That Vacation Trip, Days 4 & 5: The Anticlimax

On the darker side, assassins are running wild in the world and everyone is at each others’ throats. On the lighter side, the Christmas season is in full swing. Either way, I’m not really in a mood to talk about last summer’s vacation any more. However, it drives me crazy to leave a job undone, so I’ll just wrap it up in this post.

Actually, there’s not that much to recount. The morning of Day 4 we were set to start home. We couldn’t face the complimentary breakfast in the lobby of the hotel; it was usually packed and hectic, with nowhere to sit. And the walls dripping with Elvis memorabilia just seemed to add to the frantic atmosphere.

We’d spotted a Krispy Kreme shop just down Elvis Presley Boulevard the day we arrived, so we opted to get carry-out donuts and drinks to consume in the van. As we got ourselves sticky with powdered sugar, glaze, and frosting, Diamondqueen drove us back across the Mississippi to Marion, AR, for the Sultana museum visit I described here.

Diamondqueen, happily homeward bound at last as we cross the Mississippi.

Diamondqueen, happily homeward bound at last as we cross the Mississippi.

Once back on the highway, we were truly headed home, straight through Memphis and across the middle section of Tennessee. The game plan was to detour north to Adams, TN to visit the site of the Bell Witch hauntings, including the cave on the property. Then we’d drive northeast to Bowling Green, KY, where we’d crash for our final night.

The threatened rain caught up with us while we were still on I40, although it was never a downpour. The ride was gloomy and dull without much to look at. I don’t even remember where we stopped for a McDonald’s lunch; it was a typical strip just off the expressway.

Our directions had us exiting the interstate and driving to Adams via back roads. We got very twisted around and seemed to be taking much too long. It was getting closer and closer to our booked tour time at the Bell Witch cave, the last of the day. I finally took Diamondqueen’s phone and called the Bell Witch people. I was informed that there had been too much rain and the site was already closed. (The website had informed us that rain could flood the cave, making tours impossible, but it hadn’t seemed that rainy.)

So, we’d had a long detour for nothing. More haggard driving for Diamondqueen as we wound back to a highway that would take us to Bowling Green. We emerged just north of Nashville, just in time to crawl along through rush hour traffic on I65. Reaching our hotel in Bowling Green made us as happy as any destination the entire trip.

None of us had any interest in going back out for dinner. Diamondqueen went on a pizza run so we could eat in our rooms. It was delicious, but it opened the acid pumps in my stomach something awful for another uncomfortable night.

I mentioned in my first post about our vacation trip that S.Hooligan had shrieked “Dino-Jesus!” as we passed a dinosaur park near Mammoth Cave. We all gave her props for wit and originality, but later learned the truth. After our pizza dinner, I was on my netbook checking e-mails and Facebook when I thought to Google “Dino-Jesus.” I discovered it was a very popular meme; images alone provided dozens of variations. S.Hooligan had become a big fan of Reddit; and although she denied it, we believe she picked up on Dino-Jesus there. (Yes, it did make me feel out of step with pop culture and the swirling memes of the internets; I shudder to think of all that’s escaping my cognizance, but it’s not like I really want to know. Not enough to try to keep track of it, anyway.)

We did have breakfast in this hotel, which had a very nice buffet and a roomy eating area. I needed to use the bathroom again before we hit the road, so I went back up to our room so I could be comfortable. Without going into distasteful details, I wound up with the most painful reaction of the trip, which was saying a lot. My teeth were clenched as I waited for the elevator, and on the way down I tried not to hyperventilate in the company of the other hotel patrons. When I emerged, Diamondqueen and the Hooligans were waiting for me. Diamondqueen took one look at my face and said, “Are you okay?”

I shook my head, and the floodgates opened. In the van, I sobbed. The pain was so intense I could hardly breathe. J.Hooligan, helpful but uncomprehending, said, “Don’t worry, Chester. There’ll be another bathroom pretty soon.” Diamondqueen explained I wasn’t worried about needing the bathroom, I simply hurt.

It was a good ten minutes before the pain began to fade and I could breathe again and speak in short sentences. The astonishing thing was, the Hooligans were dead silent the entire time. Apparently the whole episode unnerved them. On that note we journeyed northward and homeward. The closer we got to home, the heavier the rain became until we seemed to be swimming through dense clouds by the time we reached Northern Kentucky.

Reaching home in the wet gloom, we learned of the shooting of a local police officer, Sonny Kim, which deepened the day’s mood. (He had specific ties to our part of the Cincinnati suburbs; in fact, his kids attended the same Loveland schools as the Hooligans, which made it all a lot more personal.) The dismal atmosphere stretched on until the fallen officer’s funeral a week later–another rain-sodden day. In the meantime, I had my first appointment with the pain specialist the Monday after we returned home; that Wednesday I had the first of the eighty hyperbaric treatments to come. Our holiday, for better or worse, was long, long behind us. And, for awhile, it seemed as if the summer spirit had vanished before the season got a good start.



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