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Aaron writes...


Got up, entirely too early, and started calling rental places. Maybe we should have gone with Rent-A-Wreck. (Next time, national chain) Don't rent from New York Rental. So, we rent a Chrysler Seebring convertible, which has a few dings in it. Or rather, in the dim light of the parking garage, it looked like a few dings. Out in full sunlight, it was a different story altogether.

It also had a tape deck. Ordinarily, I would love that. I love cassettes, and hate CDs. Ninety percent of my music collection is cassettes. But, I didn't think anybody still rented cars with tape decks, so we brought CDs for traveling music. Oops.

(Side note to all you car owners: Do you feel like you have a bond with your car? I mean, to the point where it's like a pet or something? That it knows you and you know it, and you compliment each other? Just curious)

And we're off. Six hundred miles by map through unfamiliar territory with an unbonded vehicle. What could go wrong? Oh, and our main route, I-95, apparently has a bad rep about road rage. I felt right at home.

So we drove. From New York, though New Jersey, (Where we stopped for lunch and bought 64 oz mugs for the rest of the trip. Oh, and the pseudo-leather thing that's supposed to cover the top when it's down blew off somewhere on the Jersey Turnpike. Recovery was not an option) Delaware, Maryland, Washington D.C., back into Maryland, (where we got royally lost), and finally into Virginia, to pick up Lynati at Dulles airport.

So, happy reunion there, car reloaded, (for such a big car, the Seebring has *no* trunk space) and we're off again... Back to Maryland, for Chinese dinner, and so Lyn can do laundry and pick up her wings.

On the way back from dinner, it starts *pouring*. Now, I've never driven a convertible before, and we drove all the way up to this point with the top down, (The source of the sunburn Mara and especially I was sporting the whole con) *and* I'm a spaz. So we can't figure out how to lock the convertible closed. So the roof's leaking, and most of it's dripping right on the door panel where the window controls are... And *something* happens, and my window goes down and STAYS down.

This, in a word, sucks.

Much swearing and meddling with a pair of needle-nosed pliers fails to fix the problem, but fortunately for us, that was the last rain of the trip. (It did eventually fix itself, kind of) Fortified by a newly-bought Pat Benetar tape, we set off again, through the wilds of Virginia, completing a "four hour" road trip in two and a half hours.

Some general observations before I go on:

1. Eastern states have no idea how to build highways. Of every place we went, only Pennsylvania seemed to get it right. In Texas, highways actually go *through* places. None of this "here's an exit, some undetermined distance down which there *might* be a town" stuff. Virginia was particularly bad about this. Back home, on the side of the highway, there're fast food places, 24-hour diners, roadside attractions, evil small-town cops with radar guns, and, most importantly, *gas stations.* In Virginia, the side of the highway is... trees. Nothing but trees for miles. On the sides and in the median. Trees, and big "No Stopping" signs.

2. Toll roads are EVIL. It's a tax on people's ability to move freely. Just the idea makes me feel oogy.

3. "Speed limit enforced by aircraft." WTH does that mean? If you go too fast, they chase you with choppers? If so, then, (A) What were all those VA state patrol cars we passed for?, and (B) Why didn't they come after me?

Back to the ramble...

So, we finally get to Williamsburg, and, after a stop at 7-11, find our way into the hotel. It's like, 1 a.m. by this time. We get inside, and run into WinterWolf and Dreamie, Kyt, and some other people hanging out in the lobby. Wolfie showed us his rental, (his Seebring was in much better condition then ours) and we unloaded all our junk. During that lengthy process, Jen, Patrick, and Kathy arrived. More roadtrip survivors! Mara gave Jen her art gift, and the elevator opened to reveal Gregs W. & B., and a woman I later realized was Carol.

(I wish we'd figured that out sooner. We really didn't get to hang out with her, except a little after the auction, and by then it was too late to have much of a staff meeting)

Eventually, after most of the other people decamped for a late dinner at Denny's, we ran into Hudson, who showed off the first of many nifty black dart guns to be found at a nearby WalMart.

We just sort of hung out for a couple of hours, talking of projects, and cons, and the fandom in general. Unable to interest anyone else in food, I was forced to eat the leftover pizza from Jersey. Such hardship. ;)

And then suddenly it was like 4 a.m. Ack! Bedtime.

Greg responds...

Now it's all starting to come back to me...

So Bishansky wasn't in the car with you? Cuz that would explain a lot. ;) (Sorry, Greg, couldn't resist.)

Response recorded on July 13, 2004