Sep 012015
 

Last winter, after we decided where this summer’s vacation was going to take us—-and Henry started bleeding money from all blue-collared orifices—-I excitedly consulted Roadside America to find all the ways to drag our trek back to Pittsburgh into a poorly-written modern remake of Homer’s Odyssey, only with less blood weddings, spiritual growth, and Latin declensions.

One of the “attractions” I read about was this mysterious-sounding African village in Sheldon, SC called Kingdom of Oyotunji. I sent Henry the link and received no response. Shocker. During the beginning half of our trip, I kept bringing it up, and Henry just kept saying things like, “We’re not going that way” and “It recently burned to the ground” and “Katy Perry is performing there all week.”

But I would not be deterred.

It turns out, when we left Savannah that Friday in July, the village was on our exact route to Charlotte, NC. Henry either must have had his guard down or was just that fatigued from fielding my lofty requests all week, because he actually turned off the highway when we arrived at the Sheldon exit! I couldn’t believe my good fortune.

“Is this place is even open?” he sighed. “It better fucking be open.” But I could tell that what he really meant was, “I hope it’s not open because I don’t want to go but I am still going to be mad if it’s not open because either way this is a waste of time and I hate you.” Over the years, we have learned to communicate through a series of huffy sighs, glares, and fists slamming against steering wheels.

Actually, their website said that they were open until 7:00 (it wasn’t quite 6 yet so we had time in our favor, at least), but they recommend that you email them if you want to stop by for a tour. I mean, I did that, but we were already about 20 minutes away so we were going to stop by regardless. Also, it seemed weird to me that this mysterious US-seceded African village in the Gulleh Geeche South Carolina low-country (I got that from their website because I’m a journalist now) even has the Internet and didn’t require me to send notice via carrier pigeon.

Just kidding. I’m not that culturally ignorant. But on that note, the Oyotunji community is something that I definitely know nothing about and I was genuinely interested in learning about how they live. (And also genuinely interested in making Henry feel uncomfortable, because he HATES taking tours of places.)
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Chooch was sleeping when we made it to the entrance of the kingdom, which required us to turn off the highway and continue on down a dirt road buffeted by forest. The whole time, Henry was murmuring, “I hate you. I fucking hate you. Fuck my life” through gritted teeth, while I cracked up next to him so hard that I was wheezing.

“It’s not fucking funny!” he said. BUT IT IS, HERNY.

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At the end of the path, we could see the gate to the compound, and Henry started to rejoice because it was closed.

“Yeah but keep going, maybe there’s a doorbell,” I urged, because we had come so far!

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Most of my pictures are blurry and out of focus because I guess I was just that excited about being there.

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Henry kept trying to tell me in a dozen different ways that this joint was closed, but too bad I noticed the “Blow Your Horn” sign next to the gate before he had a chance to gouge my eyes out with his strong and masculine Service thumbs.

“Blow the horn,” I demanded.

“No, I’m not blowing the fucking horn,” Henry hissed in response.

But if you ask Henry to do something enough times while consistently raising your voice until it’s a crackling screech, he eventually gives up and does the thing! So he reluctantly pressed down on the car horn and then we waited.

“No one’s coming,” he sighed, ready to throw the car into drive.

“Just wait!” I begged, holding my gaze hard against the big red doors.

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After about 30 seconds of nail-biting suspense, a man dressed in a white robe stepped out from behind a fence along the left-hand perimeter of the property.

“Oh great, Erin. Just great,” Henry huffed, lowering the window so the man could talk to us.

“Are you guys looking to do the tour?” he asked after we exchanged proper Southern salutations. (You know. “Hello”s were said.) Leaning across Henry, I emphatically nodded my head. You bet your white-robed ass I want a tour. I want to know all about the Oyotunji tribe! I was just getting ready to barrel-roll myself out of the car when he went on to explain that unfortunately, they’ve been mourning the death of their leader, in Africa, for the last three days and had closed the community off to the public for that.

“We open back up tomorrow though, if you’ll be in the area?”

Henry nodded and said something along the lines of, “Yeah, we might be.”

“I was actually just on my way out to take a shower when I heard you beep,” the man said, explaining that he’s not usually the one who gives the tours.

He then gave us a brief run-down of the community, told us how he’s originally from Florida but had shed his American citizenship 20+ years ago in favor of living a simple life in the woods of South Carolina. They’re a community of around 40 people, self-sustained, they home school their children, and basically live a life where no one has to give a shit about the things that Americans give a shit about that don’t even matter, like Donald Trump, the idiot Superbowl, and Miley Cyrus’s pasties.

I can only imagine how better behaved their kids are than Chooch.

This whole time, I was trying to maintain strong eye contact with him while chewing on the insides of my cheeks to keep from laughing outright. Look, please understand that I don’t think anything about their community is funny, and I certainly don’t find humor in the fact that they were all in mourning, but it was the situation itself: the detour into the woods of Beaufort County, Henry’s reluctance, the Jonestown Massacre vibe of it all….it was all of these things, like sitting in church during the homily and feeling that itch to laugh out loud for no good reason, that had me writhing in giddy discomfort.

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Some other tourist-sucker pulled in behind us about 10 minutes into our on-the-fly history lesson from our new robed friend. He quickly wrapped it up and then excused himself to go talk to the other visitor.

“Are we really going to come back tomorrow?!” I screamed as we slowly drove back out to the highway.

“Wha—-? No!” he said, his big bushy brows all furrowed.

“But when that guy asked if we were going to be in the area—”

“Yeah well, I didn’t mean it.” And he used his End of Story tone, so I sulked for awhile.

Oyotunji, I’ll be back for you someday.

But then we pulled over at the Carolina Cider Company! We had been on a mission to procure boiled peanuts the whole time we were in the south and finally, it was our time. On our last day, no less.

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Chooch was still sleeping, how he managed to sleep through all of the Oyotunji excitement, I’ll never know. At first, Henry was like, “Just crack the window, he’ll be fine.” But then I was overcome with paranoia and something else that I couldn’t quite put my finger on….the overwhelming need to PARENT, maybe? Nah. I think I have it confused with the desire to not have Child Protective Services called on my ass.

What would the Oyotunji do, I thought hard to myself.  Aside from probably not giving a shit about boiled peanuts, I mean.

I went out to the car to wake up Chooch and proceeded to set off the car alarm. The proprietor of the cider establishment and the only two patrons there at that time stopped what they were doing in order to gawk at me from the open doors of the store.

“What are you doing!?” Henry yelled, marching over with the car keys to stop the alarm. SO SORRY THAT I WAS TRYING TO SAVE MY KID FROM ASPHYXIATION.

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So then I was able to save Chooch and he groggily followed me into the store while I excitedly told him about what he had missed, but I don’t think he believed me.

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Henry bought us stuff and boiled peanuts are weird as fuck, yet I couldn’t stop eating them.

Eventually, we made it to a shady Red Roof Inn, I mean shadier than the typical Red Roof Inn, in Charlotte. We had to pass Carowinds on the way, with its coasters all sexy and lit up against the night sky. I begged Henry to take us there but he was like, “IT’S NEARLY 10’O CLOCK AT NIGHT!” God, he always has an excuse.

Luckily, the Red Roof was only shady on the outside (i.e. the parking lot and the entire right section of the motel where I’m pretty sure people were living and since it was a Friday night, shit was popping off) and the inside was clean and recently remodeled. I realized that HENRY hadn’t fed us dinner, so he went to a vending machine and came back with snacks and a Snickers. THANKS, PA.

We live large on vacation.

***

Anyway, aside from some additional pictures from our travel day back to Pittsburgh, that pretty  much wraps up our whirlwind Southern road trip, which took me an entire month to recap. But holy shit, we did so much! I love these trips so much, and I know that they don’t really seem like “vacations” because we’re so go-go-go, but I couldn’t imagine sitting in one place for 7 days and “relaxing.” I honestly don’t know how to relax. I look forward to these trips so much because we get to see cool things, meet really awesome people, and make some pretty hilarious memories.

We hadn’t even crossed the Pennsylvania state line yet and I was already asking Henry where we’re going to go next. He just glared at me.

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Aug 272015
 

Our final day in Savannah was the best one. Octavia graciously invited us over for quite honestly the best meal we had on the entire trip – fruit salad, sweet potato hash with sausage (and a version with faux-sausage for me!), cheesy grits, eggs, and fried green tomatoes. And coffee in pretty cups!

All prepared by her husband, Dustin.

I’m drowning on my own drool (and not someone else’s, for once, you know, when I’m out whoring around) over here just thinking about it. I am always so terrible at hospitality issues. For example, if you were visiting Pittsburgh and came to my house for breakfast, I would hand you a Poptart, or guide you down the street to Eat n Park.

And that’s on a good day!

Octavia and Dustin’s kid, Tallulah, immediately glommed on to Chooch. I absolutely love when this happens. PAYBACK, CHOOCH.

Although, he only just pretends to be distressed by this. Deep down, he loves the attention. (But you guys, would you look at how freaking adorable she is? THOSE CURLS, THO.) They got along really well, if you don’t count the time Chooch was pushing her outside in a swing and accidentally slammed her into a tree, ugh.

Octavia’s house is stimulating in all of the best ways. They have two cats and a dog, and an entire room of instruments. It’s a musician’s wonderland and they told Chooch to have at it. He was like, “Seriously? You want me to make noise? YOU’RE TELLING ME I CAN MAKE NOISE?!” They very nearly acquired themselves a son that day.

OCTAVIA EVEN PLAYS THE ACCORDION. These people are swimming in talent and I kept hoping some of it would waft over my way.

And then she showed me some of her mixed media pieces and I was just like, “OK, when can we be sister wives already or nah?!”

As much as I was enjoying talking about art and music and our dislike for other mothers, it was getting later in the afternoon and we needed to hit the road. The plan was to spend the night in Charlotte, NC and continue on our way home the next day. Chooch gave Tallulah one of the birthday balloons that Octavia used to decorate our hotel room, and when that one was whisked away into the tree tops, he gave her another. Sometimes Chooch is not a dick!

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****

As stoked as I was to gallivant around Savannah, this is what I was really hoping to do in Georgia. Casually talking all morning and into the afternoon was what exactly what I wanted and was honestly the zenith of the trip for me. I have a tricky temperament and there are a LOT of incompatible personalities out there for me. And I’m not saying that it’s not me, it’s everyone else — I am voluntarily admitting that I can be tough to get along with. (Just ask Janna. It takes a saint!) I start out fairly introverted and observant, until my comfort and trust levels go up. (Which doesn’t always happen.) But I knew within minutes of meeting Octavia that it was going to work, that conversation was going to be easy and two-sided, and that I was going to learn a lot from her.

Also?! SHE WAS BORN IN ROMANIA. We were bound to become friends at some point in our lives and I left her house that day feeling really good about things, and also determined to have some of my ribs removed so I can fold myself in half to better fit inside her luggage the next time she visits Romania.

