Two Sundays ago, armed with a book on CD (The Double Helix), and a cooler full of grapes, I made a six-hour trek to Roanoke, Virginia to visit my college pal Shannon and her family.
I downed water on the drive to keep hydrated and found myself pretty desperate for a bathroom after about 2.5 hours, so I stopped at a SW Ohio rest area. For the most part, I've found rest areas to be a safe bet. Just avoid them after dark - that's when truckers looking for love abound.
I burst through the ladies' room door and was horrified to find a hole in a concrete block - no seat or flushing device - with flies buzzing around. Well, there was no way my fancy city arse was touching that thing, so drove another 30 miles until I found a McDonald's. Say what you will about their food, but I LOVE their bathrooms when I'm traveling!
Another terrific aspect of the drive was the highway that runs through the West Virginia mountains. Technically, the speed limit is 55 mph, but trucks barrel around the windy turns at 75 mph. I tried to keep up (because the alternative was getting crushed) and found myself clutching the steering wheel until my knuckles turned white.
The Traveler Arrives
I spent a fun week with my friends. I got to help the girls with the homework - but was confused about whether Pluto was actually a planet. (Apparently it still counts and is part of the 'My Very Eager Mother Just Served Us Nine Pizzas' rhyme, but it's considered a dwarf planet.)We explored the shops of downtown Roanoke where I bought sweet potato butter (cousin to apple butter.) We went to a Weight Watchers meeting (I gained .4 but Shannon lost 4 lbs because she rocks!)
After the Weight Watchers meeting, we went to O'Charleys and shared pretzel chicken strips and the nacho potato chips as our dinner (yep, a wise choice - but at least we shared. Woman can't live on salad alone.) Even better, we ordered my new favorite dessert - tiny fried doughnuts that arrive in a paper bag filled with cinnamon sugar. The waiter shakes them up before he puts them on your plate and they come with a yummy cream cheese dipping sauce.
On Sunday, we went shopping with Baby Jude. (He will forever be Baby Jude to me, even when he's a strapping 20-something playboy.) We tried on lip plumper at Victoria's Secret, which made our lips ginormous and tingly.
We also went to Wet Seal to try on hilarious outfits, much to the horror of the teenager working the register, who obviously thought we were gross old ladies. I tried on a cheetah-print maxi-dress, which was about as attractive as a burlap sack. Shannon tried on silver rubber pants and a strapless black sequin shirt. The saleslady actually complimented Shannon on her outfit but offered no kind words for my Cheetah-Old Lady self.
We also went to some youngster store - I think it was Charlotte Russe - where they were selling sweater dresses, stirrup pants and leg warmers. I felt like I was in elementary school and junior high all over again. I think I'm depressed that they're repeating the trends of my youth. If they bring back shoulder pads, I'm officially out of the game!
The Funny Thing About Roanoke
They think they're very Southern in Roanoke, which cracked me up. You'd think the Civil War happened last week with all the chatter about Yankees and the Mason-Dixon line. It's also a big McCain area, so I fit in well. My friend's oldest daughter loves Obama, so I brought her a T-shirt. When her friends came over, she proudly told them I volunteered for the campaign and had even attended one of Obama's speeches. The little girl promptly told me her mom said Obama smoked and didn't believe in God. (Which was the worse offense?) Of course, I had to tell the little girl her mom was wrong - neither of those statements were true.
Last time I visited my friends, I made the younger daughter cry by telling her the Bratz dolls were trashy, not fashionable. This time, I made her cry by cooking dinner. I made bubble-up pizza casserole, which I thought would be popular with the kiddies. Nope! With tears rolling down her face, the younger daughter sobbed that she hated onions, peppers and pepperoni. Oh well - it wasn't the first time my cooking made someone cry!
It was hard to leave - I wish they lived near me! The return trip was uneventful, except I got stuck outside of Nelsonville, Ohio for 2.5 hours because of an accident. I was only 80 minutes from home at that point, so it was a real bummer. The highway only had two lanes and it was the only road I knew that would take me home, so I just had to wait it out. I really had to use the restroom and considered using a Burger King cup in my car, but decided to tough it out! It would've been terrible to miss!