How deep is the ocean? When one spends countless hours driving without a radio and only his or her thoughts to pass the time that is one of the questions that might come to mind. I’ve always said how thankful I have been since the invention of hands-free headsets so I don’t look like a lunatic talking to myself as I drive—don’t laugh, I know you’ve been there. At least with Ginger’s personality, I actually feel like I’m talking to an entity rather than to myself.
Ginger and I set out for Florida on a very dreary, cold day in Arkansas between two winter storms. We had a child to visit, seven-year-old Dalton who had been diagnosed with acute lymphoblastic leukemia (ALL) in December 2014. We had high hopes of leaving the freezing temperatures behind and basking in the rays of the Sunshine State but we had a long way to go. Not being able to feel one’s extremities makes the drive seem much, much longer.
We were thankful to put Transylvania (LA) in our rearview just before dusk and Ginger seemed to be running like a champ as the outside temps gradually climbed. She has a full array of new bits and has become a great deal more reliable (thanks to MOSS and McLeod’s British Cars) and our only worry at that point was not having heat yet. There is always cause to hold one’s breath while driving Ginger. Like her sister, Grace, when things are going well their drivers are always waiting nervously for something to fail, and fail it does. Between Vicksburg and Jackson, Mississippi a semi kicked up a rock and struck Ginger’s forty-plus year old wind screen and chipped it right in the center of my vision. I held my hand on the glass saying, “No, no, no,” as I desperately attempted to keep the chip from running as if that was actually going to work. It did not.
I grumbled to myself as I continued down the road in the pouring rain thankful that Lucas, the Prince of Darkness, had not yet struck. Anyone who raises poultry, and anyone in general, has heard the old adage, “Don’t count your chickens before they hatch.” In the British car community the adage should be, “Don’t think pleasant thoughts. Ever.”
Imagine the scene: Bouncing through downtown Mobile, Alabama in Ginger with rain pouring from the skies, a huge chip in the center vision through the windscreen. Dimly lit street lamps casting a foggy mist over the street signs and we hit a bump. Wipers stop moving half way causing more impaired vision. I wiggle the switch as the GPS snarky lady barks her orders and nothing happens. The rain slows to a fine mist and the RainX stops working so well causing me to reach out and use my hand to clear the windscreen enough to see the road signs so GPS lady will stop yelling at me. We hit another bump and the wipers start again popping up over my fingers causing my hand to get stuck on the windscreen under the wiper blade. Thankfully there was no traffic. I stopped, removed my hand from its captor and we were on our way once more. Only an hour and a half from our destination, we stopped for the night and as I closed my eyes I begged for blue skies in the morning.
Coffee and blue skies were not on the horizon. Actually, nothing was on the horizon except fog. The only good thing about the fog was that I could not see the water while going over the miles long bridges between Mobile and Fort Walton Beach, Florida. I hate bridges. Evidently that’s a real phobia. Don’t know, don’t care. I just don’t like driving on them. Ever. However, we survived, mainly because I won’t let my own fears stop us from getting to a child needing some encouragement; wouldn’t be prudent, would it?
While we sat at a park in Fort Walton Beach waiting for our family to arrive we couldn’t help but wonder, again, why rain and fog always follows us like it often did Grace. When the kids arrived (there were six in this family) we found out why the fog was there. These kids brought their own sunshine. They were beaming with excitement, joy and happiness. They were smart, and funny and just a treasure to be with. Ginger and I felt humbled and honored to be in their presence. Then there was their mother. What an amazing woman. A woman who has dedicated her entire being to raising eight children ranging from 12 years to two months old. Children whom she home-schools and are very, very bright and polite. With one child having ALL and an infant with a serious medical condition, one would think she would throw in the towel but she is so very extraordinary. She gets up day-by-day and makes sure her children grow to be the best they can possibly be. She drives an hour to Pensacola each week for one child to have treatments and then to five hours (one way) to Jacksonville so another child can receive specialty care. She has my complete admiration.
After delivering toys from Prayer’s for Emma and Team Keegan and spending the afternoon giving all the children rides in Ginger, we left and sought out a beach. I had two personal missions while I was in Florida: 1) put my feet in the ocean; and 2) eat some crab.
As I stood, feet in the icy water listening to the waves crash around me and only being able to see about ten feet into the water because of the fog I reflected back on the afternoon spent with this amazing family. Sometimes, no, all the time, it is hard to hold back tears and when I finally get to a quiet spot they flow like Niagra Falls. As a salty tear dropped into the gulf waters I began to wonder if that one tear had made any impact on the quantity of the vast ocean. Then I began to wonder if what we are doing makes any impact on the seven billion people in the world. Then I think, “That’s just silly, idiot, look what Grace did to you.” I sighed, wiped my tears and sought out crab.
I sat on the deck of the Crab Trap waiting for my crab feast and basking in the sounds of the beach and the ocean when my server delivered my meal. The instant she placed the plate on the table a gull swept in and grabbed my stuffed crab. Having years of training and experience in law enforcement, I found out my lightning fast reflexes were still fully in tact when I reached out, grabbed the gull and yelled, “Not today!” The gull dropped my crab. I sat there, gull in hand with it squawking at me as the server flailed the tray trying to keep other gulls from my food. She asked, “What do I do?” I told her to take my food inside. I released the gull towards the sea and it gave me a finale “mine” squawk as it flew away.
We drove all night in the mist and fog to get back home before another ice storm hit. Ginger’s wipers never did start working but there was very little traffic and we were able to see okay with the RainX and a towel. We passed through Transylvania again at about 3:30 AM just in time for the clouds to break and cast an eerie glow of the now full moon over the foggy town. Common sense got the better of me and I did not stop to photograph the beauty of this spooky place because I was certain if I stopped, Ginger inevitably would not start again and I would be stuck in Transylvania on a full-moon night wishing I had some garlic.
By Synnova Henthorne