Jul 13, 2009

Home again, home again, jiggity-jig

Our ride home over the weekend was a mix of uneventful and eventful. "Eventful" only if you consider terrible traffic jams on a holiday weekend eventful.

As we left Garden City Beach (south of Myrtle Beach, S.C.) on Saturday morning, everything was a little slow, but not too bad. That changed as we approached Aynor, which is a one-stoplight town, but that one stoplight is a baddie. Here we are, still miles from Aynor, going zero to five miles per hour for about an hour.

How enthralled are you with my picture of traffic? Now that we've left the beach, I've got nothin'. So I guess you'd better get used to it.

Shortly after we cleared the traffic jam, we passed my all-time favorite South Carolina produce sign. (Between Myrtle Beach and Florence, you pass roughly 2,000 of them, so there are many from which to choose.)

They really went out of their way to give us a unique misspelling of Peaches. Not PEACH'S. Not PEACHS. Not PEACHES'. PEACHE'S. While errors like this typically drive me crazy, this one just makes me laugh. It's far too wrong to get mad about.

Unlike those of us suffering the indignities of traffic and bad punctuation all day Saturday, the back-seaters were pretty well entertained. Nathaniel played PSP and Leapster games, Nick watched movies and Jake slept.

There are few things cuter than a baby conked out in his seat with his neck all cattywampus.

He would have been lonely all by himself in the middle row, but he had his thighs for company.

As we got into Georgia on Saturday afternoon, we stopped for gas at this BP gas station. (That one sentence takes blogging to an all-time low.)

But the point of the pervious sentence was to set the scene for this:

Apparently this BP gas station has the "best hot food in town, dine in or carry out," and they also boast "bait and tackle supplies." I COULD NOT BRING MYSELF TO GO INSIDE, even for the purpose of blogging. I was just too scared. I'm sorry that I have failed you.

Not 15 minutes after we left the BP, we came to a screeching halt.

Traffic was stopped for miles in both directions.

Unlike the traffic jam in South Carolina, while stuck in this one, we didn't move an inch. We sat in the same place for almost an hour, in quite a bit of heat.

See that 18-wheeler and car below trying to merge unsuccessfully into the non-moving traffic lanes?

Well, I whipped over onto the shoulder and did a U-turn to drive the wrong way up that ramp. I have never done that in my life, but it was totally worth it. Even when I ran into the state trooper with his lights on at the top of the ramp. He let me go right on by. I think he saw the rooftop carrier, the Alabama plates and a minivan packed to within an inch of its life and decided we had endured quite enough.

We stopped at another BP station to ask what we should do to circumvent the accident site (the stinkiest station ever, according to Nathaniel, who said he breathed through his mouth the whole time we were in there. I wish I'd thought of that.)

The convenience store clerk told me three things that he intended to be helpful. I will now itemize them for you and state their degree of helpfulness:

1. Traffic is backed up for at least four miles in each direction because of a huge accident. Degree of helpfulness: 0%. We already knew it was backed up too long for us to wait it out. We also figured it was because of an accident. Although he delivered the news to me in what sounded like an excited roving reporter's heavily accented English, it in fact helped us to no degree at all.

2. All of these people are going the same place you are. Take a left out of the parking lot and follow them, and they will take you back to I-20. Degree of helpfulness: 0%. Although I would likely have been resigned to this idea myself since we don't have GPS, historically I have proven to be about 80% more accurate with my own sense of direction than those around me are. Therefore, I didn't want to follow a bunch of Least Common Denominators around the Georgia countryside all evening. When I asked for more clarification than "Follow those dummies," I got:

3. Don't worry. The state police have got cops stationed all along the alternate route. Degree of helpfulness: 0%, BECAUSE THIS WAS AN OUTRIGHT LIE.

