Thursday, November 25, 2010

A Better Homecoming

Seems like the family's back in stride on the Thanksgiving thing. Last year was a bit haphazard, given that my dad had died just a week prior. Much of our thoughts were on processing the emotions of that event and taking care of the mountain of bureaucracy that death lays at the survivors' feet.

On Tuesday evening, Donna and I packed up supplies and our dogs into the family truckster and headed northwards. My mom still lives in the town I grew up in - Carlisle, PA. It's about 120mi northish of Alexandria.

In general, it takes us about three hours to get there on the major holidays: an hour (or so) to get past the northern interior suburbs of DC (i.e., past Bethesda/Rockville/Gaithersburg) and then another hour or so to cover the remaining distance. In other words, we spend about 50% of the total travel time covering just the first 30% of the trip's distance. I hate DC traffic.

We left around 19:30. We didn't go directly to my mom's house, but, instead, stopped at the Wegman's in Camp Hill to pick up some stuff Donna needed for the turkey-day meal. Afterwards, we dropped by Your Place to pick up some frozen strombolis to take back to DC (they're not especially great, they just taste like "home"). Since we'd arrived after 22:00 at the grocery store, all of the Wegman's prepared foods had already been packed up for the day. So, having only had breakfast, I opted to pick up an additional fresh/hot `boli to take to my mom's house to eat for dinner.

We left Camp Hill for the final leg of the trip to Carlisle. My mom lives north of Carlisle. Typically, when we go straight there, from DC, I take Route 34 all the way up from US-15. That wasn't really an option, given that we'd detoured to Camp Hill. The GPS told me I should take US-11 back to Carlisle. Wasn't in the mood to do that, so, I turned north on PA-114, instead. The GPS suggested I might want to take I-81. Again, wasn't in the mood to follow its instructions. Instead, I kept heading down PA-114 till we hit Wertzville Road.

Now, Wertzville Road is one of those twisty-turny back roads you find all over PA. It was great fun as a teenager in a car packed full of friends. As an adult in an SUV on a dark, windy night, it wasn't as much fun as I remembered. However, the memories of high-tailing it down that road made it a more enjoyable trip. Donna loved it because, being so off the beaten path, there was very little in the way of light pollution meaning that she could see the stars in a way you can't see in the suburbs of DC. The dogs? They mostly just sat in the back seat and farted.

We finally arrived at my mom's house around 11PM. We unloaded the truck and started settling in. I set down to eating my stromboli while Mom and Donna caught up and made plans for the week.

All in all, much better than the prior year's urgent drive to PA to be by my mom's side in the wake of my dad's death.

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