Yesterday, because of recent solar flares and coronal mass ejections being hurled toward earth, northern tier states were advised to be on the lookout for Northern Lights displays. Now, Indiana does get to see Northern Lights from time to time, but they are rarely the dramatic displays that are visible in more northerly regions. And Northern Lights rank right up there among Doug's and my favorite things.
So we made a spur-of-the-moment decision to go a little further north, to improve our chances of seeing a good display. We were somewhat limited on distance because I had a late-morning doctor appointment that prevented us from getting an early start. So we chose a town about a four-hour drive from where we live.
When I returned home from my doctor appointment, we went online to find lodging at our destination. The plan was to stay two nights, giving us a second chance to view the Lights in case the first night didn't pan out. We booked a cabin, rationalizing that a cabin would be a more comfortable place than a motel to spend the second day while waiting for night to fall and another opportunity to watch for the Lights.
We still had packing to do, which we manage to make challenging even for a two-night stay. After all, there are our own pillows to take because who can sleep well without their own pillows? And Doug has a CPAP machine which has to be packed, along with the mask, tubing, and distilled water for the humidifier tank. Then, of course, going north in the winter requires some emergency supplies like peanut butter, jelly, and bread for when we can't find a restaurant. We never like to be too far from food.
This might be a good time to mention the reason for my doctor appointment. I have been experiencing some pretty severe discomfort in my right knee for some time now. It would come and go for awhile, but then it moved in and stayed for a couple of weeks, getting pretty bad by last weekend. Of course, when I went to the doctor yesterday, the knee was doing quite well. He listened to my description of the onset and progress of the condition; then he poked and prodded the area a bit. He felt that a short regimen of Prednisone would reduce the inflammation and probably take care of things.
However, as we were packing for our trip after my appointment, the knee was becoming increasingly painful and swollen. I told myself that it was because of all the activity surrounding the packing and that it would get better once we got on the road. I'm not always truthful with myself.
So, by the time we finished our preparations and hit the road, it was about 3:30 PM. We stopped a little over an hour later for supper. As soon as we got out of the car to go into the restaurant, Doug began hiccuping. I should probably mention that he's been battling hiccups for three weeks. They come for a few days; then they go for a few days. But he's pretty miserable during the few days they stay.
As I limped into the restaurant, followed by a hiccuping husband, it did occur to me that maybe we should just turn around and go back home. But we decided to push on.
We arrived at our destination at about 9:00 PM. There was a lot of snow and ice on the ground, although we could tell that a significant amount had already melted. The temperature was in the mid-twenties, and the sky was partly cloudy. The conditions were less than ideal for viewing the Northern Lights. But we could always hope for better conditions the next night.
We found the office and got checked in, then went to look at our cabin. The doorknob was so loose that it almost came off in our hands as we inserted the key and tried to turn it. Inside, we found a large room that combined a living room and kitchen. There were two bedrooms, each with a full-size bed, neither of which looked very inviting. The cabin was cold, with the only heat source being a small gas fireplace which faced away from the bedrooms and would never be able to heat them adequately. Our hearts sank when we saw it. We looked at each other and agreed that we needed to ask for our money back, which the owners graciously granted.
So then we found ourselves out in the cold night with no Plan B. Doug suggested that we retrace our route southward about forty miles, to where the skies had been clearer and where we might find other lodging. As we drove along, with Doug hiccuping and me rubbing my aching knee, I looked at him and said, "You know, we could be home by 2 AM."
He agreed, and we headed for home.
We stopped at a truck stop about an hour away from home for gasoline and to use the restrooms. It was about 12:30 AM. A guy in the truck stop noticed my limp and struck up a conversation with me. He asked where we were headed. I told him, and he commented that we didn't have far to go. Then he asked me where we were coming from. How could I explain that we'd left home nine hours ago and were just an hour away? He's probably still scratching his head over that.
So, if you have ever wondered whether we might be a bit on the crazy side...this should remove all doubt.