This vacation started off a bit rough. The mid-morning flight I’d booked to fetch me from Austin to DC had been cancelled by the time I arrived at the airport. I only had three options to arrive in DC much later on the same day. This began my warped sense of time. Once I reached my sister’s house, the kids were already in bed and we adults were too tired to be sociable.
Much too early, my sister knocked on the door, gently announcing it was 5:10. I couldn’t remember the last time I’d had such an early wake up call. In retrospect, that would’ve been back in June when I was trekking to Machu Picchu. This special occasion was to attend my nephew’s track meet. I dutifully got up, got ready and warmed up something to eat in the oven.
One thing I always teased my sister about whenever I visited was the family’s “hobby” of hoarding material and edible things. So, I had no challenge finding food. As a matter of fact, my Herculean task was not to binge eat from the time I woke up until minutes before going to bed. That plus dealing with the avalanche of stockpiled things. Case in point: plastic bags.
I’d opened a drawer to get aluminum foil and couldn’t close it again. Try as I might, the drawer kept getting stuck. Due to the earliness of the day, I repeated the same useless motion more times than logically necessary before opening the small cabinet door below the drawer. Out tumbled a few plastic bags. The drawer still wouldn’t close. Being in an all-or-nothing mood, I took great joy pulling out a dozen plastic bags, one handful at a time.
I’m sure my fascination with the bags was a combined reaction to the sheer number that had been jammed into such a small area and the fact I no longer stockpiled my own since the single-use plastic bag ban in Austin.
After dropping my nephew off at his school, my sister, brother-in-law and I went to the venue where the track meet was held–far too early! We sat in the parking lot for about half an hour where I took the first of several naps. By the time we entered the facility, the place buzzed with energetic students and sleepy-eyed adults. I kept looking for my nephew’s mohawk, which was the best way to pick him out of a crowd. My sister and I got good seats on the concrete bleachers away from the door and in front of the finish line. My brother-in-law reported to the floor to be one of about 30 other adults who’d volunteered to be timers.
My sister didn’t realize her son’s first event would be the long jump despite the fact I kept telling her he was standing in line to jump. Too bad I couldn’t get a picture of him in mid jump, but that event occurred at the far end of the field and my butt was already frozen to the concrete bleacher.The only good picture I took of his 55m dash was after the fact. I liked the blurry picture I took of his 300m race since my mind had become just as blurry. We collected him after that race and returned home. Even though we arrived home a little after one, I felt it was much later in the day. I ate and took another nap.
Believe it or not, we still made the 4-hour drive to the Poconos! I napped several more times in the car. Normally, I enjoy reading on long-distance trips, but the sun had already gone down by the time we had hit the road. About half past eleven, we arrived at the welcome center to get our keys to the condo. The receptionist apologized upfront for the darkness where our condo was located. Yet, he’d said nothing about entering from the back door.
When my sister originally tried the front door, we were shocked it was chained from the inside. None of us liked scary movies and there we were standing in near darkness on the porch when occupants may have been inside our condo. I strained my eyes, looking through the window for movement and knowing full well had I’d seen any, I would have had a near heart attack.
Despite this, I suggested trying the backdoor. My brother-in-law shot that idea down, reasoning if someone was inside, we wouldn’t want to surprise them. He tried calling reception, but couldn’t get a signal. Then my sister suggested trying the backdoor. I accompanied her. The key worked and the door was unchained. She called out a greeting and turned on the nearest lights. I picked up a flashlight, conveniently located just near the door, thinking any weapon was better than none.
As we called out some more, we made our way to the front door, unchained and unlocked it. Not seeing any evidence of personal items, I still ran upstairs, flashlight in hand and checked out the two bedrooms. All clear. Even though we wanted to have an active Sunday, all we managed to do was eat, starting with brunch at a famed breakfast place. The warm atmosphere, including the buttery smells, welcomed us in. Reading the menu, we were overwhelmed by exotic pancake and omelet choices. We began buddying up to share two dishes we were most interested in tasting, knowing full well we’d all sample one another’s plates. Although I declared no two people should get the same thing so we can sample as many things as possible, my sister and one of her daughters both ordered the garden omelet. My nephew and I split a bacon Belgian waffle and New York cheesecake pancakes–the most delicious combination that hit the table!