Kismet! I’m so grateful that we met, and apparently, I can thank Barbara and her fucking denim jacket for that.

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Just a few days ago, Octavia texted me a picture of the purple balloon, still branch-snagged. “Miss you,” she texted. I MISS HER, TOO. :(

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Aug 262015
 

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Before we left Savannah the day after my birthday, we swung by Wormsloe Historic Site because god forbid I visit Savannah without snagging a picture of this iconic sight. We tried to go the day before with Octavia but it was closed and Henry’s suggestion of, “Just take the picture through the gate” wasn’t a winner.

Apparently, you have to pay to enter the park, but the part of the road I wanted a picture of is like RIGHT THERE. So we parked at the entrance and Henry hissed, “Take the damn picture!” I had to step around a sign that said a bunch of words about visiting the information center to pay before taking a picture.

Ugh, I hate breaking the law. Henry made me do it!

I took one picture and then fled back to the car. Chooch couldn’t believe that I actually took a picture without him in it.

“Yeah but it’s Wormsloe. I didn’t want you to ruin the picture,” I said, casually shrugging him off.

Shortly after this, we began our drive home. While stopped in Orangeburg, NC,  I made Henry pull over so I could take pictures of Chooch next to a corn field. Because these are things that I want to do while on vacation.

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Chooch of the Corn.

This was actually when we were driving in circles, looking for a post office and Henry wanted to kill me and dump my fat body in that corn field over there. Imagine the creepy corn mutations my rotting corpse could potentially create!

Octavia talked about corn mutations when we were hanging out with her.

I will always think of her when corn mutations come up in conversation. :(

SHE TAUGHT US SO MUCH!

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I’m almost finished writing about the trip, which I’m happy about, but it’s making me miss it even more! It was a good one, that’s for sure. Just not long enough.

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Aug 242015
 

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See also: I need to give my fingers a break from typing so here’s a photo dump, Blog.

Words cannot describe how beautiful Savannah is. I’ve wanted to visit so badly, that I was kind of starstruck to the point of not taking as many photos as I should have. (Yay, just what you guys need—more fucking photos!)

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Octavia wanted to take us in this church but some asshole had to go and die and have their idiot funeral that day. Way to ruin my birthday, dead person.

Henry was happy that this plan was foiled by the reaper, because he dislikes being in god’s house.

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I was stupid-scared of these steps, but Octavia said this warning was mostly there for drunk people and hobos, both of which I walk like on a good day, so that didn’t help. NICE TRY, OCTAVIA.

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Henry was considering walking straight off into the river and drowning himself. Chooch was starting to that thing that kids sometimes do called TESTING THEIR PARENTS’ PATIENCE.

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We spent about 15 minutes scrutinizing Forrest Gump movie stills on Octavia’s phone until we settled on this being the site of Chippewa Square where Forrest’s bench was. There were people on Segways congregating there before us, so maybe?

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We saw an antique shop and Chooch wanted to go in but all I could think about was how I really didn’t want a replay of the Chooch in a China Shop episode of our weekend in Philly last winter.

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Yeah! Me too! Bandwagoner!

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Lastly, here is Chooch with the succulent/weed he plucked out of the sidewalk for me.

We started to walk back to the parking garage around 4:30, because it was HOT and we were all pretty exhausted. Thank god we left when we did because by the time we got back to Bonaventure for Octavia to retrieve her car, THEY WERE BASICALLY CLOSED. There were some workers by the gate and they tried to stop us from driving in but Henry was like, “We’re just taking her back to her car!” and then all exchanged blue collar, uniform-wearing hyuks and we were allowed to pass by. Henry is so weird when it comes to interacting with those kinds of people.

After saying our temporary goodbyes, we headed back to the “hotel” so we could rest for a little bit before attempting to find somewhere to eat dinner.

“What’s Octavia’s real name?” Chooch said from the backseat.

Uhhh….Octavia?” I answered in my favorite condescending teenager tone.

This seemed to please him. He’s basically obsessed with her now.

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Aug 232015
 

After a few miles of listening to Chooch jaw off Octavia’s ear about video games and Henry suffering mild road rage, we found a place to park downtown. Octavia put her tour guide hat back on and we began our leisurely walking tour of Savannah. But first, Octavia needed to feed me because even though I had on my SWEET LITTLE ERIN facade, my hunger was quickly reaching Hulk levels.

Octavia suggested Kayak Kafe, knowing that there were vegetarian options. There were so many veg options, in fact, that it was difficult to choose! I eventually went for some sort of vegetable panini thing which came with LATIN SLAW!

On my birthday!

That whole cabbage challenge had me consumed for the entire month of July. There were times I ate coleslaw even when I didn’t even want to eat coleslaw just because it was endlessly funny to me.  I feel like my dumb self-appointed cabbage challenge consumed more than should have. You know how they say that it takes x-number of days to make something a habit? Usually when referring to exercise? Well, after 31 days of forcing myself to reference cabbage in some way, I find myself automatically doing that still, almost at the end of August. So dumb. I’m pretty sure I won my challenge, because no one told me otherwise.  Someone started to call me out on one of my posts and then realized that I dropped a Savoy bomb up in there. SAVOY IS A TYPE OF CABBAGE in case you’re a cabbage dodo. Now you know.

So step off.

(I actually didn’t know this until July, when I spent entirely too  much time Googling “cabbage” and now I know everything in the world there is to know about cabbage, including a recipe for Transylvanian cabbage pie and home remedies for hemorrhoids using raw cabbage leaves. Facts.)

Now that I have you thinking about inflamed anal buttons, here’s a picture of my food!

I ate way too fast, as usual. And Chooch was fancy and ordered lemonade with strawberry pulp in it, which I didn’t see on the menu, so I was jealous. He was so smug about it, too.

During lunch, Octavia brought up THE SERVICE, because she too was in the Air Force! This is important to note because it was the first time Henry smiled in Savannah, when she asked him earnest (as opposed to Erin-style, a/k/a dickheadish) questions about what he did there. He was a crew chief!

“Did I know that!?” I squealed through my laughter.

“Yes,” Henry mumbled.

“No I didn’t! You never told me that!” I was almost choking on this.

“No, I did. A long time ago. You just didn’t care,” he mumbled.

I wonder if Henry ever feels bullied by me.

And then Octavia said, “So your name was on the plane then!” and Henry modestly nodded and I was practically flipping tables at this point.

HIS NAME WAS ON THE PLANE, HAHAHA! Oh my god. I just asked him if it was his full name, middle initial and all, and HE SAID YES. A plane with “Henry. J. Robbins” plastered on it! Oh god, thank you, Octavia, for uncovering this gem buried in Henry’s past!

After lunch, we went to a toy store that looked like my parent’s basement in the 80s. So much nostalgia, and so many “NO!”s to Chooch’s incessant toy-begging.

Finally, it was time for ice cream at Leopold’s, which was why it didn’t matter to me where we at lunch; I have been too fixated on Leopold’s even since Octavia first told me about Savannah’s ice cream parlor.

Here is a picture Octavia took of me not listening to Henry. <3

Octavia got lemon sorbet (or custard?); Henry got rum bisque because Octavia said that was her husband Dustin’s favorite and Henry is a follower; Chooch got something dumb probably; and since lavender wasn’t available, I felt an obligation to tutti frutti, since Leopold’s famously claims to have invented it. I’m not sure I’ve ever had tutti frutti before, and it’s not something I would typically order, but I really liked it! It was like a (good) fruit cake in ice cream form.

I liked Henry’s better though. :( DON’T I ALWAYS.

Here’s a picture of Chooch stealing another friend from me. Ugh. Anyway, Octavia is adorable!

One of the things I really appreciated about Octavia (and believe me, there are many!) was that she patiently listened to Chooch and I fight over who was going to tell the story of DONNA on the ghost tour, and then endured us racing to finish sentences before the other one tried to hijacked the story, because this is what happens when there is a story to tell and both of us want to be the one to tell it. And not only that, but she was totally on our side about it and started berated Donna along with us, so then “don’t be a Donna” became a thing and now I want to make t-shirts and Henry is like, “No, you mean, now you want ME to make t-shirts” and he hates the ghost tour even more now.

Chooch found a new Frederick. And also never shut up. OMG.

Meanwhile, I know that Henry must have been having an OK time because he was updating his Facebook and he never does that. He checked into Bonaventure and Leopold’s, you guys! I’m a Henry expert, so I know that these were good signs. Plus, we didn’t exchange any clandestine “I hope you fucking die” looks with each other at any point during the day, which is what we normally do when he’s having an awful time and I’m catching his bad vibes.

I guess Henry likes being in the south!

One of the last things we did during our afternoon stroll around Savannah was stop at the Coffee Fox for iced coffee, and Chooch excitedly borrowed my phone so he could take a picture of “boobs”:

I think it’s important to note that both Octavia and I like foxes (her photography business is named Two Fox!) so this somehow managed to make my iced horchata latte taste even better. Foxes are special. This whole day was special. I want to go back!

I took a bunch of pictures with my “real camera,” so I’ll post those separately. Don’t be a Donna.

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Aug 182015
 

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A bunch of years ago, like 26 or 7, I met Octavia through Etsy. Specifically, it was my fauxtography Etsy shop, Appledale. No one ever paid attention to that shop of mine, full of lomography before iPhone apps made that shit cool (and so much easier and cheaper to achieve that vintage effect, bastards), accompanied by my signature idiotic short stories.

But Octavia noticed. And she sent me the greatest convo ever; a meaningful, deep virtual handshake from one person happy to meet another person of like-mind. I will never forget how excited I was to read it! We started writing back and forth; I was enchanted by her own art and deranged imagination. She is incredibly talented.

Thank god for the Internet! I feel like if the Internet didn’t exist, then Octavia and I probably would have met through the world of pen-palling. Somehow, someway, we’d have found a way to meet!

This meet-up has been in the pipes since we bought the Williamsburg vacation package thing at the 2013 Big Butler Fair. Because clearly, Williamsburg, VA and Savannah, GA are so close to each other! The first half our trip was fun, but this was the part that I was really looking forward to, so when I woke up the morning of my birthday, I was S-T-O-K-E-D!

We had plans to meet Octavia at the Bonaventure Cemetery at 11:00am that morning. I was so nervous on the way there! I love meeting people but I am beyond awkward about it and sometimes that awkwardness never goes away because that’s just who I am, you know? Be nice.

Luckily, Octavia was chill as FUCK, sang-froid in a green dress. She claims she is awkward too but I definitely didn’t sense that, thank god, because then I would have just fed off it and it would have unraveled into some socially depraved banquet of stutters, ticks, and twitches. Instead, I felt at ease. I mean, once we got the obligatory “now is where we hug as normal people do” act out of the way.

