I was married twice (Chris and Teri – both wonderful women). I have another , but this particular category is about our honeymoons. No doubt there are a lot of stories people have about honeymoons, but I doubt if very many are as strange as this.
I was married to Chris on March 28, 1981 at the not so tender age of 27. The point is, I was old enough to be smarter than I obviously was and no excuse will suffice. I'd say I was embarrassed, but in order to be embarrassed it is essential that you care what others think - and that was rarely a problem for me.
We were married at 2PM. We spent several hours trying to get out of the church, but Chris’ mom (fantastic woman – Barb) had an obsession with presents. She couldn’t stand the idea of us waiting until after the honeymoon to open them, so we opened and opened and opened. It was taking forever and I wanted to get on the road.
We had decided to spend the first night in Columbia, Missouri and then the second night in Atlanta, Georgia and the third night at our destination – Orlando, Florida.
I finally had to call a halt to the present opening. By the time we got back to the house and unloaded and reloaded the car, and took off, it was 8PM. This was in Topeka, Kansas and it took three hours to get to Columbia. Chris was exhausted as you might imagine. She fell asleep in the car just outside of Kansas City.
Being a freak of nature math person, my first mistake was I started calculating in my head... “Let’s see… if I drive an extra five hours tonight, and then an extra five hours the next day, I can knock a day of driving off this trip."
The idea was that we were going to spend 2.5 days driving to Florida and 2.5 days coming back. We had 10 days total, so that meant five days at our destination. Naturally, I wanted more days there and fewer days on the road, so if I could make the trip in 1.5 days both ways, we could be there seven days instead of five. Am I brilliant or what?
So, I didn’t bother waking Chris. Instead I just kept driving and driving. We got to St. Louis around 1AM. I looked at the map and decided I could gain a few miles if I cut through the back country heading south out of St. Louis instead of east as any normal person would have gone.
Before long, Chris woke up and wondered where in the world we were. She shouldn't have been, but she was amiable. Besides, what choice did she have now that we were over two hours past Columbia. But, there was a problem.
After a couple hours we were getting very low on gas. I’m the kind of person that simply cannot stand to stop driving once I start on a trip. I hate to get gas before I absolutely have to. So, I kept driving. By the time I realized I really had to get serious about getting fuel, I couldn’t find anything open. We had been married on a Saturday, so this was now Sunday morning around 3AM. In those days, very few things were open 24 hours. Nowadays, that’s a given, but 30 years ago, it was a rarity.
I kept going because what choice did I have? Chris was now wide awake and as nervous as I was – probably even more so. As we continued on the highway, I saw a sign for a town – five miles off the road. I drove to it and there wasn’t a light on. I drove back out to the highway and continued on, but we were on fumes. After a little while we came up over a hill and there (as though it were Oz) at the end of a golden highway was a lit-up 24-hour truck stop. I guarantee you, I was never more worried than the minute before I saw that.
I hadn’t gotten much sleep the night before either and so in order to stay awake (it would suck having a wreck on your honeymoon night), I had popped a few Vivarin. If you don’t know what that is, it’s over-the-counter pills designed to keep a person alert or awake. It’s the same as No Doze or any of those drugs. Each pill is 200mg of caffeine. When I was 27, that meant nothing to me. I didn’t know what 200mg of anything meant. I had taken six tablets by the time we found the gas station and it was about 6AM.
I started to feel sick. By now we figured the best thing we could do would be to make it to Nashville and get a room. Even though I drove 99% of all the miles ever driven between me and my wives when on trips, we thought Chris should drive since I wasn’t feeling well. Within an hour or two, I was in the ditch barfing my biscuits.
After a number of stops, we made it to Nashville. It was about 9AM when we pulled into a motel. Chris went to get something for my stomach. I don’t remember what it was, but it didn’t work – at least not immediately. By 11AM, I was begging to die. I can’t imagine what Chris was thinking, poor girl. But, if she had been smarter, she would have seen it as an omen and got an annulment the next day!
