Monday, March 28, 2005

Easter weekend travels and travails

Our trip got off to a slow start, as it took us an hour to get from Manhattan to Brooklyn, and then another 20 minutes to find the entrance to the BQE from James & Jess's apartment in Ft. Greene. But by 7:30 we were on our way, and after a stop at a rest area in New Jersey we were fed, fueled, and ready for the drive. We passed the time listening to albums that I somehow missed over the past few years: Wilco's Yankee Hotel Foxtrot, Radiohead's OK Computer, and Franz Ferdinand (though I hadn't missed that one). I also treated everyone to some selections from my MP3 collection: the two sample songs from Stovokor (which we all agreed sucked ass), a little Mountain Sprout, and some Beatallica. We got to Bowie around 12:30 AM, chatted with my father for a while, and went to bed around 1:30. It had been a long day for everyone.

When my dad and stepmother got up on Friday morning, they noticed that our rental car was missing. Since no one from our party had gotten up early, they quickly figured out that the car had been stolen. Dad woke James, who got up right away to talk to the police. Liz and I hadn't left anything in the car, but James and Jess had left a few things there: some gifts for our friends' baby, James' coat, wallet, and briefcase, and their portable CD player and some CDs. Around 10 AM James got his briefcase returned to him. He is in the middle of his studies for his conversion to Judaism, and had some rare books that he'd borrowed from his rabbi in the bag. Evidently the car thief was kind enough to drop the bag and books at the synagogue, where a man attending the early morning services found the bag in the parking lot. Due to several complications with the car rental policy, we weren't able to get another car from Enterprise: 1) we'd violated our agreement by leaving the NY-NJ-CT area, and 2) Enterprise couldn't get us another car until they got a copy of the police report, which wasn't going to happen until Monday at the earliest. Liz and I immediately made train reservations for Sunday, and James & Jess planned to take the Chinatown bus instead.

We made some adjustments to our schedule and proceeded with our day. Liz, James, and I took the Metro into DC, while Jess went to Laurel, MD to visit with some other Georgetown friends. Liz and I had lunch with Marilyn (one of Liz's friends from her old DC paralegal job) and Michael (one of Liz's high school friends). After lunch the two of us went to Alexandria to see Rich & Theresa's new baby, Colin. We hung out there for a few hours and got some great pictures of Colin, mostly him sleeping on Rich's chest. Leaving VA, we took the Metro back downtown to Foggy Bottom where we met up with Chrissy and her fiance Michael. We drove out to Bowie and ate at Chili's (yes, the height of suburban chain-restaurant cuisine).

On Saturday morning Liz and I drove over to Gaithersburg to see Rob and Marissa. They were in the process of moving her stuff into his townhouse, so we only had a short time to visit with them, eat breakfast, and catch up. After that, we went back to Bowie and relaxed while my dad prepared the lasagna we'd asked him to make as the main course for dinner that night. My mother and brother showed up late in the afternoon and we enjoyed some of the best lasagna in the world.

We reconvened at 11:30 on Sunday morning for brunch. My father made quiche along with fresh bagels, lox, and fruit. My brother had brought along his 1970s-era Chemex (tm) coffee maker, and my mother insisted that we had to taste-test the coffee made with it next to regular electric drip coffee. They futzed with the Chemex for a while, using two-month old Blue Mountain beans from Zabar's in Manhattan, and argued about grinds, measurements, and water temperatures. During this experiment, my father looked as if he wanted to shoot himself, and even I, an avowed coffee snob, prepared to light myself on fire. We decided that the Chemex coffee was weaker than the drip coffee, but that might have been due to the coarsely ground beans in the filter. Unfortunately, I'd already had two cups of coffee, so I'm not sure I was the best test subject for the project. We chatted for a while after brunch but soon it was time for Liz and I to go to the train station. Another family reunion weekend in DC was over.

We came back on Amtrak, with a man snoring away behind us who could challenge my father for his title of loudest sleeper in recorded history. When we got home, our plans to have fresh pizza for dinner were dashed when the pizza place on the corner was closed. So was the nearby grocery store. We had to settle for frozen pizza from Gristede's instead. Just because Jesus came back from the dead, people think they should get the day off work.

No comments: