Saturday, October 09, 2004
I try and I try. And I find the world is trying, at best. I want to get home in a short time on Friday so I leave at 1600. It is a Friday so I know there will be a bit of traffic, but I figure that the daily quota of auto-accidents has been filled. Not so fast bucky. As I get onto the turnpike at the Valley Forge interchange, I hear on the radio that there is a multi-vehicle accident at Fort Washington. I hold my breath, please-please-please be on the west bound lanes. Nope, no such luck. The accident is right in my path and traffic has already started to back up all the way to the Mid-County interchange. A let out a sigh of resignation and get on with it. As I round the bend of the on ramp I see to my misfortune that the traffic is actually backed up to my location already. ARGH! I have to slug my way through 15 miles of snarled, venomous log-jam to get home just to turn around and get back on the same road? It takes me 90 minutes to get to the Manor. The mess clears up a bit as I pass the accident site and it is ugly. There are no less than 12 cars on tow-trucks or flat-beds. These are the cars that cannot be driven away so I can imagine that there were several more with minor damage that had already left the scene. I could smell the lawyers converging on the site as I drove back, it smelt of litigation. Shudder As I pan over to the north side of the trench, I see that the westbound traffic has nearly come to a stand-still. I would not be surprised to see people (sub-species - Homo Extendus Neckus Flexi) standing on their cars taking video tape to bring home and watch in the comfort of their sloth-nests. I make little shooting noises as I pretend to pick off my imaginary demons from the top of the Jersey Barrier between the lanes.
When I finally arrive at the Mansion, the Mrs is already there, trying to get every last thing crammed into the car for a 2 day trip. So much to do for such a short visit. While she manages the shipping and handling, I do the animal husbandry type stuff and get the dog kennel into the back of the car. I don't have much time since we have yet to spring the Twins from the Toddler Reeducation Camp and Detention Center. I jump back into the Super Saturn and race off while the Mrs stays behind and tends to some final details. Once I return to the Manor with the Excessively Adorable Twins in tow, they begin the weekend by insisting that we go play before having any dinner. There is no time for this, of course, and they proceed to display their disappointment in the most effective manner: shrill screaming.
In spite of the low-level resistance and minor insurgency, we manage to get some food and car-sickness medication into them before packing up the 25th Mobile Mechanized Infantry into the Family Tank. It's 1830 and we are on our way.
We are rolling down Byberry road when my cell phone sounds off. We've been under way for about 5 minutes now, so we have not even gotten anywhere near the Turnpike yet. I've been going through some meditation routines to keep a clear mind for the wonderful Friday Rush Hour experience. The Mrs answers the phone and it turns out that it is Grams in Chicago. Her flight from Chi-town to Philly has been delayed, thus, she will miss her connecting flight to Ithaca. She will have to stay overnight and will catch the 0900 on the following day in Philly. Well, that will not do. Sooooo, I turn around and head back home. We can't go apple picking on Saturday morning if Grams is not there. It just would not be the same. Her flight does not land until 2230 so we have a few hours to burn. It's a shame that we did not know about this from USAir before hand, we could have played in the sand-pit for a while instead of throwing gasoline on the fire. It's ok, we adapt and overcome when the need arises. Once we are back at the Manor, I start unpacking the Tank so that we can bring down one of the jump seats in the back. I will need to throw the Mechanized APC (double stroller) on the roof to do this. We have a soft-pack on the roof that I can put this inside of just in case it rains. It takes a long time to accomplish since it IS on the roof. That, and lacing the straps through the little buckles in the dark is not a task easily accomplished by someone who cannot feel his fingers very well. The frayed polyester straps bunch up and then tumble over the small plastic buckles, hard and unforgiving in the chilly fall air. Bitch, moan, repeat.
