Friday, November 25, 2011
Woke up early yesterday morning for the long drive. Where we live in New York City is fairly close to the major highways heading north, so driving to visit my aunt and uncle upstate is easy. It's just a matter of navigating the very twisty, narrow roads as you get closer to the mountains and out into the "boonies," where the trees far outnumber the people.
As I wrote two nights ago, I had rented a Hyundai Santa Fe from Enterprise for the occasion. The car was a brand new 2011 model, and it certainly did not disappoint! For a mid-sized SUV, it had pretty decent gas mileage. I believe the distance between the Bronx and Old Chatham where my aunt and uncle live is about 160 miles, but I only ended up using a quarter tank of gas. Pretty sweet!
My sister brought her crazy dog, Shiva, along. She would not sit still at all the ENTIRE. WAY. UP! But once she got out of the car, she was totally loving all the free space to run around in. I think she got more exercise on this one trip than an entire week in the city affords. Wow!
A few years ago my mother's sister and her husband purchased this old, dilapidated wreck of a house on the edge of a 3-acre plot of land in the middle of the woods outside Albany. I mean, this is REALLY out there in a red riding hood going to grandma's sort of way. Visiting them reminds me a lot of going to college in Vermont, actually. I love how crisp and fresh the air smells outside of the city!
As you can see, the house is looking pretty darn nice now. My uncle put a lot of work into restoring it, and now it looks like a quaint little cottage in the woods. I really like what they've done with the place. Before they purchased it, it had been a hangout for local teens engaged in dubious activities. And now it is the home of a loving couple, their two cats -- and an assorted variety of uninvited guests in the form of chipmunks, field mice, and the occasional bat or two. It's amazing what a little tender loving care can do to bring a community together, huh?
This is Carmen, the Tabby. She looks a lot like our old cat, Tiger. Except she's way fatter! :) She was completely not phased by the introduction of a nosy, rambunctious doggie into her quiet zen solitude of a world, though. She simply took one look at Shiva and then immediately returned to her nap. Their other cat Star, however, promptly ran away and hid in the basement the entire time we were there. Oh well, her loss.
The interior of the house is amazing. I, of course, simply love the fireplace! We all settled down to a nice, if somewhat low-key, dinner while the logs crackled and popped in the background. Surprisingly, no one really pigged out like on Thanksgivings past. We ate well, don't get me wrong. But lets just say I had plenty of leftovers to lug home when the night was through.
I drove back in the complete, utter darkness you can only find up in the mountains away from all the visual pollution of the city or even the suburbs. I had my high beams on for most of the way back to the main highway, all the while expecting Big Foot to come running out of the woods. But all we saw was a scared raccoon scuttling away once. As usual, the road had a couple of a-hole drivers out and about late at night who really should never be allowed to drive, ever -- let alone on a major holiday. The less said about that experience, the better.
But, yeah, it was a great little excursion to get together with the family. We missed having my little brother there, who lives out in Houston now. All in all, though, it was wonderful to be with all my loved ones. And I got us home in one piece, too, so who can complain, right?
Thanks for all the warm holiday wishes on the other post, everyone! I hope you and yours had a great holiday and/or Thursday. I'll be catching up on your own blogs in a little while, but I just wanted to take the opportunity to say . . . now, BRING ON CHRISTMAS!!!
Yes, this is my absolute favorite time of the year! Whatever crummy, shitty year I might have had before late November suddenly fades away as a distant memory when the holidays finally crop up. It's at times like this that I wish Americans celebrated more really big, national family holidays. Unfortunately, our history doesn't go back far enough for a major holiday every two months like some countries have. But I wouldn't change anything about this time of year.
This . . . this is all right!