It took forever, but I finally left home tonight at about 7:30.
Yesterday gave me a nasty surprise that I couldn't deal with until today. When I had arrived back in town around Thanksgiving, I'd picked up all my mail from my friend, where I'd had it forwarded (the post office won't hold mail longer than about a month). I went through it then, taking out anything that looked important and saving all the special offers to get me heavily into debt for shredding later. Yesterday I decided to do the trash-and-shred task as part of my final cleanup of the house for when I'm gone and (God willing) people want to look at it to buy it.
But I found one envelope I should have pulled out right away. It was my homeowner's insurance company telling me they were going to cancel my insurance unless I paid them right away. That was back in August. Uh oh! If my house had burned down in the fires this fall, I'd have been wiped out.
So this morning I spent some time with my insurance agent getting signed back up again. His computer system kept wanting him to admit that my now-expired policy had had a claim for water damage, which it definitely had not, so that slowed him down some. But he finally got it to put the thing through correctly, so as of today, my house is insured!
Packing is such an awful ordeal. I don't know what ever possessed me to want to become a tour director. They have to pack light, and I was delusional to think I could do that. I spent way too much time today choosing way too many books and DVDs to bring along. And I probably brought way too many of the wrong kinds of clothes for our trip to the South and our Caribbean cruise. Even though I put the mittens and gloves back in my closet, I still brought some clothes to keep me warm in cold weather. If iguanas in Florida can freeze and fall out of trees, that means I might freeze too. But I won't be falling out of trees, because I won't be climbing them. So I have warm-weather clothes and cold-weather clothes and a separate suitcase for the things I'll need on my drive to Texas. My car is stuffed.
Any normal person might have waited until morning to leave, but I wanted to at least get past the greater San Diego area tonight. Driving south to San Diego in the daytime takes twice as long as at night--about 40 mph compared to 75 mph at night. I made it down to Interstate 8 in just half an hour, a record for all my trips to Texas.
As I was leaving San Diego's sprawl, climbing up toward a pass, a lighted-letter sign warned of gusty winds in the mountains. Then, just after the 3,000-foot elevation sign, the fog moved in, thick and worrisome, and the temperature dropped into the 30s. I could imagine coming up to a bridge, where the fog-moistened pavement would be frozen and a gust of wind would just blow me off the side. No, thanks!
Out of the murk a sign appeared, promising Gas - Food - Lodging at the next exit, in Pine Valley, a town I don't remember ever noticing before. And as the visible part of the white line on the right side of the road just kept on going, I was starting to think maybe Pine Valley didn't really exist. But then I saw that break in the white line that signals an exit, and I took it. The fog was even thicker once I left the interstate. I followed the signs at each intersection, and in town (one restaurant, one gas station, one motel, and some other small businesses and homes) the fog lifted just enough that I found the motel.
It feels good to be past San Diego, even if I'm still in California on my first "day" of the drive to Texas. But it feels even better that I'm not still driving in fog at near-freezing temperatures and heading for gusty winds. Yes, a bed and a heater set on make-it-warm-in-here are beautiful things.