The Land Manatee Returneth

Okay, folks, the Land Manatee is back in Arizona after two glorious weeks visiting the relatives in the UK. I meant to keep blogging as I went along, but — well — it didn’t happen. The road to hell paved with good intentions and all that. You get the picture.

The author on the Dunoon ferry
The (Kind of) Old Man and the Sea.

The good news is my cousin Liam’s wedding to Alice was a success despite the threat of rain. I’m sure it will result in a long and happy marriage between the young couple. Had a lot of fun at the reception and ate too much, which seems to have been the theme for my trip.

I even had a nice ferry trip up in Scotland.

The return trip

Considering my troubles on my outbound trip, you may be wondering if I had an uneventful return? Well, other than Virgin Atlantic’s ramp crew ruthlessly savaging my bag (missing wheel, bent frame) yes, it was fairly uneventful — well, for me. For my cousin who drove me to the airport, things got a little more exciting. At Manchester airport, he decided to come in with me instead of just dropping me off. When I arrived in Atlanta, I checked my messages and discovered his car had been involved in a fire and burned up on top of the airport carpark while we were in the terminal. The blazing inferno consumed several vehicles (including a rather pricey Range Rover. Ouch!) (You can read about it here in the Manchester Evening News.)

car fire at Manchester airport carpark
Hope you like your car well done.

The fire brigade speculates one of the vehicles had a faulty electrical system that sparked the blaze, but it’s still investigating where the fire started and what caused it. Part of my brain was telling me my Land Manatee luck was rubbing off and taking out innocent bystanders — though on second thought, maybe it was good luck. Imagine if it were my cousin’s car that malfunctioned; the fire could have happened while his family was in it or while it was parked in front of his house. His odd neighbor is already a pain over minor things. For example, he claimed my cousin’s car door swinging out over his driveway constitutes trespassing. Imagine the awkwardness if the neighbor’s car had gotten accidentally barbequed, which would have been a distinct possibility with how close the two driveways are to each other.

Back in AZ

After a day of traveling, I felt shattered by the time I arrived home but didn’t want to go to sleep too early so I watched the series finale of Game of Thrones. (You have no idea how hard it was to avoid spoilers for 2 weeks.) Maybe it’s because I felt tired, but it seemed underwhelming for a finale and in general, I thought it kind of sucked. A disappointing end to a great series in my opinion.

Later on, the Houseguest showed up and the fact she no longer had to worry about killing my oleander bushes by failing to water them was a huge weight off her shoulders. (They’ve made another comeback after I nearly killed them twice through insufficient watering.) While the oleanders made it through my absence, unfortunately, there was a casualty — my relatively new car battery was deader than a doornail (which sucked since I had zero food in the house other than peanut butter and a stale street taco tortilla.) The Houseguest apologized because she hadn’t started my car while I was away. To be honest, I never asked her to. (I did request her to do so on my last UK trip during the Year of Sean because of the length of my absence and it occurred during the blazing summer). This time, I figured with the mild temps in AZ, it would be fine — and it should have been. The only thing I can think is the dual dash camera in my car must have drained it. Supposedly it turns off automatically, but I suspect it’s wonky, but that’s just a guess. Hmm hopefully my alternator didn’t crap out — I guess I’ll find out when I try to leave work.

I fear dead car batteries

The Houseguest felt some measure of responsibility for the dead battery because she didn’t start my car while I was traveling, and I played along with it milking her guilt until she remembered I had forgotten to start her car while she was away. Admittedly, as a joke, I have a bad habit of letting her feel guilty about things. For example, she still thinks she ran the curbing over (pictured below) while backing out (*Well, she won’t anymore after reading this post), but I actually did it when dragging the garbage can across the rocks because her SUV was in the driveway blocking it. (Hey, it keeps her humble — plus she did run it over once.)

(*edit: By the indignant “Hey!!!” shouted from her bedroom, I knew when she’d finally read my blog and discovered my deception.)

decorative curbing knocked over
The Houseguest failed to notice the telltale trash can wheel marks in the rocks.

Anyway, the Houseguest helped me try to jumpstart my car yesterday morning, but we failed miserably — no clicks or any attempt by the engine to turn over. Nada. Knowing my propensity to screw things up, she seemed highly anxious the whole time she held one set of clamps from the jumper cables and wanted me to call for roadside assistance. (The fact that I kept consulting Youtube didn’t bolster her confidence). As my readers may (or may not) know, I don’t have great experiences when it comes to electricity. I get super anxious when jumpstarting or disconnecting a battery due to the minor chance I could blow it up (a kid in my high school had one blow up in his face and I read about a dentist who almost lost his finger when he had his wedding ring on and touched the wrong thing).

Cautiously, I took the battery out (which took far longer than it would a normal person) and lugged it into AutoZone. Family friend and AutoZone manager Suzy tested my battery and confirmed it was dead. However, she told me the battery was still under warranty, so she exchanged it. Anyway, I did have some issues getting the battery back in place but eventually succeeded. And it started. Here’s to small victories!


While I’m happy to be home, I’m also mildly depressed. I found it comforting to be around family. My cousins are mostly around my age and we have a lifelong bond. Now that my parents and brother are dead and my sis lives in Florida, it’s just me out here in the desert. Or maybe I’m just depressed because I’m back in the metaphorical salt mine? Eh, who knows?

Anyway, I feel guilty about not blogging and still feel lethargic, which is a bad sign. It’s time to get back in the saddle again and knock off the rust! Also, I’ve decided to get off my ass and get back to working on my book. We’ll see how that goes.

10 thoughts on “The Land Manatee Returneth

    1. Sean D. Layton

      Thanks, Bojana. Yeah, I started on a book quite some time ago, but it’s kind of a mess — all over the place. Need to buckle down and try to whip it into shape.


  1. inkbiotic

    Shocked at the car fire disaster, lucky no one was hurt (but is it wrong I find burnt out cars beautiful?) It’s good you’re home safe and I hope the book-writing goes well. Good to have you back!


  2. The joys of traveling and returning. Happy to see your cousin wasn’t in the car. I am taking my first trip to London this summer. Fingers crossed there will be no car burning or bushes dying. 🙂


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