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The illustrated vacation posts - Part 1

Finally getting around to this after a week and a half of being back. That's how crazy my life has been lately. So I left on a Saturday afternoon. I'd had to go into work that morning to finish up my part of a project before leaving. So I left much later than I planned. I went 80 mph or better most of the time so the miles seemed to just melt away. Of course that was with the help of a couple really good mix CD's I put together. My goal was to at least make it past Columbus that day which is a good 7 hours away. I made it in 5.

I actually like driving through big cities. Not at rush hour of course, but after dark when the traffic dies down. You get some real speed demons like me out there. I just get in the fast lane, crank up the tunes and head bang on through, letting the car accelerate through all the twists and turns of the road. It's a mind altering experience all its own. Indianapolis is always fun and so is Columbus if you hit it at the right time. On I sped into the night. I finally made Wheeling around midnight and quite exhausted, pulled into the Deer Creek Motel for a night's rest. I have to say for $39 it was a hell of a nice room. I've had rooms at Ramada inns that were not that nice. Too bad I was just there to sleep.

I'd been recovering from the flu for a day or so prior to my leaving and a weeks worth of no sleep and not enough water finally caught up to me. I woke up feeling pretty raw and puny the next morning but got on the road by 8. Right off the bat I had a fight with Deb over the cell phone. And we all know how I loathe cell phones anyway. Great way to start the day. Then there was fog in the mountains of West Virginia and Maryland which slowed me down and the trip started to feel like it was going to take forever. The last hundred miles or so, I was able to draft a fast moving semi which helped elevate my spirits some. When I finally hit Manassas, VA about 3 p.m., I was very ready for a long break. For the next two days, I was pampered by the hospitality of my very good friends Eric and Karen Franklin, their two cute-as-all-get-out daughters Nikki and Molly and their bizarre dogs, Fisgig and Fang at their new home.

I spent a lot of time relaxing in their wonderful new backyard pool over the next few days. Plus Eric took some time off work so we could have some guy time. Karen's sister and my long-time friend Betty showed up that first night and we had fun talking and teasing each other about old times. There is this weird little situation between all of us. In High School, Eric and I were best friends along with a guy named Ted Corrick. Over time, we all seemed to date the same girls. There was a girl named Sheri Harrel whom we all dated, Ted first, then Eric, then me. At one time I was going out with a girl named Stacey. Betty was her best friend and she started dating Eric. Then later they broke up. At the time, Ted was dating Karen. Then they broke up and Eric started dating Karen. I got friendly with Betty though I can't say we were really ever dating back then. Then I left the area we grew up in. Betty got married and had a child. And eventually Eric and Karen got married and had kids. Ted turned into an alcoholic, got married and moved to Falls Church. We don't see Ted anymore. His wife won't let him off his leash long enough to associate with us lower forms of life.

The three of us were really close for several years though. We were all on the same swim team in High School. The Dale City Amberjax. We'd get together every weekend and pile into Ted's International Travelall and head off to Dumfries, VA to meet up with the wild and wooly Watson women. The Watsons were also on our swim team. The three girls were approximately the same ages as Ted, Eric and I who are about a year apart in ages. And we pretty much each had the hots for the one that was closest to us in age. and their Dad was hilarious. He's the kind of Dad you'd expect to meet you on the front porch with a shotgun if you came to take one of his daughters out. But he had a soft spot for us. I think he thought he could ultimately trust us. That or he knew where we slept so he could always kill us later. I think he needed to worry more about his daughters actions than our actions. They were kind of like preachers daughters. Good little angels when daddy was watching, but wild as all get out when he wasn't. And that is probably what attracted us to them the most. The three of us always had a great time back then. Going to Friday night football games and then cruising around afterwards. We may not have been the only three kids in America cruising around in an old Travelall but I'll guarantee you we were the only ones listening to Classic Queen, Yes, King Crimson and Simon and Garfunkel. We had Bohemian Rhapsody down solid. We each knew our parts perfectly. I was the really high note right in the middle. Later on we all had fast cars and got into drag racing on weekend nights down where Dale Boulevard became a big dirt circle. Eric had his Plymouth Duster. Ted had is Opel GT (the car we drove under a moving semi with on I-95 one night) and I had my 72 Mustang. We were an unbeatable trio there for quite awhile.

