With every stop, a new memory

me, aunt elsie and charlie
Me, Aunt Elsie and Chuck

We are back home after our semi-whirlwind tour of the east coast (I say semi, as our intrepid and younger friends Meagan and Jock have been doing a real deal whirlwind tour that you can read about at her blog). In my previous post, I mostly bitched and moaned about the hotel we stayed at in DC. Well, having gotten that out of my system (and written a scathing review of the place for TripAdvisor), I am now ready to move on to the rest of our trip.

We went to Dulles and picked up our rental car (a hybrid, woohoo! – but more on that shortly). Chuck is Gold Club member with Hertz, so we get the special treatment – the shuttle lets us off at the rental area, but we don’t stand in line, we just go straight to our car that is ready and waiting for us. And there she was our lovely Toyota Prius! Wait, that’s not a Prius! That’s a big old Nissan Altima! But it was a hybrid Altima. Then we opened the doors. Blech!!!! The entire car (including the trunk) positively reeked of cigarettes! Okay, now we were officially not happy campers. So Chuck went off to the office, and moments later a guy came out to take it to get washed again, where they claimed to have a magical solution that would make that smell go away. I was hoping to hear that they were also going to penalize the bejesus out of the previous renter who had stunk the car up, but I guess it’s actually okay to smoke in their rental cars. We just always ask for non-smoking cars, and out west at least always get them. Anyway, back the car comes all nice and clean, and it actually did smell okay inside! So we loaded up the car (and let me just say, for a big ass car that Altima had a pretty small trunk – half of it was the battery!) and left the airport. As it was pretty hot and humid, once we started off we rolled up the windows and turned on the air conditioner and just like that the nice pine smell disappeared and was replaced by the odiferous stench of stale cigarettes. *sigh* So we rolled the windows down and accepted our fate. But for the next four days, every time we left the car locked for more than a few minutes and came back, the smell jumped out at us all over again. But the car did get okay gas mileage, so that was nice.

We made it to Baltimore in pretty good time and spent they next two days visiting our friends Judy (Meagan’s mom), Meagan and Jock, and catching up with Judy’s other daughter Amanda. It was Meagan’s birthday, so there was a party with excellent food and cake, a visit to the American Visionary Art Museum, and the consumption of way too many oatmeal and raisin cookies. Yum!

aunt jo and charlie
Chuck and his Aunt Jo

Next it was off to Delaware, to visit Chuck’s cousin Jackie and his aunts Jo and Elsie. Jo is 95 and Elsie turned 100 last month. They live about 15 minutes away from each other – Jo in Wilmington, DE and Elsie in Bothwyn, PA. They are in great shape, for the shape they’re in, sharp as tacks and still giving each other a hard time about stuff. We should all age as gracefully! They both have very fond memories of Chuck, as when he was a baby he lived with them for a year while his mother was in a TB sanatorium. His cousin Jackie (Jo’s daughter) is a wonderful person who lives across the street from her mom (how great is that?) and helps her stay pretty independent in her assisted living home. Jackie also has three cats, Tippy, Buddy and Henry, who pretty much rule the house. Buddy is particularly remarkable as he likes (no, really, LOVES) being vacuumed. I shot a video of this, as I had never seen such a thing before. Jackie took us to a fabulous museum quite close to her, the Brandywine River Museum in Chadds Ford, PA. It has a fabulous collection of the works of N.C., Andrew and Jamie Wyeth, as well as works by Andrew’s siblings Carolyn and Henriette. The museum grounds are as wonderful as the museum, with a walking trail that follows the river and animal sculptures lurking around every bend (or so it seemed). We didn’t get a chance to visit the Kuerner Farm, but that just gives us a reason to return.

We headed home last Saturday, and when we dropped the car off, bitched about the stinky smell, and they gave us thirty dollars off and a hearty apology. This was a much more satisfying customer service experience than at the DuPont Hotel. So yay Hertz!

I’ve uploaded more pics of the family adventures in Virginia and DC and also a bunch from MD and DE as well.