Wednesday, December 17, 2008

Mass Thing Migration

You know, I think three times back and forth over half the country would be enough in one year's worth of months, don't you?

But no, at barely the 13-month mark we are setting out again, this time so the Things can visit their dad, who has moved back down south.

I told myself that at least we got to drive through a different half of the country this time. (Yeah, I know I was reaching there. Thanks for pointing that out.)

So, Things Two through Four and I packed up

(small bag, clothes; large bag, stuff of a yarnish nature)

and swung south in our own state to pick up Thing One.

When I hit the interstate, the bread van did something interesting. It began to shake. Not the mild, I'm-an-old-car-and-don't-care-for-all-road-surfaces-anymore shake that it did from time to time, but a strange, full-car-body shake. When I hit sixty, though, it disappeared.

Not feeling there was much choice, we drove on.

We stopped in New Hampshire to pick up our other co-driver, and Thing One was so taken with the beauty of the mountains that he asked for my camera, then said he took only two shots because there were too many buildings at the Highland Center and he didn't want those in the pictures. (And this is the Thing who thinks that nature is something best viewed through a window. Go figure.)

While we waited for the co-driver to get off work, we participated in a gingerbread house building contest (nice Christmas present--thanks!)

Thing One helped in the usual teenage fashion

but the other three Things went to town.

We all agreed that our gingerbread person (who was almost as tall as her house) looked severely deranged, though. And thus it was here that Thing One added his contribution.

(Every pyscho gingerbread person needs a butter knife to guard against home invasion by hordes of hungry children, after all).

Once that was complete, we hopped in the van and did what we always do on long car trips. We talked. We didn't talk. We read. We watched movies and listened to music and books on tape/CD.

And we crafted. I didn't get any pictures because I was too busy either knitting or driving, but Thing Two sewed buttons on snowpeople and completed the woven pipe cleaner sunhats she was making them, while Thing Three knit on a snowperson beach towel (Thing Four gets car sick easily, so exempted himself from this activity).

I knit on the red hat hat and its accessories. (Sherry was nice enough to model it for me when I returned. See?)

About the only time I put down my needles (apart from some reading and lots of driving) and did nothing was when we were in the eastern part of Virginia. There was something about the feel of the landscape, even from a van window, that just stilled me. It's the sort of place where you would go to sit beside the tomb or burial mound of your ancestors, silent, and then from which would depart as noiselessly as you came.

I want to go back there someday. I want to soak in the history of the whites and of the people who came to be there because of them and of the people who were there before them. I want to find out the name of the plant that was in all the roadsides, and someday try to capture its winter color of beige with tones of pink and orange in a dye pot (I still regret that I was "sensible" not to mention schedule fretting, and did not get a picture on the way out, as it was dark on the way back). And I want to go with someone who will walk silently with me.

Obviously, this was not the trip for any of the above, but I loved even the feeling I received from just passing through.

We did not stay long in eastern Virginia. Instead, we drove westward through some states that were longer on their east-west axises than they were tall running north-south, met the Things dad one state away from where he currently resides, and turned right around and headed back to the lovely snows of the north.

The drive back was pretty much identical to the drive down, with the exception of fewer people in the vehicle and a lot less gear (which meant that I no longer felt like a sardine with claustrophobia issues).

(And with the exception of this hotel hallway, the like of which we most definitely did not encounter on the way out. Not something you really want to step foot in at 2 a.m. I mean seriously, who the h--- did the decorating??)

There was also more shake. Definitely more.
We tried to alleviate the bad mojo of this by stopping in Chilhowie, VA at a Tastee Freeze. I had never seen a Tastee Freeze outside of Blairstown, Iowa. (And it had been a very big deal when my Great-Aunt Helen would take my cousin and me down to Main Street so we could be handed the cone of our choice through the tiny building's service window.)

This Tastee Freeze was LOTS bigger. So we went in rather than going through the drive through--anything to leave the shake for a bit--and, while being served by employees whose vowels rolled and bounced in enthusiastic waves, I discovered that in all those years, the Tastee Freeze's menu hadn't much changed. Fried food and soft-serve ice cream.

Hmm. I think that wasn't the right mojo. Because the shake got worse. Lots worse. As in the -cup-holder-routinely-popped-out-of-its-slot worse.

By the time we got back to New Hampshire, I could only go either 30 or 85 without the vehicle shaking so much that it felt as if I was receiving a rather violent full body massage (though on the up side, this did keep my shoulder from locking up).

I didn't find this reassuring, and when I rather hesitantly mentioned the lack of fun involved in driving a different route home in the dark with bad headlights (don't ask) in a car that was intent on shaking my fillings loose, my co-driver sighed and admitted that he didn't like the thought either and would follow me home.

That meant it was once more to the couch, dear friend, for you. And then stuck 1) eating eggs that were spiced in a way you didn't care for and 2) with a six-hour drive back home the next day rather than a three due to the forecasted storm hitting a day late--definitely no fun.

Sorry, dude. Two cool Chanukah gifts headed your way, okay? (Late--I mean, I'm not even making my own holiday's deadline--but headed.)

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