I didn’t take any pictures of Octavia at first because I was scared to, but those will come later!

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There is one super huge difference between Octavia and me: she actually knows shit about where she lives. Out-of-towners visit me in Pittsburgh and ask me simple Yinzer 101 questions like, “What river is that?” or “How are the Steelers doing this year?” and I have to politely decline answering.

That’s accomplished by either shrugging, grunting “I dunno”, or a combination of the two. But Octavia taught us shit about the war and the Masons and Johnny Mercer, and then a ton of stuff about NATURE because she went to college for botany so immediately Henry’s ears perked. You know how he gets nature boners. Especially when she turned her nose up at the moss issue. HENRY HATES MOSS. Now he had someone to hate moss with him!

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While we strolled around the cemetery grounds, we talked about Jonny Craig (I mean, duh; I’m sure Octavia couldn’t wait to have THAT conversation in person) and the nightmarish insects that live in Georgia, holy shit. We saw salamander things and skinks:

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The skinks really freaked me out but Chooch was trying to figure out how to turn his t-shirt into a skink carrier. Then we walked under a tree with berries on it and I cried, “WHAT ARE THESE, OCTAVIA!?” while trying to get Henry to eat one. Now I can’t remember what she said they were. But I think the final verdict was that they were not poisonous. Don’t worry, she didn’t let me eat any of the mushrooms I saw, either.

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I also learned that you can eat that ballsack thing in the middle of the palm thingie! “Like, right now!?” I asked.

“Well, I mean, you have to cook it first, probably,” Octavia patiently explained before I had the chance to whip a fork out of my bra and dig in. God, Octavia was determined to prevent the cemetery from becoming my test kitchen.

At some point during our aimless journey across Bonaventure, a butterfly popped out of a bush and Chooch groaned. I relished the chance to rat out Chooch’s wussy phobia and blurted out, “Chooch is afraid of butterflies!”

“Do you know what the German word is for butterflies?” Octavia asked Chooch. “Schmetterling!”she yelled like a witch in an uncensored fairy tale.

“SAY IT AGAIN!” I begged, and she did. It was glorious! I couldn’t wait to go back to school work and talk about my educational vacation!

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There was some douchey guy there leading a walking tour and they were everywhere we wanted to be. Octavia hated him too for the same unsubstantiated reasons as me (he just looked like an asshole and I hated his blond swoop-y hair and monochromatic clothes) and that was when I knew for sure that was the real deal.

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“Ow, my head.”

“Ow, my back.”

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We got to see Little Gracie! This is one of the most popular graves in the joint, and Octavia said that it used to be more easily accessible but there has always gotta be those assholes who like to be destructive. So now you can’t get beyond the gate for a closer experience. I was just happy that we got to see her at all, and I wished we had brought something to leave behind for her.

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I suggested leaving Chooch, but Henry said no. :(

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Being in Bonaventure was surreal. Cemeteries are one of the few places on this earth that I feel at home (and also Warped Tour, duh) and Bonaventure has always been one of the cemeteries of my dreams. Finally getting to see it, on my birthday no less, was amaze. And the best part was that instead of getting sucked into some touristy walking tour, or blindly stumbling around on our own until we started fighting within 20 minutes, we got to meander about at our leisure with Octavia. Which was great because it was like 299 degrees and walking any faster than I already was probably would have set me alight.

And you know what else? Henry checked in here on Facebook, which means he was excited in his own weird, silent way and wanted his “friends” to know that he was living it up in a famous cemetery in Savannah. Sure, he probably would have chosen a nap over this in a heartbeat, but I think he at least recognized that it’s not the worst thing he could have been doing that day.

Until I forced him to pose for this, that is:

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I took this with my phone that day because I needed to be able to plaster it all over social media ASAP, because: HENRY ON THE GRAVE OF HIS ROLE MODEL, NUGENT, what a great birthday! Of course this inspired Chooch to tell Octavia the story of Henry at the Ted Nugent show, which I was actually trying to tell her at the same time, but Chooch always has to steal the show…AND MY FRIENDS! He kept hijacking the conversation by bringing it back to video games and I was getting so jealous.

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“Are there crocodiles in there?!” I asked Octavia as we looked down over a small hill at the water below.

“No,” she assured me. And then she added, in the most non-patronizing tone possible,”and they’re alligators, anyway.” Something about her delivery made me crack up. The people I need most in my life are the ones who will gently correct me when I’m wrong and also make sure I don’t eat poisonous berries. Octavia exceeds expectations in both departments.

I just asked Chooch what his favorite part of Bonaventure was and he said when Octavia told us that sometimes there are dolphins in the water there. He hasn’t learned Henry’s favorite response yet, which is: “When we left.”

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We waited until it was time to leave to look at the map, because that’s smart.

From here, we continued on to downtown Savannah so that we could eat food that was cooked in a kitchen and not picked up off a boneyard floor, and Chooch was thrilled that Octavia got to sit in the back with him SO HE COULD CHEW HER EAR OFF SOME MORE. Ugh. I’d steal his friends to show him how it feels, but…kids and I don’t get along.

I must have said, “UGH!” in response to Chooch’s charm at least 87 times that day. Ugh!

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Aug 172015
 

My sole purpose on road trips is to assume the role of car DJ. Obviously. What else could I possibly be good for? I put on Loverboy to see if Henry would get that far-away look of nostalgia in his eyes.

#negative

So then I put on some good old Engelbert Humperdinck. Classic, you guys. Also, hair goals for Henry. Detached sideburns?! There’s absolutely no rhyme or reason to that. It looks like an accident. In other words: Henry could rock it.

While still in North Carolina, we began passing billboards for South of the Border, a TRUE TOURIST TRAP that I have only heard about, never visited. The first billboard I noticed said that it was 87 miles away.

“EIGHTY-SEVEN MILES AWAY? THAT’S SIDNEY CROSBY’S NUMBER. IT’S FATE. WE HAVE TO GO,” I squealed into the intercom of Wish Headquarters, also known as “Henry’s Ear.”

Then we passed another billboard that said South of the Border is 66 miles away! “THAT WAS MARIO LEMIEUX’S NUMBER! We’re going.”

See also:Letang’s number. Talbot’s number. Sutter’s number. And so on, and so forth.

I had a teacher in elementary school that said “and so on, and so forth” SO OFTEN. And then I never really heard it again.

Probably because it’s really stupid.

Inside Henry’s head at this moment: The letters “FML” fucking each other and giving birth to baby Nancy Kerrigan “whhhhhhhhhy” sound bytes.

The gestation period for these types of mental burdens is very short.

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Of course we stopped. And that place was dead. I don’t know what I was expected exactly but I thought it was going to be some sort of fannypacked madness. Tourists bustling about, darting to and fro, scooping up collector’s spoons and flurescent-brimmed visors.

But no. It was just us and a few other carfuls of weary travelers stopping for a bathroom & cold beverage.

I wanted to buy it all inside one of the large gift shops but Henry had that tight-lipped “DONT EVEN” expression on his idiot face, so instead I settled on a magnet and an ice cream dish in the shape of an ice cream cone that says South of the Border on it, which is already the new home to a succulent, THANKS FOR ASKING.

Chooch got nothing because he’s annoying.

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At first I thought we were going to have to climb to the top of the sombrero, which is fine but it was 1000 degrees out and I can’t climb steps that are so exposed like those ones. NO FUCKING WAY. Turns out, all we had to do was pay some Mexican guy in the arcade $2 each and then another Mexican guy wordlessly ushered us into an elevator and hit the button. As soon as we began our ascent, I nervously laughed, “Haha, it’s a lot higher than I thought.” Our elevator chauffeur politely smiled but I’m sure his mental FMLs we’re currently embroiled in a steamy affair with Henry’s mental FMLs.

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Yeah so then we arrived at the brim of ye ol’ sombrero and I proceeded to have an internal panic attack because I just can’t play the heights game anymore. I start hearing nuts and bolts popping in my head, and that slooooow squeak of bending metal, until whatever suspended platform I’m standing on snaps and I’m plummeting to my death along with whatever other idiot tourists are with me, and next thing you know there’s a new addition on Roadside America: “Former location of giant, roadside sombrero that hadn’t been inspected since 1984, where tragic tourist disaster occurred.”

Something like that. I’m writing this is in an un-air-conditioned house and occasionally black out.

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Henry enjoys waiting until the last minute to book a hotel room. And for the rest of our vacation, “hotel” will be used loosely.

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Half past bustling traveler’s mecca, more toward cesspool of sadness.

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“What’s that? Oh just the sound of all my time & money being punted off the brim of a giant sombrero.”

  

It doesn’t seem that high, but it felt like I was standing on the shoulders of Andre the Giant while he was standing on the shoulders of Lady Liberty. Oh god, I just had a flashback and my legs did the jello thing again.


Still trying to book us a “hotel.”

Before we left, we stopped in a convenience store across the street called The Pantry, where I was certain we were going to get shot by two suspicious young men who came creepin’ on ah come-up. I didn’t say anything though because Henry gets really annoyed when my “unfounded paranoia” rears its ugly head-in-the-crosshairs. I had the whole thing scripted in my head though, right down to the Erin RIP Glenn that hopefully someone would be uncouth and crass enough to create.

There’s some local ginger ale maker in the area and I wanted to tour the factory but Henry either said nein or “it’s closed” or “go to hell”, either way it was probably Henry’s fault. It’s called Blenheim and thank god, so blessed, the convenience store sold it in glass bottles which is my dad’s favorite way to drink carbonated beverage. He’s kind of an enthusiast. So I figured, golly I better knock one back in my dad’s honor.

I chose the “hot” variety, which was smirk-worthy for Henry.

“Do you even know what that means?” The words fell from his patronizing lips like crumbs from the testosterone sandwich he was eating at the Mans Rule World, Gurlz Dumm convention he’s perpetually attending in his head. “It means it’s extra ginger-y. You’re not going to like it.”

Yeah, well, guess who liked it, motherfucker? Ten kicks to man’s universal ballsack for all womankind.

Continuing on through South Carolina, I learned that Henry knows that #SPOBY means Spencer and Toby from Pretty Little Liars, which is sad and hilarious to me all at once. I was going to buy him a limited edition SPOBY shirt that Spencer (you know, the broad who plays Spencer) was selling on Instagram for charity but either my order didn’t go through or I’m about to have 6 of them delivered to my house in Henry’s name.

We stopped at Smith’s Exxon in Santee, a plain-named store that apparently boasts a wide array of local ciders, and Henry, suddenly a connoisseur of the jugged juices, was excited for maybe the second time of the whole trip. The southern gas station clerk behind the counter gave us samples of the peach cider and then taught us about muscadine, which is basically some kind of grape thing, I wasn’t listening. We sampled that too and Henry was making sex sounds so I knew he was going to buy a jug of each. (And he did. And just so you know, I never even got to drink any of it!)

