Sunday, September 20, 2009

Home, At Last ... Thank God Almighty, We're HOME At Last

It's been about 24-hours now since we "landed" back in Florida, and less than that since I've returned to my home turf in the nation's Capitol. Here's a recap of the last hours of the Mermaids to Graceland extravaganza:

Things seem to be a little off when we wake up Friday. I drop at least three things at breakfast, as does Mom. It's a later than we hoped when we pile in the car, which means less time in Montgomery. We're planning to visit the Rosa Parks Museum -- if we can find it.

Ever wonder what happened to the GPS (a.k.a "Bitch")? I'll let you guess:
  1. Amy repurposed the $200 her boyfriend gave her to replace Mom's camera for the right to run over the Bitch with the car. The spiteful bitch then splintered into a thousand pieces, one of which pierced the tire which then cost $100 to replace.
  2. We used it the rest of the trip, and when we say we're HOME -- we mean we've decided to relocate to Saskatchewan, Canada. That's where we ended up when we typed "Venice, Florida" into the Bitch.
  3. Mom returned the Bitch to Radio Shack, which was holding her other GPS unit hostage for over a month before we left, resulting in purchase of said Bitch. She paid a 15% restocking fee for an item that didn't work in the first place.
Ding ... ding ... ding! Moral of the story? Don't buy crap from Radio Shack. Go to a place like Best Buy that will actually stand behind the products they sell. But really ... did you think options 1 and 2 were feasible? I'm very curious which one got the top vote.

Anyway. Back on subject. The museum was amazing. We used the GPS on Mom's phone to find it, and had decent results. Go, Crackberry! It is hard to believe, but this was even better than the civil rights museum, considering it explores just a single event. Very well put together and under $5 admission.

The "single event" is what many consider the catalyst for the modern civil rights movement in the United States. On December 1, 1955, a seamstress -- weary from a long day at work -- refused to give up her bus seat to a white passenger. She was arrested and fined for violating a city ordinance. It was an act of defiance that culminated in a 13-month bus boycott.

Afterward, we drove by Dexter Avenue King Memorial Church, the church where Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. was pastor. The incident with Ms. Parks led to the formation of the Montgomery Improvement Association -- the organization that launched the bus boycott. Dr. King led the MIA, and eventually the people of Montgomery to victory. The Supreme Court struck down the Montgomery ordinance under which Mrs. Parks had been fined. The high court's decision outlawed racial segregation on public transportation.

Our own transportation out of Montgomery proves incredibly trickier than getting in. The GPS (now dubbed Bitchberry) is giving us the names of streets that don't exist. In all fairness, the names of the streets in this city aren't on the map, either. You've now entered ... THE TWILIGHT ZONE.

Doo doo doo doo ... doo doo doo doo.

It takes about a half hour, but we finally get back on track at about 11 am. Mom is driving.

And driving.


She's actually pilot all day, despite my offers to relive her. Grandma keeps saying it's going to take ten hours to get home. I argue that's is just not possible, and am dumbfounded that after 24 days, these girls still don't trust my calculations. It's about 55o miles. Even if we drive 65 miles an hour, that's 8.5 hours. That's called math. Ok ... granted there are fill ups and potty breaks. But on our itinerary (that thing you get to by clicking the glove box at, I projected we'd leave Montgomery at 10 am and arrive in Florida nine hours later at 7 pm. That's not taking into account the time change.

Speaking of time change ... Mom and I spend ten minutes arguing about the correct language to describe the fact that we'll be changing the clock one more time during the trip. She says we'll gain an hour. I say we'll lose, pointing out that "gaining" insinuates something good is happening. Missing an entire hour of one's day is NOT a positive thing in my book. I mean really -- I paid for the whole 24 -- I want my money back! But it's a perfect example of how exhausted we are ... a pointless debate about an inconsequential topic. You say toh-may-toh, I say toh-mah-toh. Let's call the whole thing off.

So I call off being awake and close my eyes to take a nap.

Wouldn't you know that while I'm sleeping, we roll into town almost exactly 9:00 -- NINE hours after we left Montgomery. Mom leaned over to tell Grandma that was exactly right. I might have missed out on thise my-math-is-better-than-your-best-guess moment if Gram hadn't outed her when we sat down for dinner at Perkins.

