Monday, July 23, 2012

Dispatches from the Road

You'll recall my parents from their adventures at Burning Man. I, of course, recall them from the years they spent raising me/installing the amusing and entertaining package of neuroses that kept my therapist in cute shoes for many years.

For the past few summers, they've gone on a three-week road trip across the US, including a stop to visit my brother in Austin, where he keeps them fed and watered and away from overly large fires. Because he's not going to push his luck after managing to not break them at Burning Man. This year's trip included a stop in Colorado for my dad's cousin's daughter's wedding.

This past trip, my Dad emailed me, my brother, and my Aunt Bea (my mom's sister) every night from the road. And now, with permission (and with necessary explanations inserted where possible), I will share them with you.

Three bits of necessary explanation before we begin. 1. They bought a Prius shortly before leaving, and as you may know, they get amazing mileage. 2. HA and I have been renting a Prius to visit The Kid. 3. Unlike my Dad, we have been paying exactly zero attention to the miles per gallon we're getting because on every trip we're just trying to fucking get there already.

As I like to say at DWNY (Doctor Who NY) gatherings, some of us are more Asperger's than others. In my mother's defense, she hasn't seen these emails even though Dad signed her name to them. For all we know, they have a team blog that she doesn't know about either.

6/17 Here we are.
We have stopped for the night in Carlisle, PA. We bought gas in NJ and three weeks of back and forth to school and down the NJ tpke took only 4 gallons of gas for almost 200 miles. My own calculations tell me the pump shut off one gallon short which means 40 miles to the gallon not 50. In any event another 120 miles had the car indicating 45.3 miles per gallon. Obviously we are delighted with the results.

We feel we have made a good start for the trip so we will not have to drive mega hours during the week.

Take care of one another. An extra hug for each of you from us. Love to all of you.

Mom and Dad

Jen's commentary: Riveting, right? It really brings the trip alive. Imagine it being read in voiceover during a Ken Burns documentary.

6/18 Here we are...600+
HELLO All,

Here we are in Dayton,Ohio. We are roughly 600+ miles into our trip. Our gas mileage is quite remarkable. The best numbers we saw today was 47.8 mpg. We ended the day at 47.6 mpg. By leaving on Sunday we got enough of a head start so we will not have to push getting top Colorado on time.

BTW Bea, how did you and Brian make out with the orthopedist? We hope Brian is feeling better.

Love to all of you,

Loretta and Art

Jen's commentary: Apparently either my Uncle Brian or my cousin Brian needed to go to the orthopedist, but the injury wasn't severe enough for anyone to bother telling me. Then again, a bus once fell on this specific uncle, so one would imagine that all other injuries pale in comparison.

6/18 from Jen to Dad
Hi Dad,

How are the non-mileage parts of the trip? Any good restaurants? Roadside Elvis sightings?

Jen

6/19 Tuesday Night
Ok. We are in St. Charles, MO. Just past St. Louis. We hope to get to Durango either Thursday evening or Friday Morning. Planned stop in mid Kansas tomorrow night and hopefully into Durango by Thursday night or early Friday morning.

As for Elvis, no sightings.

As for restaurants, Sunday evening in Carlisle, PA, we had dinner at the Middlesex Diner. It is a full service diner with a very complete menu along with a special menu for Father's Day. Last night we had dinner at O' Charley's. This is a chain restaurant which has a Louisiana Sirloin with a Cajan rub and a spicy garlic and cayenne butter that is a delight to the palete. Lunch yesterday was at Cracker Barrel which was up to their usual standard. Today were had lunch at an Arby's where Mom had the Ultimate BLT.

Dinner tonight was at a Denny's since we wanted to eat a lighter meal.

Love to everyone from Loretta and

Jen's commentary: Seriously, he just cut off like that. Did he fall asleep on the Send button? Was he attacked by a passing armadillo, but managed to send the e-mail before fending it off? I'll never know.

6/21 Trinidad Colorado?
Yes Colorado not the Carribean. After two long days pushing on to Wichata Kansas and Trinidad Colorado we are within striking distance, 261 miles, 4.5 hours of driving to Durango. We saw entirely too much of Kansas. We chose to leave Garmin's route to go south from Dodge City Kansas. This saved a bunch of miles buy put us in the middle of the most desolate territory we ever saw. Mom said she wanted to see Kansas but not that much. 98% of the time we saw fields on both sides of the road and little else. Almost no traffic on the rood. The high points were seeing grain elevators and at one. a grain filled train of about 100 hopper cars.

There was even less traffic once we got to Colorado but mountains in the distance greatly improved our view. While it was the road less traveled it was faster as long as you did not need a bathroom. Loretta was happy that she was not chased by tractor trailers in Colorado.

I tried to write last night in Wichata, but the Wifi did not let me address the e-mail.

Bea, we hope Brian continues to improve.

