Justin du Coeur (jducoeur) wrote,
Justin du Coeur
jducoeur

What I Did With My Summer Vacation, Part 1 -- Getting There

Okay, time to diarize. Given that this is going to be very, very long, I'm going to split it more or less chronologically.

Friday was a fairly easy-going day for us. We always get to Pennsic the middle Saturday, and both decided to take the day off this time, to make travel easier.

Fetching and packing the van was pretty straightforward. In the interests of not having to worry about space, we went for overkill this year, and rented a 12' panel van, as we've done once or twice before. This made more sense last time, when these things were cheap; now they've raised the price to the point where we really ought to have reconsidered. But we'd gotten the idea into our heads, so proceeded along with that plan for this year -- next time we'll examine our options more carefully.

The one complication of packing was that The Screen Door Guy had an opening Friday afternoon, so our expected several-week wait for a new door could get cut down if we had him over Now. So he and we worked around each other, trying not to interfere as he replaced the door we kept walking through. We managed that decently well, and we now have a shiny new front door that actually latches, and no longer requires you to kick it in order to get it open. It's amazing how the little things make the house feel so much more liveable.

As always, we drove down to Dad's house in northern Jersey on Friday evening, and crashed there. He wasn't home, but we have a standing invitation to stay there when we want, and he has a lovely big house at the intersection of 287 and 80, so it makes a perfect waystation for Pennsic. We grabbed dinner at Hunan, a really excellent chinese restaurant near to his house -- if you ever find yourself (inexplicably) in Morris Plains, NJ, I highly recommend it.


Saturday started inoffensively enough; we slept in a little, with an eye towards getting on the road somewhere around 10:30 or so. We actually did get going around 11am -- and managed to get about half a block before realizing that something was wrong.

As I drove, I could hear an odd tinkling noise coming from the back. I figured that some luggage was shifting badly, and maybe something was in danger of breaking, so I looked back. After a second or two, I realized the problem: the noise was coming from the large hole in the rear window, which had glass slowly falling from it. Oy. Okay, time to turn around and go back to Dad's house.

By the time we got around the block, a lot more glass had fallen; the hole, originally perhaps the size of a baseball, was expanding rapidly, and opening the door was the straw that broke the camel's back -- a cascade of glass fell into the back of the van, and continued to slowly shower in afterwards. (Indeed, the sound of dropping glass shards would continue to be a refrain for the remainder of the trip.) We never did figure out whether the vandal had intended to loot the car -- I think it's entirely possible that they entered it, opened up a bin or two, and retreated in hopeless confusion. Far as we can tell, nothing was stolen. Either way, what we do know is that someone threw a rock through the window, hard enough to scatter glass across the van.

So we called the rental agency, and rooted around Dad's house, looking for something to cover the hole with. Right around the time that I found some clear tarp and tape, I noticed a policeman standing on the back porch. "Oh, good," think I, "that saves me having to call the cops." I should have realized that something was wrong when the policeman persistently refused to come inside to deal with the incident report.

Some ten minutes of wary conversation later, I finally sussed what was really going on here. The police hadn't come by because there had been a report of a vandalized vehicle. No, they had come by because there had been a report of a white panel van behaving "suspiciously" (driving away from the house and then returning quickly), and some neighbor had decided that we were terrorists squatting in the house. Things were not helped by my not actually remembering exactly *where* Dad was at the moment. Fortunately, he had his cellphone on him, and convinced the police that yes, I was his son, I was authorized to be in the house, and I was not, to the best of his knowledge, a shady character bent on nefarious misdeeds.

Anyway, once the police decided that driving a white van wasn't actually criminal, they got much more helpful, and the incident report for the vandalism proceeded smoothly. We taped up the rear window, swept out as much of the glass as we could around the luggage, and got on our way.

The drive itself was uneventful -- only relatively minor construction (by Route 80 standards, anyway), and no significant traffic snarls. The van itself behaved decently, although driving it put me in mind of a description I heard on the way to my first Pennsic: "Accelerates like a cow. Steers like a fish."

We got to Pennsic, unloaded, swung by Moomba and delivered various stuff, and collected our parking tag. (Given that this was a rental vehicle, I figured it was worth the extra money for paid parking, just for my peace of mind.)

The main activity of the evening was the Carolingian Welcome Party, which was a pleasant and long schmooze. I spent much of it chatting with chaiya and rickthefightguy (beginning the multitude of conversations where people discovered that they knew each other only through LJ), and was pleasantly surprised when Rhys, an older-times Carolingian who I hadn't seen in many years, walked in. We schmoozed a bit and I introduced him to a few people, realizing that he had missed something like two full generations of the Barony.
Tags: diary, pennsic
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