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The "Quiet Cab Ride" Adventure
November 13, 2020
The “Quiet Ride Cab” Adventure
With stops to get a lock and an L-wrench to fix the rearview mirror, we were less than an hour off-schedule to be “on the road.” Even now, I cannot swear whether it was just Vermont or the aging GPS not being up with the newest roads, but Garvin took us on many back roads barely wide enough for the truck. I like to think our vertebrae enjoyed the sudden adjustments and were glad we did not have loose dentures. Most of these country lanes had swells and dents and no end of potholes. On one particularly steep downhill section, it was Dueling Potholes. A lurch to the right; I pictured the imaginary third rider being flung into my lap, then remounting the plank only to be flung at my husband’s head within minutes.
We were given some respite then of a smooth road going through a postcard picture of a valley with the trees in all their colorful autumn glory, back-dropping a white farm house some yards away from a red and white barn/silo and brown cows lazily chomping green grass. Five minutes to drink in and be grateful for the autumn colors of Vermont.
Then we hit what should have been a main highway with seams spaced so that each g-dunk sounded like the monster engine having the hiccups. My husband spoke to me over the “quiet” engine.
“No, I don’t think there is radon,” I answered, puzzled by his question. He gave me The Look I had received from my students when I seem to have said something obtuse.
“I said,” he shouted, “do you want the radio on?”
I shrugged. The little face of the AM/FM radio was barely discernible on the dashboard, but buzzed into dimly-lit life as my husband turned the dial. I know enough about radio waves and station call numbers to know that AM/FM meant we would be changing stations pretty often. We started with ghostly reports from talk radio and music and static, none coming in clearly. My husband pressed the channel toggle to his side, which drew the numbers down until he found a clear signal…which lasted perhaps five minutes before the static was back. He gestured to me to have a go, so I toggled the other direction.
We found we had choices of Kentucky Bluegrass (in Vermont and upstate New York, no less), sermons, one or two fleeting pop music radio stations, and the odd NPR station. Sticking with whatever came in clearest seemed to be the best choice. Those is, until we crossed some signal’s line and were blasted over the engine noise with heavy metal rock so heavy no charcoal could filter out a melody that I recognized. More toggling both ways and we found an NPR discussion of late 19th century music and politics.
Well, it was something relatively quiet.
My husband had decided we would drive eight hours that day. That would get us most of the way south through upstate New York. We stopped for coffee and to reserve a motel room in a propitious city perhaps four hours north of our home. He changed the GPS route for Garvin. We might have taken the system’s response as a warning: “No such address.” He cajoled it with alternate numbers on the same street until it finally agreed to direct us to somewhere near the motel.
I still insist it was sheer dumb luck that we found the place in the evening-darkened outskirts of town. A chance look to the right and we saw the end of a long, low building and an unlit sign advertising the motel. The gentleman at the office desk welcomed us, but was in no hurry to register us. He typed a little on his computer, squinted at my husband’s driver’s license over his glasses, then studied my husband to make sure he and the DL photo resembled each other. Then he typed a little more, did a second inspection of license and man, typed a little more, and so on for what seemed to our aching backs like an eternity. Finally, he returned the license, gave us the key and told us to be sure and enjoy the “wonderful continental breakfast” they offered in the morning.
The night passed well enough, even if the pizza delivery man called us three times to get the directions straight. His GPS couldn’t find the motel, either.
Come morning, we returned to the motel office for breakfast. We found the wonderful continental breakfast consisted of two tubular dispensers of sugar-encrusted cereal, a pot of coffee and a Plexiglas case containing a series of miniature cupcake cups. Inside each cup was a sunken pastry half the size of a petit-four (does that make it a petit-two or a petit-eight? I don’t know) and not looking too happy about their situation. We took coffee before checking out and getting back on the road.
Back on the highway, we again played Radio games, but seem to have left the world of pop music and NPR behind. Heavy metal and sermons were the fare of the day. I suppose, considering it was Sunday, we should have expected that. However, the overlap between the two soon got serious: the rocker of a particularly loud piece was screeching about his love for his girlfriend or his motorcycle – between the engine and the “music,” I couldn’t tell which – and then faded into a rather passionate preacher begging for money for his mission on the radio in a increasingly loud and nasal voice. Suddenly, we hit a pocket where the preacher and rocker competed for our attention. Somehow, it almost seemed planned, as their tonality and timbre matched each other, as did their volume. The stuff of headaches, I thought. I wondered aloud if the situation couldn’t be resolved if the rocker simply sold his motorcycle and gave the proceeds to the preacher so they could both shut up. My husband did not respond, not even a smirk. I touched his arm.
“What?” he asked. “Did you say something?”
I watched the blur of trees with browning leaves and bare branches for the rest of the trip.
At last, we backed into our driveway to unload the truck. Our older daughter arrived to help unload. Again, no ceremony, no fanfare. We did not even have fog or blue jays, only thin rays of sun through gray clouds and the howls of the huskies down the block.
Some time has passed and I have come to some conclusions:
Care must be taken in choosing equipment and transportation for a move; and prepare for the radio merry-go-round if the move is between states.
Chanting might help with the breath work needed to haul boxes and appliances from one place to the other, but flower petals and incense get in the way more than they help.
Autumn colors, like life, have to be noted and appreciated for their beauty; and, when they’re gone, we move on. We have to move on.