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Posts Tagged ‘W&L Hospitality Wars’

Day Twenty-Two: Tap Out

06 Jul

The driving day from Hell. Aka, 469 miles of misery. An unwelcome serendipitous deviation. A bad day on the road.

Which was unfortunate, because it actually started off really great. I slept in a super comfy bed, and was not awakened at the crack of dawn. Had an amazing omelette for breakfast. Got everyone in the car at a reasonable time (shortly after 9:00am), and was able to say fond goodbyes to our fabulous hosts. Went right by a 7-11 and was able to procure my caffeine early. Traffic was light on our way out of northern Virginia. Stopped for an early lunch at a Chick-fil-a. Yet somewhere after that it all started sliding off the rails for me…

You might think from my description of our cocktails that my problem today might be of the hangover variety. I assure you, it was not. I paced my previous nights indulgences, had plenty to eat, had consumed caffeine, and had even slept quite soundly, and while maybe not as much as I typically need/prefer, certainly no less than I had any other night of CMRT. But after lunch I was feeling hella exhausted. Like having difficulty keeping my eyes open exhausted. Like (not to start any rumors because this is me speaking from past experience, not current circumstance) first trimester pregnancy exhausted. Not conducive to safe driving. Add on top of that, I started developing a pounding headache, a migraine that is a monthly visitor, coming along in cycle to completely ruin my day. If it was only one symptom, I might have been able to handle it with distractions (music, a good audiobook, talking on the phone with appropriate ear buds), or frequent rest stops, or continued caffeine consumption. But the combination of the two? Just too much. We were attempting to make our way from Chantilly, Virginia, to Richmond Hill, Georgia. Should have been approximately 585 miles. It was definitely meant to be our long driving day. And we were doing okay. But after awhile I was really suffering. And my focus turned to whether or not I should even still be driving. Along the time I started thinking that maybe we should attempt to find a large-dog-friendly hotel, I noticed an ominous gathering of clouds on the horizon to the west. Then I realized that they were actually moving rather rapidly towards us. By the time the rain began to fall, I had already located a Red Roof Inn (always dog friendly!) not too far down the highway. But I was still on the fence, because despite feeling like death on toast, I really, really wanted to make it to our destination. I was still on the fence right up to the point when the first gust of wind pushed my van around in my lane, and I watched as the second gust pushed an 18-wheeler over the center line. I got off the fence right quick. My speed had dropped by approximately 20 mph, conditions were only going to get worse, and while I was feeling more awake than ever, my headache was intense and causing me nausea. I just did not have the concentration, nor the stamina, necessary to navigate the final 120 miles. So, on a stormy evening in Santee, South Carolina, I tapped out.

After securing a room at the Red Roof Inn, I walked Remy, and we settled in. The kids watched a little television as I laid down and took a power nap. When I woke, I felt significantly less exhausted, however, my head was still pounding, and nausea was my constant companion. But despite all that, I needed to find some food. We left Remy in the room (probably not supposed to do that. Oops.) and headed out to procure some quick eats. I had originally promised the kids we might hit the Cracker Barrel, but seeing as how I couldn’t even imagine eating hashbrown casserole, which is one of my favorite things, I told them we needed another option. Beau had spotted a Pizza Hut right across from the hotel, so we ended up getting a pizza to go, to eat in the room. This was a fantastic option, because I fell back asleep, and never even ended up having any. But the kids got a filling dinner (it really did look like a good cheese pizza), and I got some more rest. Waking only long enough to tell the kids to brush teeth and turn off the tv, and briefly walk Remy, before falling back asleep for the night. While I was disappointed not to make it to our friends’ house, it was the right call. It wasn’t safe for us to be on the road; not with the inclement weather conditions, and not with me not feeling my sharpest and most focused. I’m not a quitter, but that was a totally warranted and perfectly reasonable tap out.

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Day Twenty-One: W&L Hospitality Wars

05 Jul

Sadly, our time at Chez Tison has come to a close, and it’s time to get back on the southbound trail. The Tisons were back to work & camp, and the Willims were back in the car. Our first stop? Westport, only a few miles down the road, to retrieve our dear Remy. Because of his “exit bath” he was fluffy and sweet smelling, though anxious as all get out, as we piled him back into the car. I cannot imagine the mental gymnastics this poor pooch has been going through these past few weeks. First I put him in the car for a four days sojourn northbound – including a stop in a home with a backyard like he’s used to, then a hotel room, then a jaunt into NYC and a night in a big city apartment, then arrival in absolute doggie nirvana, where we proceed to spend 2 full weeks. He was clearly under the impression that it was a relocation, not a vacation, and settled into his spoiled existence, where every day included hours of vigorous ball chasing along the edge of and into the water. Then, this halcyon time comes to a close with me packing the car, and driving several hours to drop him off at an unfamiliar kennel, and leave him there for 3 nights. To be fair, it came highly recommended, this kennel, and I did spring for the 3 play sessions a day package, where in addition to his indoor/outdoor run, he got to mingle with other dogs and have personal attention from kennel techs. But then, I pick him up and he realizes that I have not left him forever, just in time for him to go back into the car for another long day of driving. I think maybe we should have shared one of his Xanax.

