Greetings, my fellow port swillers!
I hope you all had a joyful and stuff-a-licious Thanksgiving holiday! Certainly the Family Robbo did: As per usual, we went down to visit my brother’s family in North Carolina. (He and his wife have a son and two daughters, all of whom are roughly of age with Robbo’s three gels. The Boy, for example, is a sophomore at Virginia Tech, while Brother’s gels are in high school.) Much merriment was had by all. The cousins get on very well among themselves, Bro and I found much reason to stand guard over the outdoor grill while the turkey was cooking (constant monitoring of the thermometer is crucial, you understand, and adult beverages only aid in concentration), the wimmynfolk confab’d to their hearts’ desires up in the kitchen, and all in all, everything was hunky-dory.
Robbo’s older cousin was there as well. As regular friends of the decanter may recall, said cousin has a passion for genealogy. This time, she trapped ol’ Robbo in an extended monologue on our ancestors of seven or eight generations back – Scots-Irish Presbyterian stock with names such as Gilmore and Paxton – who had settled the upper Shenandoah Valley in the 1730’s. Curiously, given that I went to law school at Dubyanell, several of my ancestors of those generations were killed, kidnapped and/or enslaved in Indian raids in 1759 and 1763 during the French and Indian War not more than a couple miles from where I lived and studied. Small world, ain’t it?
On the one hand, the inner history geek in me loves this sort of thing. On the other? Well, is Thanksgiving Dinner really the time to spread out reproductions of 1734 land-grant maps and superimpose current Rand-McNally counterparts in order to assess streambed shifts in the Maury River and Kerr’s Creek for purposes of locating precise boundary lines?
And speaking of my cousin, it has become her custom to challenge us to bring Virginia wines to each of our regular meet-ups (Thanksgiving, Christmas, and Easter), there to compare and contrast the many labels available (all of which are complete dreck, if you ask me). This year, the Devil whispered into ol’ Robbo’s ear that Trump Wine might be appropriate, both since it is bottled at Monticello and also since said Cousin is a proud Lefty.
I showed my brother said bottle ahead of time and asked his advice. His opinion? Nyet!
On reflection, I concluded he was right and hid the bottle until our cousin left. (We drank it later. Truth be told, it wasn’t awful, but I wouldn’t buy it again.)
The only other things to say about the holiday are travel-related:
Downbound, Ol’ Robbo found himself in the lee of the smoke of several forest fires blowing across Nelson and Amherst Counties. It’s corny to say, but it really did feel like twilight at noon as we made our way through, thus seriously messing about with Ol’ Robbo’s internal clock. Coming home, everything seemed to have cleared up to a great extent, thank goodness.
Upbound, just south of Altavista, Virginia on Highway 29, Ol’ Robbo suddenly spotted a dog on the median: It was a young bloodhound (or some sort of hound, anyway) lying curled up in the grass and looking around in a confused way. There was no place to stop just there, the formulation of what I had seen took a couple minutes to congeal in my braims, and what the hell could we have done with another dog anyway? Anyhoo, after a couple minutes, I told Mrs. R what I had seen. Being the far more practical and hands-on of us, she immediately called teh local animal control dispatcher and related to them what I had spotted.
I dunno if there was any follow-up.
One thing Mrs. R and I agree on: People who dump dogs (or other animals) at the side of the road ought to be shot.
UPDATE: Ol’ Robbo completely forgot to relate an aspect of this trip that is sure to add many, many demerits to his Man Card. You see, barring unforeseen complications, it is no more than a 5 1/2 to 5 3/4 hours’ journey from Port Swiller Manor to my brother’s house. Not exactly a short hop, but hardly an all day excursion either.
Nonetheless, Ol’ Robbo allowed himself to be cajoled into stopping on this trip no fewer than three times – in each direction! The most infuriating stop was the last one: 45 minutes out from home, the Youngest – who had been sleeping most of the way – woke up and announced that she needed a pit stop. And like the sap that I am, rayther than telling her to cross her legs and suck it up, I shamefully pulled over at the next convenience store/gas station.
What can I say? Mea culpa.
Man Rules, of course, clearly dictate that stops on long drives are determined solely by fuel needs. Everything else – water, snacks, meals, potty breaks – are supposed to key on that determination, and that determination alone. You know you’re not stopping again for another three or four hours? Plan accordingly!
Deviate from this plan and you’ll be stopping every freakin’ 20 minutes for one reason or another.
The Family Robbo may need to take a very considerably longer ride some time in the next few months, and I have already made clear to Mrs. R (and directed that she inform our offspring) that I will not display such weakness again.