This is the sixth part of a serial travelogue entitled How I Spent My Summer Vacation, starring Artificially Sweetened (AS), Cupcake, and me, The Nittany Turkey.
The comfortable quarters at Tam Manor are conducive to getting a good night’s sleep. The outside temperature was cooperating, too. Sleeping with the window open is a rare luxury, something that’s not usually an option in Central Florida. A window air conditioner is installed in the guest room for warmer nights; I used only its fan to provide cross-ventilation and for white noise camouflage for snoring.
I’ve never heard myself snore, so I’m not sure who is the champion at it, AS or I. According to Cupcake, I’m the louder one. I know that she’ll get no argument from Toejam on that subject, based upon the heat I’ve taken when sharing a room with the Tams for football games.
AS and I got up around 9 AM. There is no bathroom competition at that hour, so I strode over Cupcake, who was still bagged and tagged on the floor. (Later, Judy told me she had counseled Cupcake, “Honey, you should move over a little bit so you don’t get stepped on.”) After taking care of business, I went downstairs for coffee and the usual dose of disdainful crap about getting up so late.
The Tams are TV addicts, so the flat-screen in the enclosed patio is always on, usually at about the level of a gas powered mower. The amazing thing is that they do other things while the TV is on. Judy reads and Toejam does Sudoku and crosswords. With all that going on, they can even manage to hold occasional fragmented and disjointed conversations. I think Regis and Kelly was the background entertainment when I arrived on the scene to say my good mornings.
This is not to suggest that the Tams are TV watching perpetual couch potatoes. They’re both avid golfers, they love to travel, and Toejam puts a bunch of miles on his bike most mornings. Although retired, Toejam participates actively in an an engineering technology accreditation team under the auspices of IEEE. Judy is actively involved in fixing and selling her dad’s former house. But when they’re home and not sleeping (sometimes), the TV is always on.
I assumed my position on my favorite chair. Toejam and I discussed things we could do while there, as Regis went off on a rant about Notre Dame or something. Either Regis or Toejam also asked about Cupcake, who, to my knowledge, was still asleep.
The shower at Tam Manor was a late retrofit. The house is an old duplex in which Toejam grew up with his parents and his sister on the other side. When the Tams got married, they threw the tenants out and fixed up this side, in which they still live. Now, the original side is empty, as both parents have passed on and Toejam’s sister departed long ago. The bathrooms in both housing units had tubs, but no showers, so Toejam plumbed an area in the cellar for a prefab fiberglass shower stall. Accordingly, a shower involves four flights of stairs, assuming that one starts and finishes upstairs.
Last night, AS took Cupcake downstairs to acquaint her with the shower. Cupcake doesn’t have to deal with many cellars while living in Florida, so she was creeped out by the experience, but after her initial orientation she didn’t seem to mind going down there. Plus, all Toejam’s power tools were there to play with.
AS made it down shortly after I did. The Tams had made enough coffee for all of us, so we would have her full presence when the caffeine kicked in.
We decided that we would do some Geocaching around Schuylkill County (a.k.a. da Skook) today.
I’ve mentioned Geocaching several times in this travelogue, but I haven’t said much about what it is. Call it what you will, a sport, a game, a hobby, or an obsession, Geocaching is a treasure hunt using GPS satellites to find hidden objects. Before 2000, the accuracy of any civilian GPS receiver was purposely dumbed down for national defense reasons. Since then, the restrictions were lifted such that with a handheld receiver, one can find a small item hidden in the woods, in cities, and in every kind of place one could imagine. There’s even a t-shirt for Geocaching fanatics that reads “I Use Multi-Billion Dollar Military Satellites to Search for Tupperware in the Woods.” All one has to have to get started is web access and a GPS receiver that will accept position coordinates as input. Descriptions of the Geocaches are published on-line. There are well over a million of them worldwide. (For more information, see the Geocaching web site.)
Cupcake showed up, as cheery as ever. She was very polite in the company of her hosts. I was proud of her. She didn’t burp or fart or call them dumbasses.
Toejam was ready to roll. It was late morning, so we would have the afternoon to roam around the county. He asked me if we were ready.
“I was kinda waiting to see if Judy was going to make some lunch,” I replied.
Judy’s sweet voice boomed from the kitchen, “I put breakfast stuff out for yiz! If ya didn’t eat it, tough shit!”
I guess we were on the road. On the way out, Judy asked Toejam when we would be returning, so she knew when to put the lamb on. Joe said we’d be back at 6:00. [Read more…]