Category Archives: This Old House

Da Roof, Da Roof

April 06, 2009

Hurricane Ike sucked eggs for most folks in its path, including us. It ripped off pieces of our roof like it was playing "52 pick-up" with the tiles.

As the storm raged, CD did his best to tarp off the holes but the winds were evil and against us. It rained in our dining room, destroying a wall and a bookcase. By the time the sun came back, there was mold, dust, and grime everywhere.

Allstate's disaster team showed up, looked at our old house, and wrote us a $962 check. You ever try to fix a roof with $962? Can't be done. Not without a superhero cape, industrial strength duct tape, and the ability to fly.

"It's not intended to fix your roof," said Allstate. "Your roof was old. Old roofs are excluded."

"Our roof was on top of our house," I reminded them. "And kept out the elements. Now the elements are coming and going and asking for their eggs sunny-side up."

Allstate shrugged, and left.

Allstate? Sucks.

We hired a handyman to do what he could, which wasn't much. The past 18 months have been insane. CD finally folded a kiddie paddling pool like a taco in order to get it up into the attic and placed it strategically under the patch. Then he tossed a beach ball in it.

When it's rained, he's stuck his head up into the attic. If he could see the beach ball bobbing, then it's been time to get the contraption. A strange beast CD has created from a wet/dry vac and a garden house.

No, I'm not making this up.

Bear and I have become great contraption-wranglers. This had become and official event in our home. Grabbing the vac, the big step ladder, unraveling the hose into the toilet... oh yeah, good times. Good times.

Despite our joy with the situation, we went to Home Depot last spring and got a line of credit for a new roof. All we needed to do was choose the one we wanted, and the joys of a an actual cover on the top of our house would be all ours...

Then the bad thing happened.

No, really.

We dithered.

We thought we had all summer to decide - and it seemed like a big decision. We have long thought we would someday dormer up. So buy the best quality tiles to maybe turn around and pull them off someday? But they seemed so much BETTER than the cheapest option. Oh, we went back and forth.

Here's my advice: Be ye not so stupid. Dithering is for fools! Would a PIRATE have dithered? I think not.

Because we all know what happened while we were ruminating, don't we? Banks tumbled. The housing market crashed. Then the credit crunch started.

We got a letter from Home Depot - "Dear Dithering Homeowners; you snooze, you lose. We're taking back our credit line. So there." It was signed by Dasterdly and Muttley, esq et al.

Could we have re-applied? Sure. But the new terms were North of crazy.

Home Depot? Sucks.

It was a long, wet Autumn. It's been a wet, long Winter. The moment Spring showed its face, CD headed up the extension ladder with a "Roofing for Dummies" book, tiles, roof paper, and determination.

For the past 6 weeks, this is what he has been dealing with. Dead tiles have rained down on the driveway. He's emerged each Saturday with grit on his skin and a sore back.

But for Easter? For Easter - he says we have a patched roof. He's down to the last bit. And even as it rained the other night, the inside of our house stayed dry!

Da roof, da roof ... it's a wondrous thing.

Tags: home, repair, DIY, recession, impact, credit, roof,
Posted on April 06, 2009 at 12:27 PM and filed under: This Old House
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December 03, 2007

I know that if you read this site from a feeder or reader of some kind, you probably have the inside track when I post something and then bring it down.

In the past, I've been treasonously guilty of self-censoring. People who have known me my whole life have become frequent visitors and that has often left me a torrid case of second thoughts about my posts.

But this does not explain the past week.

I am spun glass.

I am stretched so thin that you could use me as a window to the world.

I am afraid, and trying to pretend nonchalance and bravery.

I am bold, and stoic, and calm. And convinced that I am already living a happy ending.

My doctor told me about the ping pong ball in my brain, and then you know what? I went food shopping. And looking for crafts to make my son a crown for Saturday (He's the king bringing gold in the pageant).

It's funny, but life does go on.

No neon light suddenly surrounded me, no muzak version of Amazing Grace playing as I walked my cart down the aisles.

Everyone has a story they are living.

