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March 15, 2011

A Pleasant Sunday Drive

We awoke saying we wanted to go back to sleep. The Sunday expression: Let’s not get up all day. Then a phone call, a death in the family, the elderly aunt must go to say goodbye to her sister, who lived near Rome. She’s in her eighties, frail and confused, could she take the train? Could someone accompany her? No.

It was her sister. We got ready in a flash and jumped in the car for what could be an 8-hour drive … each way. We work Monday and can’t get out of it.

Off to Adventureland. We drove to the ferry dock, and they closed the gate as we drove up. A 40-minute wait for the next run before we even got going. It’s 10 am., no it’s 10:40. Bad luck seems appropriate when there’s a death in the family.

We got to Calabria driving in the rain. It rained hard or soft all the way. Violent scirocco winds. It seemed to take forever. We stopped for gas and snacks, coffee a couple times, and got to Lazio about 5 pm. But this little village in the hills was a challenge to find. We got stuck on a dirt road full of mudholes when the navigator took a shortcut. Turn back, turn here, turn up there. Finally arrival 6:30 pm.

Half an hour to share grief, leave auntie, back on country roads trying to get out of the village (in pitch dark), back on the trip. Jovanotti on the music player for energy. They had advised us a new route that, though longer, would get us back on the freeway easier. Probably lost an hour following that suggestion.

Can you make it? Too tired? I’m fine. (Lie.) Lazio, Campania, Basilicata, Calabria: curvy high mountains, rain and fog, plenty of roadwork with one lane open, behind a slow truck. Dark, cold and lonely, driving, driving. There had been an advisory on the ferry that between 10 pm and 4 am they would not leave from the usual Villa San Giovanni but from Reggio Calabria, half an hour further south.

We got there at long last ready for our crossing. Closed. Back to Villa too stunned to get angry. Ticket, ferry, wait in line, crossing on rough seas, heads and stomachs swaying worse than the boat. We land on Sicily, home up on the hill. In bed, still swaying, alarms set for two hours later. Can’t sleep.

There’s no punchline to this story. We drove almost twenty hours in one long stretch. That’s what we did on Sunday. It wasn’t fun, it was dangerous. But also, therefore, fun. I met a guy once at a party who’d just driven from Denver to San Jose, about 20 hours straight through. I thought he was heroic, and stupid.

But it had to be done. It was her sister.

Happy trials, Martin

Mutt: Did you hear about the pregnant bedbug?
Jeff: Yeah. She had her baby in the spring.
Mutt: Okay, what is the difference between a knight and Santa's reindeer?
Jeff: Go on.
Mutt: One slays the dragon and the other drags the sleigh.
Jeff: A man recently invented a knife that cuts four loaves of bread simultaneously. He calls his invention a four-loaf cleaver.
Mutt: My sister was engaged to a boy with a wooden leg, but broke it off.
Jeff: Aren’t you tired?
Mutt: Now that you mention it.