Wednesday, December 24, 2008

GART; Destination: Leesberg, VA

Wow, life has a way of getting away from you. I can't believe how long it's been since I blogged. I'm going to try and bang out the rest of the trip in the next few days.

Day 3

So I awoke fairly early as the 10,000 cats were killing me. My eyes were swollen to the point it looked like the end of the fight in Rocky. Thankfully Melissa had prescription allergy eye drops or I would have had trouble driving. Chuck and I had breakfast at a great little joint called Millie's Diner It was a totally funky joint with a tight but delicious menu. We said our goodbyes and I headed off to Leesberg, VA

Leesberg is where my cousin Tom lives. Tom is the coolest guy and always the most popular cousin. Partly because, well, he's da man! And partly because he's the cousin we never really saw. His dad, my uncle Gerry, is the only one of my mom's family that travelled far out of MA. His job took him to Washington, DC and, really, all over the world so we rarely saw him, his wife, or kids. As we all got older, travelled more, etc we got to know Tom better and realized he was totally one of us (and one of the few people who can outlast me partying). He was an original AOL guy but has since moved on. He has a lovely wife, Sara, and daughter, Madeline, and another child on the way. I was totally looking forward to my time there

The ride from Richmond back to Leesberg took way longer then expected (traffic on a Saturday in the same spot I had hit it on Friday. I got a little lost and ended up as Dulles and had to turn around. I finally arrived around 2:00. He has a luxurious home in a complex (he says us New Englanders are hung up on that term. He calls it a "community") that was just finished a few years back and is built around 2 and a half golf courses. It's beautiful and their home is opulent without being ostentatious (OK, I just felt like using those words). We had a couple beer and headed over to see my uncle Gerry and Aunt Guyetta (gosh I know I butchered her name) about 45 minutes away. My uncle Gerry was always the picture of class. The job no one really knew much about, always impeccably dressed, never, ever seen in jeans and a t-shirt. Until I was in my 20's I can only barely remember him but as I got to know him I realized what a great man he was. Unfortunately, like many in my mom's family, life has not been kind in his later years as he suffers from crippling M.S. He is now confined to a wheelchair. His mind is sharp but his body is falling apart.

We spent a couple hours with them catching up, having lunch and even a few beers. He is a realist ("how you doing Gerry?" "shitty thanks") but in good spirits. It was worth my trip just to see him as I honestly don't know how many more times I will. Tom and I then went to check out the country club he belongs to. Needless to say, he was THE man there and seemed to know everyone. He hijacked a golf cart and we tooled around the course in the dark just after sunset. He explained the overpopulation and his general disdain for deer which we almost ran into twice. After a few more beer we went food shopping which, after about 10 beers, was an adventure in itself. We got food for dinner which he ended up grilling out until I don't even remember what time but was excellent nonetheless. We turned in relatively early as we were going to the Redskins game the next day so we needed an early start

Day 4

We woke up fairly early to get ready to meet Tom's friends to head to the game. Well, some of us were ready and some of us were moving SLOWLY (hint, not me). We had breakfast and met up with his buddies to pile into one vehicle to head to Landover, MD. After a seemingly endless ride (you can imagine how sick of cars I was by now) we got to FedEx Field for the Skins/Cardinals game. We tailgated with just the five of us at first then joined a much larger tailgate with his old neighbors. These Skins fans know how to tailgate! The game was friggin hot. Had to be 90 in the sun. It's also HUGE!!! I mean, I forget how many but close to 100,000. The Skins won but was more fun for the experience then the game. We tailgated some more after the game then headed back, I slept the whole ride back to Leesberg as I was beat and a wee bit drunk. Sara made us an awesome dinner then, seriously, I was in bed by 9:30 as I planned to hit the road early.

Notes from the road:
  • If someone gives you personalized directions, use them and forget your GPS and Triptix
  • The Beltway traffic sucks as much as they say
  • The popular game tailgating is Corn Hole (what I call beanbags) and I simply couldn't stop giggling about this
Next stop: Toledo, OH