That's what I remind myself.

But if look deeper than that, into the part of my soul that bubbles up when I sit at the keyboard, then I here the sharp crack of splitting ice. It is the glass of me, stretched too thin and breaking.

Quick, pass me the glue, before someone notices.

Or else, let me erase the proof before anyone reads.

I plead to my own weakness, my stumble in faith, and am ashamed.

Posted on December 03, 2007 at 08:19 PM and filed under: This Old House
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Easy to Leave

October 12, 2007

familyus175b.jpgMy husband spent much of his growing up years moving from small apartment to small apartment with his working dad.

Despite all the years since, I suspect CD still harbors this deep need to roost. To be rooted, and never left.

Life has very little to do with what we see when we look into the mirror at ourselves.

The mirror sees a pink-haired woman, with too many curves and slightly creased with age.

But I see more than a reflection. I see a rebel, a mother, a free spirit, a lover. I see the scars from falls I took in small strips across my skin. And in my heart. I see my own eyes, and all the stories they hold.

I can't know what he sees. In me. In himself.

Other than this gnawing sense, that where you live shouldn't be a place easy to leave.

No amount of time could hope to completely erase this from him.

No amount of love, or help, or maturity can wipe clean the truths we cling to as children.

Maybe that's why it's so hard for him to think of selling this house. Why it is so incomprehensible to his heart that this home, that holds so many of the memories of us as a family, would belong to someone else.

And I begin to see it now.

Tomorrow, Bear tests up in karate to a blue belt. On Sunday, we take our annual trip to the pumpkin farm. When will there be time, he asks me, to get to that list of things we need to finish on the house.

And there it is, behind his eyes.

I begin to see it now.

This is home in a way that no place has been to him since he was his own son's age.

This is the place I always come back to, the bed I share with him. This is where we eat dinner. This is where Bear lays out his Magnetix creations for us to admire. These are the boxes with the winter sweaters. And over there is the bin with the Halloween decorations.

And as awareness began to dawn in my foggy head, I reached out to him.

It isn't each other we're leaving
, I promise. If we sell this house and move - wherever we go, it will be home just as much as this place has been.

He nodded.

For years, I have been ready to go. To kick off a new adventure.

But it isn't only me that has to go.

And he's finding this house, hard to leave.

Tags: Change, Moving, Dreams, Childhood, Marriage, Life
Posted on October 12, 2007 at 09:56 AM and filed under: Thy Wedded Life
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Death to Mold (How we handled what we found in the kitchen).

September 24, 2007

The picture I posted of the kitchen mold and mildew has gotten me quite a few emails and comments, mostly asking what we did about it.

Our son is allergic to mold, dust, Autumn, and most laundry detergents. Usually his reaction is to be cranky and have a rash and some post-nasal drip.

Occasionally, though, he spikes 105 fever, breaks out in hives, and can't breath and off we go to the hospital.

SO when we saw what was underneath the cabinets and walls of our kitchen, CD and I had a profound 'Holy Crap!' moment. 80-year-old dust and mildew is not unexpected, but then again - who can be prepared for what we found?

After locking our son in his hermetically sealed environment with filters going an mach speeds, we consulted the Internet and our family doctor about what to do.

Short of doing a complete gut removal of the room (which we did with the back room of the house but couldn't afford to do again) here's the consensus that we followed.

1) We scrubbed the bejabbers out of everything with a bleach-based solution. This was disgusting. CD did most of this, bless him.

2) Painted everything with Kilz Primer. We looked into other Eco alternatives, but Kilz has the availability and reputation we needed.

3) For the top coat, we used Sherwin-Williams for the whole kitchen. It was pricier that the Home Depot stuff, but we really wanted the mold-inhibitors and the anti-microbial properties.

I don't know if this helps anyone else, but there it is - what we did. (Man, do I need coffee!)

Posted on September 24, 2007 at 08:54 AM and filed under: This Old House
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Before and (sorta) After: The Kitchen.

