3 Little 2 Late

I woke up early this morning so we could get to Tulsa for lunch. The girls were chittering around the rest of the house, so I stayed hidden away until I was ready to leave the house. They had disappeared in a cloud of body spray by the time I walked through.

I did another software update on my car, which wasn’t long after the last one. This one evidently gave me a 30-day trial of Full Self Driving, which would ironically only get me to the Tesla dealership in Tulsa where I would relinquish my car. I followed Summer most of the way, stopping at Rose Drug, then the Van Buren Supercharger, and finally the Love’s oasis. Somewhere before we hit the turnpike, a truck kicked up a bunch of large pieces of wood. One of them struck the middle of my windshield, but fortunately no damage was done that I could tell. After Love’s, I led us the rest of the way to the dealership where they seemed to be waiting with baited breath for me.

I only had a couple of pages of paperwork to sign, including handing the title back over. Then we unloaded all of the remaining stuff into Summer’s car and left it there to Supercharge while we test drove one of the brand new Model 3s and a Model X. The new Model 3 was incredibly quiet, and had a great ride. The doors were the other big improvement. The turn signals were less of an issue than I expected for normal driving, but in a pinch I would still want stalks to quickly signal and maneuver. The only solace is that the responsiveness of the vehicle makes it nimble and quick enough to maneuver around most other vehicles faster than any signaling might help, in that type of situation. I guess that’s what really matters, and signals can be left for more polite, less urgent driving.

After our test drives, we found a nearby Shoe Carnival to use a birthday credit I had. Then we crossed the street to get a free birthday burger from Red Robin. We were more disappointed than usual with our lack of “bottomless” fries when we sat down, so we ordered a couple more rounds as soon as our server brought our food to the table.

Bellies full, we headed back home with a nearly full charge. Headwinds made us stop to charge for a couple minutes in Ozark, and then we made it home without incident. I went out on the Onewheel to destress and stopped by my parents’ house. I was really sad about selling my car back, but the market price and current upgrades made it the right financial choice. It’s just nuts that I could buy a brand new one and still save money after the whole ordeal.

Once I got back from my ride, I cleaned up Summer’s car and put my aftermarket console trays in for her. All I want now is for her to keep the car clean, but she just doesn’t live that way.

Miss you in the saddest fashion!

So Long, Dot

We got up early this morning so we could make it to Tulsa early enough to make a day of it. Eaddie didn’t feel great, so she went to school a little late. Summer and I left for my house, then the wash to vacuum out the car. From there, we made it to Ozark to charge and get breakfast at the restaurant inside. It wasn’t bad at all, but I had kind of hoped for better, given my experience at truck stops in the past.

That got us enough juice to get all the way to Tulsa, but we stopped briefly at the Love’s oasis for some energy drinks for ourselves. When we got to downtown Tulsa, we parked right by the Center of the Universe “art piece.” The look on Summer’s face when she finally spoke up enough to hear the echo was priceless. We didn’t stay long though, and went to the nearest supercharger to get some juice before finally just heading straight to the Tesla service center.

I met several new people this time. Blake was working the service counter and contacted the manager, Jess, about my buyback inquiry. He indicated that he had already escalated it internally, and that I should hear something back in a couple weeks. He blamed the weather for the delay in getting the replacement battery pack. After that I met Tam, who introduced himself as a Vietnamese American for some reason after I asked his name. I drove him down the road to try and reproduce the rattle in my passenger door, and of course it really had healed itself. I don’t know if someone heard it and fixed it, if it was changed due to the weather, or maybe someone fixed it on accident somehow. When that was all done, I moved everything over from the loaner and got Summer into the car. She made a comment about my trunk being loud again, so I had Tam check it out while we were there. He didn’t seem to think there were any adjustments they could do, but said they could replace the trunk strut if I wanted to submit for a new service request.

We left after that, and got some dinner at Cheddar’s. I tried their Cajun pasta, which was pretty good. I kind of wished I had stuck with the pot pie though, just because it really is delicious with their croissant crust. Summer really enjoyed her tilapia and shrimp as well. We started home after that, but on a whim I stopped at The Peach Barn after seeing a billboard. Peach ice cream sounded good. They had a cute little store with lots of jarred goods, nuts, fudge, and some other stuff. Then we got a peach sundae, smoothie, and a couple hand pies and fudge to take with us.

