Friday, July 23, 2010

Backtime Road Trip Day 16: The Voyage Home

This entry's subtitle was borrowed from Star Trek IV. As a plot refresher, Captain Kirk and the USS Enterprise crew had just commandeered a Klingon Bird of Prey and traveled through time and space to late 20th century San Francisco to transport humpback whales to the future to save humanity.

I merely transported some precious cargo through 15 states in 16 days, but we returned home and humanity was still intact.

When we left Busch Gardens last night, daughter fell sound asleep almost as soon as we got in the car. So as we foraged for takeout dinner and snacks on the back roads outside Williamsburg, I put us in the hands of my GPS to get us to our hotel in the northernmost part of North Carolina. Bad move.

Garmin directed me to the Jamestown Ferry. I was not prepared for this, so I chickened out, doubled back to I-64 and lost an hour. In retrospect, it may have worked.

So we wheeled into Roanoke Rapids NC right around 10 PM. I threw the bags on a luggage cart and propped a sleeping son on top of the pile. Daughter had woken up from her nap, so Gramps took her out for some late-night chow.

We woke up and saw the weather report for the region. High of 103 with heat indexes approaching 115. Good thing we were headed south.

First stop was to drop off my dad at RDU for his one-way flight back to JFK. His contributions were tremendous on the evening drives the last two nights. And there's no way I would have made it through Busch Gardens with the two kids without him.

Then we had a 5-hour drive home from there. Remarkably, we only made one stop. It was a place I had seen several times, but never visited - the iconic Carolina travel respite.

South Of The Border...let's just say there's truth in advertising. There was virtually no AC, smoking allowed everywhere, and no restrooms in the restaurant or the gas station. Instead there was a public restroom building next door that was just as gamy as you can imagine. Think of a below-average gas station bathroom, but 20 times the size.

And the restaurant was a real greasy spoon.

The kids were good with their hotdogs, but I decided to go native applying the "When In Rome" philosophy south of the border. I went with the beef and bean enchilada with the Mexi-fries. Wasn't half-bad (tasting). Would I pay later? At least I'd be home when I found out.

It was a very smooth and uneventful 3 hours home from there. And after the trip of their lives, the kids got home to a very happy reunion.

My dad asked me last night if the trip was everything I wanted it to be. I thought for a minute.

Maybe I should have re-connected with more people than I did back in NYC. But much like my situation, a lot of my friends' lives are not their own anymore.

Maybe I shouldn't have tried to cross Pennsylvania in one day, and bunked up back in Syracuse for a night. But that's easily tabled for another summer.

That's all. The kids never cried once that they wanted to go home. They were as into the adventure as I was. I devised a strong plan, and it was executed without (much) drama. The trip was everything I wanted it to be. And now, I was glad to be home.

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