Welcome to the red states
We sure do live in funny little boxes.
In Atlanta, it was all you could do to not be run over by SUVs with "W - the president" bumper stickers. North Carolina was full of "W" bumper stickers, but I also spotted quite a few anti-same-sex marriage stickers.

Tennessee was full of... actually, everyone was very nice, and we were so sleep deprived at that point that I don't remember much of anything.
Except that everyone was nice.
(For those at home monitoring our activity via GPS and comparing it to our planned holiday itinerary, you can now ask, "what were they doing in Tennessee?" - that question and others will be answered under the heading "11am? I don't even know her!")

I mean, I can't complain much. Many of the gifts I received and the hugs I got were from people who could have been sporting these bumper stickers (and thanks to the NC Board of Elections website, I can actually verify this).
And, to each his own. People are people and will vote the way they want to vote. And I have the constitutional right to make snarky comments about them as well.
Red. Blue.

It's just I am not used to seeing all this Bush stuff in one place.

Smalltown newspaper editorial page
This, by far, is one of my favorite things for snarking at. The paper in the town where Mrs. Robot's parents reside had some real classics while we were there.
In one day, there were four letters:

1. A letter from a guy who had a great shopping experience at a local Belks and wanted to publicly thank the salesperson who took such good care for him.

2. The letter from a mother who was tired of the public abuse her son was getting from making allegations about sexual abuse against a minister or principle or something. It was a great letter - it gave zero information about the charges or who these people were. They just assumed you knew who everyone was.
"Ya'll knew Henry was innocent!!"

I guess that's how non-NY'ers sometimes feel when reading New Yorker cartoons.
Did I mention the letter was about a zillion words long? Editor?

3. A fine, non-descript letter offering the services of a church to anyone who needed spiritual assistance.

4. Someone writing in to say that the torture of Iraqis by US troops is good - lest we forget what they did to us on 9-11.

I don't really mean to make fun of folks.
Or, let me re-word that: I don't mean to playa-hate on these people.

I'm happy for you
Well, I can't say for who, but I am happy for you. You, the person who knows who they are.

11am? I don't even know her!
Mrs. Robot... bless her heart for not killing me.
We barely made it to Christmas-time-family-affair because someone, and by someone I mean "me", totally screwed up our flight info.
According to my Outlook calendar thing, our flight from JFK to Washington DC / Dulles to Atlanta was due to depart at 2:00pm. In actuality, the flight left at 11:00am.
This fact was realized at 10:15am.
At 10:15am, I was running around the apartment like a hysterical twit and about to give myself a heart attack and/or stroke and/or nervous breakdown.

So, in easy to follow timeline format, this is what happened.

This Christmas that almost wasn't, but then was
10:15am - Aiyeeee! Waaaaaaa! Realization that the departure time was wrong.
10:20 - Mrs. Robot, being the calm one, called the airline and cancelled our flight - and somehow got a refund on the ticket. (yea, I know! Who'd thunk that)
10:40 - I call a car service to go to JFK to see if we can fly standby.
10:50 - Car arrives.
11:00 - Driver takes the longest, most leisurely way to JFK. I am so shell-shocked that I can't even complain.
11:20 - Airline lady looks at computer and says, "No really. I can't imagine that there is anyway for you to get out of JFK today. Or tomorrow."
11:30 - Airline lady verifies that again.
11:35 - Mrs. Robot calls company travel agent who says she can get us on a plane to Charlotte (much closer to Atlanta than NYC at least). This flight leaves in 5 hours from Newark. She gives Mrs. Robot a price that is way too reasonable.

12:45pm - We board a bus to Newark. Everyone on the bus has a cell phone. The woman behind us has this shrill, mid-western accent and is calling someone about something to do with Haverty's. The man next to us calls everyone he knows to tell them that he will call them when he gets to Tel Aviv. The girl next to us calls everyone to tell them that she went to a gay bar in Germany the night before and it was so much fun.
2:00 - In Newark, the lines to the ticket booths are long. We get in line because we have a reserved ticket, but need to actually pay for it.
2:15 - A crazy USAIR employee tries to help everyone to no avail - mainly, because she is crazy.no, really. retardo-crazy.
2:40 - Still in line, a friend of mine from high school walks past but I didn't realize it was him until too late.
3:00 - Still in line and Mrs. Robot is on the phone with the travel folks. Yes, we do have reserved tickets. Yes, all is well. Yes, the tickets cost $600 a piece.
*cue record scratch sound effect*

Apparently the first travel person had given us the wrong numbers. At this point, I am one step away from crazy and yelling at Mrs. Robot to just buy the f*cking tickets!
"I don't care. I'm paying for it! Just buy it!"
She looks at me as if I am a crazy person.
(granted, in hindsight, $600 a ticket is a bargain.)
note: unlike other airlines, Independence Air (our new favorite airline) does not jack the prices up on their tickets as the flight date gets closer. If you paid $200 for a ticket a month before the flight, it will still cost $200 the day of the flight. Kudos to them.