Then something happened to break it all up. I don't know that any of us is really sure what happened. I left the area in 1985 to move out to NM. I was back the following Fall for a few months and the damage to the friendship had already been done apparently. I remember we all met at a bar in Occoquan to talk about old times and things seemed strained even then. After I went back out west, things apparently fell apart even more. I talked to Ted briefly via email about 5 years ago. He seemed not to have the time for me then. Eric told me Ted had tried to reach out to him in recent years but just when he thought they might be getting somewhere, Ted disappeared again and it seemed to have his wife's signature all over it. If I can get back there sometime soon, I think Eric and I might just have to plan some guerilla tactics and go kidnap him from his job and see what is up with him. Sometimes this wandering thing of mine has it's downfalls as well. People sometimes get left behind in your wake.

On Monday, Eric and I piled into his new convertible Mustang and took off for a Cajun lunch in town and then a cruise past our old haunts. We went past Gar-Field High School, the setting for so many of our adventures together and marveled at the tall chain link fences with barbed wire and guards at the gate and remembered that in our senior years, we used to leave the school grounds at lunch all the time to to head to local fast food places. No more of that now. We drove through Dale City and I remembered the time Eric and Ted mounted a blue light on Eric's car and caught Karen Ann Boling and I making out in my Mom's Jetta in front of the Civic Center. The windows were completely fogged and all I see is this flashing blue light and a commanding voice says, "OK son, get out of the car!" So out I went wearing nothing but underwear and socks and I'm treated to the sounds of tires pealing out and raucous laughter form the two of them. We drove though Darbydale and down our old street, DelMar drive, remembering the people who lived in each house. The hot chick Kelly Morris, loved by Bart Bodee who lived a little farther down. And right next door, Chris Aldrich, who if his look had not made him a geek, the places his family had lived would have conspired to make him one. His Dad was some kind of diplomat and they had lived in exotic places with names like Jakarta and Sumatra. They had a rickshaw on their front porch and Chris loved to give people rides in it. I don't think Chris ever learned to socialize with American kids. He also loved to play Risk which at the time made him an even bigger geek than all the folks who played Dungeons and Dragons. He was obsessed with Kelly and would often stan on the street and watch her bedroom window until the lights went out.

We drove past Eric's old house and mine, still had the same bad paint job as when I painted it over 20 years ago. Why Dad left it like that, I'll never know. We drove on down around the block past Sherri Harrel's old house and remarked about what a beautiful but disturbed person she was. When she was in high school, she tried to kill her father with a pair of scissors at the dinner table one night. She and I used to have some awesome talks. Crazy people are really interesting sometimes. She was a really great kisser too. Soft full lips that you could lose yourself in.

Then Eric an I just dove. Out the back of Dale City and to the various places Prince William Parkway took us. And we talked about religion and spirituality. A former Catholic now a Shamanist and a former Methodist, now an Atheist talking about Christianity. We both agreed that Christians had missed the boat when it came to the whole Christ/God thing. And that if God was omnipresent and omnipotent then he was God and I was God and God was driving around in a convertible God having a really strung out conversation with itself. Eric remarked on how cool it was that we could not see each other for five years and get back together and just talk without things being weird between us.

Monday afternoon, Karen got home from work early and had Betty in tow. We talked for awhile until Eric and Karen had to go pick up the girls from school. We all changed and got into the pool and had fun just being together. Later we had an awesome dinner and enjoyed some of Eric's fine homemade Mead. Betty and I found some time to head out to the front porch swing and talk about problems in our various relationships. She and I tend to go through the same shit at the same time. We hugged and cuddled quite a bit and were just there for each other which is really more important than words sometimes. As I mentioned in an earlier post, Betty and I have a history together. Eric and I were talking about that. And I told him I'd really respected her ever since she caught up to me one day at Northern VA Comm College and told me not to sleep with her friend Stacey. I didn't realize until later that she was trying save me from trouble because she knew Stacey had a habit of turning people's lives upside down. Too bad I didn't take her advice at the time. We've always been really close friends and over the years we've flirted and teased each other quite mercilessly. I'd do just about anything for her if she needed me to. After Betty left for home, I went back in and talked to Eric and Karen and we sat around watch Eddie Izzard and laughing our fool heads off.