The drive home was mostly rainy until we got back to Arkansas. We stopped in Van Buren to charge, and then almost made it home when we got into some heavy traffic with a bunch of trucks, and I took a bunch of gravel to the face a couple of times. I had a few new speckles in the paint, as well as a small surface chip in the windshield, dead center in my vision. Now I’m really hoping the buyback works. If not, I’ll have to raise concerns with the service center due to at least one paint bubble that I think happened due to the freeze while it was in their possession.

We made it home, Summer went to bed, and I pumped the basement out again. Eaddie made it home late after all-region, but went to bed almost immediately after. I was up for a while just wasting time until I went to bed.

Rotten luck.

C U L 8 R D C

I wanted to sleep in this morning, but Summer really wanted to get to the dorm to pick up the girls’ stuff at 7:30. We got everything loaded up and we made it there a little later than that, but still with plenty of time. The girls decided they wanted to go to a “parade” of all the participants, but not the awards ceremony, so we picked up a couple of them and dropped them off at the arena. Then Summer and I went upstairs and actually had to find them in the bleachers anyway. The groups were all separated out, but then were called down to the floor where they swirled around in a chaotic mix of way too many teenagers.

After that, we went back to the dorm to check them out, and we were on our way. Traffic was terrible, but luckily our first stop wasn’t very far away. We topped off while we ate at a place called Oriental Café. The food was decent, and the lady that served us was super nice. I actually didn’t love my General Tso because it was too sour and not hot enough, but at least it seemed fresh. The car kept charging past our set charge point, so we went down a couple doors of the shopping center and the girls got ice cream and cookies before we left.

Our next stop was a charger behind a hotel where we encountered several others charging as well. Then we were on to another charger that appeared to be kind of alone with nothing much around. Across the interstate was a Buc-ee’s that I wanted to visit, but it wasn’t until after we finished charging that we realized there was another set of Superchargers in the same parking lot. I started getting super dizzy and my head felt like I was drunk, but we went inside and it was astounding. Especially for being so late, it was very much alive inside. We picked up a few things, I cleaned the windshield, the girls ate popsicles, and Summer drove us to our stop at a Comfort Inn.

I was pretty disappointed to learn that the charger was networked at roughly the same price as a supercharger. For the cost of the hotel, it could have easily been free. I plugged in and just left it not charging out of spite. The girls had already gone up to the room, so I came up and tried to quietly finish up and get to bed as quickly as I could.

This is why I wanted to power through.

I’m Not High, but I Did Stay at a Holiday Inn Express

Summer and I got up for breakfast this morning, which was pretty much the bare minimum for “hot” hotel breakfast. Then I showered while the girls went downstairs to find some food for themselves. We loaded up, and Summer took the first half of the drive. The girls slept some more, and even I started to doze off quite a bit. We stopped to charge one last time in Strasburg and shared a couple Junior Whoppers next door.

I took the final leg of the trip and had to sit through a bunch of stop-and-go traffic to get into Washington. We made it to the University of Maryland without incident, so I guess the trip has been a success so far. I dropped the girls off at the Student Union building to register while I parked. Luckily there were a couple chargers just across the street, so I parked there and went inside to find them.

Once they were registered, the girls were ready to go back to their dorm. They walked while Summer and I drove their luggage over. We ran into their other partner and her grandmother on the way, so after they registered, we went back to get them back to the dorm as well.

We ended up sticking around in the dorm longer than I wanted. Summer stumbled through the Metro Pass process and probably ended up spending about four times as much money as she needed to before I looked at any of it. I finally talked her into leaving the girls alone to decompress, and we headed across town to find our own hotel.

There was a mob of angry patrons in the lobby, and the staff were clearly frustrated, but handling the situation with absolute grace. When it was finally our turn, I told our girl that she was doing a great job, and Summer ended up going around the counter to give her a hug. We got checked in super quickly and then went around the building to find our room. We took everything up, but then found an ozone generator in our room, with the door ajar. I decided I really didn’t want to leave our stuff there, so we took it all back down to the car and went around the block to Buffalo Wild Wings for dinner.

The restaurant was actually pretty busy, and the food was good. They still didn’t give me any celery or carrots, which I never understood. After we ate, we went back to the hotel and found a couple EV chargers. One was broken, and the other was in use. We made our way back up to the room instead, and unloaded before heading back to the university for the opening ceremony.

