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Road Trip Woes and Wonders

No journey I take is ever "normal" or uneventful. That certainly was the case with our most recent road trip to visit family in Michigan and Tennessee.

Because long drives are becoming more tiresome as I age, we broke this trip into two days, stopping for the night in Findlay, Ohio, a.k.a. "Flag City, USA." (Perhaps I'll explain that moniker in a later post.)


We resumed our journey the next morning after carefully (I thought) ensuring that we had removed from the motel room every personal item we had taken into it. Despite the ubiquitous road construction zones, we arrived safely at our destination in Michigan.

There, we reveled in the company of our daughter, son-in-law, and three grandchildren and awakened every morning to the presence of a doe and her fawn in the yard, only a dozen or so feet from our window.

Over the next several days, we ferried the children to and from Vacation Bible School, toured Dow Gardens and Whiting Forest, helped fell and dispose of two trees, and sanded spackling in preparation for painting our daughter's old house, which soon will become a rental house. We also toured the church and school where our daughter and her husband work and played with the grandkids.


Then, one day, when I sought to prepare my weekly blog post, I couldn't find my laptop. After searching through all of our luggage and every nook and cranny of our car, I concluded that I had left it in the motel in Findlay. And I panicked. I had only purchased it a few months before. On it was much of my research and writing. In my mind's eye, I could see the lady in housekeeping finding it and taking it home for herself or a child or friend. Or selling it.


Nonetheless, I called the motel and asked if they had found my computer. Yes, they had! Did I want them to hold it for me?


Silly question! Of course I wanted them to hold it! I told them when we'd be returning and that I would pick it up the morning of our return.


When the morning of our departure arrived, however, our car battery was dead, and that created a plethora of other error codes on the reader, such as a misfire in the No. 1 cylinder. I'm no mechanic, but that didn't sound good. If you know the Dodge Journey, you might also know the difficulty of replacing its battery, which can't be found by merely raising the hood. (Knowing that fact will make you appreciate every other car with a battery in an easily accessible place under the hood.)


The local Dodge dealer's service department was not yet open. But my son-in-law jump started the engine and put the battery on his charger, restoring enough juice to get us to the dealership just as it opened. The service manager checked the car with his code reader and said they could fix it--but not until sometime late the next day.

Fortunately, our son-in-law has a mechanic friend, Daniel, who operates a large repair service, D & J Auto Repair, Inc. We drove to his business, hoping he could work us into his busy schedule. He did, making the necessary repairs and resetting the computer, and we were on the road home by noon.


At the motel, the clerk recognized the purpose of my return visit before I could finish giving her my name.


"Ah! The laptop!" she exclaimed, disappearing around the corner and then returning, laptop in hand.


I thanked her profusely, and then we were back on the road, wending our way through Road Construction Alley--Ohio, Kentucky, and Tennessee--but not without numerous slowdowns and delays. We arrived at my sister's house in Tennessee not in time for the planned dinner out with her, my brother-in-law, and one of their sons and his two children but closer to 10 p.m.


The next afternoon, we were back on the road, fighting more construction zones and stop-and-go traffic and arriving home worn out but relieved to be back safely--and with my computer intact.

If you're ever traveling along I-75 through Findlay, Ohio, and need overnight accommodations, consider staying at the Hampton Inn at Exit 159. They have a housekeeping lady who is honest. But it wouldn't hurt to learn a lesson from my experience: double check your room before you leave to ensure that you take with you everything you took into the room!

On a more positive note, our daughter and son-in-law made a discovery while they were preparing to move into their new (to them) home--a stack of assorted newspapers from early to mid-1943. Knowing my interest in World War II history, they saved them for me. I'm now in the process of perusing them for information and writing material.


Of the numerous interesting tidbits I've already found was the following quotation in one newspaper's coverage of a speech by President Franklin Roosevelt in which he revealed what the U.S. military forces would and would not do in the war with Japan:


We do not expect to spend the time it would take to bring Japan to final defeat merely by inching our way forward from island to island across the vast expanse of the Pacific.

Ahem! That is precisely how the military DID implement its "island-hopping" strategy for the war! (Apparently, one couldn't believe the government then any more than one can today! Some things never change!)


Stay tuned. I may share other discoveries from the headlines of 1943 in subsequent posts. Meanwhile, I'm keeping a sharp eye on my laptop!

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