After a couple more hours of me moaning like a woman in labor, we went to a nearby hospital’s emergency room. I talked to a doctor. I told him I had taken a bunch of Vivarin and that we were married the day before in Topeka, Kansas. I’m sure he thought I was out of my mind and not sure if he even believed me. I only remember him giving me a shot in the butt. Within an hour I was feeling overwhelmingly better. Within two hours, I was wanting to get back on the road. So, we left Nashville (Chris driving) and made it to Atlanta later that day.
As you might recall, Atlanta is where we were scheduled to be after a day and a half anyway! So, I spent my honeymoon night driving, scared of running out of gas in the sticks and sick to my stomach. If that wasn’t enough, I was out the cost of the emergency room. And, I ended up not saving a single minute on the trip to Orlando.
That’s the main part of the honeymoon story, but there was one other bizarre thing that happened to us. When we were in Orlando, we went to Sea World. I parked the car like normal and went in. We spent the entire day there as well as the evening. After the park closed for most people, those of us who had purchased a ticket to an evening luau were all that remained. That lasted a couple hours. By the time we got out, it was around 10PM.
The parking lot is huge as you might imagine, so you needed to remember where your car was parked. We had written down D9 or whatever it was and walked to the spot. No car.
By now there were very few cars in the lot because only a few employees and others at the luau were still around – and most of them had left or were leaving. After scratching our heads for awhile, we looked all around the lot. There were no cars anywhere near where we were sure we parked. Obviously, someone stole it... not so fast. Finally, we saw a car way off near the edge of the lot that looked like it might be ours. We had a 1978 Mustang.
We walked all the way to it and it was our car. It was up against the curb of the edge of this huge parking lot.
I unlocked it, got in and discovered it was in neutral. But, the mystery is how it got there. Presumably, it started rolling slowly. But, it would have had 500 cars between it and where it ended up being. You would think that the first car it ran into – which would have been 20 feet, that they would have pushed it back into the spot it was in and put something under the tire(s) to keep it from moving. And, if they did do that, then why was the obstruction removed allowing our car to drift all the way to the far end of the lot? And, if they knew they had a car that was moving on its own near the end of the day, why didn’t they ask the people in the luau if it was theirs?
The mystery of why we didn’t stop in Columbia and almost ran out of gas and why I got sick is easy to solve. I was an idiot. The mystery of the car being left in neutral is also easy to solve. I was an idiot. But, the mystery of how our car got from point A to point B is one I have never been able to figure out.
I mentioned that I was married twice. That means two honeymoons. My second was nowhere near as eventful as the first. We were married July 1st, 1999. We went to Steamboat Springs, Colorado – a place I was familiar with, having been skiing there some years earlier. The trip was fine and we had a good time. But, we drove there and back… uh oh.
On the way back, we were going through Eastern Colorado and approaching Kansas before I thought about getting gas. I knew all about western Kansas and was sure there would be a gas station. Once again, however, this was a Sunday. Sure there were plenty of places along I-70 to get gas, but not on Sunday. We drove and drove and nothing was open.
We weren’t the only ones looking. We went into a gas station off the road because we couldn’t tell if it was open or not. It was closed, but when we were there, we saw several cars pulling in and pulling out. We were on fumes, but we weren’t going to sit there for 12 hours, so we talked to another couple that was also on fumes. We agreed to follow each other as we continued east so that if one of us ran out of gas, the other would pick them up and continue on.
Miraculously, both couples made it to a place that was open. It must have been the fact I was driving a Mustang again that saved us. You would think my lack of planning or unwillingness to be careful would have taught me a lesson in 1981, but obviously not.
We were dead tired and I was a little reluctant to pop a bunch of Vivarin to make it to Kansas City (Lesson learned!), so by the time we hit Salina (three hours west of KC), I was more than ready to get a motel room. We went to place after place and nobody had any room at the inn. After awhile, I was thinking manger in a stable would do nicely. Finally, we found a place that had one room left – a Holiday Inn of some sort. The problem was the room was tiny and had a single twin bed. I think it was some kind of an emergency room they kept in their hip pocket just for situations like this. It was miserable, but we survived and made it back to KC the next day.
Although I had these strange situations happen to me and my spouse – and all of them were my own fault, both honeymoons were a lot of fun.