Traffic by then was horrible on campus. There were so many people, and the volunteers that were directing traffic seemed to be a little slow in that special kind of way. We made it back up the parking garage to charge though, and then walked down to the McKeldin Mall for the ceremony. Nobody was more disappointed by the use of the word “mall” than me. The “ceremony” was a relatively long and boring “thank you to all of these highly important people,” followed by a roll call of all 50 states and some international participants. They ended the ceremony with a parody of a One Direction song I had found the lyrics to earlier in the day.

Summer and I left for the evening and headed back to the hotel. We got settled in, but then the TV wouldn’t work and we had to call the front desk. They sent an “engineer” up to inspect, and he brought a little non-contact voltage tester that beeped at every outlet. In the end, still nothing worked, so he walked the mini fridge to the other side of the room to a working outlet. In his rummaging, we moved the TV and found a couple empty drug baggies under the stand. Several things about our room felt extremely sketchy, but at least our check-in clerk was nice.

I never thought I’d complain about being too cold in a hotel room.

Drive All Day, Sleep No Way

I got to bed really late last night, slept super hard, and then crawled out of bed really early this morning to finish loading up for our trip. I was surprised that we ended up waiting about an hour and a half for Genesis to meet us at Superfast, where we left the Murano in an unused shop bay. She was supposed to be at Summer’s house at seven, but we didn’t leave town until about 8:30.

We hit the road, but then stopped early in Conway so we could wash Summer’s car. I used all of their fancy, foaming chemicals since she had a key to bypass the payment system. The Model Y had never looked so clean, even when it rolled off of the assembly line. We made our way out of the state, skipping the charger in Brinkley, and making it all the way to Memphis to stop and eat.

We had quite a bit of range anxiety since the arrival percentage just kept rapidly dropping, but we made it. The Supercharger was on the outskirts of a parking lot, and then we walked to a place called Kami Ramen Bar for lunch. The food was awesome, and the service was fast, straightforward, and friendly.

Our next stop was Nashville, where we walked through Target while we waited. When we left, I had Summer stop at Sonic so I could get a drink. What I got ended up being mostly ice cream though, so I stayed thirsty the rest of the day.

Our next stop was in Knoxville for dinner. We charged to 100% while we ate at Blaze Pizza. I wasn’t at all impressed with what Summer ordered, so I ordered another custom pizza online and ate that instead.
We powered on through the night, stopping one last time in Atkins at a Supercharger that happened to be in the parking lot of a Comfort Inn. Then Summer finished the last leg of the trip to get us into Roanoke for the night.

When we pulled up to the Best Western, two of the EV spots were ICEd out, with one of those vehicles being an SUV with handicapped tags parked over the line, nearly blocking the last available spot. I contemplated parking behind those two cars and running the charger out to ours, but I didn’t want to risk retaliation. Instead, we risked parking too close to a handicapped beater vehicle with the wheel cocked right into our car. I took pictures of the license plate and handicapped tag just in case we found their paint on our car the next morning.

As we got into the hotel, we were assaulted by a variety of smells that I attributed to body odor and weed. Luckily the room didn’t smell awful, and I was able to drop the temperature way down before we made it to bed. Genesis was the first into the shower, followed by Eaddie. I wrapped up my chores, and then it was off to bed for me.

I would get a ticket for parking in a handicapped spot, so why wouldn’t they get a ticket for parking in an EV spot?

Blown Away

I remember Eaddie bursting loudly into the bedroom last night to try and find the TV remote and batteries. I was pretty startled, but made it back to sleep. I didn’t stress getting out the door, but made it home to shower and pack. While in the bathroom, I noticed some little bug had burrowed into my windowsill and left a little mound similar to a crawdad. I sprayed some bug spray on the hole, but wasn’t sure it would do anything.

I picked Summer up around 8:30 and made our way to my parents’ house. They were ready to go and already had the car out of the garage, so we parked Summer’s Montego inside for what was probably its first overnight stay ever.

The drive went by really quickly for me because I wasn’t having to drive. I played Into the Breach for a good portion of the trip. Summer dozed in and out periodically. We stopped at a McDonald’s for lunch around Fayetteville, and then continued straight through to Kansas City. I decided at the last minute that we should stop by the dealership to try and find my car while it was dry out, so we made another pit stop at another McDonald’s on the corner before making our way to the service center.

