Phyllis Britt

Phyllis Britt

We got home from Europe, I spent less that a week in my own bed and now we’re spending a few days with family in Virginia.

Tom’s dad will be 95 in a month, so for the last few years we’ve tried to visit during spring break. (It does look like we will make the 450-mile trip again in May this year for a 95th birthday party, but that’s another story.

Our daughter Cat and her family planned to go to Virginia, as well, so we first thought we’d all ride together. (We’ve done this before and lived to tell the tale, so we were looking forward to it.) But Cat’s husband, Scott, was ready for an adventure, and they decided to take the kids, Cade and Payton, to a soccer golf course somewhere in Fayetteville, N.C., I think. As a result, they decided to drive separately. Personally, I had never heard of soccer golf, but it’s pretty much what the name implies – the holes are huge, and you try to kick the ball into each hole with as few kicks as possible. The curious thing to me is that the soccer golf course is somehow integrated with a regular golf course. It sounds like a recipe for disaster, but apparently it works.

They are used to playing disc golf, so it’s much the same premise, although, according to Cade, soccer golf requires a great deal more running – and therefore exertion, than disc golf.

So while they were enjoying their adventure, Tom and I set out alone for Virginia. As I have explained before, Tom hates to drive. I like to drive, as long as I have a good audiobook to listen to. We started out listening to news, so when we tired of that, Tom tried to put the audiobook on. It was recorded on my phone, so I tried to talk him through where to find the book I wanted. And what I discovered is that we all, at least I’m assuming all, think we know our phones; however, so much of what we do each day is so automatic on our personal phone that trying to recount the steps to your goal for someone else is not as easy as you’d think. In my mind, I scroll right all the way to the search screen, and the little orange “books” icon is among the first of several much-used apps that you see. You click there, go to your books library, scroll down to the book you want and click on that. Easy enough, right? Remember, I was driving, so I wasn’t looking at what Tom was seeing. But he said, “What I see is ‘podcasts.’” Now, as I tried to explain to him, I’ve never, to my knowledge, listened to a podcast on my phone – never. So I didn’t have a clue what he was talking about. After several verbal exchanges, during which both of us were getting exasperated, I said I’d just listen to the radio until we stopped for lunch. My usually patient husband is very much not patient when it comes to electronics, so I figured discretion was the better part of valor, and I could wait until I could show him what I meant (rather than starting a wholly unnecessary argument) when I wasn’t driving. (What I discovered later was that somehow he had scrolled down too far – to the podcast screen – and when I scrolled back up there were the icons I told him to look for.) Never send an anti-technology guy to do a job on an unfamiliar electronic device.

Anyway, we listened to the book of choice from there all the way to Tom’s sister’s house without further incident.

I’ll admit at least twice I was counting my blessings and saying a prayer for fellow travelers. For once we had no delays, except the perpetual construction on I-20 and I-95, but those heading south as we headed north were not so lucky. Somewhere around Columbia, traffic was backed up for at least half a mile, bumper to bumper, as several police cars, fire trucks and ambulances attempted to clear what must have been a very bad accident on the other side of the interstate. That scene repeated itself somewhere around Fayetteville, N.C.

We arrived in Chesapeake, Va., in about 7 1/2 hours – about the best we can hope for.

On Sunday we enjoyed a quiet day with sister- and brother-in-law Deb and Cy, plus their two daughters and their families, and, of course, Cat, Scott, Cade and Payton.

It’s interesting how history repeats itself. Deb provides Sunday dinner virtually every week for her extended family – the aforementioned daughters, their husbands and grandchildren, plus her dad and Cy’s mom, just as Tom and I provide Sunday dinner for our children and grandchildren who live in town – and just as Tom’s mother and father did for years and years with their three children, then adding spouses and grandchildren as the family grew. In those early days, Deb used to joke that she had to eat at Mom and Dad’s each week – “It's part of my food budget,” she would declare, adding with a smile that she couldn’t make ends meet without it.

At this writing we have plans to visit the Norfolk Zoo. It’s a surprisingly nice zoo, considering it started as a city park with only a cage filled with monkeys – about 40 years ago. Of course, it’s not as big and wonderful as our own Riverbanks Zoo, but it doesn’t pretend to be the state zoo of Virginia.

And by the time you read this Tom and I will be heading back home, while Cat and the family are taking a slight detour to Great Wolf Lodge. (If you have children, and you haven’t been there, you really should try it. The water park is great, but kids really enjoy the “magic quest” at least as much as the water park.)

We should arrive home just in time to appreciate some of the hullabaloo that comes with the Masters Tournament. It’s fun to get away, but it’s equally fun to participate on some level in the premier spring event in the CSRA. I was privileged to get to attend while I was at The Star, so I appreciate the mystique that comes with the influx of folks from all over the world this week. As you all know, Masters Week is like no other time in our community.

Safe travels to all those coming and going this week. Spring is definitely finally here.