Saturday, August 18, 2012

Day Five & Six...Stereotypes and Reality

The much dreaded drive from Short Pump to Princeton lived up to it's billing. To the everlasting credit of my crew, everyone was AIS by 6 AM. Patrick drove the wheels off  his 1998 VW Jetta, keeping it glued on the tail of my Budget Battle Tank. The drive around our nation's capital was emblematic of the dysfunction so associated with that city. 5 lanes of insanely chaotic traffic careening around ill-conceived and poorly constructed beltways. It occurred to me that no metropolitan area in the entire country has been the beneficiary of more stimulus and infrastructure
spending than our capital, and yet to drive the roads built by all that largess is still the most frightening experience in all the world of travel. I almost sideswiped two cars, spent 30 minutes in a traffic jam, and was rewarded with not one hilarious road sign for my efforts. On a side note, and a large number of my extended family will LOVE this, I actually made the first and only bathroom- only stop of my driving career...not for Pam, or Caroline...but for ME. Perhaps it was the hour and a half of white knuckle clinching involved in the navigation around DC, perhaps it was the brutal pounding my kidney's took from the Grand Canyon sized potholes, or maybe it was being so close to a city where everything from money to state secrets flows so freely...after only 3 hours on the road, I truly had to go. Shameful.

Once we made it to Lawrenceville, I was pleasantly surprised at Patrick's apartment complex. In my mind's eye, I was picturing...New Jersey, apartment, near number 1 highway...let's face it, I was thinking public housing meets Jersey shore. Instead, the place was beautiful. The apartment itself was spacious and charming, and the grounds were gorgeous, complete with three pools, walking trails, tennis courts, and landscaped lawns and beautiful trees everywhere. Although the whole vibe of the place laid waste to my prejudiced, anti-yankee sensibilities, one image did serve as a reminder that one stereotype of Jersey is in fact justified. There, in the back of one of the clean parking lots was a late model Nissan Stanza propped up precariously on cinder blocks, with not a tire in sight!

The unpacking of the truck went swimmingly well compared to the Nashville version. All of his stuff was unloaded and his bedroom and music/computer center completely set up in less than two hours. We got to meet one of his roommates who was very nice. Pam finally got her chance to clean all of his "kitchen stuff". His closet is organized, bed made for the first ( and last ) time. By 5:30, Pam and I were checked in to our hotel. At 7:00 we met the kids at Palmer Square in the heart of Princeton for a lovely dinner at Winbergs, and an evening of sightseeing, a relaxing ending to a day that had begun at 4:30 AM.

Today, we finally rid ourselves of this wretched truck. Patrick is as I write this driving Matt to the Philadelphia airport. He will return by noon where we will meet him and Caroline back at the apartment for some final touches. Then we will leave him to his new life and make the drive back to Short Pump.....or....Pam will see tons of other stuff that needs to be done and we will end up staying another night in this Garden State. Who knows. Either way, it has been a long, nerve wracking week. Something like an adventure.