Posts Tagged With: road trip

Guest Post: Can You Say Stranded with a Country-Western Drawl? (#2)

Song lyrics often have unusual roots.  One of my daughter’s penciled the lyrics to a song once, while we were stranded, after another one of our infamous car breakdowns. She even put the lyrics to music, which our family and a few of our friends have been privileged to hear over and over again. Unfortunately,  it’s never been recorded.  You’ll have to imagine your own tune to go with the delightful word stylings of this charming child.

As her perspective is unique, quirky and more entertaining than mine., I naturally, I asked my daughter to guest post this particular tale of being stranded. She’s available for interviews, guest appearances and autographs every other Thursday.

Please enjoy Leanne LeCheminant’s version of Another Stranded Tale of Insanity, Silliness, and Misery:

“If you are a devoted reader of Kami’s blog (or MeeMa, as I affectionately call her), then you are well acquainted with the fact that my family has no shortage of car trips.  We also have had more than our share of crappy cars.

Crappy cars + lots of car trips = lots of crappy car trip stories.

Blessedly, most unfortunately, since I have been married, I haven’t been able to participate in nearly as many memorable family car trips, which may explain why all of my car trip memories are kind of blurred together; it’s been so long.  Or maybe it’s because most of them occurred along the same route between Arizona and Utah.  Or maybe it’s because there’s just been so many of them, and they’ve all been so endless, insane, and 97% of the time they involve being stranded.

English: view of the Monument Valley, Between ...

View of the Monument Valley, Between Arizona and Utah. We don’t really drive through here ever, but some parts of our trip look similar to this dry, arid landscape. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

(It’s funny: when discussing car trips with my family, one of us will inevitably ask, “Wait, was that the trip where we were stranded in (insert remote location in the vast desert of northern AZ/southern UT) or (insert other remote location in the vast desert of northern AZ/southern UT)?”)

There is one trip in particular however, that will be forever seared in my brain, maybe because we actually WEREN’T making the exodus between Arizona and Utah.  No, this car trip was much more local.  It was a camping trip just outside Payson, Arizona.  From our humble abode in the suburban east valley of Arizona, Payson is only about two hours away, a breeze compared to the 11 to 15 hour journey to Utah.

I was probably around ten or twelve, and  I’m pretty sure it was the middle of summer.  My dad, being the wilderness man that he is and always-eager to escape the 115 frillion degree heat of an Arizona summer, announced that he was going camping, and whoever wanted to come was welcome.  My mom of course joined in, craving the familiar smell of pine and fresh mountain air, as well as myself and my younger sister.

After loading our older white Mazda Van with gear, we piled in and headed out.  We blasted the air conditioner and slowly cooled down as we left the greater Phoenix area.  After about a half hour though, Dad switched off the AC.

Yet again the Land Rover overheats in the desert

A familiar scene on our road trips. (Photo credit: Steve & Jemma Copley)

“Hey, why’d you turn it off?” I complained.

“The car’s starting to overheat.  We’re going to give it a break.”

I groaned.  I knew (still know) approximately 0.4% about cars, but I had had plenty of experience with the word “overheat.”  I said a silent prayer that our trusty Van would carry us through.

My prayer must have bounced off the drooping fabric ceiling though, because one very miserable and  sweaty hour later, we had to stop at a gas station in Payson.  The car was smoking, the engine was completely overheated, and there was no way we’d be able to trek up the ever-steepening inclined roads to our desired remote camping location, probably another half hour to an hour away.  Conveniently, there was an auto shop right next to the gas station.

“Kami, why don’t you take the girls inside where it’s cool and get some drinks,” my dad said.  “I’ll take it next door to get it checked out.”

English: Texaco Petrol Station in Poá (São Pau...

NOT the actual Texaco we stopped at. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

The three of us eagerly jumped out of the car and collectively sighed in relief as the wave of cool air washed over us as we walked in.  When the door opened it let out an electronic signal, sounding like a door bell: “Ding-dong.”

We got a couple of bottles of soda and sat down at a table in the snack area, cooling off and watching the heat undulate off the asphalt outside.

