Tuesday, August 10, 2010

Highway to Hell...or Cai & Arwen's Very Unexcellent Adventure

Ain't nothing I would rather do
Going down, party time
My friends are gonna be there too
I'm on the Highway to Hell...
Lyrics by ACDC
The hero of my latest story is a big fan of ACDC, so I felt it appropriate to start my blog off with those lyrics. In Sex and Trouble, Rosier escapes his boredom with captivity by blasting heavy metal. I knew when I set off to Romantic Times Book Lovers Convention 2010 in Columbus, Ohio, that I wouldn't be playing a lot of heavy metal, though. You see, I am two people - Cai Smith and Arwen Lynch. One of us, Cai, loves the headbangin' stuff while the other, Arwen, is more of a folkie. We compromise on music and both adore audio books.

When we left Fort Worth, Texas at 5:30 AM Monday morning, we fully expected to arrive at the convention hotel by midnight at the latest since both the GPS and Google Maps told us it was a 15.5 hour drive. Little did we know that the Universe had other things in mind for our journey...

We cruised up the highway to Arkansas--pleased with the time we were making and the journey itself--then on through Tennessee and into Kentucky. And that's where the wheels started to fall off. We stopped regularly for gas, potty breaks and to walk around a bit, stretching those traveling kinks out. On one of those stops at some very nice but nameless roadside rest stop, Cai decided to take her contacts out. Her eyes were tired so it was time for glasses.

Unfortunately, one contact decided not to cooperate. Cai scratched her cornea trying to get the darned thing out. Arwen took over the wheel, but drove only until we reached Elizabethtown, KY. We hit the local ER so Cai's eye could be checked out. Sure enough, she'd injured her eye badly enough to need an antibiotic cream. Two and a half hours later, we were back on the road with Cai behind the wheel once again.

We have a great friendship that goes back many years. One of the things we knwow is that Cai is the driver and Arwen is the passenger. Some day we'll tell you the story of how Arwen nearly drove into a mountain when she saw some unusual animals on the side of the road. "Look! Buffalo," is how that story starts. Cai prefers to arrive alive so she drives the bulk when we go on long trips.

If we ever go on a long trip after this highway to hell excursion, that is! So, there we are in the car, plotting our next book and laughing about the ER being the worst part of the trip. OOPS! Never say that where "They" can hear you. In the darkest part of the night, on one of Kentucky's (and possibly the USA's) most dangerous stretches of highway, we hit a pothole the size of a Newfoundland...I kid you not.


The car shakes and shudders like a bronco on speed as Cai curses and guides the car to the narrowest piece of shoulder we've ever seen. She's so close to the guardrail that Arwen can barely squeeze out of the passenger-side door. Eighteen-wheelers are zooming past so fast and so close that the car vibrates violently. We have blown a tire on a hill about 31 miles south of Cincinnati. This is on Highway 41N and we're also on a bridge. Can you say, "perfect horror movie setup?"

We could.

Once Cai managed to stop shaking, we called AAA. This is when we received the worst customer service EVER! The operator manages to make us feel like the worst idiots in the world because we're on a stretch of highway neither of us has ever traveled before and we don't know what exit we passed last or what the next exit coming up might be. I know it's hard to believe that we didn't mark each exit on the highway that neither of us has ever been on before as we passed it, right? This woman expressed nothing but contempt and irritation while by-passing even the smallest bit of sympathy for our nightmarish situation. The fact that we were calling her with this "emergency roadside issue" at nearly 2AM seemed to have escaped her notice entirely.

She even told us she could not send someone out if she didn't know where we were. Luckily, Arwen and Cai both have GPS phones. We were able to give her the nearest coordinates. AAA will be receiving a very irate letter about that woman's lack of empathy! But she did manage to send us our knight in a shiny roll-back wrecker, Gene! He was our senior by many years.

Gene towed us down the mountain scolding us about our tires and where we were on the road. You felt like your granddad has just told you off! He was a real sweetheart and our hero. After he put the spare (one of those blasted doughnut tires!) on, he assured us we could make it to Columbus if we only went 60MPH. So we did...

When we reached the convention hotel in Columbus, it was 6:30AM EST Tuesday. We collapsed in our hotel room thanking our personal Higher Powers for seeing us safely there - albeit with a tad more excitement than we might have liked.

Have you ever had a "Highway to Hell" road trip? We'd love to hear YOUR adventures!

And, if you like steamy paranormal romantica, check out our hero Rosier in Sex and Trouble, available digitally from Jasmine Jade Publishing--http://www.jasminejade.com/pm-8274-444-sex-and-trouble.aspx His adventure involves being released from captivity by a very nice, albeit newbie, witch!

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