They had my car right up front in the corner of the lot, so I was able to verify the VIN really quickly. I was a little surprised it was so easy to find. Everyone got out into the gusty wind for pictures and to inspect every inch of the car, and I was surprised at how good everything seemed to look on the outside. I won’t get to check out the inside until they open tomorrow, but the panels all seemed to be aligned really well on the outside. There were a couple extremely minor adjustments that I wanted to have them investigate, but otherwise it looked ready to go.

After that, we continued on to the Holiday Inn Express to unpack everything. Everyone got cleaned up, and we made our way across town to walk through IKEA. Mom kept wandering off in circles through the showroom, and it was neat to see all of the different designs they had. She was mostly concerned about finding a dining room table, and found a neat adjustable one that had a stowable leaf insert.

We had dinner at the restaurant, and Mom wasn’t super impressed by the Swedish meatballs. I thought they were good, but I get that it’s more of a tradition than something I look forward to for the flavor. Getting lost, finding the lighted path, and eating cafeteria food is all just kind of the experience.

By the time we made it out of that enormous cube of a maze, everyone else was too tired to do anything else. We made it back to the hotel and everyone went to bed. I stayed up for a bit and plotted a course home. I guess if everyone gets to sleep early, we’ll have a better chance of leaving early to do something else in the city before we leave.

Hello. You are Tres.

The Long Way Home

We got up this morning and packed to leave. Summer took most of the stuff down to load onto the bus while I got ready, and by the time I got out, I didn’t really have time for breakfast. We took the junior high and the losers from the high school back to the Riverwalk to shop and eat, but this time we got to actually ride the bus there, which made it much more pleasant.

The high schoolers were pretty much jerks all day, and their chaperones didn’t seem very worried about it. Summer, Hannah, Dylan, and I all walked all the way to the end of the Riverwalk, stopping at the bi-level area so Dylan could get an electric massage, and then again so Summer and Autumn could go on a VR “ride.” Then we made it back to the food court just in time to gather everyone to eat. Johnny had kept the district credit card, so it was up to me to pay up front again. Disappointingly, all three of my cards got declined for fraud prevention, even though I specifically called Discover to make sure that it wouldn’t. We made it through eventually though, and I came back with two foot long sandwiches from South Philly Steaks & Fries. Summer really liked her chicken, and I really enjoyed my Philly, so I considered that a pretty big win.

The varsity team showed up right around that time as well, so they ate, and then we all loaded up onto the bus to say, “goodbye” to New Orleans. Aimee was worried about flooding along the way, so she played it super cautious by going through West Memphis, which probably ultimately added an hour to our trip. We never really stopped for food, and even told the students not to buy anything when we had to stop for fuel, but of course they didn’t listen. Everyone was really beat and anxious to get home, but I wasn’t quite ready to pass out. While the others slept, I unpacked and tried to put most of the stuff away before bed.

Fix it.

The Junior High Issue

Just as I started to drift off, someone knocked loudly on our door. Summer and I both scrambled to our feet, and I peeked out to see who it was. I only saw one of the girls, but soon found out it was several of them outside our door, shaky with adrenaline. Johnny was there with them, and the first words out of his mouth were that this seemed like a junior high issue, so he would be letting us handle it.

Summer and Hannah jumped right into action, kicking ass and calling parents. I wasn’t sure what my place was, so I just laid back in the room waiting to see if I would be called. I started to doze off a little, but without my CPAP I ended up exhausting myself more. I don’t remember what time Summer finally came back to bed, but it was really late, and I knew that even sleeping a bit later we would still be deprived.

They kicked four kids out for vaping, including some star players, so they knew the rest of the team would suffer for it. It was a bad deal all around, and a part of me felt like maybe it was a bit much drama for some vape pens, but rules are rules, and these kids are used to a system without repercussions. I was glad they stuck to their guns, and had one of the kids out the next morning after having her sister drive all the way down overnight. It’s anybody’s guess whether the parents will actually do anything, but at least they could rest assured they did the right thing here.

I got down to breakfast just before they closed, and then ended up babysitting the three remaining kids with Dylan while the rest went to their game. I was excited to be in control of some punishment, though Dylan got them started with copying newspaper articles. After a while, I added a modifier by having them write with their non-dominant hands. I got the feeling that only one of them was really taking it very hard, but I’m not much for empathy anyway.

When the team finished, we walked to the Riverwalk for lunch. We didn’t really have time to do anything but eat, and I was still full from lunch. My ciabatta was pretty terrible, and I was just overall disappointed to be eating food court food in New Orleans anyway. Without time to shop the mall, we headed back so they could continue their day of games. It was so hot and humid that I was excited just to be back inside.

