Sunday, November 28, 2010

Thanksgiving Road Trip

Thanksgiving is a time to spend with family if at all possible. I'm a firm believer in that. So this week, we went up to Baltimore to spend Thanksgiving with my aunt and cousin. In short, we had a wonderful time.

We left early on Tuesday morning. This was the first real road trip with the Volvo and it turned out to be an excellent highway cruiser. We went north on I-81 through the Shenandoah Valley, our favorite north/south route. Traffic was pretty light for a holiday season and moved well. We ran at about 75 the whole way and got over 32 mpg. That's a bit better than the 16.5 mpg that our Land Rover used to get on the same trip! Everything was great until we got two miles outside the Baltimore beltway, where we hit the rush-hour crawl. It took over an hour to make it the final 15 miles to my aunt's house in Cockeysville. I swear, every time I go up to the Baltimore and DC areas, I'm reminded of why it is that we don't live there anymore.

Still, it was wonderful to see Aunt B, Bridget, and Logan again. We caught up on what we all were doing, ate some fabulous food (Aunt B's crab cakes are WORLD CLASS, worth the drive all by themselves), watched some TV shows and movies, played with each other's dogs, and did all the things you normally do during family visits. Bridget and Janis, in particular, are two of a kind, and bond deeply over shopping at Nordstrom's. Which they did. Again.

I needed a good art fix, so Aunt B and I went to the Baltimore Museum of Art. Their special exhibit was on Andy Warhol's late work. We both thought it was quite a good show. Warhol (in my opinion) wasn't necessarily a good painter, but he was great at conceptualizing, and these works showed it. For most of them, the more you studied it, the more there was to the piece. That's what good art is all about. We then browsed through the collections of European and American art, which includes works from the Renaissance through the early 20th century. You expect to be blown away by a Monet or Van Gogh painting, and of course we were, but I particularly enjoy finding beautiful works by artists you rarely, if ever, hear of. There was a marvelous portrait by Thomas Sully, for example, and this beautiful tonalist painting by Thomas Dewing. Some museums (the Getty comes to mind) aren't too particular about the quality of the works as long as they're by "name" artists, while others (like the BMA) make sure they get top-quality pieces. It was great to just wander in a really great art museum again!

Aunt B and I spent a good bit of time going through old family pictures. I've been working on our family tree off and on for thirty years or so and take every opportunity to pick her memory. There's always something to learn. I discovered, for example, that my grandfather was left-handed - it was common knowledge to them, but since I never saw him write anything, it was news to me. I also came back with a trove of old pictures dating back over a century. One of the really cool things was a scrapbook that my grandmother kept between 1914-1916, when she was a teenager. My plan is to scan all the old photos so they can be preserved and shared. I just gave myself a lot of work to do.

We came back on Saturday, hoping to avoid the worst of the traffic crunch, and we pretty much succeeded. The weather was cold but clear, and while there were certainly a lot more cars and trucks on the road, it not as bad as it could've been (and probably is today). We ran at about 75 most of the way and stayed out of the crowds of pushy drivers. They'd come by at 80 or more, running on each other's bumpers, darting from lane to lane, trying to get out in front, and generally being in a hurry. Anytime I wound up in such a group, I'd just get in the right lane, drop my speed down, let 'em go, and then pick it back up again. Then I'd just watch 'em battle each other. We stopped about every hour and a half to stretch our legs, walk the dogs, and swap drivers. Breaks like this keep us fresh and prevent falling into the "pushy driver" category. What's the rush? We still made it home in less than nine hours.

So today has been a recovery day. Lots of clothes are going through the wash. I cleaned out the car and put up the Christmas tree. The dogs were ecstatic to be back home - they had to catch up on every smell left by every critter for the past five days.

I hope your Thanksgiving was as rewarding as ours!

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