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It was rainy and windy yesterday and startlingly warm — well into the 50s. Clearly a cold front was pushing warm weather in front of it. It’s an old joke by now, but if global warming means weather like THIS in New England in the winter, I’m for it.

I gave the cat plenty of food and water, put a change of clothes and my toothbrush in my canvas bag, and walked over to the mall. I’d noticed that there was an Avis franchise in the Sears auto shop, and renting a car there is a heck of a lot better than having to take the bus up to the airport.

I got there, they had the car, everything was peachy until I handed over my debit card. I stopped using credit cards when I moved to Connecticut, but it turns out that’s all they wanted to take. I never had any trouble renting a car with a debit card in the past — my last trip to Virginia, I rented a car from Avis using that very same card.

The lady said it was on the website when I made the reservation. I was frozen; I didn’t have any idea how to continue from that. Flying down at that point would cost thousands of dollars. I could take a bus to the airport and try my luck with other rental agencies, I guess, but I would be hours late getting started, and I would end up with the huge, expensive, gas-guzzling cars they save to punish people without reservations.

The Avis lady decided she would take the card after all. Note to self: get a credit card and never use it. Once in the car (a silver, late-model Jetta with North Carolina plates),  I offered up the most heartfelt prayer I’ve prayed in months 🙂 I could feel the hand of God or Fate making sure everything would go well.

The weather drizzled as I headed onto I-84 into Hartford and I-91 out of it again. The steering wheel was in an odd position, so I stopped in the Wallingford rest stop and adjusted it. I also bought an overpriced bottle of Diet Coke and a crumb cake. The crumb cake earned its name by leaving crumbs all over the car. Oops.

The drizzle turned into heavy rain as I pulled into New Haven. I passed through all those southwestern Connecticut cities I’d only seen from the Metro North train before — Stamford, Bridgeport, West Port, South Port… I love the totally original city names. New Haven has its own bunch — North Haven, West Haven, East Haven…

Into New York state and down through Westchester County and lastly, into the Bronx. I waved hello to Jennifer as I passed some of the places we’d been to (including the place we bought the TV). I got a little mixed up on the Cross Bronx Expressway, but got everything sorted out and going the right way and heading into the upper level (the express level) of the George Washington Bridge into New Jersey.

Which was down to one lane, apparently, because of an accident.

I was sitting in heavy, mostly stopped, traffic for over two hours. I read my email and twitter. Listened to the radio. Thought about how much fun it would be to find a bathroom.

Eventually the accident was cleared. The bridge was very impressive. Newark, less so. I headed south on I-95/NJ Turnpike and stopped at the LAST REST STOP – THE VINCE LOMBARDI REST STOP – all capital letters, just like that. Visited the bathroom and Burger King. It was after 2PM and I was way behind schedule.

Toll was $2.35 to get off the turnpike and on to route I-78 through New Jersey. The rain turned back to drizzle as I left the coast. I stopped at a Scenic Overlook in Bridgewater Township and took a picture. It was okay, but it would have been better without the giant overflowing trashbin. I imagine the view is better in any season but winter.

The grass was brown, which was a little surprising since the grass in Connecticut always seems to be green year round, even buried in snow. Must be a different species of grass.

I crossed into Pennsylvania. Crossing the Delaware cost me $0.75, which was likely less than it cost Washington. But then, he was often caught tossing dollars across rivers, so I felt I really got a good deal.

The rain stopped and the clouds parted a little around Allenstown. I had the setting sun in my eyes as I drove through large stretches of nothing punctuated by small farming communities with hex signs on their barns.

Do hex signs work? They definitely do. There have been no recorded instances of curses or devil infestations in any livestock protected by a well-maintained hex sign. None.

I caught up with I-81 just outside Harrisburg. This road would take me out of Pennsylvania, through Maryland and West Virginia, following the line of the Blue Ridge Mountains south into Virginia.

The car was getting thirsty and I was about ready to take a break. I stopped in Shippensburg for food, gas, and to check to see how much time was left in the drive. It was just after 6PM.

Hey, look, a letter from Andrew’s lawyer!

As we have previously discussed, Andrew’s case will be continued from 1/26/2010.  The next date for his case is currently scheduled for 4/2/2010 at 1:30 PM.  I will pass on any new information to you as it is received.

HUH?

This was not previously discussed with me, Andrew or (I learned today) with the Englands (the adoptive parents of Andrew’s two brothers. They live in Virginia and visit Andrew on a regular basis). We are the entirety of the people Andrew’s lawyer talks to.

I was so upset. I left a phone message for the lawyer and replied to her email asking, basically, WTF? I parked at a Wal-Mart and started calling people. I called Jennifer, no answer. I called my friend, Tom. No answer.

I paced around the store. I bought a HD antenna for my TV so I could see if I could pull television signals right from the air, for free! And some popping corn, because Target apparently doesn’t carry it any longer, and the weather isn’t good enough to bike to Vernon for it. And a $5 movie — Election, with Reese Witherspoon.

Tom called back while I was looking for the popcorn. I bent his ear for awhile (thanks, Tom 🙂

I started back, stopping at an Arby’s in Carlisle for dinner. They closed the Arby’s here in Manchester a year ago, so I haven’t been able to eat there for awhile. I talked to Tom some more, then started retracing my way back home.

Jenn called while I was on 78 again, heading East, and we talked most of the way through Pennsylvania. Back across the Delaware — no toll going this direction. Onto the NJ Turnpike for a couple miles — and another $2.35.

Manhattan looked so beautiful from Newark. I’d have stopped and taken a picture if I had a camera capable of capturing it.

Over the George Washington Bridge. EIGHT DOLLARS???? Cost me NOTHING going the other way! Sheesh! Into Harlem and out again, horrible horrible horrible accident in the tunnel to the Bronx, thankfully going the other direction. Emergency vehicles filled the tunnel, never seen so many in one place. The line going into the tunnel stretched for miles, and those people would be sitting there much longer than I had been.

Andrew called, so I pulled off the highway at the next exit to talk. I told him about the letter from his lawyer; he blew his top. How could I blame him? We wanted to know WHO she had previously discussed this continuance with. We ranted back and forth for awhile. It was 11PM before I got back on the road.

Another $1.75 toll in Westchester. Sheesh. And finally in Connecticut once more.

I was feeling kind of wobbly at this point, but not so much that I couldn’t drive and I just wanted to get home. I arrived home safely at about 1AM. I tweeted my arrival for those who wanted to know if ambulances were scraping me off a highway somewhere, said hello to the cat, and collapsed into bed.

The new high-falutin’ TV antenna picks up three Spanish-language channels, one Spanish-language music video channel, one infomercial channel, two public television channels, a channel that was playing an anime called Spider Riders, a channel playing a show called Amen with Sherman Helmsley and Ron Glass, and a NBC channel and an NBC-PLUS channel showing weather, and that’s it.

So nothing I can watch Lost or American Idol on. What a disappointment.

The only ray of hope for the entire day is the possibility that this further delay means some sort of benefit to Andrew, some how.

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