It was going to be a great day. I even had a ready-made title for this blog. I was going to life a song title by the one and only, Bob Dylan. We only had about 120 miles to drive from Brunswick to St. Augustine, FL. That’s not even enough to break a sweat–that would come later.
The Interstate traffic was moderate and the wind was at our backs. If we were on a sailboat named Silver Heels, I would put a rope on the wheel and sit back with a mug of iced coffee. But doing that is next to impossible in a Ford Escape–not to mention the safety and legal issues.
Yes, the day was going to be one of those casual drives followed by a visit to “the oldest city in the U.S”. This was the land of the Fountain of Youth. This was the city with an old church and a pirate museum. This was the city with a trolley tour where you can get on and off at your whim. This was the city that probably had 5-star ice cream cones.
What could possibly go wrong?
Of course, Murphy’s Law states without qualification that: “If something can go wrong, it will”. And it did.
Bogart famously (and prophetically) said that: “It doesn’t take much to see that the problems of three little people don’t amount to a hill of beans in this crazy world”. That’s as true as it gets. Unless, it’s just two people with a backed-up toilet in an RV park just outside of St. Augustine. Late on a Thursday afternoon.
The unthinkable worst case scenario had risen up from a small molded plastic bowl and sucker-punched us in the lower abdomen. I will spare you all the details. I will certainly spare you any photographs. But, (no pun intended) we tried all the approaches we could think of. We had the KOA guy come with a snake, a bucket and an extension of the black pipe that is used for draining the grey and black tank.
Matters only slightly improved–and then deteriorated back to square one. The KOA pamphlet had an ad for Tom, who would come out to fix RV’s. Mariam made the call.
“I’m retired,” he said.
“Can you un-retire for just this once and help us out?” Mariam pleaded.
Three phone calls later, we found a an RV repair company that were willing to make the trip and try to make things straight. In short, he came, he snaked–he fixed it all. We were flushed with joy.
But, it was 6:35 pm by the time he drove away. There would be no sightseeing to what has been described as a “most beautiful city.”
I took a shower and rinsed the sweat and soil from my very aching body. I went into the office and bought five post cards for $1.00 (+ tax).
Earlier in the day, at the Florida Welcome Center on I-95, I picked up a free litter bag, a state map, and a little pin for my lapel. The pin is shaped like the state. Mariam, after glancing at it, thought it was an alligator.
“No,” I said. “It’s a little model of the state where we shall spend the next two months.”
There you have it. I’m left with a post card and a dream. In my vision, I walked the streets of the old city. In my dream, I found the Fountain of Youth.
Back at the Welcome Center, I was sending a text to my son. I saw an elderly couple walk back to their car. They might be looking for that Fountain too.
“Is that Mariam and me?” I wondered
I answered myself. “Probably someday, Pat, just find a more muted pattern for your Hawaiian shirt.”
[This little post is dedicated to Ratso Rizzo. As portrayed by Dustin Hoffman in Midnight Cowboy, his poor broken and sickly body never made to the Welcome Center.]