Visiting Family & Committing Murder

Going to visit family is always fun and relaxing, until you commit murder…

My friend, Gillian, and I left Wednesday afternoon to visit our families in Utah. I wanted to surprise mine so I didn’t tell my Dad or my sister that I was driving up. We arrived in Utah around 4 AM (with the time change) on Thursday morning, as expected. Not much happened there. We slept, had breakfast with Gillian’s cousins and chatted with them for a while before leaving for Idaho around 1 PM to surprise my sister.

We arrived at my sister’s house around 4 PM but she wasn’t home. Perfect. Everything was going according to plan and I drove around to the back of her house so she wouldn’t see the car when she got home. Gillian and I wandered around the property, taking pictures of the cows, horses and chickens. You know, what us city folk usually do when we find ourselves in a rural setting! We went into the house and had waited for no more than 10 minutes when my sister pulled into her driveway.

We hid behind the front door and waited as my sister carried a baby in one arm and groceries in the other. She opened the front door, walked into the house and put the baby and groceries down on the floor. I yelled, “Surprise!” and the look on my sister’s face was priceless. I’m convinced she would have dropped the baby had she not already put her down!

My sister ran over to me and gave me a long hug. She was in shock for a while. It was great!

We stayed the night there and drove back to Utah around noon on Friday to meet up with Gillian’s relatives. So we hung out with them for a bit before I was dropped off to meet up with my Dad.

I had my sister arrange a meeting with him under the guise that she had stuff she needed to give him and asked him to meet her at Sizzler’s. Dad was sitting on the bench outside the restaurant when I pulled up. I was 5 feet away from him and he didn’t even notice me getting out of the car. Finally, he looked up and smiled when he saw me. Then he looked around and said, “Wait, where’s…” (he couldn’t remember my sister’s name).

“She’s in Idaho. That was just a ruse.” I replied. We had a good laugh over it.

I’m sure you’re wondering when I’ll get to the part about murder, so allow me to fast forward a little bit.

We left Utah Saturday afternoon to head back home. A storm was starting to come in and the rain was off and on for a while before the darkness settled in for the night. As we neared Fernley, Nevada, the Grim Reaper decided our lives were a little too mundane to escape his deathly grasp.

BAM

I hit Wile E. Coyote!

The coyote had run back in the same direction I had swerved to avoid it, resulting in the vehicle hitting it straight on at 70 MPH. Instant death. I could hear the animal being drug for a few seconds and then there was silence. I had just committed murder.

Gillian and I were so shocked that when we looked at each other we started laughing. We laughed so hard we were in tears. Nothing like this had happened to me before!

I pulled into a gas station in Fernley next to Terrible’s Casino so that we could get gas before pushing on to our final destination. “Let’s check out the damage.” I said.

We got out of the car and walked around to the front of the vehicle.

The coyote was lodged in the bumper!

Looney Tunes will never be the same.

Looney Tunes will never be the same.

Neither of us knew what to do. We stood there in shock for a few minutes before realizing we needed to somehow get the poor thing out of the bumper. Certainly we couldn’t drive all the way to Sacramento with the poor creature lodged in the bumper!

We saw a cowboy walk out of the gas station/casino market and called him over. We showed him our dilemma and asked him if he could help. He called over his girlfriend/wife and they examined the bumper. Thankfully, he was able to get the coyote out of the bumper without any further damage to the coyote. Granted, it was dead and no longer cared what happened to its mortal body, but I still respect the fact that it was one of God’s creatures and had met a terrible fate.

Now we had a new dilemma, what to do with the coyote’s body. The cowboy told us to call the Sheriff’s to have animal control or whoever pick up the body. So I dialed 911, and the cowboy spoke to the dispatcher. The dispatcher wanted him to call some other number and he hung up. That’s when he took off his jacket, picked up the coyote with it and took it over to the fence near the highway and put it down where it couldn’t be seen and would now become a part of the earth.

