California or Bust

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May 21 – 23, 2010

In late May, our youngest son, Mikey and I took off on a cross country trip in our 1996 Isuzu Trooper.  As I have mentioned, car trips are absolutely the best method of having good communication with someone.  Hours upon end in a car on a trip result in one thing, real talk! 

Mikey’s life has had its ups and downs lately as he is reeling from marriage difficulties in a very short marriage that took him to California.  As he was headed toward divorce, he needed a car.  We had always told him that our amazing, tireless, new looking, 1996 Isuzu would be a great vehicle for him.  We thus, prepared it by getting it checked over, putting a few hundred dollars in for good stead in the engine area, and setting off to California.

Our trip was fraught with a few issues here and there, Mikey got confused about when he was coming and we had to change the plans a bit.  He didn’t arrive with enough time to do all the things we planned and so that made it tough.  As it turned out, he was at our house and I had gone to bed, planning on an early departure.  Mikey was doing his usual thing of seeing all his friends, catching up, collecting the possessions he needed to take cross country, etc.  A phone call woke me up around 11:00 pm or so, I got up, realized I was too revved up to go back to sleep, so Mikey and I set off quickly thereafter on our trip.

Our goal was to get to Denver from Chicago in one day, which we did in fact do, arriving in Denver around 4:00 pm in the afternoon.  Mikey, of course, had to connect with friends, which was great.  I ended up heading to the hotel and getting some much needed rest before heading off on the rest of our journey.  I am thinking that I pretty much had driven most of the way to Denver and was exhausted.  We had breakfast with his friends before departing Denver the next morning, we were much more relaxed about the trip since we had put such a large dent in it, fourteen hours of the driving journey having been spent getting to Denver.

The leg to Denver was relatively uneventful and boring because of the sights or lack of sights to be seen.  To me “sights” usually mean mountains and/or other beautiful landscapes.  Those of us who come from the flatlands of the Midwest usually see things that way.  Once approaching Denver, however, the desire to doze off didn’t generally present itself as the scenery was just too beautiful.

On leaving Denver, our vehicle was seemingly showing some of its age.  The Isuzu was an icon in our family, that first car bought that blew everyone away.  It was the car the boys never thought we would buy, we managed to pull off a lease and we drove it to the Boy Scout camp to pick them up from a campout and they were about as close to cardiac arrest as one could be.  This was the car that they all learned to drive “stick shift” on, the car that got Richie and me through a blizzard on Interstate 90 near South Bend, Indiana, the car that was offroading in the most unlikely places without the parents’ knowledge, etc.  I am guessing there are even more stories about its exploits that I will, perhaps, never even know.  That might be a good thing!  Anyway, this icon of a car was not able to keep up with the speed as we journeyed into the mountains outside Denver.  The weather report had mentioned high winds, but this was unlike anything that we had expected.  The problem was partially mine as I didn’t properly shift for the conditions, something I figured out momentarily later.  But the winds were tough on our very, very boxy vehicle that was truly like a windsail begging for wind to slow us down!

As mentioned, we did manage to get the situation under control and the car fared very well.  Eight hours of driving out of Denver, we managed to get to our Hotwired’ Hotel in Richfield, Utah.  That was an experience in itself as we reeled from the culture shock of being in the state of Utah.  Mike is a culinary freak, being a chef/baker and all.  The ‘blooming onion’ that we ordered to please our junk food palates arrived being the saltiest thing we had ever eaten.  We noticed that it was not only heavily salted, but topped with Parmesan cheese, salty in and of itself!  The miniscule wine glasses we got were equally shocking in a state where alcohol is treated in a most interesting way.  We slept like babies, despite our odd repast, and then left early the next morning to finish our final eight hour leg to get to Redlands, California where Michael’s base is.

Our only issue there was kind of a surprise.  We got through Las Vegas and decided to stop at a casino for a nice lunch.  We dutifully parked the car and went in, had a great meal, and then headed back to the parking lot.  Lo and behold, what do we see, but a repeat visual performance of what I had seen not too long before in my driveway.  We had so loved this Isuzu that in 2001 we purchased another.  This one was an automatic and we had sold it to Charlie, our fourth son (this to be explained in another blog, lol!), who was staying with us at the time.  The rear bumper of his car started coming off, some of the connections were rusty, and the same thing happened to the Red Isuzu in Las Vegas!  Frankly, I just could not believe my eyes!  So, what does one do?  The car was pretty full of possessions and we realized that we really hadn’t prepared ourselves with wire (to reattach the bumper) so we did the next best thing, we ripped it completely off!  We then threw it over the stuff in the car!  The winds, being what they were, would have pulled it off anyway!

Arrived in California safely after a finishing up drive from Las Vegas and despite the belief of Mary Kay that the aged car wouldn’t handle the trip well, we arrived without a problem!

Mikey and I had great conversations about all subjects ranging from people to marriages during our trip. We bonded as we always do and frankly had an amazing lifetime trip!  It could not have been better.

The sad thing is that despite the great trip, in early fall, the Red Isuzu met its maker falling victim to a fender bender in a California intersection.  True to form, however, this car protected Mikey so that he didn’t suffer a single bit.  Thus ends another iconic Koerner vehicle story and the favorite car our family ever owned!

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