Our plan was to journey to the southern tip of Florida to accompany the Stowaway and the Harbor Master on their trip back up to base camp. These plans, like nearly all of our plans, were interrupted. The interruption came in the form of a catastrophe in the Commodore’s homeland, the tragic death of her nephew, our cousin Joey. We were forced to almost exactly reverse our course, and point our bows North to the State of Pennsylvania.
Our northward voyage was relatively uneventful. We stopped in Staunton, (Stan-ton) VA, where we stayed in a camp that charged nearly three times the promised rate. As we were already in Pennsylvania when we discovered this, there was very little that we could do besides solemnly vow never to set foot on the grounds again.
In Pennsylvania, the Commodore’s first act was to acquire an object oft scorned by her. She is in the habit of rudely referring to them as “the princess” and “mind melting machines.” The Global Pinpointing system, however, served its purpose well in the crowded streets of the Pennsylvanian countryside.
We reached our destination on a cold winter’s day, and found our camp to be a most hospitable place, with only a few faults and some very pleasant people. Our aunt, the Commodore’s sister Jennifer met us at the campsite. Although the meeting was tempered somewhat by the sad reason for our voyage, it was only a little less than a joyous reunion. Still, it may be noted that the first member of our crew greeted by Aunt Jen was none other than Robynne, the ship’s dog.
After a long battle with an overly cheerful car rental man, the Commodore accepted the fact that there were no small vessels to be had in our area. There were no larger ones either. We intended to attend the wake of our cousin, and then I would return to camp with the crew, and the Commodore and her sister would go into the great city of Philadelphia to find and retrieve the Commodore’s youngest brother, our infirm Uncle Jerrold who had gone and landed himself there. Instead, the Commodore and Aunt Jen went alone, both to the wake and the city.
The day of the funeral dawned, and we all faced the most difficult part of our voyage. Despite the obvious unpleasant purpose for the gathering, we were happy to see our relatives. Some of them we (the crew) met for the first time, for instance, some of the Commodore’s cousins, a very pleasant trio.
The Commodore, the Infirm Uncle, their Uncle, and their cousins.
Saturday we abandoned ship. There was a winter storm warning, and our Aunt Jennifer and the Commodore did not want to spend the day in driving back and forth through the snowy city. We fled to Aunt Jen’s house, where the crew spent the day in a new and wonderful task- snow shoveling.
On Sunday, after digging out our vehicles and climbing through mountains of snow to get to Mass on time, we stopped to check on Tallulah and found that our campground hosts had shoveled a path to her for us. Relieved of that worry, we returned to Aunt Jen’s, where we threw a brunch party that lasted well into the supper hour. The day was very pleasant and went well, including a very long game of Change-the-rules-in-the-middle Uno.
Monday came with fond farewells, and we headed for home with our infirm Uncle Jerrold aboard. We stopped briefly in Virginia so that the dog could stretch her legs. While the rest of the crew walked the freshly cleared paths the rest area, Robynne and I waded through the two feet deep snow to the doggie rest area located at the top of a steep hill.
We thought that we would stop overnight, but we did not find a satisfactory location. When we stopped for fuel in Tennessee around 2 in the morning, our infirm uncle requested a “breffixed” stop. The only thing open at the time was a McDonald’s, and that only had the drive through open. We all know that it would have been perfectly impossible to take Tallulah through the drive through. So, the bravest members of the crew along with the ship’s dog and the infirm uncle were chosen to go where few pedestrians have gone before.
We stepped into the empty drive through. Unfortunately, you have to have a car to set off the sensor, and the infirm Uncle was determined to order through the microphone. After only a few minutes, a car full of Tennessee Hooligans pulled up behind us. We could see them laughing a bit through the window, and after only a few more moments, the infirm uncle called to them bid them pull up and set off the sensor so that we could order. Like the Tennessee Hooligans they were, they obliged at once. After the lady inside the building had asked us to wait a moment, the Hooligans backed up and returned to their place. After another few minutes, the driver asked our infirm uncle to come over and see his hair. When our uncle approached him, the Hooligan explained that he had just had some blue dye put in it. The infirm uncle replied that there were only two streaks of blue. “That’s just what I wanted,” replied the Hooligan. “Then I guess it looks fine,” answered the uncle. Clearly overcome with gratitude, the Hooligan pulled up again, as it was apparent that the lady in the building believed we had gone away. This time the driver, with admiration in his voice said, “I went through backwards once, but never on foot.” Our conversation was cut short by the lady inside the building, who was finally ready to take our order. We did so and then left the Hooligans to their own ordering and went around to meet the lady inside the building. After giving us a few baffled questions to determine which order was ours and with a smile the likes of which can only be found in the south, the lady inside the building explained that waiting at the microphone had not been necessary, we could have just come around to the window.
We arrived home with no further incident.