Wednesday, April 9, 2008

After months of negotiations, we finally decided on a date to go out and visit my friend from the PBF, Cat (aka Tartaniac, Catherine, My Cat) who we did not visit when they were living relatively close in CA, but waited until they were 3000 miles away in NC to work this all out. We timed this visit to coincide with a tour through the White House (you know, where the President of the US lives?) that Handsome Husband's brother's wife's sister got us. We were to meet up with his parents, Leonard and JoAnn, and several small-ish cousins/neices in NC.

Cat and I met on Bob Dunsire forum ( ) about 2 years ago or so. She is a snare (side) drummer and was playing for the Los Gatos Police Dept Pipe Band when they lived in CA. She was one of the instigators of Beag's trip 'round the world. We knitted hats for our soldiers in Iraq. We scraped up $$ for a set of pipes for a piper in trouble. I did the play-by-play when she and Chuck and her Mom and Dad drove cross-country to NC when they moved last summer. We've been partners in crime for quite awhile. But I'd never met her in person. Here's how it went:

Firstly, Handsome Husband and #3 Daughter went to the east coast on Thursday night, and spent a day seeing 8 (eight) Civil War Battlefields. I inquired whether they were viewing these battlefields in chronological or proximal order. They just laughed, becuse two of the battles were Battle of Bull Run I and Battle of Bull Run II. They also saw Crater Battlefield and I don't remember the others, if they ever told me. Friday night, the 5th, Daughter #1 and Small Son and I checked availability.

The plan was to fly to Raleigh/Durham airport (RDU) in NC, but the first flight was sold out and the second flight wouldn't have gotten us to NC until mid afternoon, and I was planning (and Cat was planning) on our already being in Supply by mid-afternoon! I, at the last minute, switched our flights to Charlotte (CLT) and by this time HH had already turned off the cell phone so I couldn't advise him of this change. And since he was picking us up, it was sort of important.

D#1 text'd them and left a message, and we got on the plane, arriving in CLT bright and early on the 6th. HH did get the message and was already on his way to CLT when we were changing planes in JFK, and picked us up at CLT after only about an hour wait, during which we brushed our hair and teeth and washed our faces and changed our underwear, etc.

I called Cat periodically to let her know where we were on our rather bizarre itinerary.

Needless to say, we (Cat and I) were nervous and excited to try and recognize one another from photographs and phone calls and driving directions. We hoped our families would like each other, and that we would still find the friend we had known all these years in an actually, physical person, not just electrons. Just as we (the family) were turning into the gate of their community, we noticed a Person On A Bicycle sort of craning her neck to look down the street. I asked HH to stop the car and got out, and there she was, walking up to my side of the car. I said, "Cat?" and she said, "Ròs!" (I knew it was her because she got the accent right!) and we had a big hug as we walked down the road to the house behind the car. And several more hugs on the way. We started talking right then, and pretty much kept on til we had to leave on Monday morning. And you know what? She is just as wonderful in real life as she is online. Not a tall, dark and sinister-looking bearded man waiting to trap gullible online users. We went to the beach and collected shells. We saw some really cool birds including a stork and a flock of pelicans. We tried to find the alligator, but failed. (The 'gator showed up after we left.) We went to a Chinese buffet restaurant and ate and ate and brought home the clam shells and the chopsticks. We took a ferry ride to Fort Fisher and toured the fort. We practiced while waiting for the ferry. We stayed up really late every night talking and comparing knitting projects.

We went through an incredibly long store carrying everything from aardvarks with your name on them to Zanzibarbarians that say "Ahoy matey!" Lots and lots of Christmas decorations! Luckily nobody got lost, and I found a ***************** !(can't write what it is in here yet, she knows this URL and has been known to read it, and I wouldn't want to spoil the surprise!) for Emily (Thank goodness the daughter I adopted has a rather common name that people actually pre-apply to personalized items.) We ate delicious foods like grits with little clouds of melted cheese and bits of bacon floating around in them and tons of butter on top; chicken noodle soup with "dumplings" that were flat and big, lots of Chinese food made with chicken (it was D#3's food theme for the trip, I guess) or anything else you could care to name . . . I know we ate other things but food didn't seem very important. Cat's Mom (she said I could call her 'Mom') is an amazing artist and has her oil paintings all over that beautiful house! Dad showed us some fly fishing flies that he won awards for. It is amazing how they make use feathers and wire to make things that look like bugs! Chuck played chauffeur and photographer, only objecting once when the kids wanted to go to the aquarium when there was a fort down the road that was cheaper and more interesting. He was a saint! Mom and Dad let us take Chuck and Cat away for 2 whole days without too many objections. We asked to stay an extra night and Cat said "yes" before I even asked her.

Len and JoAnn were supposed to call us as they were leaving their house in Charleston, SC Monday morning so we could have breakfast and then leave and meet them along the way. Instead they called us after they had been on the road 2 hours. So we played Catchup instead of making them breakfast along the way. We got to see the White House; the Washington Monument, the Jefferson and Lincoln memorials, lots of cherry trees in blossom, the Marine Museum, Fredericksburg battlefield museum, the Holocaust Museum, the White House Visitor Center . . . did I miss anything?. . .most of them by walking. The Holocaust museum was very interestingly laid out. It started out all light and open, but as the exhibits progressed through the pogroms and the ghettos and the concentration camps, it got more cramped and darker. The fact that it was packed with people made me claustrophobic. Then as the concentration camps were liberated, it got lighter again. It was very well done. They had done lots of research, had tons of photographs and items from the people who experienced it all. They even had video clips of concentration camp survivors telling of their experiences. It made me want to weep for the people who had suffered.

We camped out in Prince William Park. It was supposed to be warm, but it wasn't. I got one of the polar fleece sleeping bags by default and I froze. When I wasn't freezing, I was kept awake by Disc 4 of a book on Franklin Roosevelt's and Winston Churchill's friendship that JoAnn was playing all night long, or by the hard ground I was sleeping on, having gotten the least comfy sleeping pad also by default. I slept, instead, through movies at visitor centers and museums, and during drives. I wasn't a very lively traveling companion. In fact, D#1 and I decided that since her grandparents didn't pay attention at all to us anyway, we could speak a different language and it wouldn't make a difference, so we spoke French. We got one comment from them. The rest of the time we were invisible. Sometimes it's hard to be invisible. Sometimes it's nice.
The flight home on Wednesday was somewhat tense. The JFK-SLC flight was very booked, so we changed to fly through Long Beach, CA (LGB). We had seats, no problem, from Washington Dulles to JFK. But the JFK-LGB flight was very full. The only way we got on, in the end, was because of Small Son's prayers and the fact that I could fly jump seat; meaning no TV, no tray table, no sleeping or reading or sewing. Most of the flight, I was sitting next to the forward door, which leaked the air from 30,000 feet up. My whole right side was frozen by the time we arrived. The flight LGB-SLC was very open. We cleaned 3 planes that day, and flew or waited for flights for 14 hours. But we got home.

Our dogs attacked Connie who came in to feed them on Monday-Wednesdsay, but she was brave and daring and fed them anyway. They did not get out of the yard, as far as I know.

That was our trip.

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