Wednesday, August 11, 2010

Wednesday's Words for August 11, 2010

Vacation is over and we’ve returned, safe and sound, to our humble abode. I don’t know about the rest of you, but my first couple of days back home always seem surreal. It’s as if I’m occupying strange space, in a way. I don’t know if I can adequately describe this feeling. It’s very close to disorientation. Here I am, back home, and I see my familiar surroundings through refreshed eyes, or maybe eyes that are looking at everything instead of taking the view for granted.

I’ve been home for only four days, yet it feels as if our vacation happened ages ago, instead of just these last two weeks. Why is that? Is it because the pace of everyday life is so hectic, and the vacation was not?

For the second year in a row we took a two week break instead of just one from our work-a-day world, and traveled more than 2,500 miles in the process. That’s a lot of driving. We have a 2002 Buick Century which we bought four years ago, used. About two years ago, the light for the gear indicator and odometer burned out. To replace this light will cost approximately five hundred dollars, so I haven’t done so. This means, that for the last couple of years I have had no idea how much mileage I’ve been putting on the car.

The day before we left, I took my vehicle in for an oil change. This is something I see to on a regular basis. This time, I went to a new place. I’ve been looking for a garage and a mechanic that makes me feel comfortable ever since my long time mechanic retired about a year and a half ago. This new place specializes in oil changes. They provided me with an odometer reading (presumably from under the hood).

Imagine my surprise when that number read 531,000 kilometres. That’s about 318,000 miles. Our car gave us no trouble whatsoever on this latest trip. I tell you, that vehicle owes me nothing.

The states we traveled through this year were all ones we’ve been through before. To date, we’ve visited 28 of the United States, and the District of Columbia.

There are so many beautiful and interesting places to visit in the U.S. Even though I’m the one behind the wheel, I still get to appreciate the passing scenery. One of the sights I found fascinating this trip was the kudzu-covered trees and bushes along the Interstate highways in South Carolina and Georgia. I swear some of them looked like people, freeze-framed in mid-action.

The beach and ocean off St. Augustine was a delight, and the historical atmosphere of “old town” a pleasant discovery. We ate al fresco at a delightful restaurant there, and really wished we had more time to explore.

Disney World wasn’t as much of a trauma for these grandparents as we’d feared it might be. Yes, there were a lot of children, especially in and around the pool at our hotel [we did not venture into the greater theme park]. But how wonderful it was to watch mothers and fathers playing with their children.

Mr. Ashbury indulged his love of history with yet another mine tour, this one the No. 9 Mine and Museum in Lansford, Pennsylvania. I, of course, stayed on top of the grass. I’m funny that way.

We stopped at the Moonshine Church, just outside of Fort Indiantown Gap. Our friend detailed how the Church, and the graveyard across the street were haunted. He reported that if you stopped your car there at night and shut the engine off, you’d be unable to restart it, thus making you easy prey for the red-eyed spirits that roamed there. I asked him if he’d ever tested this theory.

He just gave me a look and declined to answer. I’m sure it was just coincidence that at that moment, I heard my first mortar round fired, as some National Guard units were training nearby.

Of course one of the things I enjoy best about traveling is meeting people, and seeing how others live. If you sit and listen, you realize there are regional variations in dialect and in the way people interact. Despite that, our similarities far outweigh our differences.

I had a wonderful two weeks off. And now it’s time for me to get back to work! And yes, I still have my pillow.


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