How you know you’re not in Pittsburgh anymore. ^^

Chooch was so sick but I was like, “Son, I recognize that you are ill at the moment but please sit down and let me take your picture on this Cheerwine bench as proof that we are wherever we’re currently at.” Also, Cheerwine, nothing to Q-tip your dickhole over.  (But I don’t really like soda-type beverages to begin with, so.) Before we left, Henry cleaned out the car and threw out my ginger ale bottle which I was planning to save as a souvenir!

“Oh, we’ll get another,” he said.

“There will be plenty more places selling it,” he said.

GUESS WHO NEVER GOT ANOTHER BOTTLE?!

More driving.

We made it to Savannah around 9 and realized that we hadn’t eaten since The Creamery in North Carolina, so we went to the Waffle House next to our “hotel,” which is lame to go to chains, I know, but it was either that or get frustrated with Yelp and then wind up going to bed with an empty stomach and a heart full of hate.

At least the southern Waffle Houses are way better than the ones in our area. We had a super nice waitress and I got to stuff a waffle in my maw, and Henry had his cherished grits (seriously, what’s the backstory with Henry and the Grits?), and Chooch actually ordered something and ate it all.

“Father, might I take a sip of my milk now?”

Afterward, Chooch made a cat friend in the parking lot, and then we found out there were like 6 more where that one came from so we quickly left before Chooch got too attached.

And then I willed myself fall asleep, totally hyper about finally meeting Octavia the next day!

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Aug 152015
 

And on the fourth day of vacation, Henry expressed a barely audible modicum of joy when he spotted F-15s in the air.

****

Wednesday morning, a/k/a The Day Before My Birthday, was our officially check-out day from King’s Creek. Chooch and I were sad, but then Henry held up our timeshare starter package as a silent reminder that we’ll be back.

Again.

And again.

And again and again.

THE LAST TRIP DOWN THE SIDEWALK. :(

Being a travel day, my plan was for us to be leisurely about it. We didn’t have plans with Octavia until the next day, so there technically wasn’t much rush to get to Savannah anytime soon on Wednesday.

Which is a good thing, considering that Savannah was twice as far away from Williamsburg as I originally thought! I was super pissed though because I thought we were going to be passing through Norfolk but Henry explained that we were taking a more dumb and Henry-esque route through the middle of all the states.

“We can’t get to Savannah by going that way,” he said as I whined about Norfolk and all of the things I found on Roadside America that now were not going to be anywhere near us.

“Yes we can!” I cried, showing him a map on my phone.

“THAT IS ALL WATER. THOSE ARE NOT ROADS,” he yelled, so by the time we arrived at a rest stop in North Carolina, we were all miserable and hating each other, which only got WORSE when Henry copped an attitude when we had the AUDACITY to ask for beverage from the vending machines! Oh, I’m sorry. Maybe give us an allowance then so we can purchase our own beverages!

“He hates us,” I hoarsely whispered to Chooch as we power-walked in anger out of the rest stop. But then I was all, “Ooh! A thing! Let me photograph you by that thing!”

Chooch leaning against a thing.

Turns out, that thing is a WHIRLIGIG and there was an entire PARK full of them somewhere “down the street” in Wilson, NC. I begged and begged Henry to take us there since he had previously ruined our day by being a tight-wad motherfucker.

I looked at my map on Roadside American and determined that the exit for Wilson, NC, home of the Whirligig Park, was straight up ahead. What I failed to mention was that the actual destination was another 20 miles or so from the exit ramp. Henry hates being lead astray and was unreasonably irritated about whirligigs. Who could be mad about these sharp metal sculptures of joy?!

Also, I failed to note that the park is not yet open. We rolled up and saw a dirt lot, a backhoe in action, and a small sprinkling of whirligigs. That was good enough for me! Henry slammed the car into park and mumbled something about “you two assholes can get out and look; I’m staying here. Fuck a whirligig.” Even Chooch was being ungrateful and uncaring about the whirligigs and I was pretty disappointed. Here we were, parked across from a national treasure (debatable, but still) and these two were trying to ruin it for me.

I pulled Chooch out of the car and into the blazing heat and made him be a good tourist with me.

The whirligigs are the creation of artist Vollis Wilson, and are currently in the process of being relocated from some museum to the park-in-process in Wilson, NC. Wilson is, how can I put this delicately, a real dump of a town, so the hope is that this park will help with the revitalization project that’s currently underway, and I can definitely get on board with that.

I might start creating whirligigs to decorate the Law Firm. The ceilings in the partnership center are tall enough to accommodate art of this stature. BYE BYE GENERIC ITALIAN ART, HELLO ERINGIGS.

 

Maybe it’s nuts, but I love these road trips that we take so much because I am fascinated more by small, unknown towns than actual big cities. This was why I tried in vain to get people to guest blog on here about their hometowns, because I want to know all the insider, townie scoop. (Still looking to feature people, just saying.)

This is why I decided that Wilson was where we were also going to eat lunch that day.

Just…not here though.

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We stopped down the road at The Creamery, which has been serving Wilson since 1946.

That man sitting next to Chooch ordered two large jugs of sweet tea. NORTH CAROLINA FLAVOR!

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I already mentioned this in my birthday post, but they had cabbage on the menu! I ended up ordering okra though because I love me some okra. It came deep-fried, and I am used to eating it steamed or boiled or whatever Henry does to it (maybe I don’t want to know), so that was different.

Another cheerful family lunch!

While we were there, Hot Naybor Chris called Henry. Henry took the call out in the parking lot, leaving me to sit at the table and panic because WHY WAS CHRIS CALLING WAS OUR HOUSE ON FIRE AT LEAST WE DON’T HAVE PETS ANYMORE TO WORRY ABOUT!? He knew we were on vacation so it must be something tragic and devastating! It reminded me of when we were on vacation in Ocracoke years ago and had some sort of gas situation at our house and my mom and Janna kept calling us about it and we thought it was OK but then it wasn’t, and we ended up leaving early because I was so freaked out that our house was going to explode and also I hated the people we were vacationing with, so win-win….?

Turns out, a package arrived for me, air mail, and Chris just wanted to let Henry know that he took it off our porch so it wouldn’t get stolen. After Henry came back in and told me this, I cried, “WHY DOESN’T HE EVER JUST TEXT YOU THESE THINGS!?” Jesus Christ, I was worried sick.

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Aug 132015
 

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Remember when you were younger, how exciting it was to wear matching outfits to the school picnic at the local theme park with your BFF? Well, I don’t. I mean I wasn’t a total loser back then to where I was going to amusement parks alone, but my friends and I never wore matching Lycra bike shorts and BUM Equipment tshirts, is what I’m saying. Lots of ogres kids played the matching game though, and more power to them, you know? As long as they weren’t line-jumping (that’s cause for rival from the park), I didn’t care who wore what. 

All of that is to prepare you for when I tell you that 20 years later, I put some thought into my amusement park game and arranged for Chooch and I to both wear Emarosa tanks. 

 Henry felt left out as usual. #lifegoalsonlock
It’s been over two weeks now since we were at Busch Gardens, but sometimes when I’m sitting at my desk at work, I get flashbacks of the BEST RIDE I HAVE EVER BEEN ON.

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THE VERBOLTEN.

I knew nothing about this ride when Chooch declared it was next on our route. The three of us mindlessly wound our way along the empty queues and chose our spots in the station. Chooch and I waited for the second seat, leaving Henry to ride alone behind us. A recording a German broad speaking in cheery lilt played over and over while we waited for one of the coasters to make its way back to the station. There were four running that day, so the wait was quick and painless.

As our coaster departed, I was under the impression that this was more of a tame, “for the younger kids” ride. But then we approached the entrance to a building, and our coaster fucking shot off and went barreling into the pitch black vortex and I just screamed and screamed and screamed. I LOVE WHEN ROLLER COASTERS TURN INTO DARK RIDES! The idea was that we were careening perilously through the Black Forest and there was this one part where the coaster slows to a halt and THEN DROPS several feet to another track.

Fucking fantastic!

Then you shoot back out of the Black Forest, and the rest of the ride is outdoors.

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“You know I’ve been to the Black Forest, right?” I asked Chooch because I love to brag to him about how much richer (literally) my childhood was than his.

“Oh, of COURSE you have!” he cried angrily. And then, “….was it just like the Verbolten?”

YES IT WAS JUST LIKE THAT, OMG. Here, look at the battle wounds on my back from that time a TROLL grabbed our Trafalgar bus right off the road when we were trying to go to a goddamn cuckoo clock store to buy really expensive souvenirs.

We rode that sonabitch three times that day, and it still wasn’t enough. The scariest was the time we were in the front seat and I had seemingly lost all memory of what to expect and proceeded to scrape the lining off my throat with my forceful screams. 

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“Huh. Beer is pretty cheap here.” -one of the few things Henry said sll day. 

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Omg the Lochness Monster was a pleasant surprise! I thought it was just going to be your standard steel upside down coaster, but there was an entire part where we shot into a cave and just kept spiraling and spiraling down. I LOVE WHEN COASTERS GO INTO TUNNELS, ETC!

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 While I made a quick pee-stop at some point that day, Henry did this really charming thing where he buys himself and Chooch a cold beverage but conveniently forgets that I too am a human being, at risk of dehydration on a summer scorcher. So I came out of the bathroom and see those two assholes chugging their way to pale yellow pee while my kidneys felt like they were being as bongos. 

When I opened my mouth to bitch, Henry slapped a five intk my hand and told me to “be a big girl” and get my own beverage. 

This was one of the many times I called up my favorite image: Henry’s balls wrapped in acid-dunked barbed wire while being crushed in a vice. 

That motherfucker. 

So I’m standing in line to pay for my water and the man in front of me asks the cashier where she’s from, because he detects an accent. 

And she says Romania.

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“And I wasn’t going to  say anything, but then it was my turn to pay and the next thing I know, I’m blurting out, ‘so….I’m obsessed with Romania and I think I was born there in a past life and it’s my dream to visit, hopefully sometime in the next few years!'” I hysterically brayed when I rejoined Henry and Chooch with my independently-purchased cold beverage.  

“Oh. Wow. And did you say it just like that?” Henry asked, with that idiotic smirk of his. 

“Yes!” I answered triumphantly.

“You’re a creep,” he mumbled, and we set off for France. 

He’s just jealous that I made a friend at Busch Gardens and that I might have a place to stay when I move to Romania, the country that gave us Bela Karolyi.

THE BEST GYMNASTIC COACH IN THE WORLD. 

I have to remember to pack my homemade Bela t-shirt. 

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Henry won Chooch this dumb Pokemon stuffed thing. (Bulbasaur? I can’t tell what Chooch is calling it mostly because I’m not listening.) This plush fucker became the bane of my existence for the rest of vacation. I kept hoping he would forget it at a hotel along the way but no dice. 

