I woke up to gray, overcast skies. In other words, it was a normal Philly day. We checked weather online and decided to go; everything was covered anyway. My wife decided to check her directions online, which I thought was a little weird, as she drives there the same way every time. She came up with a more direct way.
Off we went, traversing the mighty Pennsylvania Turnpike, in all its gray glory. Whoosh we went, past the exit we normally use. I figured the new directions should get us there more efficiently.
Twenty minutes later, I asked my wife if she checked the directions. What was the advantage - time, speed, directness to our destination? She said yes.
This should have been a clue.
Further off we went, passing places with names I couldn't pronounce, nor would I care to. As we got much closer, we went through Pottsville (no, really) then a few tiny little places where no one in their right mind should live. Seriously, I was raised in a row house in Philly. I moved to the `burbs as soon as I could.
Corn comes from the store, not the stalk. Meat comes wrapped up, as it should. Marshall the cocker is the closest we have to animals around here and I like it that way. So it was bizarre to drive through these little hamlets with all of the stereotypes in full attendance. There were even two fat good-ole boys, sitting shirtless on the porch in their rockers. One town even had a restaurant - a real fancy kinda joint with an Eyetalian name and everything.
For some strange reason the directions were completely accurate, down to mileage, and we hit Renningers exactly when we should have. Only this didn't entirely look like the Renningers we usually visit.
I looked at my wife and asked her if she got directions to the wrong Renningers. She looked at me and said she had no idea there was another Renningers. Sure enough, my blonde wife obtained driving directions to the wrong Renningers.
I was not amused.
In fact, I was beyond not amused. I stupidly thought that getting out of the house would be good for us, given the past week's festivities. Nothing raises the spirits like guitar gear and Retail Therapy<tm>. I was largely agitated that I had been separated from my bed for this long in this weather, using that much gas. I suggested an immediate return to the house, where Marshall and my bed would be waiting for me. Since my wife gave up sleep for lent, I mostly sleep alone anyway. Marshall likes to barge in and spend some quality time on the bed, but only if the air conditioner is running and he can leave the bedroom door open. Smart as he is, we have not been able to get him to close doors behind him.
My wife, feeling Uber-Blonde, insisted she rush us to the correct Renningers, as we would be passing that exit anyway. Grumbling, I decided I'd go along for the ride, largely as I had no other way home.
It continued to be very ugly outside, as it tends to be. We arrived at the correct Renningers shortly thereafter. I knew it had to be the correct Renningers as it looked so familiar (and as there was almost no one there).
There are two outdoor pavilions under which there were a few people selling stuff. The first one seemed to be the regulars. As we walked through, it appeared that most were packing up. There certainly weren't any shoppers. The remaining merchants looked depressed. It became difficult to tell if the ones not hanging from the rafters had already succumbed to depression or were waiting for the pills to take effect.
We heard a band, which was a good sign. And when I say band, I mean a few people banging away at their instruments in no real semblance of togetherness. Still, it beckoned us on to view the people selling musical equipment. And when I say people, I mean a sad group of stragglers with all varieties of musical gear.
No, really, I saw lots of pure junk, an eight-track player with some tapes, a Soldano and a Dr. Z amp. Cheap guitars (all right-handed) abounded. I don't think there were many more than ten people selling.
Having exhausted the possibilities of the musician portion, we looked toward the band. The band, as it were, turned out to be four young fellas who had a distinct inability to complete a single song. They'd get going then stop. They weren't painful when they started but they'd kinda grind to a halt and there would be radio silence for a minute or three, followed by an attempt at a new song. I don't know if this was an actual band or a jam but it wasn't entirely successful at being either.
Don't get me wrong: I drove well over an hour to check out this event. I had high hopes for it and still do. I wish them all the luck in the world: our region needs more musical events. Perhaps it was the fact that it opened at eleven and we arrived at two. Maybe it was the weather. Maybe it was too close to a college.
Failing the musical portion, I pointed my wife toward the inside area. She asked for a rest room and I pointed her toward the large, white portapotty right in front of us. I haven't seen a blonde day like this in years. I had to point out a turn because someone was looking at the road repair guys.
If you have never been to Renningers, you really should go. It's kind of like a long, multi-lane, very humid indoor flea market, where the vendors go home but their stores don't. It's also beyond a time warp because although you see things that you remember growing up, so will your parents. Ancient coats, clothes, `antiques', military gear (including nazi paraphernalia) and even an electronics repair shop. I
stopped at the electronics place to chat with the owner about All Things Tubes.
There are all sorts of food stops in the market, some manned (and womaned) by the Amish. I asked my wife if it was appropriate to give the ladies my card and tell them to call me at Rumspringa. She was most amused but suggested it would probably be better left unsaid.
I really have to give this some thought. The concept of leaving something unsaid is most foreign to me. In fact, up until recently, I didn't know one could leave something unsaid. This might explain my weekly standing meeting with Human Resources at work.
We did purchase quite a variety of vegetables and some chipotle powder, because everything is better with chipotle.
Overall it was pretty depressing and disappointing. The humidity indoors was oppressive and most of the stores were closed (on a Saturday, their big day). We decided to leave and were amused to note that we were the next to last car in the lot. By the time we got there, we were the last car. I figured that this must be the same kind of Sign as finding the reminder post card about the event.
Homeward bound we were, back to the gray turnpike. Only things seemed to be a lot more interesting in this direction. I was minding my own business, checking email on my tablet, when my wife kept repeatedly trying to get my attention. I looked up and immediately wanted to look back down. The skies were almost black, with stuff swirling in the wind, falling down on the turnpike and hitting cars.
There were things that looked like flocks of birds blowing all about the sky, with some eventually hitting our car. They weren't birds and didn't appear alive at all but they were flying about in the horrible winds and impacting the windshield with a sickening thud. For purposes of illustration, let's call it Flying Mulch. We'll call it that because Flying Mini Cooper with a side of Flatbed Truck is not as easy to remember.
We are not used to driving in hurricane-type winds. Even stranger was the fact that a whole lot of trees were bent over at almost ninety-degree angles. There were branches flying too, plus tree limbs and leaves all over the four lanes of the road. It got so bad that some of the drivers stopped doing eighty miles per hour and actually put their flashers on. This is almost unprecedented in Pennsylvania.
A brief check of the weather on my smart phone let us know that it would be dark, with a chance of showers and five mile per hour winds. Weather forecasts are the biggest joke on the planet, with the possible exception of Congress.
We drove through a few different versions of hurricane and General Yuck. The Hyundai behaved flawlessly, which is more than I can say about some of the other drivers. They were exercising their God-given right to do eighty in a hurricane and there was simply no one that was going to deprive them of this liberty.
Another check of the weather indicated that there were tornadoes in DC and Lancaster. I had the sinking feeling we might have driven through a Weather Event of some sort but I preferred to remain ignorant at the moment. You can't drive through a hurricane or tornado if you don't know it's a hurricane or tornado (right?).
It had almost cleared by the time we got home, which was just in time for the storm to have followed us. Fortunately it was a very pale ghost of itself by the time it hit us.
As I suspected, both the dog and the bed were happy to see me. As much as it seems better to stay in bed most of the time, I need to get out and have these stupid experiences so I can type them out for you, my readers.
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