Monday, June 21, 2010

A Trip Home

So this past weekend we spent in Northern New York for my dad’s retirement bash.  We decided to go up Wednesday night instead of Thursday night, since it is a long drive (550 miles to be exact) to only go for one day.  I picked Michael up at Quantico and we got as far as Winchester before deciding to stop so that Leah could get the screeches out.  We stopped in at SuperWalmart and had dinner at the McDonald’s in there, and picked up a few things we needed for the trip before getting back on the road.  It turned out to be a wise decision since by the time we got back in the car, got gas, and hit I81, it was 7pm, which is Leah’s bed time. She was soon snoring softly in the back seat and we had a pretty good drive.

A voice in my head kept on telling me that I would be able to drive all the way home but I really didn’t want to entirely.  Around midnight, we were in Cortland NY and I was feeling tired, so we decided to stop at a Day’s Inn.  I went in and agreed to pay the rate (despite the fact they tacked on a $5 surcharge for a handicapped accessible room, which is ILLEGAL as hell).  I gathered up my little family and we went into the hotel.  Red flags immediately went up.  There were a bunch of half-naked people loitering in the hallways and the smell of pot was hanging heavy around us.  I tried the swipe card and nothing.  I tried the other swipe card, and we still couldn’t get in.  Leah was soaked and groggy, I was tired and pissed off, and Mike had to pee.  (haha!)  So I went back to the desk and asked to please have the keys reprogrammed.  Went back to the room, and we still couldn’t get in. 

I am ordinarily a calm person, but at 12:30, I was kinda not in the mood, you know?  The potheads were milling about, the TV’s were blaring, the people in the room next door to us had posted a sign on their door that said, “This is not the hang out room tonight” which appeared to have had exactly zero effect on anyone, so I grabbed Mike, we went out to the desk, I put the keys down and said, “There is no way we are staying here.”  The clerk look stunned.  She asked what was wrong and I said between the noise and the drugs, we were not subjecting our infant to that nonsense.  Two of the homies came ambling through at that point and she called out to them, “Hey, are you guys smoking weed in the hallway?”  They replied, “Not in the hallway” and started laughing like Beavis and Butthead. 

The clerk says she doesn’t know how to process our refund, so we need to call the manager in the morning (I’ve called the hotel several times now, no one seems to know anything about it, but Days Inn Corporate is about to get an earful, I can promise you).  We get in the car, I clean up Leah and her seat, and we get driving again.  I said to Mike that we were only about 30 miles from Syracuse, so it was no big deal to get up there and then we could try finding somewhere else to stay over.  By now it was nearly 1AM.  So we drive to Syracuse, and I was thinking about the money we had already paid to the hotel we didn’t stay in and the room we didn’t even get to see and I said to Mike, “Well, it’s only 2 hours home.”  He starts telling me I’m crazy, but I really couldn’t see stopping at that point.  It was all landmarks I knew, which was going to make the trip a lot quicker.  So we just drove home.  We roared in at 3AM, and I had a moment of panic in that I wasn’t sure if my dad would have left the house open or not, but lady luck smiled on me and I was able to get in.  I put Leah on the guest bed for about 30 seconds while I set up her portable crib and the minute she was in that, she was stretched out and snoring.  Mike and I crawled into the big guest bed and passed out.  I don’t think we even said goodnight to each other.  It was 3:30AM.

What seemed like seconds after I fell asleep, all hell broke loose with banging and clanging and crashing coming from the front of the house.  I sit bolt upright in bed.  Michael and Leah slept on undisturbed.  It was 6:30AM.  I knew it was my dad, who is not known for being gentle.  I use the bathroom and then I decide to open the hallway door.  As I do, I hear his chair fly back as he leaps to his feet and I peek around the corner to find him standing behind the dining room table, his fist locked and loaded, ready to lay me flat.  It took him a second to realize who it was and then he just couldn’t believe it.  It was kind of hilarious.

We had some bagels and talked for a while, then Leah got up and then Michael got up.  We were all up by about 8:30.  My dad still wanted to go out to Watertown to do some shopping, but I didn’t feel like getting back in the car, so we let him go.  The three of us spent the morning puttering around the house, napping, and then we drove up around the lake to see what was new in town.  I’m glad I do this every time I go home, since you never know what is going to change.  Right now the hospital is under construction and the way it is now is not the way it looked for all the years I knew it.

We had lunch at the Hillside Diner, where Leah held court and I felt depressed that I didn’t know anyone in town any more, and then we went home and waited for my dad’s call to meet him up in Natural Bridge for ice cream. 

We had a pretty low key day after that—Dad made us his famous meatloaf and mac n cheese for dinner and then he and Michael watched the Mets and the Celtics games while I took a spin through Oswegatchie and went to bed early.  Friday we hung out outside most of the day.  The weather up there was beautiful and I told Dad I was moving up there for a month next summer.  It was so freeing to be outdoors and relaxed.  We had leftovers for lunch out on the back porch and then I got some chicken marinating since I offered to make dinner (grilled chicken). 

