Tuesday, May 13, 2014

The Spotsylvania Adventure...the final days

Sunday came after a long night of listening to Lorie make noise, grind her teeth and take up most of the bed (sorry, babe, but I gotta report it like it happened). I got up a little earlier than I’d planned because it seemed a little stupid to stay in bed trying to hang on to what little “property” I had instead of getting ready and spreading out on the couch.

Once Lorie and I were ready we realized that we were a bit too matchy-matchy. I had on a black with white polka-dot dress and a red cardigan and she had on a black with white dots dress and a yellow cardigan. Neither of us had an alternate outfit so off we went. I don’t think anyone else noticed. Wish we’d taken a picture of it though.

Lorie attends Capital Life Church in Arlington. Super-duper friendly, fabulous worship, easy to feel “at home” are the take aways for me. They had a guest speaker (Dave Buehlring) whose sermon was right on target. Lorie navigated us from the church to Chipotle’s and I followed the directions without maiming any walker, bikers or banging into cars that were parked (PARKED) in the middle of the lane.

I’d never had Chipotle’s before but yummo! Lorie and I had a lovely mommy-daughter heart-to-heart and then it was time to get on the road since Annie and I were driving to Charlotte. Lorie got us to American University (again, no pedestrians, bikers or cars were harmed) and I had to say goodbye.

That was hard. I knew I was going to see her again in just a couple days but if living teaches you anything, it’s to not take people (especially people you love) for granted. We aren’t promised tomorrow.

I got back to the Haneys’ with just one small blip in following OnStar’s directions (which turned out to actually be a better route), changed out of my church clothes, got our stuff packed and hugs all the way around for the Haneys and then Annie and I were off.

We managed to get back to Charlotte with no tickets, although we both probably never want to hear the words, “What’s the speed limit around here” again. We stopped by KFC and got dinner before pulling into the driveway. The fur-babies (and Greg) were glad to see Annie. We sat and enjoyed dinner and some TV before heading to bed.

Monday, I got on the road around 8:45 and drove. I had the radio on full blast because it was just too dang quiet and lonely in my car. I wish I lived closer to my sisters. We’d probably kill each other if we did, old habit die hard, but still. No one knows you the way your siblings do. They were your first friends and your first enemies. They taught you how to love someone fiercely that also drives you insane. I’m so proud of my sisters. I think they are both funny, fascinating, amazing women. I am truly blessed to be able to call them my sisters.

The Spotsylvania Adventure...Day Three

Yesterday we’d gotten to Spotsylvania, spent time with cousin John W and his wife Patty and met up with Lori/Lorie. After we got to the hotel (and need to take a commercial break here, if you are ever in the Spotsylvania/Fredricksburg area, I recommend the Hampton Inn and Suites on Hospitality Drive in Fredricksburg. Super friendly at the desk, decent price, clean (CLEAN…they even had a post-it on the beds telling us about their clean sheets and bedding!), lots of towels in room and a fabulous breakfast buffet in the morning), we jammied up and got into bed. (Disclaimer: I got nothing from Hampton Inn and Suites or their owners for this blurb.) Lorie showed me a new app called 2048 which then garnered my attention for too long. Seriously, if you don’t know about 2048, don’t check it out! It’s a trap!

Before Lori got back from John W and Patty’s (remember, she stayed back when we left so she could spend a little more time with them), the rest of the Haneys got to the hotel. Unfortunately I was in a 2048 zone and rudely kept playing. Although I did take a break to bounce up and down on the bed to show off the weird sounds the bed made. Don’t ask.

We made plans to meet the next morning to drive to the high school to meet up with Daddy and Susan.

Wow…it really was an incredible breakfast buffet. Nice job, Hampton Inn. We got on the road vaguely on time and got to the high school with no issues. Daddy was already there talking to the schoolbus drivers who would serve, with their schoolbuses, as shuttles for the day. We parked, jumped on a bus and made our way to the Opening Ceremonies at the Bloody Angle.

It was a beautiful day, although the sun kept popping out which made it a wee bit hot at times. The park area is absolutely gorgeous. I wish we’d been able to take one of the walking tours. There were little monuments dotting the park commemorating different regiments and situations during the battle.

