"Travelers like poets are generally an angry race."
- Captain Sir R.F. Burton
- You could for instance pick up a bad head cold in NYC, probably while shouldering your way through herds of insalubrious New Yorkers, which will later find its full flowering in DC. (Ah-CHOO!! <splutter> <snort> Crap!!) This will reach its dramatic apotheosis during the otherwise-stunningly-lovely family dinner that your lovely Aunt and Uncle put together special, and at which you will be seeing quite a lot of lovely relatives whom you haven't seen in far too long, and all of whom will naturally want to hug you. ("Hello again, I go by 'Typhoid Mary' these days…")
- The temperature might spike to 102°F as you f*&^ing well predicted would be exactly what would happen if you were so obtuse as to attempt this god%^&*ed trip in late August/early September right specially on your day of taking in all the monuments and museums on the colossally open and sun-exposed National Mall.
- You might let the satnav fool you into thinking you've figured out how to work it now; and but then have it sort of trick you into selecting a similar-looking address to your aunt and uncle's but not actually your aunt and uncle's; and so then after your full-day Bataan Death March across the National Mall you end up doing this enormous, wide, two-hour loop to nowhere . . . one which you'd swear had you going halfway back to the house, and then sort of reversing course and coming back in again, which is exactly when you realised there was a problem when you'd been driving for an hour and Hey! here's downtown DC again . . .
- You might stick with your satnav because, say, you're an idiot as you drive through Virginia; and at one point it might actually take you on an actual figure eight. You can see it right there on the screen, curving around in a loop and crossing back over your previous path. Wow. This thing must really think we're stupid. As we are.
- You might finally make it to your friends' very lovely home in central Virginia, where they've laid out a whole lovely basement apartment for your stay; and on the first night be up all night attempting to cough up lung parts; and so you assume your terrible head cold has morphed into a really terrible chest cold; and but it actually turns out that you're actually horrendously allergic to one, or more, or some combination of: • the cat in the basement; • the cat's crap in the basement; • some sort of maybe mould spore in the basement; • some evil spirit or perhaps the whole basement itself; allergic to the point where you become afraid even to set foot down there, which when you do you hold your breath, never mind sleep down there again.
- You might sort of intellectually be aware, but forget to be real cognizant, of the fact that Staunton (where you're staying) is actually like 45 minutes from Charlottesville, which is ostensibly what you came to see, and but what with all the lung hacking and whatnot you don't get there again once, after your quick lunch and tour on the way in.
- You might be so pressed for time and this is a big one right here and have been so stupidly over-ambitious in your trip planning that you end up staying everywhere just long enough to piss everyone off that you're not staying longer. You're sort of putting nonagenarian, sole-surviving grandparents and cancer-afflicted fathers in the balance against close friends and other relatives you haven't seen in five-plus years; and for instance on this particular stop you freak out at the shortness of time and don't even manage to stay for the big party that's been put together in your honour with all your UVa friends you haven't seen in many, many years, and you really feel like shit about this one, believe me. (But you've put yourself in this situation, man, so suck it up.)
- You later might try to rob a little extra time from the nonagenarian grandmother, to spend with the prenominate sick father, and but this leaves your grandmother stop so absurdly short as to horrify everyone, when you suggest it, and so then you give up on it entirely because you just don't have the energy to do battle over this one anymore.
- You might battle through your overnight flight home and stumble into Heathrow, as one does after an overnight flight, bleary-eyed and palsied and gross-feeling and but then you could stroll up the IRIS-scanning entry portal, which you've specially signed up for long ago, and which makes coming back into the UK so very much more bearable than it would be otherwise, and then but have the authorities pick this very moment after the murderous two-week 1712-mile trip and the brutal overnight trans-Atlantic flight to let you know that your IRIS registration has lapsed.
- This means you get separated at passport control again.
- The Piccadilly line of the Underground which runs from Heathrow pretty much right to your door might turn out to be shut for the weekend. This means you have to stump an additional £38 for Heathrow Express tickets, which take you home the long way round.
- Because you're an idiot, and mean, you pick this monumentally frazzled and depressing moment to point out to Anna again how very much money you spent on this terrible trip. She finally goes down from the cumulative strain, and cries. Nice one.