Monday, February 24, 2014

Trips with Dad

I am a blend of both of my parents for certain. And both of my parents have very STRONG personalities. You'd be certain about that if you knew my Daddy. Perhaps you're questioning that about my Momma, but they don't know what they started when they combined their own stubborn personalities together. She may be quieter, but she IS. Momma is uniquely and quietly STRONG in personality.

I am already digressing...

The point here is that it's a competition to have a relationship with your parents when there are six of you looking for some kind of attention and some kind of unique bond. After all, the genetics are limited. We all came from the same two people. There is only so much rearranging of the code you can do. We certainly can't all be the favorite. That's Matt. Matt is the favorite, he's always been the favorite. My mom can try to hide it all she wants, but ask her what Matt was like as a child and she'll just say "he was my HAPPY baby. Always smiling."

 Do you know what she called me?

 Plate head.

I was 10lbs 4oz. of pure birth canal joy. I ruined my chances of being the favorite before taking my first breath. She doesn't have that glint in her eye when she talks about me when I was a baby. I can't imagine why not, between the fact that I made her lactose intolerant, had ridiculous ear infections and cried constantly. Still have the scar tissue on my ear drums to prove I had tubes in my ears. I was a pudgy big-headed gem. She passed me off to my older sister who needed a doll to play with.

 (Mom, it's all dramatic effect, I knew you loved me the moment you stuffed me in the pile of kids to get chicken pox so I could get it over with :)

And Daddy loves his Mattie too. Sure he had to give him three cars to total in two years and track him down when he sneaked out to Marsh Creek to do God Knows What, but seriously Matt is carrying on the fish tank dream. They go to the fish store twice a month to check out all the exotic fish that Matt will eventually kill. They're keeping the word "**spaving" in existence. They play ball with their respective dogs in the yard. Its cute. 

I mean Mattie Matt is hard to not love. He's really a great guy. He's always looking out for you and forgives you really easily when you're being a brat. He makes everyone feel special like when he calls you Jacks Sprat. AND MAN he gives great hugs. I'm just saying, I understand.

I am, by no means, the bottom of the six. Mainly, because the rest of us are pretty tied up with all of the antics we've put our parents through. (Except Dan.  I'm pretty sure he's second in command on the rankings. State Champs. I've memorized the highlight film because my dad can't stop watching it.) So the last four of us scrap together what we can and make a competition of it. Mostly, though, we compete on who can mess it up worse. It's a fun game.

I do have one thing though. And that's traveling with Dad. No one else gets to weasel their way into more trips with Dad than I can. I've been able to sneak into Utah to visit Daddy more times than anyone else. I've sweet talked myself into "Dad and the boys" trips. (Alaska was fun guys, right?!) I've almost died following my dad into a crazy adventure more times than I care to recall, even from way back before I knew the rules of canoeing around barges in the Delaware river. If Daddy is Batman, I'm definitely Robin. I won't even mind sporting the tights and cape if it means we get to go somewhere or do something cool.

Since my dad retired, or as he calls it, made a career change; we've been taking about a trip a year. Last year we took our best friends out to the Grand Canyon and almost died for the billionth time. It was FANTASTIC! It was one of the reasons I decided I needed to experience more of my own country. This year, we took a weekend trip up to Lake Placid (and Old Forge), New York and played on snowmobiles. As in any trip one ever takes, it was filled with interesting places and experiences that perhaps will never be given any kind of justice in writing.

BUUUUTTTTT that won't stop me from trying! TO THE BATCAVE!

Before our trip even began, we lost a fellow traveler to the trials and tribulations of adult life that I so frequently try to avoid. Namely, responsibilities. Job responsibilities. Family responsibilities. Yuck.