The next day, Eric took me to lunch and then down to a liquor store, where I bought a whole case of both Shiner Bock and Shiner Hefeweizen and six of Hoegaarden. Shortly after, we went back to the house where Eric burned me a CD of Porcupine Tree and helped me get packed. I left in the early afternoon and found my way down US 234 to I-95 and headed south. Just hat little bit of Interstate makes me remember what I have about Northern Virginia traffic. I was so hating life at that point. I got off I-95 at Fredricksburg and headed down Rt 3 until I made my turn toward the Wilderness Battlefield. There are several ways to get where I was going but something told me to turn toward Mineral. I knew there would be some ruin for me to photograph but I didn't know what. An old plantation style house perhaps or a farm, or maybe an old gas station. I was passing through the tiny hamlet of Unionville when I saw the house and had to turn around and find a place to park. I went exploring in and out and found first an old piano inside just wasting away. I explored the downstairs then made my way upstairs where I found bare stud walls and a wealth of old textbooks. In the middle of the pile was an envelope of old photos. I poured the contents out and gently went though them looking for clues as to who the family had been who lived here. The largest of the photos was a head shot of young African American woman. As it turns out from looking through the various photos and things,this woman was named Pearl Lynch and she had a husband named Joseph. In 1965, the year I was born, the family took a trip from Unionville out the California, leaving behind the youngest child with his grandmother. Lots of postcards were sent back home all along the route. At some point before the return trip, someone got out a couple pieces of motel stationary and made some notes about where they had been and where they were going.

I've actually stayed at the Colt Motel in Raton, NM. It's one of the only ones on the list still in existence. When I was done snooping, I packed the photos back in the envelope and put the envelope in an enclosed closet where the elements could not affect it so fast. An elderly neighbor came across the road to tell me something about the history of the house. It was built in the late 1800's and from then until the mid 1940's it was a general store. Then it was empty until the early years of the 50's when it was bought by Pearl and Joseph Lynch, two school teachers. They stayed here and raised a family until the early 70's when Pearl and Joseph passed on. The family disbursed and the house remained empty for years. Then it was bought in the last several years by a couple of Mexican brothers from Florida who tried to renovate it for a rental property. The land had been rezoned though and the house now sits on the highway right of way so no one can live there. So the renovation was halted and now the house just sits. I stayed there taking photos for about an hour before getting back on the road and heading for Roanoke to see jellyfish.

To be continued...



( 9 comments — Leave a comment )
Oct. 5th, 2006 01:59 pm (UTC)
Driving is my passion, too. Taking two trips to IU in Bloomington, IN was the life for me as well as many other smaller trips.

I like your stories. My dad has similar ones where old friends have fallen off the map, sometimes due to the ol' lady and sometimes due to the bottle.
Oct. 5th, 2006 02:22 pm (UTC)
Eric and I talked about it. we've not given up on Ted but we are nonetoo sure he's not lost himself to the world. After all, if it is his wife keeping him from us, he is the one that gave her that power over him. There are other friends I can't find and I've searched for them through lots of different channels. Its amazing how quickly people become lost to you if you don't make the effort to keep up with them.

Oct. 5th, 2006 02:29 pm (UTC)
There's one my dad knows who one day called from a secret cell phone. His wife keeps him in the basement, and the cell is the only way to get a hold of him. We actually saw him beginning of September. He didn't recognize me, and he didn't look to jovial himself.
Oct. 5th, 2006 02:15 pm (UTC)
I always love hearing about your adventures. It always makes me want to get out on a roadtrip, and just go! That house and the story of it is awesome. But you know me and abandoned houses. lol
Oct. 5th, 2006 02:28 pm (UTC)
Yeah that's how you and I first "met". I found some more cool abandoned stuff over the next few days down south.

Oct. 5th, 2006 04:20 pm (UTC)
I can see that you spent a lot of time and care writing this post. It was a very good read. Thanks fo sharing it.

> His wife won't let him off his leash long enough to associate with us lower forms of life.

We haven't seen my older brother in ages because of this same situation.
Oct. 5th, 2006 04:27 pm (UTC)
Guerilla actions may be required in our case. It would at least be nice to see him.

Oct. 5th, 2006 10:23 pm (UTC)
"The windows were completely fogged and all I see is this flashing blue light and a commanding voice says, "OK son, get out of the car!" So out I went wearing nothing but underwear and socks and I'm treated to the sounds of tires pealing out and raucous laughter form the two of them."

*Falls out of chair and breaks hip laughing.*

*snicker* *snort* *choke*

Oct. 5th, 2006 10:31 pm (UTC)
Something similar happened a few years later with a different girl. Turned out to really be someone's Dad who got me out of the car that nightthough.

( 9 comments — Leave a comment )