We were still in shock for quite a while after that. That’s not exactly my idea of hunting!

By now it was 8:30/9:00 PM. We got gas and checked out the front of the car again. The bottom of the radiator was bent in a nicely rounded concave fashion but we decided to make an attempt to continue our journey home. We got as far as the Wadsworth rest stop before the radiator light started blinking and the car started making noise. We pulled into the rest stop and called roadside assistance.

This story ends in a very ordinary way. The tow truck finally arrived and we made it home Sunday morning. Despite being less than 3 hours from home, I didn’t get home until 2:15 AM or so. Gillian, probably 4 AM.

Days like these remind me why I prefer to fly!

Safe and happy travels, my friends!

coyote

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Sightseeing vs. Family

Idaho is gorgeous.

It’s been a few weeks since I’ve returned but now I’m seriously considering buying property there. I flew in to Salt Lake and instantaneously had what I like to call a “senior moment”. My brother-in-law and I were at baggage claim, waiting, and after a while I was starting to get anxious that my luggage had not made it on the flight. If you’ve read my stories about United Airlines then you understand why.

I thought to myself, “This cannot be happening again! What are the odds?”

After about 15 minutes, the only remaining pieces of luggage were black and my burgundy luggage wasn’t among them. Finally, a worker stops by to collect the unclaimed baggage and as he’s picking up the second piece I see burgundy and exclaim, “There it is!”

Turns out my luggage was sitting there the entire time but it was laying on it’s front so that no burgundy was visible at all.

Which goes to show you that it’s probably a good idea to memorize your luggage or put some kind of obvious identifier on both sides, just in case. Might help prevent future senior moments. For me at least.

We arrived in Idaho around 11 PM and my sister, brother-in-law and I stayed up until 12:30 AM talking. The last time I saw my sister was when she was pregnant with her first child, who is almost 2 years old now, and she had given birth to her second child a week before my arrival.

The next day I introduced them to “When Calls The Heart” and we spent the next two days watching season 1 and 2. My brother-in-law acts exactly like my brother when watching it. They both go nuts whenever something happens and want to know what’s going to happen. They also both have man-crushes on Mountie Jack. And crushes on every woman in the show. I guess Hallmark really knows how to cast!

Sadly, I didn’t get to see a whole lot of Idaho during my two-week stay as was planned. My sister watches a couple of kids for a lady she knows and her kids were sick. The lady claimed it was just allergies but her son had thick snot pouring from his nose and he coughed in my face numerous times. Definitely not allergies. I caught his cold and spent the entire two weeks sick.

No exciting sightseeing happened but I did get to spend time with my sister and I got to meet my nieces. Both of which were long overdue.

Short story shorter: Family is more important than any sightseeing ever could be.

The Drunken Scotsman

If you’re a traveler, you’ve probably encountered a drunken Scotsman before. Except, you were probably in a pub or maybe out in broad daylight. My first encounter with a a drunken Scotsman? Well, that was in a shared hostel room in Zagreb.

When I checked into the hostel I was the first one in my room. There were four beds and I was assigned the top bunk closest to the door. After roaming about the city, I returned to settle in for the night. The first few nights weren’t so bad. When two other guests checked in, the only thing I could think was how much I wanted to pop my head over the side of the bunk and scare them! They didn’t know I was there… Someday I hope I’ll gather the courage to actually do it. As stupid and juvenile as it is, I think it would make a hilarious story to tell my future children!

Anyway, one of the two guests was another girl from California who was assigned the top bunk across from me. The second was a guy from someplace else in Europe and was assigned the bed below her. Obviously that left the bed right below me open for any fellow traveler to rent.

The Scotsman checked in two nights before I was supposed to leave the hostel. I didn’t see him for the rest of the night and I didn’t think anything of it because, quite frankly, I don’t really care what my fellow travelers get up to. I pretty much mind my own business.

