Friday, November 28, 2014

Over the River and Through the Woods (ish)

Team WestEnders deviated from custom for the Thanksgiving holiday this year, deciding to follow a Split Squad format and travel in opposite directions. The Male Posse thus headed south, to spend the weekend with Husband's parents. And I set off northbound, to visit my family in Maryland for the first time since we moved away in June.

My original plan was to eat breakfast at home on Wednesday, then get in the car immediately afterwards, so I could entertain even a hopeful prayer of getting through Northern Virginia before the extra-special-rush-hour-day-before-Thanksgiving traffic mayhem commenced. Then...I started hearing whispers of a 4-letter word--that would be "snow"--in the forecast for the greater D.C. metro area. Well, that just throws a big old monkey wrench in the carefully crafted agenda, now doesn't it? (And can I just say: it's FAR too early for this nonsense! Ooh, I'm so happy we're going to have a White Thanksgiving....said NO ONE...EVER! Or, yeah, maybe that's just me...)

When the impending doom--um, "meteorological situation"--got so dire that people began posting weather updates on Facebook, I knew it was time for an Emergency Plan B. This hastily-conceived idea involved the extremely unusual scenario of me getting up at 6 a.m., tossing on clothes, and hitting the road ASAP...all in an attempt to outrun the storm. In reality, by the time I got ready (which took longer than anticipated...must have been the Curse of the Early Hour), and picked up coffee (absolutely necessary for this endeavor) and money, it was about 6:40 before I managed to put rubber on the road. To further complicate matters, in North Carolina it was raining in "reduced visibility" and, oh yeah, the ever-so-pleasant twin threats of "standing water" and "danger of hydroplaning".

Suffice it to say, the conditions were soooo very not-pleasant--and this continued...for about 4 hours. That's right, it pretty much poured all the way to Tyson's Corner, Virginia...where it switched over to the dreaded white stuff. By this point, I had made awesome time, since I hadn't stopped for anything. No convenience store snack, no pee break, no Diet Pepsi infusion--just driving like the proverbial "bat out of hell". So I was actually in really good shape when the flakes started to fall....and I just wanted to keep moving and get this sucker over with. When all was said and done, I pulled into my dad's driveway at about 5 hours and 28 minutes (you know "approximately", 'cuz only a Type A person would have been writing down the times...oops...), safe and sound, even if also...exhausted and famished.

And believe me, the irony was not lost on me: one of the major reasons I left this area was because I was so very, very much O-V-E-R Winter, with its frigid temperatures...and its frozen precipitation...and whatnot. So of course, on my first return visit my former hometown rolls out a blanket of snow in lieu of the (much more appreciated) welcome mat? (Gee...thaaaaanks....) While the new timeline and the state of the roadways forced me to abandon my original dinner plans with a friend, I did get to take a Winter Wonderland walk to stretch my legs after my non-stop travel day, and of course spend some bonus quality time with my family. And boy, did it feel good to settle down for that "long Winter's nap" at the end of the evening!

Because the next day was all about gearing up for the Grand Meal, naturally. You know the drill--wake up at the crack of dawn to get the turkey in the oven, start chopping...stuff...and, um...make 6 hours worth of side dishes...etc. Okay, I'm totally fabricating, here. You see, my brother was going to deep fry the poultry, which requires a relatively short amount of time, and the accompanying casseroles could be assembled a few hours before dinner, so we had...some leisure hours! (Whoo hoo!) So, I was able to fit in another (chilly) stroll, and we took a girl's-only jaunt (Me, Sis, Niece) to the grocery store for some last-minute supplies...and then we bonded over the prepping of stuffing and mashed potatoes. (No, really, it was really cool "peeling and sauteeing and stirring and chatting" time!)

I have to say, dinner turned out pretty darn great (although I'll have to take everyone else's word for it on the turkey, obviously). Then it was time to revive yet another bygone family tradition, from back in the days when I was in college and coming home for Thanksgiving break, I think: no, not pre-Black Friday shopping (which we might have done once or twice, but we're older...wiser...and not as crazy anymore...), but Thanksgiving Night Sister Movie. (Yeah, we really need to work on that title, don't we?) This time we included the niece as well, sticking with the all-female theme, and took ourselves to see Mockingjay Part 1. It's a lovely way to relax and let the carbs settle...while watching an action-packed, emotionally stressful, thrilling, ultimately satisfying film, right? (I might have had a wee bit of trouble getting to sleep right afterwards, but otherwise, it works for us!)

So that just about sums up the first 2 days of my Inaugural Maryland Excursion--as a tourist, that is. I have to admit that it felt a bit weird, staying at a parent's house for the first time as an adult (displacing my nephews from their room in the process--and a huge thank you for the bed, guys!). But you can't beat the togetherness, and we've definitely made some wonderful memories. Now it's time to enjoy the last full day in the Northland before making my way back to Chapel Hill tomorrow. So...gloves: check. Coat: check. Wool socks: check. Sweater: check. Warm shoes: check. Okay, I'm ready for some more fun!

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