Tuesday, June 15, 2010

How I Spent My Summer Vacation

Okay, so summer has not offically begun yet, but I have just returned from my summer vacation. At least, as far as anyone can know, the biggest trip I will take this year. As I write this, I am also doing laundry. I am washing the sand out of my beach shoes, underwear, socks, and the forty-seven yards of material I call my bathing suit. When this is done, I should have enough earth to repot a redwood tree.

We spent seven glorious days overlooking the Atlantic Ocean. We had a lovely three story house, eight bedrooms, eight and half bathrooms, game room, theater room, kitchen/dining room/living room combination overlooking sand dunes, hot tub, swimming pool, beautiful sunrises, wild horses, pelicans, and dolphins playing in water that stretched farther than the eye can see. And, except for the two days I slept through when I took a super duper pain pill, I was in Heaven. I was with family, I had nothing to do except sit back, read, swim, cook occasionally, and watch three of my beautiful grandchildren as they played and were completely engrossed in this great adventure. I was sure this would be the perfect vacation.

I did not, however, take into consideration there would be a trip back home. I had forgotten that, unlike our trip there, our return trip would be solo, without the benefit of our son-in-law driving in front of us leading the way. Hubby decided the twelve hour drive there was at least partially responsible for my back pain so he decided we should leave a day early and make the return trip in two days and avoid having to sit in the car for so long. Thankfully he had the foresight to get maps to follow on our return so that we did not have to rely on the GPS system the aforementioned son-in-law so graciously loaned us before we left and everyone knows you can't trust a GPS.

The return trip started just about noon. Our first stop was approximately six and half miles from the beach house where hubby spent a good half hour picking up maps of North Carolina, South Carolina, Virginia, West Virginia, Pennsylvania, and Maryland. Since we had only traveled through North Carolina, Virginia, West Virginia, and about a hundred miles of our home state of Ohio, I assumed our route would simply reverse in order to get us back home, but the maps were free and you never know when you are going to need a good map. I settled back, popped in a book on tape, and prepared to enjoy a pleasant trip home.

Along about the fifty mile point, a lovely voice from the GPS interrupted my solitude. Freeway entrance to the right in two miles. Prepare for slight right turn onto freeway in one point five miles. Right turn onto freeway in point five miles. Ding, which indicated the turning point, ding, ding, DING, DING, DING, prepare for legal u-turn at next available point. Legal u-turn in point five miles. Prepare for legal u-turn - ding, ding, DING, DING, DING. Recalculating, RECALCULATING, RECALCULATING. Prepare for freeway entrance on right in sixty-seven, point five miles.

Is a picture beginning to form? Are you understanding how the return trip was beginning. Unfortunately the GPS was not programmed to read the route hubby had made on the maps. Lovely voiced GPS was only programmed for the quickest route home. Traveling on two lane roads (one lane each way, not two in the same direction) is a far better way to travel if you want to see small town America and places called Dismal Swamp. Day one passed quickly enough once we hit a northern route and managed to find our way to a Holiday Inn in Charlottesville, Virginia. Holiday Inns, thank goodness, are gracious enough to allow dogs so hubby elected to pay the $130 nightly fee verses the $49 rates on the coupons we had for other pet loving establishments because, after all, what can you get for $49 a night?????

On this first day of travel we had eaten only a big mac, saving our appetites for a seafood dinner in the evening. So, needless to say, we were pretty hungry after our long drive and after checking in we drove off seeking a place for fish of the highest quality. Not wanting to go too far, lest we be unable to find our way home - even with lovely voiced GPS, which I am told you can program to find eating establishments and find your way back, we drove around for about an hour and a half before we settled on a little hole-in-the-wall Chinese eatery in the midst of a strip mall just outside downtown Charlottesville. To their credit the food was good, but at that point I think even shoe leather would have satisfied us.

Day two took us around the corner from the hotel to a Waffle House and a very nice breakfast. We even ran into some people from near our hometown and found one of the men actually worked with hubby. Small world we all said. Back in the car, we plugged in lovely voiced GPS and got out all the maps. Since hubby had decided to take the 100 mile Skyline Drive, lovely voiced GPS gave up about midway of the trek and just sat back and enjoyed the ride along with us. It was a beautiful ride, three hours if you drive straight through, five hours if you stop at every overlook, lodge, and gift shop. Hubby drove about sixty miles and decided he was tired so I took over and given the fact that there is basically only one way on and one way off, I wouldn't need the maps so he fell asleep. I used this time to learn what I could from lovely voiced GPS and figured out just exactly how she worked.

