My car is jerky when you step on the gas pedal. I just had the spark plugs replaced, so I’ll reach out to the mechanic on Monday, but the jerky movements reminded me of a trip Joni, Dominic, and I took to Myrtle Beach. It was July, around the year 2000. We were doing a different vacation that year. Instead of going to Maine, we went to Myrtle Beach. What do jerky cars and vacations have in common?
We drove down in my GMC and for some reason, it worked great while we were on the highway but once we got off the highway and started going through the smaller roads of South Carolina, the car started to squawk about it. Each time we stopped at a light, it started shuddering like it was going to stall. I’d put it in neutral and rev the engine until the light turned green.
As we pulled into Myrtle Beach, there was a water spout on the coast. A foretelling of our weather that week. Bleak and wet except for one afternoon. Luckily, though, we were heading toward our cousin’s condo and they weren’t leaving until the next day. Ralph immediately thought the issue was my air filter and was kind enough to get one and stand under an umbrella in the pouring rain while he put it in. Problem solved.
We stayed in their condo, which was on a golf course, for the week. And since Joni and I were always prepared for wet weather in Maine, we came prepared for it in South Carolina, too. Books and videos and crafts. Not just any book, though. My sister teased us with the latest Harry Potter, the Goblet of Fire. She was reading it while Dominic and I drooled.
My son had only been introduced to Harry Potter that spring. I read the first three books and thought he would enjoy them. But he refused to read them. Refused, that is until he was grounded for a week without electronics of any kind. The only thing he could do was read. He picked up the books and read one each day.
After he finished the third book, he came out and asked for the next. I had to break it to him that it wasn’t published yet. Queue the 13-year-old angst. And now we were both feeling it watching her read the book. Through her book club, she’d received it in the mail on the day it was released for sale. But the bookstores couldn’t keep them in stock and I don’t do long lines. So it would be a week or two before I got my copy.
Instead, I had other books to read and Dominic kept busy either at the community pool or by inventing stories about the two small alligators that lived in the water hazard outside the patio. He called them Speedy Gonzales and Dave. And we also drove out a couple of times to hit up some stores, especially craft ones.
At night, we’d all curl up on the couch and watch Twin Peaks. Joni had just gotten the complete series on video (DVDs were still new back then.) When the original series aired, we’d watch it together in our own separate houses. Over the phone, we’d point out and then dissect each weird thing, like the Log Lady or Nadine Hurley with her eye patch, opening and closing her curtains. Perfect for a rainy night.
And that’s how a jerky car reminded me of an interesting vacation with my sister.