|Good evening Studyees...thank you for rejoining me on the details of the little excursion we made this weekend to Savannah. Today, I will share with you what it was like to finally leave. The results were a little, ummm, sketchy. If this segment were an episode of "Oprah", the lights would dim to the point where she's a silhouette, narrating a bit about a very serious topic. Only this topic wouldn't be quite as Oprah-serious, but it is slightly unnerving. To me, at least...and here we go.
After leaving The River and saying our final good-byes to our family members new and old at the Doubletree Inn (part of the Hilton family of hotels), at 4pm we decided to hit the streets in the pimp, rented Kia. The thinking of course, went from "driving straight through and getting home early on Monday" to "maybe we should drive for as long as we can and stop someplace to get a room". I was rather surprisingly OK with this. Damn myself!
We made pretty good time actually, stopping once for gas and once for dinner at Cracker Barrel. I have a policy when I'm on vacation that I prefer not to eat anywhere that I can eat at while I'm at home, but I had to make an exception for Cracker Barrel, as I have not eaten there before and probably could find at least 6-7 places I would consider before CB. And while I must say, the meal was good and the service was pretty good, I felt kinda rushed by the busboy just kinda hanging out, ready to grab any plate as soon as the last bite was taken from it. Oh, and this particular restaurant did not serve alcoholic beverages, when one would've, at that point, been really tasty. Damn you southern dry towns on Sundays! So I will be in no hurry to head over to the barrel of crackers anytime soon, unless they're Club crackers. Me likey Club crackers!
I was very optimistic that we would be home at a resonable early morning hour if we went straight through, or early afternoon if we stopped for the night and kept a steady pace. My first omen should've been when we stopped at a roadside stand in South Carolina, once we crossed that ginormous bridge between SC and Georgia. They were selling "real Georgia peaches". The women had to have them. This is the exchange that took place:
Us: "How much for the peaches?"
Scummy Meth-head Chick With Six Teeth: "Uhhh, 'bout $7 a bayyyy-sket."
Us, after looking at said "peaches": "Are those real peaches? They don't seem very fuzzy. Like peaches. They're fuzzy, ya know?"
SMHCW6T: "Uhhh, yeah, we ahhh, run 'em through a maaaa-chiiiine, it scrubs all the fuzz off 'em."
Us, not sure what to make of this chick: "Do you have any Vidalia onions?"
SMHCW6T, now lookin' shady: "Naw, umm, I don't know...it's mah boyfriend's father's stayyyand, and he just drove off, ya know? I don't know where he's goin', but he'll be back in 15-20 minutes if y'all wanna hang uh-rouwnda."
Us, now heavily skeptical: "Is there another stand around here that would have Vidalia onions?"
SMHCW6T: "No sir, we're the only stayyyand in town." Mmmm-hmmm, right you are.
Us, now ready to get the eff outta dodge: "Are you sure they're not nectarines? They look like..."
SMHCW6T, sensing we're dumb yanks that are on to her but needing another hit and wanting our cash: "No, those are PEACHES. (and goes through her whole "machine-washed" schpiel again)"
Us: "OK, we'll take a basket."
She dumps the basket into a black plastic bag and we're gone. In the car, Jessica tries one and my aunt starts eating one to share with my uncle. And wouldn't you know, they were soft like a peach outside, but rock-hard inside and tasted like, you guessed it, a nectarine. Scammed by some back-woods SC hick. When we got home and unpacked the cooled, four nectarines had already started the decomposition process in our cooler.
