We just returned from our annual Christmas road trip to the town of Oroville for the purpose of visiting our grand-kids and their parents. The distance is always 565 miles from portal to portal but the time and frustration involved can vary widely, from 8.5 miles of actual driving time under ideal circumstances to 12 hours under the more typical driving conditions which can make the trip pretty intolerable, and there are two keys to these differences based upon the time you drive through Los Angeles (which is generally controllable to some degree) and the quantity and quality of drivers encountered along Interstate 5 (which is pretty much beyond any semblance of control).
The Golden State Freeway as it is called is invariably filled with drivers who seem to think the left lane is for slower traffic and that the spaced maintained to keep a safe distance from the vehicle ahead has been reserved for them to cut into after pass in the right. Along the way, I encountered numerous older drivers with the aggressive attitude of an 18 year old and reflexes of an 80 year old.
Our trip north on December 18 took 8.5 hours, making it almost tolerable. Our return trip on the 27th took a wholly intolerable 11.5 hours and involved more stop and go bumper to bumper traffic and frustration than I can describe without lapsing into more profanity than I can bring myself to foist upon my readers – it was simply f-ing awful.
Worse, and yes there is a worse to this post, is that slight sniffles and a very mild sore throat that were my gift on Christmas day have advanced to a full-blown winter cold with a fever, chills, a sorer throat, a persistent unproductive cough, a headache that comes and goes and a general achiness that shows no sign of going away. It is a classic cold.
It is also a simple cold, the kind that almost everyone gets at least once each year and for me it is particularly embarrassing because it turns me into a constant whiner. Embarrassing because there are so many who go through so much worse every day without a bit of whining. I’ve become a wimpy and insufferable whiner in my old age. In younger years, I refused to give in and it was common for me to ignore the same symptoms by going fishing or hunting, often in crappy conditions. In a sense, I taunted the simple cold and refused to let it get me down.
In contrast, today found me quite down and laying in bed trying to regain the sleep that was lost overnight to a relentless dry cough. The fever and other symptoms clung to me like dogshit on the waffle sole of a hiking boot. When I could take no more I cried out to my nurse: “I need a fistful of Tylenol tablets to reduce my fever, cough syrup with codeine to check my cough and a morphine drip to mask the aches – STAT!”
She returned with the Tylenol, cough syrup that expired three years ago and a ham sandwich.