Sunday, October 6, 2013
Nearly a Non-Starter
It's always a treat to get together with writer Beth Massie and artist Cortney Skinner, who are two of the world's finest folks — well, mostly — and we've been hoping to work out a visit for quite a while. Ms. B. and I had calculated doing this thing a few weeks ago, but we ended up having to postpone our visit due to her cat suffering some unfortunate feline infirmities. Things on that front improved, so we rescheduled a trip to the Massie-Skinner homestead in Waynesboro, VA, this weekend. Everything looked good, so we took off work a bit early on Friday afternoon and hit the road.
About halfway there, the old Rodan Mobile decided it had had enough of the road for one night. After stopping for a cache just south of Lynchburg, VA, I put the key in the ignition to crank her up and go, only to be greeted by a wall of resounding silence.
Starter is dead. Graveyard dead. Beyond resuscitation dead.
Now, I must say, break downs suck — they SUCK — but if one must break down, one can only hope for things to work out as smoothly as they did this go-round. I got AAA on the horn — best investment I ever made, especially with all the history the Rodan Mobile has seen — and managed to reach a fellow at a garage, even though it was past their closing time. He said he could get to my car first thing Saturday morning, which was a blessing, since most of the shops we looked up were closed all day on Saturday. Ms. B. called around and found a decent enough hotel not too far away. The tow truck arrived within minutes and got us to the garage — and then the driver was kind enough to actually take us to the hotel after we got my car dropped off.
Once ensconced in our hotel room, Brugger and I checked maps for some nearby food. Ah... McDonald's. About a mile up the road. No sweat... we have feet. So we put them to good use and hiked up the way toward a late-night meal. Coming upon Spring Hill Cemetery — a large, very old, and agreeably eerie bone yard — was the evening's highlight. The gates were locked, so we couldn't go inside, but we had a great view of the stones and markers from just outside the fence. Quite enjoyed the serenity of the place after a rather stressful evening.
Yesterday morning, as promised, the garage guy promptly got a new starter put in. One quick cab ride later, we had a working automobile and soon enough were back on our way to Waynesboro. When we arrived, it was to find yet more fucked machinery: Cortney's computer had committed stupidcide, right when he was in the midst of a project with a deadline of immediately. Thankfully, eventually, he got things sorted out enough for stress levels to subside to critical. After a wee spot of geocaching with Beth and Brugger — including a most amusing visit to another graveyard — we went for a tasty Mexican dinner, a spot of ice cream, and a bit more caching.
This morning, it was off to Starbucks, where we met some more of our fabulous fiends from the area: Nanci & Phil Kalanta and artist Keith Minnion, who had provided some devilish art for Deathrealm back in the day. The shooting of shit and what not went on for some time, but then Nanci gleefully tortured us with a dramatic reading of Damn You, Demon! — the latest non-childen's children's book by Beth and her sister, Barb Lawson. Following this, we became embroiled in a long, profound discussion, which involved the waylaying of total strangers, about whether Starbuck's interior walls were painted brown or green. Unable to withstand this torture further, Ms. B. and I hastened to depart — but only after I found Beth and Cortney's geocache, "Queequeg" (GC4ARE1)... or Quohog or Hedgehog, or whatever it's called... which is on the premises.
The hunt for a couple of more caches took Ms. B. and me to a picturesque, rustic spot or two nestled in the mountains around Fairfield, VA, and then we hit Roanoke for a great lunch at Blues BBQ Company, which we had discovered last February when we were in town for Shevacon. And then, on to Valhalla Vineyards, atop a mountain just outside of Roanoke. As scenic as a location comes, this place. We quite enjoyed their wines, especially their 2007 Valkyrie — a blend of Cabernet Savignon, Cabernet Franc, Merlot, Malbec and Petit Vedot — and 2001 Cornucopia blend, all of which come from their own grapes. The staff we met were quite personable, and Brugger and I would both recommend the place highly, with the possible caveat that quite a few of the clientele, at least while we were there, were ungodly rowdy and inconsiderate — some playing board games, which, at a winery, ought to be forbidden by at least thirteen statutes and a possible constitutional amendment. Hopefully, this was merely an anomaly, for a place as distinctive and atmospheric as Valhalla deserves more respectful treatment. It ain't no downtown bar and grill.
So, I'm back home now, where I've been trying to suppress food riots amid the feline general population for the past few hours. That's all kinds of rough, I gotta tell you.