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Road trips

Have you ever noticed that the most memorable trips are those where things go wrong? At the time it seems awful, but later you laugh about it. For some reason, nearly all of my driving misadventures involve California.

The first one that comes to mind was a few months after The Engineer and I were married. We took a weekend trip from Tucson to San Diego. A mini, belated honeymoon of sorts to one of my favorite cities. We drove my Acura (of the now infamous aftermarket cruise control), which was at this point nine years old and driven to death.

On the morning we were due to leave San Diego, the car battery died and my husband pushed the car back and forth in the parking lot of the hotel while I tried to pop the clutch to get it started. Poor guy. It finally worked, and since it was too early in the morning to get the battery replaced, we drove to El Centro (about three hours or so) and stopped for lunch while the guys at Sears replaced the battery.

That would have been enough, but this is where I must mention that it was July. In the desert. At midday. Not an hour after we left El Centro, we heard an ominous thump as the air conditioning belt flew off and sailed behind us. Now, I know that when my dad was a kid, he took the same trip many times and just roasted with the windows down.

But, hah, we’re better than that. We improvised in the 100+ degree heat. I’m not sure whose idea it was, so I’ll take joint credit with The Engineer, but we tied up the sleeves of my long-sleeved shirt (hey, the beach doesn’t warm up until fall) and stuffed them with ice cubes which we spent the remainder of the drive rubbing on our face and arms to stay cool.

I hardly remember anything else about that trip, but it’s precisely the things that went wrong—and the knowledge that we were able to handle them, and did so together—that make it a fun memory.

Got any misadventures to share?

Hodgepodge

This is a random collection of fun things from my European tour that I haven’t already mentioned.

This semi caught my eye on the way to Florence. Truck drivers in many European countries are not allowed to drive on Sundays or holidays (or even the whole weekend). They just have to stop and park until the ban is off. This driver apparently ran out of clean clothes.

Laundry truck



McDonald’s and Burger King are all over Europe, but the menus are modified to fit the local tastes. I’m still not sure if this breakfast sandwich in Innsbruck looks good, or like something covered in bugs. Note how the menu is partially in English. We saw that a lot, whether the English made sense or not.

Good morning, Innsbruck



Mmm, nothing says pizza like an American gangster.

Pizza speakeasy in Innsbruck



No refrigerator for your kiosk? No problem. Just stream cold water over the drinks all day long. Seems wasteful, but I can’t decide if I want the water to be recycled or not.

Water cooler



This shop window cracked me up. “Um, excuse me. Where’s the door?”

How do I get in?



Want an easy, memorable web address? Try this one.

Anyone have a pen?



The cars in Europe were noticably different. Until we reached England, they were mostly small hatchbacks or station wagons, and even the American makes were usually models we don’t have in the US. My youngest dubbed this Fiat Panda the “fat panda”.

Fat Panda



Saw this in an antique/junk store window in Lucerne.

I'm going kuckuck



This poor person was on the third floor of a building in Lucerne that must have had a tight staircase and no elevator.

I hope this wasn't an emergency



The EMT might want to check the patient's blood pressure...



And finally, even on a trip to Europe, we couldn’t escape the Bella, Edward, Jacob love triangle.

Are they sexier in German?



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