We left our house at 6:45...and promptly stopped for dinner. By the time we left Outback, it was about 9:00. We made pretty good progress through Indiana and Ohio, stopping once to switch drivers. Kat had season 6 of South Park loaded on the computer, so we were kept mildly entertained. The weather was kind of sloppy (raining, temps gettng steadily colder), and by the time we hit West Virginia at 1:00 in the morning, I was getting more than little road-weary. After taking a three-hour nap in a rest area in Western PA, Kat took the wheel and we hit the road again. We stopped for breakfast in Breezewood (about the middle of PA), then it was my turn to drive.
Two hours later, as we approached Hersehy, PA, I remembered Kat saying how much she liked the Twizzler mug we bought there two years ago. With the very philosophical attitude "we may naver pass this way again", I took a side trip to Hershey. Boy, am I glad I did. Kat is absolutely gaga over this European cholocate, and was planning on picking some up in NYC. As it turns out, that chocolate company was recently acquired by Hershey, and they had a kiosk setup in the chocolate shop. Kat bought her fill (for now), making me feel a little less guilty about dragging her on this trip. Back in the car, and more driving through PA and NJ. We got to Mom's house at 1:00pm
Once we got to Mom's, we were sort of walking zombies. I don't remember too much before 5:00, which is when we woke up from our naps. My sister came over, and the four of us went out to dinner at Leonardo's. Leonardo's is an Italian restaurant run by Polish people (no fooling). They screwed up our reservation, the service was lousy, the food was so-so. Other than that, it was a nice evening. By the time we got out, the temperature had gone through the basement, and the rain had turned to snow and ice. Ann and Mom got into a bit of an argument, and Kat and I just shook our heads. Once we got back to Mom's, Kat and I went right to bed. A nap can only last so long.
We woke up Sunday, and I drove Kat into the city. First, we stopped at a diner for breakfast (FYI, the pancakes at the Arlington Diner kick ass) and the bagel shop next door for some bagels (what else). I finally dropped Kat off at the Metropolitan Museum of Art around quarter after 11. I had to stop by some friends' house in Jersey on the way back, and what was going to be a 15 minute quick visit turned into a 45 minute gab-fest. I got back to Mom's, and we sat down for a talk.
We proceede to spend the next two hours recapping just about all of the ways I've pissed off or disappointed Mom and Dad over the last 16 years. We started by discussing the Great Christmas Fiasco of 2002, and went all the way back to when I graduated college in 1990 and was a no-show at a reception for students and their parents (I don't even remember that last one). I haven't squirmed so much under my Mom's scrutiny since she found cigarettes in my clothes when I was in high school. For all of the faults, faux pas, and fuck-ups, the only defense I could offer was that it made sense at the time. Even typing about it now, I still don't know why I did half the shit I did.
After all that, there was very little time for me to tell Mom about my upcoming conversion to Catholicism. She took it pretty much in stride. The way I explained it to her was that it was everything I had grown up with in the Presbyterian Church, and all of the ritual, pageantry, and deep spiritual fulfullment that I was looking for.
Round about that time, Ann showed up, and it was time for us to go to lunch. Thinking that I would join Kat in the city later for dinner, I just had a grilled cheese. After lunch, I sent back to the house to get in the car and leave, just in time to see the last few minutes of the Colts game. After a few heart-stopping minutes, my heart was ripped out by Vanderjagt's kick, so far to the right that Rush Limbaugh wants that kick to be his new guest host.
Off I go into the city...but first, I need to stop at the grocery store to buy some Kosher food (15 minutes), stop at the gas station and wait for the full-serve flunky to fill the tank (10 minutes), and take the long-ass way to the Holland Tunnel since I didn't know any better. By the time I got out of the tunnel, it nearly 6:00. Kat had already started dinner at a restaurant in Little Italy. Now I had to find a parking space. That was another 20 minutes. By the time I parked the car and sat down, Kat had finished what I'm sure was a delicious meal, dessert, three glasses of chianti, and cappucinno. The waiters, the busboys, hell, even the dishwasher were all giving me a hard time. There's nothing worse than being berated by an Italian accent, especially when I know I have nobody to blame but myself. After we settled the bill, we took a walk to Ferrara's for some cannoli and petit fours, then back to the car.
We got a later start for home than I had hoped, but Kat made good time. We stopped for dinner at Denny's around 11:00, where I learned that there is nothing worse than being a Colts fan in the middle of Steelers country. Stopped in West Virginia for a nap around 2:30am, back driving at 4:30, and home by 9:30. Kat had Monday off, but I didn't. I took a quick shower, grabbed my breifcase bag, and was in the office by 10:30.
It was a good trip. Not great (especially for Kat), but better than Christmas last year.
I will make this solemn promise: the next time I get a wild hair up my ass and want to take a trip to NEw Jersey, we'll fly.
146 days until our European vacation
346 days until 2007