Did You Miss Me While I Was Gone?

To which you say, “How are we supposed to miss you when you never leave?” Good point.

Actually, I’ve been away from December 23-31, but thanks to a savvy co-conspirator, I was able to post every day. (Thanks, co-conspirator.) I had written something for every day before I left, some of it short, and would have used it them all save for the fact that James Brown and Gerald Ford passed away.

Carol, Lydia and I trekked to Charlotte, NC to visit my mother, sister Marcia, and niece Alexandria. My sister Leslie and her boyfriend Bobby came from San Diego in midweek. I hadn’t realized it until we thought about it, but I don’t think I’d been in Charlotte since January 2002, and now I remember why: it’s tricky.

Even before we left, my wife announced that we wouldn’t be going NEXT year, because arranging all the things one needs to do before one goes away by car with two adults and one child seemed to be endless. [That may change, though.] It didn’t help that she got one last-minute project that took three hours, and another that took two. Initially, we were going to leave on Friday night, December 22, but that was causing too much stress.

New York drivers must have been feeling the Christmas stress, for I saw one woman just laying on the horn behind a car that was trying to turn left, but couldn’t because of traffic. One driver roared into the gas station in Oneonta, not seeing that our car was at the pump, saw that I was just starting to fill up the car, then stormed out, leaping the curb in the process.

Our “early morning” departure on Saturday the 23rd turned out to be 9:30, and with a lengthy stop the Powell grandparents, we didn’t hit the Pennsylvania border until 1 p.m. We ended up, exhausted, in Harrisonburg, VA at 8:30 p.m., 475 miles later. The next day, we went the rest of the 305 miles. Fortunately, Lydia is a MUCH better traveler than she was a couple years ago, when she’d fall asleep for an hour, then wake up screaming for the duration of the trip. Now she’s satisfied with her dolls, food, and occasional conversation from the parents.

Based on our limited examination, I’ve discovered that fast food places in NY and PA have changing tables in the men’s bathroom, but the ones in VA do not, only the women’s room. But one in a rest area south of Wilkes-Barre, PA had the changing table blocking one of the two urinals in the men’s room, and (I’m told) one of the two bathroom stalls in the women’s room.

I have a very irrational attraction for West Virginia based on remembering listening to WWVA in Wheeling, a powerful country station, during my childhood; it’s also the last state to enter the Union east of the Mississippi, in 1863, when it broke away from Virginia during the Civil War. But I need to remember that when I order tea in the South, and that apparently includes WV, they’ll serve you iced tea. (If you want tea, you have to ask for “hot tea”.)

Invariably, I get lost in Charlotte. Even though we were on WT Harris Blvd, a major road which wasn’t far from our final destination, I found myself pulling out the city map, to no avail, while standing in a mall. Fortunately, some former New Yorker took pity and gave us directions; we STILL got lost again, even though we were clearly in the neighborhood.

Found the house, finally, and eventually ate dinner. Watched some videos, and went to bed. Lydia was supposed to sleep on an air mattress, but THAT didn’t work, so she slept comfortably with her mother on an Eva Bed Base, while I slept on the air mattress. Lydia, though, had a coughing jag, so I got her cough medicine, which she didn’t want to take, and she started to cry. Carol gave her the liquid anyway and she REALLY started to cry, which woke up my sister. It also woke the dog, who started barking, which woke up my mother and my niece. It’s 1 a.m., and the whole house is awake. Merry Christmas.

More on this trip later, alternating with whatever strikes my fancy.

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