At any rate, we took off cross-country to try to get around the accident. A mile down the road, we came to a four-way stop. Two of the cars in front of us went straight. Two turned left. One turned right. SO MUCH FOR HELPFUL TIP #2. Grayson, manning our Map of Georgia, told me to turn left. He was very proud of himself, so I feel that I must mention his Map Prowess. Although it was the logical turn to make in order to make a complete loop and end up back at the highway. But THANKS, SWEETIE! You're my hero.

After we completed our left turn, we were greeted by endless fields and skies.

Am I going to bore you with a step-by-step account of our detour? YES I AM. We're not at the beach anymore, Dorothy.

At any rate, it's rare that we ever take a break from the interstates to visit some of our rural neighbors, so this was a more-than-welcome reprieve from the traffic jam on I-20.

JUST LOOK AT ALL THE RURAL GOODNESS. The farmers were even watering their crops. Or grass. Or whatever. CLEARLY I AM THE REASON THEY'RE GOING BANKRUPT. I DON'T KNOW WHAT THEY FARM. But I do know whatever it is, it's well-watered. And it isn't slanted, but as is the case with most all of these pictures, I was taking them at 55 miles per hour, so frankly we should all just be happy they're not upside-down.

Soon enough we caught up with some of our friends from BP.

Nathaniel and I met this car's occupants in the bathroom. They were headed to Meridian, Miss. They had Eastern European accents, with nary a twinge of Southern. Neither they nor we saw any state troopers or any other moderately helpful souls during our detour.

After about 10 minutes, we looped back around to I-20 and -- lo and behold -- we'd bypassed the accident scene by about a mile. Woot woot! Clear in both directions.

We finally made it to Atlanta to stay for the night a mere 10 hours after leaving the beach. SHEESH. I arrived with a migraine (that I'd started getting during The Detour) and Grayson took charge of the boys so that I could medicate, rest up and recover by morning.

Yesterday morning they let me sleep in. Praise God and Hallelujah. They played outside for a while before it got too stinking hot to enjoy the day. Jake, as usual, was pantsless.

He chased the Big Boys up and down the driveway as they rode their unmotorized "motorcycles." His trusty thighs were there once again to assist. (As I type this, I am struck by how much better color I get with the cheap point-and-shoot Canon than with the Very Expensive Canon that took me 12 months to pay off.)

Nathaniel has outgrown his motorcycle, but they have so much fun on them that he makes himself fit.

The other thing they love to do is climb trees. While they were climbing a good one yesterday morning at my parents' house, Nick slipped and scraped himself all the way down his chest and arms.

It was a really nasty set of scrapes. He wanted me to take pictures so I could send them to Aunt Debbie, "because she's a nurse." So Aunt Debbie, when you see this, please send Nick an e-mail to tell him how serious it looks.

Grayson cleaned it well, then applied Neosporin and bandages. Nick said, "My arm hurts worse than my tummy." Surprising, since the scratches on his arm are barely visible, but I think he just doesn't want us to forget about them.

After packing up to leave and grabbing lunch at Fuddrucker's on the way out of town, we hit the road. I didn't need the "Welcome to Alabama" sign on I-20 or complete and utter lack of cell phone coverage in the Talladega National Forest to tell me that we'd entered our home state. My temperature gauge told me when we got here. This was around the state line. Pay no attention to the speedometer part of this picture.

This was about 25 miles from home.

Jake managed to stay awake until we were five minutes from home. Then he started with the heavy blinks and kept trying to fall asleep. Here, Grayson was tickling him to keep him awake. I was taking pictures over my shoulder. Thank goodness for digital, when you can just fling it over your shoulder, click without looking, then check to see if you got a good shot. LOOK HOW JUICY THAT KID IS. He's just full of juice in those legs. I could eat him up with a spoon.

We arrived home in the late afternoon and spent the rest of the evening re-stocking the pantry and fridge, unpacking and starting massive amounts of laundry.

My sister is coming in from Wyoming to visit for a week, and we are SO EXCITED! I'm not sure I'll get to post every day that she's here, but hopefully I'll have some pictures and stories to share periodically.

We're glad to be home!

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