Dispatches from the Road, 2001: A Visit to the Other George

Previously: Cheese Steaks?

ARLINGTON, VIRGINIA—"Smell that air!“ chortled Dad. "Doesn’t that smell fresh?”

We were on a crowded six-lane highway and Dad had just lit a cigarette—yet somehow the air smelled fresh and clean. Such is the heady nature of lie on the open road—for some, at least.

Earlier, we had bid farewell to the friendly folk at the Colonial Village Motel, where we had spent a none-too-restful night thanks to the clamor of the swans and ye olde heating system, which turned on and off with a horrible racket several times during the night. I must concede, while we didn’t get much sleep at the Colonial Village, the temperature was very well-regulated. (And for those who wished to regulate their temperature further, the establishment even featured an outdoor pool—thankfully separate from the goose pond, which presumably was another opportunity for aquatic recreation. “They didn’t tell us there was a pool!” exclaimed Dad as we drove away. “Oh—there’s no water in it. Guess that’s why.”)

After a power breakfast at the local IHOP (the coffee shop at the Colonial Village turned out to consist of four card tables, a coffee pot, and an empty basket which, Jenny suggested, may at some point have held something edible), Dad turned the Camry’s nose southward and we headed for the District, where an old friend of Dad’s (deceased) mother lives.

Three uneventful, unscenic hours later (highlights: a pizzeria fire in downtown Philadelphia and a decent glimpse of the Orioles’ ballpark), we arrived here at a Comfort Inn (no available Ma and Pa Places). The rooms are pleasantly unexceptional—although Dad is jealous of the two phones and mini-fridge in the room Jenny and I have.

Dinner with my grandmother’s friend later—for now, we chill. Dad’s watching the Weather Channel, Jenny’s reading Three to Get Deadly…and I’d better grade that last paper.

NEXT DISPATCH: Starfighters and Crab Cakes.