September 20, 2007

OK, as much as this makes me squinge.- I'm always so nervous to post pictures of our home because, well, after more than 6 years of living in a house that has been under renovation (yes, there has ALWAYS been something in construction) I'm terrified that people will say - 'Oh, THAT'S how you LIVE?' or something like that. (Especially since we do about 90% of the work ourselves.) So, please be gentle. Um, please.



This is the kitchen the day we moved in, February 2001. The woman who was moving out was mid-divorce with 2 teen-aged boys. It was a heartbreaking situation, and I have long respected her for how she got this old, stained, warped house absolutely scrubbed clean.

Having lived with that yellow linoleum floor for 6 years - I can tell you that it was never this clean again.



This is how it looked after we were settled in. It is basically a hallway from the front of the house to the back door. The cabinets had all been made by hand in the 40's (about 15 years after the house was built). Sometime in the late 70's, one of the owners had a counter top made out of pressboard and a kind of thick tinfoil application.

Of course, by the time we moved in all the appliances had changed over the years so nothing really fit where it was.

Notice that CD bought a dishwasher and a free-standing cabinet for it, which he installed in the space where the previous owners had had room for a tiny table.



By 2003, we'd bought a new fridge and a new stove - neither of which "fit" where the old ones had been. We also upgraded the window to something that, you know, opened.

CD went ahead swapped the refrigerator and stove spaces, so now the fridge was at the back. This made it easier for him to run the piping for the in-door water and ice dispensers, too.

(That's the beloved Elia, by the way.)

That was how the kitchen looked for the next 4 years. Cluttered, mismatched, never feeling clean, and never enough space to do anything practically.



The demo of the real part of the kitchen began in June, 2007. Our neighbors to the side, who we would pick up and move with us if we could, offered to help.

With a saws-all, a big ol dumpster in the driveway (they built a chute from the window to the dumpster), crowbars, and sheer force of will they completely ripped the place apart in 2 short afternoons.



It took me much longer to pack it all up than it did for them to break it all down.



What was underneath was... disturbing. This is an old (1920's) stucco house built before the introduction of vapor barriers and proper ventilation.

We found just acres of black mold and dust.

After the demo, we went in and cleaned (wearing masks and gloves). Gallons of bleach. Replacing boards where we could, and then painting the whole thing with a special paint that seals away allergens.

That said, CD couldn't breathe properly for weeks.



The first part that was done was the left-side of the kitchen. While we were waiting for delivery of the cabinets, we removed the 80's flowered wallpaper, and painted (oi! choosing neutral paints was actually hard). Once we laid down the new floor along the hallway, this looked good.



The upper cabinets went in first. With the two friends helping, CD got the (Maple, tall) cabinets mostly up in about a day.

The lower cabinets took the better part of 4 weekends. First, because the floor had to be laid and leveled. Then because the plumbing and electrical inspections both had to be done twice to correct some faults the house had and finally because that 3-drawer cabinet was on back-order.

We kept the layout basically the same, just much more streamlined. After all these years, we'd realized that this was the most efficient use of the space.



There's still a lot to be done - the faucet is halfway in, to be finished tonight. The walls are being finished by a handyman who will be here this weekend. CD will put the doors back on, and do the trim work, as well.

Those soffits are gone, and everything painted more neutral colors. That makes it feel so much bigger already.

So that's where we are now. A couple of weeks from being ready to put it on the market (only uh...4 months behind schedule?). I'll post more pictures after the weekend....

(See link 'continued' for a couple more random pictures.)

Continue reading "Before and (sorta) After: The Kitchen."
Posted on September 20, 2007 at 08:58 AM and filed under: This Old House
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The Kitchen is Coming! The Kitchen is Coming!

September 14, 2007

Both the cabinet people AND the counter top people called today to say that by next Tuesday, I will have... a kitchen!

With a working sink and countertops and drawers for silverware and EVERYTHING.

Color me giddy!

Posted on September 14, 2007 at 07:55 PM and filed under: This Old House
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Be Vewy, Vewy Qwiet....

August 15, 2007


The plumbers are here.

