Consider The Hitch

Airport Starbucks, and a croissant that would play an upcoming role.

Airport Starbucks, and a croissant that would play an upcoming role.

I was texting with my daughter yesterday after I arrived home, and we were reviewing this whirlwind little adventure we all just experienced in Arizona. She said that it was a great trip, and I mentioned that I was surprised that we pulled it off with so few hitches.

“Considering all the hitches,” she replied.

I wasn’t looking for silver linings. It was a great trip. There were hitches. It just started off looking so much worse.

First, there was just the last-minute nature of the whole thing, even though I knew weeks ago it was likely to happen. Dates and times and places were all unknown until the last moment, which made my portion of this a little dicey. I was determined to go, I was going to go, I was only trying to find a way that wouldn’t be too painful, financially. It worked out well in that sense, and then there was the hitch of Bix getting sick (accidental assonance for the win).

(I just realized I hadn’t written about this on the blog, only other places. Short version: My son-in-law got a quick gig in Arizona, just some recording studio stuff, so the entire family decided to go on a road trip, their first with my grandson, a family vacation of sorts. The day before they were to leave, my grandson came down with some sort of illness, which is a problem for a kid with very brittle diabetes. It was mild, though, and he’d recovered enough that his dad took off alone and they used some airline miles to score a flight into Phoenix on Wednesday. All caught up.)

This made me explore my options, since I had nonrefundable plane tickets to Arizona that really couldn’t be saved. Since these were two one-way tickets, the penalty for changing both would have been far more than I paid for the originals. I either used them anyway, for a brief visit with my mother and the added expense of a rental car (not a bad thing, but not something I would plan, that quick of a trip), or I ate the expense, which wasn’t huge or horrible but still. This was also a hitch, I’d say.

Then the turn-around, and all I had to do was figure out where to stay on Tuesday night (I arrived around 5:30pm in Phoenix). I either drove up to my mom’s house, arriving late and having to leave very early the next morning to get to the airport, or stayed in Phoenix at a hotel, which was the choice I made.

I found a room in the northwest section of the city, where I often stay (close to where the Seattle Mariners have spring training, a place familiar to many of us up here) as a few old friends live on that side of the city, but mostly I stayed there because it was close to Sun City. I always liked to visit my former high school teacher, Dick Kemper, when I was in town if I could pull it off. I realized this after I got to my room, a touch of sadness to the whole thing, but only a touch.

The airport was hitchless. I’ve been going to Sky Harbor for 50 years, but I haven’t actually parked there in decades, either renting a car or being picked up, so that took some effort (this is a sprawling nightmare of an airport, as far as I’m concerned, although less so than SeaTac), but I ended up with the perfect spot, only a few feet from the door that took me directly to baggage claim.

I had The Airport Moment, then. Beth texted me almost as soon as I walked in the door, letting me know they’d just landed (a bit early), so I sat in a chair at the bottom of the escalator they’d be coming down. Soon enough, I spotted her and then him, and then he spotted me. He wiggled impatiently until he got off the escalator, then ran into my arms, etc. I mean. If someone didn’t get video of that, none of us are doing our jobs.

Got the luggage, stopped at Starbucks, headed up the mountain. All was fine. We were going to see Mom, Grandma, and Great-Grandma, all conveniently contained in one 82-year-old woman who was anxious to see us. Beth wanted to drive so I let her, and Bix sat happily in the backseat, playing a game on a device, focused and content.

Illness messes with a diabetic, particularly this kid. It temporarily cured him, in fact, and so both Beth and I were monitoring his blood sugar constantly (I get his glucose monitor levels on my phone). They were fine, very healthy levels, but unlike him and on the low side, so at one point she asked him to take a few bites of a croissant that was next to him on the seat.

Here’s what I think happened. I think this was about him concentrating on moving images on a screen while sitting in a car, driving up a mountain with lots of curves. He’s never had car sickness at all, but I think that’s what it was. That, and his body feeling a little different. He raised his head, turned it to the side, started to take a bite, and then began quite the projectile vomiting.

This is a kid who had never thrown up (maybe once, but he didn’t remember), and he didn’t react at all except to be amazed at what was happening. This tempered the shock for us, and Beth and I were actually sort of amused. It happens.

Right after The Great Upheaval.

Right after The Great Upheaval.

And he was fine after. We pulled off to the side of the road, already in the high desert, and used shirts from my suitcase to try to get the contents out and him cleaned up a bit, changing his clothes on the side of the road while he looked at the cacti and seemed pretty pleased, then continued on our way.

I’m gonna say that was a hitch. I don’t see how I can’t. I’m just noting that it was a 5-year-old on a car trip. Things happen. Neither of us were at our first rodeo in this situation. My 3-year-old son upchucked at Thanksgiving dinner while I was holding him; we’ve got pictures. Didn’t affect my appetite in the least. There’s a desensitization that most parents understand, and grandparents can remember, apparently.


The smell wasn’t fun, I’ll give you that. But it was OK, and we got there without further incident. All sorts of bonding took place. We had a great time, as fast as the time went. We were only there 24 hours before heading back down to meet Beth’s cousin (my niece) and her kids, and then reconnect with Cameron and get them into their hotel in Scottsdale. I headed back up the mountain, then, to visit with my mom for a few more hours before returning the next morning for my flight home.

I might emphasize here that I was driving a rental car.

I hate car rental companies, seriously. There are few industries I hate more, in general. With the exception of a local Enterprise just down the street, where (being a one-car family) we occasionally rent a car for a couple of days when it’s convenient, and where the people are always friendly and helpful and don’t try to upsell me, it’s never a stress-free experience and usually the opposite kind.

We did everything right. We used baking soda, vinegar, water. We scrubbed, we vacuumed. We repeated. We got that backseat looking fine. It seemed that the smell lingered a little, but I figured that would fade.

Then on our return trip, as I put his car seat back in I noticed there was…residua. On the car seat. Dripping a little. We put a trash bag on the seat and went on. There was not much to clean up, but smell again started to bother me. Not me personally; it was the thought of returning a rental car that reeked, and the subsequent charges to my credit card that I’d be pretty much powerless to stop (steam cleaning fee: $322, or so I imagined).

So I bought some dryer sheets and spread them out over the backseat. To my nose, the next day, the car sort of smelled like a diaper bag, but there were no accusations when I returned the car. I made my flight, it was early, the weather was pleasant in Seattle, all was well.

I stick with my statement, then. A few hitches only. They were just interesting ones, but then that’s the spice of life.

Spice! I should have thought of cinnamon. Cinnamon would have done the trick. Next time.

Chuck SigarsComment