The Great Escape?
Trip Start Oct 20, 2012
61Trip End Jul 11, 2013
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Cousin Cliff & girlfriend Tara had about a month's worth of work on their house in Northern Virginia, so I left Orlando on Friday, drove straight through 14 hours and had tools in hand on Monday with my nephew Patrick as my helper. My sister Teri and Mike graciously offered me a room in our old homestead in Brookmont, my bed just across the hall from my childhood bedroom. She even prepared a few of the old family recipes, including one of my favorites Mom used to make, applesauce pie. The Professor concocted some great shrimp dishes, allowing me to keep the midsection expanding at a constant rate.
We did have a daily 40 minute commute which included some of the infamous Beltway gridlock, but Pat and I were able to get a lot accomplished in 4 weeks: complete Master bath remodel, new flooring in 2 rooms, 2 windows replacements, dismantled the mantel and lowered it to accommodate a wall mount TV, 6 recessed lights in den with wall mount TV, scraped ceilings, textured and painted, moved the fence and gate, and all completed with only one mishap.. Pat stepped through the dining room ceiling. I explained that it was just a rite of passage in remodeling - I think we've all done it. There was one other "shock" however--- plumbers in the DC area make $160 /hour. I called my old buddy "Greg the Plumber" to help us out for old times' sake, and he was quick to point out that he didn't charge like the old days. It's a lot harder to put up with his ultra-conservative diatribes when they cost me twice as much, but I suppose the guy deserves a little slack having just gone through heart surgery followed by bladder cancer surgery a month later. But you are still a pain in my ass Greg!
Cliff & Tara took really good care of us and it was great to see brother Brian too (he lives with them). A lot of fun was had with old friends (Pete, Peto, Bobby, Rocky), old employee (Robert Geise), nieces and families (Christie & Katie, Rosie, Jimmy, Maria, Connie, Carol, Mary Brown) and our favorite fast-talking artist/Martini guru Ceci. Rosie showed off her lacrosse skills in a couple of games at Georgetown University, and Ceci invited me to a unique art show involving plates and alchemistry (and a martini at "Trav's Inn!)
But I have to admit, after 30 days I couldn't wait to get the hell out of the traffic and away from the obnoxious people. Of all the places we've been in the last 6 months, the DC area holds the distinction of having the most unfriendly people and the worst roads. Even hiking in the woods, people encountered would avert their eyes and ignore a casual comment or even a simple "hello". Of course NO WHERE do you find nicer people than in Montana!
So out of the DC pot and into the Orlando kettle (nice mixed metaphor), I returned to find Mary all fixed, although she will remain on injured reserve and ride the pine a while longer. Sadly, though, the beautiful house was one week away from the bank takeover.
Moving sucks, and no more so than in these circumstances, but Pete and Diane are upbeat and excited about their new start, and more "RVing" is definitely in their future. After yard sales, some house repairs (bank agreement) and about 150 boxes, the four of us capped off our 3 day turned 2 month visit with an incredible dinner at "Chathams" easily one of the top 3 restaurants at which we have ever dined.
We actually tried to sell the Camper/Trailer in Orlando thinking we could pare down a little more and operate out of a camper shell on Ole Red. The gas mileage would probably improve enough to offset the cost of an occasional hotel room, and we would have brakes again. But, alas, Floridians are a cheap bunch-- the best offer we got was $2000 less than we paid for it in October - so we put new tires on, reloaded and bade farewell to a not so comfortable respite where the temp/humidity level was 90/ 90%, and those friggin' love bugs - the incessantly copulating black winged windshield smudges-- were reaching saturation stage, and we pulled back onto the interstate ....... with brakes !!!!!
"So did you hear the one about the guy who was so stupid-- how stupid was he? -- that he drove a 6000 pound trailer about 8000 miles around the country before finding out that one needs a $100 brake control module mounted under one's dash that easily plugs into an awaiting receptacle in order to manipulate the electric brakes on a trailer?"