So we travelled on, up through West Virginia. Around 11:30pm, I was getting tired of driving and everyone else was in various states of sleep. On one of the hills, I saw a sign that said "Escape Route For Trucks, One Mile" and barely had a chance to figure out what the hell that meant before I screamed down a hill at 80mph and saw two distinctly different paths lit only by signs that reflected off my headlights...one going straight and up, the other veering left quickly. I tried to veer left and stay the course as best as possible, but I shook the car enough to wake everyone as I wondered quite loudly, "What the HELL was THAT??" Turns out that some hills have "escape routes" for trucks that can't turn as fast as the road dictates. Well, then why is the speed limit 70mph, why isn't the lighting better so that people passing through who don't know this can see the road a little better, and WHO DESIGNS HIGHWAYS LIKE THIS??!? Immediately we began to search for a place to sleep, and beer and cheap cigarettes before we got any farther north.
Next stop, tried a Days Inn, but they wanted $75 for double-occupancy. No thanks, especially cuz the kid at the counter seemed really shady. Gassed up, found Marbs for $3/pack (as compared to $8 in NY), brewed up, and went to the next stop, with plenty of lodging options. Now it's getting on almost 12:30am. Jess saw a place called "Knight's Inn". I had never heard of it before, but she remembered staying at one when she was a kid and said they were decent. Taking her recommendation, we agreed to stop (as long as it was reasonable). Once some creeper came to the let us in, It was $66 for the night. My aunt asked if we got a AAA (Triple A) discount, and the dude said yeah, she just had to show her card. Ten percent off! My aunt hasn't been a valid AAA member in years; her card was expired. Score!
Once we walked down the hallway to our room (after grabbing only the essentials from the car), it hit me. This place was a bona-fide shit hole. The hallways stunk. You know how there's nice senior assisted-living homes, and then not-so-nice ones? This was the "not-so-nice one" smell, like everyone left their crock pots on with sauerkraut burning for two days, and at the same time everyone tried to use a communal bathroom to change their Depends and then just left the waste in a corner. IT WAS THAT BAD.
Got into the room, turned on the bathroom light, and realized this room had an exhaust fan (unlike our room at the Doubletree, which was more than 2x as much a night) that sounded like a moped zipping down the hall. Jess went to get our bed ready so she could lay down, and could see stains on the mattress pad, through the sheet. There were zero wireless internet hotspots to be found. The tv was a mere 20". On the plus side? There was a fridge, a microwave and an ashtray...three items not to be found in any room at the "more upscale" Doubletree. Advantage: PUSH (if you were to gamble on one or the other at Vegas).
So I had a few beers, slept, and woke with the others in time to make the 11:00am checkout. Now we're behind the 8-ball in my head, cua I know we're gonna hafta stop for breakfast, gas and maybe dinner as well. My FB status at the Knight of Horror was something about being at WV motel and it was nasty...a kid I went to high school with said I was probably in Beckley, and damned if he wasn't right.
So off to breakfast...a place I've never heard of called "Omelet Shoppe". Basically a poor man's Waffle House, without the greeting everytime someone walks in. And, again, my uncle kills it at breakfast by getting the big meal, AND finishing before all of us and our sensible breakfasts. Back on the road, another gas stop, and everyone takes a bathroom break but me, cuz I'm fine. Five minutes later, it hits me. Damn, I've gotta stop....and we just stopped, but I don't say anything. Jess spots a McDonalds billboard for Sweet Tea and says she loves that. I tell her she will have her chance to get some, cuz I need to stop. Finally, after an eternity of butt-clenching and 80mph hills and turns, we hit that exit. Only the McD is buried in a plaza with Home Depots and Ruby Tuesdays and all sortsa other food and retail hell that I feel like I have to crack a code to find the right driveway to the proper toilet. Me & food can be a bitch sometimes, Stoggers. Really can.
After I relieve, I feel so much better that I think only gas could be the reason we stop again (and I'm not talking about my uncle's gas, which seemed to emenate once every five miles on the way down). Wrong. Pee breaks, snack breaks, my fatigue from driving, effin' all of it. Jess pissin' me off trying to joke around and everyone taking her side about paying for things, then her trying to tickle my ear from behind me with her foot while I'm driving and me grabbing her ankle, snatching her sock and throwing it out the window onto the WV interstate, it was a mess. And then came dinnertime. Dinnertime?? We should've been home by now! But no, just near the NY border in PA were signs for Steak 'n Shake, so we HAD to go, even if I don't care for burgers, or milkshakes, or places with "Steak" in their name even when they don't actually serve steak.