And then there were three. Daddy, Rick, and I piled into the massive F-350 that's size is a juxtaposition to the seating capacity. As in all trucks, there are only really two seats. The two in the front. Sure sure, they put "seating" in the second row. It's about as luxurious as an old church pew after a long-winded Christmas homily from a deaf priest. So the long-legged older and wiser bulls sat stretching out like lions on the Savannah up front while I snuggled with six or seven bags with more corners than are logically allowable for cube shaped luggage. I had room for half of me. Let the 8 hour ride commence! Ever so often the old bulls would take it upon themselves to stretch their necks and turn to check the hand they could see stabbing through the piles upon piles of travelling necessities. There's still a pulse! Squeeze my hand if you need to breathe or go to the bathroom!

There is very little in the way of obstacles if it means I get to visit something new and different. I may have developed the beginnings of a hump on my back, but all for the glory of the road!

We arrived to magical Lake Placid around 4:30. It was like coming upon the North Pole. Sleepy with Sandman snowflakes sighing through the atmosphere, we came upon the luxurious downtown village hotel. By luxurious, of course, I mean it had a roof and rooms and free coffee. Poor Jerry, the desk clerk who undoubtedly was not ready for my Dad to come huffing in, did his best. You see, it's hard to park a farm truck anywhere but in a field or a superbly long driveway. Parking it in a "city" is just laughable. Then you add piles upon piles of snow and a tiny parking lot of about twenty spaces serving an entire downtown hotel. You get a very flustered and severe Daddy on your hands.

This is where the relationship of Rick and Dad starts to show. Rick volunteered to get out of the nice cozy truck and plunk down to the hotel to see about parking. Rick is always so generous with his expectations and considerate of what other people are feeling. Rick is the good cop. He politely rings the bell. Not too harsh, just enough to be noticed. Really just a tinkling to the ear. He kindly asks for Jerry's name first. (this is a proud habit of Rick's, he always recalls everyone's name) He asks about a recommendation for parking because we have a large truck and the parking lot appears to be full. Jerry points us in the direction of the municipal lot and Rick is happy and willing to report this back to Daddy.  ENTER BAD COP. He can't help it. Daddy has an impressive ability for thinking through logistics and an immense distaste for obstacles keeping him from naps. Not a good combination. Jerry gets "the look."

"The look" has famously made businessmen and employees break into instantaneous inexplicable sweat attacks. I've seen grown men on the verge of tears without exactly knowing why just because my dad gives them the stare down. I'm pretty sure my dad negotiated down a hot tub salesman with such intensity that the contract of sale included the man's resignation. I've witnessed car salesmen scurry out of their offices for backup because they couldn't concentrate on the math with my dad staring them down with "the look."

Jerry broke into a sweat and a stutter started to develop half way through the interrogation of said municipal parking lot where one would have to move their vehicle in the afternoons because it becomes a private lot. Wrong answer Jerry. Wrong answer.

Daddy never really yells. He speaks. slowly. deeply. glowering. It's absolutely terrifying. Jerry knows. He scurried away like all those car salesmen before him and tried to figure his way out of this predicament. I'm pretty sure he was trying to lift people's vehicles out of the snow and scoot them over so my dad could park his truck in the front row. Too bad he's no superman. That would have been nice.

Turns out the municipal parking lot wasn't so bad. Also turns out that we got front row parking at the hotel the next two days because Jerry just loves my dad that much (and apparently managed to dismiss the other cars in the lot for the next day). Also, Jerry seemed to have lost a few pounds by the following day. Something in how my dad threatened that he never would have ever come here if he knew about the parking situation in a downtown hotel really stuck with Jerry. I understand. It feels a lot like not being ready for the President of the United States. It's not really your fault, but all the same, disappointing the entire country can really affect you.

Rick and I cringed inside and acted nonchalant. I think I began whistling and strolling the tiny foyer, really inspecting the inside of my coffee cup; curious about how the free coffee could be so hot. No one likes seeing a man under duress. Especially not when it's because of your relative. Yet, the benefits of travelling with someone who can throw his weight around allows us to forget about the uncomfortable moments. And honestly Jerry, whats with not having parking for trucks in UPSTATE NEW YORK?! We loved Jerry for the rest of the weekend. He really was a super nice guy and we chatted with him every morning we were there. We certainly did leave him with an impression though.


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