The opening ceremonies were very touching. They did a great job with that. They had readings taken from newspapers, diaries, and letters from that time. It really added the personal part back into the history. They also had Dr. James I. Robertson, Jr. give the main speech. My word, I think I had some good history teachers over the years, but Dr. Robertson took the cake! If you ever have a chance to go to a lecture by him, jump on it. You will never look at history the same way again! I did, though, feel a bit sorry for the Union soldier reenactors. They marched up on the other side of the Confederate hill thingys (gotta remember what those are called…especially since I almost sat on one before finding out that they are a “really big deal” by a Park Ranger) and then stood there for the 15 minutes before the ceremonies began and then the entire hour+ of the ceremonies. I was twitchy sitting down. I can’t imagine being in a wool uniform and standing. Oh, and I forgot about the bagpipes. I don’t know if they picked a solo bagpiper (bagpipist?) because the bagpipe gives such a mournful, thoughtful sound or if there was something particularly important about the Scots and the battle. Anyhow the bagpipes started and ended the ceremonies.

It’s really hard to explain how I felt sitting there. I, of course, was distracted by the sun coming and going behind the clouds and by an inchworm that crawled around on the shoulders of a lady in front of me (yes, I gasped a little when it was trying to wiggle into her hair…shudder), but even for someone as distractible as I am, the green fields spreading out all around us, the trees, the breeze, oh, it was so beautiful. But then the words from the Park Rangers and Dr. Robinson painted such a vivid picture. It was…heartrending.

Anyhow, after the ceremonies we went back to the shuttle pickup point and moved to where the vendors and the battle reenactment were setup. I’m blanking on what they called it…Merchants Square? Anyhow, it wasn’t part of the National Park Service’s events.

So I got my beloved t-shirt and we wandered around the vendors area…there are a LOT of vendors for reenactor clothing and paraphernalia. I was amazed. Daddy signed us up as Descendants of the Wilderness and Spotsylvania Courthouse Battles. We got a ribbon to wear. Pretty cool. I tried to take a picture of my ribbon, but it was a bit too boobalicious to post.

We all made our way at different times to where the battle would take place and managed to meet up even with all the people that were there. My goodness, the amount of people that were standing around as spectators was mindboggling but the amount of reenactors on the field? Astonishing! Unfortunately, where we were standing meant we didn’t hear much of what they would announce over the loudspeakers so we pretty much had no idea what was going on. I mean, we knew that they were shooting and cannoning and whatnot and we’d see someone go down and get “hurt” or get “dead.” There were advances and retreats but, we also saw a whole bunch of standing around, so it was a bit hard to figure out what was going on. Then, after about an hour, there was a bugle call and that’s when the loudspeaker came through loud and clear announcing that the sound we just heard was the ceasefire.

The “people interesting” thing I found was that the spectators that were reenactors tended to believe that they had more right to a good view of the reenactment than the people who had bought tickets to be there. (Of course, maybe the reenactors had to buy tickets, too, I have no idea). We “set up shop” in an area that gave us a pretty good view and the next thing you know a couple ladies with their big ole skirts and big ole bonnets walked right in front of us and blocked our views! One of them actually gave snotty looks to someone who tried to get around her to be able to take a photo. The cutest moment was a family of reenactors that stood to the right and front of us. They had two small toddler/preschool-age children. The little girl was beyond hot on her bonnet and long-sleeved dress. She was drinking water from a water bottle and having a good ole time. Her older brother got a bit whiney towards the end and as he was escorted back to their tent (I’m guessing), he announced that, “gunfire makes me FIRSTY!!!” I totally understand.

Following the reenactment we realized that the shuttles were going to stop running soon and that there were a whole bunch of people that were going to try to get on them, so we hightailed it to the shuttle stop and waited (and waited, and waited) for the shuttle. We all managed to get on the same shuttle and got back to the high school. The Haneys had one car at the high school and one car still back at the hotel. Since the Haneys and I were headed to American University to gather Lorie’s stuff, we decided that Lorie and I would go straight to AU and start packing up my car. The Haneys would take Annie and go back to the hotel to get the other car. One Haney car would come to the university to get the stuff we were dumping on them to store over the summer and one Haney car would go home and get some dinner rustled up. So hugs all around as Daddy and Susan headed back to John W and Patty’s and the rest of us split into our assigned seating.

I still don’t know how we managed to get all Lorie’s stuff in those cars. Space management is best left up to Kenny. But we did. I am pretty proud of myself. We got back to the Haneys, unloaded the Haney car and then plopped! Pizza, Top Chef (or was it Chopped?), and 2048…then bed.