We had to hock a couple of organs and take out a 3rd and 4th mortgage. Plus kill a fatted calf.

But they're HERE.

Right this very second, as I type this, there are ACTUAL plumber people in my basement making noise and stuff.

Huge milestone.


Of course, their green room demands included 5000-count towels for wiping their hands, a catered lunch from Hooters, a bowl of M&M's with all the brown ones picked out, and a 6-pack of a lovely Cabernet but .....who cares???

I was starting to lose all kind of hope. Now, I'm practically giddy with a sliver of it. IF I squint my eyes and pretend the next week has 16 days in it, I can almost see the end of the tunnel.

Posted on August 15, 2007 at 10:37 AM and filed under: This Old House
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And a Pox on Both Your Houses

July 31, 2007

We failed both inspections today.

As we are poised to finally, finally, FINALLY screw those damn bottom cabinets into the wall for good and have those nice counter top people do their business...

The electrical and plumbing guys came for final sign off.

Electrical guy wants CD to split the circuits for the 4 outlets. Which, because CD has a final exam on Thursday night, means I have THREE DAYS at least of no electric in the kitchen while I wait for CD to rip the wiring and redo it.

Then the plumbing guy walks in, and we say to him that we haven't even touched the plumbing. We're confused as to why we even have to have th guy here. Nothing with the plumbing is changing. Sink and dishwasher in exactly the same place.

He isn't even IN THE DOOR, just looking from the entry, when he says 'oh, see that? That's a MAJOR code violation.'

Yeah, so, 40 years ago someone moved the sink from the corner to under the window (makes sense, really) and when they did, they didn't attach the new plumbing back to the vent.

He gave us the name of a guy who can do the work, since CD's expertise doesn't extend to pipes. In fact, it is about the only place he doesn't have the savvy to do it himself.

We were so disheartened that we fell into a funk. CD stared at his beautifully installed wiring, knowing that he'd met code and utterly exhausted that the inspector had been so arbitrary.

My heart broke for him. And boiled in frustration at the 7 millionth setback.

"C'mon," I whispered in his ear.

CD looked up and tried to smile. We dug up the video iPod for Bear and plugged it into a widescreen for him to watch. With earphones.

And then we quietly, almost sadly at first, jumped each others bones. Tossing sheets and pillows as we weaved ourselves together in the long sunbeams of the afternoon. Kissing, holding, wiggling. Pausing each time we thought we heard something from Bear's room. Then grabbing for each other again.

The child blithely engaged in a Power Rangers movie.

He woke us up an hour later, after the house had fallen into a quiet snooze. "Mommy, Daddy," as he climbed up onto the big bed. "Let's go outside and play with the sprinkler..."

Under the sheet I felt CD's fingers touch mine.

Still pissed at the inspectors, and all their friendly recommended experts. But somehow, strangely, OK.

Probably denial. You know, because sometimes the light you see isn't the end of a tunnel - it's the Superliner from Detroit.

But I think that it's going to be all right.
As long as we can keep pulling together (very very together) instead of apart....

Posted on July 31, 2007 at 09:34 PM and filed under: This Old House
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Roll The Dice

September 21, 2005

It was on a day like this, 5 years ago, that we stood on the street before the big blue house and knew we had found home. (The peeling paint and upturned grocery cart in the yard notwithstanding)....

Continue reading "Roll The Dice"
Posted on September 21, 2005 at 02:44 PM and filed under: This Old House
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On Pins and Needles

September 02, 2005

We are related to a bank. You know, on my husband's side - his sister's brother-in-law's cousin, 3 times removed? The one who always wears green awning and it does NOTHING to hide her hips? No? Oh, OK.

But, actually, through his new job. You know? And strange as this may sound, yes, we get an employee discount.

And we need it.

We refinanced around two years ago, in the Dark Times. I was slipping into panic, and left the nest of our bank and went through a broker. And all I have to say is - Be Ye Not So Stupid.

