September 1st, 2004

JOY

The Good: A Fun Weekend with Friends in Charleston

After a mild delay in DC on Thursday morning (which the airline didn't ever call a delay, they just changed the flight time on the departure board and didn't say anything about it) I was off to Charleston for the Weekend. One of my co-travelers and high school friends, Devon, was supposed to land in Charleston about an hour before me, but he called to tell me he'd be arriving after me, and began telling the story of how he got lost on his way to the airport when he ran out of change for the pay phone. Since the airport was a good 12 miles from the hotel, I figured waiting for him was worth it rather than for both of us to have to pay cab fare. Devon and my arrangement was to meet at the closest alcohol-serving establishment to his arriving gate, and there I sat for two hours, drinking beer and chitchatting with the pleasant Aussie bartender, who happened to hail from mac's hometown.

After he arrived, Devon and I went to the hotel, checked in, and sipped champagne on the terra cotta patio in front of the wrought iron lion fountain until wine and cheese hour began and we switched to merlot and water crackers. veejay, Alan, and Matty arrived from New York early that evening, with a Seinfeldesque tale of parking at JFK only to remember their flight departed from LaGuardia.

Two more of our highschool friends now live in the Charleston area, Shawn and Z. We didn't have Z's contact information immediately, so we contacted Shawn, who said Z was working that night, but that he could hang out. The only issue was that the mother of his 2 year-old had refused to take the boy for the weekend and we wuold have to come to his house.

Along with VJ's hotel credit, he also had a credit with Avis for a luxury rental, with which he rented a Jaguar. The five of us piled in, and succumbed immediately to the inevitable "Shaguar" lure. We fired up the NEV-R-LOST system, circled the hotel while it got its bearings, headed to Shawn's place for the evening, and closed the night with what turned out to be most of our party's maiden trip to the Waffle House.

At the hotel, you had the option of enjoying your continental breakfast in the lobby, on the patio, or should you fill out the card and hang it on your doorknob, in your room. After breakfast in our kimonos (which were just bathrobes after all) we ventured out into the Market and roamed the streets where I ran into a friend from my freshman year at Mason, who was in town to go to her then roommate's wedding. The tone of the day was set early, as our first sunshower hit at around 12:30. We hid from the first one over lunch and beers, but the remainder of the day was peppered with 10 minute showers every half hour or so. We covered most of downtown Charleston on foot that day, stopping to watch the fiddler crabs on the waterfront taunt one another, and for another round of beers at a bar in a building that came up only 30 years after Charleston did. We went back to the hotel for wine and cheese hour, and drank on the patio until we met Shawn for dinner, and after another battle with the EV-R-LOST went out to the bar where Z works at.

VJ decided on Friday that the only thing he wanted to do on Saturday was rent a speedboat. And rent a speedboat we did. For four hours, we tooled around the bay, stopping at little beaches on uninhabited islands (where I found a conch shell) and bouncing in the wake of larger boats. Sure there was a lot of screaming and begging to slow down then, but in hindsight, it was awesome. Near the final hour of our time with the boat, we noticed all of the sailboats pointing in the same direction, and then noticed the ominous swath of black sky chasing them back to their docks. We continued to play in the waves until we realized it was rain we were feeling and not sea spray.

Saturday night we barhopped until we found a very cool bar to close with and got some incredible late night pita on the way back (it was all in the roll job). I crashed nearly immediately, and woke up in the middle of the night to go to the bathroom to find Alan in the living room of the suite saying "the hurricane is here!"
  • Current Mood
    exhausted beat with a 40% chance of sick
JOY

The Bad: Hurricane Gaston

While I did not consciously comprehend that a hurricane had arrived, it did result in a very fun action-hero dream in which we all were running from tidal waves and jumping onto high balconies and whatnot. I woke up at 8:30 to howling whistling winds, banging and clanging things outside, and streets flooded nearly 3 feet. After our in-room breakfast but during my morning shower, the power in the hotel cut off, and stayed off for nearly an hour. I went to the front desk and asked whether or not we would have some leeway on the checkout time, since with no power and water, we coudln't properly prepare for the day. Fortunately, the power came back on less than 10 minutes later, and the power crisis was averted.

Mickey called my cell to say that USAirways had called the house to inform me my flight had been cancelled. I called the number provided to rearrange my flight and was told the next available flight out was the following morning. I asked where they were going to put me up for the night and they rather effortlessly offered to connect me to hotels.com for a good deal. I was surprised at how little of a stink I made about that, but I was honestly relieved that I wouldn't have to spend the afternoon in the airport wondering whether or not I would actually fly out that day, and since I had two friends I could stay with, as well as a spare $50 should I need a room, I was content to wait. I called in "Act of God" to work, and decided to take the day with a smile.

We invited Z and Shawn to come out and have brunch with us. Just as Shawn was arriving, Z called to say the roads around his apartment were too flooeded to drive, so we should come get him. In retrospect, this makes absolutely no sense. But we got in the Shaguar and followed Shawn to Z's place. As one might expect, nearly all of the roads between Z's and the hotel were under a few feet of water. We'd come to an intersection, gauge the situation, turn around, and try another route. VJ had been offering to let me drive the Jag all weekend, and since it was the first time since touchdown that I was not intoxicated, I got to drive the Jaguar very slow in a hurricane. Even then, god dammit that car drove nice. We watched Shawn and his Late Model Frankenstein try to go through a puddle that was clearly too deep, and as expected, stall out. Within seconds, guys in waders came out to push. I naively thought they were hired by the city to keep things moving, but apparently this is how some folks in Charleston make money. We came to a puddle that was so deep I refused to drive through, and I gave up my Shaguar driving priviliges. If we're going to float a $60,000 rental, it's not going to be while I'm behind the wheel.

At Z's we discovered that the rest of the guys' flights were still leaving and we didn't have time to get brunch. Shawn had to go home and attend to his son, leaving Z and me to our own devices. We got burritos, and when the rain cleared, took his dog to the beach. As nice and relaxing as it was, and as amusingly random that I spend the day in a strange city with a guy who while we were friends for years, probably had never hung out one on one before, by 7pm I was ready to be home. We went to go see Harry Potter at a 2nd run theater, came back to his place and watched Ali G. before crashing.

The flight home was on time, hit a fair amount of turbulence, and landed early. I spent the rest of the day on the couch.
  • Current Mood
    exhausted Let's make that 45%