Your assignment, Mr. Perry, if you choose to accept it, is to travel to Baltimore, then to Washington D.C. Then onto Indianapolis, pick up a load of baby furniture and drive it back to Texas.
Sometimes I wonder if I’m just crazy and don’t know it. I might have mentioned that our oldest son and wife are about to have their first baby next month. My daughter in law’s sister was down here for the holidays and mentioned that she had a load of baby clothes, furniture and miscellaneous stuff that she’d like to get rid of, but it was too bulky to ship down here. I thought about the situation for about a minute or so and came to the conclusion that I could kill two birds with one stone. I could convince my oldest friend that we should fly to Baltimore, go see Gettysburg, then visit all of the museums in Washington, take a train to Indianapolis, load up the baby stuff and drive back home. An adventure to be remembered.
That was the plan. It worked like a charm. Well, most of it anyway.
We flew into Baltimore, got to Gettysburg with it raining, snowing or so foggy you couldn’t see your hand in front of your face. If this had been the weather at the time of the battle, no one would have known who won. The guide told us that there were 1400 monuments in and around the area. We counted 1406. Just kidding.
I would be doing the place an injustice to try and describe this battlefield. You must take my word for it and see it for yourself. It defies description. Enough said.
We then head off to Washington D.C. and try to cram as much as we can in the next three days. Don’t even think about it. We managed to see most of the Air and Space Museum, the National Archives, some of the American Museum of History and a number of parts in between. Looking at Archie Bunkers recliner and George Washington’s sword in the same day will give you a giant headache. By the time you get to the plane Lindbergh flew across the Atlantic, you are brain dead and numb all over. You are a victim of sensory overload. Your brain just can’t absorb anymore at that time. If someone were to drop the Hope diamond in front of you, you’d just look at it and think …”another pretty stone…let’s go home.” I found the display on the history of socks to be fascinating. My feet and legs were crying for relief. I was looking forward to happy hour back at the hotel.
After museuming ourselves silly, we drive back to Baltimore in a blizzard to catch the train, which takes us back to Washington. Then we experience the agony and defeat of modern day train travel. If you haven’t been on a train lately, think about it again. I managed to book a compartment, for two grown men, and our baggage. The baggage wouldn’t fit, much less the two grown men. I asked the conductor for an upgrade, if one existed. I got a suite, which allows room for two grown men, and most of their luggage, but no room to turn around. Take a shower on a moving train… good luck. You do good to brush your teeth. These things stop about every forty-five minutes or so, so you wake up all night long each time the train slows down and stops in a station. Perhaps I’m being too critical, but it seems to me there must be a better way to run the railroad.
Seventeen hours later we arrive in Indianapolis and find a taxi stand. The only cab driver on hand was a guy who obviously had been a pioneer in uncontrolled substances back in the sixties. We know he was an American and spoke English as we could catch some of the words such as ‘arrested, jail, and Elvis Presley’. The rest of his monologue is lost for the ages.
By the time we got the rental van, loaded the baby stuff up and started back home, we were dead on our feet. Only 1350 miles or so left to drive. I don’t want to say it was a long trip, but we’d run out of songs to sing about Memphis and that’s only half way. We were getting very surly and on each other’s nerves. Home was looking much better with each passing mile.
Now that a few days have passed and I’ve gotten rested, it seems a lot better than it was at the time. Lots of memories, but I’m not in any hurry to do it again anytime soon. I’d be content to just lie on a beach somewhere and read about socks.
My wife hasn’t said anything, she just smiles.