Tuesday, 24 November 2015

Road Tripping Redux

The Husband and I have completed our annual pilgrimage to the Southern Home and I must say that every year the drive down is filled with more tedium than excitement. Not that I am looking for excitement, mind you. I had enough of that to last me a lifetime the year that we were waylaid for six days by a massive snowstorm in the midwest with nothing to eat but Pizza Hut. (None of us has set foot in a Pizza Hut in more than twenty years.) No, I am perfectly fine with the mundane. But I must say that even after all the years, I am struck by how the little things on a road trip seem to stick with me. This year was no different and offered up a few choice impressions.
  • I have never been in the United States for their Thanksgiving. (Sorry Canada. Ours is a pale imitation.) Not ever. I have always envied Americans and their observance of this most secular of holidays. It is an amazing concept. A holiday that cuts across religious lines, is quintessentially American in its origins, involves an entire nation, and allows for gluttony on a national level. What's not to like about that? Watching Americans prepare for this holiday from afar has always been filled with envy and a twinge of sadness. But seeing it up close, even from the limitations of the Interstates, is a revelation. Our hotel was decked out in harvest paraphernalia. The roads were jammed with college students returning home for the holiday in cars packed to the windows with bags of dirty laundry.Thanksgiving specials and flyers were in the windows of even the tackiest of gas station souvenir shops. (I made do without the two-for-one turkey jerky offered in South Carolina.) But my favourite Thanksgiving interlude on the road came from Canonburg Pennsylvania. By sheer chance, (it is almost creepy how by chance this is) we have stopped in the same small town for four years running. It must be that we come through the same stretch of road at approximately the same time every year, given our penchant for starting out early in the morning, or we are just looking for a Subway so that we might be able to eat something vegetarian that doesn't taste like rubber.Whatever the explanation, we once again stopped in Canonburg in order to eat and pee. This year, the only other patrons of the shop were a father and his young son all decked out in pilgrim costume, complete with hat. (I have to say that the hat made the ensemble.) The boy was talking animatedly about John Alden, Myles Standish, and turkey. It reminded me of those days long ago when my own boys would participate in school productions and chatter incessantly about all they had learned. If ever we question the reasons for making holidays fun, interactive, and filled with family and friends, one need only to have watched this little guy exude excitement for the day. It was truly special.
  • The border was quiet when we crossed. We were the only ones in the Nexus line, but the heightened security given the Paris attacks was intense and not surprising. We were grilled for several minutes as to the registration of our car, what we were carrying, our professions, and why we were travelling back and forth this winter. We were asked for dates and about the contents of our belongings. We didn't mind, but this was the Nexus line. One can only imagine what the non-prescreened people went through.
  • There was many a deer sighting on the road this year. Some live, many not. Bambi and his extended family were actually quite brazen in their appearances, foraging at the side of the road as if it were a Hometown Buffet. It was almost as if they were saying "Hey, we're not turkeys. We have nothing to worry about at this time of year." Of course they probably weren't thinking about the constant barrage of 40-tonne trucks barrelling down on them at every pass. There were deer parts littering the highway all the way into the Carolinas. I suppose Georgian and Floridian deer are smarter than their northern cousins, and stayed away from the Eisenhower-inspired death trap.
  • This must be the week that American snowbirds make their way south en masse. It is migration week. So many RVs. So many campers. So many retirees with absolutely no idea how to drive the monster trucks they have purchased. Some are hauling their entire lives in a bus; others are merely hauling SUVs, boats, bikes, and seadoos. It is a wonder any of them reach their destinations safely given the fishtailing, swerving, and odd lane changes. There were times I hung on and just  quietly uttered the Shema hoping for the best. 
  • As per usual, The Husband and I fought over the radio. I am perfectly happy with my Broadway channel, while he just drives and stews until I change to a different station. I don't mind The Bridge, but the playlist is limited and I draw the line at the constant repetition of Eagles and Fleetwood Mac tunes. I mean really? How many times in 24 hours does one need to hear Say You Love Me? I say 4 is plenty. So we switched to The Coffee House, a channel that plays hits reimagined acoustically. But Sting waxing with poetic angst on Message in a Bottle put me over the edge. We returned enthusiastically to Broadway. I was struck by some of the ironic music experiences we had. Carly Simon's Anticipation played as we were stuck in a traffic jam outside of Charlotte, and Carolina Day by Livingston Taylor was on as we crossed the state line between the two Carolinas. Coincidence? Probably, but it was still weird.
  • The Sunshine State was definitely not. We crossed into Florida and the rain started....hard....and it stayed that way for the next 5 hours. The only positive is that we had no real impetus to stop so we made it down in two full days rather than two and half. 
It is so nice to be here. Of course there are a myriad of problems in the condo that need to be addressed. Aren't there always? A defective toilet flapper is causing one kimode to wail like James Brown. The storm shutters have a rusted lock, meaning that we can't open one side. A call to the experts is on the docket. But the season has begun. Hello South Florida. Nice to see you again.

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