That night he rolled in somewhere between 12 AM and 2 AM, drunk and super loud, waking us all up as he got ready to go back out. He sprayed some terrible smelling body spray, which he used in excess. I’m pretty sure his excessive use of something so putrid can be considered a heinous crime in some countries. He returned between 3 AM and 4 AM, more drunk, more loud and woke us all up, yet again. At one point the guy actually lost his balance and fell into the wall while trying to take his shoes off because, instead of being a normal human being who sits down on the bed to take his shoes off, he grabs the top rail (which is the side of my bunk) and holds on to that for dear life as he tries to pry his shoes off with his feet… I wanted to slap his knuckles with a ruler!

Instead, I got up and had the on-duty reception staff speak to him. The guy didn’t want to change rooms right then and the staff had to repeatedly tell him he needed to be quiet. The guy just did not get it at all. He tried to talk back to the staff and make excuses and he started laughing when the staff told him to be quiet. The staff said, “It’s not funny.” and the guy laughed again. By the way, his Scottish accent becomes downright unintelligible when he’s drunk!

The staff promised to put him in another room for the next night.

Oh, did I mention he only slept in his underwear on top of his sheets and blankets? And if you’re covered in tattoos can you still be considered naked? Okay, so he wasn’t really covered in tattoos from what I saw when I passed him to flee the room. I only saw tattoos on his arm. But still. Part of me wished I had a long stick so I could have poked him awake every time he fell asleep. Then he’d wake up and be confused because he wouldn’t see anyone standing in front of him. His feet smelled so bad it made his body spray smell as though it were a newly blossomed rose in springtime! Who needs smelling salts to stay awake when the drunk guy in the bunk below you has stinky feet…

Somewhere in Seinfeld’s Bizarro world there’s a version of me that’s doing horrible things to rude people like him.

In case you were wondering, no, the drunk, stinky footed Scottish man was not moved to another room. I was anticipating another long, sleepless night as I went downstairs to the reception desk to inquire about him being moved. I saw the drunkard in the bar and asked reception, “Is that the guy from my room?” (just to make sure) and the guy in reception says, “Yes.” So I say to him, “He’s supposed to be moved to another room.” After checking the computer he replies, “No, it says here that you can have a private room at no extra charge if you want.”

What do you think I said? The bed was larger and it had a private bathroom as well. SCORE!!!

I never saw that disgusting, stinky footed, drunk Scotsman ever again.

O’Hare TSA Humor

While waiting for my connecting flight to Munich, I bought a smoothie and wandered downstairs to the baggage claim. I’m paranoid about my luggage not making it to my destination… This trip only solidified my paranoia, you can read about that here. When I wandered back upstairs the lovely TSA man with the badge told me I couldn’t bring my food through! Apparently TSA rules state that liquids can’t be brought through the checkpoint, even if it was purchased on the other side of the checkpoint! So I chatted with some of the other TSA gents while I finished my smoothie.

One was especially funny and told me that I could freeze my smoothie first and bring it through the gate because it would then be a solid… Then he said that if I had any pumpkin pie he would have to confiscate 1/3 of it. I asked about sweet potato pie but he said that didn’t need to be confiscated. The other guy promptly jumped in and said he would have to confiscate that!

Great employees there.

The Flight Passenger

This story is from my first trip to Croatia in December, 2006.

I had just arrived at the Chicago O’Hare Airport and I had quite a few hours before my connecting flight to Frankfurt. It had been 20 years since I had been on a plane and I was impressed that I didn’t have flight sickness or any adverse reactions! I decided to have a light snack and purchased a banana. No biggie, right? Well, my stomach had other plans and I threw the banana back up within 30 minutes.

Eventually the flight boarded and I sat in my assigned seat. A guy close to my age was sitting next to me and struck up a conversation. He was on his way to visit his girlfriend who was studying in Spain. I warned him that I might throw up again and to hope it wasn’t on him. I’m surprised he still sat next to me after I said that because I would probably be freaking out if someone had said that to me!

