Thursday, May 14, 2009

"card from california" part 1

I arrived at San Francisco International Airport at 7:20 PM, Wednesday May 13. It was, as Walt Kelly's Pogo used to say "Friday the 13th come on a Wednesday." The air travel went smoothly, but once on the ground I was my usual bumbling self and things went slightly, but not irretrievably awry.

I had reserved a car with Avis. I've always wanted to rent from Avis, ever since they began their "We Try Harder" campaign in the mid-1960's. When I was in high school, Avis ran a promotion that involved giving away buttons that said "we try harder" in dozens of languages. Teens then collected those much the way that today's teens collect those brightly colored rubbery bracelets.

I signed the papers and headed for my car -- a cute, bright red (my favorite car color) Chevy Aveo. I piled the luggage in the trunk. Loaded my self in the front seat. And turned on the key. All hell broke loose. That is if "all hell" means loud honking sounds and lights flashing. I quickly turned the key off, but the noise and lights didn't stop -- at least not right away. I checked everything I could think to check and tried again. Same result -- horrible noise and flashing lights. And acute embarrassment. After a third try, mortified, I locked my stuff in the car and returned to the counter for assistance.

The very kind agent who had done my paper work, got someone else to cover the counter and came out with me to check the car. She immediately noted the red warning light on the dash. Okay -- I'd seen it -- but had no idea what it meant. It was a warning that the trunk was improperly shut. Opened the trunk and found that my travel pillow had been caught in the trunk. Moved it out of the way, shut the trunk again, and the car started up pretty (and quiet) as you please. D'oh!

My next moment of mortification was luckily unwitnessed by anyone else (except you dear readers). I had steadfastly declined the inclusion of a GPS system for the car, and even earlier all my mother's queries about my need for instructions, airily declaring that this was my home town and I knew how to get where I needed to go. Ha!! It was after dark, and the road/freeway set up at SFO has changed dramatically since the last time I would have driven there (1999). So instead of finding myself on Interstate 101 heading south towards San Jose, I found myself on I-280 heading north to San Francisco.

Even in the daylight in my own car, merging right across multiple lanes of traffic is not my forte. At night, in a strange car, on a strange road -- well -- I accomplished it without getting creamed. Only to find myself on the wrong side (the exit I needed was a left hand exit).

I kept going, and took the very first exit to the right off the interstate I encountered. It dropped me into a residential area of San Bruno. I decided that I would just simply keep going down hill or turning right (if down hill wasn't an option) until I ran into El Camino Real. The "avenue of the king" is the thread that connects all the coastal cities and towns of California from San Diego to San Francisco. It comes from the days of the Spanish padres and the missions that they built.

After a modest amount of twisting and turning my strategy worked. I hit El Camino as I knew was inevitable, and followed it through miles of commercial and residential areas, traffic lights every few blocks until I reached my home town of San Mateo, where I was (more or less) on solid ground.

I made it to my parents house, was greeted, fed and got to bed.

This morning I got a quick lesson from my mother in how to get my father out of bed, dressed, and through the routine of the bathroom. Mid-morning, my parents care worker, Jennifer, took my mom to the doctor, and left me to care for my dad.

I thought for a moment, when I came in last night, that my dad recognized me. But since then he's shown no sign of recognition. He appears to tolerate me as one more in a stream of care givers -- albeit one less skilled than most.

This is going to be a very long 9 days.

Note: the subject line comes from a Phil Oches song from the 60's. I have photos to add, but forgot my cord for the camera, so will have to wait on photos until I can buy a new cord.

1 comment:

Qaro said...

What an adventure! That is _exactly_ how I found my way through Pittsburgh: "Downhill or turn right" with the addition of try not to cross any extra bridges.