This is why there were no posts last week:
So, since my trip to BEA didn't work out, I offered to drive my dad down to NC to see family. We're going in September for his birthday, but he's really been wanting to go sooner, so I sucked it up and made the offer. The original plan was that I'd drive him down, hand him off to my sister in Charlotte, and she'd take him to see the other relatives in NC & VA. We'd meet somewhere along the way & I'd take him back home. I was supposed to be relaxing & visiting high school/college friends while this was going on. Mom couldn't go with us as she started training for her new job with the Census Bureau.
Needless to say, this didn't quite happen. Audrey got a new job at the last minute and wasn't going to be free to travel. I wound up driving approximately 1800 miles in 5 days. We started with the drive down to Charlotte on Thursday. Got a later start than intended (I don't think I've done a trip in the last 5 years that started on time) thanks to being held over at work the night before and Nightshade once again channeling her inner escape artist as I was trying to pack up the car to go.
The drive down was fairly uneventful, until we got to Charlotte. Dad called Audrey to let her know we were in town and she said we should come to her house first & then my BIL would show us to the hotel where we'd be staying. It wasn't the one I had directions for (of course) and it took a few minutes and one wrong turn to get where we needed to be. Then we couldn't see any of the street numbers to find her house, so we had to call and have her come out on the porch to guide us in. (Charlotte apparently doesn't believe in street lights)
Friday: The hotel my BIL booked us into was a Holiday Inn, but it was lovely. I wish I could have spent the entire trip in that bed, but I had to get up and meet Audrey, Roy, and their oldest daughter, Shanta, for lunch before we headed to Wilmington...which took forever because I went the way my (otherwise perfect) BIL suggested and got stuck in horrendous traffic. I had forgotten the cd's I was going to bring (we have wildly differing tastes in music, but can usually compromise on blues & some jazz) so we had whatever was in the car or could be tuned in on the radio...which lead to this conversation:
Dad: What is this we're listening to?
Me: Barry Manilow
Dad: What else you got?
Me: Rob Zombie?
Got to Wilmington, checked in at the hotel, called the next sister (Sandra) and met her for dinner at one of Dad's favorite seafood places. We chatted for a bit over dinner, wound up helping Sandra fix a flat tire, and called it a night. Considered killing Dad in the C-store where we stopped for his lottery tickets & snacks when he stood in the middle of the store yelling for me to come talk to Mom on his phone instead of just coming over to where I was.
Saturday: Stopped at a local bakery for junk, Books-A-Million for some magazines (and I bought a Doctor Who beach towel), and then lunch at J Michael's Philly-Deli. Dad worked there for over 25 years, and it's always been one of my favorite places to eat, so we HAD to go there. The staff fawned all over Dad, Sandra & I ate til we were about to burst, and then we headed over to Jacksonville to spend a few hours with Uncle John. (yes, I spent most of the trip driving and eating) Uncle J had mentioned that Aunt Myrtle wasn't feeling well, so we stopped and got flowers for her. He's recovered amazingly well from his strokes last fall, and while he's still a bit fragile, he looked & sounded wonderful. As we were leaving (heading for Virginia), he decided to go get Aunt Myrt some fried chicken, which is how we found out that the old coot is still driving. *facepalm* I said, sternly, "Are you supposed to be driving?" to which he replied, head hanging, "Well, they didn't say I couldn't..." Sigh. He'll be 86 on the 4th of July and even if they take his license, he'll keep driving. Stubborn old goat. Just like his little brother...speaking of whom...
...one of the things Dad wanted to do while we were in NC was stock up on country meats & (we thought) seafood. Every city we stopped in, I asked him if he wanted to go ahead and get his meat, and every time he'd say no, we'd get it later becasue he didn't want it to go bad before we got home. Mind you, I'd lugged along 2 coolers and every hotel room we'd booked was supposed to have a fridge, but he set his mind and that was that. And the fish he wanted wasn't in season (don't ask) so that was out too, until we go back for his birthday.
The drive up to Virginia was long & dull. I kept second guessing myself on the directions (mentally, because if I'd voiced any of it out loud, Dad would never let me hear the end of it) but we finally got there. I sent my father into hysterics when I pointed at a field we were driving past and asked brightly "Is that tobacco?" Once he stopped laughing, he told me I was too much of a city kid and had clearly been in KY for too long if I didn't know the difference between corn (which is what it was) & tobacco.
