Right at the top, a little “shout out” to Maggie at Kuhn’s Equipment (see “LINKS” page of this blog). She recently sent me a “free” Kuhn’s t-shirt that in actuality represents roughly $1000 of what’s on the Cost-O-Meter. But check it out; when I’m wearing it I’m camouflaged while working on the Pony.
Photo, courtesy of Gene.
Thanks for the shirt, Maggie.
Might as well get the Pony news all out-of-the-way. I replaced the Pony’s damaged distributor points (also from Maggie), but the engine still would not start. Remembering back on our earlier issues with starting, Gene and I retimed the engine, and “voila,” the engine started right up. So we’re back in business, and I can get back to more restoration work.
Moving on. Have I mentioned before that I have gephyrophobia, fear of bridges? Probably not, because I just had to go look up the spelling. I didn’t always have it, but I started noticing it I guess back in my late 20′s. It’s not as bad if someone else is driving, but if I have to drive over a long, tall bridge, I’m a mess. I bring this up because back in March I suggested to my mom that Cindy and I come down to help celebrate her 90th birthday (it was Sept 2). She loved the idea and so I went ahead and booked airline tickets. The decision for me on our Florida trips is, do I book tickets straight into Sarasota, or do I suffer the slings and arrows of gephyrophobia, fly into Tampa, rent a car and then deal with my old nemesis, THE SUNSHINE SKYWAY BRIDGE. Of course there are a lot more flights into Tampa, so the fares are cheaper, and its hard for me (a cheap skate) not to go the gephyrophobia route.
So I had all the months since March to off and on worry about crossing that damn bridge. By the way, did I mention that the bridge that my nemesis replaced was run into by a ship and well…that was the end of it. So you know, in my mind, my fear is not just nonsense. As we got closer to the trip, I started thinking about that looming monster as I lay in bed at night. I kept thinking, you idiot why didn’t you just spend the extra money, I’m too young to die, and man, I don’t want to die like that.
The big day finally came last week. We parked at off-site parking at our airport and got on the shuttle bus. I sat down and looked to the front of the bus, and there was a sign, “YOUR DRIVER IS 12.” Well great, I thought, some kid not even in his teens is going to take me out of my misery and kill me before I even get to the bridge, fine. But no, we made it to the airport, and even onto the plane. By the way, even though planes fly WAY higher than a bridge, they don’t scare me at all. This time though my nerves were shot and as I shuffled around in my seat, I squeezed my Starbucks cup too hard, and the top popped off sending coffee everywhere. The rest of the way to Tampa I smelled like a coffee shop.
In Tampa I made sure to rent a car big enough to survive a plunge off the bridge. We got a nearly new Chevy Impala, and I thought…it’s going to be a shame to wreck this beautiful car. We hit the road with the bridge out there 30 miles ahead waiting, taunting. We got to the toll booths, Sweet Jesus, they make you pay for this torture? Well, I guess they have to pay for the next new bridge somehow (after this one too goes down). It’s hard to explain the feeling I have as I ascend the bridge. My body tenses, my fingers begin to fidget (even in their death grip on the wheel), my head almost swims…DONT SAY SWIM. This is a BAD bridge; the sides are just three-foot high concrete walls. Hell, I could smash through those easily, I think.
The ascent continues and involuntarily my speed begins to slow from 70 to 60 to 50…. The Princess, not fully appreciating my predicament is in the seat next to me yammering away. She sees some pelicans off to the side. “I wonder if those birds ever run into the cars crossing the bridge,” she offers helpfully. Woman, are you NUTS? Do I need one more thing to worry about? Unbelievably we crest the highest point and I can breathe again; we’re going to make it; we’re alive! I’m incredibly relieved until about 30 seconds later when I remember… oh crap, I’ve got to cross this thing again in just four days.
My Mom’s birthday celebration was a huge success, a good time had by all, as they say. Lots of friends and family. I could put lots of photos in here, but since this is my blog I’ll just include this one of my mom and me.
No wonder people ask me, “Is that your sister?” Mom, we wish you many, many more such happy birthdays.
A favorite part of family visits down to mom’s are evening picnics at the beach where we’ll eat sandwiches, drink some wine and then watch the sunset. With that in mind, I was interested in an “end-of-season” sale of water toys at our local CVS. There were a whole bunch of inflatable whales marked 75% off, which brought the price down from $10 to $2.50. As The Princess and I walked out of the store I told her about the whales, and she said that I had to go back in and get one for the trip.
After a lot of help from Andy blowing the stupid thing up, we headed for the beach where I christened the whale and named him Killer. Here’s a shot of Killer and me.
Photo, courtesy of Molly, my niece.
After we had some fun with Killer, I decided that on our last night I’d find someone to adopt Killer so he could stay in Sarasota. It worked out perfectly. There was a family sitting near us with two little girls, turns out they were twin 5-year-olds. I told their parents that it would be alright if the girls played with Killer. Although they didn’t jump right at him, within a very short time they had him in the water, out of the water, bouncing on him and pouring buckets of water on him.
I talked to the parents and told them if it was alright with them, the girls could keep the whale, and they thanked me profusely. I walked by the little girls as they played with Killer, and told them that they could have the whale, but that they would have to come up with a name for him. One of them told me right away, “Oh, her name is Bella.” Here’s a shot of Bella and her new friends.
Photo, courtesy of mom.
What fun that $2.50 bought. I’ll have to go see if CVS has any more for the next trip. The sunset that night was the best one of the trip. I thought with both happiness and some sadness, how it marked the end of one really great day.
I’ll end with a riddle. How does a North Carolina driver know when his car door is open? Answer: After it’s made good solid contact with another object (like my Camry). Argh!
Have a wonderful week and thanks for reading.