It's been a while since I last wrote, and a fair amount has happened so I'm going to write a long-ish catch-up post.
We visited Cozumel and then took a day at sea to get back to Fort Lauderdale. In that time, we had a lot of fun. Or at least the bits I remember seemed to involve having quite a lot of fun.
There was, however, an unusual afternoon at the poker table. After a great dinner in the Italian restaurant with Walt and Terry, I had soldiered on and decided to play poker. This was late at night and faithful readers will recall that I had rather recklessly purchased the All You Can Drink card at the beginning of the cruise.
Anyhow, the next day - our final one on the ship - I went down to play my last game of poker. The usual suspects were at the table and I knew there was more to the previous evening than I could quite recall. "How are you today?" asked one of the players, looking sceptical when I said I felt fine. That is always a clue to me that people suspect I have no right to feel OK.
I then asked the casino hostess about when she planned to get back to her family in Capetown. She smiled politely (as the job spec requires, I presume) and said, "Well, we discussed this last night, but the answer is the end of January." Oh, I said, perhaps I was a little over-served last night.
"That's one way to describe the fact that you were totally blitzed last night," said another player.
Experience has taught me there is only one way to deal with this situation. Plead ignorance and offer abject apologies.
"OK, " I said, "how obnoxious was I and who do I owe apologies to?"
Yet a third player piped up, "You weren't obnoxious at all. In fact you were quite entertaining, except for the fact that you kept winning all our money." This was quite startling to me since I only had a little bit more money in my pockets than I had started with when I checked that morning.
And then another player added his piece. "Yeah, you were pretty funny. In fact it's about the only time this trip that you've shown any personality. So I don't think you owe anyone any apologies."
So, weighing being funny versus usually having no personality, this kind of made me feel good, so I smiled and said, "That's good."
Smiled, that is, until Shaun, the dealer, said, "Well, except perhaps for the fact that you kept making fun of me all last night, calling me 'little' all the time." So, one apology and a little bit of winnings - who knew where the rest went, but I suspect one of the guys was deliberately not reminding me of how he beat me in a big hand late in the evening.
At long last we reached Fort Lauderdale, the official end of our Cruisin' and Boozin' with Friends Tour and flew north to Rochester on the 21st. Coming from warm, sunny Caribbean ports it was disconcerting to hear the pilot tell us that we were going to have a bumpy ride into Rochester which was bracing for its first major storm of this winter.
Frankly the flight wasn't all that bumpy but Rochester did in fact greet us with the beginnings of what would be a full-fledged snow storm throughout the next 12 hours. We had intended to drive to Rutland the next morning to spend the next few days with the family, but the New York Thruway had winter storm warnings, was covered with ice and snow for most of the stretch we would be on and had winds in excess of 55 mph. When I then read on the TV news scroll that parts of the road were closed near us due to an accident, it was an easy decision to postpone the trip for a day.
Once there we had a great time. Dinner with my mother Sunday night and then a Christmas Eve day-long fest at my brother's house featuring more food than the cruise ship offered and starring not just my niece and nephew but the star of the day, 4-week old Brady John Kennedy. This bub made my mother a great-grandmother and is one cute little critter. I don't think there's anything better at a family get-together than a new member of the tribe for everyone to moon over.
After Christmas breakfast at my Mom's, we drove back to Pittsford NY to spend Christmas evening at Sandy and Dave's. It turned out to be the easiest and fastest trip possible on the Thruway. The road was dry, the traffic was light and there were no trucks on the road. Probably the best Christmas present possible.
Driving wasn't quite as easy yesterday as we had a Boxing Day extravaganza at Sand, Dave and Jordan's. Brunch at 11:30 was good breakfast food but the star was Peg. LK and Sandy's mom has been in recovery mode since she broke her leg several weeks ago, and this was her first trip out since then. We were also joined by Christopher, Sandy's son, who had flown in from the west coast and I think it made it very special for all of us to be sitting around the table together.