Love to you all,

Loretta and Art

Jen's commentary: Mom reports that Dad almost lost his mind at the hotel clerk when the hotel WiFi didn't work. Apparently, sending these emails were as critical to the success of their trip as actually getting to Durango, CO in time for the wedding.

6/22 Durango at last
Here we are safe and sound in Durango, Colorado. We are getting ready to attend the rehearsal dinner/casual BarBQue. More later.

Love to all,

Loretta and Art

Jen's commentary: No, I don't know when he started spelling barbecue that way or why. Aunt Bea replied to all that Brian was just about healed, but didn't say which Brian or what he had healed from. The mystery continues.

6/24 From Durango to Four Corners to the Grand Canyon...almost
We started from Durango when rett returned from Church. There was much discussion regarding US 160 and the Mancos fire. We saw the fire start Friday night and it got worse and worse. We got lucky with the road open. When we got to the border we stopped at the four corners monument where the states of Colorado, Arizona, Utah and New Mexico come together. We both got to stand on all four states at the same time. This is kind of ironic. The place where four states of the United States come together is in Navaho Indian Territory. After a little shopping at booths of Native American artists it was on to the Grand Canyon. We stopped for the night at a trading post in Cameron Arizona just short of our goal.

We tour the Grand Canyon tomorrow then we will stay in Williams AZ tomorrow night. We plan to go on to Prescott, AZ for a visit with my uncle Steve. We hope to go on to Mesa, AZ and visit my uncle Aaron.

Love and Hugs to you from us.

Mom and Dad
Loretta and Art

Jen's commentary: I don't even know what's up with the double signature there. I'm sure it makes perfect sense to my Dad, but I'm way too freaked out that he has an uncle Steve who I've never heard of. Ever. Uncle Aaron, yes. We used to live down the block from him. Before we moved off that street and he moved to Arizona. And we sent him a DVD of our wedding since he couldn't make it in. But Steve? Never heard of him.

6/26 Now in Mesa Arizona
Last night after a fabulous day at the Grand Canyon, seeing the canyon, learning about the Geology and the formation of the canyon, visiting a museum of ancient inhabitants of the canyon and then visiting the ruins of what we saw in the museum and then visiting the geology museum overlooking the canyon, we were all tuckered out. It was so beautiful it was almost unbelievable.

After spending the evening and early morning in Williams, Arizona, the center of the Route 66 memorabilia, we headed for Prescott Arizona, home of my uncle Steve. He has become an expert in making videos out of still photos. His current project is working with photos of the Grand Canyon. He showed us some of his work and gave us a copy of a Blu-Ray disk of the work. Loretta said she will use it along with DVD's we purchased at the gift shops as part of her lessons in the fall.

We then moved on to Mesa, Arizona where my uncle Aaron lives. We were too tired to see him today so made arrangements to see him tomorrow.

More tomorrow.

Love to all,

Loretta and Art

Jen's commentary: So we're back to the single signature, presumably because Dad has remembered that his children know their first names. But he hasn't remembered that we have no idea who his Uncle Steve is. Mom is a science teacher, hence the mention of lessons. I'm not even going to count how many times he used the word "canyon," but it seems excessive, yes?

6/28 Back up in Northern Arizona
So we left the hotel in Mesa and went to see my Uncle Aaron and his wife Paula in Leisure World. Paula was busy in her jewelry workshop so Aaron took us on a tour of Leisure World. We saw a few homes and then went to the Recreation Center. We met up with Paula and then saw the wood shop, fitness center and other facilities there. After picking up Paula we went to lunch and then departed for the Meteor Crater which is located between Flagstaff and Winslow.

We decided to stop in Flagstaff and set out for the Meteor Crater in the morning. After dinner we did some laundry and called it a day. That's why I'm doing this e-mail so late.

The weather here has been extremely HOT! 107 degrees yesterday and 111 today. While driving North we encountered a small rain shower, (less than a dozen drops hit the windshield.) We are hoping that by being in Northern Arizona we will escape the worst of the heat wave from the south.

So be well all of you, hugs and kisses all around.

Loretta and Art

Jen's commentary: Yes, there is a retirement community in Arizona called Leisure World. In my mind, it should be 1960s Vegas lounge singer chic, which I'm sure it isn't. I love how shocked he sounds that it's fuck all hot in Arizona in the summer. And we're from the Northeast--since when is a dozen drops a rain shower? I would've suspected that road madness was setting in, but they'd just been hanging at Leisure World.

6/28 on Route 66 in Gallop, New Mexico
We had a very interesting day today. We left Flagstaff and arrived in the early AM at the Meteor Crater. 50,000 years ago a meteorite traveling 26,000 miles per hour hit the earth and created a huge crater. Originally thought to be a volcanic eruption it was later determined to be the result of a meteorite impact. We then went on to Gallup, New Mexico where we chose to spend the night.

More tomorrow,

Hugs to all.

