the kindness of strangers, high-speed flirting, and other tales from my weekend in nc (part one)

4 days, 28 hours driving = one (mostly) content sleepeybear

This is the story of a weekend that, in some ways, felt like it shouldn't have been happening. You know, one of those weekends where you have great plans, but then things start happening that make you wonder if you're really supposed to be doing whatever it is you have planned. In the end, you still have a fantastic time…but only after a lot of shaking your head and doing some cursing.

The story of my head-shaking, fate-cursing, good-time-having weekend starts in Clarion, PA, where I facilitated a meeting Thursday evening. Rather than waste time driving back to Lancaster, I left for North Carolina from Clarion on Friday morning. In a rental car. (Which is relevant) Even though it was raining pretty hard for a while, I was making good time. Then I stopped to see the New River Gorge in West Virginia. I'd heard about it, but really…it's in the Middle of Nowhere, WV, so unless you're doing some white water rafting or some hiking, you're not likely to say, "let's drop by the gorge today." What you will say (or at least, what I said) was, "wow." It's a pretty amazing sight to see this massive steel structure in the middle of this beautiful forested valley.

Equally amazing is the kindness of strangers. Because as I was getting out of my car in the New River Gorge Visitor Center parking lot, this older man and his wife approach my car to tell me that my right front tire is going flat. Now say it with me…"What?!" Then sigh. Thankfully, the couple had a tire pump in their car, and were kind enough to reinflate my tire. So I thank them graciously, walk down to see the Gorge, take some pictures and go on my way.

An hour and a half later, I stopped in the Virginia Welcome Center for a quick break, and find out my tire is deflating again. Say it with me…"You've got to be kidding me!" So I decide it's time to do something more than just reinflate it. Now remember – I'm in a rental car. That means free roadside assistance. So I call them up, only to find out in a forty-five minute long series of conversations that the quickest someone can arrive to put the spare on and repair the main tire is three hours. That's the minimum…and we all know how that goes. And for those of you saying, "How can you not know how to change your own tire?", it's not so much the tire-changing part that concerned me…it was the fixing it part. And waiting for three-plus hours was not of any interest to me. So I ask the nice people in the welcome center who they'd recommend, and forty-five minutes after that, my tire was fixed and I was on my way again.

And this? This was just the beginning of a long series of mishaps (minor and not so minor) that had me showing up at a friend's house in Wilmington on Saturday evening praying for a little bit of peace and sanity. A series that included: an eight-hour drive becoming twelve; a mildly cringe-worthy hotel room Friday night with no internet, no iron and no batteries in the remote; buying a CD only to find out there was no CD in the case; cutting my ankle while shaving; my hotel for Saturday night overbooking and trying to offer me a complimentary reservation in a cheaper and cringe-worthy hotel down the street; being subjected to more than one really bad baby shower game; and not finding the green flip-flops I was shopping for. Okay, so I'm kidding on the last one…but by Saturday night, I was beginning to think the black cloud hanging over my head was never going away.

Where I am: Pennsylvania


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