You know how, in a whirlwind vacation where you're hopping from place to place, seeing as many loved ones as possible, fitting in as much activity and entertainment as you can, it's good to pencil in a brief respite somewhere in the middle, to allow for a bit of relaxing downtime? On this trip, we called that "Walkersville Day". On Friday, Husband went to the office for his last meetings and whatnot, while the boys and I headed further north to join the friends who would be putting us up (and, well, "putting up with us"!) for the weekend.
About that excursion...let me just say, here, that after a little over a year away from the Extended D.C. Metro region, I guess I had forgotten (or blocked out...or purposely misremembered....whatever gets you through the day, right?) the utter NONSENSE that defines traffic on the local roadways. It was about 10:30 on a Friday--safely past Morning Rush, and well before the Evening Nightmare--yet there were just...too damn many cars. And their drivers were operating them in a manner that I can only describe as "quite erratically unpredictable" and also...um..."just plain stupid". Even worse, somehow each and every one of them was IN MY WAY. Holy Gridlock, Batman, chalk this one up to "things I do not miss since I moved"!
However, we did eventually arrive at Hotel Hill-people, and were greeted with a calm and restful atmosphere. That is, of course, relatively speaking...with the presence of 3 boys (aged 12-15)...and one tween girl...who had just picked up her new kitten (adding to the household's already-existing 2-feline menagerie). So, yeah, maybe there was a wee bit of chaos...but at least we didn't have to drive through it! And really, any day that includes chatting with old friends, and is capped off by beer and pizza--that's a good one, yeah?
The next morning--I've lost track, but I think it was Saturday at this point--Team WestEnders returned to my dad's, to spend more time with the family. Later that evening, we would be traipsing to Baltimore for our one and only opportunity to see the Orioles this season. (Yaaaayyyyyy!) As it turned out, my sister's boss had gifted her with the company's seats for the night as well, so she would be bringing the nephews and 1 of their pals...thus ensuring that the cousin-bonding...and goofiness...could continue well into the night.
Now, Camden Yards is one of our favorite spots on Earth, so we were thrilled to be there--despite the August heat. Early on, we watched the Os fall into a 3-0 deficit, which was not terribly pleasing. But then we got to witness Chris Davis hit a home-run bomb that the As outfielders didn't even bother to make a run for (or even glance up at, as a matter of fact...it was that much of a sure thing). And while I was out on the concourse on a quest for popcorn, the home team tied the score...setting up a potential dilemma. You see, while I do love baseball, I have about a 3-hour tolerance limit for sitting and paying attention to an actual contest. So...I have been known...on occasion...to lobby for leaving prior to the last out in the 9th...when I've had my fill, or it's a slow game, or we're being blown out by the opponent...or what have you.
This is not, as you would imagine, a popular stance with the 15 and 12-year olds....hence the possibility of conflict. I believe the words "Fine! You can just WALK home!" might have been uttered to the sputtering, indignant "We're staying no matter what" contingent. Besides, we were ALL pretty exhausted from the extravaganza o'fun we'd squeezed into the previous 3 days. And we had a looong, potentially icky (because yeah, it usually lives up--or down--to expectations of difficulty, unfortunately) commute back to NC the next day.
But it was all knotted up, cruising into the bottom of the 9th inning...when Chris ("Crush", as he is affectionately known to Orioles loyalists) Davis saved us by bashing another round-tripper to end the stalemate...and the argument. So now we're totally spoiled...each time we come to our special Summer game at Oriole Park, we expect to see a spectacular finish, and a WIN. (Okay, Baseball Gods? Thanks a bunch..we will gladly provide a sacrifice...of hotdogs... in your honor...) Bonus: for the first time ever, we even got to see the unique ritual known to all Os supporters: the Adam Jones pie-in-the-face delivery to the Player of the Game as they're being interviewed on the field afterwards.
We've caught it on TV before, but I didn't realize that at the home stadium, the crowd signals Adam's arrival by issuing a synchronized, 40,000 people-strong audible roar of anticipation, because they know darn well what's coming. So it's hilarious that he can't even sneak up anymore. And Chris very calmly removed the microphone he was wearing to speak to the reporter, protecting it from the gooey goodness he was about to receive, and graciously accepted his...squishy reward. Even more hysterical, he then replaced the headset as if nothing had happened, and continued to film the segment...without even opting to wipe his face. Priceless, I tell ya.
Whew....that was a whole lotta excitement for one evening. From there, it was back to the Hill Country, for a snooze. One final breakfast the next morning, and it was time to bid farewell to Maryland once more. The Male Posse took Husband's car, as I had a last engagement before getting fully underway--coffee with a former interpreter-colleague. And since I usually vent about the southbound trek by disparaging Virginia in general terms, this time I've decided to target my rant more specifically. Springfield: sucked (for no apparent reason). Quantico--with all due respect to the Corps, whom I hold completely blameless for the situation: sucked (also no obvious cause). Fredericksburg: hmm, how can I sum up...suppose Dante had written Traffic Inferno...Fredericksburg would surely comprise a Circle of Hell in its own right...eternally. Richmond: uncharacteristically, sucked (due to an accident....just to keep things fresh). Route 85: you guessed it (this one attributable to construction zones taking away lanes...grrrrrr).
And, there you have it. We did eventually stagger into Chapel Hill, shell-shocked from the 7 hours of car-bound....delightfulness. (Oh yeah, that was just me....the boys all seemed fine. They must have been in the Non-PMS Vehicle...) Anyway, it was a wonderful visit, filled with all kinds of memory-making experiences. So to everyone who made our time in Maryland so awesome: thanks for everything...see you in December!