Wednesday, August 29, 2007

Vacation, All I Ever Wanted (Day 1)

First, a special shout out to my folks for handling the first week of the 2-week gap. I was able to dump off one of my kids with them. Vacation Proper began on a Monday morning winding through Western Massachusetts, trying to find the Mass Pike. Three cheers for my GPS, a gift from the family because it’s cool and because blind people have a better sense of direction than I do.

We headed for Howe Caverns, that traditional vacation destination for over a century. There’s something very 1950s about this but I can’t put my finger on it. I can definitely see the Cleavers or the Cunninghams (without Chuck, of course) spending a week or two up here. But before even thinking about that, we have to get lunch. The GPS posted about 9 McDonald’s withing a few miles but I really wanted to get on the highway. And I like Burger King better. And the kids want Simpsons toys. And I’m feeling benevolent. So I wait until we get on the highway and then search for a BK. Nothing until we get near Albany. I swear, the GPS said there was one 5 miles away but the universe must have expanded or something because my mechanical sherpa had me making a series of turns, on of them leading to a 6-mile detour. After some cursing, I found one closer. But AA has to go to the bathroom. I need gas anyway so we pull over at an Exxon.

Okay, here’s a rant: if you’re not getting gas, move your fucking car out of the way. Don’t block the pump because you don’t want to move your spandex-encased ass an extra 5 feet. I’m starting some maneuvers when AA and his mom come out to tell me there’s no bathroom. What kind of gas station has no bathrooms? Where do the employees go? Screw ‘em, I’m going to BK despite the fact that the minivan’s computer says we’re 2 miles from empty.

It’s a good thing we drove so far out of the way to get to Burger King. No more Simpsons toys. But there are plenty of Spiderman 3 toys. Spiderman 3 came and went several months ago.

The minivan’s computer now says we are 0 miles from empty. But the GPS says there’s a Mobil station .8 miles away. Fumes get us there and $49 later, we’re on our way. Again.

The cavern is cool, both literally (a constant 52 degrees) and figuratively. AA liked it but he thought he was going to get shark’s teeth from the gift shop. Little R ran away from me twice, which didn’t worry me because where was she going to go? But when she ends up with another part of the tour group and she’s unaccompanied by an adult, other adults start to wonder what the deal is.

And then it’s time for Cooperstown. The GPS says it’ll be about a 45 minute drive. I have it set for fastest time (versus shorter distance), but it inexplicably avoids all highways and takes me along some of the smallest country road I’ve ever seen. Cows line he fences along the way and grizzled men on tractors watch in wonder as my newfangled motorcar speeds along at a blistering 30 mph. It’ll be good to get to the hotel, which was recommended by a total stranger the wife met on a recent business trip.

Welcome to the Lakefront Motel.

The “Lakefront” part sounded appealing and I thought the 2nd word was “Inn” as opposed to “Motel”. It’s one of those 2-level motels where the doors open up on the parking lot. Former residents of State College, PA can compare this to a slightly upscale Imperial 400. On the bright side, it’s a 5-minute walk from the Baseball Hall of Fame and we’re not spending a lot of time around here. And it’s cheap so what should I expect? Wait, it’s $160/night? Holy crap.

Meanwhile, the kids are bouncing off the walls, taking too loud, and not listening to a thing anyone says to them. Of course, AA was perfect with his grandparents. Now I want to kill them both.

Well, there’s always tomorrow.

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