3:05 - Mrs. Robot spies the Independence Air ticket counter. There are employees there, but no customers. They look friendly. It was the airline that we were originally booked with. She strolls over to see what they have.
3:15 - The nice ticket counter girl is really working to get us on our plane. She furrows her brow and stares at the screen.
3:30 - She finds us a way out of Newark. We leave for Dulles at 9pm. Sleep at a hotel, and then leave at 8am for Knoxville, which is close enough to Atlanta to drive to.
3:35 - I have bought the tickets.

4:30 - We go to Dick Clark's Rockin Food Hole and Bar. It was fine. There were tons of folks there getting drunk because all of the flights had started to back up because of the weather.
4:45 - we order glasses of wine and sandwhiches. I have the most boring turkey club sandwhich ever made.
5:15 - we order more wine.
6:00 - we leave the Dick Clark place to find a nice spot on the floor to sit. It's really crowded.
6:30 - I pull out my laptop and find that the terminal offers wi-fi internet access for 6$ (for a 24 hour period). Perfect. What's 6 dollars in the grand scheme of things?

7:00 - hmmmm. Our 9pm flight still isn't on the board.
7:01 - hmmmm. The 3pm and 4pm flights to Dulles haven't left yet.
8:00 - I look at stuff on the internets.
8:30 - I think I have a cold. No news on our flight. We transfer our car rental from Atlanta to Knoxville and reserve a late check-in at an airport hotel.
10:00 - Miserably tired and feeling sick. No flight news.
11:00 - The 3pm and 4pm flights to Dulles haven't left yet - but will soon. The 9pm flight is, um, still, um... they'll get back to us.

12:00am - the 3pm and 4pm flights are arriving.
12:45am - Our plane lands.
1:00am - We are sitting on a plane.
1:15am - The plane leaves NJ. Way down inside the last uncrazy part of my brain, a little voice cheers.
2:00am - We land at Dulles.
2:30am - We check into our hotel room. I couldn't even begin to remember which hotel chain it was.
3:00am - asleep.

6:15am - wake-up call.
6:30am - Mrs. Robot requested room service breakfast to be delivered - and because I am still constantly saying, "I'm Sorry. I'm Sorry" I had dutifully ordered it before we fell asleep.
6:45am - showered and eating breakfast.
6:50am - check out. Try not to compute how much per hour the hotel just cost me.
7:00am - in shuttle van to Dulles.

7:10am - arrive at Dulles to find that it is a proverbial madhouse. The lines to check in are a mile long. The line to get into the building to see which line you should be in to check in is a mile long. The line to drop off your checked luggage after you check in is a mile long. The line to get to the security checkpoint is a mile long.
7:11am - Upon rubbing my eyes, I realize that quite possibly (no, honestly) these lines are literally a mile long.
7:12am - Mrs. Robot points out that the awesome Independence Air employee from the day before had not only sold us tickets, but had given us boarding passes for both legs of the flight. An actual helpful airport person says that we should just skip the checking-in portion and carry our bags to the gate to be checked in plane-side.
7:35am - We get to our gate after being probed and patted down by security. Because we bought tickets the same day and that they were one-way tickets, we are basically labeled as probable suicidal terrorists.
7:36am - "I'm using the back of my hand"

8:40am - We depart Dulles... late. Because apparently on Christmas eve, folks forget basic airplane rules like you can't fly on one plane if your luggage is checked on another.
10:00 am - We glide into Knoxville - which is beautiful from the air. All clouds and mountain peaks with snow.
10:15 am - Helpful car rental employee gets our rental car and upgrades us very cheaply to a new 2005 Camry - which is basically like auto comfort-food.

2:00 pm - bleary eyed and punch drunk, we arrive at my brother's house. I initially planned on falling out of the car and kissing the ground - but when we arrive, I really need to pee.

4:00 pm - my brother makes Mrs. Robot a bed out of blankets and pillows in front of the fireplace, near the Christmas tree.
4:15 pm - Preggo sister-in-law puts in the Christmas Carol DVD.. the good one with George C. Scott. Mrs. Robot is snoozing next to the fire. The whole family, dogs included, are in the living room either watching the Christmas Carrol and/or napping.

7:00 pm - Brother and I burn some of the steaks for dinner.
7:30 pm - Big Christmas eve dinner. I brought a great bottle of red Italian wine. We wear our 'cracker' crowns on our heads.


Have you ever flown out of Dulles? Did you ride those nutty shuttle things to the terminal? I so want one.

Matt says: aww. this will be known as the year rachel saved christmas
i smell a made for tv movie

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happy holidays from bob, kathy, krista, carl, and simon! 2004: my year in review in photos

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