We got to VA around midnight, called the last of the sisters (Angie & Brenda), and said we'd see them on Sunday.
Sunday: I was dead tired. Chronic Fatigue Syndrome & constant travel do not mix well. Since my schedule was all out of whack, my body was not happy and let me know. Everything hurt, I was totally broken out, and so exhausted that I could barely hold my head up. It was agreed that the sisters would take Dad out for the afternoon (which meant that I got out of visiting Aunt Janey Mae & Aunt Margaret- bonus!) and I would join them later for dinner. Dinner was the only meal I actually ate that day, not counting a handful of cookies from Saturday's bakery jaunt. My BIL, JR, took us to one of their favorite seafood places- Captian George's. $32 a head, but it's an enourmous seafood buffet. This is the kind of place that hates to see our extended family coming on the rare occasions we're all together because my dad & siblings can and will eat their weight in seafood. Me, they make money on because my shellfish allergy prevents me from eating most of the dishes. Luckily there were 5 fish-only dishes and something they called prime rib (more like sliced pot roast, but it wasn't bad) and an assortment of veggies for me. The looks on the face of the servers and people around us as they watched the other 4 hoovering up crab legs like there was no tomorrow was priceless. At one point, I suggested JR just pull his chair up to the steam table where the crab legs were and the poor girl clearing the empty shells from our table cracked up.
Monday: We get to make the long drive back to Louisville. The good news is that it's all I-64. The bad news is that it's all I-64. What a tedious drive! Of course, before we left VA, we had to find a grocery store for Dad to get his country meat. Did the first store have what he wanted? Hell no. I had to ask a clerk if they knew anywhere to get old fashiond country sausage and side meat. The young guy I asked looked blankly at me for a minute, said "Let me get the old guy I work with" and came back with a guy MY age in tow. (Old, my foot) Guy 2 didn't know either, but whipped out his cell phone and called HIS father, who directed us to another store about 20 minutes away. THAT store had some of what dad wanted, but not brands he knew or the variety he was looking for. I bit my lip until it bled to keep from screaming "I told you to get it in NC!" He finally picked up a couple of likely looking packages and we were on the road.
Since I didn't want to listen to the same cd's again, I plugged in my MP3 player and hit random. Dad didn't seem to mind too much at first- he was busy scratching his lottery tickets and talking to my uncle on his cell. Then I noticed the kind of sideways "what the hell?!?" look he was giving me and realized I was singing along, at the top of my lungs, to the Ramones "The KKK Took My Baby Away." Ooops. "Boy," he said wearily, "Didn't you bring ANY normal music along?"
Then we hit construction. The screaming you may have heard around 4 p.m. was probably me. 1 lane of traffic, speed limit 55, and the idiot 2 cars up is doing 40. I looked in the rearview and there was a 3 mile long line of traffic built up behind us. I suspect we were ALL screaming. This jackhole kept it up for about 30 minutes, until the road suddenly went back to 2 lanes and we all streamed past him, honking and giving the one finger salute. Dad said he appeared to be on a cell phone when we passed him.
Stopped at Tamarack near Beckley WV for dinner. It's an artisan shop with all kinds of neat handcrafted (code for expensive) items and a decent restaurant. Mom & I love to stop there. Dad does not. We stopped anyway because I was driving. Sadly we got there in just enough time to eat dinner and leave because they were closing in 15 minutes.
Into the home stretch, and we're just outside Lexington KY when my mom calls. She tells Dad that she has treats for both of us when we get home- chinese for me & KFC for him. He says he can't eat his since he has to go do fasting labs in the morning for his doctor appt Tuesday afternoon. No food after midnight and we won't get home until about 1230. Which means he needs to eat now so his sugar doesn't go wonky overnight and we have to stop at a Waffle House. *bangs head against steering wheel*
I FINALLY got home around 130 Tuesday morning. The cats were quite pleased to see me and even happier that I didn't have the energy to chase them out of my room, so they got to sleep with me. I slept 12 hours, then had to get up, wrestle the cats into their carrier (Nightshade objected most strongly and now I have an unwanted boob piercing. You're welcome for that image in your brain) and throw more clothes into the suitcase to go to Mom's. Why? Because the geniuses who were supposed to put new siding on my house after the storms LAST year finally scheduled it- for Wednesday. One night in my own bed and then 3 days at the parental abode...but that's another story...