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Monday, September 5, 2011

My Alternative Vacation OR Running Away From Irene OR What To Do When Everyone is Bored Out of Their Skulls!

We were supposed to go to the beach.  We had a house rented in Kill Devil Hills, NC.  The day our rental began was the day that Irene roared into her landfall, which just happened to be pretty much where our house was located.  There was a brief conversation that consisted of HIM: "I think we should go."  Me: "I don't float well in hurricanes."  HIM: "We've never been in a hurricane before."  Me: "I can live with that."  HIM: "Just think how close the water will be."  Me: "The house we rented is on stilts for a reason."  HIM: "We'll bring snacks."  Me: "Hmm."

The upshot was that because we have a 7 year old child we were forced to be circumspect.  (If we hadn't had Cressy, we would have been out there, having a par-tay!  Right.)

So Irene passed by and I called the rental agency.  Apparently all the other people who had rented houses during that week were calling the same rental agency at the same time.  I ended up leaving six messages.  (For some asinine reason I thought that it was possible that we might be able to go to the house for a couple of days and enjoy what was left of our vacation.  After all, the county website said it was letting people back into the county and there was minimal damage in the area where we had a house.)  The rental agency NEVER called me back.  (Well, to be specific they never returned any of the six messages I left.)  (Yes, I'm aware I should cut them some slack but when you hear why they called me later in the week, you will roll your eyes.  As a matter of fact, you should just put Scotch tape on them in preparation of the eye rolling that will occur.)  (The Scotch tape will minimize damage to your central retinal artery and to your optic nerves.  I had to consult an opthamologist.)

I basically said, "Eff this.  We'll go to the...MOUNTAINS!"  There are no hurricanes there.  So we headed for the Shenandoah Valley and mountains galore.  (Hey, I was raised in Oregon and the official definition of a mountain is a very tall peak that still has snow on it, even in the middle of summer.  The mountains of Virginia do not qualify, but apparently I'm a minority opinion.)

So we went to Luray and hung out in the park with the Singing Tower.

Here's Cressy holding up the tower.  It's called
the Singing Tower because it has a buttload
of bells inside it and apparently rocks out when
played.  (We didn't plan ahead so we missed
out on the whole Quasimodo inspired head holding
We also saw some fungi in the park.
Yes, this is a big freaking mushroom.
There were others, too.  When I realized that
I needed some comparison I tried to get
Cressy to put her hand next to the thing and
she balked.  Apparently she isn't aware
that mushrooms are generally not
So I got HIM to do it.
This was right before the mushroom glommed onto
HIM's hand and devoured his face whilst
Cressy and I ran away screaming over our shoulders,
"You're on your own, sucker!"
Apparently enthused by mushrooms, we ate lunch with an old friend.  (The restaurant didn't have mushrooms on the menu but they did have corn fritters and this place knows how to make them right.  Uncle Buck's in Luray!  Check it out.)
Yum.  Corn fritters.  This will instantly add three pounds
to your waistline or butt (depending on your particular problem area)
simply by looking at this photograph.
We headed up to the Skyline Drive, where for a mere $15 you too can drive along the crest of the Shenandoah Mountains and hope that the cement and rock walls will repel your car if it happens to accidentally run off the side.  (The sheer excitement will make you wish that you were wearing those pee catching pads that Whoopi Goldberg hocks.  See my blog about that here.)
On one part where I was induced into forced outdoor activity (somehow
I had forgotten that this specific excursion was all my idea) and HIM
pointed out this.  (See photo above.)  HIM had to take a picture of it.
It's a geodetic survey marker.  I don't know what that is.  I think someone flipped
a coin, or perhaps the marker, and said, "Let's put it in concrete right here
to commemorate the fact that we worked on Skyline Drive.  Where's
the beer?"  (Somehow this is important.)
We were forced to stop to observe the fantastic view.  (I was protesting whiningly the whole time.  "Why is this happening to me?"  "Who cares about panoramic views?"  "Do I have to get out of the car again?")