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I was adamant about taking a boat ride and the other two were very against this. 

It turned out to be 15 minutes of dumbness plus the “lake” is man-made and fake bodies of water make me feel uncomfortable, like it was put there to hide something. 

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Several of the coasters at Busch Gardens have been on Coaster Wars, or whatever that roller coaster show is that I sometimes catch  on whatever cable channel (probably the Travel Channel, let’s not act a fool here). The Griffin is one of them, and I was honestly scared as fuuuuuck to ride this beast. It’s one of those really wide coasters that seat something like 15 people across. I could look it up but I’m writing this on my phone while laying on my bed, listening to “Dreamweaver” (IT JUST CAME ON, OK) and not actually in a smoke-filled office with a typewriter while wearing a visor and dinging a bell for no reason. So basically, I’m half-assing it again. 

When it was our turn to load in, some Busch Gardens broad came over and made us all moved down a seat and she totally caught me off guard and made me nervous to the point where I couldn’t remember how to sit in a seat and I ended up SLIPPING ONTO THE FLOOR OF THE COASTER in front of all the people who were in line! Chooch shot me a disgusted “Drunk much?” scowl as I did my best Pee Wee Herman & brushed myself off.

Seriously though, a stepping stool would have been helpful. 

Or a toadstool. 

Speaking of stools… that ride was one mother whomping stool softener. When it gets to the top of the hill, it STOPS so you’re just casually chilling a million feet in the air (again—research, what’s that) and staring straight down at the ground while your life flashes before your eyes and you wish you had known you were going to die that day so you could have told everyone to FUCK RIGHT OFF on Facebook. And somehow, over top of the screaming, you hear a quiet, metallic click. And then BUHBYE. 

God that ride was everything. Henry didn’t go on it because he too scared. 

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There is a sick dark ride there, something about a DarKastle. The walk to the loading area for this one is really long so I expect it must be popular on a busy day for it to need need a queue that long, but on THIS day, the day of Erin Rachelle, Chooch and I walked all the way through to the front and then immediately boarded a car with a scene couple. IT WAS BAD ASS. I wasn’t sure what to expect and I prayed that it wasn’t going to be like all of those boring shooter dark rides that are all the rage lately, but it turned out to be more of a 3D simulation type of ride and we LOVED IT. I should also note that all of the best rides were in the German area. 

IMG_6624.JPGThe Alpengeist was awesome! It’s supposed to to be like you’re on an out-of-control ski lift and it has te distinction of being the last ride Henry ride that day because it knocked him out of commission. 

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It was right around then that it occurred to me that beer was cheap there because ANHEUSER-BUSCH. 

BUSCH GARDENS. 

I was excited to tell Henry of my revelation and he just gave me a NO SHIT sneer. 

Although it appears that douchey SeaWorld owns it now. 

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Alpengeist, Loch Ness Monster, and the dumb boats.  

“I wonder what DONNA is doing right now,” I mused while eating the messiest, wettest waffle cone of my life. “Probably bring the best at whatever it is.” Henry actually kind of laughed. 

“Yeah, if she was here, she’d have the Quick Queue,” Chooch piggybacked. 

And we all laughed into our fast-melting ice cream. Donna, bringing our family together since one day before. 

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And then around 7:00, we tired of each other’s company and had exhausted all the coasters. So we left and on the way back to King’s Creek, Chooch and I verbally eviscerated Henry because we were hungry so he locked us in our cottage thing and went to get Subway. 

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UNTIL NEXT TIME, B.Gard!

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Aug 122015
 

I have so much wow to bring you guys right now. I’m sitting here with Henry J. and he is going to tell me his HIGHLIGHTS and LOWLIGHTS of our vacation, at which point I will TYPE WHAT HE IS SAYING.

We have nothing better to do. Pretty Little Liars is over for the season.

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        Here I am waiting for Erin, Octavia and Chooch to figure out where Forrest Gump’s bench used to be.

HENRY’S HIGHLIGHTS

  • the cottage at King’s Creek Plantation
  • morning trips for breakfast and coffee for “my babies” (because they weren’t with me)
  • meeting Octavia
  • (I suggested when Henry got to talk about moss at the Bonaventure Cemetery but he just gave me an annoyed look, so I guess…no.)
  • talking about the SERVICE with someone who was actually interested (Octavia)
  • watching Erin and Chooch play tennis and realizing that those two can’t do anything together without fighting. And Erin is way too* competitive.
  • getting to have grits with every meal.
  • the breakfast that Octavia’s husband Dustin made us
    • these were the best grits of the whole trip

*(Henry is mad because I spelled this correctly.)

  • attempting to teach Chooch to swim even though in his mind he knows how to already.
  • Busch Gardens
    • I didn’t have a favorite ride. I only rode three things and liked all three.
  • Watching a couple fight at the rest stop in Virginia while their kids ran amok.
  • Seeing a drunk girl at breakfast in Charlotte and watching her get kicked out.
  • Finding out that Jonny Craig’s band Slaves broke up.
  • buying peach and muscadine cider at a convenience store in Georgia
  • Mayberry
  • Almost having to go to a show when Erin found out a band she likes was playing in Charlotte but thank god we were on our way home
  • Watching Chooch writhe during dinner in Pulaski because of the girls at the table near us who were looking at him and giggling, and then the oldest one telling him he had nice hair.
  • WHEN HOT NAYBOR CHRIS CALLED ME WHEN WE WERE IN WILSON, NC!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!111111111111111111111111111111111111
  • GETTING TO LISTEN TO ALL OF ERIN’S AWESOME MUSIC AND TALK ABOUT WARPED TOUR FOR 7 DAYS STRAIGHT!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!11111111111111111111111

HENRY’S MIDLIGHTS (?)

  • the African village in South Carolina
  • boiled peanuts. I didn’t really get to try them because I was driving forever.
  • Dale Earnhardt museum
  • South of the Border – getting to take a selfie in front of a giant gorilla.

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HENRY’S LOWLIGHTS (and I’m not talking about the gray in his beard, you guys)

  • driving to Virginia for 7 hours with Erin and Chooch.
  • then driving 10 hours to Savannah
  • the 14 hour drive home because of Erin’s “detours”
  • Tortuga’s Island Grill in Thunderbolt, GA —> Erin’s birthday breakdown and Chooch’s “You don’t love me” breakdown. God forbid I should say anything to anybody.
  • Looking for the post office in Orangeburg, SC
  • Learning that Jonny Craig’s band Slaves did not actually break up.
  • Pulaski, VA (thanks, Octavia!)
    • Erin almost died. (I just said, “I didn’t almost die there…?” and Henry snapped, “Yeah, when I almost killed you.”)
  • Driving back into Savannah after we had already left because Erin supposedly forgot to buy postcards and a magnet when we were there for 8 hours walking around the day before.
  • Mayberry
  • Not buying enough peanuts while we were down there
  • the overpriced ghost tour in Williamsburg

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Here I am being a land shark in Savannah!

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Aug 112015
 

Suggested soundtrack for this post:

Is it really all that surprising that Busch Gardens is the only reason why I bought a Williamsburg vacation package two years ago at the Big Butler Fair? I have only been there once, and I was probably 4 or 5 years old. But the more I think about it, it could have been the one in Florida…Or maybe I just think I was there because there’s a photo of my mom and dad on the rapids ride and I assumed that I was there, too, standing next to the person who took the photo.

I feel so confused now.

It’s like when you hear a story so many times that you begin to delude yourself into thinking you were there. Like when Amber2 was pregnant and sent a smoke signal for a larger, more comfortable chair and wound up with some enormous, old green monstrosity, and then every time someone walked by and commented on it, she would tell them the story of how she acquired it and since I sit behind her, I had to hear this story over and over until I was able to tell it on my own, whenever someone would ask about it when she wasn’t at her desk, because I had the story so many times that it was like I WAS THERE.

EXCEPT THAT I WAS THERE.

So, never mind. Bad example.

Anyway, we got free tickets to the park as a “gift” for enduring the timeshare presentation.

You know how I love Bavarian shit? THIS PLACE HAS IT. And French crap, and Italian stuff, and British bullshit, and Irish hullabaloo. IT IS A EUROPEAN WONDER. (There was some American decorations too to appease all of the freedom fighters.)

Shiny patriotic shit to make people like Henry happy.

The parks we typically go to range from small to medium-sized, but now that Chooch meets the height requirement for basically every coaster, we’ve been anxious to hit up the bigger parks. (And obviously Henry is not included in that “we.”) It just didn’t make sense to do that before. Anyway, this is the type of amusement park that has shuttles to get you from the parking lot to the park entrance, and judging by the crowds just in our section of the lot (Italy, holla), we anticipated that we would be doing a fair amount of waiting most of the day.

WRONG. It was unbelievable how uncrowded it was! Thank you, 93 degree random Tuesday in July! The first thing we did was walk right onto Apollo’s Chariot, a coaster located in the “Italy” section. I don’t get sick on coasters like I do on most spinny rides nowadays, but sometime over the last 10 years, I have developed a near-crippling fear of that initial ascent and spaghetti-legged paranoia over the security of the safety harnesses. When we were waiting for the parking lot shuttle, we watched Apollo’s Chariot going up the hill on its test run and I started to feel woozy even then.

Henry was being a bitch because he apparently wanted to go on the Tempesto first, which is right next to Apollo’s Chariot, but Chooch and I veered off in the direction of Apollo’s Chariot instead, a silent reminder that Henry does not get to make choices at amusement parks.

I was whimpering the whole time we slowly climbed that hill, and Henry was not sensitive to my fears AT ALL. “It’s not that high!” he kept saying in his native douche-tongue. And then I was fine once we crested, but it’s in my nature to shriek things like, “ARE YOU FUCKING KIDDING I HATE THIS OMG THIS IS THE WORST NEVER AGAIN FUUUUUCK YOUUUU!” because I strive to set a good example for my son.

Once the coaster returned to the station and the safety harnesses deactivated, Chooch frantically lunged down and snatched something off the floor of the coaster. It was a black twist tie, and he seemed very relieved to have found it. He tucked it away in his pocket and I forgot about it….

…until Tempesto. Henry was being a whiny bitch and decided that BOO HOO he didn’t want to ride it now because the moment had passed. For fuck’s sake, go call mommy then, you little bitchbaby. Get over yourself. Anyway, Tempesto I guess is the new attraction for 2015, but even still, we only waited for about 15 minutes. And you guys, they give you a FANNY PACK at the entrance so that you can keep your possessions safely strapped to your person. What a fucking novel idea! I didn’t need one though, because I had already packed Henry’s fanny with my cell phone.

I mean…not to be confused with that techporn you watched last week with your downstairs neighbor.

