Hey, better late than never. What can I say?
It all started Friday at 1:00 p.m., at our place, with the usual "We have a tank full of gas, a half a pack of cigarrettes, it is dark outside, and we're wearing sunglasses. Let's hit it."
And hit the road we did.
The Greta and I, that is.
The original idea had been to leave Friday at noon, so we could make it to the hotel no later than 7 p.m. According to MapQuest, and taking into account an hour or so to stop for dinner, this goal was a reasonably modest one.
Alas, it was not to be.
First, we decided to stop at Wendy's and get a burger. That took us about 30 minutes behind our time. "No problem," we told ourselves. "We've got plenty of time, and besides we have nothing better to do than enjoy a road trip in such a beautiful day."
So like the proverbial hare, we kept making stops, little suspecting that we were actually racing against not one, but two tortoises in the guise of alricthemad on one hand, and on the other geoffreyapclwyd who was also transporting pirategirleee.
On second thought, scratch the tortoise and the hare comparison. As the day grew older, the entire thing ended up resembling the Gumball Rally.
After stopping at a Wendy's for burgers, our two heroines got a call from Alric warning them not to take Rt. 95 because it is a mess. No worries, we tell him. Like the hyphenated people we are, we have decided to play it safe and follow Rt. 29 all the way to North Carolina. Alric says, "Gee, you are going to make it there way before me. I'll see you there tonight."
Famous last words.
Rt. 29 was clear of traffic jams for miles to go. But did that make us get to the site on time? Of course not! Our second mistake was stopping for dinner at Macado's in Lynchburg.
I must say, as mistakes go, this one was delicious. Macado's has an unbelievable menu, and their sandwiches and desserts are excellent.
So there we are, munching on a Mona Lisa sandwich and sharing a hot fudge sundae, when Greta suddenly realizes that she has forgotten to pack her chair. At that point, a phone call to the Geoffrey was in order, hoping that he and the Pirate had not left home yet and that he could bring Greta's chair.
No such luck. As fate would have it, they were already on the road. And by the way, the Pirate has also forgotten her chair so if we find a Wal-Mart, can we pick one up please? Sure we will! After all, this is a road trip, and we are still ahead of the game. Right? Right? Riiight.
By now, it is about 6:30 p.m., and we are still in Lynchburg -- which is a town renowned for eating unsuspecting people. Surely, there must be a place nearby where one can purchase a couple of silly camp chairs. There are several strip malls in the neighborhood, so this should be a piece of cake . . .
Fast forward an hour later, and we have finally found a Wal-Mart. By now it is dark, but we are now the proud owners of three nifty chairs for the whooping price of $7.89 a pop. That and a bunch of bananas. Gotta love stores in the middle of nowhere.
And off the road we go.
"Hey," says the Greta, after a while. "I am not sure that we are on the right road."
"Huh?" I say, as I drive.
"Yeah. I haven't seen any Rt. 29 signs for a while."
"You're kidding me."
"No, I am not."
To make a long story short, we soon realize that we have taken a wrong turn and we are now halfway to Roanoke. Adding insult to injury, my satellite radio is now broadcasting nothing but the Reverend Jerry Falwell's series of sermons, instead of P!nk's "Get the Party Started," which should have been playing according to the radio's screen.
"And the Lord told to the fishies . . ." preaches Rev. Falwell.
"Hey, that ain't P!ink!" I say.
" . . . and the fishies were delicious"
"Sure as hell it don't sound like it" says the Greta.
"And the whales in the ocean were thankful that they had not become lunch. But then the Lord said . . ."
"Damn you, Jerry Falwell!" we yell in unison, as we change channels, just to discover that Rev. Falwell has highjacked the entire frequency.
That's when it started to snow.
We have concluded that all of our woes that night were due to the "Falwell Effect." How? We don't know, but it had to be.
