The title of this post has been one of Mr Carmichael’s stock turns of phrase for as many years as my daughters can remember and for oh so many years before that. Trust me. I may be the only witness to those journeys from days of yore but the near misses, abrupt stops and loud conversations with strangers who can’t hear him are things not quickly (or easily) forgotten.
Since my husband has now hit something (another story, another time) the, “Have I hit anything? Well, have I?” has been relegated, more or less, to his passive vocabulary. A rapid finger shake and “Oi, you can’t say that anymore” from Yours Truly is usually enough to stop him in his verbal tracks.
Mr Carmichael is not the best driver in the world. I have had cause to mention this fact in previous blog entries. And so it was with some trepidation, on my part at least, that we picked our vehicle up at Palm Springs Airport.
I had overspent and booked an SUV for the simple reason that higher up I would have more chance to see potential disaster from a distance and as, in one sense we would both be driving at the same time, this was a good thing.
The largish size of the car for two people and two suitcases did not stop the Avis rep attempting to up-sell us. It seems she felt that we might be a tad squashed and possibly not as comfy in the allocated vehicle as one she could offer us for just $20.00 more per day.
No thanks, Miss. We’ll struggle through with this ‘lower grade’ offering.
Now, Palm Springs would, I thought, be a great place for Mr C to get his right side sea legs and for me to ease into the stress of private transport. And I was right. I did not even feel the need to take over the helm. Not even once. Our only arguments over directions, finding and re-finding our Morongo Road abode.
But the Monday trip to Los Angeles was never far from my thoughts.
The last time we stayed in Tinsel Town we were en famille and Carmichael père did not instil such confidence. We did a lot of driving and, like mercury, the terror within me grew. I even resorted to sitting in the back leaving directions and the jump seat to daughter #1, a tender teen at the time.
It helped and even the quiet screams I couldn’t contain were muffled by competing iPods and the satellite navigation system telling us to ‘turn around’.
Having, this time, also refused the Avis kind offer of an extortionately priced navigation device I was wondering how in God’s name we were going to find the hotel if we were lucky enough to find Los Angeles.
Here the iPhone and Google maps came galloping to the rescue and in swooping style will, I predict, be putting TomTom et al out of business any day now. Fantastic, manifique, wunderbar. Oh yes! We got to the Andaz without a fight and before the iPhone 5’s battery ran out.
We pulled in behind love’s young dream, handed the keys to the concierge and our bags to Emily (she was very nice) and headed up to our room for a celebratory arrival drink from our own supply.
It was all good and, with fear in abeyance, I was looking forward to trips out over the next couple of days.
Driving and navigation sorted what could possibly go wrong?
However good Google maps is it cannot get you to the correct destination if you don’t put the correct destination in, can it? No Sir, no Ma’am it cannot.
Our penultimate day brought the forecast ‘storm’ and our only rain of the whole holiday so we decided to make a quick trip to the Griffin Observatory, just up and behind us atop the Hollywood Hills.
I think it’s about five miles from our bit of Sunset Boulevard. 45 miles, one hour and a half, a diversion for a rather serious accident and one very full bladder later we arrived.
My voice was hoarse from shouting. I confess it was not my finest moment but when your husband of twenty five years suggests you get out and pee beside a wire fence on the hard shoulder in five lanes of standstill traffic shouting is the only option available to a woman of substance.
It took us seventeen minutes and only a little argument over a luncheon venue that I won to get us back to the strip. We enjoyed yummy Italian in Sunset Plaza.
The next day, our last, we managed to drive unaided to Venice Beach for brunch with nary a wrong turn nor a raised voice.
Maybe, just maybe the Carmichaels have got this driving thing cracked. I am optimistic.