Tempesto is a sick son of a bitch. Basically, I thought I was going to fall out the entire time, either my entire person or just my bowels. Maybe my boobs from my bra. It just really felt like something was going to fall out. And so I made sure that the cries erupting from my lungs accurately reflected my concerns.

Chooch LOVES that his mom is a beautiful banshee at the amusement park. He proudly Vannas his hands toward me and declares, “Ladies and gentlemen: my mother!”

Lol. No.

He gets so pissed. It’s all, “Mommy, stahhhhhhp!” and “Oh my god, you’re so annoying!”

Mommy’s little motherfucking 4th grader.

  
The above picture illustrates the exact point in the ride during which I died of Fear and then was resuscitated by the Even More Fear that occurred 2 seconds later.

So all in all, I would give this ride a 5 out of 5. You really missed out, Henry. You fucking pussy.

After we exited the ride, Chooch triumphantly pulled that black twist tie from his pocket. “Frederick survived!” he cried joyfully.

“Is that the thing you found on Apollo’s Chariot?” I asked.

“Oh no, I’ve had this since yesterday,” he casually responded. “It’s from that rifle gun I bought before the ghost tour.”

“Wait, did you bring that with you?” I pressed for details.

“Uh, yeah…?” he replied in a “so what?” tone.

I was just about to tell him he’s a fucking weirdo, but….my god he is so much like me.

There was only one moment during the whole day where Henry ALMOST ruined my life and that was when he tried to thwart my dreams of lunching at the Festhaus. “There isn’t going to be anything for you to eat there!” he grumped, to which I slowly leaned back and gave him the “Since when do YOU care?” hairy eyeball. I’d be happy with a lone slice of bayern-y bread as long as I’m surrounded by beer steins, lederhosen, and upbeat volksmusik.

Leave it to Henry to be a douche about the deutsche.

I ended up having a perfectly fine meatless German lunch of salad and strudel, so go choke on some schnitzel, Henry. YOU RACIST.

Chooch and I claimed a spot at one of the long wooden tables. Henry strode over with all the confidence of a Professional Driver and said, “I don’t want to sit here” and so he kept walking further to the back of the haus of fest, plumping his rump down at the end of an empty table. I suppose he expected Chooch and me to waddle after him like lost, frightened ducklings, but we were just like, “L-O-L motherfucker” and kept right on eating.

Henry, realizing that he either stay there and eat alone like when he was a Eunuch in Indiana, or admit defeat and join us at the cool table, angrily stood up with his tray and squeezed his way past all of the people sitting at our table. Apparently, that was why he didn’t want to sit there to begin with, because the seat across from Chooch and me wasn’t easily accessible. That didn’t affect us, so….

If you wish to see pictures of Henry looking unhappy at the Festhaus, please click here.

After my ears slowly tuned back into the white noise that is the Incessant Bitch Fest of Henry J. Robbins, I calmly explained that I chose to sit there because I wanted to be close to the stage.

“For the show,” I added, strudel falling from my mouth.

HILARIOUSLY, we were finished eating before the show started and I didn’t feel like wasting any more ride-time, so we left. But not before Henry had to use the bathroom, which is when Chooch’s trained eye spotted this gem:

More later this week. The Pretty Little Liars season finale is on tonight and I’m not gonna lie (not pretty or little enough to be a liar): I AM TOO DISTRACTED.

But first, here’s a picture of the Kinder Karussell. KINDER MEANS “KID” IN GERMAN, you guys.  My German game is on point.

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Aug 082015
 

One of the things I really wanted to do while in Williamsburg was go on a ghost tour. I mean, you can only watch Colonial actors perform Colonial acts so many times, if at all. You know? (Actually, aside from walking down the main street in the sweltering heat, looking for ginger cakes, we opted out of the Colonial exhibits. As I mentioned previously, we were given tickets for that shit from our resort, but we exchanged them for Busch Gardens tickets instead, because we ain’t be needin’ no history on this vacashun.)

When I told Henry about the ghost tour, he was like, “……”

And then when I was like, “Well, we’re doing it,” he was like, “………………………………”

And then when I was like, “I paid $4 extra a person for the EXTREME version,” he was like, “Oh for fuck’s sake, Erin.”

We left a little bit early so that we could go to this peanut shop we saw the day before, because Henry and I are what you might call “peanut connoisseurs,” in that we often like to partake in the mastication of groundnuts. For example, right now I’m at work, eating a small cupful of peanuts that I cribbed from another part of the department. (Yes, I’m still a snack stealer.)

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Chooch wasn’t feeling it.

Then we visited some some large tourist trap of a shop full of moccasins, souvenirs, and bacon-flavored everything. Basically, an “outpost” stuffed with shit no one really needs. They put a fluorescent vintage VW minivan thing out from and a giant bear to sit on in order to lure people in. It works.

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Chooch desperately wanted a pen that looked like a rifle, and of course it was basically glowing in neon letters WILLIAMSBURG! CIVIL WAR! HISTORY! MORE THAN JUST A PEN! It was only $5 or something but Tight Wad Hank was like, “NO” which made Chooch sad, and I have to hand it that kid: he wasn’t being too spoiled so far. Sure, he was asking for everything, but 99% of the time, once we said, he moved on.

Except with this pen. He like, needed this pen. His heart was aching for it. So I gave him money to buy it and then told Henry to go fuck himself, basically. Henry just batted at the air with his blue-collared hand and walked away, leaving me to stand in line at the checkout with Chooch, who was getting really tired of thanking every old woman who stopped to tell him they liked his hair. THEN DYE IT BACK ALREADY!

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We came outside just in time to catch the tail end of Henry taking a picture for two broads who were also drawn off the road by the prospect of sitting on some fake bear’s crotch.

“Hyuk, hyuk, you’re welcome!” Henry was saying after he handed the phone back to them. Of course, Chooch saw right through this ruse and knew immediately that Henry probably had programmed his number into the phone and is by now deep in the throes of an affair. And that’s fine, because Henry’s not my type, anyway.

(Please see: must wear fitted flannels and beanies, be known to attend a Thrice or Circa Survive show BY CHOICE, neck/hand tattoos, preferably in a band.)

I bought our idiot tickets online rather than going to the “general store,” wherever the fuck that is, so once we got back down to Colonial Williamsburg, we walked straight to Bruton Parish, which is where the website said we should all plan on meeting. Since we were already there once that day, I felt less like a tourist since I knew right where to go. (It also helped that it was on the main drag.) Gradually, more and more people started popping up and I was getting angry. How were we going to get the full experience with so many motherfuckers who had the same idiotic idea as us (me)?!

A family of four plopped their asses down near us and naturally, the mom started moving her lips in the shape of small talk; why. Why why why why. Go talk  to your own family!  Henry of course was standing further away with his face firmly planted in his phone, so no one bothered him. This broad was even talking to people who were just passing by. Like, lay off lady!

“What makes this ‘extreme’?” Henry eventually broke down and asked.

“I don’t know, it just says it starts at 9:00* and there’s equipment involved,” I verbally shrugged.

*(Good old 9:00PM. SOME SAY it was the runner-up for the Witching Hour.)

Sometime after 9, some broad from the ghost tour office arrived and started collecting tickets and, thank god, dividing the now-sizeable crowd between several guides. Each group ended up having about 15 or so people in it, and we were separated from the Talker, so I was pleased. Except that in exchange, we got a family of 5 that included A BABY IN A STROLLER.

WHO BRINGS OUT THEIR BABY DURING THE (RUNNER-UP FOR THE) WITCHING HOUR?

We got paired with some hyperactive older woman who Chooch pointed out later reminded him of Ellen, and when Henry had the audacity to ask, “Ellen who?” Chooch shouted in disgust, “SERIOUSLY?! Oh my god” because there is only one Ellen in the world and that is the Degeneres one.

I actually don’t think I ever caught the guide’s name, so we’ll just call her Ellen. Thanks, Chooch.

Ellen was mildly humorous (some of the less intelligent people in our group thought she was a fucking riot, though) and asked us to keep an eye out for horse shit on her behalf since she was backpeddling while telling us historical ghost stories. She encouraged us to take pictures with the flash on. Have you ever taken a picture at night with a cell phone? Well, if you haven’t, get stoked, because you’re about to put your eyes on a shit ton of iPhone night photos, and they are real lookers.

Henry, annoyed before it even started because GHOSTS AREN’T REAL, spent nearly the whole tour trailing behind the group, reading the same status updates over and over on his phone (he only has like, 70 Facebook friends) and probably reading things about the Republican Party and pinning mason jar DIYs on Pinterest. This is what he looked like:

I’m going to go ahead and tell you that this is some kind of paranormal activity that my advanced phone camera picked up.

Turns out that the “equipment” included on the EXTREME tour was one (1) EMF meter. (I had to google that.) Ellen gave it to the vocal non-believer of the group, this broad named Donna, who was there with her husband and two bitch-daughters who were wearing t-shirts that said “Got Ghosts? Williamsburg does.” Chooch hated them right off the bat, and I quickly realized that it was because the one was a huge dickhead whiner just like him.

“I NEED SOMETHING TO DRINK,” she spat at her father through gritted teeth pretty early on into the tour. “I AM LIKE DYING OF THIRST.” God, that sounded familiar. I could almost hear that coming out of her mouth in Chooch’s bitch-voice.

And mine.

Quickly, Father! Run to the nearest haunted Williamsburg well and quench your dumb daughters thirst!

Anyway, DONNA got to hold the EMF meter first and surprise, surprise, she was picking all of the activity! Ellen was delighted. The non-believer was attracting all of the ghosts! Oh ho ho, isn’t that always the way it works? All hail, Donna! She encouraged everyone to bombard Donna with photos because this would be a great time to capture orbs. Of course, Donna’s husband took a photo that basically made it look like Donna was a magnet for paranormal activity. Ghosts were coming down from Salem, for Christ’s sake! DONNA THE NON-BELIEVER’S HERE, GUYS! LET’S APPARATE!

Everyone crowded around to see the poster for Paranormal Activity 6: Douchebag in Williamsburg on her husband’s phone. It was early into the tour so I was kind of interested in what was going on, I wasn’t full-on pouting yet, but I couldn’t get close enough to see what had everyone so excited.

I don’t know what this was supposed to be. Tree. Fence.

Ellen told us a handful of, truthfully, very interesting stories, which had us all gathered around like this:

There was this one broad there with her friends, they were probably in their early 20s, and she was fucking scared out of her mind. I mean, nothing was happening. There were no chainsaws. No scare tactics being employed. And with all the taverns in Colonial Williamsburg, we were far from being the only idiots out there that night.

Henry, closing his eyes to better enjoy Ellen’s stories.

Chooch and I agreed that the best story was about the Ludwell-Paradise House. Lucy Ludwell was the daughter of a prominent family, but her ginger cake was missing some very important ingredients, if you know what I mean.