We stopped at one last summer on the way back from Cleveland just to get a shake and stretch the ol' getaway sticks around a bit. But for me to sit and eat a burger is not fun...especially on a road trip that has taken at least 33% longer than it should've. We stopped waaaaay too much on this trip, fo sheezy mah neezy when I dribble down in PA. Especially when we're stoppin' at a burger joint that isn't fast food but doesn't serve sit-down fare, while I'm rockiin' a digestive tract that isn't playin' fair once we hit the open road, seemingly.
Finally, we made it back to my aunt & uncles' house in Buffalo (the city, which meant we'd have to double-back to get to our place in Lancaster, almost a half-hour away). Got them unloaded, said good-byes, thanked them, and left. We're already a day late with the rental now, and staring at a 10pm pull-in to our driveway. Jess gets a great idea: Let's return the rental tonight! Uhhhh, NO! Cuz once we get it unloaded, I'm not gonna wanna turn around and take it 10 minutes over to the airport rental car facility, drop it off and drive ten more minutes back home in our inferior vehicle. I made arrangements with my lil bro through texting to take it back the next day (before we'd be charged a second late day) and that's that, so she was cool. I had to work 3:30-10:30 today and she was supposed to work 8:30-5:30, so he was our only option...until...
I went to bed last night and J said she thought she might be sick and that her stomach was really bothering her. In my sleepish haze, I said, and this is a direct quote, from myself: "Ass or stomach?" She replied, "Stomach", to which I offered her the garbage can under my nightstand. She said no, and if she was going to be sick she'd make it to the bathroom in time. So I rolled over and went to sleep. The normal noise that usually wakes me up in the morning before my alarm clock occurred...kids getting up and ready for school, J's alarm and radio...and WTF?? Jess calling in sick to work. Well, there goes my morning of sleep and waking up to an empty house for the first time in awhile. There goes me not being on top of others in a room. There it goes...see it? Wave...bye-bye! My half-asleep body language antics said it all. But what can I do? She's tired, she's not feeling right, she was having migraines over the weekend, it's Tuesday, damn. At least we got the car turned back in, and I was only a little late (as usual) for work, even though we had all day. She needed the rest (even though I don't recall her getting out of bed, making coffee, running an errand and having phone conversations...my aunt left their souveniers in the car when we dropped them off, so Jessica called her to let her know, and they were going to pick up their dogs that they kenneled before the trip...J offered to meet them but Caca said no, she'd drive out to our house, so I had to clean up a little on top of having no me-time today...FML).
She still feels a little "not herself". Said she's gonna force herself to go to work tomorrow. And she swears she's "not preggo", according to her facebook status earlier. We've been talking, but I don't think she'd just stop taking her pill without my consent, based on the facts that 1) We've yet to discuss her "plan" as to where we're going to put a child in this house...we've got a large basement and tons of cupboard space, but that's not gonna work; and 2) I'm not ready to be the dad I want to be, plain and simple...we've got the house, we've got the space theoretically, but we've got a lot going on, and without getting into specifics, financially we may not be ready for awhile, and she may not be physically able to withstand another pregnancy. On top of that, she mentioned she wanted to be married again before she had another kid, and while I neither agree nor disagree, her first intention was to get married and then have a kid...the plan so far has worked, but now with my sister actually talking about getting pregnant, and the biological clock ticking, either I need to get on the ball and take my compressed income someplace where I can get the kinda ring she wants on some sorta payment plan, or have a kid and wonder when we might ever actually "sign the paperwork in full". But I digress...
Thank you for coming this far, Stoggers...I'll wrap this short series up tomorrow with random thoughts from the vacay, as well as more tidbits about the future and what it holds. Til then, GOODNIGHT NOW!