March 19, 2011: And Here We Go Again

I got up around nine this morning.  Nine on the east coast so it felt like eight to me since I just came from Texas a few hours before.  This is going to be one long, long day.

I showered and packed myself up – which didn’t take much.  I didn’t bring a laptop with me this time.  I am working purely from my BlackBerry and my iPod Touch.  I was very excited to find that American Airlines had free WiFi on the flight last night.  So even though I did not have a laptop with me I had the iPod which I hooked up and I was able to use email for the entire flight.  That was great.  I’m definitely using American Airlines much, much more often – especially now that AirTran was bought by SouthWest.

I went down and hung out with Michelle for an hour or so before John woke up.  Once he was up we went to the Double TT diner in Annapolis for breakfast while we were waiting for Brian to make it down from Philadelphia.

Brian arrived around noon.  We hung out with John until just after two thirty then we got on the road.  John and I had looked at the map and decided that skipping the long, arduous drive to Front Royal through downtown Washington, D.C. and the never ending stretch down Interstate 81 through the western Virginia mountains was best.  Instead Brian and I are driving south on 301 to Richmond, which I have done several times before but not for the last several years, and from there take Virginia state routes 60, 24 and 460 to get over to Roanoke which is an entire section of Virginia which I have never seen at all would be better.  The state highway route is many fewer miles but moves much, much slower overall.

Traffic ended up being horrendous on 301 for the first really long stretch.  We lost a ton of time there.  But that was expected to be slow – just not quite that slow.  The 301 route crosses the Potomac from Maryland into Virginia just ten miles up river from the George Washington birthplace which is on the north bank of the Virginia side of the lower Potomac.

Once we were into Virginia things sped up a bit.  We got out to Interstate 95 and down into Richmond and then turned west to head across the length of the state.  There is another route across Virginia even farther south and I think that we will have to try that one the next time that I am coming to or from Annapolis.  This trip definitely taught us a lot about what this colonial American heartland was light, though.  It was very beautiful and interesting.  We were very much off of the beaten path to be sure.

It felt like the trip was taking forever.  Around seven thirty we drove right past the Appomattox Courthouse – the place where the American Civil War officially came to a close.  There is a national park there now.  It was dark and officially closed to Brian and I parked the truck out in front of the gate and walked in in the darkness.  We walked around the park a little and up to the courthouse itself.  We were both pretty excited to get to see this amazing piece of history up close.  You learn about this place in school and often forget that it is a real place that really exists.

It was pretty late at night but the “super moon”, the biggest, brightest moon in eighteen years, was out and illuminating everything just fine.  I called Dominica and she really couldn’t care less that we were seeing something so awesome.  So I called my father who appreciates these things.  He said that he had visited Appomattox, Virginia in 1957 when he was eleven.  He could remember it very clearly.  It hasn’t change all that much but there are real parking lots now and the old dirt road is now Virginia 24 running nearby.

That was our only “fun” stop of the trip.  From there we were back into the car on on to the endless road again.  Virginia is the longest, most painful portion of the trip.

It was around midnight that we crossed into Tennessee in Bristol.  We were doing what we could to Tweet and FourSquare post from the drive but for nearly one hundred miles in Virginia Brian’s AT&T service was completely non-existent and my BlackBerry just can’t run FourSquare reliably so between us a lot of posting was missed.  I can’t wait until I am able to get a new phone on my Verizon plan.  The Blackberry is really just ridiculous today.  It was great when I first got it but over the past two years the market has really changed and it is a nearly useless device today.  I have about six months to go on my current contract but I am hoping to hold out until Apple releases the next iPhone version for Verizon before updating.

Brian drove this entire section of the trip.  I will be taking over early in the morning to do the “overnight” portion of the drive.  I do better during the overnight sections that few other people can do.  If only I could nap in the car this would all be so much easier.

Dominica was emailing all day letting us know what was going on with the house today.  The big item was that our HVAC guy came today and looked into why we were not getting any air conditioning.  Turns out that our furnace is not matched to our heat pump and the whole thing is screwed up and has to be replaced.  Ugh.  Fortunately, it looks like just replacing the air filter will get us through the immediate issues but likely by next year at the latest we will need to be paying for an entirely new unit – one that is modern and fits our heat pump.  Right now the air conditioning is freezing the coils because the blower is unable to move enough air to keep them warm.

The second big item is that the carpet guys arrived and did a great job putting in our new carpet.  Dominica says that it looks great and that the padding is really nice so it feels great in there.  All of the rest of the house is on a slab but the garage office area is on a raised floor and then with really good padding and the carpet on top of that so it feels great to stand in there.  Liesl loves it and has been playing in there all day, I am told.

Our contractor even came over this evening and got to work on the shelving that can go in to place now that the carpet is in.  We should, in theory, have most of everything done this week.  Fingers crossed.

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