Much to our relief, after about 30 minutes the snowing stopped (but alas, not Reverend Falwell). By then we had turned around and were trying to find our way back to Rt. 29 and I had stopped by the side of the road to strip coat and shirt down to my tank top, as I was having hot flashes. Picture a Belfebe driving with the air conditioner blasting at full force, roasting in her tank top, and a shivering Greta huddling in her wool coat, hat, scarf and mittens.
I love the Greta. She's a real trooper.
"So, is the Reverend Falwell still in our satellite frequency?"
" . . . and the frogs in the ground jumped higher than the locusts. And then the Lord said . . ."
"Damn you, Jerry Falwell!" we yelled again.
That's when we hit the fog.
I'm telling you. The Falwell effect can be quite . . . disturbing.
In the end, we did get out of the fog, and we eventually made it to our hotel by 10:30 p.m. By then, Alric had been there for at least 3 hours, while Geoffrey and the Pirate were racing us in an attempt to beat us to the registration desk after having left town several hours after us.
Talk about the Gumball Rally.
In that regard, I am happy to report that we did beat Geoffrey and the Pirate for about 30 seconds. They came skidding behind us, just as we were checking in.
But the real winner of the Rally was Alric the Mad.
I blame it all on Jerry Falwell.
But at least it did not rain fish.
Or whales for that matter.
Coronation morning greeted us with gusting winds outside our hotel window. Fortunately, although freezing cold, no snow came down to crimp our style. And after a quick breakfast at the hotel, we piled up in the cars and made it to the site.
First of all, it was wonderful to see Denise being put in vigil to be inducted into the Order of the Pelican. That alone made the whole Gumball Rally AdventureTM worth it. Seeing Asim getting his Laurel was the icing on the cake. Ragnarr and Anneke's last Court was beautiful and very emotional, and I am happy that we were able to be there for that too.
The coronation of Valharic and Arielle was one of the most fantastic spectacles that I have ever seen at an ocassion like this. And I had to tip my hat to all the people --Her Majesty included -- who braved the freezing cold and showed up in short-sleeved Roman tunics. (Me? I was bundled up like a taco in my chair under the Monster Cloak, only my coronet peeking out!)
I cannot do a recount of Coronation day without mentioning our adventures in the rapier field. Suffice to say that we were able to gather a very nifty team comprised by Yours Truly, Geoffrey, Antonio, Brian Murray, and Gabrell. In consideration to the fact that none of us was wearing Roman (well, there is Antonio, but he's Sicilian, so it doesn't count), and in keeping with the spirit of the day, we decided to name ourselves the "Barbarians at the Gate."
I have to say that we all did our part to give our team an edge. Everyone went out there and gave his or her best fight, and we even bribed Mars (Vyvyan) to play for our team. Of course, Mars went on and immediately got himself killed by a plucky teenager carrying an epee, much to everyone's amusement, but it still allowed us not to lose a man in the process. Which goes to prove that treachery can get you far.
In the end, it was one of our men, Geoffrey, who was the last man standing and had to face the Gods. I have to say, it was a pleasure to fight in the company of all these guys. And the fact that we got one of our own as the last survivor goes to prove that teamwork is invaluable in an endeavor like this. If you are reading this, I want you to know that I think that you guys rock!
Wow. This is proving to be the longest LJ post I have ever done ever, so I won't elaborate much more. Suffice to say that evening Court was awesome, that all of the guys that participated in the quest looked amazing, that Robert Beddingfield made a terrific goddess Fortuna, that Denise's ceremony was absolutely beautiful, and that we had an uneventful trip back home.
And we all lived happily ever after.
At least until the Pirate and I tried to find a Waffle House on Rt. 29 on the way back home, but that's a story for another time.
PS. No fishies, whales, frogs, locust, or Jerry Falwell were harmed during the Gumball Rally.
PPS. The Greta just clarified that it is Rt. 29, not 28. Modifications have been made.
PPPS. Aren't you glad I am not behind a wheel right now?