There were a few disasters that first day back, too. I blame it on Corb spending most of the time reading a book on Real Ghost Stories, frankly. A lot of the material he was reading dealt with the theme of possession, and that always freaks me out.
About two hours into the trip, a car passed us that said "Jesus Loves You" on the back. Corb grinned. "That's what I always say. About myself."
About ten minutes later, Corb put his book down and saw a gust of brown smoke in the distance. He didn't say anything, because he thought they were mowing in the median area, or something.
But as we got closer, I suddenly realized that something was wrong. There was a car jutting out into the high speed lane, and a truck stopped at an angle, a few feet away from that. I slowed down to avoid contact.
We suddenly realized it was the "Jesus Loves You" car. The front of the car had been sliced off, cut clean in half. The driver, a man with a shaved head, was leaning back in his seat, eyes closed, his face covered in blood. On his lap was a four-year-old girl, covering his chest.
There were people already stopping to help, as we passed by, and the kids were getting upset by the sight, but it isn't a scene that you soon forget, and I spent much of the day praying that the man and his child ended up all right.
The trip through Florida and South Carolina was long, and since we had left at noon (I don't think we were quite ready to leave Orlando, frankly), the day was already winding down by the time we made it close to the one sight Corb really wanted to see on the way back--South of the Border, right before you entered North Carolina.
Around six, however, we encountered a terrible traffic jam, which we were stuck in for almost two hours. Turns out an 18-wheeler had turned over and spilled gasoline all over the road.
At one point, we were waiting for such a time that an older guy in a Lexus stopped his car completely, got out, and started exercising. He walked around, checked out the scene a few cars in front of him, did leg and arm stretches, using his car as a prop. Finally, after about ten minutes, a kid got out of his car and gave him a high five. Everyone started clapping.
Arrived at South of the Border around 9:30. The food at the diner was good and dirt cheap. The waitresses couldn't understand a word of what we were saying, with our thick Massachusetts accents. I deliberately asked for malt vinegar with our french fries, just to further confuse them.
After dinner, we started looking around for a place to stay for the night. We decided to pass into North Carolina, so at least we could feel like we had made it through four states. since I was worried about money, we agreed to try and find the cheapest place we could.
We settled on a Quality Inn, which had a AAA certification and had a two bedroom for $59. And boy, did we get the wrong number...
We had our first inkling when the GPS directed us to a Comfort Inn in error.
"We just called a few minutes ago," said Corb, as we checked in at the front desk.
"Funny, I don't remember no call," said the clerk. "Oh well, no bother." Fiddle fiddle with the computer. "That will be $79."
"Seventy nine? You quoted us fifty-nine, before."
"Oh." The clerk smiled, but then wiped it away quickly. "You meant to go to the Quality Inn. that's just down the street."
What did that quick smile mean, I wondered, as we pulled into the parking lot of the Quality Inn.
One look at Corb's face as we headed into the front lobby made it clear he wasn't thrilled. Remember, Corb has worked for a decade in hotels, and used to do room inspections. It was clear from the get-go that this hotel was not meeting his standards.
We would soon discover he had good reason to be scared...