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Dispatches from the Road, 2001: We finally finish off that bag of Doritos in the trunk

Previously: Starfighters and Crab Cakes

KINGS TOWN, MARYLAND—”It’s a Camry caravan!” We were driving into Rock Hall for dinner, following Dad’s friend Peter and his wife in their Camry, and Dad was taking pride in our shared Camryhood.

Gratifyingly, Peter shares Dad’s respect for things Toyota. When we were able to park directly in front of the restaurant in tiny Rock Hall, I asked Peter if we were in valet parking. “No,” he replied. “We’re in Camry parking.”

Earlier today, the Camry was not having such an easy time of it—as I was navigating it through the Acme Foods parking lot, a silver-haired Old Line Stater backed out of her spot, bringing her rear bumper into abrupt contact with the Camry’s right rear wheel well. Never fear, though: the Camry prevailed and, save for a small scrape, was little worse for the wear. The other car’s bumper, however, had gone from comfortably convex to uncomfortably concave. The driver worried about how to explain to her husband the damage to his brand-new car. “Just tell him you came back from shopping and found it that way,” advised Dad. Minnesotans: ambassadors of honesty to the world.

We spent another pleasant day at Peter’s—yes, there was a dip in the Chesapeake for Jenny, Peter, and me. While the three of us were able to avoid slipping on the mossy rocks, Dad was not so fortunate when he ambled down to “get some footage” with the video camera. While Jenny actually witnessed Dad lose his own “footage” on the rocks, all I saw as I came up from the water was Dad’s legs flailing in the air. “Don’t worry!” he called out to us, triumphantly holding the camera aloft. “Saved the camera!” In fact, after sitting up from his fall he remained sitting to lend stability to a few more minutes of footage.

Like the Camry, Dad survived his impact with only a few scratches and a mark (in the Camry’s case, some paint from the car’s other fender; in Dad’s case, some water from the puddle in which he’d landed) on the right rear.

NEXT DISPATCH: The Camry gets an oil change.

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Dispatches from the Road, 2001: Starfighters and Crab Cakes

Previously: A Visit to the Other George

KINGS TOWN, MARYLAND—”Two Corollas, four Camrys. Not bad.” We were leaving the Potomack Landing (note quaint spelling—not the Colonial Village, but they try) restaurant last night, and Dad was appraising the parking lot. “Clearly these people know prestige when they see it.”

After reading a McDonald’s for breakfast in a very roundabout manner (Dad: “These nuts put a Mac and Don’s right next to the hotel, then they make it impossible to get there!”), we headed in to the Mall at my behest to check the Star Wars “Art of the Starfighter” exhibit out at the Smithsonian. Arriving at the Arts and Industries building, we discovered that the exhibit was aptly named—”The Art of Starfighters” or “The Art of the Starfighter and Some Other Stuff” would have been inappropriate, since the exhibit contained precisely one starfighter. Period. I feel sorry for anyone who drove in from Walla Walla, Washington to see that.

Anyway, it was just as well since Dad had been idling the Camry outside—presumably enjoying envying glances from Washingtonians who know prestige when they see it. Jenny and I hopped in, and it was off to cross the (Chesapeake) Bay Bridge to see Navy Buddy No. 3. As we cruised down the eastern shore, Dad was once again able to penetrate the cigarette haze to detect fragrant air.

"Fragrant" is certainly the word to describe the air here in room 121 of the Country View Inn—when we opened the door the vapors from the Glade plug-in air freshener were so powerful that cows in the neighboring pasture became unsteady on their feet. (Jenny and I suspect the reason for this olfactory overkill is that the smoking/non-smoking status of any given room here changes nightly.) It’s a classy place—there’s even a "conference center" comprising a markerboard, a couple dozen folding chairs, and a Coke machine.

Peter, Dad’s friend here, has a very nice place on the bay—albeit a bit less nice since his newly-arrived Texas millionaire neighbor showed up, built a huge house next door, and hauled away several dozen trees and a small bluff that were blocking the view.

We may attempt a swim in the bay tomorrow—Dad was ruminating on the possibility of catching some crabs by hand. Hopefully that will remain a rumination.

NEXT DISPATCH: We finally finish off that bag of Doritos in the trunk.

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