On the weeekend before Memorial Day weekend I took a trip up to New York to go camping with a bunch of friends on Upper Saranacf Lake. Not willing to let me go empty handed, Kathleen insisted I take someone with me. I took PJ.
PJ is easy to travel with. He will sit and watch TV patiently for hours. On the drive back he got bored with the TV, and just sat in the back seat, kicking his feet, enjoying the ride. PJ has this wonderful sense of Zen, sort of an empty headed awareness of what’s around him. I am very jealous.
I left PJ with my Mom, his aunt Loretta and his cousins Molly and Andrew. The went to bounce-a-palooza, this thing where they have twelve different kinds of inflatable bouncing things in a an armory. PJ got to put on a velcro suit and jump up and stick to a wall.
I went camping on Green Island with my brother Mike, and many other old friends. The weather was typical adirondack for that time of yearl; it was cold, it rained intermittently, and it was windy. We basically sat around the campfire, told old stories, and ate large pieces of various kinds of roasted meat for three days. It was awesome.
On thr drive up to new york I remember stopping at one of these very large truck stops. PJ and I went into this big, dingy, bathroom and were using the urinals. Then a big, pony-tailed, barrel shaped man in a red and white checked flannel shirt came in after and was waiting.
"Look dad" PJ spoke, "I found a piece of gum."
I turned my head, and PJ was holding a piece of gum, still dripping from the urinal. I freaked out a little.
"PJ PUT THAT DOWN NOW! DON'T TOUCH THINGS IN THE URINAL. " I grabbed him and started washing his hands. The big scary trucker guy was watching all this, and I noticed all of sudden I could here him laughing. I looked at him.
"Kids." he said, shaking his head with a smile, "at least he didn't eat it."
It made me laugh too.
A second thing that happened on the trip back Virginia. Driving through New Jersey we stopped for gas. In New Jersey, by state law, you are not allowed to pump your won gas. But I, oblivious, started to do what I always do. I put my credit card in the thingy and select the cheapest gas I can find. Suddenly a man was standing there.
"Let me get that for you sir." The man was wearing a dirty sweat shirt and jeans, hadn't shaved in a while, but he had a friendly look on his face. "Do you want to take your baby into the store while I get your gas?"
My baby? I looked in my car at PJ. Well, he must mean him. We walked into the store while he filled up the tank. We came back and he was still there. He said, "You know, in New Jersey if the police see you filling your gas tank they can fine you two hundred dollars."
"Yeah." He looked like he was angry at someone. I didn't know if it was me. "This isn't that great of a state. It’s like Germany."
Like Germany? With the beergardens and the Bavarian alps? All I could picture is some large blonde woman with pigtails carrying about 6 huge mugs of beer. "Wow," I said. This man was starting to creep me out,
"Did you know, " he continued, "that the police can enter your boarding house without cause and demand to see the license and registration of every person living there?"
"A boarding house?" I thought to myself. “Is that where guys in New Jersey who work at the gas station live? “That’s terrible” I said aloud to the guy. We had a good vibe going and I didn’t want to mess it up. I was just very happy that in the state of new Jersey guys like that can get jobs at the gas station, and so we took our gas and headed over to Pennsylvania.
And that was it. It was a good trip.