After dinner, Judy and her family showed up.  I don’t recall a whole lot else of what happened other than Leah and Dottie got each other wound up and then Leah proceeded to sleep like a champ.  In fact, she has slept through the night since we were up there.  She’s doing an amazing job at sleeping all of a sudden!

Saturday, I was still trying to catch up on sleep.  My dad’s friend Fred came over, but I missed him while I was napping.  Then his friend Bob came to the door and yelled, “Where the hell is George?!”  Dad and I both flew from our respective rooms like we’d been shot.  (No one is too concerned about sleeping babies!)  Dad grilled up some burgers and dogs for lunch and then we enjoyed our afternoon together before Dad headed to mass while we all got ready for the party.

The party itself was a lot of fun.  There were a ton of my old teachers there, some of whom I hadn't seen in years.  Dad gave a nice speech and a few people got up and said some really nice words about him and Bob, who is also retiring.  My dear friend Amy showed up, and I hadn’t seen her in 2 years, so it was cool to catch up.  My godfather, who I don’t recall seeing since I was in high school, was there.  Mrs. Collins, the school librarian, who greatly influenced my love of reading and libraries was there.  It was the greatest feeling.

All of a sudden, the heavens opened.  We got a massive thunderstorm.  There are no thunderstorms like thunderstorms in the Adirondacks.  The volume and fury, just amazing.  I loved it.  Fortunately it also cooled it off since it was a little bit humid up there.  Afterwards, Bob and his family and Amy came by the house for nachos and more celebrating.  I finally went to bed at 10:30ish.

Leah started making noises around 4:30, almost as if she knew we were leaving.  She really started squealing at 5:00, so we decided to get up and pack.  My dad heard us and got up and by 6:05, we were back on the road, heading south.  We were much earlier than planned, we didn’t plan to leave until around 7AM, but we were ready, so we pulled out.  I got kinda misty-eyed leaving, but I found a few treasures to bring back with me, including a book of nursery rhymes that my favorite uncle gave me on my first Christmas.  It is now safely tucked in Leah’s upper book shelves so I may share it with her, which thrills me to no end.

We decided to stop at the Wegman’s in Wilkes-Barre for lunch.  We got there at 10:30.  They were not serving lunch until 11:00, but Leah was a little car weary, so we decided to wait it out.  We got pizza right when it came out of the oven and the girl working the pizza counter could not have been more friendly.  She carried our food to the tables, got us a high chair, and even offered to get our drinks.  So on the way out, we left a comment at the management desk about her superior service.  I hope she gets a nice bonus or something for it.  She was amazing.

We got back in the car around 11:30, got gas and Leah did just great until we hit I66 in Virginia.  Then she started freaking.  I pulled over on the side of the road and fixed her a bottle, but that didn’t work.  She was just over it.  I kept promising her we were almost home and giving her a running count of the miles.  She settled down after we broke into silly songs and making faces at her.  She only freaked for about 20 minutes, so we were good.  We rolled into our driveway at 4:30pm.  I had just enough time to unload, change Leah, fix an extra bottle for her, and hopped back in the car to go on up to choir practice.

My heart was not in it, I must confess.  I swore I would leave early.  I swore I would not sing.  But once I got there, got through the warm ups, and started the rehearsal, I was in my element, exhausted though I was.  8:00 came very quickly, and then I hopped back in the car and roared off to the grocery store to pick up only what I needed to fix Michael’s lunch for Monday.  He called and asked me to grab him some dinner since he hadn’t eaten since 11:00 that morning, so I went through McD’s and got home.

And then the wind went out of my sails.  I had such a bad headache that even though I took extra strength Excedrin, it did nothing to touch it. I had gotten 3 letters from Penny and her mother, so I wanted to email them both back, which I did, but then I just went straight to bed.  I felt sick I was so tired.

Leah slept through the night, thank God, and she didn’t get up till about 7 this morning.  She was back in bed around 9:30 for a nap and I followed shortly thereafter at 10:00 this morning.  I laid there for about 5 minutes thinking, “I’m never going to fall asleep” but lo and behold I did and slept till 12:30.  Finally I felt human again.  We did some grocery shopping and spent some time out in the baby pool before Michael got home and we were able to have dinner and put Leah to bed.  We started reading a book together and now I am going back to bed!  It was an amazing weekend, but we had to be pretty crazy to do that much driving for only a couple of days.  I’m serious about staying up there for a while next summer.  It’ll be nice to have some downtime after Penny leaves and to enjoy some good weather.  Plus I’ll be able to actually visit with people for a while instead of 15 minutes here and there.  We’ll see how next summer shapes up.  If it’s anything like this summer, I haven’t got a prayer!

1 pearl(s) of wisdom:

Emtifah said...

Sounds like a great trip.

Have you tried taking Route 15 on this trip? You can do that either by going through Leesburg or by taking 270 North. It's a really relaxing drive and you get to ignore the 66 headache. This is what I do - and it makes the trip much more enjoyable - plus I don't feel like I've done a super amount of backtracking by going west and then east again.