I really hate Perkins, but the girls love this place. I'll give them this -- it's quick. We have our order in about 10 minutes, and that's a very good thing since we didn't stop for lunch. But there's just something creepy about the guy with the really bad toupee serving us our meal. I keep thinking ... so THIS is what an axe murdered looks like. Thankfully, the po-pos are eating at the table next to us.

Please explain this logic to me -- when we get home, already road tired with a heaping dose of exhaustion from emptying out the car -- I sit down and watch an entire movie. I am multi-tasking, giving Mom all my pictures from the trip ands she shuttles back and forth with her memory stick with each photo load. It's about 1:30 am when we turn in.

And just when you think I'll finally get to sleep without the rapturous sounds from the great white hair, Mom's freaking dog snores all night. And I swear to you -- she is louder than Grandma. I keep waking up and poking her so she'll stop.

Finally, I give up and roll out of bed at 6:30 am.

I check in for my flight ... figure out the trip bill since we used my credit card for expenses ... let Mom's dog out ... let Grandma's dog out ... give the dogs a cookie so they will stop begging (I swear they must have been stress eating, or my brother fed them yeast while we were gone -- they've doubled in size) ... and pack. Oh, and shower. When I hear my mother tell my brother, Ryan, who is meeting us for breakfast, for the second time that I am taking forever to get ready, I blow a gasket.

I grab all my stuff and put it in the car, where I tell her I'll be waiting. I text Ryan to tell him we should be clear about who is in the car, and who is NOT. She comes out a few minutes later. Without makeup.

My mother NEVER leaves the house without putting her face on. I am amused that she would go to these extremes to prove a point.

Sounds familiar ... maybe we're not so different after all.

Spending even a few minutes with Ryan and his wife, Yvonne, is the comic relief I need before getting on the plane bound for DC. I'm in a lighter mood when I get to the airport.

Then I go through security.

The sphincter police, for the first time in history, tell me to go back and repack my bags because the birthday gifts I am carrying in my small gift bag constitute a third bag. I'm allowed two. The woman asks me if it's my lunch, because apparently a third bag packed full of food is okay. I'm honest, but regret it immediately. Ryan and I scramble to stuff the contents into every nook and unavailable cranny in the other two bags. Frankly, it would have been easier to eat -- but I'm not sure the tiara would have been that tasty.

Needless to say, I'm a bit flustered as I pile my bags on the scanner. I'm not thinking clearly when the TSA inspector tells me she needs to open my bag. I'm a girl that usually chooses her words carefully.

Not this time.

I tell her to be careful ... it's likely to explode.

What I mean is, it's so FULL the stuff will come pouring out. She is not amused, and sadly, through I'm not even trying to be funny, it makes me giggle a little when I realize what I've said.

That's less funny to her.

A half hour later, as I finish repacking all of my carefully inspected posessions, I hear my name being paged impatiently over he airport intercom. I am out of breath from running to catch my flight home.

I board the plane to find someone else sitting in my seat.

It's been a long few weeks, and in a way, I'm sad to see them end. I plan to take a week hiatus from the blog, but will weigh in next week with some reflections from the trip -- from all of us.

Next year, you'll be able to curl up on the beach (or in front of the fire, depending on how damn long it takes me) with Mermaids To Graceland, the book. And believe me -- there are plenty of juicy tidbits we saved for the printed word! Please join the mailing list for the blog by clicking on the dashboard icon of St. Christopher (patron saint of safe travel) on, or by sending an email to

Until next week -- I bid you adieu ...

You know, what the hell does adieu mean?


  1. I'm so glad that you are all home safe and sound and can finally sleep in your own beds and have your own kitchens available. I don't know about you girls but when I travel I sure get tired of restaurant food. Get some rest and savor your accomplishments.

  2. I just loved the entire story of your trip!!! I work at Neilsen's with your Gramma and she is a lovely lady. We eat dinner together and I just love her to death!!! I do look forward to the book you are going to write about this. I would love to get a copy. You are very lucky to have a Gramma that loves life the way she does. Grandparents are so very special. Kim Davis