This is the eleventh installment of our summer road trip travelogue, featuring Artificially Sweetened (AS), her daughter, Cupcake, and me, the Nittany Turkey.
My pre-season prognostication having been written and put to bed, I now have no excuses to delay this installment of the travelogue any longer. So, awayyyyyyyyyy we go!
This would be our Washington, D.C. day. At the appointed early morning hour and against the feeble protests of AS, I gathered my stuff together for departure. When I exited the guest facility to go to the bathroom, I was surprised to see Cupcake in the final stages of doing the same. Occasionally, she can be surprisingly sweet and self-reliant; I was happy to see that this was one of those times. So was AS.
I left AS upstairs to gather her stuff as I brought mine downstairs. Toejam and Judy were, of course, already up. Even in retirement, they maintain a first shift coal miner’s schedule.
Toejam and I were discussing my route. He prefaced his comments with, “I know you won’t listen to me, but…” Actually, I wound up listening to him. His idea of taking US 15 down to the Baltimore Beltway turned out to be perfect. I was surprised that my GPS software chose that same routing. But I’m getting ahead of unfolding events.
The plan was to hustle down to suburban Virginia and take the Metro into our nation’s capital, where we could do some sightseeing for a few hours. My hope was that we could avoid rush hours and after the sightseeing, hit the road reasonably early. Rocky Mount, North Carolina, where we would spend the night, would still be a long drive from the capital area.
On Our Way
We said our goodbyes to the Tams after loading the Siena. We will be seeing them again when they pay us a winter visit in January or February. Who knows? We might even see them sooner, if we decided to go to the homecoming game at Penn State this fall.
Over the hill and past Robert Shewokis’ fuel oil tanks we went and we were on our way out of the Skook. Most of the morning proceeded uneventfully, until it was time for lunch. By that time, we were approaching the Baltimore Beltway.
“What do you girls feel like for lunch?” I asked.
“Cracker Barrel is a chain, but it’s good enough,” responded AS.
“Ew!” I croaked.
“Cracker Barrel is good!” asserted Cupcake.
“Cracker Barrel is an old lady restaurant!” I protested.
Yes, I am.
But my protests were too feeble. Somehow, we managed to decide on Cracker Barrel. It was 2-1. It just so happened that there was a Cracker Barrel about 15 minutes away, right off a beltway exit in Frederick, Maryland. So, that’s where we went.
Cupcake ordered bacon and eggs, as she wanted breakfast. AS and I had lunch, a reuben for AS and a hamburger for me.
Well, the food turned out to be acceptable, while the service was diner quality without the friendliness. The waitress dumped a steak fry in my lap when she delivered my burger, and didn’t even notice. Nevertheless, I was amused by the fireplug shaped midget hostess apprentice, who looked like she didn’t quite know why she was there. Her function seemed to be to shadow the “real” hostess, whom I nicknamed “mama.” The little one looked like Olympic gymnast Shawn Johnson proceeding to her next event when she tailed a party being seated; when “mama” finally gave her a party of her own to seat, presumably because two parties showed up at the door simultaneously, she perked up and returned from her initial mission all smiles, hands on hips, and generally proud of her consummate achievement. It was way cool. Of course, Cupcake was on my case about my obsession with waitresses and hostesses; that made it even more fun. But I digress.
Having finished what turned out to be a redeeming lunch that will actually bring me back to Cracker Barrel someday when I’m desperate enough on the road, we exited via the Cracker Barrel country store. Well, we took a while to exit. Being the consummate shoppers, we had to look at everything in the store. Finally, I advised the ladies that we had work to do, for there was a Geocache search awaiting us outside.
A nationwide series of Geocaches called “Off Your Rocker” sprang up at Cracker Barrel stores. In case you’ve never seen a Cracker Barrel store, they all have a porch with a couple dozen rocking chairs and antique stuff. You can just sit there as long as you wish, or buy a rocking chair if you want. Or you can hunt for the ubiquitous “Off Your Rocker” cache in front of all the rockers, which requires stealth and cunning to avoid detection, scorn, or ridicule.
We found the cache after a brief search. I say “we”, but AS actually made the grab. Nothing new about that. As for “muggles” (a term borrowed from Harry Potter by Geocachers meaning uninitiated onlookers), there was only one group of four bikers on the porch. AS was sorta right about lunch and she was right about the cache location.
After signing the log, we re-entered the Cracker Barrel and used the respective gender specific rest rooms for their intended purpose. Shortly, we were back on our way to D.C. [Read more…]