Yeah, I’m back.  And eager to tell you all about my crazy, crazy four-week “vacation” with the family.  Actually, I’m not eager to tell you about it.  I’m just anxious to get it over with so I can go back to blogging about my regular stupid life and thoughts and stuff.

This is going to take a while, so get comfy while I blather on and on about stuff you don’t care about and post unremarkable pictures of things that don’t interest you.

Day 1, 3:45 a.m.

We all stumble out of bed and get in a taxi to go to the airport.  Already I cannot resist the temptation to provide a gratuitous anecdote:  The night before, after getting off the phone with the taxi service to confirm the reservation, Sugar Daddy told me that he thought this taxi service might be with the Mafia.  Why would he think such a thing?  Well, he’d just finished reading a book by Milton Friedman that talked about how all these industries, notably taxi services, are cartel-ized and crap and often have ties to the Mafia–like the Russian Mafia is supposed to run all the taxi cabs in New York or something, I don’t remember–anyway.  And this cat on the phone sounded like he might be from Russia or something.  How big is the Russian Mafia in Portland?  I don’t know.  Was SD being serious?  I don’t actually remember.  But our driver that morning happened to be the wife of the cat SD spoke to on the phone.  She told us how she and her husband–let’s call him…”Andrei” (he’s from Georgia–not the peach state, but the other one)–have owned and run this business for the last several years, and it’s been very successful for them.  They have several cars, in addition to the black SUV we were riding in–black Mercedes, black…I dunno, other cars…all these black cars–and she said, “Yeah, my parents think he’s in the Mafia.”  I was going to say, “Ha ha, just like you, SD!” but I didn’t.  I mean, he could still be in the Mafia.  You never know.

Anyway, we flew to Phoenix and waited around for a couple hours for our connecting flight.  I saw a bearded lady and her girlfriend hanging out by the restrooms.  Not in a creepy way, that’s just where they happened to be.  I mention it only because this was the first time I’d ever seen a bearded lady who appeared to be bearded on purpose.  I’ve seen ladies with beards, but those have always appeared to be incidental beards that could be explained by medical conditions, medication side-effects, some random genetic thing or other circumstances beyond one’s control–but this gal had the full Brigham Young treatment.  (Or, if you prefer, Abraham Lincoln.)  She was owning that beard.  I’m not saying it didn’t look good on her, as far as beards on ladies go, but it was something new for me, so I’m including it here.  You’re welcome.

Anyway, then we flew into Louisville, Kentucky.  By this time we’d already been up for twelve hours or something, and we still had to drive to Lexington to get to our hotel.  In Lexington we stopped for dinner at Billy’s, which serves western Kentucky-style barbecue, even though they’re not in western Kentucky.  When we walked into the restaurant, the power had just gone out.  We chose to wait for a spell and see if it would come back on.  It eventually did, so we got to eat there.  SD had the mutton, which is apparently a western Kentucky specialty.  I guess historically they’ve had a lot of extra sheep lying around.  I don’t know.  Barbecued mutton is pretty tasty, though, I have to say.  Mister Bubby, who fancies himself a barbecue connoisseur like unto his father, had the pork ribs and was so pleased by the experience that he chose to buy a t-shirt to commemorate the experience.  The front had a fierce-looking hog on it.  On the back it said “Get Porked at Billy’s.”  In fairness, nobody realized that was what it said on the back until the shirt had already been purchased, but there it is.

Mad:  He can’t wear that to school.

Mister Bubby:  Why not?

Mad:  Never mind.

MB:  Why, what does “porked” mean?

[Long silence]

Mad:  It doesn’t mean anything.  It just sounds like it ought to.

It doesn't mean anything.

Anyway, the next morning we drove out to Middle-of-Nowhere, VA, to visit one of SD’s old mission companions.  I’ve told you about him before.  He’s the cat who wanted to be a professional wrestler but ended up working for Coca-Cola and doing competitive eating on the side.  I’ll call him Mr. Awesome.  Mr. Awesome, you may or may not recall, has eight children, all under the age of 12.  His wife is a freaking saint.  But I digress.  Anyway, Mr. Awesome was training for this hot dog-eating contest, so he had cooked up about 40 hot dogs and challenged any kid who was game to eat two hot dogs in the time he ate twelve.  He was going for twelve in two minutes–trying out a new method–and he came in a little over two minutes, but our boys were suitably impressed nonetheless.  Mister Bubby–who had been watching marathons of Man vs. Food on Netflix–managed to eat two hot dogs in one minute and forty-nine seconds.  Elvis ended up ending four hot dogs, but it took him considerably longer (thank goodness).  For the next several days, Elvis’s new mantra was “I will eat twelve hot dogs when I get bigger.”  We’ll see.

So, yeah, this was the middle of nowhere and there were no hotels, so we all spent the night at Casa de Awesome.  At about 9 p.m. the power went out.  (There had been thunderstorms earlier.)  Unfortunately, the electricity also powered the pump to the well, so here we were, sixteen people in the pitch dark with no running water.  Fortunately, it was time to go to bed.  In the middle of the night the power came back on, so that was nice.

The next day was Sunday, so we went to church with them.  On the way over, I found the church I’m joining if this Mormon thing doesn’t work out:  “Liberty Cowb0y Church.”  Because that’s just awesome.

This day also happened to be Father’s Day.  We didn’t really celebrate it.

After church we made our goodbyes and drove to Richmond.  Then we drove out to see a friend of mine from college who I hadn’t seen since…college.  So, fifteen years ago, give or take.  She looked exactly the same as she always did, except her hair was longer.   That was fun, though.

The next day we drove out to Jamestown Settlement and then Historic Jamestown.  It was kind of drizzly that morning, a la Portland, so it wasn’t very crowded.  We saw several other Oregonians while we were there (most of them Beavers, but still, kind of weird).  We opted for Jamestown over Colonial Williamsburg because it seemed more our kids’ speed.  In retrospect, it was probably more my speed, too.  Here are some obligatory photos:

Girlfriend with a cannon


Blacksmith dude

A cool-looking rooster and his friend

They have recreations of the ships that brought the English settlers.  You can go on them, unless they’re out at sea.  They take them out to sea just because they can.  They’re pretty cool.

The Godspeed, which we could not board because it had just come into dock


The Susan Constant


Girlfriend being camera-shy


Some huts in the Native American village


I can't remember for the life of me what these are, but they're cool.


A monument


Inside a church or courthouse or something


No idea, but it looks neat

Yes, that’s my son walking on the historic homesteads.

It's not like they're the original bricks or anything!


Behold, a historic building of some kind

Another friend of mine from college (whom I hadn’t seen for five years) met up with us at Jamestown and we had dinner together, and then SD took the kids back to the hotel for a swim while my friend and I painted Williamsburg red.  Just kidding.  We went shopping and had some drinks.  Well, limeade.  It was still fun!

The next morning, before leaving town, we made a quick stop at the Poe Museum in Richmond.  It’s very small, but very cool.  It has all kinds of neat Poe artifacts.  Not re-created, but actual!  (If you’re into that sort of thing.)  Princess Zurg mainly appreciated the gift shop, since it has all kinds of creepy Goth things that she likes.  Here are some pictures of the parts I could take pictures of:

Not so creepy in the daytime


The Enchanted Garden


And with that, we got out of Dodge, i.e. Richmond, and headed out to see my BFF in Front Royal.  That part sort of bleeds into the D.C. part, which I have reserved for Part 2, so that’s all for today, suckahs.  See you in the funny papers!