The Longest Day so far….

Today the plan was to go out for breakfast, pick up the U-HAUL, get the come-along to get the Mustang on the trailer, load the Mustang, pack the truck, say “hi-and-bye” to my cousins and get on the road – all by dinner time so I can make it over the FL/GA border for bed. I knew it was going to be a long day with all of the stuff that had to be done, and when I woke up in the morning, I wasn’t even sure if I was gonna be able to drive the U-HAUL without making a complete idiot of myself.

So here is how it all went down:

1) Go out for breakfast – CHECK! Nice! The day started out pretty well, right? During breakfast, one of the guys at the U-HAUL place apparently didn’t take his chill pill this morning and was calling me prodding to know when I was gonna get over to pick the damn thing up. Hence, we got up from the table at Bob Evans, the “home of homestyle,” (I’m not endorsing them – but we got some pretty nice service at the one in Cape Coral) and took the next step.

2). Pick up the U-HAUL – CHECK!!

This thing didn’t have cruise control, auto windows, nor auto locks. All would have been nice to have but at least it has air conditioning. I even had an easy time driving it back to Mary and Doug’s house. I practiced backing up and forward for a bit, after which we sat around and Mary called my cousin Lea to come over so I could see her. She called back and said she was going to bring her daughters with her. COOL – that meant that step four was gonna go down – but first,

3). Get the come along – No problems here – we had our choice between a 1-ton and 2-ton and we got the 1-ton. Things were going great – all falling into place – my spirits were high, and we made our way home.

4). Load the Mustang – It was getting later though, and we were a bit hungry. We got home and Mary had whipped up a wonderful lunch spread for us and the anticipated visit from Lea et-al. We sat a bit to wait for her and then Doug grabbed up his lunch and went outside to wait for them. When Lea arrived, and I saw her, it was like we just saw each other yesterday. She hasn’t changed a bit – but her daughters have grown into young ladies! I was kinda sad that I was only gonna be able to have lunch with them and then book, but at least I got to see them.

Now, back to loading the Mustang. Lea’s daughters brought their boyfriends, and that was great because they might be able to help with the grunt work a bit.

All good. All falling into place, but then Doug said something to the effect that the Mustang wasn’t moving anywhere. HUH??? “What do you mean?” I asked, and he informed me that the car was in neutral, the parking brake was released, but the car was frozen in place. I thought right away that the brakes were locked.

SHIT, I lamented to myself – this is not good. What if it isn’t the brakes? What if the tranny is locked? Or worse, the rear???

SHIT!!!

Doug and I got to work. I smacked the rims near the hubs with a small sledge hammer to try to loosen them up – nope.

I hammered the backing plates behind the wheels to try to loosen the brakes – nope nope.

This was a pickle – and we got the jack out from the trunk, loosened all of the lugs, jacked the right rear, pulled the wheel and worked to get the drum off. The drum was frozen solid, and even though that was actually the best case scenario, I started thinking:

“What are we going to do for brakes when we roll it out of the garage?”

“Will the parking brake be inoperable from me sledge-hammering along with Doug prying the drum off with a crowbar?”

“What the f__k am I getting myself into, should I just leave it here and go home?”

After about 20 minutes, we finally got the right rear drum off, which tore up the shoes and nearly blasted the wheel cylinder. We tore the retainer springs right off with the drums, but the good news was the axle spun freely. Things were looking up, and I was laughing at myself and the committee in my head that had me running away in a panic. Leave and go home – LOL??

I used a screwdriver to adjust the brakes on the other three wheels down (loosen them up), but not before nearly losing the car off the jack. I need to remember to be careful and take all sorts of extra precautions!

With all of the wheels loose, the car was ready to be rolled out. I checked the parking brake, and guess what? That still worked! So we were going to be able to stop it when we rolled it out of the garage, but we were going to need some brute force to roll it up onto the trailer. It was getting late, and I was a sweaty mess by this time, but we (with Emily behind the wheel) carefully rolled the Mustang out of the garage:

At the bottom of the driveway!

We got the car into sunlight for the first time in nearly 12 years! With the car in the sun, I took some other pics:

The car was ready – and my cousin Nicky showed up just in time. She had her son with her (her youngest had shown up with Lea and her daughters). All of a sudden there was 3 generations of cousins in the mix. Nicky looked great. She was all grown up! But she had the same personality that I remembered – loving and strong. She was also here to help but the first thing she did was sit in the passenger side of the Mustang as it sat in the bright Florida sun. All of us have stories of Uncle Pete (Gramps to Nicky and Lea) and the Mustang, and Nicky shared one of hers where Uncle Pete picked her up from school or something and got the car practically airborne over a pothole in the middle of the road.

BACK TO LOADING THE MUSTANG – which had become the focal point for everyone now. All of us except for Nicky’s youngest son, who was on the couch napping, was outside now. The trailer was set and with the boyfriends’, Nicky’s Doug’s and my help, and Emily behind the wheel, we rolled the car onto it’s chariot:

And there it is. On the trailer and ready for the long drive home. I was a bit tired by now, and also a tad dirty, but it felt good.

5). Pack the truck – It was a long day. The time sped by, and by now I knew I was staying the night, and I was actually¬†relieved. I was gonna spend some time with my cousins, my “cousins once removed” and my second cousins. All good. Packing the truck would wait until tomorrow.

6). Say “hi-and-bye” to my cousins – did I really think this was how I would do it? After over 10 years just say “Hi, good to see you” and then “Bye, see you later?” Not happing – not even possible. I was in my glory. I reflected on when Lea and I were kids – we’re the same age, and over the years we seem to always catch up somehow – no matter how long it’s been. I knew I wanted to see her when I was here and I was cherishing it. Nicky – jeez – I remember when she was a baby. Now she has grown into a woman and has two beautiful babies of her own! I loved watching her mother her kids – with the compassion and the confidence that quickly eased them when they fussed. Lea’s kids Emily and Mary – Teenagers. I couldn’t help but wonder if the next time I saw them I would be seeing them as mothers themselves! I hoped that it wouldn’t be 10 years until the next encounter.

It was always Uncle Pete or my Dad that brought us together somehow – Dad bringing us to see them, Uncle Pete drawing us to Florida as kids with promises of pools and beaches…. I never complained about being around my cousins. We’re family, and today, on what seemed to be the longest day of my journey so far, we were together once again, this time because of the Mustang, and in some sense, also because of Uncle Pete.

7). Lucky seven – get on the road – all by dinner time so I can make it over the FL/GA border for bed. It’s nearly 3 am, and I am going to bed now – right here in Florida in my cousin’s house ¬†– where I belong for at least one more night. The FL/GA border will be there tomorrow waiting for me, I am sure.

Nicky's oldest son Nicholas - My Uncle Pete's Great Grandson in the Mustang

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