If you followed my multi-part blog series on building a dollhouse for my sister’s grandchildren, you know it didn’t just end with getting the house built—there was also a long-distance delivery involved as well.
Last year, my wife and I drove out to California in her Subaru Outback to deliver the dollhouse I built for our granddaughter that lives south of San Francisco. With my sister’s grandchildren also living in California, this meant another long-distance trek.
To avoid having to leave my wife’s car at the airport in Northwest Arkansas for the full 10 days needed for this second California trip, I loaded the doll house up and drove over just for the day to my sister’s house the last week of April to begin its westward journey. The added benefit of this step was that it allowed my sister to “play” with it some and fit in all of the furniture she had been building to furnish the house. This also seemed fair to let the doll house reside at her house for about a month to enjoy it before being delivered out west.
So, on the Sunday after Mother’s Day, I headed back over to my sister’s house in my own car (also a Subaru but smaller). Unfortunately, this trip did not go as well as the first. When I was about 150 miles from my sister’s house, I got caught in the worst hailstorm of my entire 50 years of driving. As it first started coming down, it seemed like hard snowballs hitting my car. But quickly, it really started coming down harder with larger hailstones that sounded as if a full-roster baseball team was going at my car with all their bats simultaneously. With nowhere to find cover and with no way to outrun it, everyone, including myself pulled off to the side of the rode to wait it out, watching the hail begin to cover the road. We were just sitting ducks.
As it let up, I began to slowly drive out of it and at first noticed that my windshield had cracked in two places. I also glanced out over the hood and saw at least two dents that I hoped was the extent of damage. Finally, out of the storm, I pulled over at a rest stop where I found other travelers assessing the damage to their cars as well.
What I found made me sick—my car had taken on the appearance of a dimpled golf ball.
But when I saw this dent in the driver’s side A-pillar, a structure designed to support the entire weight of the car in the event of it getting overturned, I knew I was actually quite blessed not to have incurred more severe damage. Had the large hailstone that caused this dent hit just two inches over towards me, it would have absolutely shattered my entire windshield right in front of my face. With mixed emotions, I drove on over to my sister’s where I shared my travel woes.
Early the next morning, we carefully placed the doll house in the back of my sister’s truck before loading everything else around it to keep it from sliding around.
After driving just a short time, we stopped and when I checked the tonneau cover noticed it was sliding off. Turns out I forgot to clamp down the back edge of it when I had lowered it down. That problem quickly fixed, we continued on our journey.
Our plan was to drive all the way to Albuquerque, NM the first day, a distance of about 770 miles, and a trip of about eleven hours. It was the first time since 2005 that I had spent the entire day with just my sister, and we really enjoyed getting a chance to catch up with each other. And having now found this shared loved of building miniatures together, we had a lot of extra things to talk about, including the building of our next dollhouse.
My sister has made this trip out west many times to visit her kids and one of her usual stops along the way is this iconic souvenir shop that has been in business since 1934, just eight years after Route 66 officially opened. Of course, we had to make a quick stop even though we still had about an hour’s drive before reaching our final destination. After a short browsing, we did find matching t-shirts to commemorate our journey out west together.
We made it to our destination without any further trouble. Having stopped about every two hours to swap out drivers, we were not worn out from our long drive. My sister suggested we have an authentic Mexican dinner in Old Town Albuquerque at a restaurant she had dined at before.
However, when we went there, we found all the restaurants on the old town square had closed due to the pandemic, some permanently. We did find a Mexican restaurant nearby, but as my sister said, nowhere near as good as what we would have had.
The next morning, we loaded up very early for the final leg of our trip, another trek of about 760 miles. As we traveled, we entertained ourselves in a number of different ways. We listened to music as we had done the day before and told a few funny stories about things that had happened to us. We even looked up the meaning of some of the numbered hazard placards as we passed tanker trucks allowing me to display my knowledge of the chemistry of the contents.
Throughout the day, we watched the outside temperature rise from the cool 50s morning air of Albuquerque to the near triple digit heat of the dessert plains. While I was driving and when we were about 30 miles from California, I suddenly heard a loud whoosh. Immediately looking in the rear-view mirror, I knew we had another problem.
To Be Continued…