The Road Trip Home

The witch travels from Washington DC home with Mercury in retrograde

I thought I was on top of everything. I hoped to leave DC around 9 so I could be home by 1.

But then M’s housemates made this lovely kale frittata for breakfast.

I love kale and I love breakfast!

So I enjoyed a slice. And then another.

Everyone followed me out to the car and wished me farewell… and then M noticed a nail in my tire.

M called AAA because I don’t have my membership card. While he did that, I called my AAA home office and asked them to email me a pdf of my membership information. They assured me that I was in the system, but a pdf still made me feel better.

M and I chatted about the international cleaning staples: Lava soap, Brillo pads and Borax powder.

The AAA man came expediently, plugged my tire and sent me on my way.

After 25 miles, while on I-95 about to merge onto 695 outside Baltimore, my tire pressure light came on. I did what I always do, I called my dad and started to freak out and cry.

He advised me to get off the highway and have someone check the tire.

So I got off 695 on the first exit and pulled into a CVS parking lot while I checked the tire visually, then tried to reset the light, and then gave up and used the AAA app to locate local gas stations.

Interesting tidbit, it didn’t tell me which were gas stations and which were actual service (repair) stations.

I ended up at a Sunoco, I believe A.C.E Automotive. I pulled up in front of what looked to be an air compressor hose. I stepped into the office and explained what had happened earlier and asked if anyone could check my tire pressure.

An older gentleman finished writing up someone’s car repair invoice and told me to move my car “by that silver car.”

The silver car was my car.

He checked all of my tires. The back tires were around 26 psi. The drivers side front tire was 31 psi and the freshly repaired tire was 20 psi. The person helping me filled them all and went to get a spray bottle to check the plug.

After it looked like the plug was good, he then told me to drive a mile or two and come back.

I still couldn’t get the light to reset.

So I drove a bit and came back and filled the car with gas. I asked the gentleman his name, and introduced myself. His name was Gary and he reminded me of my dad.

Meanwhile my dad is texting me. My dad encourages me to be cautious and not to hesitate to buy a new tire.

Gary checks all the tires and they are holding pressure. He knows I have 175 miles to go. He tells me to text my dad that I’m fine and I don’t need a new tire.

I try to pay Gary and he tells me I don’t owe him anything because “that’s how people should be.”
I stop at the visitors center right over the Pennsylvania state line and finally am able to reset the tire pressure light. I thought about how much those lights scare me. “Back in the day,” we got in the car and took our chances. We didn’t have warning lights. Cars just broke down.

And now a light comes on and I’m calling my dad in tears terrified I’m going to have a horrible accident.

But at the visitors center, the light goes out. I buy coffee from the vending machine.

And I notice the rest stop has free wi-fi. How cutting edge of Pennsylvania.

I was considering stopping at a truck stop to buy a tire gauge, but I did not.

I also promised myself if I saw a Popeye’s I would get a chicken sandwich. I did not.

I got home at 3.

That was a long day.

For more on my weekend away:

Saturday mini-break in DC

Sunday Funday paperwork

Things I noticed on the bus in DC

Things I noticed on the bus in DC

Today M and I went to Georgetown for Falafel, more exciting adventures in Washington DC with forty-something friends from their university days.

  • A little girl with a sequined backpack and pinstripe pants dancing
  • A woman with big snowflake like costume jewelry stones on her knit ski cap
  • A 20-something lanky young man with crisp jeans rolled above the ankle, extra tight
  • a young boy in the back of a crowded bus while his mother had other children and a baby in the front
  • A young couple holding hands, both of Asian heritage with baggy black pants and colorful hair. She wore thin but enormous gold hoop earrings. Emo, maybe?
  • A lot of people with very similar winter coats
  • Most people absorbed in their phones
  • construction
  • Live music (Music on the way into Georgetown DC)
  • Bell bottom sweatpants
  • An obese woman in crocks with her feet on the seat in front of her
  • A hauntingly beautiful woman with a life’s worth of luggage surrounding her, looking a tad scared, taking pamphlets with maps from the info display
  • A young white woman with a canvas bag and a yoga mat
  • A couple hugging sadly outside a hotel on the edge of a flower garden pretty much standing on the “Keep off the Grass” sign

Saturday mini-break in DC

My day started early when I couldn’t sleep past 5:15 am. I tossed and turned in bed until I finally got up at 6.

I spent some time with my Goffin’s cockatoo, Nala, before pretending to head to work. I was really going to get my nails done and going to visit my traveling companion, M, in Washington, DC.

The teenager is caring for the menagerie in my absence.

Beth trimmed my nails and filed off the old nail polish and gave me a fill on my acrylic manicure.

I went with a dark plum with a cat eye for my farewell to winter nails.

Beth was running a little behind so M mentioned not to worry he was occupied doing his federal taxes. So after my appointment I stopped home to get my tax forms. I grabbed my divorce paperwork too.