Let me rephrase that for my non-Colonial friends: she was batshit, guys. I was reading about her on some historical Williamsburg website after the fact, and she is adorably referred to as an “eccentric.” This made me laugh, because I have been called that a lot in my life.

She would get all up in ladies’ grills and tell them that she liked their dresses. And then when they would nervously say thanks, she would ask for the dress! Of course, they’d be like, “The fuck?” and quickly retreat. So she would follow them back to their houses and stand out front, watching through the windows, until she saw that the dress in question was now hanging up outside on the clothesline, and she would promptly go into their yard and take it! Oh, Lucy. Nothing is more charming than a rich person stealing from her neighbors.

Of course, her parents would pay people off to save face. And in order to make people like her, Lucy would invite people to her house and promise them carriage rides, because she had this beautiful carriage that she brought from England. But Lucy’s definition of a carriage ride was to have the help pull the carriage back and forth on her back porch.

Eventually, once her parents were dead and no one was left to protect her, she was thrown in the mental institution, which is now the art museum.

Lucy sounds like she fucking fabulous and the whole time Ellen was regaling us with her story, I felt an electric kinship, like she was watching me through a window of her old house, psychically implanting  me with her lunatic chip. #lifegoals

A tree. Fence.


This was the prison, where Donna was attracting so many motherfucking ghosts it was about time to call in an exorcist, for Christ’s sake. Chooch and I exchanged annoyed eyerolls and silently agreed that Donna was a fuckerbitch.

Chooch’s review: “It wasn’t scary at all and eff Donna.”

The highlight of the tour for me was when DONNA LOST HER PHONE OMG! HER PHONE THAT WAS CAPTURING ALL OF THE GHOSTS IN THE HISTORY OF GHOSTS BEING A THING!

“How the hell did she ‘lose her phone’ when it’s never not in her hand?” Henry grumbled. So we had to linger in front of some house that apparently wasn’t haunted at all but it sure as fuck was scary, while Donna and her husband walked back toward the prison to look for it. Mu theory is that she just needed some extra time to orb-ify more photos with whatever ghost hoax app she was using. Get fucked, Donna.

OMG don’t worry though! Donna found her fucking phone.

FINALLY! MY RUDIMENTARY IPHONE LENS FAKED AN ORB! I was so stoked because I did just as Ellen said and took a series of photos in a row and just like that, one of them produced an orb.

“SHOW HER!” Chooch cried, trying to pry my phone from my hands.

“No!” I hissed. “I don’t want these a-holes passing my phone around!” I mean, what if I got a sext during that time? Talk about a ghost hunt foul.

I just asked Henry for a review and he laughed without mirth, shook his head, and said, “No.” I think he’s still trying to not think about all of the peanuts he could have bought with the money I flushed into this ghost event. My favorite thing to do during the tour was whip my head around and make “OMG!!!!” faces of disbelief at Henry as Ellen told us story after story. He was so mad.

Hilariously, the three of us pretty much walked separately from each other the whole time. God, what a team we are.

I wonder if ghosts and Amish people ever get together and talk about how fucking annoying tourists are.

Ellen showed me some photo of a window on her phone and I have no idea what I was supposed to be seeing, so I just said, “Wow. OK.”

Toward the end of the tour, someone else finally got a chance to use the EMF meter and promptly mistook it as her chance to try out new modeling poses she saw on A Beautiful Mess.  Still not as annoying as Donna though.

I wonder, if no one is paying attention to Donna, does she cease to exist? If Donna falls in a forest, and no one is around to hear her, does she take an Instavid of herself to prove that she made a noise?

Finally, the tour was wrapping up and we all headed back to Bruton Parish, where Donna told us some story about lightning striking and leaving ghoul faces on this grave marker:


And then Donna came flying over to show Ellen more of her doctored photos and I didn’t even try to be subtle about the barfing noises I was making. We left without saying thanks or goodbye to Ellen, but that’s OK because only had eyes for DONNA anyway.

DONNA DONNA DONNA DONNA.

And here I was worried that a baby was going to be the douche of the tour, but no. It was a grown-ass woman. Douchey Donna. I hope she took some evil entity home with her to her Douche Headquarters. She must be so proud of herself, being the star of some dumb ghost tour that no one will ever remember. EXCEPT FOR ME BECAUSE I HAVE A STORAGE UNIT FULL OF GRUDGES.

In summation, I enjoyed the historical and ghost stories Ellen told us (I didn’t write about all of them because they’re all taken from books written by some dude name L.B. Taylor so they can be easily accessed if anyone was interested in learning more) and to be honest, once we ventured off the main drag, it did get kind of creepy. But I would not recommend paying extra for the “Extreme” version because that EMF meter was a fucking afterthought. I don’t even think Ellen even really explained to everyone what it was doing, and she honestly seemed to forget that it was in use most of the time.

As soon as we were out of earshot, I was like, “Fuck Donna.” And Chooch and Henry wholeheartedly agreed, so really you could say that this was family bonding experience. It’s not often we’re all in agreement on something.

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Aug 062015
 

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In addition to the Cheese Shop, my friend Jeannie also recommended that I visit Bruton Parish while in Williamsburg. Jeannie went to college in Williamsburg and she knows what is and isn’t relevant to my interests, which is why she didn’t send me to a golf course or butcher shop.

Bruton Parish was established in 1674. I know this not because I read a placard or went on an historical walking tour, but because I just now Googled “Bruton Parish” and skimmed the first three lines.

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It’s basically against the law for me to be that close to a cemetery without stopping by. Actually, Jeannie’s official travel tip to me was to get sandwiches (with House Dressing!!) at the Cheese Shop and then take it to the cemetery to eat, but Henry was being an impatient douchebag, probably a lasting side effect from his Toby smoking habit. and made us eat at a table outside of the Cheese Shop.

“WHERE ELSE WOULD YOU LIKE TO EAT!?” he snarled, which might seem like it would be scary and threatening, but it just really annoys and pisses off me and Chooch. I hate when he uses That Tone on us!

“In the cemetery!” I cried, and then he went on to postulate that there was “probably nowhere to sit there.”

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Gosh, Henry. What’s this here wooden butt-crate thing? Is this one of them there benches that I heard about? In a cemetery? TO SIT ON?! WHILE EATING A SANDWICH IF ONE SO DESIRED?

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Way to ruin a perfectly good hypothetical picnic, Henry. Go choke on a Toby.

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The fact that skulls were so prevalent on headstones back then fills me with joy.

The guts of the cemetery was cordoned off, so we were only able to admire the graves from afar. It was still worth it though. There was so much beauty there, even if the constant chute of sweat sluicing into my eyeballs made it sometimes difficult to see.

Seriously, we’ve been having such an unusually mild summer here in Pittsburgh, that we were left woefully unprepared for the blistering heat and sweltering humidity that left my face moist and oily like a glazed donut, like where’s that spare slice of bread when I need it to soak up my sebaceous facial splooges, like my cheeks are a fucking fount of extra virgin olive oil (that’s EVOO to you Food Network sluts) I’m a real goddang babe in the south, y’all.

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Wishing he was six feet under.

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“OMG A CEMETERY. I’VE NEVER SEEN A CEMETERY BEFORE.”

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I think this was after I told him we were going to come back here later that night for the ghost tour that I keep mentioning but haven’t had a chance to write about, and by now it probably seems like it’s going to be the greatest story ever told (on this blog) because I keep foreshadowing. Goddamn are you going to be sorely disappointed.

P.S. We hated basically everyone in town that day because HELLO LEARN HOW TO NOT TAKE UP THE ENTIRE GIRTH OF A SIDEWALK. And don’t try to tell me you’re just really engrossed in the sights and sounds of Williamsburg. Because no, you’re just an asshole.

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Aug 052015
 


We spent the morning of our first full day in Williamsburg signing away our life at Kings Creek Plantation. Immediately after, we drove out to downtown Williamsburg and got sandwiches at the Cheese Shop because Jeannie told me to and even though I act all tough, in reality I do what people tell me.

Haha, just kidding. But I went along with it this time because Jeannie said the magic word: cheese.

After that, we ventured down the road into the Colonial portion of the town. All the exhibits have an admittance fee, and the resort offered us free passes to watch people churn butter and hammer iron things, god only knows what goes on in those houses, but we traded them in for BUSCH GARDEN TICKETS because please, don’t try to teach us stuff. They* don’t charge you to walk down the street at least, and to spend money in the many novelty shops, so there’s that.

*(I don’t know who “they” are. The ghosts of Williamsburg, I’m guessing.)

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“What are those?!” Chooch cried as we walked down A Colonial Street, pointing to a tree pregnant with what looked like dangling alien weeners.

Henry squinted up at the tree.

“Oh, that’s a Toby tree,” he answered in his Know-It-All tone. “We used to smoke those when we were kids.”

OH HELL NO, HOLD UP.

WAIT A MINUTE.

PULL UP A CHAIR TO THE FIREPLACE, PAPA H IS ABOUT TO SPIN A YARN.

And then in true Henry form, he conveniently had nothing else to say. Just straight up sauntered away from the can of worms he left writhing in the Williamsburg heat.

“DID YOU LIKE, GET HIGH FROM IT?!” I screamed, imagining Henry lounging against a tree trunk, puffing on a “Toby,” glazed eyes seeking out fighter jets in the sky.

“What? No!” Henry answered, verbally swatting the fly.

“THEN WHY DID YOU DO IT?!” Chooch demanded.

“I don’t know. It’s just what we did back then!” He was getting defensive at this point.

I kept pressing for more information until he snapped. “There’s nothing else to say! It’s not like I did it constantly!”

The idea of Henry cutting class to smoke a fucking tree had me doing the pee-squat in the middle of some Williamsburg square while Old Folks in seersuckers and capris strolled past at a geriatric pace, taking pictures with their 35mm cameras.

I can honestly attest that I have never seen any of these trees in Pittsburgh. Presumably because Henry smoked them all.

Way to throw away your future, Henry.

“Look, I’m daddy, smoking a tree!” Chooch battle-cried, his exuberance echoing along the square, awakening our forefathers who probably thought it was time to fight another civil war.

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Look at what you taught your son, asshole.

Henry’s mom has been staying at our house all week and Chooch just now tried to rat on his dad as I’m writing this.

“Did you know your son used to smoke trees?” Chooch sneered.

Henry’s mom was unfazed. “Oh, yeah. Toby trees. I used to smoke them, too.”

WHAAAAAT IS HAPPENING!?

Now she’s going on and on about it but I can’t hear her because I’m cracking up so bad.

I JUST GOOGLED IT AND IT’S A THING! Henry didn’t make it up after all!

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And then we kept walking, in search of some ginger cake thing that the saleslady at the resort urged us to find. She really had the idea of these cakes super hyped up, probably as a distraction to keep reality from setting in as we signed contract after contact, and I didn’t care how much of my face had melted off in the Virginian heat: I was gonna eat a fucking colonial ginger cake.