Hours later we are at PHX and I'm doing my best to avoid the various shuttle-buses, confused loved ones and irritated taxi drivers. No one is ever happy to be at this airport and every misfortunate soul that finds themselves in my predicament is in a fairly hostile mood. The plane landed at 2230 and was taxiing to the gate as I made my 4th circuit around the inner drive with the kids in tow. The omnipresent petrochemical exhaust and disconcerting lack of evenness of the roads was having a nauseating effect on me. I was worried that the kids would soon find it too much for their delicate systems and greet me with their version of a protest. The result would most likely push me over that fine line as well. Round and round we go, calling the Mrs every few loops to get an update. Plane has reached the gate and debarking. Grams has left the terminal. Sitting at the Luggage Claim and Disappointment area. Still. Waiting. Not here yet. Nothing. After an HOUR of waiting for the luggage, some frustrated passengers accost the remaining USAir/PHX staff that have not fled in hopes of getting some of their luggage so they can spend the night in the Lovely Adjunct Hotel. Well, since the plane was going to Ithaca the next day, they decided to leave the luggage in the hold and call it a night. And not tell anyone. Nice. And what are all these diabetic, hemopheliac AIDS passengers going to do without their medication and needles? Hmmmm? Bastards. You ever wonder why the airlines have problems retaining brand loyalty even with Friggen Flier Miles? I can tell you why the cut-rate airlines are eating their lunch ... because you get what you pay for. You know what to expect and if you pay for business class seats, you expect to at least to get a kiss before they screw you over. Cripes.
With Grams riding shotgun, we drive through the night to get to Ithaca. It is grueling. I stop for gasoline at Gibson on Interstate 81 at the Flying J. Lowest gas prices around. I'm so tired I cannot even figure out how to use the pumps. It takes the consultation of the Mrs and Grams to point out that when I run the card through, I need to grab the 'gas' pump and not the diesel one when selecting the grade I want. Haze and fog waft through my mind. I hear the faint breathing of the children and wife in the back seats. Grams is doing her best to have a conversation with me, but even that is unintelligible for both sides. It might as well have been the presidential debate. We roll into the Grams&Gramps happy funtime bed&bath at about 0445 and shuttle the little ones upstairs to their waiting beds. Shortly there after the luggage, dogs and weary travelers find their appropriate places and the din abruptly dies off.
Until 0700 ... when the kids wake up. Oh. My. GOD! Two thin hours of sleep and we are already off again. We bump into Big Little Brother Paul as he comes in from his 1800-0600 shift at work. He is exhausted and pretty much goes right to bed. I'm exhausted from getting out of bed. We grunt in each-other's general direction and move on. One of our big reasons for coming up this weekend is to go apple picking at the local organic orchard. It's organic because they just let the trees go. No pesticides, water, fertilizer ... nothing. They do whack some of the weeds down for so the customers can walk between the rows, but that is it. The ground is covered with apples in various states of decomposition. It is a prerequisite to keep your eyes on the ground to keep your rear from making a visit. The air is heavy with the pungent smell of rotten fruit. Pungent is a perfect fit here. Not a light, sweet perfume like flowers but not the soggy, laden punch in the face from fermentation. Just pungent. The kids didn't mind at all. They were grabbing apples from the ground faster than I could snatch them out of their grimy little paws. We found a couple of red-delicious apples that were fairly large and they went to town on them. I likened them to a full grown adult trying to finish off a pineapple the size of your head. Not a something you think you could accomplish. The kids did though. Alexis ate an apple plus while Jacob finished just under one apple. Wow. Their feast was punctuated by ladder climbing to get to the larger apples at the top branches and riding about in the back of the pickup. Mind you, this is private property so the whole car-seat-no-riders-in-the-back-of-a-pickup nonsense does not apply here. They were thrilled and Jacob is lusting after Gramps' truck. I can see him wearing plaid flannel in a truck with his dog on the way to his job at the rail-road. Such a typical little boy. With the help of the Dynamic Duo, we managed to load up with a bushel of huge apples and a bag of Asian pears for about 15$ ... not a bad price and the skins are not permeated with alar (daminozide).