My sister and I, being as young as we were, quickly got bored.  The gas station was pretty busy, customers in and out, and the door kept ringing, “Ding dong” every time it opened.  Every time it would “ding-dong” I would respond by singing the corresponding part of a song from the movie, The Wizard of Oz: “The witch is dead!”  Now, the gas station was pretty busy, so the number of my responses of “The witch is dead!” piled up quick.  So did my younger sister’s annoyance.

“Arrrrrrgh, Leanne, shut UP!”

Of course this just egged me on, and I would laugh and then whisper it, but still loud enough for her to hear:


ME (whispering): The witch is dead! *giggle giggle*

LITTLE SISTER: Leanne, shut UP!

I think it was my Mom’s brilliant idea to distract me by suggesting I write a song about our adventure.  She pulled a paper napkin out of the dispenser, slapped it in front of me with a pencil and said, “I’m going to go see how the car’s doing.  You two stay here.”

My sister gave her a look as if to say, “Really, you’re going to leave me here with her?!?!?” but I just grinned.  My wheels were already turning.

The ONE AND ONLY ORIGINAL someday-worth-millions NAPKIN.

The ONE AND ONLY ORIGINAL someday-worth-millions NAPKIN.

Over the next hour or so, I penned my one and only undiscovered top-of-the-charts, platinum-award-winning country song, on a napkin, with a pencil, at a gas station:

STRANDED IN PAYSON (copyrighted 2001 ish)
Stranded in Payson in a Texaco, by the side of the road.
Five thirty on a Friday afternoon.
And every time a customer walks into the store
the door rings ding dong.
So I say:
Ding dong the witch is dead
ding dong the witch is dead
ding dong the car is dead toooooo
and I wish that I was dead
just like the witch and the car.
Yes, ding dong the witch is dead.
Ma ‘n Pa went to go check on the car,
but I’m pretty sure that it’s still dead.
My sis and I are so bored we’re playing with bottle caps
and a customer just walked in through the door.
So I sing:
Ding dong the witch is dead,
ding dong the witch is dead!
Ding dong the car is dead tooooo.
And I wish that I was dead
just like the witch and the car.
Yes, ding dong the witch is dead.
Cuz bein’ dead would be much better 
than bein’ stranded
in Payson
in a Texacoooooooo-oh-woah-woah
ding dong the witch is dead!
Ding dong the car is dead toooooo!
And I wish that I was dead,
just like the witch and the car.
Yes, ding dong the witch is dead.
Stranded in Payson in a Texaco
by the siiiiiiiiide of
the roooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooad.

[Definitely an award winning song, don’t ya’ think?]

After a couple of hours at the car shop, our little Van was ready and rarin’ to go.

Looking up at the Mogollon Rim east of Payson ...

Looking up at the Mogollon Rim east of Payson Arizona (Photo credit: Al_HikesAZ)

Napkin in hand, song completed, my future stardom in country music ensured, we hopped in. I bid a fond farewell to my beloved Texaco, and miraculously, we even made it to a camping spot before it got dark.

Camping was relaxing and enjoyable, and we got home okay, as I recall, so of course we all said, “We’ll have to do this again sometime!”

(Oh and yes, I know I totally could have been the next Taylor Swift.  But I wisely decided to forego the celebrity lifestyle.  Just way too much riches and fame for me).”

Categories: Family, Humor, Travel | Tags: , , , , , | 3 Comments

Watch for Wolves, Or Cows

Long road trips seem to bring out the weirdness in our family. Things that we wouldn’t normally laugh at take on humor of epic proportions. I blame it on the monotony and the weird snack combinations that we bring along.

We left extra early one morning, and by extra early I don’t mean planning to leave by six and actually leaving by ten. I mean early, like the car is already packed and gassed up and all we have to do is stumble out to the car with our pillows and make sure to lock the front door . It was so early the garbage trucks hadn’t started their rounds. It was so early we could tell North by the stars for three or four hours. I wanted to arrive before dark, so that meant leaving while it was still dark.

We had actually left the night before, about five p.m. Not a really wise move. That’s rush hour. That’s the sun blasting holes into your retinas the entire time you’re driving west in rush hour so that you can’t read the signs and you miss your exit to turn north out of the burning laser beams. Once we reached open road we discovered that the car we were driving and the removable car top cargo box weren’t very compatible. At sixty-five MPH the thing let out a high-pitched brain-vibrating mind-numbing keening wail.