Tomorrow…twinning it at church

Wednesday, May 7, 2014

The Spotsylvania Adventure...day 2

So yesterday’s blog got me to Charlotte and my sister, Anne’s, home on Thursday night. She has two of the sweetest boxers you’ll ever meet. They “helped” me up the stairs and then pouted because Annie put a baby gate up to block them from my room. Apparently, I would have had a boxer sleepover if she hadn’t. She told me Friday morning over breakfast that Nova had taken up patrol at the baby gate and probably would have stayed there all night if Annie hadn’t had her come to bed. As it was, she positioned her body on Anne and Greg’s bed so she could stare down the hallway at my room. When Anne woke me up, there were two forlorn, but oh-so-sweet, boxer faces staring at me across a baby gate. They also “helped” me back down the stairs when I came down for breakfast.

Anyhow, Anne and I were going to do this next portion of the ride together, which I truly appreciated. The Hair Nation, 80’s on 8, 70’s on 7 stations on my XM radio got me from Atlanta to Charlotte, but I didn’t want to see if their music selections could hold up all the way to Virginia. We decided that the smartest thing would be for Annie to take the first leg of the trip since she knows her way around Charlotte (natch!) and then I could drive us into Virginia. Things are going well, Annie drives a lot of rental cars in her business travels so the Equinox’s blind spots were no match for her. However, a work zone was. About an hour or so outside of Charlotte, Annie is passing a car and in the grassy median she sees a policeman and mentions it. We both look at the speedometer and Anne says, “No worries, I’m going about 80.” Then as she’s checking her mirrors (as good drivers do), she says, “The policeman just pulled out.” And then, “Uh-oh, he’s got his lights on.” Me, being the amazing deductive reasoned that I am said, “Is he pulling you over?”  To which Anne replies, “Yep” as she’s slowing down and pulling over. Okay, so I have this bad habit of getting the giggles at really bad times. And, yes, this was a really bad time to get the giggles. Luckily, Annie is a lot more mature than I am because if this had happened back in the day, she’d’ve probably gotten really upset with me. So I’m trying to get my giggles under control and have pulled them back into just a dopey looking grin on my face when the police officer’s face pops into my window. And then, I turn moronic for a moment as I can’t figure out how to roll the window down…IN MY OWN CAR!!!

Officer: “Ma’am, do you know why I’ve pulled you over?”  Anne: “No, sir, I don’t.”

Officer: “You were traveling 77 mph in a 55 mph work zone.” Anne and I look at each other incredulously because neither of us had any idea we were in a work zone.  Anyhow, long story kinda shorter: we had totally missed the signs saying that it was a work zone although we had noticed the barrels. But since there were no workers ANYWHERE, no machinery ANYWHERE and nothing torn up ANYWHERE, we obviously didn’t process the barrels. They are pretty much all over the place on the highway. Annie is now required (REQUIRED) by North Carolina law to show up at court because she was going 15+ miles over the speed limit in a 55 mph or higher zone. She’s looking at a 30 day suspension of license, 4 pts, and, well, toot, I can’t remember the other part. I checked NC statues and it also looks like she’ll be charged with a Class 2 Misdemeanor and have at least a $250 fine (because it’s a work zone). She can get a lawyer to appear for her in court (which is nice since the date they set is during our family vacation) but in doing a little googling on the situation, it looks like North Carolina is notorious for setting up fake work zones like these and trying to rack up on out of town drivers. Yes, we should have been paying attention to the signs. However, a trap is a trap is a trap…and I feel this was a trap.

So guess what occupied our attention for the rest of the trip? Yep, talking about what happened, texting her husband Greg as he researched what was in store (the person in the passenger seat did the texting. No texting and driving, thank you very much), and keeping an eye on the speed limit and cops.

“What’s the speed limit here?” was heard probably a hundred times during the rest of the trip…it was funny, but not.