Then we got to Skyline Lodge where more hilarity ensued.  Cressy was attracted instantly to the gift shop where a finger puppet chipmunk was obtained by fluttering her eyelashes longingly at her father.  (Do I need to mention that this particular puppet requires one to stick their finger up the chipmunk's aft area?  Well, if I didn't need to mention it, too bad, because I did it anyway.)
This is 'Chippy,' her new best friend for possibly
24 to 48 hours.  (Seriously, it's over three days later
and the poor little plush bastard is on the outs.)
Then we settled down to watch the sunset.  Cressy said, "Look a deer."  I thought she was kidding but here was a doe, who looked at us and fluttered her eyelashes longingly.  (Either she had taken a page out of Cressy's book or she had been fed by the tourists before.) 
This is from our room's balcony.  The deer hung out hopefully until
it became obvious that we weren't going to throw her any Cheesits.
(I swear the doe glared at us when she walked around the corner.)
The deer was so interesting that poor hapless Chippy was left inside to rot while Cressy cooed to the deer.  (She seriously thought that the deer would walk up to her and let Cressy pet her.)  (I let her watch 'Bambi' too much.  It's gonna haunt me.)
"Oh, woe is I," Chippy lamented.  "I have been left inside while
the deer and the antelope play.  Wait, that's the great plains or
the range or something.  I will fall on my side and look pitiful.
Possibly this will mean that no one will stick anything up
my aft area for awhile.  It's getting sore."
Then the sun set and we waited for the stars to come out.
The sun has setted.  (Yes, I used 'setted' on purpose.)
Cressy was dying for the first star to come out because she had just learned "Star Light, Star Bright."  But she was also very tired so she was saying grumpily, "When is the first star going to come out already?"  (I had told her that she had to go to bed after seeing the first star.  Normally bedtime isn't a welcome event, but she was pooped.)  Although she was ready to wait out that pesky first star she was going to let everyone know how unhappy she was with the current state of affairs.

We went out into the front of the room because it was darker in the east and saw that the doe had been joined by about twenty of her compatriots.  The grass was, apparently, greener on the other side of the hotel.  Or the deer knew that the humans would ooo-and-ahh over them.

Cressy saw her first star, said the mantra, and made a wish.  (The wish?  She wanted to fly.  Always interesting to listen to a 7 year old's perspective.)

The next day we went to Luray Caverns.  Our guide was Shaggy's twin brother.
If he had an animated Great Dane, we would
like, totally be solving the mystery
of the Creepy Caverns.  Jinkies!
Also we saw some neat cave stuff.
Not sure what this was called.  My mind
pretty much became a blur about this point.
And there was more cave stuff.
This looks like a volcano basically vomited its
guts out.
Eventually we were led out of the underworld.  We been gifted with a wealth of stalactite/stalagmite information that my puny brain can never hope to digest in one session.  The exit, interestingly enough, led into the gift shop.  (Pretty clever.)  I stood in the gift shop, panting from the three stories of stairs I just climbed, while the clerks waved cheap crap from China at me.  (I think they must be used to panting people and don't take it personally.)

Anyway, we got home sometime later.  Then the rental agency from North Carolina called.  (Here comes the eye rolling part I warned you about.)  They wanted to know if...we were okay.

I didn't answer right away because I was attempting to process the information that I had just been imparted.  Finally, I said to the woman on the phone, "Is there a reason why I shouldn't be?"  The woman, I never caught her name, said, "There was a hurricane."  (Oh, I love erudite people.)  "Yes," I said.  "We kind of noticed."  The woman said, "You weren't at the rental house?"  I had to take a breath then.  (I wanted to add, "And we have a television and we were watching the Weather Channel and we're not particularly stupid."  But I restrained myself.   Barely.)  Instead, I said in explanation, "The hurricane made landfall the day that our rental started."  (I thought it was a given.  Only a moron would have driven over and taken possession of a rental house that is 75 feet from the beach and in the FREAKING middle of a Cat 3 Hurricane.)  (But I'm thinking that this poor woman on the phone probably had a few examples of said morons.)  "So you didn't go?" the woman persisted.

That's the part where I screamed, "OWWW!" because my eyes rolled back so hard that they bounced off my brain.

"Of course, we didn't go to the #$%^@!! beach," I snarled.  "Okay, then," the woman said mundanely.  Then she added the killing statement, "Hopefully we'll see you next year."  (One must understand that this woman wasn't returning any of my six messages, but was, instead, covering the collective asses of the rental agency from potential lawsuits.)  ("Hello, potential return customer.  We're calling to see if you weathered the hurricane in one piece.  Isn't this a wonderific gesture of goodwill on our part?  Please don't seek out a lawyer."  "Go eff yourself."  "Nice talking to you.")

And how was your summer vacation?

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