Thursday, February 26, 2009

"Miss those Georgia piney woods" - The Osborne Brothers

That's better. Bluegrass trumps anything Bon Jovi will ever even aspire to.

Part 2

You may recall in our last episode, Gilahi had managed to land a nonexistent seat on an airplane with an exploding engine that was leaving approximately 2 1/2 hours past its scheduled departure time for a 1 hour, 20 minute flight to Atlanta. The high points of the story so far have been that we've had a couple of glasses of wine and my wife found a penny. I should point out here that we had actually planned to arrive in Atlanta in time to grab a bite of supper before driving the hour and a half to central Georgia, where we were staying. We thought we would have been in Atlanta by now. We're just leaving Virginia.

Also, there was the extremely humorous and creative use of a simile of the babysitter in a slasher movie and how her horror parallels ours. By now, she's taken a butcher knife from the kitchen without noticing that one is already missing, and is moving slowly through the house with the knife raised in her fist to eye level, which everybody knows is not the proper way to defend yourself with a knife.

Anyway, the flight itself was pretty uneventful and we landed in Atlanta some 2+ hours late. It was one of those occasions where applause breaks out on the airplane as soon as the wheels touch down.

We go to the rental car counter and get our pre-reserved rental car. After just a couple of wrong turns (it's late, and we're tired and hungry), we finally find the bus that will take us to the rental lot. We're dropped off right next to space #39, containing our rental which is approximately the size of a roller skate. I throw the bags into the trunk as a fine, misty rain begins to fall. We climb into the car, adjust the seats, adjust the mirrors, put the key in the ignition, turn the key and... nothing happens. Not a click, not a whirr. This car is deader than Rod Blagojevich's political career.

So I walk through the rain to the main building in the lot. There is a lady behind the counter who, by all indications, is extremely angry at the piece of gum in her mouth. I explain the situation to her, and she asked me if I wanted a car just like the original one I had. Any other time, I would have said, "No, I want one that works", but I was just so tired that I told her that all I cared about was that it didn't cost me any more. She gave me another key and we got a car a few spaces down which, happily, ran well.

In case you're not familiar with the Atlanta area, Interstates 85 and 75 run north/south through the center of town. I-20 runs east/west through town, and I-285 is the perimeter highway that encircles the city. The airport is just south of I-285. I want to be east of the city to get on the highway that will lead me to small town central Georgia, so I want to go north on I-85, around the east side of I-285, and then east on I-20 to my exit. However it's now dark, driving rain, I'm tired, and it's been many, many hours since I've had any food. I fail to negotiate the fact that I-285 is round and, much like our beloved Washington Beltway, has north/south/east/west designations that change depending on where you happen to be. You see it coming, don't you? I went the wrong way on I-285. I didn't realize this for many miles. By the time I did, I was only 9 miles away from I-20 (albeit on the west side of I-285), so I decided to just continue on, get on I-20 east, and go through town.

My wife is hungry too. She starts asking when we're going to stop. I tell her that we really don't want to stop in this part of town this late at night. Believe me. Never the less, we're both hungry and grumpy, so as soon as I feel that we've gone far enough past the city limits, I pull over and start looking for food.

At this point, all of the lights would go out at the babysitter's house.

We found a place that offered "chicken and seafood" and was open at 9:30 PM on Christmas Eve. How great is that? We park the car, run through the driving rain, and stop at the door.

I've read many restaurant reviews, and there's one little thing that I've never seen mentioned. I really believe Tom Sietsema (The Washington Post's restaurant reviewer) should add this to his column. If there's a very large person frisking people before they can go in, this restaurant may not be the best place for haute cuisine. Amazingly, we are so hungry that I submit to being searched before entering the establishment. Apparently my wife didn't appear as threatening as I, since they let her pass unmolested.

The interior of the establishment was smoke, pool tables, and low lights. The music was so loud that the balls were actually bouncing on the pool tables. A man wearing a Dekalb County Department of Sanitation uniform stopped by our table for several minutes to tell us how happy he was that we were there spending Christmas Eve with him. We never saw any indication of the advertised chicken or seafood.

Even in our exhausted stupor, it eventually dawned on us that this probably wasn't the best place to get something to eat. As we were leaving, we asked the very large gentleman, with whom I was now so intimately acquainted, if he knew where we might get something to eat at 10:00 PM on Christmas Eve. He told us that there was a Waffle House right across the street. We decided to keep driving.

We ended up in beautiful Conyers, GA, before we spotted a Comfort Inn on the side of the road. At this point, we just wanted a cube with a bed and a shower, so we pulled over. I had already phoned my family and told them that there was no way we were driving for an hour and a half on a two-lane road in the middle of the night in the pouring rain in the condition we were in.

When we walked into the lobby of the Comfort Inn, a young lady came from the back room and quickly and efficiently gave us a room. We asked her if there was any place at all in Conyers where we could get something to eat. We were hoping for something like a Ruby Tuesday's, or a TGI Friday's. Anything that might be open late on Christmas Eve.

"Just across de bridge is a Wapple House," she said. "Dey have BIG wapples and good coppee and hamburgers and chicken..." and she proceeded to recite the entire Waffle House menu to us as if it were some exotic establishment serving viands from The Sorbonne.

We would have eaten old tires with radiator water at that point, so we went to the Wapple House, as that establishment has forever been redubbed in our minds. I ate an egg and cheese sandwich with hash browns and a soft drink. My wife had grilled cheese and iced tea. You know what? Much like the Buddhist story of the man and the strawberry, it was some of the best food I ever ate in my life.

That's it. We slept, showered, and got up to a glorious sunny Christmas Day in Conyers, GA. We arrived at my family's house approximately 14 hours later than we had planned, but the adventure was over and we had survived it.

Had we driven, we would have saved the cost of two airline tickets, overnight lodgings, a rental car, and it would have taken us approximately 11 hours to get there.

Oh, and the babysitter kills the slasher and runs out of the house to the waiting arms of her boyfriend, but when the police go inside the house, there's no sign of the guy. So you know there's going to be a sequel.

There always is.


Mike said...

Chicago is a 45 minute flight or a 5 hour drive from St. Louis. We always drive. It's faster.

Wv - flizers - I just read a story about a couple of flizers.

fiona said...

I spat coffee...just so's you know :)

wv- fedcaj - government tax

Gilahi said...

Mike - We used to drive, but we reached an age where 11 hours on the road was too much for our weary backsides.

Fiona - Better than "National Lampoon's Vacation".

Melissa B. said...

Ah, the perils of traveling! Love the image of the woman who is angry with the piece of gum in her mouth!! Hey, BTW, I'm giving away an actual PRIZE for Sx3 today...come play along!

Gilahi said...

Melissa - Thanks! Done and done. Hope my entry's not too "off-color" for your readers.

Bilbo said...

I'm reminded of the road trip we took once many years ago. At the end of a long, arduous day driving through snow, sleet, and morons, we ended up at a no-tell motel where we got the last room. I dragged my cranky ex-wife, two squalling children, and pre-built-in-wheels luggage upstairs, stuck the key in the lock ...

and heard a woman scream, "NO!! WAIT!! DON'T COME IN!!"

Whereupon my ex and both children started to cry.

But I think you still win.

vw: chancid - a very iffy stomach medication.

Gilahi said...

Bilbo - I guess I've been lucky that I've never been on either side of a double-booked room. If you read reviews in places like, apparently this is a fairly common occurrence.

Melissa B. said...

I've just been drawn back to reading this again...think I'm cravin' me some Wapples wright now!

Gilahi said...

Melissa - Ya just can't beat a good Wapple.

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