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Archive for the ‘West Virginia’ Category

After Monticello, we hit the Cracker Barrel for dinner, then cruised on into Lexington for the night. Diamondqueen got sick on her chicken fried steak (she always gets sick on anything fried and greasy, but does that stop her?) and had to leave me and the Hooligans at the hotel’s indoor pool where we took a final swim. We had the pool to ourselves, which was lovely, although I had to watch the Hooligans like a manic hawk. J.Hooligan relaxed and swimmed the best he had all vacation, and S.Hooligan was all too confident in her floaty, clinging to the pool wall and inching herself around the perimeter of the pool, including the deep end. Even with that, it was relaxing and fun.

We skipped “eating out” next morning and partook of the hotel’s complimentary breakfast, which was surprisingly good. Then came the long, long drive home.

One of our pit stops was in West Virginia about a half hour outside of Charleston. It was one of those “service areas” with a massive gas station and combined bathrooms/gift shop/fast food restaurant. While Diamondqueen filled up the van, I took the kids into the store area. S. and I waited outside while J. used the bathroom. There were some arcade “prize” games, and little did I know that S. was observing her surroundings and making some choices.

When Diamondqueen arrived, she took S. into the bathroom, then they joined J.Hooligan and me in the gift shop. I needed the bathroom myself, so as I entered the Women’s, Diamondqueen rationed out a few quarters so the Hooligans could play the arcade games.

When I returned, I was astonished to see S.Hooligan holding a stuffed animal. She’d gotten it from one of those claw machines that you just assume are rigged against you. Typically, rather than thrill S., this reinforced a notion that threatened to doom us: Since it had been so easy to get this animal, she reasoned, it would be just as easy to get the one she REALLY wanted, a pink stuffed cat in the back.

There was no telling her that this would be impossible. “Just get it,” S. kept insisting as we each took a try at grasping the kitty with the claw. Her voice was taking on an edge of hysteria that meant an ugly scene would soon erupt.

Meanwhile, J.Hooligan was disgruntled because S. had a toy and he didn’t. He had his eye on a machine full of rubbery, spiky ball-heads with goofy faces. Winning one similarly seemed impossible to any rational creature, but I shoved quarters into the machine and gave it a shot. When I failed and saw the disappointment on J.’s face, I drew from my stash of quarters left over from our aborted visit to the arcade on Saturday night and handed them over so he could give it a try himself.

At the claw machine, Diamondqueen was using the last of her quarters trying to win the pink kitten. She was drawing a couple of dollar bills out of her purse for the change machine when we both looked at J. He was holding up one of the garish spiky rubber heads in a fluorescent yellow-green the shade of toxic waste. “This was exactly the one I wanted!” J. said happily, his eyes sparkling with pride.

Diamondqueen and I just stared at him, murmuring “I don’t believe it,” until S.Hooligan brought us back with tearful impatience. I made a few miserable attempts with the claw (almost winning a different toy, which actually would have made everything worse), then turned the machine back over to Diamondqueen.

“Honey, it’s just about impossible to win that kitten!” I implored. We tried to explain why our attempts were failing, pointing out how the toys slipped out of the claw as it swung toward the chute. “Just pick it up and drop it in!” S.Hooligan cried. She’d done it once. There was no reason it wouldn’t happen again.

And it did. After a couple more tries, Diamondqueen pinched the pink cat by one ear and managed to plop it down the chute. S.Hooligan, her faith rewarded, cuddled her new treasure while Diamondqueen and I, weak-kneed and incredulous, herded the kids and their prizes out to the car. (Of course, we didn’t want to even attempt to calculate how much those sorry toys cost compared to what we could have purchased in a good discount store. Then again, how do you put a price on the look on the Hooligans’ faces?)

In Charleston we stopped for lunch at a Lone Star, then finished the last long leg home (it seemed so much longer than when we had set out). For the last two hours the kids asked continually when we would be home. When we arrived at last, pulling into the driveway, J.Hooligan said, “I almost cried when I saw our house.” I turned around; sure enough, his eyes were almost teary with the joy and relief of being home.

