a life well lived

Saturday, November 1, 2014

Dreams 11/01/00

Three years ago yesterday was Elsa's last day at Prudential HealthCare, which was cutting staff after being "acquired" by another company.  Instead of feeling sorry for herself over losing a job she expected to take her through to retirement, she celebrated by making two dreams of mine come true.

Ever since Walt Disney unveiled his plans, I wanted to visit EPCOT.  Another dream was to visit Charleston, described by Lawson Pendleton as the most civilized place on Earth.  

Elsa made both wishes come true.  

We took over two weeks and drove down to DisneyWorld via Charleston and home through the Smoky Mountains and the Blue Ridge. 

The whole trip was tailored around me. We never hit the road before 10:30 a.m. and were never in bed before 11:00 p.m.  The plan was that if I was too tired to do anything, we would just stay put in the hotel, inn or lodge. 

Our first day out, we had lunch at the Briar Rose, which is a Williamsburgish restaurant on Frankford Ave in Philadelphia. 

Later, as we drove past Wilmington, DE, we talked about the times the two of us headed down to O'Friel's, an Irish pub, to hear the Corrib Folk or Tom O'Carroll sing. As a surprise, she had made a cassette tape of the Corrib Folk, which we played between Wilmington and Baltimore and Washington, D.C.  As I recall, the entire tape took us almost to Richmond.   

I always get a kick out of driving through Baltimore - my once-gritty home town is unrecognizable. 

We arrived in Washington, D.C. in time for a spectacular sunset.  Instead of taking her usual route which skirts around Washington, Elsa took a route that took us past relatively up close to some of our most cherished memorials and even the Capitol, all of them bathed in the setting sun.  It gives me goose bumps, just remembering it. 

As we were driving between Richmond and Williamsburg, Elsa pulled off the major highway.  She drove down a country road to a place where she could safely pull off. Then we got out of the car and looked up at the sky.  

 Here, in the Philadelphia area, the sky is diffused with all sorts of lights.  It is hard, even out in Lancaster County or in the northern reaches of Bucks Count, to really see the stars.  There, off that small Virginia road, the stars were strewn bright against a deep, dark sky.  I can see them still. 

We stayed at a wonderful spot in Williamsburg, the Heritage Inn.  It is not in official Colonial Williamsburg, but the rooms are gracious as well as spacious at a remarkably affordable rate.  We would stay there again  in 1997 with Mike and Kerry when they came up for Scott's graduation. 

The next morning, we set in motion what would be our morning routine for the trip – Elsa was up and out early, checking out the lay of the land.  She would return around 9:30, just as I was beginning to rouse myself.  We would pack up, check out and head to breakfast. 

Elsa has an excellent memory and, like her Dad, an almost uncanny sense of direction.  She remembered how disappointed I was when we came down to Williamsburg in the summer, when Mike and Kerry were visiting, and we had driven through the tacky commercial parts of the town before arriving at the historic area.  She managed to get us from our hotel to the Williamsburg Inn without setting sight on a single ticky tacky touristy place.  

How wonderful it was to sit in the beauty of the Williamsburg Inn, enjoying a perfect cup of coffee, a delectable breakfast (my first serving of grits on the trip, but not my last), basking in the wonders of that lovingly restored town, with a daughter with a knack for the amazing.

Breakfast brought back happy memories of previous trips.  In addition to our trip in June with Mike and Kerry were memories of the visit with Mim, Elsa and Brooke on our trip home from the Apollo launch, and one made in 1991 with John and Elsa, celebrating my 1st anniversary of becoming a Squirrel Havenite. 


Our table gave a clear view of the terrace, which drew memories from Elsa of sitting out there with Mike and Kerry, John and Reynolds just six months earlier.  

The service at the Williamsburg Inn reflects true Southern hospitality – on all my visits, I have never opened a door, there was always a smiling staff member ready to do the honors and to wish me a good day.  

Oh, how I love the Williamsburg Inn.  Here is hoping I get in one last visit before being reunited with Pete.

Sitting there, with so many wonderful memories keeping us company in a place so dear to my heart, it seemed the most blissful of all possible moments.  I had no idea the unforgettable time that lay ahead of us, when bliss would become our norm, the amazing would border on the commonplace.

Happy trails to one and all - Grammie Kay

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