On the Road Again . . .
So happy to have our daughter back home! She had a wonderful 3 week experience taking a summer dance intensive with the Nashville Ballet and we've only just started to get caught up, hear the stories, fill her on all the excitement around here (guess who has the better stories?) : ) Watching her say tear stained goodbyes to all the new friends returning to Louisiana and Texas and South Carolina and the one other "Yankee" in the group felt very much like goodbyes at the end of summer camp, especially when they all actually agreed to write real, live, longhand letters to each other!! I'll believe it when the US Postal Service is benefiting from all those stamped envelopes arriving in our mail box!
Speaking of Yankee, ordering food in a different part of the country is always an adventure, isn't it? We had a long drive on Saturday so planned to just make 2 quick stops for meals along the way and settled for McDonalds, although my dear husband was negotiationg for places with names like Aunt Gertie's Good Ole Country Cooking or Muddy Creek BBQ or other such local delights that his traveling companions just weren't in the mood to take a risk with this trip. I'll have to explain why at some point . . . and it's too early in the post to digress!! I'd returned to the counter in McDonalds when I realized I was missing that little plastic sleeve of knife and fork for my salad but when I asked the girl "Could I please get some utensils?" my Philly-tinged accent must have sounded to her south of the Mason Dixon line ears like "Yew - teeeeehhhhh - suhls" for as she scrambled in her head to translate what I needed, her reply was simply, "Ummm, what?" After asking again, I remembered where I was and made it so much easier by slowing down and requesting a fork. That brought a smile to her face and as she went to retrieve the now recognizable item, the manger apologized. I grinned and said, "Oh, no, it's me, I'm a Northerner and I just don't talk (pronounced tawk) right (not pronounced with a trademark overly long "i"). Every head behind the counter, frying fries, packing white bags to go popped up and looked at me - c'mon, really? You guys haven't had any Yankees come through lately? But they also all smiled and I guess they liked that I was apologizing for my lack of culture instead of expecting them to adjust to mine. The manager even went so far as to comment again that he was sorry and that they all liked me despite my being a Northerner. : ) I should probably just pull out a Southern character and accent when in this kind of situation and see if that helps. Next time.
But we do like a good road trip and this one included lots of miles and some wonderful stops along the way. My cousin lives in Tennessee so after surviving the long stretch of 81 through Virginia that always feels like it will go on forever, we enjoyed an overnight at her house. And yes, after my hubbie turned in for the night, we stayed up late talking and I remembered once again why she is one of my favorite people. We also were so focused on what we were talking about that while we gave a few giggled comments to the lightning and thunder that was rolling through strongly enough to rattle the house down to the carafe lid on the corner of the kitchen counter, it wasn't until the next morning that we discovered there was 'tornadic' activity in the area and we really should have been hunkered down in the basement, clutching our pocketbooks, best chocolate and other valuables! I mean, there were things to catch up on, you know?
Friday took us to the performance that gave all the visiting parents, family and friends the chance to see some of what the dancers had been studying and creating. Can I just say I love to watch my daughter dance? She just loves it so and lights up with such joy while she's performing. I"m smiling now just thinking of it. We got to see both performances which were really quite wonderful with so many talented dancers and then afterward met the teachers who had wonderfully poured their time and talent into all the students. It's called a summer intensive for a reason and I hope the students and teachers alike all get a chance to catch their breath and get some well deserved R & R. The girls had discovered a nice little place to eat near their dorm so they chattered and giggled and enjoyed one last piece of butter cake together, avoiding thinking about the goodbyes that were approaching . . . We enjoyed sharing our meal with some of the other parents and inevitably exploring the regional characteristics of our various homes from Gumbo and Cajun to the superiority of Georgia peaches and of course, suggesting that they might want to come visit us for an authentic Philly cheesesteak instead of the one on the menu - the fact that it was being served on a . . . . baquette (!) instead of an Amoroso's roll was the final detail that had us questioning its authenticity! Everything else was quite delicious, true to the girls' recommendations and we thoroughly enjoyed chattering away with their parents.
Back at the dorm we loaded up all our daughter's many things we'd just dragged down a few shorts weeks ago (ok, she learned how not to pack lightly from me!) and headed for our hotel. And of course, it started to rain. I don't mean a nice little summer shower, I mean it was POURING!!!! And while we had some directions from mapquest, it seemed prudent to add in the skills of Lola (we call our GPS "Lola" which will make sense if you saw the movie, "RV" with Robin Williams). Unfortunately Lola kept trying to get us to return to the street that was blocked with tall, wooden blockades for a detour that seemed to have quite a few harried drivers confused and had us crisscrossing the city in great frustration and much "re-cal-cu-la-ting". Ugh! At one point, we thought we remembered her mentioning Gay Street, so when we drove by Gay Street for at least the third time, we turned, hoping this would do the trick. Did I mention it was pouring?? After turning one more corner blindly, we saw a City Works truck lights blinking in the darkness, and hunkered down under some kind of roof were 2 workers waiting out the rain. Surely they would know where our road was, right? I put the window down and with my best smile told them we were dreadfully lost and could they possibly point us in the right direction. With hands worn from years of honest labor gesturing and a long, slow drawl that was music to our ears, "Joe" directed us with 3 simple turns to the highway. "Larry" graciously ran back out into the rain to direct us with a huge smile as we backed around to return the way we'd come originally. Oh the kindness of strangers on a dark and rainy night!! After heartfelt cried "thank you's!!!" we discovered their directions were perfect and before long we were dry and safe in our room for the night. Thank you Lord!!
How wonderful of God to pepper our travel with interesting people who were gracious and kind. (I think my Southern friends are leaning forward, hoping I'll make the connection between the region and the MO.) And since several days on the road has the laundry piled up, I'll have to finish the story of this trip another day. Too bad there's not any butter cake around to sweeten the task!