So, we make it to the hotel in Fredricksburg (town next to Spotsylvania), check in and do the potty thing, check on Lori/Lorie and find out that they AREN’T  going to check in in the next hour because they haven’t even left yet.  We are meeting a cousin that my dad found while digging around for information about Horatio. His great-grandpa and Horatio were brothers, is how we are related. His name is John, as well, so we called him either “cousin John” or JW. We drove out to his home in Spotsylvania for dinner.(Oh…my…word…”gorgeous” doesn’t even cover it!) We got to unwind with beautiful view of the lake, watch as his wife fed the swan in the lake (a SWAN!!),  enjoyed grilled burgers and then got to see some of the cool stuff that was handed down through John W’s family which really made what the soldiers in the Civil War had to go through come more alive. Lori and Lorie drove up in the middle of this and we got to give out hugs and squeezes. It was so nice to have my sisters and one of my girls where I could lock eyes and giggle or make a comment in their ear. <le sigh>

I started noticing that dusk was upon us and as I knew how tired I was, how disoriented I get when I’m in a new place and how not-so-good I drive in the dark, I had to say my goodbyes and thank yous to John W and his wife, Patty, and get going. None too soon, either, as it was quite dark by the time we got into Fredricksburg and my eyes were so tired, I couldn’t read the street signs. Between OnStar and Lorie, we made it back to the hotel and sleepy time.

Tomorrow: “gunfire makes me firsty!”

On an unrelated note: good heavens! They have the air cranked UP in here and I took home my heavy sweater last week. I’m going to be frozen solid by lunch!!

Tuesday, May 6, 2014

The Spotsylvania Adventure...part 1

What a weekend. Still processing it all and still trying to recover so I’m going to write about it in stages.

Some time ago (maybe last year at Beach Week??), Daddy brought up the idea that we all meet up for the 150th anniversary of the Battle of the Wilderness. Daddy has been doing some family tree-type stuff and found out that his great-grandfather (I think…I get lost in the “greats”) had been a captain in a regiment in the Union Army during the Civil War and had been killed in the line of duty during the Battle of the Wilderness. (Here's some information about him. Especially love the last two paragraphs!)

Fast forward to a couple months ago and I’m talking to my sisters about getting down the nitty-gritty about making plans. Next thing you know, I’m in my car driving to my sister, Annie’s house in Charlotte! This past weekend's travels took me from Loganville to Charlotte on Thursday evening, from Charlotte to Fredrickburg, VA (and visiting a new cousin’s home in Spotsylvania) on Friday, Fredricksburg to Washington, DC and then finally to my sister, Lori’s house in Fairfax on Saturday, Arlington then DC then Fairfax and then to Charlotte on Sunday and, finally, back home to Loganville on Monday. Yep, I’m exhausted and as much as those doofy blind spots in the Equinox drive me nuts, two thumbs up for the nice ride!

That’s the overview…now to take it slow. I wish I had pictures. I meant to take some selfies along the way because I thought it would spruce things up around the ole blog to add more pictures. Oh well, best made plans and all that…

Anyhow, the Plan was that I would leave Thursday after work to drive the 4.5-5 hours to Annie’s house and spend the night there. I worked 45 minutes late on Tuesday and was going to leave 45 minutes early on Thursday. My trusty Equinox needed an oil change. In fact, it told me I needed to change the oil every time I started her up. I was getting tired of hitting the CLR button and also didn’t think I should go on the type of trip that I was planning without changing the oil and getting the car a good once-over. Unfortunately, life happened and I wasn't able to take care of that so I drove to work on Thursday with the car still screaming at me that it needed an oil change. But, hey, I was getting off 45 minutes earlier than I’d planned to when I came up with this whole Plan, so everything was going to be fiiiiiiiiine. Sure…

Thursday at 2:30 p.m. I get a call from my supervisor who asked me what time I was getting off work that day. I had seen him earlier in the day when he had to come out and help with an issue and we’d talked about the 45 min early thing, but it must have escaped his mind. When I told him that I was clocking out in 15 minutes and heard him sucking in his breath, I knew I was not getting out of there in 15 minutes. Surprise! My evaluation was due by Friday and since I wasn’t going to be at work Friday, he needed to get it done now. But we did it superfast so I was still able to clock out 15 minutes early.

I prayed all the way to the mechanic and when I got there heard the words I wanted to hear, “Sure we can fit you in now. It won’t take long.” And it didn’t. However, while I waited I came to the realization that I’d managed to leave my phone’s charging cord at work! That’s a pisser! Back to work I go meaning that by the time I get home, I’m now 20 minutes later than in the original Plan. Shazbot!

I hurriedly take the dogs on a walk, change my clothes, and jump in the car to start this adventure. Traffic bit the big one getting out of metro Atlanta and I had to drive the last part in the dark (thank you, OnStar) but my sister, her husband, her adorable fur-babies and a guest bed with the softest sheets known to man were waiting for me. So that was super.

Next up…the drive to Spotsylvania (love saying that name). SOMEone gets pulled over in the next installment! J