A couple of months ago my cousin Jess sent us an invitation to her parents' 40th anniversary celebration in Connecticut. As we are still recovering from the unexpected expense of my flight up there for my grandmother's funeral flying up there was not an option, but since we have a newish car we decided that a road trip was possible. So Mrs. Marius put in for a week off from work, and was granted the time. Joyously we planned our route to include visiting my brother, her brother, and my podcast co-host Karen ere we arrived in New England. On paper it seemed a good plan even though it meant that we would not spend two consecutive nights anywhere, but it also meant that we would only need a hotel room on two of the seven nights of our journey. So we packed up our stuff and readied to depart. Of course Rudy, my globe-trotting guard sloth demanded to come along.
The first leg of our trip was uneventful and we arrived at my brother's place in South Carolina in time for a pizza feast. Beer was consumed and dogs were petted, and then we turned in. The next morning we were taken to breakfast, and my brother loaned us his GPS unit to aid in our travels. Then we headed for parts north only thirty minutes later than we had planned. All seemed well, and we were on course for a dinner meeting with Karen and her beloved in Maryland.
Now some of you may be aware that the United States is peppered with a variety of bizarre and tacky roadside attractions, and the epitome of such places is South of the Border on the North Carolina/South Carolina state line. It is a haven of concrete statues, crappy tourist stores, and dubious ethnic sensitivity with a stereotypically 50's Mexican theme:
The most prominent feature of South of the Border is a giant sombrero tower that one can ride up to the brim of for a dollar. Rudy wouldn't shut up until we took him up there, but the view was actually worth the buck.
It took a bit of coaxing to get Rudy off the jackalope statue:
But we enticed him with ice cream, and were soon on our way again. I had figured in this diversion to our travel plans, so we were still on our way to meet Karen in time for dinner. Alas, it turned out that it was not to be. It seems that I-95 from a few miles into North Carolina on north is almost completely under construction. We were caught in several traffic snarls, the worst of which caused us to take an hour to go 14 miles! We had to contact Karen and we agreed to meet for drinks rather than dinner since none of us could go that long without eating. But traffic notwithstanding we arrived in Maryland and our first hotel stay without too much difficulty. We freshened up and were picked up by my crewmate and her significant other and we went to a local Mexican restaurant. We snacked, and drank, and laughed, and had a wonderful time...well, except for one brief but painful bit. If you are dining at a Mexican place, and they bring you a small cup with what looks like grilled slices of green pepper in it, be careful. They turned out to be grilled jalapenos. You haven't lived until your tongue tries to leave your mouth of its own accord. But other than that it was a joyous, if all too brief, encounter. After a couple of hours the ladies could no longer stifle their yawns, and as they had to be up for work in the morning we called it a night. We repaired back to the hotel, and sleep came quickly.
The next leg of our journey took us to Brooklyn to bring my brother-in-law some boxes of stuff that we were tasked by his parents to get out of their garage. Getting in to the city was a bit tricky, not to mention expensive, but we arrived with little trouble. We unloaded and then went for a bit of a walkabout that culminated with us walking across the Brooklyn Bridge:
Finally we made our way back to the train and went back to the BIL's place. His finace joined us, and they cooked a marvelous dinner, then we all turned in again. Morning found us walking a few blocks to get coffee and muffins, and ere too long we were once again wending our way north.
Our next destination was just over the Connecticut/Massachusetts border where we visited my paternal cousin Pam and her husband and kids. The young'ns were quite pleased to have new people to climb on, and we both had one or both of them attached to us pretty much the whole time we were there. Dinner was another banquet, and there was much merriment. My other cousin, Patty, joined us for dinner as well, and a grand time was had by all. In the morning we packed up and went to visit my grandfather, who had gone into the hospital for blood pressure issues just before we arrived. He was in good spirits, though, and was thrilled to finally meet my wife. It was a good visit and we promised to stop in to visit on our way home. Then it was time to head to my aunt's place for the party.
I neglected to mention that this party was a complete surprise to my aunt and uncle. Jess had told them that she would be in Maine that weekend, and her brother and his wife had convinced my aunt and uncle to take their kids so they could 'enjoy their own anniversary' unencumbered. Thus removed from the house a grand party was set up complete with DJ and about 25 guests or so. When my aunt and uncle arrived they were, to say the least, shocked. I held back a bit so the cousins could get the first well-deserved hugs:
When we were finally spotted I had to tell my aunt several times that we were there for the party before she believed that there was no tragedy involved. Then we had a great time at the party.(and yes, that's me in the background singing. My aunt asked me to sing for them.)
We had a warm and comfortable family reunion once the guests departed, then we all went to bed. Breakfast the next day was with my paternal uncle and his family. Good food and lots of it, and then back to the hospital to say goodbye to my grandfather, then we headed home.
The trip back was uneventful but long. We went back to my brother's house to return the GPS and visit a bit more. We took them to breakfast then began the final leg of the trip. We were home by 7pm and the kitties were almost as happy to see us as we were to be home. It was a great trip, but if we do something like this again we'll either fly, or take more time off.