Yesterday the Mustang and I crossed the New Jersey state line on a boat somewhere in the middle of the Delaware Bay. I love traveling by boat, and I often dream about cruises, small boats, jetskis…. Admittedly, I have been known to get sea sick a bit sometimes, but it hasn’t diminished my love for traveling by sea, and when I was mapping how long it would take to drive from my cousin Philly’s (Phil’s) house in Virginia Beach, VA to my Mom and Dad’s house in Little Egg Harbor, NJ, I wasn’t even thinking about taking Chesapeake Bay Bridge-Tunnel let alone the Cape May-Lewes Ferry. Actually, I didn’t think I could do either with the trailer.
I was wrong, it turns out. After seeing how much longer it would take to get home via backtracking to I-95 versus the CBBT and CMLF, I checked into taking the ferry. The bridge was easy – I checked online for restrictions and I was fine. I called the boat next, and found out that they based their pricing on length of the vehicle. Pricing is available online, and since I didn’t have a tape measure, I walked the yards out next to the truck and trailer and “guesstimated” it to be about 40 feet long. Cool! Well, not so cool given the price, but it was going to be worth it to save about 2 hours of travel time (no brainer) AND I was going to be traveling on a boat for about an hour – an added benefit.
The problem was I was going to have to make it by 2:15 or so for a 2:45 departure. That meant I had little time to spend with Phil. We had planned to have some coffee together and catch up on stuff, but that wasn’t gonna work. To have at least some quality time, I got up early the following morning and out on the road. If I wanted time to talk to Philly at least a little bit, I needed to hoof it – no stopping for breakfast, no stopping for coffee, gas – I couldn’t even argue for a partial refund for the stinky hotel room at the Comfort Inn I stayed at. I asked, but the desk clerk gave me a meek “no” and I reluctantly retreated without argument.
I was on the road again and speeding down route 58 towards Virginia Beach.
I made it to Philly’s in a bit more than an hour, right on schedule – he and I discussed me being there around 10 am. That would give me an hour to hang out – but Phil wasn’t there. I met his wife for the first time along with their newborn son Peter (after my Uncle) and she invited me in. Phil showed up after a few minutes. Another great moment in my travels – seeing my younger cousin and his family. He looks just like his Dad.
He really wanted to see the Mustang and as we walked over to it he gave me a big smile and said “You know how much I wanted this car?”
“I think we all did,” I agreed.
He opened the driver’s door “All of the soccer practices that Grandpa drove me to in this thing,” he recalled. The smile on his face spoke volumes. Phil grabbed his camera and started snapping quickly. We put his son Cosmo in the driver’s seat and he looked like a natural.
“You gonna keep it the way it is?” he asked.
“All original, Phil. I’ll need to replace stuff – but I want it looking like it did when Uncle Pete, your Grandpa, drove it out of the dealer lot.”
He smiled and nodded his approval, “Well I am glad this isn’t ending up in the hands of someone who wants to make it a hot rod or something like that.”
“No way,” I said, “All original.”
I mentioned I might put Ford factory magnum wheels on it but I’d keep the original wheels and caps.
“This is a Sunday driving car,” he asserted, “Just a cruising car.”
I couldn’t agree more.
At one point we had a moment alone next to the car. We were talking about Uncle Pete and the car and I started to explain how I felt about it all, and I got emotional for the very first time on this whole trip.
“After all that my wife and I have been through over the past few years,” I explained, “No real joy, no easy going of it,” and I felt eyes moistening, “I was looking for something, anything pull me up, and it’s like Uncle Pete, your Grandpa is helping me – rescuing me, even.” My words sounded cheap. I couldn’t explain what this meant to me and how strongly I felt that it was truly him guiding me – helping me along the way.
I held back bawling like a baby, but I felt protected; safe with Phil – and safe with the emotion. All of this felt right. I apologized for getting emotional.
“No problem, I would think something was wrong if you didn’t.”
He snapped a few more pics and then asked his wife, Christy, to take a picture of he and I next to the car. Phil – send me the pic, PLEASE!! He gave me a tour of the house (awesome!) and after some more conversation about the reunion plans, I had to go. The hour went by fast – too fast – and I regretted not being able to spend more time with him and his family.
We’ll get together again, soon, I hope. One of the things that I discovered is that most of the cousins (if not all) share my desire to get the family together. Phil took it a step further recently and started putting some real thought into organizing a family reunion. Maybe the car will be done by then? Something to shoot for….
To be continued….