Tuesday, January 19, 2010

travels become travails (as usual)

I'm BAAAACK! And boy, what a trip it was...
I awoke eagerly at 2:30 AM on Thursday morning (after little-to-no sleep) and we were on the road by 3:15. After my car was fully fueled (and I, coffee-fueled), I settled in at the wheel for the first leg of the journey (K would take over when driving got a little more complicated... aka, before NYC).

After approximately three hours, my car began to clunkity-clunk. And so:

I should have known. Because it was still crazy-early, we had to kill some time eating breakfast at a local diner (Cote's Restaurant) before dropping my (jerk) car off for an emergency repair:

We spent some time wandering the streets of Chicopee, a defunct factory town in Southern Massachusetts...

... sneaking around inside City Hall for a peek of the stained glass from the inside...

... and flipping through far too many trashy magazines in the local library.

Finally (7 hours later), my car was ready. The price? Besides the brief expense of my sanity, a whopping $550 was required to drive my new timing belt off the lot. I had a slight meltdown (there went more than half of my paycheck...) and decided I had to go to Virginia anyway. I'm not one to waste a half-grand on a day trip to Chicopee, MA (no offense).

Onward and Southward we went.

After stopping for some brief eats at the Waffle House, we finally arrived at our hotel around 12:45 AM (and promptly passed out).

The next couple of days were fairly uneventful. On Friday, we spent our time strolling through the charming historic district, dropping into antique shops and making note of the hip coffee shop (+1), quaint, quirky bookstore (+1) and book&coffee shop (+1) that would be regular hot spots if we ultimately decided to move there. We bonded with our waitress (a dancer/artist who assured us that there was a great creative community in town, +1) while enjoying a lovely lunch at the Sunken Well Tavern (the best part: It was warm enough to sit outside! [in January? +1]) and meandered through the neighborhoods, looking for promising habitation prospects.

After a quick loop around the (seasonally closed) gardens&grounds of Kenmore Plantation, we headed back to the hotel for some R&R before our delicious Indian dinner at Guru.

Although the food was good (+1) and there appeared to be a cornucopia of ethnic restaurants immediately outside the city limits, the location was so-so. We were entirely unimpressed with the strip malls (-1) and box stores (-1) that surround the historic downtown area.

The next day we took a self-guided tour of the University of Mary Washington.

It was everything you might expect of a collegiate campus (brick, grass, trees, lampposts) and I was impressed that it was so attractive. However, I got a weird uncomfortable feeling as I walked through it... I felt kind of old. Also, I went to Boston University, which has an urban campus, and the academic atmosphere was slightly veiled by the pace and proximity to everyday city life. Traditional campuses tend to make me feel stifled and closed-off from the rest of the world... but that's just me! K really liked it, and that's what matters :)

We drove around (further investigating neighborhoods) and stopped at The Otter House for lunch (where we ran into our waitress from The Sunken Well--she works at Otter, too!). Here, K made one of the biggest mistakes of his life:

It's funny that the first Google result for Otter House Fredericksburg VA is regarding restaurant inspection findings and violations. More on that in a minute.

We ended up going back to the hotel after lunch because there wasn't a whole lot more to do in town, but we did go back that evening in the hopes of finding a cocktail lounge. We failed. However, we did have dinner and drinks at Sammy T's, which I enjoyed immensely. K, not so much. Somewhere between his lunch of chicken nachos&PBR at Otter House and cheese tortellini&whiskey sour at Sammy T's, K was absolutely ravaged with food poisoning.

Later that night, he felt so awful he wanted to go to the hospital. Instead, I calmly called and asked for expert advice in poison control and recovery. The recovery was slow and painful (for him) and we ended up staying an extra night in the hotel because there was no way he could ride in the car in that condition. I just spent the next 24 hours watching trash TV and eating the saltines that he couldn't stomach.

Last night we arrived home safe&sound after a blissfully uneventful 12-hour drive... what an adventure! We certainly always come home with a story to tell!

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