Niagara Falls and the Speaking, Nasty Universe Pt. 1

I’m not sure if there is such a thing as a “Speaking universe,” one that tells you to stay in bed and avoid the day. Maybe it’s a cough and a dry throat at the start. Or maybe it’s an audiobook that won’t finish downloading.

Whatever or wherever “Signs” come from, well, this last Wednesday morning I ignored them all.

The plan was Niagara Falls. Megan and I would pack a lunch, hop in the car, and drive for an hour and a half to the State Park. Since we moved to Rochester, Niagara has been on our radar—mine especially, incessantly nagging at my curiosity to come visit.

“Stay in bed!” said the Universe. Instead, I threw a liquified shot of Emergen-C powder into my dry throat and headed out the door.

Highway 490, Revisited

About 30 minutes outside of Rochester we heard a funny noise below our car. It was just for a second. Like a… well… as if something fell out. But the car was handling great, and there were no warning signs. So we kept driving.

Five minutes later, that warning sign showed up. If any of you readers drive a Prius, then you’re aware of just how scary the big red exclamation point is. We took the first exit we could (paid a toll) and stopped at the nearest gas station for a gander.

We landed in a town called Batavia, and it was there that we learned we had a major oil leak. I knew this because I bought a fresh quart, emptied it into my car, to which my car—as if in protest—urinated it back onto the gas-station concrete.

Roadside ASSistance

Instead of an in-depth analysis, here’s a quick play-by-play of everything that went wrong soon after.

  1. After calling Allstate Roadside, the tow truck guy called me and said we were “Right around the corner,” from the Toyota dealer and that we could make it if we tried, and we’d save an hour.
  2. I disregarded my wife’s advice to wait, and had her plug in the Toyota dealership address into our GPS. Under five-minutes away.
  3. Megan accidentally chose South Main instead of West Main on the GPS.
  4. Five minutes later, we ended up on a country road, surrounded by large fields and spread-out houses. This was where our car finally jilted us to the side of the road and drove us no more.



A Bend in the Road

Bend, OR

We left this morning. After a string of goodbyes, breakfast, and tire pressure checking, we hit the road. I don’t mean to get dorky here, but it reminded me of leaving Rivendell. You know, Lord of the Rings style.

So we got a cheap room in Bend, OR, which isn’t exactly half way, but that’s okay. After the last few days, it’s far enough.

But Bend was at the end, and it’s not what I want to write about. What happened on the beginning of our journey today is what’s worth noting.

Megan’s parents generously gave us a Garmin GPS for Christmas. Like any new toy, we fooled around with the settings until it became unique to us.

A few years back, after buying the Prius, I changed the display screen to French. I don’t speak French or anything, it’s just how I get my kicks. Don’t judge me.

So Megan turned the red car on the GPS screen into an awesome looking eagle… or hawk. I’m not quite sure. You can’t really see the beak. At first, I couldn’t stop staring at this bird. Every time the car moved, the bird flapped its wings. As the driver, this was bad news.

Eventually I took my eyes off of the eagle and back on the road. As I admired the significance of the bird’s wings in concordance to the distance we were rapidly gaining from home, I was filled with wonder.

(Hesitant to make another Tolken reference, I will remove a metaphor to the eagle scene from The Hobbit.)

Each mile we drove, or flapped rather, we traveled further from home. It soon became apparent that we were on our own. Hitting the road. Just the two of us. Finally.

The adventure has begun.

So we drove. And drove. The GPS bird tirelessly flapped its wings. The Prius, a little heavier than it’s used to, carried us along and groaned at the hills.

In Bend, OR, we stay the night and get up early for the final leg of our drive. It’s a drive we’ve made many times before, though only to turn around too soon and head home. Now we have six months to spend. Maybe more.

Our home isn’t Coeur d’Alene, Idaho anymore, but it isn’t San Luis Obispo either. Our home is each other. That’s where we belong.

And of course, on the wings of a God who loves us.