While we did maintain a 20% equity position, we paid WAY WAY WAY more than we should have in closing costs and percentage. Yes, thousands more. And our mortgage, which has been sold on average of every 6 months since, has become a source of shame to us. A reminder that we did it wrong.

So once CD got to his work anniversary, and eligible for this benefit - we pounced.

We have so many 'wants' - pay off the last of the debt, pull enough money out to rehab the kitchen and replace the roof, and lower the interest rate, and maintain at least a 30% equity position on the house which has, miraculously, continued to grow in value despite our broken lawnmower.

I want, so bad, for the last of the Dark Times to be gone, you know? This current mortgage, this Bad Deal, makes me nuts every month.

So I spent a lot of time repeating all this to CD, eleventybillion times, in a squeaky little high-strung voice. How he had to negotiate in whatever leeway they gave him. How he had to stand firm, and get in there and fight! fight! fight! for every possibly quarter-point and fee.

So off CD went to work, the precious paperwork under his arm, and walked it over to the guy who is in charge of employee mortgages. According to his faithful account, this is how the fiercely negotiated conversation went:

CD (handing over the paperwork): Dude.

Loan Guy
(Looking the forms over and nodding): Dude.

CD (noting our current interest rate): Dude.

Loan Guy (pointing at the currently available interest rate): Dude.

CD (smiling, extending his hand): DUDE.

Loan Guy (shaking his hand): Duuuuude.

Well, we got a call yesterday. The Loan Guy says it looks good. We might get what we wanted.

The interest rate he's talking is about quarter-point higher than our fantasy interest rate (everyone has fantasy interest rates, right?) and the amount of money that will be available for rehab is a little less than we'd thought - mostly because we made a dufus error in calculating which I am too embarrassed to admit to.

We will probably find out today if the go is for-real.

And then it looks like Paris. And after that, Colorado. And may I just say that I am surprised at the poor showing of the Minnesotans? I mean, for all that talk - about the Lakes! the Diversity! Well, I'll keep voting open until Tuesday and see what happens....

Posted on September 02, 2005 at 07:59 AM and filed under: This Old House
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A Pin, A Map, and A Dream

August 30, 2005

Updated: 8/30:

OK, here's what we're researching so far based on your recommendations:
*Upstate New York
*Twin Cities (although that seems FAR off the beaten path)
*New England
*Canada (Toronto, Vancouver or Ottawa - all contingent on them letting yet another Yank in. Oh, and my company sponsoring me.)
* Oregon/Seattle - I know, different states, but probably the same scouting trip. Although CD wants it noted, for the record, that he is like a plant and needs a certain amount of sun. We have heard rumors that there is no sun in the Pacific NW of the US. This is probably a dastardly lie, right? Also, and not that anyone is counting, but I have more than 1 ex in the Seattle area.

Places on the 'probably not' list:

*RTP and NC as a whole (I have spent a LOT of time in RTP and not only can I attest to the beauty - I can attest to the heat, the traffic, the humidity and the GODAWFUL GREEN CRAP that falls from the sky every spring and sticks to everything like bird snot on crazy glue.)

* Montana (Although I LOVE Cheryl, I travelled to Butte once. Ever land in Butte? And then, you know, drive down the butte into Butte? In the snow? Ok, 'nuf said.)

*Georgia (Although, for the amount of time I have spent in the Atlanta airport they should charge me state income tax. Just too hot. And not just in August.)

*UK (I lived there in '94 and I LOVED it. I cried for 3 months after I got back to the states. But my company will not sponsor me there. And we can not afford to live there without a work visa. We can barely afford to live there WITH a work visa. Seriously, we would be squatting with my dear friends in the North, taking showers with that hand-held thing while sitting in the tub and wondering how we could afford the next pint of petrol. Or gin.)

Still taking suggestions. And now I am looking at neighborhoods....

For about two years now, we've been aware that we have an opportunity to move. Anywhere.

I telecommute, and my husband currently works for a company with locations uh... everywhere.

So even though we'll probably move to the quaint little Bedford Falls town just over the road from our current home in Pleasantville, we aren't.... sure.

