Sunday, October 21, 2012

Life Update...Part 2

After Pittsburgh, I flew to Baltimore, where my dad picked me up, and from whence we drove home to Frederick.

The next morning, we hit the road semi-early in Dad's Pinto, and went to visit my dad's brother and sister and aunt in West Virginia.  This is an approximately 4.5 hr. drive through the beautiful mountains of Appalachia.  I was raised, for part of my childhood (ages 3-8) in these mountains, and for the rest of it in their foothills.

Once we got to WV, we stayed the rest of the day and the first night with my aunt Sharon and her husband Jack.  They are wonderful people, and we had a wonderful, relaxing time!

They own several acres on top of a mountain near Rainelle, WV.  This includes two houses, a barn/shed area, a garage, a garden, and lots of grass.  We stayed in the guest house, which is the "old house", having been built in the early 1900's.

The next morning, we left to go to my uncle Tom's place, which is about 30 minutes from Sharon and Jack's.  What that means, in WV distances, is about 10 or 15 miles as the crow flies.  He lives on about three acres pretty far back in the sticks.  He loves it, and frankly, I'm not so sure I wouldn't either. :)

He fed us some venison from a deer that he had shot (there's always plenty of meat, for those who are willing to shoot it), which was absolutely delicious.  We stayed there with him and his girlfriend all that day, and that night as well.

Late in the day, we went about 20 minutes (actually 2 miles as the crow flies) up a nearby mountain to see the wind farm at the top of it.  We got very lucky, in that for whatever reason, while we were up there, they went through the shut-down process.

Tom thinks it's because of some EPA regulation about bats (we were up there just before sunset), but I think it may have been because of the approaching storm.  Or maybe both?  Either way, it was neat to see (and hear) them shut them down.

Apparently, they don't lock them, they just adjust the angle of the blades to not catch the wind, and they put some limited braking on them.  Also, they constantly turn the angle of the whole assembly to not catch the wind as well.

As we came back down off the mountain, it started raining in fits and spurts.  We got back to Tom's trailer, and put on some Two and A Half Men and some Family Guy in the background, while we all got pretty sauced on some whiskey and beer and just shot the breeze for a while.

Then we went to bed (I went first...I have no idea when the rest of them did), and when we got up in the morning, Dad and I had some breakfast, then said our goodbyes.

We left from there and went to Aunt Norma's.  (She's my great-aunt.)  She's always a blast to be around, and we stayed and chatted with her for an hour or two, while I had some shots of moonshine.  (1/2 a shot straight, followed by 3 shots mixed with some soda, all in the course of about 15 minutes.)

I didn't get drunk (I could still think, walk, and talk just fine), but I did get powerfully tired.  Once we left Norma's to go back to Frederick, I slept for probably an hour in the car, in spite of the fact that it's not really a good car for sleeping in!

After that, I had to pee mightily, and so since there were no towns anywhere near, we stopped and I went on the side of the road, like a real man.  :P

The rest of the trip back to the MD was pretty uneventful.  We took the back roads instead of the freeway, so that added about an hour to the trip.

On the way back, we stopped at a Hardee's somewhere in VA.  I looked around me and declared: This is Carl's Jr.!   See, I had thought that Hardee's went out of business (I remember when I was young we went there all the time), or that at the very least there were none on the West Coast.  But as soon as I saw their milkshake offerings, and the six-dollar burger, I put 2 and 2 together.  Turns out we do have Hardee's, and they are still going strong -- they're just named Carl's Jr. out here.  So I never really did stop eating at Hardee's....Go figure! :)

Anyway, we got back to Frederick, and Dad and I went over to a place on 40 and played some pool.  He beat me 4-1.  This was totally expected, as he's always been pretty good, and he plays all the time, whereas I've played (other than that night) maybe 4 or 5 times in as many years.  I was happy to beat him that one.

And no, he didn't throw that game.  I was just on a roll for some reason.  He was rather incredulous, and thought I had been sharking him; but nope: I was just in a really good groove. :)

So that night I stayed at his house in Frederick, and he took me back to the BWI airport the next morning, from whence I departed and returned to San Francisco.  At SFO, I got on the BART system, and made my way to Concord, where Dave Henderson picked me up and drove me the mile back to his place where my car was parked.  Thanks, Dave, for letting me store my car there, instead of having to pay daily parking fees! :)

And that's the story of my trip.  A couple of weeks later, my car got hit, but it all turned out OK.  I'll tell you about that in Part 3.

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