I’m back home now, and the drive back was almost as bad as the drive out. I had a few hours of clear skies in Maryland and Western Pennsylvania, but it was raining by the time I got off the Turnpike and it just got worse from there. Just before dark fell, I reached Cambridge again and tried to get a room at the same motel as before, but they wouldn’t take the coupon from the booklet you can pick up at freeway rest stops, and the baseline price was more than twice as much. The clerk told me that none of the area motels would take the coupons that day because of the imminent start of hunting season in the area (yikes). And I already had a takeout meal cooling in the car in expectation of having a motel room to eat it in. So I had to drive to a nearby parking lot, eat my dinner, then drive for another half-hour or so in the rain and dark, an experience I do not recommend, before reaching Zanesville and trying my luck with a motel there. Hooray, they honored the coupons, although it wasn’t as good a place to stay as the other motel — no wifi, no continental breakfast. (It did have a fridge and microwave, but I didn’t need them.) And I didn’t get much sleep. After that, I was only about three hours’ drive from home, but what with increasingly bad rain and fatigue, it wasn’t a pleasant journey, and I took a couple of long rest-stop breaks (one of them had to be long since I had to wait for the piping-hot vending-machine tea to cool down). I couldn’t even listen to a CD to help keep me alert, since there was too much noise from the rain and my squeaky wipers. I finally made it home, but I got rained on during the three trips it took to unpack my bags and bike from the car, and the strap broke off of a bag I liked because I put too much weight in it (which is why I needed three trips instead of two). It was the reusable tote bag that came with my new printer as a greener alternative to plastic/foam packing. A cool idea, but not too durable.
At least I had consistently good weather during my visit with family, though that just makes the horrible weather on both drives seem more unfair. It was a good visit, but I’m glad I don’t have to deal with any more huge meals for a while. I ate entirely too much over the trip, and not just due to Thanksgiving dinner and the Thanksgiving-leftovers brunch. On Saturday I met my sister, my cousin, and their respective families in town for a museum visit preceded by lunch at a tapas bar, which involves getting a succession of small servings of stuff that are shared among the diners or kept to oneself as preferred. I ordered at least one more course than I should have, and came away rather stuffed. But just a few hours later came cousin-in-law Mark’s early birthday dinner, which entailed a large number of German foodstuffs. Even though I’ve lived my entire life in Cincinnati, a town that’s historically had a large German population, this was my first exposure to German cuisine. A lot of it, while surely well-prepared, wasn’t really to my taste, but I really enjoyed the sauerbraten, which was wonderfully tender beef in what was described to me as a kind of sweet-and-sour sauce. I never liked Asian sweet-and-sour sauces, so I wasn’t expecting to like this, but it was excellent. Still, on top of everything else, I was full to bursting by the end of it.
And then this morning, after leaving the motel, I made the mistake of going to Denny’s for breakfast. Don’t get me wrong, the food was excellent; I ordered a pair of seasonal pumpkin-pie-flavored pancakes and they were delicious, as one would expect from pumpkin-pie-flavored pancakes. But there was just too dang much of it. There are limits to how much good food I can stand. I think I’m going to try to eat very lightly for the next few days.