I was on the road by exactly 10 am and I arrived here in DC at 1:30, with one potty break. I had forgotten how much I enjoy driving, blasting my music, singing and thinking. Traffic is not so fun.

M and I then sat on the couch drinking coffee for FOUR HOURS. I laughed hard and often.

Then at 5:30 we hopped onto the bus and headed to Taqueria Habanero. (Taqueria Habanero) I had a lovely sangria with tequila.

And I ordered the pork and pineapple taco and a salmon taco, which was a really nice piece of fish, and ate M’s mole chicken for him. (For food photos, see instagram.)

The two men beside us at the restaurant were very old and very loud and I think they were meeting for the first time on a Tinder date.

Then we went across the street to the 7-Eleven because M wanted to buy me these chips…

… which I ate on the bus ride home. They start out smooth and ranchy.

I also asked M to buy me cookies, which he did. So now we are relaxing in his living room with cookies.

Friday night & Valentines

This is going to be a crazy lil bit of everything post. I’ll try to divide into topics with subheadings; I want to be good to y’all.

Nala

I bought her some new toys. Anything paper, like the one above, is a hit. But she seems to be afraid of bigger toys of heavier materials.

This is a photo of everything I got her:

As for plucking, it gets worse and better day by day. I’ve noticed three main triggers:

  1. Change in routine
  2. Overstimulation
  3. Desire for attention

Misty and Fog

The kittens certainly get more tired out since we let them run through the house. They pull they towels off the racks in the bathroom. They scatter the wash in the laundry room. They steal Oz’s food and he’s too big and dumb to stop them.

Some of my past kitten posts:

Kitten update

The third kitten

Nails

Tomorrow I get my first fill on my nails. They still look pretty perfect and I can see my natural nails growing in!

For more on my nails:

Nails

Road trip tomorrow!!!!

I joined AAA last weekend specifically because I’m traveling to Washington DC alone this weekend.

My temporary cards haven’t come!

I’m super excited and mostly ready.

I told my work colleagues and they asked if I planned on touring any of the downtown DC sites. I said no, I plan on sitting on my friend’s couch drinking coffee most of the weekend.

The teenager is going out with her dad so I’m on my own tonight for Valentine’s.

Adventure in Rock Creek Park

Today we took a winter’s walk in Rock Creek park.

Many people were jogging. And walking dogs off-leash. One spry pup dig holes relentlessly. See him here:

https://youtu.be/HKYyoNTuMSI

And upon leaving the park, we discovered a lovely neighborhood of 1950s modern homes, amazing in their architecture and how they aged seamlessly.

And then we discovered deer in someone’s yard trying to return to the park.

PJ the Bear Visits DC

We arrived in Washington DC in good time: by 11 a.m. M and our Indian friends gave us a tour of the house they recently purchased, which right now has had the interior gutted and reframed.

We then headed to M’s apartment where our friends made us homemade Indian food that was out of this world. Frances had never had Indian before so that was her first adventure of the day.

We took the girls to the National Zoo, and while we did PJ the Bear visited the big monuments and the White House.

Reunited with PJ, we are now taking the scenic route (Maryland 210/Indian Head Highway) toward Richmond, Va.

For more on our adventures as they happen, follow me on Instagram: angelackerman.

Arrival in CDG

I have a love-hate relationship with flying. I love packing my suitcase. I love airplanes. I love the airport lounges. I love the physics of take-off. I love the first four hours in the air. Then, my ears clog. My butt hurts. I realize I can’t sleep. I have slime on my face. The plane always seems cold and the dinner gross.

That’s me at 12:30 a.m. my local time, after 6+ hours on the plane and only a one-hour nap after rising at 4 a.m. to start my traveling. And the other photo is my first plate of croissants in the CDG arrivals lounge. I grabbed the last pain au chocolat.

My travel companionIMG_7487, M, and I spent yesterday in his apartment in D.C., catching up while he packed. We had lunch at the nearby Cava. My pita had braised lamb.

We headed to Dulles Airport by bus-metro-bus and flew out on a Boeing 777-330 in premium economy.

Despite a rather disappointing dinner, only getting to watch one-third of the Little Prince movie and an episode where I nearly took out a flight attendant with projectile applesauce, I suppose it was a nice flight.

I normally have issues with my ears when flying and this time was no exception. My left ear is clogged severely and both ears gave me pain and discomfort during landing and even while on the ground. Let’s hope it clears up quickly.

It’s 9:15 a.m. Paris time, 3:15 a.m. Pennsylvania time. We hope our hotel will let us into our room early. M booked a room for the day so we can nap. Our flight to Djibouti leaves at 12:30 a.m. tonight and we have no plans for Paris other than to relax and run errands.

