So we're back (except for the OG, who is visiting her Virginia cousin until the weekend), slowly beginning the transition from summer to school year. The extended weekend, centred on my grandmother's 100th birthday party in the 1,000 islands hamlet of Gananoque (more on that tomorrow) involved a ridiculously complicated ballet of pick-ups and meet-ups that, for the most part, ended in success.
The story begins with my 13 hour drive from the Triangle to Gananoque. I left at about 8 AM, armed with music and talk on my Ipad, as the connection on my Iphone cannot seem to abide the use of a mini cable plugged into the AUX jack on the radio. After I lost WUNC, near the Virginia border on I-81, I discovered that the ability to shuffle through my entire music collection (and to thus be surprised with evocative glimpses of past lives) was not as readily available as it is on the phone or the Ipod. So to pass the time, I called up a Genius playlist I had assembled awhile ago, inspired by Edwin Starr's classic 25 Miles. I must admit that, whether due to clever algorithms or lucky guesses, this set is a classic. If you ever want to introduce someone to Motown and 70s-era soul, or to go a little deeper into the genres, I highly recommend this playlist:
So that got me to Virginia, where, while stopping for gas, I learned, via smartphone, that, although the helpful folks at Apple would prefer that you do all of your shuffle-type playing using the genius (which destroys the delightful possibility of highly unlike songs you love being paired together), there are ways to shuffle through mp3s the way our forefathers did.
Beyond one more stop for gas and food in the afternoon, a couple of brief roadwork delays and a series of cloudbursts that slowed traffic to a crawl for ten minute increments, the trip was as smooth as any I've made in the past; and the border guard, on learning that I was headed to a party for a centenarian, expressed no interest in inspecting my luggage, which of course contained two clandestine magnums of champagne.
I arrived at my parents around 9:30, giving me time to socialize, and the freedom to sleep late and relax the following day, before heading off to St. Louis to pick up the BG from Animal Camp. I was scheduled to arrive Friday night, to stay at an airport hotel, and to drive the 2 hours to Rolla Missouri in the morning, where I would be treated to a tour of the facility, an introduction to her chinchillas, and a return to Syracuse, where we were scheduled to meet up with Worldwide, returning from Cambodia.
This is when things started to go agley. I got a message on Friday morning, informing me that my flight was delayed, a fact, which would probably cause me to miss my connection. After talking to an agent, I decided to hope for a commensurate delay on the Cleveland flight, and, barring that, a flight out the next morning, that would still get me to the camp on time.
For reasons known only to United Airlines, the one hour delay in Syracuse turned into four, and I did not get into Cleveland until midnight. I also found out, that, since I had booked my St. Louis hotel through a booking agent (which all of the top links on a Google Search for airport hotels seemed to be), I was obligated to pay for one night of my planned one-night stay. Note to self: I will never do that again.
So I paid for a second hotel, warmed up my first-ever "Hot Pocket" from the Hilton's "Pantry" (disappointing) and went to sleep in Cleveland. For the second time in two tries. The next morning, I caught the 7 am shuttle to the airport, boarded the plane on time, and then sat on the tarmac for 90 minutes, while the airport staff tried to figure out how to get the conveyor belts moving again, so that they could load the bags.
That delay means that I was going to miss the tour, and that the BG and I would be hard pressed to get back in time to catch our 4 pm return to Syracuse. I called the camp to let them know that I would be arriving late, and jumped into my rental car, silently thankful for the state's embrace of the 70 mph speed limit.
I got to the camp at noon, where a teary BG was none too happy about being the last kid picked up. Luckily though, the counsellors, who were surely anxious to get out as well, had packed her up completely, and in ten minutes, we were back on the road, arriving at the airport with enough time for a sit-down lunch and an ice cream cone before our flight left. We made our connection through Chicago (thankfully avoiding Cleveland this time) and Worldwide was there to meet us in Syracuse, groggy from the Phnom Penh-Tokyo-Chicago-Syracuse journey, but happy nonetheless.
We retrieved the car I had driven down on Friday, and drove up to Gananoque for two days of parties, followed by a drive down to DC on Tuesday, overnight at the in-laws', and a return home on Wednesday, after Worldwide finished a morning meeting in Dupont Circle. I did all the driving, as she was still not entirely in the Eastern time zone, and I am awfully glad that it's behind me now.
One can only imagine how we will top this next summer.