Where would you move? If you were up for an adventure, and could go?

We want a good school system for Bear, but on the other hand I could homeschool. We want a place that is beautiful to feed our soul - water, hills, green. We need a somewhat nearby tech corridor. And we need snow and winter and really, as few 80+ days as possible.

Ideas? Anyone? Anyone? Beuller?

Posted on August 30, 2005 at 11:55 PM and filed under: This Old House
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Nobody said it would be easy... or cheap

July 27, 2005

Cabinets and Hardware: $3400 (plus delivery and tax)
Flooring: $500
Construction Materials: $250
New Sink: $200
New Counter: $750
New Electrical wiring: $250
Kitchen lighting: $250

New sink: $250
New Cabinet: $200
New bath tile & Construction Materials: $350

Front door:
Hardware: $150
Glass: $300
Construction Materials: $200 (Sander rental)
New House numbers: $100
New Porch light: $100

New House Roof: $3000
Hallway floor patching: $150
Tool Rental for path break up: $100
Tool rental: Chipper/Shredder: $100
Dumpster: $300
Storage rental: $150

New lighting for dining room: $200
New poly for floors: $500
Paint: $300
TOTAL: $12,300

Additional WISH LIST:
Contractor assistance: $2500
Curtains: $1000
House Painters: $2500
Landscaping (new bulbs and bushes): $500
New Driveway: $2500

Posted on July 27, 2005 at 08:56 PM and filed under: This Old House
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Memorial Day; Ribs & Construction

May 31, 2005

I can't explain what it's like to have the construction started again on this old house. Even though he began the project in his usual impetuous way, it is so satisfying to look over and watch my husband measuring and hammering.

I flirted with the idea of not doing anything for Memorial Day, but I always do something for Memorial Day. We had three friends stopped by in addition to the four of us (my mom is visiting from out of town).

The parade in the morning was very sentimental. We stood for the flag, for veterans, for banners commemorating those who gave their lives in defense of America. Bear especially loved the bands and the muskets going off, but then he started to feel kind of puny. Once we got back home, we tucked him in on the couch with a nest of pillows and blankets and cartoons on the TV.

For the barbeque, I started cooking on Saturday. We had baby back ribs (dry rub overnight, baked, and then smoked with homemade sauce), my potato salad (which always comes out pretty good), mom's onion & roquefort salad, baked beans with sausage, sliced teriyaki steak, a roasted pepper and oil salad, grilled corn on the cob, sliced cherry tomatoes, and Dee brought cole slaw. We drank rum and punch, and had apple pie (store bought) and frosted brownies (Dee's) for dessert.

Afterwards, we did that thing I hate - split up in gender groups. The guys tucked pencils behind their ears and got to work on my office while I had the company (and help) of my girlfriend while gardening. But we came back together to drink and all push the new window into place before calling it a night.

Bear spent the afternoon cuddled with his Nana. Him not feeling well was the only dark cloud in a day of glorious, perfect weather and wonderful eats and fellowship. A great, great day. I wish it hadn't had to end.

In the extended entry, see the "before" and "during" pictures of my office!

Continue reading "Memorial Day; Ribs & Construction"
Posted on May 31, 2005 at 03:33 PM and filed under: This Old House
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Slow Boat to Chicago

September 07, 2004

".... it was like having a giant thudding vibrator strapped to our heads. The only relief would come on the open upward stretches, when the van simply buzzed around us"

This is the worst of the trip, the part we were awake for... Boston to Pennsylvania, the longest 580 miles. Ever.

Start time: 6AM, Sunday Morning
Route: Mass Pike - 134 miles
Time: 5 hours 15 minutes

Our alarms were set for 5:30AM and it was still dusky dark when we pulled out of my mom's driveway. We hit Dunkin Donuts (CD - "Can we get going already?") and then put our backs to the sunrise and hopped the highway towards the Mass Pike.

As soon as we hit 50 mph, the antique door that we had bought at New England Salvage and strapped to the roof rack started making a horrible noise; "thwacka thwacka THWACKATHWACKA!"