By the time we finished brunch, half the daylight hours were down. We shopped a little at a local chain we could have visited anywhere in the States and parts of Mexico, then visited another local food favorite. If there were too many choices at the breakfast place, the popcorn place was even worst! The employees enthusiastically asked the mob of customers who needed help next and brought out samples of popcorn choices two at a time. We mainly stuck with sweet or savory choices, not trying any “fruity” flavors or any of the homemade fudge until our second visit the next day. Most of the savory choices, especially those that were advertised as “spicy” tasted too salty. Yet, we walked away with some good selections and we all received a small bag of buttery popcorn. Instead of eating my free bag, I added it to my mother’s Christmas bag since she’s a popcorn enthusiast. By this time, there were only a few hours of daylight left. Yet, we wanted to drive by the slopes, mainly to find out where it was. We’d become lost going to nearly every destination, only to be rescued by GPS after a couple of attempts to reach a particular destination. As a matter of fact, we’d accidentally entered New Jersey twice just to pay a $1 toll to escape.
After seeing the slopes, we returned to the condo, making plans to eat breakfast at home in order to get an earlier start and hit the slopes the next day. Of course, we all reported to different rooms in the condo to relax. I favored the upstairs, which had such intense heat, I’d awoken with a slow nose bleed the first morning. Nonetheless, I still enjoyed reading up there until dinner. This restaurant had a smorgashbord of choices: BBQ, Mexican, pasta, seafood, soups, salads and red wine! That should have been our first clue that they couldn’t have been experts in all dishes. At least I captured my three sobrinos in a moment where no two of them were bickering–not that they were too enthusiastic about taking a picture with Frosty. The one thing I wanted was seafood pasta, which was no longer on the menu. Instead, the waiter, who’d obviously had a recent cigarette break, suggested to order the “Captain’s Platter” over pasta. Looked better than it tasted. Next morning, everything ran like clockwork. We all suited and booted up.Some of us tripled up on socks and other articles of clothing. Thanks to my snowsuit, I had to suck in my stomach to raise my leg and put on my boots.
We walked across the bridge. I could barely walk with all that clothing on. I was somewhat comforted by the name of the restaurant at the slopes.We quickly filled out our release forms, waited in line and had our little hearts crushed. Apparently, the 11 am tubing only happened on the weekends.
So close to tubing! Yet we had our forms filled out, our tickets and another plan to make it on time for the 1-3 pm tubing.Before we returned to the condo, I snapped a picture of the technology making it all possible: the snow machine. We’d seen evidence of natural snow, piled up in the corners of parking lots. Fortunately for me, there wasn’t more snowfall while we visited.
Third time to the slopes was the charm. We marched to the tubing area, missed the initial instructions, but that activity had such a low learning curve, the biggest challenge was keeping one’s temper while waiting in line.
Although there were three lanes, the only difference I experienced among them was how fast the line moved. Once again, I was happy to be childless. I’m sure some teacher looks seeped out. I straight up told two teens they may be prohibited from riding if they continued to throw snowballs at one another. Throwing snowballs was against the rules, but I wasn’t sure what the actual consequences were. My sister and I were the top winners for making the most runs. There was only one time I waited in an exceptionally slow line. The only consolation was speaking Spanish with a Cuban woman who’d never tubed before.
For our last ethnic meal in the Poconos, we dined at a Peruvian restaurant. Before we arrived, I had warned them against eating guinea pig, but it wasn’t on the menu. Neither was alpaca, which is tasty meat. We ordered a carafe of chicha morada, a spicy purple corn drink. Everyone except my nephew liked it. We ordered a variety of meals, each one satisfied the palate.
For our final breakfast before returning to VA, we all enjoyed the leftovers from all the places we’d eaten. I laughed inwardly at how we’d managed to recreate the food hoarding for the brief time we were there!