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Tuesday, June 9, 2009

Nights in South of Rodanthe

Part One:

I’m a bad blogger. I dropped the ball. I didn’t post at all last week while on vacation.

I know. I know. Now, most people would be like, “Why would you?” Well, the answer is clear, at least to my wife, my laptop is surgically attached to my lap. While I am sure it is doing irreparable damage to my reproductive organs, it also wouldn’t do well in salt water, so I detached it for a week. That’s not to say I was completely offline. I checked up on emails, pondered a couple of shirt designs and basically farmed my virtual farm on Facebook, which seems to have disappeared, suddenly. Perhaps a virtual twister has swept it off to a virtual Oz, complete with virtual flying monkeys. Last I heard, though, it’s back, bringing peace and tranquility back to the masses.

Oh, am I rambling? Do you want to know all about my trip? Well, I just happened to have my pictures here, go figure. Want to see the home movies? OK, kidding. I would like to give you a boring rundown of the entire week. If anything, it serves as a how to manual if not a “What not to do.” I have had some bad luck with the Outer Banks before and going back there is always an adventure. So, over the course of the week, I’ll give you a pseudo journal of notes I kept in order to share when I got home. Let’s start with the prep and work our way from there.

Day -7
I have a lot to do before leaving next Saturday. First off, I need to cancel the other existing car rental. I had originally gone with Company A and secured a van to become the “Family Truckster.” After talking with the guy who sold us our normal FT I was persuaded to use Company B because Company A would screw up the rental, overcharge us, and generally make our lives a living hell…according to him. I had made the reservation with Company B and then had reservations…sorry, there’s laughter in my head. Anyway, I can’t in good conscience go with a company that has an employee playing Madden 09 in the lobby while I’m trying to do business. Also, because my wife is a bit of an obsessive compulsive, I had to keep checking to make sure I had the right vehicle. I needed something big enough for 7 passengers. There’s only five of us going but we need room for all our stuff and our daughter’s entire world.

Company B tried to stick us with an SUV and yet I explained that I already had a Mini Van reserved somewhere else at the same price….dance puppet. Once I reiterated my requirements I was quoted a higher price. The girl in clubbing attire behind the counter informed me that SUVs are down in price now and Mini Vans are up. I didn’t know there was a season for Mini Vans. I told her hold the reservation and I’ll work something out…which is code for, “You’re my back up plan for last call. If I can’t find a better girl to go home with, you’ll still be available.” I promptly left and went a mile down the road to Company A and reinstated my reservation. I accepted the price hike but realized that the roles had been reversed in our Car Salesman’s Tale of Two Car Rental Companies. I now had two reservations, one for either a Dodge Grand Caravan or a Toyota Sienna.

With this all said and done, it was time to give Miss Thang at Company B her walking papers. Instead of dealing with them in person, I took the coward way out and cancelled my reservation online. It was a good thing, too. The rental was for a Ford Taurus. I didn’t know they made a Mini Van in the Taurus model.

Car – Check

Day -6
The rains have been heavy and so are the hearts of the men….signed G Washington….It has been raining an unusual amount here and the yard needs to be cut before we leave. I just don’t know when I will have the time. I have to help clean the house….boo hiss… and update the iPod for the road trip. Cutting the grass would take less time. I haven’t updated my iPod in over a year. I haven’t even listened to it in the car. Too much work. I’ve given up music for NPR. All Things Considered, Car Talk, Wait Wait Don’t Tell Me, and Fresh Air are on my playlist now. Though, I wouldn’t be too shy to plug the iPod back in during pledge week, that sucks.

Memorial Day is just ahead and Sci-Fi is running a Land of the Lost marathon. This takes precedence over everything. Imagine, 21 and a half hours of rubber suited monsters, Harryhausen style claymation dinosaurs, and really cheesy acting complete in 70’s fashion. Childhood regression at its finest. I only hope the DVR doesn’t shit the bed.

Day -5
My DVR shit the bed. While that gets sorted out, I guess I’ll help clean the house. Oh and there’s shopping at the store. Oh joy.

Day -4
Ok, the yard is finally cut. My wife opted to help get things moving as the grass was so high and wet, the bagger mower would have taken another three days to use as the only source of mowing. The front yard wasn’t that bad and didn’t need bagged or even raked. The house still needs a sprucing up one more time as four cats have a steady hand in furring up the place.

Day -3
One more call to Company A per my wife confirms I will either have a Grand Caravan or a Sienna. All is well. The iPod is still updating….or I’m stuck on an error and forgot to hit OK.

Day -2
Welcome to Day -2. It’s Thursday to all you non technical people. I have the iPod updated, a few shirt designs under my belt and a my crop rotation on Farm Town is optimal for harvesting when I have a moment to crack open the laptop during the trip. I know my wife is cursing the fact that we will have Wi-Fi at the beach house but I told her it would be essential for checking on times and menus for dinner locations since everything in the OBX seems to close at 9pm. I learned that on my first trip to the dreaded Post Apocalyptic Pool Hall in the Outer Banks. I wonder if that place is still there. If it is, that dead thing on top of the cigarette machine near the actual Poll Hall of the Post Apocalypse is probably still there.

Before we leave, I have to de-fur the couches and clean up all my junk. My wife came up with an ingenious and time saving way to de-fur the couches. I’m used to applying this rubber pet brush to the couches to collect the fur then suck it up with the hose from our canister vac. My wife tried the Oreck, applied directly to the cushions and it works just as well. I don’t suffer from allergy attacks and I’m done in half the time.

Day -1
It’s Friday and the first official day of my vacation. I took off work to get the Family Truckster, pack said Truckster, and get a nap before driving 12 hours at 1 AM. Guess which task I’m not going to get done. You got it. Fortunately, I have an ample supply of Red Bull and Stay Awake at the ready.

I went with my Father in Law to pick up the FT. Dodge Grand Caravan, baby! I was actually pretty stoked about this van. I used to drive one for the hotel I worked at and really liked it. There was no Captain’s Chairs in the second row, but the stow and go feature would be put to good use in packing the sucker. I’m about to use every available cubic foot of space in this beast and have room for four adults and one toddler in a car seat. Sliding passenger doors on both side will be great for getting the baby in and out and with one touch open and close from the key chain, I can get that thing open before we get out the door.

On the way back, I stopped at the In Laws to pack up their stuff. Three suitcases, a CPAP bag, shoulder bag, and three pillows later, I’m at the homestead for our luggage. We added two suitcases, a back pack, CPAP bag, kids sand toys, house toys, blankets for the beach, DVD player, lap top bag, two shopping bags for food, a Coleman cooler in the back and a smaller shoulder strap cooler for the trip, clothes basket, and three more pillows. We are loaded. Unfortunately, the nap is going to be scrubbed.

Day 1
It’s now 1 AM and we are off to pick up my In Laws for the trip. We arrived by 1:15 and expected to be on the Turnpike by 1:30 to meet my wife’s sister at another exit by 2 AM. We made it almost a mile before turning around. My Father in Law forgot something. By 1:45 we were off and running. No turning back now. We passed the point of no return, the on ramp to the PA Turnpike, and kept on moving through the night. We shut off the iPod after three songs…go figure.

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