Little Girl Feet

The travels have commenced. I’m successfully boarded on Amtrak’s 6:55 a.m. train, the Northeast Regional, my regular hook-up between Philadelphia and Washington, D.C.

  
My day started early, with a random phone call for the second night in a row from Pakistan. Don’t ask me who it was, I didn’t answer. Normally I don’t take my phone into my bedroom but I thought it easier to use it for an alarm rather than change the real clock. Even though I had the ringer silenced, the vibrating phone woke me at 1 a.m.

And because I am traveling today I had trouble getting back to sleep. Part of it may have been the cats hogging the bed.

At 4:11, I got up. Husband got in the shower. I went down for a glass of juice. I hear movement upstairs and sure enough, my eleven-year-old comes down the stairs.

To tell you the truth, I was happy to see her. I hate the idea of leaving those I love without a final round of hugs and kisses.

We left the house at 4:30 so we could stop at Wawa for coffee. Child was thrilled to get a hot chocolate. I was disappointed they hadn’t started making egg sandwiches yet.

We arrived at Gayle’s house. Gayle drove me to Philly, as I laughed at her stories of errant students and she laughed at my tale of my daughter helping me pack and her reaction to my many styles of underwear.

And now, after 20 minutes at the gate next to the business class dude who couldn’t stop talking for 30 seconds (“My father fought in WWII and was recalled for Korea.” “Did you know Jersey Mikes has hundreds of locations?”), I am on the train with a 20-something girl silently listening to her headphones.

En route: Djibouti prep with paperwork & underwear

The preparations for Djibouti continue. My husband and I use remanufactured ink cartridges in our home printer and we had a small mix-up with our latest order. This meant by the time we received the basic black cartridges we ordered, I spent two hours before work printing and sorting backlogged household paperwork. In addition to my state tax forms (filed federal online), my mother’s various taxes and her roommate’s taxes, I had to print my daughter’s Girl Scout camp paperwork and then my travel related documents.

I finally printed my visa application for the Republic of Djibouti, and using a brand new black pen I bought just for this occasion, I carefully printed my information in the blanks. You see, travel for me requires a hunt for good pens and new journals.

Every time I travel, it usually coincides with a fresh journal. I never really plan it that way, but it works out that the preparation and planning spur my desire to scribble down my mundane life. The journal that perhaps I’ve worked on for several months or even a year suddenly fills up.

I started a new journal a few days before I found out about this trip. Since it was an everyday journal, I used one a friend had given me. It has a nice folded in piece to mark your page, but the outside is an Eiffel Tower. It’s also lined, and I prefer my travel journals to be blank. This allows me the freedom to sketch (although I have no skill) or to use the page in creative ways.

For this trip, I wanted something small, as it the journal will serve only this trip, not my life-at-large when I return home. I found a little blank book with a ribbon and an accordion pocket in the back that measures about 3.5 x 5.5 inches and the layout is horizontal instead of vertical. This has me excited. The pens are PaperMate InkJoy. Ballpoint but with a smoothness, and crisp ink colors.

My printing endeavor included my train tricket. My flight leaves from DC and I live in Pennsylvania. My family will drive me to DC, and then they will have a lovely weekend in the Nation’s Capital before returning home for Easter dinner. My daughter has the key sites listed: the zoo, City Target, the Ethiopian restaurant (which has a certain irony since I will be very close to Ethiopia), and the bakery Paul. On the way home, I plan on hopping the Northeast Regional from Union Station and meeting the family in Philadelphia.

Then, early last week Amtrak announced a sale— $38 for travel between DC and New York City. The tickets had to be booked by March 20, and travel had to occur before May 1. Hooozah! Saved about $15 on my Amtrak ride.

My next priority involves obsessing over my suitcase. I will dedicate a blog entry to my suitcase when I finally embark upon that phase. I’m not bringing many clothes. It’s going to be hot. I’m going to be sweaty.

I bought two camisole/shaper garments to wear instead of my normal bras. They will offer consistent coverage and support without padding or underwire to irritate me. They also increase my modesty as my blouses are so light and flowy that these camisoles act as second shirts.

I decided I’m not bringing home my soiled underpants. I realized in the last few years that most of my underwear is aging, almost ten years old. I usually select my best underwear for traveling but this time I’m taking the ratty stuff and throwing it away when I’m done. Yup. How first world of me.

My girlfriend, who lived in Texas and has survived more than one hot summer, advised wearing shorts under my long skirt to prevent chafing. I hate shorts. Don’t own any. Any I certainly don’t want too many extra clothes under my skirt. But, I do like the concept. So, I checked out the men and boys underwear at Target. I figured I’d be a large or extra large boy, and they had a large selection of dark colored and cartoon figure boxer briefs. They seemed too heavy. I went with the traditional white men’s boxer. My husband and I wear the same size, so I can give them to him when I get home.

Or keep them, and run around the house this summer in my “Djibouti attire” of camisoles and boxers.

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