* aka "Weekend Update"
Usually we go up to New Hampshire for a few days over July 4, but we didn't this year. Then usually we go up again for a few days in August when Andy takes a week off, but we didn't this year. But we always go up for Labor Day weekend, and this year was no exception.
Friday the girls and I packed up and headed out. Pete was invited to a Bar Mitzvah on Saturday, and Andy had to work, so they planned to come up a day late. About an hour or so into the ride, my Odyssey's "check engine" and "traction control system" lights came on. I had Steph look in the manual, but it didn't give a definitive answer. When we arrived in Tilton (for our planned back-to-school shopping spree at the outlet mall), I got gas. When I started back up again, the TCS light went out, the engine light stayed on, and then the "maintenance required" light came on too. At that point Steph pointed out that it was funny how my inspection sticker had expired. Back in April. (Go read this and then you can all laugh your asses off, it's OK.) We were already out of state, so I knew I couldn't get inspected—but I also knew I couldn't get pulled over.
There was nothing to do but go shopping.
Afterward, the temperature gauge was OK and the handling seemed fine, so onward we pressed. By the time we got up to Franconia, Barbara and Jerry were already there–and it was already cocktail hour! After a nervous ride and too much shopping, I was ready.
Saturday morning Jerry checked my oil and said I had none. Which is weird because I never go through oil between changes and because my oil light hadn't come on. He put in 3 quarts. Afterward we visited Chutters, and I'm sorry to report that we bought all the candy, so there isn't any left for you (yes, we picked up bags for Pete and Andy too). We also stopped in to the lovely Village Book Store, which I like to support whenever I'm up there.
Later on the guys showed up, and the next day we had to cram a lot of fun in. First, a friend had given us free passes to Whale's Tale, so off we went. Every year I tell you how skeevy I feel at a water park, and this year was no different, so I'll spare you the details. For the first time ever, though, this time I just refused to budge from my lounge chair, where I was happy to read while the kids frollicked. It's nice when your kids are old enough to do stuff on their own, huh? Then we sped home and changed, because it was time to pick up Barbara and Jerry and head off to the main attraction, the Lancaster Fair! Again, because the kids are getting older, we have more flexibility, so we went in the late afternoon and stayed into the evening. We ate all manner of fried food, from fried dough to French fries to deep-fried Twinkies, and then of course devoured our beloved Robillard's apple crisp.
Maybe I was feeling bad that I hadn't gone on any of the rides at the water park, I don't know, but the next thing I knew I agreed to go on an icky spinning flying ride with the girls. I had to keep my eyes shut and still felt nauseated the whole time, and then I was miserable for a long time afterward. That'll learn me. I revived as soon as I spied the quarters machines, though. Honestly, if I had one in my basement you would never see me again. In go the quarters, back and forth slides the little platform, out fall a few quarters (sometimes, anyhow). I play Coin Dozer on my iPhone sometimes, but there's nothing like the real thing. The kids, meanwhile, got their respective fixes playing games and getting robbed by carnies. And then we admired the draft horses and patted the lambs and explored the RVs and people-watched.
And then the final event of the weekend was, you guessed it, a major pig-out this morning at Polly's Pancake Parlor, which is always the same and always perfect. Then back into the car to head home. The dashboard lights still glared at me, as did the expired inspection sticker—particularly as soon as we crossed back into Massachusetts. When we got home Andy took it to the station, and the jerk there took our $29 and then said, "You know it's going to fail, right? Because of the check engine light?" Um, no, we in fact didn't know, or else we wouldn't have gone. Grrr.
Meanwhile, about a week or so ago, purely by coincidence, Andy had suggested that maybe it's time to replace the Odyssey, since it is 11 years old and expensive stuff is likely to start going wrong with it. So tomorrow I will call the dealer and see if I can bring it over so they can diagnose the problem(s), but I might not get it fixed, depending on the cost. Now I'm busy researching new cars. Should I get another Odyssey? Or go the SUV route and look at a Honda Pilot? Maybe the hybrid Toyota Highlander? The Mazda CX-9? Any thoughts? I still want to be able to seat 6 fairly comfortably for carpooling and such, and I don't want a gas guzzler and I don't want to feel like I'm driving a truck. (And what I really want is a Mini Cooper.)