For the first time in...well...EVER...Team WestEnders spent Christmas in our own house. This confused the children mightily, as they're used to traveling to my dad's for the holiday. One evening Derek approached me wearing an extremely bewildered expression--you could just see from his face that he was struggling to work out something profoundly difficult--and said, "Wait...Mom...when are we going to open our presents?" Um...that would be "on Christmas morning", dear, as is the custom. Now, I know in the past we've sometimes had to move it up to Christmas Eve, due to out-of-town family obligations and whatnot, but trust me, you'll be fine. He took my word for it, although he walked away with a frown, as though he needed some time to process this earth-shattering change to his way of life (...or something....who knows what's going on in there, really?)
So, our annual Winter Break journey northward was re-scheduled for New Year's instead. It just so happens that the friends who normally put us up when we visit were hosting the Big Bash time around; thus we'd be conveniently located in Soiree Central, without having to resort to any crazy behavior like, you know, "leaving the house". (Score! In fact, we can remain in our pajamas if we so choose...beverages, snacks, people coming to see us...it's a Perfect Party Scenario, I tell ya!)
But first, we had to get there...which involves the sometimes-arduous trek on those evil twins, Interstates 85 and 95. (aka "The Goshawful Boring Highway with Terrible Refreshment Options" and the road that unfortunately passes through "Are You Freakin' Kidding Me? What the HECK is Wrong with Virginia?" But obviously those are much too long to print on signs, so it's...implied...)
Aahhh, it started so well--we left the house at 10:15 a.m., pretty much according to schedule. Aaannnnd, it went straight down the drain from there. You see, while we unknowingly went about the business of finishing packing and loading the car, it began to rain. (Yes....A-G-A-I-N. Don't even get me started on how I never signed up to live in bloody England, for crying out loud...) But on second thought, "rain" is such an innocent, inoffensive word....so it reeaaaalllly doesn't apply here. Nope, this was more like, oh, let's call it a "downpour of Biblical proportions". Seriously, I think we would have been better off in an Ark...rather than an unassuming little Hyundai.
How can I sum up? Hmmmm, oh, I know: visibility was damn near nonexistent, there was standing water on the road that made skidding out of control a very real danger at any given moment, and the pounding of the sheets of water on the metal vehicle was so loud it drowned out conversation and the radio--or on the plus side, I suppose, any screams of terror inspired by the horrific conditions. At one point Husband--who despite everything was able to maintain at least a semblance of his usual sense of humor, bless his little pea pickin' heart--turned to me and marveled, "This isn't even rain anymore; it's more like...disaster-movie special effects!" (Sadly, he was dead-on, by the way. Good call for the cinema...terrible IRL...) Anyway, as a result, the maximum velocity achievable was waaayyy below normal, which set us up for a very bad domino effect...as we still hadn't even reached the 7th Circle of Hell--I mean Northern Virginia.
Finally, after 2-1/2 valiant hours, Husband gave up the wheel and we all stumbled out of the death-box...um, "car"...to perform the necessary road-trip activities. (You know what I'm talking about: re-fuel, pee, buy drinks and foodstuffs, stretch the legs...try to make the past hundred miles a distant memory if possible...) Then it was my turn behind the wheel--and things were absolutely GREAT...for approximately an hour. Although the storms had let up (or we'd finally out-driven them) they had delayed us enough that the next booby trap was sprung...that's right, I'm talking about the dreaded T-thing...TRAFFIC.
Not gonna go into a whole lot of details here, except to say that from Quantico to--hmmm, let me think--yep, all the way to our exit in Maryland, was a pretty much continuous crawl. Suckage. Major. How bad was it? We were forced to stop and, ahem, "use the facilities" a second time. (Believe me, we NEVER do that on our return-to-the-hometown trips. It's typically a one-intermission excursion...) Aaaannnd, we got a bit loopy in the latter stages of Highway Fatigue. My sister texted me to ask how it was going, and I sent back a reply full of tasteful symbols in lieu of the VBWs (Very Bad Words) I wanted to use to describe our experience. The boys curiously asked what I was doing, and when I told them Derek responded, "Why? Does your phone auto-correct you when you try to use a curse word? 'Cuz mine changes it to 'duck'!"
Okay, hold on just a minute, mister, what's this I'm hearing? He was quick to add, "I just did it to see what would happen!" (Uh-huh...she says suspiciously...while choosing to give him the benefit of the doubt...for now, anyway) But I was having a low-blood-sugar moment (the Clif bar I'd purchased for lunch from the lousy little convenience store at the gas station wore off a looong time ago, apparently) so I crowed, "Oh yeah? Well...Rush Hour ducking sucks!" Much hilarity ensued, I tell ya, which speaks eloquently to our collective state of mind at that particular instant.
But, we survived the meteorological mayhem and gridlock grief, and arrived at my dad's house safe and sound...if also a bit weary and shell-shocked. From here on out, it's All Social Events, All Weekend for Team WestEnders, as we say goodbye to the old calendar page, and welcome in 2016 with an abundance of family, friends, and F-U-N. Bring it on! Well...after my nap, that is...