For our final road trip of 2016, and the last hurrah of the holiday season, Team WestEnders packed up and headed back to...the Great North. Okay, okay, it's really only as far as Maryland, but it counts for us, anyway. Since it had worked so well in the Summer, we went with the "leave at 4 p.m." plan, hoping that it would again cause us to miss Rush Hour in all the major cities on our way up. Aaannnd...it worked! (Ha-le-lu-jah! sang the I-85/95 choir...of one...which would be "me"...) Despite stopping twice to switch drivers--the upside/downside of having three people who can operate Husband's car these days--we made awesome time, and more importantly, in a traffic-frustration-free manner.
So we arrived at our Host Family's abode, and settled in to make ourselves at home for the next four-ish days. However, at least MY comfort level was severely tested first thing the next morning, when I peered out the window and saw...a light dusting of snow on the ground. Seriously, Maryland--what gives? (Yes, I DID feel personally affronted by this...as if the icy precipitation had occurred specifically to taunt the visiting southern transplant.) Fortunately, it melted quickly, and we could get on with our day, acting as though it had never happened (although perhaps holding a small grudge for my previous home state treating me like that...or some such nonsense...)
And our agenda consisted of: traveling to my dad's house, where we would spend hours upon end with my clan. This translates to an abundance of Cousin Time, spent pursuing various endeavors such as...competitive video gaming,...enthusiastic basketball and football contests, interludes of wandering the neighborhood on foot (for reasons that remain unclear....but it seemed to keep them out of trouble? Or at least they weren't brought back in a squad car, so we're gonna call that a big old W), and borderline-out-of-control Nerf gun battles. Oh, and eating, of course--always that. Meanwhile the adults did....grown-up stuff...like catching up on each other's lives...that would have bored the kids to tears had they been required to sit around and participate. So basically, everyone got what they needed, and was therefore quite content.
Today when we awoke, I came upstairs to obtain the all-important Elixir of Life...um, "java" (but you knew that, right? Of course you did...) and was greeted by...gigantic, fluffy white particles swirling around in the sky. Are. You. KIDDING. Me? Yes, it's Winter up here; I totally get it, already! You can stop trying to prove it to me, because it's beginning to piss me off! While the flakes ceased and desisted a short while later, the howling wind did NOT--continuing to provide an extra...chilling effect (that was entirely unwelcome, it goes without saying) throughout the entire day. De-lightful, I tell ya.
But we had places to be and people to see, so there was no huddling inside under a blanket for us, no sir. Because today was set aside to return to our former hometown and connect with old friends. First the Male Trio ensconced themselves in the warm atmosphere of the local Greene Turtle establishment, to eat burgers and watch football, while I met up with a fellow Playgroup Mom I've known since Derek was a baby. After our wonderful chat (and also absolutely delicious almond milk hot chocolate--well done, Panera!), Team WestEnders took Derek to his next engagement--hanging out with some Middle School buddies at one of their houses.
Then...Husband, Riley and I had 5-1/2 hours to kill before our next gathering. Hmm...how to amuse ourselves? Well, we whiled away a little time in the library. Next--even though it was pretty dang frigid (did I mention that? I feel like I might've...) I nonetheless was keen to fit in a stroll (I know, I know: "crazy". What can I say? I might joke about hibernating, but it's really not in my nature...tragically...) Therefore I convinced Husband and son to accompany me to a nearby lake I used to enjoy, so we could race-walk a lap around it and say we accomplished our exercise for the day. With that checked off, it was (no surprise) time to feed the child again, so we moved on to a shopping center that holds a Target (providing us with the required sustenance), as well as both Barnes & Noble and Dick's Sporting Goods (for toasty, indoor browsing).
Finally, the appointed hour arrived for us to head back and retrieve Derek, so we could join some of our soccer tribe for dinner at...California Tortilla. (You're just shocked, yeah? I mean, who could have ever predicted we'd end up THERE? Just like every single other time we're in Maryland...) There we ate and talked and laughed...for as long as the kids would tolerate their parents forcing them to remain stationary. (Hey, they actually allowed us a solid three hours, so I'd have to say that worked out as well as we could've hoped for!)
After that, we just had to navigate back to HQ, to rest up for New Year's Eve festivities....which luckily don't demand that we leap out of bed and hurry anywhere. Nope, we're looking forward to a leisurely morning for the entire household, to recharge the Party Batteries. Wait...do I even have such a thing? I'll have to check--but if so, I'm 100% certain they're powered by...chocolate...and coffee. There you have it: an a.m. To Do List that I can totally get behind! But for now...one of those "long Winter's naps" sounds like a fabulous idea...night night...