Hubby woke up as we were exiting the parkway and immediately pulled out hard to read, impossible to fold maps and proceeded to tell me what route to take. Fortunately at this point HTR,ITF maps coincided with lovely voiced GPS and I found it quite easy to drive and managed to get on the north freeway just fine. It was about thirty miles into this drive that our two directional instruments parted ways but hubby insisted the map way was the best way so to keep peace in the family, I ignored lovely voiced GPS, and for the next kazillion miles I ignored lovely voiced GPS. Turn here, ding, right off freeway here, ding, make a u-turn here, ding. It was at this point that I realized my husband was a right angle man. You go north as far as you can go then you make a right angle turn and go west as far as you can, then a right angle here and a right angle there until you reach your point of destination. There is nothing diagonal about this man. I did sort of wonder why the car direction finder said northeast when I, even blond rooted me, knew we wanted to go northwest.

Several hours into this leg of the journey that was never going to end, hubby declared we should soon be arriving in Pennsylvania where we would hit route 70 west. We would then travel about sixty miles in PA, about four miles in West Virginia, then Ohio at last - long last. "Look, up ahead, there is the state line, we should be home in about three hours". I was grateful. Once we got on route 70 I was sure I could relax knowing I would be home soon. The state line was coming up, I was so happy, home, soon. Closer, closer, Pennsylvania was just about second best to being in Ohio. Welcome, it said, we hope you enjoy your stay, it said, in Maryland. MARYLAND. MARYLAND. How in the world, with lovely voiced GPS and hard to read, impossible to fold maps did we manage to get to Maryland.

I had driven us to Maryland, why? I glanced at lovely voiced GPS and I could swear I saw tears. Hubby was shuffling maps, looking perplexed. He finally decided it was because he had too many maps. Looking at each state map individually had confused him. He should have had a general map that covered all the states we were to travel, then we wouldn't have made this mistake. WE? WE? Was he including me in this error? If lovely voiced GPS could have, I am sure she would have sighed at this point.

It was now nearing five o'clock. We had not eaten since breakfast. I was hungry. Husband said he was hungry and if I saw somewhere I wanted to stop, just let him know. At this point, even though we had managed to stumble onto route 70 west, I was afraid to turn over the reigns and let him drive because I would then become the navigator and all the errors would be on my shoulders. So I kept driving and said maybe we could stop in Pennsylvania (I have a sister in Pennsylvania and knew if we got terribly lost, I could always call her). However, I remarked, we had never eaten in Maryland. So I drove, on and on I drove. Across Maryland and onto the Pennsylvania turnpike. I got the ticket from the toll booth and drove. I drove until we had to stop for gas. Hubby decided we could get something light and stop for a meal once we crossed over into Ohio. So how far could that be. He had said about sixty miles in Pennsylvania and four in West Virginia, so maybe an hour. Hubby got a slice of pizza. Hubby eats pizza with a knife and fork. So how well do you think he can drive with a slice of pizza and a knife and fork. So I got a six inch folded over kind of italian thing that I could hold in one hand and I got back behind the wheel, knowing I could eat and drive at the same time.

I pulled back onto the turnpike, hubby got out his pizza, knife, and fork and began to eat. Foolish me for thinking he could at least open my sandwich for me as I have done for him all these many years. You can cut the sandwich in half if you like, I said. Nothing. I only want half the sandwich, the other half is for you, I said. Nothing. Finally, after about ten minutes, he cut off a bite of pizza and reached over and popped it in my mouth (again, at this point even shoe leather would have worked). When he offered me another bite of pizza (about ten minutes later) I said no. He asked why. I said the pizza was what he wanted, I wanted the sandwich. Now if you are wondering why I didn't just reach over and take the sandwich myself, it was on his side of the car, out of my reach and I had decided he was apparently going to eat first, take over the driving, and let me eat. Wrong. He ate about half his pizza, then pulled out the sandwich and began to cut it into bite size pieces which he then proceeded to feed to me, bite by bite. After about three bites, I told him that was enough. I would wait until we stopped to eat in Ohio, perhaps for that special seafood meal we had missed the night before.

By now we had been driving in Pennsylvania for about forty minutes, we must be getting close by now. How much farther I asked. Well, he said, we only had about sixty miles so we must be getting close. Out came the maps, measuring, calculating, folding, refolding, deep sighing (that was me). Ten minutes later he looked up, sheepishly, and said "I think I miscalculated. We have further to go than I thought."

So, it turns out we had 170 miles in Pennsylvania and about sixty in West Virginia. Hungrily, I drove on. I drove until we crossed over into Ohio - where our car pretty much could be set on auto pilot to get us home and I let hubby take over.

So our two day trip to make things easier for me ended up being eighteen hours of driving and 817 miles opposed to the 655 the trip there had taken. We arrived home around ten pm, about four hours later than our daughter's family did leaving a day later than we did. And, by the way, we never did stop to eat and I am still waiting for that fancy seafood meal.