Thursday, August 19, 2010
Before I get into more vacation shenanigans, let me tell you why we're here when it feels like I just left. Besides watching Jarret pitch, the main reason we all flew back to Bluefield this month was to help Jarret celebrate his 21st birthday. I know some of you can still remember the little preemie I brought home in 1989, the jaundiced peanut who grew quickly into a 30-pound infant who hung limply from my hip and caused a permanent hitch in my step. You remember the prune juice bottles and Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles kicks. You remember the day he picked up a Nerf golf ball with his left hand and threw a bullet into a desktop basketball hoop net (also the day, incidentally, when his dad began counting the days until he would teach Jarret to pitch left-handed).
Well, that was 21 years ago now.
When the clock turned midnight on Aug. 14, we began a birthday celebration that turned into a 24-hour festival of eating (mostly cake). At one point, Rob stared at me, bloated from cake, beer, or both, and said, "I have never seen a group of girls who can drag a birthday on for 24 hours." Between all our mini parties, Jarret received 4 cakes, 3 full meals, and tons of good times with his friends at... where else? Applebee's. A few players from his team joined us, and I watched as it became legal for people to put beer, shots, and every manner of alcohol in front of my son (wasn't it past his bedtime?). Never discount the weirdness of sitting at a table and sharing a beer with your first born.
Monday, August 16, 2010
Good to be back near the Appalachian Mountains, although I thought until today that they were the Blue Ridge Mountains (thank you, Google). In any case, I now feel much closer to the "Heywood Family," the fictional characters that haunt our local attraction,Talladega Frights, whose story I wrote last year. They are a clan of hillbilly killers living in the Appalachian Mountains who prey on unsuspecting travelers. (Que banjo music.)
Sweet Tea. We made it to Bluefield despite the "sweetea" (as my Dixie friend, Troy, calls it) that nearly killed us. In my last entry, I explained the stop we made at the local fast food restaurant, Bojangles. I didn't mention that with every combo comes a FREE sweetened ice tea. I know why it's free: They have to give it away because otherwise only people already missing their sugar-rotted teeth and void of taste buds would actually pay for it. I'm not a tea snob, but I do like to drink my ice tea, not chew it. I have as big a sweet tooth as the next self-respecting, nowhere-near-menopausal woman, but this "southern" delicacy (and yes, these accents are definitely southern) was so sweet that drinking it to quench your thirst is about as effective as drinking ocean water.
Eating. Because of Jarret's baseball schedule, all we seem to be doing is eating and sleeping. By the time the Orioles finish their game, Jarret showers and signs autographs (watching that never gets old) and we head to dinner. Applebee's is the only restaurant in Bluefield that stays open past 10:00. The entire town goes to sleep around 8, so choices are limited: find something at the 24-hour Walmart or eat at Applebee's. We eat at 10:30, visit until 1 a.m., sleep until 10, get up and do it all over again. I'm getting to the point now where I hate food.
Thursday, August 12, 2010
"Country roads, take me home, to the place... I belong, West Virginia, mountain momma, take me home... country roads."
John Denver, 1971
I'm back. This time we all made the trip, and minus the 32 hours Jarret flew home on Easter Sunday, this is the first time my entire family has been together since January. Awww, you think, isn't that great? Yes and no. To kick-off this version of the Bluefield Diaries (family edition), let's illustrate all the differences in traveling with the entire Martin clan.
Hotel lodging near LAX: Leaving so early on Tuesday, we had to spend the night in Los Angeles Monday night, which meant that everyone was going to sleep in the same room for the first time since the kids stopped sleeping the heavy, almost drugged sleep of toddlers. Fine for me--not fine for the girls (18 and 16), as they weren't prepared for the thunder-like snoring I've learned to sleep with during the course of a 21-year marriage. No one slept that night but Rob. So begins our trip--with two grumpy teenage girls. (Remember the grumpy part.)
And for the record: That really great deal I got through Hotwire for a 4-star hotel room ceased to be a great deal when they charged us $20 to park overnight.
Airport/Flight: Leaving for LAX bright and early and with plenty of time for security, the girls and I checked us in at United Airlines while Rob parked the car in the longterm lot. We waited for him at security to give him his license and boarding pass. Security was stunningly short (5 minutes), and I think I know why: As my purse, shoes, belt, laptop, and the bomb I packed went down the conveyor belt, I glanced up at the TSA agent, who was yawning and looking over at his buddy instead of at the X-ray screen. For the record, in all my flights since the haunt convention, this is the first agent to be anything but vigilant. For another record, I didn't really pack my bomb (in case Big Brother is reading this).
Next thing I knew, we were on the tarmac to leave on a 5-hour flight to Orlando, where we would connect to Charlotte, NC. I had a lot of time to sit there and think about my travel planning. We didn't push out on time, so I unfolded my itinerary and looked at the departure time of our next flight. Hmm...I cut our itinerary close, but it wasn't impossible; we would have about 30 minutes to make our flight once we landed. But why weren't we taking off? American Airlines always left on time--why wasn't United? I looked at my watch. 15 minutes past takeoff. Ok, we could make our next flight. We began to taxi around the various runways, and I felt myself begin to relax until we passed every runway at LAX. We taxied past at least three dozen runways until at one point I began to wonder if we were going to drive to Orlando instead. I looked at my watch again; we were nearing 30 minutes late. By the time we finally took off, we were 45 minutes late. I wasn't a math major, but I could guess we would be running in Orlando.