Once those games were over, we went back to the Riverwalk to let the kids shop for a few minutes before eating. Unfortunately we found out they would only be open for about another hour, so Summer, Hannah, Dylan, and I went to the opposite end of the mall for some frozen slushed wine first. Summer and Hannah had to go back to the hotel immediately after we got them though, because a second player’s parents were coming to pick him up. Johnny had also screwed up their plan to pay for dinner, but I was able to get everyone fed with my own card.

Dylan and I carried food back for the girls, and lead what was left of the group back to the hotel safely. We ended the evening with some more Mario Kart in our room, but we kept getting interrupted by kids knocking on the door. The delinquents continued being shunned for the most part, while the rest had a little get-together party in one of their rooms. We had to shut it down early too, partly because they were being loud, but also because the adults were too tired to exist any longer.

I’ve never seen a group of coworkers so divided before.

The City that Drowned

We finally made it to Quiz Bowl nationals trip day. Summer and Autumn went to pick up Burger King for breakfast while I got ready, and we made it to the high school to load everyone onto the bus. I ran into Ben outside the high school and told him my sick day was to meet a witch doctor from the south. We barely had room for everything and everyone, but I think they may have overpacked some supplies on the way out.

The first stop was Quiznos to pick up lunch to take with us. I guess it was easier than stopping somewhere along the way, and certainly expedited that process. I’m not really sure how we ended up with a full bag of extra sandwiches, but hopefully they keep until the ride home. I certainly would rather experience unique cuisine while I’m here.

Around three hours into the trip, we stopped at Lake Village behind a gas station, got snacks and took a bathroom break, and then walked over to a park to eat. Luckily it wasn’t too terribly hot out, but I did sweat a bit. It definitely took the bus a bit to cool back down after that.

Summer and I watched the first episode of Firefly after I did some finagling on my devices. I was upset to learn the iPad Plex app wouldn’t stream without a Plex Pass. I’ve never had that issue with my Android app for some reason. Not too long later we made it to a Walmart in Crystal Springs. I didn’t really need any snacks, so I wandered to electronics and picked up a couple clearanced smart light switches and a physical copy of Diablo III. It was all just so cheap.

The last leg of the trip was short, but took us through a bunch of traffic on what felt like the world’s longest bridge. It was interesting to see the water rushing out of the Mississippi River and just spreading out across what was once land. The water was high, and flooding has been expected all over, but here it just seemed a part of life.

We got to the Hampton in an old part of town, but really I think all of this area is old town. It’s been remodeled with new world commodities, but the outside shells of buildings seem to be left alone. We didn’t have any time to look around or do anything but eat, but I really didn’t want to eat the Domino’s pizza after overhearing the three telephone conversations it took to place the order. Instead, I opted to use Uber Eats to order some food from a nearby place called Magasin Kitchen. I got some grilled shrimp spring rolls and something called a bibimbap rice bowl that I didn’t dislike, but didn’t super care for either. It was decent food, but just not quite what I was looking for.

Summer passed out early for me, but it was really probably kind of late for her. I’m really glad I’m taking next week off after having to wake up early all weekend for this.

Love that chicken from Popeye’s!

Homeward Bound

I successfully canceled our hotel in Branson for tonight, and we got everything packed back up for the trip home. After a whole lot of sweating, I managed to get everything to fit into the trunk so I could strap my new Aeron chair to the hitch cargo rack. It felt solid enough that I called the guy back and met his wife to pick up his other chair as well. Why buy one when you can have two for twice the price? Even better, I got it for half what I paid for the first one due to a couple lines in the fabric of the seat.

From there we started our six and a half hour drive back home. We finally stopped at a Jack in the Box just outside of town after talking about it for a few days. It was about what I expected, but I just had to try it after all these years of seeing commercials.

We got back home around 9:00 and went to my house first to drop some things off and check on my plants and animals. It could have been worse, but I’ll have plenty to clean up this weekend. The worst was another ant infestation in the cat food. One of my succulents also seems to have melted away somehow. I think that was probably the most upsetting thing, because it was supposed to be hardy and able to not completely wither away in just two weeks.

From there, I took the girls home and got unpacked. Summer warmed up the last of my leftover egg rolls, then we watched a few episodes of The Office before bed.

How is it possible that so much house cleaning is necessary after two weeks of being gone?