As we are driving south, I am noticing my fuel range dip lower and lower. Deciding that it was probably best to fill the tank soon, I got off at the last exit before a long bridge, and started looking for a station. I’m in the groove, looking for the best place to stop when Avery pipes up from the back, “Are we still in New Jersey?” I had to think about it for a second, but did confirm that yes, in fact, we were still in New Jersey. When I asked her why, she responded simply, “Because that means you can’t pump your own gas. Someone else is going to do it for you.” For goodness sakes! Good thing I have her on this trip with me! I had totally forgotten that, and would have definitely been yelled at if I had exited my vehicle at the pumps. That was certainly some stress avoided. Who says the kids aren’t paying attention to my ceaseless prattling on with random facts?

Today, as we were hopping from one W&L home to another, the W&L Hospitality Wars were launched. A friendly competition, no doubt, but a fierce one. Well aware of the deluxe accommodations and generous hospitality provided at Chez Tison, there is a very high bar, but Pete, being the competitive sort that he is, was aiming to clear it. For those of you W&L alum following along, especially you class of ’95ers, I am here to tell you that Pete Tapley grew up good. Pete was always a super nice guy, fun to be around, smart, genuine, silly, funny. But I have to admit he was one I couldn’t picture grown up. It could have gone either way. He could have been stuck in immature frat guy mode eternally (you all know someone who fits that bill), or he could have turned into a fully functioning, productive member of society. I am happy to report that he is the latter, but still retains the joie de vivre that made him such a wonderful friend back in the day. Mr. Fitzwell still lives, but now he’s the husband to a beautiful, funny, intelligent and driven wife, and the father of two handsome, polite, funny, and talented teenage boys. And did I mention that he can cook? Wow. He can cook. So much so, that at dinner I was going back for seconds of his roasted broccoli, which is the single vegetable I have never been able to stomach. And his omelettes? To die for. He’s officially my omelette guy. (Don’t worry, Joe, you’re still my General Nostalgia guy. Always.)

Pete is the consummate host, and was gracious enough to take us all in, including Remy the fluffy beast; who promptly thanked him for his hospitality by vomiting on his kitchen rug. Embarrassing. And as I walked in the door, he had the first round of cocktails ready. In a glass emblazoned with the W&L Trident he poured a daiquiri over trident-shaped ice cubes. Off to a strong start. It’s always such fun catching up with an old friend. On a shaded, screened porch over a well-mixed cocktail or two, even better. Round two, was clearly meant to knock me over. Ever heard of a French 75? I probably should have been concerned when Pete asked, “Does gin offend you?” But I knew I was in good hands, and the resulting mix of gin & prosecco, with a little simple syrup and lemon juice was delightful and refreshing! Clearly, the W&L hospitality wars were about pacing. As the third and final round, which I nursed for quite a long time, was a mint julep, made with an abundance of fresh mint. (The Tisons had the multi-night advantage, where the Tapley residence was a single night stopover, so Pete was pulling out all the stops!) Dinner was delicious, and dessert was inspired. Why use marshmallows for s’mores when you can use stale Peeps?! The sugar coating caramelizes in the fire adding a unique and tasty flavor and texture addition. After dessert and some visiting out on the back patio, we headed inside for a little impromptu concert performed by their exceedingly talented 13 year old son, Wim. Remy was loving the attention being paid to him by their older son, Jack, and we all enjoyed listening to Wim play some of his original songs on the guitar. One of them Cherry even got up and sang along. It was truly delightful, and I fully intend to say things like “I went to school with his father,” and “I once had a private concert in his living room,” when Wim becomes famous. Holy cow, can that kid write a song.

It was such a short visit, partly because the drive that was supposed to take 6 hours took a little over 8. Blerg. But it was so pleasant just hanging out with Jack, who I’m hopeful will be playing lacrosse at W&L in another two years. I’d be happy to think of a young man like him being part of the next generation of Generals. And Cherry, who is funny and sardonic, just like me. And Wim, who is darling, and quirky, and soon to be the next huge singer-songwriter sensation (and he darn well better come through on those backstage passes he promised!) And Pete, who grew up good, and continues to be such pleasant and entertaining company.

And the winner of the W&L Hospitality Wars? ME. Me and mine. I feel so blessed to have such beautiful friendships that have spanned the decades with people who are so generous and gracious. I am definitely the winner in this scenario.

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© 2010 Krista Lindsey Willim