promises of the Great Smokey Mountains, beautiful scenery and Asheville, home of the Biltmore Estate. A recent high school graduate, a road trip that included all of this, plus some time on the beach in Florida, must have been pretty alluring.

She saw little of the beauty promised due to a monumental change of driving plans that occurred in the general vicinity of ~ I don't know ~ Indiana. I blame this on the diet pills and my brother, who downright begged me to stop by his home south of Tallahassee, in a place so remote I didn't have cell phone service 3/4 of the time. This was also where the other "Katy" and I gleefully stomped on a furry, red ant the size of my big toe. It didn't die easily, mind you ~ it obviously had a great will to live. Upon further future investigation , this critter was called a cow-killer. We probably shouldn't have trifled with a critter with a nickname of "cow-killer," but we are from the midwest. We didn't know any better.

Due to financial reasons, my other half convinced me to drive our pint-sized Toyota Corolla. I swapped the use of my SUV because at the time, 38 miles per gallon sounded pretty damn good.

It wasn't so good when the Corolla was loaded with three grown women, a one year old, and our dog, the Cairn Terrier named Sven. It was possibly some of the hottest weather of the year in the south, further complicating our close quarters. I watched as the thermometer on the car reached 102 and 103 degrees, and we practically puddled the second we stepped outside the air conditioning of the car.

The dog innocently put a wrench in our breaks and we stopped and ate at only one restaurant, because even with the windows wide open, one can't possibly leave a dog in a car in 103 degree weather. We chanced it at a Chick-Fil-A in Alabama. We circled the parking lot until a spot with partial shade opened up and periodically checked on him from inside the restaurant ~ his leash hooked to the door handle of the car with a bowl of water next to him. His woeful eyes never left the entrance of the restaurant and was probably wondering what he had done to endure such cruelty.

I feel immensely guilty about the drive, as I didn't let anyone else behind the wheel. I have a thing about driving that is a little manic and nutso, understood only by my husband who is the same way. When setting forth upon the open road with a destination in mind, we will practically kill ourselves to get there in record time. There are so many stories, but I won't bore you with the lurid details. Just trust me on this one.

This trip, I was proud to say, was definitely made in record time; I don't think that I have made it to Florida that quickly. Ever. My passengers are still probably rueing the day that they agreed to make the trip with me, as one didn't make it out of the backseat ONCE, but I couldn't have done it without them.

I think it was gracious of me (because if I was by myself, I would have sped by the following) that we stopped at a small peninsula called Alligator Point on the Gulf of Mexico in which we, including the dog, about died of heatstroke walking from the car to the beach and back to the car again.

I also turned around and retraced our tracks at one point to stop to gawk at roadkill. Alligator roadkill, to be exact. I still feel as if we should have poked it with a stick to get a better lookey-loo, but the others were much wiser and more cautious when they pointed out the gator could have just been "stunned" and lying there on its back for a short spell, only to wake up and scurry off once it regained consciousness . We also did the touristy thing in Daytona Beach and walked the pier in which a shark was held by Kaat, providing a fabulous non-Iowalike photo opportunity.

Alas, the friends are gone and the kids aren't. There is cleaning and babyproofing to be done in our new home. The road trip is over and reality has set in.

Although it is crazy and my passengers most likely wouldn't agree, I wouldn't mind doing it again. There was more laughter experienced for me during this short time than the entire past year. I have come to the conclusion that I am much too serious ~ perhaps this should be something I should work on now that I live in Florida. Pastel houses, flamingos and the ocean three miles from my house might help me lighten up a wee bit.