We pulled over and rearranged the door. Bear, almost asleep in the back, groaned.

20 more miles. 30 more minutes of "THWACKA thwacka THWACKA!"

Holy crap, we were barely to Worcester and we couldn't go over 50mph without rendering ourselves senseless with the noise. We stopped to readjust that ^(*&*$#@! door about a dozen times. We came thisclose to hucking it into a drainage ditch.

There are some serious hills on the Mass Pike. The road is forcibly wedged into rock cliffs, the striations from the dynamite blasts still visible. As the road narrowed, the 'thwacka' noise would increase - it was like having a giant thudding vibrator strapped to our heads. The only relief would come on the open upward stretches, when the van simply buzzed around us, quietly.

By Sturbridge, we were all bonkers. We pulled into the service center and had breakfast, got gas, and ran like banshees in circles. Bear's backseat nest was rearranged and his new Digimon DVD restarted. CD battled the door (again).

"Thwacka! ThwackThwackThwackTHWACKA!" for another hour as we gritted our teeth and made for the New York border.

New York
Hit the border on: Sunday Morning, 11:15AM
Route: NY State Thruway - 442 miles
Time: 11 hours 45 minutes

The first 125 miles of New York state passed in stupor. We were 3 numb bunnies, staring with glassy eyes at the miles of asphalt.

We'd passed through miles of construction, beautiful scenery, and glorious weather and never noticed a thing.

Thwacka. Thwacka.

By Utica, CD had passed back into anger and defiantly pulled off the thruway looking for a Target or something and some kind of solution.

What we found instead was a place called Big Lots. We'd never been to a Big Lots before. Oh. My. Stars. Have you ever been to a Big Lots? This is like a nice clean flea market.

We found a bunch of Rescue Heroes action figures and stuff for Bear's birthday! We found snacks! We found a bra! We found a cheap, streamlined boombox for Bear! We found a garden sprinkler thing! And best of all? We found a foam egg crate mattress liner!

All this, for like 5 bucks.

Out in the parking lot, CD and I pulled the %^#@@! door off the van roof, wrapped it in egg crate, and put it back on. We got back on the road.


Oh, the blessing this was. I can't begin to explain. Nirvana.

I stuck the cruise control on 72mph and we tried to make up some of our lost time.

The next 200 miles spun by in a blur. Other than some bathroom and gas breaks, we sailed into the sunset on wings.

In Buffalo, we asked the toll booth guy for directions to his favorite hot wings joint. He sent us to Duffs. Wowza. CD, who is a hot wings gourmand of the highest caliber, purred like a kitten. Bear and I played in the grass with his new action figures.

Then we decided, what the heck?! Let's go to Canada.

After about 15 minutes waiting about a mile from the border in traffic, we decided that Canada? Not so much.

We turned around and headed to Niagara Falls. We pulled into the park just about sunset.

The lookout tower over Niagara

It was a 3-hour detour, give or take. We were all physically exerted, fed, and awed by the time we clambered back into the car. The plan was to drive to Erie and spend the night at a hotel.

40 miles later, we pulled into the Angola rest area - which actually sits in the grassy thruway median, accessible via a walking bridge from either side of the highway.

We took over the family bathroom (I love family bathrooms) to wash up, brush teeth, change into soft clothes/pajamas, and whatnot. Then we made a family decision - we were feeling strong, it was only around 10 PM. Erie was about an hour or so away - but did we really need to stop? Why not just keep driving until we got tired?

So we picked up some coffee and juice, cleaned up the car some and rearranged Bear's nest back into optimal sleeping position. The cool night air was good for a few stretches.

50 miles to the the Pennsylvania border, 550 miles home, a full tank of gas, a sleeping (wait - what time is it here?) 3 year old, a cooler full of juice and snacks, and a quiet door strapped to the roof.

Hit it.

Continue reading "Slow Boat to Chicago"
Tags: Road, Trip, Family, Life, Memory, Humor
Posted on September 07, 2004 at 08:33 PM and filed under: Family, It's a Trip
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