We all took a break in the afternoon and LK and I used the time to reinforce my loathing of shopping when stores are crowded. And believe me, Wegman's was very crowded with Pittsforders abandoning the holiday spirit and developing strategies that involved using shopping trolleys as tactical weapons.
Anyhow, we finished the shopping, went back to Peg's place for a couple of hours and then visited her for a few minutes before heading off to Sandy and Dave's for dinner. It was a short visit with Peg because the snow had already started falling heavily before we left and it was pretty obvious that the forecast for blizzard-level drops of 12 - 15 inches of snow were accurate.
Anyhow, weather be damned (not necessarily a sensible attitude), we landed at the Wiggs for a major feast. Nibblies that were enough to constitute a full meal on most nights -- clams casino, spring rolls, three kinds of cheese and an olive medley -- but, no, the question still remained: Yo, Sandy, what's for dinner? Well, the highlight of the evening was Sandy's Beef Wellington accompanied by my two current favorite veggies, cauliflower and brussels sprouts. Yum. I had even wanted to show off my new found wine knowledge and had picked up a bottle of Chateau Phelan-Segur, the place we visited on our immersive wine tour in France, and the wine went really well with the beef. Yum again.
So much for the pleasant evening, it was time to get back to Peg's unit for good night's sleep. I think LK and I have lived in Oz so long we had forgotten that you could go indoors with a little snow on the ground and emerge 3 hours later with snow half way up your calf. Or, to use other words, as high as the bottom of your car.
Super Dave - you may remember him from previous posts here and here - hustled out ahead of me and swept the snow off my rental car and then backed another car out of the driveway so I could get out without doing thousands of dollars worth of damage. A snowplow went past as I was walking to the car, so it seemed that careful driving would get us home.
Even with the hard work Dave had done, I still had trouble getting out of the driveway as the car seemed to think that it should be surfing sideways instead of driving forward. Dave's advice - back up and just gun it till you get on the road. It worked.
Once on the road, it was relatively easy driving. Well, easy in part because there were no other idiots on the road. And in part because going about 15 miles per hour seemed to give me traction more than half the time.
It's been a very long time since I have driven in conditions like these, and I realized I had forgotten that it isn't nearly as much fun as it looks when they show it on Mythbusters. Of course, on Mythbusters they do it in controlled conditions. And, come to think of it, they almost always end up smashing the car and laughing about it. Best not to think of it at the time, I guess.
Well, despite the car repeatedly flashing a symbol that the tires were not getting traction we eventually got to the entrance to the development where Peg's unit is. And it hadn't been plowed.
And it was uphill.
And we couldn't make it.
If this weren't already a very long post, I would share some of the conversation LK and I had. Suffice it to say that faced with either a messy divorce or a messier criminal charge, I finally agreed that we should call Super Dave.
Sitting crossways in the road, unable to go back or forth, and fumbling to figure out where the four-way flasher button was, I was suddenly happy that no others were adventuring into the night. And not soon after we sent out the call for the Davemobile, headlights loomed through the darkness and swirling snow.
Before I knew it, Dave's big truck was on the hilly entrance and David was on his back in the road hitching the tow rope to my car. I felt as if I should have been the one doing that cold, wet task but I knew that 1) I had no idea what you would hook the rope to; 2) I had no idea how to hook the rope and 3) they would have only had to tow me as well once it was apparent there was no way to get me upright again in the slippery conditions.
Anyhow, let's ignore the details and just say that Super Dave and his faithful companion Christopher had hooked us and towed us then pushed us and even took the steering wheel from my incompetent hands to turn the wheels in the right direction. And they got us in the garage.
We stood gratefully behind the car waving at them as they rentered the DaveMobile and telling them how grateful we were when one of our heroes yelled out, "Don, you forgot to turn the car off."
By the time I had done that we could just see the dim red glow of the DaveMobile as it rode off into the night. But it is time for the world to know: Super Dave is the man!