Friday, June 28, 2013

Ready for my solo

On Wednesday, the boys flew away for their annual visit to Club Spoil-Me-Rotten, where Husband's parents dote shamelessly upon them for six days or so. During their stay they can request absolutely any kind of food they desire. (Especially things they're not allowed to eat at home due to the questionable nutritional content or unacceptable ingredients...) They are free from all responsibility. And the kids are guaranteed to come back with souvenirs, courtesy of their indulgent grandparents. I've gotta say, it's a sweet gig. But while they're away, I have sort of a mini-vacation myself. Sure, the first couple of days I spend catching up on..."domestic engineering tasks"--you know, the really awesome stuff like running the oven, dishwasher, and washing machine self-clean cycles...laundering the shower curtains...vacuuming the fridge coils...yeah, never mind, it sucks. But then, THEN I always schedule my own little getaway, somewhere fun and photogenic, where I can spend an overnight in a hotel and do nothin', and take care of nobody. Having already made the Presidential Tour (Mt. Vernon, Monticello, Montpelier), and also having covered every Civil War site from Gettysburg to Atlanta, I was a little stuck trying to come up with a venue this year.

After Googling and scrutinizing maps and skimming tour books, I finally settled on St. Michael's, a reportedly quaint, historical, cute little fishing town on the Chesapeake Bay in Maryland. So this morning I packed up the Subaru and pointed us eastward. Except for a relatively brief-but-annoying backup on the Interstate 495 (also known in these parts as "the Beltway...from Hell") for no apparent reason whatsoever, the journey went smoothly and pleasantly. I planned to stay in a nearby city on Friday night, then explore St. Michael's all day Saturday. Thus I checked in to my lodging (took a nap--shhhh! It's my Day to Play, I can do whatever I darn well please!) and figured out what to do with my free hours. My first executive decision took me into Easton, to explore the older section of town. After I meandered around the brick sidewalks for a while, soaking up the old-timey feel, the thunder and menacing clouds I'd been successfully ignoring up to that point chose to make a bolder statement by unleashing a shower. So I retreated to my car to consult my phone's GPS for instruction on how to locate the next stop: Pickering Creek Audubon Center.

This side jaunt began innocently enough, on routes with state-issued numbers. But then the scenery abruptly shifted to a much more rural tableau, with tall trees lining both sides of the narrow road and small, widely-spaced houses dotting the landscape. Next, the yellow dividing lines...disappeared. "Oh...kay", I brazenly announced (to my empty car...yeah, I do talk to myself, so what?), "I'm an experienced, intrepid explorer in an off-road-ready vehicle, bring it on!" Aaannnnnd the subsequent turn brought me to a gravel road. Now, I'm gazing around me and I can't help thinking, "Hmm, this looks like the kind of place...where they'll NEVER find the body..." Alrighty, then, where's all that delightful nature, and whatnot? (I was somewhat reassured when, on the path that led to the supposed Information Office, I had to yield the right-of-way to both a deer and a bunny...adorable, non-threatening fauna....)

I knew the official Visitor's Center hours had passed, so I just meant to find a promising hike and stretch my legs a bit. Map in parking lot: check. 1.8 mile loop selected: check. And with that, off into the (already puddly) woods I went. My first clue that this might not be the relaxing, meditative stroll I was hoping for was: spiderwebs. Can I just tell you how much I L-O-A-T-H-E them? Next, there were aggressive--for all I know "bloodsucking" as well--flies dive-bombing my head every few feet. And then, as if I weren't jumpy enough, I would periodically encounter some kind of sticky weed that would grab onto my shins. So...there I was...tiptoeing along, waving my arms at the damn bugs, shrieking when I ran into a spiderweb, and leaping off the ground twitching my legs to dislodge the stupid clingy grass-things (and, of course--in my very best Mom Voice--sternly admonishing the whole of the Great Outdoors to go away and leave me the heck alone). I swear I must have looked like the Crazy Lady of the Forest. (Oh, except that actually, I was brandishing my umbrella like a weapon to ward off the...evil dangerous vegetation. Because c'mon, even if you're bat-poo loony, that's no excuse for being...meteorologically the wild...or some such nonsense...)

Anyway, this was all so very, very enjoyable (not even the slightest tiniest bit); so really, it was no great shock when the heavens opened up and started dumping lakefuls of water down to Earth. Imagine the clouds were fitted with a gigantic zipper, and all the water had pooled up there, until someone pulled the tab and allowed it to come rushing down all at once. Yeah, it was like that. Reaaallllly, really...a sopping wet kind of time. And ever so much fun to drive back to the hotel in, too (she chirps, extremely sarcastically). I mean, I could sort of see the pavement, so it was fine...and as you can imagine, that was quite enough excitement for one day. I'm now dry, clean, fed, and resting up for whatever adventure tomorrow may bring. (Please please please let there be no spiders!)

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