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We finally found a bakery!

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The bakery has a well thing!

 

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WALKING TO THE BAKERY.

And of course the ginger cake turned out to be mediocre and I was really sad.

Then I bought post cards, like this one that had Barb’s name written alllll over it. I can totally picture her loafing with this jackass and his 18th century printing press. God, I can only imagine the pamphlets they’d print together, full of anti-Bill Paxton propaganda and slang from 2005.

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Then we came back to Kings Creek where Chooch and I had a huge, public argument on a tennis court because I am incapable of teaching people things, but then we managed to go to the pool without causing a spectacle, surprisingly. Meanwhile, my workfriend Colleen commented on something on Facebook, telling me that her parents live in Williamsburg and have read my blog before, so we should go visit them. I pictured her parents opening the door to find my motley crew on their front steps: Chooch and his multi-colored hair, Henry in his nondescript attire with steam billowing out of his ears and a Toby between his lips (HA), and me on the fringe of lunacy. What a fucking sight.

Later that night, we went on a GHOST TOUR which I will write about at a later date. Like tomorrow. Maybe.

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Aug 012015
 

I wasn’t going to liveblog on the way home but let’s face it: what else is there to do when I’m in a car with Henry?

8:47: Henry is acting like a goddamn martyr because he has been doing all of the driving. We still have 7 hours left of the trip (we left Savannah late yesterday and drove to Charlotte, NC) and we’re all kind of DONE. Henry didn’t even feed us dinner last night! I HAD CHEX MIX. :( Also we have been looking for a post office since we left Savannah yesterday.

8:48: Chooch: Where are we doing for breakfast? Henry: the post office.

Seriously though we spent so much time driving in circles yesterday because I typed “post office” into google and it told me to go to Orngeburg, SC. So that is how we ended up driving all around an industrial park in Orangeburg, SC looking for a post office so I could mail my postcards only for Henry to realize that my inability to read maps, or properly Google things for that matter, had led us straight to the Industrial Packing Supplies building. “Here it is!” I announced triumphantly. “THIS ISNT ANYWHERE CLOSE TO BEING A POST OFFICE, ERIN” Henry spat.

Ladies and gentlemen, Orangeburg.

But we got to see a rainbow!

9:20: we’re at the Tupelo Honey Cafe and Henry is currently not speaking to us.  lol forever.

This is definitely the type of place you come with people you enjoy talking to over brunch and HENRY IS NOT THAT PERSON LOL. Oh well, at least I have my backup: Chooch.  

Henry’s omelette came with a flower on the plate and now he’s even surlier. I had a delightful sweet potato pancake with peach butter and soysage and Chooch had eggs and homefries and actually ate the whole thing. I love this place but Henry is like exploding with hatred right now. He hates how all the men here are dressed in the same brand of strange-hued, fitted yuppie shorts.

10:05: One of the guys in yuppie shorts was asked to leave a few minutes after they got there because his female yuppie-partner was so drunk that she was laying across the table and the chairs and Henry said her dress was like wide open. They were walking back to their yuppie car in front of us and she was definitely drunk. It was a good example for me to show Chooch that rich people act like trashy assholes sometimes too. He’s learning lots on this vacation!

10:10: I enjoyed my time at the Tupelo Honey but Henry did not. “My food wasn’t from scratch!” he just whined. “The mushrooms and peppers in my omelette were from a CAN! That’s not FROM SCRATCH. They LIED.” Maybe a Bloody Mary would have helped him not notice.

11:22: Just left the Dale Earnhardt Headquarters, lol. I was like WE HAVE TO GO TO MORRISVILLE and Henry was all YOU HATE NASCAR THO? I just wanted to go and laugh.  

Me: Do you think they’ll have Tony Stewart stuff here?

Henry: THIS IS DALE EARNHARDT’S HEADQUARTERS WHY WOULD THERE BE TONY STEWART STUFF HERE.

Me: Do they have the car he crashed in?

Henry, appalled: NO! I HIGHLY DOUBT IT!

WHO KNEW?!

Chooch: Where are we again?

Henry’s favorite part!

Me: Do you think they have the outfit here that he died in?

Henry, mumbling at this point: Probably not.

At least it was free! Chooch got a souvenir penny but selected by mistake Dale Earnhardt Jr’s signature to be imprinted on it. I’m going to add an extra Jr to it so it’s like the band. (Even though they changed their name to Jr Jr a few weeks ago.)

I’m pissed because I wanted a magnet to boast that I was there but the gift shop didn’t have anything specific to the headquarters. Not even a Dale Earnhardt Headquarters is For Lovers t-shirt. I ended up getting some dumb NASCAR-ish photo magnet so I can just put my picture with Chooch in it I guess. Sigh.

Chooch’s main takeaway from this joint is that Henry looks like Dale (negative) and that we’re shitty parents who took him on the worst vacation ever because we wouldn’t buy him a notebook with Dale Earnhardt’s racing number on it. Cry it out, bro.

11:50: I think it’s safe to say that Henry reaaaaaallllly hates the Roadside America app. Also, my postcards were mailed. I know you were concerned about how that was going to play out.

12:07: Just accused Henry of not having any fun this whole trip and he said “I never said that. I’m just sick of you two.” BUT THEN HE SORT OF SMILED A LITTLE. So I took that as my opportunity to demand iced coffee.

2:02: We just left Mt. Airy, NC, the home of Andy Griffith and a Mayberry shangri-la.


Chooch was like “This is great but who the fuck is Andy Griffith?”

We skipped the actual Andy museum tour, but there was a free Chang and Eng gallery in the basement that we were able to quickly access.

Roamed around Main Street for awhile and then visited Wally’s Service which is where you can take tours of the town in an old Mayberry squad car.

I went inside to get my dad a coffee cup and to also snag some postcards since we had previously driven past the post office so I could easily mail them. Chooch almost made it out of the store without incident but right as I opened the door to leave, he barely Todd a toy car on a shelf with one finger tip when the woman behind the counter snapped at him to not “play with the cars.” OK BITCH BROAD. HAVE A NICE FUCK YOU.

There was a replica of the jail next door so we stopped over there for some photo ops. Chooch took this one of me and then posted it on Instagram without my permission but luckily the cell bars and my layers are blocking some of my fat bulges.

Encountered a rude bitch lady in there, too. She was just a tourist like the rest of us so I don’t know where the superiority was coming from.  
And now Henry is pissed because we’re back on the highway, stuck on accident traffic and Chooch and I keep unplugging the GPS in orde to charge our phone/Nintendo DS.

3:02: Still sitting in traffic approx. 5 miles away from Mayberry. The Hells Angels are with us, though!

 

3:52: Henry made us pee at idiot Love’s, a gas station that was infested with people who, like us, had been sitting in traffic for over an hour, but of course they were all way more annoying than my perfect family.

Also, we’re currently in Virginia. Henry has said that he hates approx. 87 times today. I said I was sorry for breathing and he laughed sardonically and cried, “No you’re not! Who are YOU kidding?!”

And then his idiot self bought Chooch CANDY. Yes, that makes sense.

Chooch just asked if today is August 1. Like, get a fucking calendar.

5:06: Octavia recommended a pit stop in Pulaski, VA so that’s what I’m making Henry do right now and he’s pissed. He has reached the point where he only communicates in head shakes and moustache twitches.


But first, this overlook thang!

5:33: Huge fight because Henry wouldn’t stop anywhere “downtown” Pulaski and then some guy came out of nowhere doing about 70 almost wrecked into us, Earnhardt-style, but now we’re sitting quietly at Tom’s Drive In while a big table of locals talk in hushed tones about Chooch’s hair.


 The man standing is really excited because he went outside to buy the newspaper and it was from TOMORROW! A paper from the FUTURE and it only cost A DOLLAR!

Ah, local flavor.

5:57: Thought Chooch was staring at one of the younger girls this whole time but eventually realized it was the OLDER GIRL WITH PINK HAIR. She came over before she left and said, in the perfect drawl, “I like your hair…” And Chooch’s face almost burst into flames.  

 It smells weird in here and there’s no a/c but it was worth it for the people aspect. The two young kids working here are super personable.  

Cheapest meal on the whole trip, not counting the CHEX MIX DINNER I had last night.

6:52: We’re stuck in traffic again! Henry pointed out that we still have five hours to go before we’re home. “it’s like we made no progress today. It’s like we went BACK IN TIME” and now he’s muttering. Then Chooch asked him what our next vacation is going to be; Henry turned around and breathed fire into Chooch’s face.

7:34: Listening to a Koo Koo Kanga Roo podcast where someone said “follow your dreams.” Chooch freaked out because he thought they said Paul Eugene. Now he’s calling us Ma and Pa and I’m freaking out.
9:24: Three hours from home but at least we’re in West Virginia now! Stopped at a gas station in Mt. Nebo for refreshments; it had the cutest diner attached to it.

 West Virginian coffee station. I was pissed when I learned that there was a Sheetz down the street. “Why,” Henry sneered. “You hate their coffee too.” It’s true, but really it’s just their iced coffees. They just always taste so gross to me, like they use Lip Smackers for their flavoring.
  
The bathroom was sketchy upon initial entrance, but the stalls were surprisingly clean and provided great reading material. 

 THREE MORE HOURS.
Idiot Chooch got a bag of BBQ chips and is eating them with open-mouthed panache. YELLING AT HIM HELPS NOT.

9:52: Chooch is sleeping! FINALLY! I’m so excited that I licked Henry’s arm!

10:42: Henry just sped up at the same time someone was creeping up on us from the right lane and I screamed, “STOP TRYING TO RACE HIM! OH GOD, HE MIGHT SHOOT US.”

“Why is he going to shoot us?” Henry (kind of) laughed.

“I don’t know! Maybe he’s in a gang!” I defensively reasoned.

“The pick-up truck gang?” Henry sighed.

IT’S BEEN A LONG DAY. So long that Henry just deliriously whispered, “Bye bye, Guy from Ontario” when some car that Henry recognized as one that passed us twice while we’ve been on this this highway in WV, drove away down the last exit.

10:53: KNUCKLE PUCK, CARRY US HOME. I just want to wash my face. For hours.

11:22: Pennsylvania just welcomed us. One more hour!! I hope henry doesn’t think I’m going to help carry anything into the house. Lol.

11:45: Fuckface Henry stopped “to get gas” at Sheetz so now our arrival has been pushed back to 12:45. WHYYYYYYY, TONYA HARDING???? WHYYYYYYYY? Anyway, I went into Sheetz to pee and Talking Head’s  “Psycho Killer” was playing. I got really paranoid.

12:18AM: Carly Rae Jepsen and her sweet pop sensibilities carrying us down the home stretch.

12:44AM: OK WE’RE HOME GOOD NIGHT.

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