The flight took off and it wasn’t long before the water in my stomach decided to join the banana. Thank goodness for barf baggies! I really feel bad for Flight Attendants who have to deal with this sort of stuff and worse every day. Those folks are practically saints! The flight attendant was nice and sympathetic and he took my barf away ASAP.

The guy next to me saw that I was doing a crossword puzzle book and made attempts to convert me to sudoku and to convince me sudoku is way better than a crossword puzzle. So not happening. My theory is that sudoku is for people who are good at math and terrible with words, while crossword puzzles are for people who are good with words and terrible at math. I know, it’s probably a flawed and incorrect theory.

Maybe I should have thrown up on him! It might have ended the attempted assimilation much faster! However, I’m too nice and I ended the sudoku conversation by telling him I was going to sleep. That’s when he told me that it was okay to rest my head on his shoulder. I was offended on behalf of his girlfriend, but I held my peace. Who invites random girls to snuggle up to them when they have a girlfriend?

Whether he was just being polite or not I can’t say, but I have a feeling that had I been an old woman or a dude he wouldn’t have made the offer.

Regardless, I declined and decided to snuggle up to the window with my headphones on instead. 🎧

The Elderly Man

Here’s a travel story from my trip to Croatia. Enjoy!
This happened on 16 December, 2013


There I was, standing in front of the bus station in Split. I had just arrived from Zagreb and now I needed to figure out where the hostel was located. It looked like fairly simple directions yet somehow I ended up wandering around behind Diocletian’s Palace for an hour. After asking a few residents where the street was located (which had no street sign and some residents didn’t know about) I found the hostel. After I got settled in I knew that there was one important thing I needed to do: find food. I went back outside, consulting my all-knowing map when an old man (70 + years old maybe) walked up to me and starts talking. He didn’t understand much English and I didn’t understand much Croatian but I understood that he wanted me to rent the back room of his house for 200 kuna per night ($35.88 USD at the time). I politely said no and he promptly dropped the price to 150 kuna per night. I handed him the paper with the hostel information on it and attempted to tell him I already had accommodations but due to our mutual lack of understanding, my efforts were futile.

Finally, he knocks on his neighbors door and hands the guy my paper with the hostel information on it. The neighbor is confused. He doesn’t know what’s going on. He’s wondering why he’s supposed to be looking at this paper and I say, “That’s where I’m staying but he doesn’t understand me.” Luckily, for me, the neighbor speaks English and he kindly explains things to the old fella. Now I’ve disappointed an old man. At least until he starts hugging me and kissing my cheeks!

I didn’t think anything unusual of  it because I grew up listening to my dad tell stories about how his Grand-Auntie used to greet him and pinch his cheeks. I thought that maybe folks in Dalmatia (southern region of Croatia) are just super friendly.

As we’re walking back to the hostel he asks my name. I tell him and then he stops me and gives me more kisses on the cheek! Folks in Croatia love my name because it means “Christ” and they’re religious. Anyway, when we get back to the hostel he asks if I want to eat and I decline his offer. He starts kissing my cheek again but this time he starts getting closer to my lips and that’s when I pat him on the shoulder and say goodbye!

He walked away and as soon as he turned the corner I covertly peer around it to make sure he’s gone.  PHEW! No sign of him. I begin wandering around Diocletian’s Palace, trying to decide where I want to eat, when I see him outside my restaurant of choice. I quickly turn around and check out another area but end up cautiously returning to the restaurant, hoping the old man wouldn’t be there. He wasn’t! I go inside the restaurant and guess who’s inside sitting at a table? That’s right, my spurned lover!

Awkward…

Next time I won’t forget my English-Croatian dictionary/phrasebook. Most people in Zagreb speak English (and speak it better than Americans) so I guess the thought to pack my phrasebook never even crossed my mind this time. A lesson well learned!