Earlier, though, I’d asked each Hooligan what he or she had enjoyed most about the trip.

“The indoor pool,” S.Hooligan replied immediately and confidently.

After some nervous hesitation, J. said, “I can’t pick one thing that was best.”

“Well, just tell me three things you really enjoyed,” I replied.

J. smiled. “One, swimming in the ocean. Two, swimming in the ocean. And three, swimming in the ocean.”

All things considered, I think it was a pretty good trip!

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Yep, we got back from our trip on Monday–totally worn out but having had a great time. It’s taken me all week to recover (and to enhance the digital photos I took). Now I’m ready to relate a few of our adventures and to post an image or two.

We drove to Virginia via southern Ohio into West Virginia. We had a few route options, but I noticed one would take us right past Point Pleasant, West Virginia. That meant we could make a brief visit to the Mothman before continuing our journey.

In spring of 2007 I made a weekend trip with Diamondqueen and the Hooligans to Point Pleasant. We stayed in the old hotel, visited the Mothman Museum, contemplated the site of the Silver Bridge collapse (at least I did, since I remember vividly when it happened), and ventured out to some old bunkers near the dynamite factory where Mothman sightings had occurred. J.Hooligan was very big into Mothman at the time, and he was quite impressed with the entire experience. So, being in the vicinity, we just had to drop by and say hello. (Diamondqueen observed that the Mothman statue looks a lot like the 17-year cicadas that have been plaguing us in eastern Hamilton County for several weeks. I agree. I think it’s the bulging red eyes.)

Our drive was long but pretty through the mountains. We arrived in Lexington, Virginia early in the evening, but too late for any of the Civil War-related attractions I wouldn’t have minded revisiting (like the Lee Chapel or the VMI Museum). After a brief rest Diamondqueen and I did lure the kids back into the van with the promise of ice cream. First we took a drive around town (I love Lexington’s streets and old buildings), showing J.Hooligan the ruins of Liberaty Hall, the original school that predated Washington-Lee University. (J. has claimed to be interested in things from the Colonial period, but he was under-enthused by the ruins. “I’m not really into history,” he said later in the trip. “He used to be,” Diamondqueen groused.)

At the very least I wanted to take a walk through the old cemetery. I’m not a fan of Stonewall Jackson, but I like to stroll past his statue whenever I visit. Again, the Hooligans were unimpressed, partly because they don’t know anything about General Jackson and don’t want to learn. Diamondqueen and I found it amusing that someone had tossed lemons at the foot of the statue in tribute, even though the story about Stonewall Jackson sucking on lemons during battle is supposed to be apocryphal.

Here’s a photo of the Hooligans in front of the Stonewall Jackson statue. Note the condition of the fence. Also note that the Hooligans did NOT do the damage. Possibly a tree fell on it, since there was evidence nearby (toppled tombstones, a fresh stump, great quantities of sawdust). I couldn’t resist taking a picture of the lemons, too.

There were only two times the Hooligans appreciated our cemetery visit. Once was when we saw huge ravens swooping overhead. One perched on the bare limb of a tree, creating such an eerie image that Diamondqueen tried to snap a photo, but the big bird spread its huge inky wings and sailed away. The Hooligans seemed to appreciate the ravens, though.

The other time was when I spotted a 19th century tombstone with the family name of Bumpus*. “Sons of b#tches! Bumpuses!” I cried in my best imitation of the father from A Christmas Story. Both kids thought this was hilarious and demanded I do it over and over until I wanted to crawl under the sod with the Bumpus clan.

We did go for ice cream finally, at a Dairy Queen in a gas station across from our motel. It’s just as well I don’t do reviews of restaurants and such. I wouldn’t have been flinging many stars at this place. (A surly server, and my waffle sundae looked NOTHING like the one in the TV commercials!)

*With apologies to any member of the Bumpus family, in Lexington or anywhere else. I see from an 1860 census of Lexington that there were several Bumpus (or Bumpuss, Bumpass, or Bumpas) men in service during the Civil War.

 

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