Okay, so I'm in the Norfolk airport and I only have about 18 minutes to write this, but I figured I could maximize the use of these 18 minutes by dashing something off. So dash away I shall. I'll fill in the blanks in the next few days.
Englishtown: The operative words were as follows… Pollen. Round win. Beat Courtney. Lost to Del in a battle of my bosses.
Also things like "all turns from the right lane" and the barricaded compound that was my hotel by the Newark Airport on Sunday night.
There you have it. Bye!
Just kidding. I still have about 16 minutes. One of the highlights for me is always the "yellow haze" at exactly 10:00 a.m. on Sunday morning, and it did not disappoint. 32 nitro cars warming up mostly at once, and this time the only "rule breaker" was a team firing up at 9:59 while some others waited until the mayhem was over before spinning over their motors. If you've never experienced anything like it, you should.
Another highlight was the attendance of my buddy Nathan Scherich and his wife. Way back when I had first met Buck Hujabre (and Buck was still in the touring company for "Jersey Boys") our race in St. Louis coincided with their run there, so Buck came out to the track (I was still working for Del at the time) and he brought Nathan with him. We've stayed friends ever since, and now Nathan is in the Broadway production of the show, so this is the second time he's come to E-Town. It was, however, the first time Allie has ever attended a race, and that was the extra-fun part. I think he filled her full of stories so overwhelming that he had her almost completely psyched out about it, but she quickly came to appreciate what was going on and it was 100 percent fun to have both of them there.
After the "one up - one down" day on Sunday (a recurring theme for us this year, so far) I helped tear down the circus and then headed north for my hotel near the Newark airport. Let's just say that it's never really easy to find where you're going in that area, if you're not already totally familiar with the spaghetti bowl of roads, but this one was an even greater challenge and a few poor prompts from the hotel's own website sent me into a neighborhood where I might not be interested in buying a house. Or renting. I finally got out of there and to the hotel, then passed through by guard shack and the metal gate, to enter the defenses of the compound. Once in there, it was actually fabulous and the room was terrific. But, it seemed somewhat wise to just stay there. In the morning, the same deal only in reverse as the hotel's directions were so nebulous and inaccurate I made four wrong turns just to get to an airport I could clearly see from my hotel window. Sheesh.
The trick at that point was to see if Delta could get Barbara and I together despite the fact we were flying into or out of three huge airports, two of which are fairly well known for either late departures or missed connections. She flew from MSP down to ATL while I flew from EWR down there as well, and amazingly we were both on-time and we met in the Sky Club right next door to our gate for our flight to Norfolk. The airport code here in Norfolk is ORF, and that always looks like much more of a sound than an airport, when I see it. Like maybe the sound you'd make if someone socked you in the solar plexus.
All went well, we flew to ORF (ouch) and drove four hours down to Hatteras Village on the southern edge of the Outer Banks. For three days we crammed all of the fun and relaxation we could into it, and we ate like royalty with every meal at home (one made by me, the others by Barb's cousin John or her Aunt Angie). Tuna, red snapper, blackened chicken, you name it we ate it. Beach time, fun time, good time.
On Wednesday, Barb and I took the ferry over to Ocracoke Island for another fun day… Fact, Ocracoke is where the good guys finally killed Blackbeard, the famous pirate of ill-repute. The Outer Banks are such a challenging area to navigate by boat that there are literally thousands of shipwrecks there, and it was a good place for "real" pirates (as opposed to Johnny Depp) to hang out. Needless to say, there's lots of pirate stuff on the island, which makes it even more fun. Argh.
The ferry ride used to be about 20 minutes, but the latest "super-storm" that crushed the east coast also crushed the Outer Banks, and the huge tides and massive currents pushed so much sand through the inlet from the Atlantic into Pamlico Sound, it is still too shallow and therefore impassable as a direct route. So, the ferries have to make a circuitous route that is initially "S" shaped and then become a large square, wherein they go about five miles out into the sound to get to safe water. It makes for a lengthy ride, but we mingled with other passengers and enjoyed ourselves.
(I'm down to three minutes)
My buddy Nathan and his lovely wife Allie. Good times!
Once on the island, we parked the car and rented a golf cart, making it far easier to get around and see the sights, hit the shops, and grab a bite at a dockside bar, with pelicans watching us while belligerent seagulls dive-bombed the tables with impunity. All in all, a great day, a great few days, some fun beach time, and spectacular company.
Now, back to reality. We made the four-hour return trip earlier today, and from ORF (ouch) we split up again as Barb headed to New York for a day of meetings tomorrow while I head back to MSP to spend the week in Woodbury. Her flight into LaGuardia was delayed two hours, however, but we found a flight to JFK at the next gate and she got on with the last available seat.
Time for me to board now, so here I go. If you ever get the chance to visit the Outer Banks, don't miss it. If you ever have to stay at a hotel right by Newark airport, confirm the "real" directions first.