Love,

Loretta and Art

Jen's Commentary: In other words: science, science, science, OK bye.

6/29 Santa Fe, New Mexico
We had a relatively quiet day today. Left Gallup heading east on I40. We decided to check out the native american market outside the palace of the governors in Santa Fe. There was a gift shop on the square as well and the qift shop of the New Mexico Museum of Art. Both shops had items that caught our eyes.

Then we found a Quality Inn with a Chinese restaurant attached and we stopped for the night.

That's it for now.

Hugs all around.

Loretta and Art

Jen's commentary: If it's so fucking hot in the Southwest, why are they spending so much time there? A Chinese restaurant in New Mexico? I can't even.

6/30 From Santa Fe New Mexico to Sweetwater Texas
Finally in Texas. We spent the day on the road for the most opast of the day. We stopped in Sweetwater TX, with just under 250 miles to go to Austin.

We hope to arrive at [brother and sister-in-law's] house in the late afternoon.

Nothing else to report now.

Good Night and hugs all around.

Love,

Loretta and Art

Jen's commentary: yeah, I hear Texas is big and requires much driving to traverse.

7/1 Austin at last
We finally made it to D&M's house. Dave took us out to dinner at an excellent Italian restaurant not far from the house.

That's it for now we are both exhausted.

Bye for Now

Loretta and Art

Jen's commentary: Italian food in Texas? Yeah, fine whatever. When they got back, Mom told me that it was run by transplanted New Yorkers and that they give you extra to take home and they each got something like 3 meals out of that one dinner. So I guess it's good that the food was actually good because having tons of leftover crappy food sucks. Also? My brother has managed to win my parents over his opinion that you can't get good Tex Mex food in Austin. Have I mentioned that my brother is a curmudgeon whose taste buds have lost their minds?

7/5 On the Way Home
We left Austin today and headed for Texarkana Arkansas using a route designed to avoid the rush hour traffic in Dallas. However the route involved so many towns where we had to slow down we did not make it out of Texas today. We stopped in Atlanta, Texas. We missed Arkansas by "that much."

Tomorrow we continue our trip home. Our goal is to arrive Sunday or Monday.

We'll see you soon.

Love to all,

Loretta and Art

Jen's commentary: Apparently, Dad was having so much fun visiting my brother that email reports were unnecessary. Or as my brother would put it, Dad was so busy driving him crazy that he didn't have time for email reports. To which I say, Dude, you're the one who moved halfway across the country so that you had to take your dose of parents all at once. I get them more often, but in much smaller doses, so neener.

7/6 A 10 mile backup on the road!!
We were pushing on this second day of our trip home, our goal was to get a bit past Nashville. However we encountered a ten mile backup with little or no progress for over a half hour.

When we finally saw the reason for the delay we understood the delay. A FedEx double trailer had left the road and overturned. The first trailer was intact but on its side. The second trailer was also on its side but had lost its wheels. The cab of the tractor was totally destroyed. It looked like a major extrication case cut the cab apart. Mom thinks she saw an ambulance leave the scene presumably with the FedEx driver as their patient.

So we concluded the drive for the day about 20 miles short of Nashville.

Hugs to everyone.

Love,

Loretta and Art

Jen's commentary: We got this right after getting stuck in ridiculous traffic by Yankee stadium on our way to pick up The Kid for an afternoon visit at our place. Thanks to this traffic, we got to spend all of an hour and 45 minutes in our apartment with the kid and that was only because the people picking her up were 45 minutes late. So my reaction to this news was less than sympathetic.

7/7 Wytheville, VA
This morning we went to get gas. We encountered a FedEx driver. We had learned that the driver of the truck that went off the road yesterday did not survive. We expressed our condolences and got involved in a long discussion.

We were then able to hit the road. We aimed for some point on I-81 between Bristol,
Tennesee and Roanoke, Virginia and ended up about in the middle, Wytheville, VA.

As of now, we expect to arrive home on Monday. The Weather Channel is predicting severe weather for Pennsylvania and New Jersey tonight and possibly tomorrow. We hope to get through without any problems.

That's it for now. Hugs all around.

Love,

Loretta and Art

Jen's commentary: How do they manage to always do this? They were both volunteer EMTs for 20 years, so car accidents, etc are total their thing. Of course they'd just happen to run into someone who could tell them that the driver in the accident died. And of course I would have to have this information relayed to me. This was dinner time conversation while I was growing up.

7/8 Carlisle, PA
After a full day of driving we stopped in Carlisle, PA. It's the same place we stopped on our first day of travel.

We expect to be home tomorrow afternoon. ......

So...G'nite,,,Hugs all around.

Love,

Loretta and Art

Jen's Commentary: And that's it. They called everyone when they got home, so there was no need for one last email. And when they called, I said, "but the mileage?! What about the mileage?" They scored something like 47.6 miles per gallon, so yay them.

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