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w June 06, 2004

East Coast Trip: Part III

Lost my steam a few days ago for recounting this trip, mostly based on the remembrance of the hellish drive from Louisville to Charlottesville...I feel somewhat recovered now, plus it's a gorgeously lazy Sunday. Time to be self-indulgent.

When you last saw our intrepid Hoffmans, we had just gotten to Charlottesville, Virginia, home to Gene's sister and her family, as well as his father, newly moved from Charlotte, NC. We had a nice albeit brief reunion, as Gene and I were chomping at the bit to abandon Bean to the hands of aunt, uncle, cousins and grandpa, and get the hell down to Chapel Hill. Before I go any further, let me assure you that Bean had a WONDERFUL time being spoiled rotten, so don't anyone take me to task for hightailing it out of there!
We left around noon and of course, hit rain. Again. A lot less frustrating than the drive from Kentucky for a number of reasons, not least of which was silence in the backseat. Still, it didn't seem like an auspicious beginning to our trip; tater tots and limeades at Sonic helped somewhat.

Finally made it to Chapel Hill behind some sloooooooooow trucks, settled into our hotel and wait for it, relished the quiet and the utter lack of responsibility. I admit to being a little sniffly for the first thirty miles or so out of Charlottesville (it was the first time we had left Bean and left town ourselves), but it is amazing how the anticipation of uninterrupted sleep and meals not punctuated by howls and flung food cleared up that little issue.
I honestly can't remember a great deal of what we did in Chapel Hill, but suffice it to say, beyond looking at houses, it was pretty much in the realm of piddling. Dinner and/or drinks with friends, shopping, attempting, and failing, to feel like undergraduates again...mostly due to the fact that we were ready to hit the hay at 9 pm and coffee seemed more appealing than booze.
We did see some very interesting and diverse houses...all workable, but none perfect. It has been a while since we've done the house hunt routine, and I had forgotten how they all start looking the same after a while. Still, our patient and kind realtors did their best to keep us jazzed up about the possibilities, and like I said, there were some really interesting ones. No papers signed yet, but stay tuned for updates.

Drove back to Charlottesville at the end of the week, picked up the Bean, drove to DC and hopped a flight to New York (miserable weather, taking off in thunderstorms...Gene totally unconcerned, Bean gleeful at the bumps, me trying to keep my limbs from breaking out in undiagnosable St Vitus' Dance...I HATE FLYING), and man, was it fantastic to be in Manhattan. Actually, the weather cleared up about thirty-five minutes into the flight and landing at LaGuardia at dusk in completely clear skies was a pretty breathtaking experience. We were staying at a brand new hotel, The Alex, at 43rd and 3rd, and it was really quite nice, particularly since we yet again managed a suite AND hooked up with a babysitting service. Gene and I went out for a lovely dinner one night and saw friends at other points during the weekend; beyond that, I really didn't do anything. Except walk and walk and walk...it was glorious. I had missed the feeling of concrete beneath the stroller wheels more than I had known. As well, Bean loved Manhattan...the chaos, the noise, the smells, everything. She pretty much laughed and squealed in delight the entire time we were out of doors, but the highlight for both of us was walking up to Central Park and spending about fifteen minutes on the swings. I felt like a true Manhattan mother, and was further chuffed when more than one person asked me for directions. Somehow a stroller just makes you look like a native, I suppose.

On the 12th, Gene and I went in opposite directions, him back home to reassure the dogs we hadn't forgotten them (and, you know, go back to work), me and Bean up to Toronto for a visit to the grandparents. My parents were pretty busy the entire time we were there, but in a way, it was nice, as I could keep Bean's routine and spend some quiet hours on my own in my hometown...something that I needed but hadn't figured on. Toronto was actually sort of cold, which was too bad, as May can be a really pleasant month, but a small price to pay for even more urban time. The flights home weren't nearly as bad as I had dreaded, mostly because I got Bean to sleep on the way to Houston and was sitting next to a mother of two on the way to San Jose. I felt a little badly for her, actually, as it was her first business trip after having had her second child, and all I could imagine her thinking was "of COURSE I sit next to the 2 year old". In reality, she was actually incredibly nice and chatty and I also discovered that a 737 can feel extremely large, comfy, and non-bumpy after multiple flights aboard regional jets. It was damn fine to get off that plane in San Jose, though, and know that my own bed was only 35 minutes off.

Would I travel with Bean by myself again? Actually...I would. Not to Europe or Asia anytime soon, but I might be able to pull off another east coast jaunt. Not anytime soon, though.

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