I figured we’d adjust to the noise, that after just a bit we wouldn’t even notice it. But what happened was we couldn’t carry on normal conversation. We had to yell at each other. And that was before we had even reached the irritation stage of the drive. I popped in some tunes on our cassette player and cranked the volume. The whistle and the music weren’t in the same key and we could barely hear the music. I soon saw that we’d lose our minds before we even got half way to our destination. We would either have to leave the car top cargo box on the side of the road or go home. We went home. In rush hour traffic still.

Once home, four hours after we’d started out, we repacked the car, without the bonus luggage carrier on top. It was a tight fit but it was doable. By then I was too aggravated to drive safely and it was late. We got some sleep and woke at 3:00 a.m. to leave.

Sleep deprived children are great on a drive, because they sleep or doze or star blankly at the scenery. When it’s too dark to see any scenery things stay quiet. There are no fights and no whining about who gets to sit in the front seat. Bathroom breaks are fewer and further apart. My mind is free to wander, imagine, remember, get into the flow of the driving.

Español: Lobo en el zoo de Kolmården (Suecia).

Lobo en el zoo de Kolmården (Suecia). (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

About three hours into our drive, with only eight left, morning was beginning to stir. A paleness in the eastern sky was creeping over the landscape. Those odd pre-morning shadows were everywhere. It’s a kind of magical hour between light and dark, my favorite time of the day, even in a car. I looked over my daughter in the front seat beside me who seemed awake but mesmerized or hypnotized or maybe asleep with her eyes open. I smiled but didn’t say anything, not wanting to disturb the quiet. I looked into my rear view mirror at my other daughter but couldn’t tell if her eyes were open or closed. She was probably deep into dreamland.

My shoulders relaxed, my hands rested lightly on the steering wheel. This would turn out to be a good trip. No flats, no car problems, no road closures or detours, no major fights between the two kids.

A few minutes later, from the back seat, my youngest daughter yawned and stretched. Then she asked, “Are those wolves?”

I thought she must be dreaming. “What did you say?” I asked.

“Are those wolves?” she repeated, “in that field over there.”

I looked to the right into an open meadow dotted with a few pine trees. It was still a bit dark, but the shapes she was referring to were fairly clear.

“Those are cows,” I replied, stifling a laugh.

“Are you sure, cuz they look like wolves,” she said.

And then my other daughter chimed in, “yeah, those are wolves that say ‘moo.'” And then she laughed her slightly deranged maniacal laugh.

“Well, they look like wolves to me!” my youngest shot back!

“Moooooooooo!” the oldest howled like a wolf.


Cattle (Photo credit: CameliaTWU)

“Oh, shut up!” was the reply. She shifted in her seat, covered her head with the pillow and went back to sleep.

We kept driving.

The sun kept its schedule and rose slowly sending a basking glow of coral over the landscape. The car was silent except for the hum of the engine and the sound of the tires on the pavement.

“Look!” my oldest daughter said, pointing out the window at a herd of cattle. “Wolves!” And she laughed her maniacal laugh again.

“&#$^%&**” replied my younger daughter from under her pillow.

And thus began the longest part of the drive.

Every, single, time, that we passed some cows my oldest daughter would pipe up, “Look, Wolves!” and the youngest would reply with aggravation lacing her words, “Shut. Up!”

I had no idea there were so many herds of cows in the western United States. They’re everywhere. About every five miles, in fact. And if it isn’t a herd, it’s a single steer standing beside a fence or in a stream bed, or alongside the road.

Cows everywhere. “Wolves!”

And horses. If there were horses, the oldest daughter would yell, “Look, foxes!”

After only six hours my youngest daughter began to see the humor in her early morning mistaken identifying of cows versus wolves. But she still replied with anger and frustration in her voice. I begged the oldest to stop, but she seemed intent on milking it for all it was worth.

The last two hours of the drive, the youngest daughter would sometimes secretly laugh, but not enough to quell the oldest daughters enthusiasm for pointing out the “wolves.”

There were wolf sightings for the twelve hour return trip as well. We should have driven in the dark.

We laugh about it more now than we did then.

I think the only time we’ve ever really seen a wolf was at the zoo. And then, of course, my oldest daughter said, “Oh, look! Cows!”

Categories: Humor, Travel | Tags: , , , , , , , , , | 6 Comments

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