‘Scoring an F150 from Thrifty’
Not to sound like a summer deadbeat or anything — though I am kind of a deadbeat, and not just in summer — I was going to skip yet another week of blog-posting. (I was AWOL last week, in case you didn’t notice.)
But then I realized that you Faithful Readers (Madeleine and Becca and Ruth, I’m talking to you) would wonder if I’d fallen off the face of the earth.
See, Dude Man and I are going on yet another of our Wacky Birdy Adventures, and we will be out of internet contact for three whole weeks. And gosh, if I didn’t write one of these things till the end of September, I might even lose Madeleine and Becca and Ruth!
So, what’s been keeping me away from my keyboard? Ta-da! Another wedding, that’s what. And boy oh boy do I love weddings. I have said it before, but I’ll say it again: What’s not to love about a wedding? There’s a big gathering of family and friends, toasts and food and more toasts, and everybody’s happy. The only other time I can think of when this kind of thing goes on — well, except for maybe the “happy” part — is a wake. (Though a wake can be happy; read about my Oldest Younger Brother’s genius idea, his Living Wake, right here.)
But what’s that about a rented F150, you might be asking. (A couple of 70-Somethings don’t exactly seem like the F150 type.) Well, this wedding took place on the Biltmore Estate — Biltmore being the name of the extremely large (more than 250 rooms) and extremely luxurious (an indoor heated pool and a bowling alley) house situated on equally large (some 30,000 acres) and equally luxurious (designed by Frederick Law Olmstead) property near Asheville, North Carolina, that the Biltmores built more than a hundred hears ago.
We booked rooms in the Biltmore Inn, since no one can stay at the mansion itself. (A pity; there are 33 guest rooms.) In the weeks leading up to the wedding, I received several emails from the Inn, inviting me to book events — dining (nah), flowers in the room (also nah), tickets to the mansion (yes!) — in advance. But we were also advised to rent a car. They said the property was way too big and shuttles too infrequent to opt out. (We also discovered that GPS was completely unreliable, but I’ll get to that.)
So I scrounged around on the internet and found that the best car rental deal was through Thrifty. They have this thing called the “Wild Card.” Which is their cheapest option — even cheaper than those micro-compacts that look and feel like those clown cars they used to have in the circus. (Maybe they still do; I haven’t been to a circus in decades, thank god.) To get this cheaparino rate, you simply agree to take whatever car they might have available at the time. It’s a surprise — hence the “Wild Card” moniker.
Well, I think they should just call it the Wild Car. Because what did we score? This brand-spankin’-new F150 truck, that’s what. It was shiny, it was blindingly white and fragrant with that lovely new-car smell. Wild, indeed. Also, it was huge. Not as huge as The Child’s F350 — which they used to haul their camper shell around the country during the late not-lamented Covid Lockdown — but way bigger than our Honda, that’s for sure.
We could have hauled the whole wedding party in that thing. Plus a cooler and some lawn chairs in the truck bed. (Which is something people did in my home town; we called it a “Clinton County Cadillac.”)
Oh yes, the GPS Thing. It took us ages to find the Biltmore Inn. When we programmed the address into Apple Maps, we kept getting sent to the employee-only entrance. Turns out everyone gets sent by GPS to the employee entrance — except for the employees. (Or so a very nice employee told us when we finally checked in. I had to get out in town and ask directions, which an antique-store-proprietor helpfully scribbled on the back of an old receipt. He even drew us a map. I felt bad not buying anything, but not after all that downsizing.)
Speaking of downsizing, I don’t want to expand on this story further. If I get too longwinded I might alienate even Madeleine and Becca and Ruth. I will leave you with a few more nice photos of where the Biltmores once roamed. I’ll be back with stories at the end of September — unless we get stampeded by elephants.
Amagansett, New York. August 2023