Saturday, March 24, 2007

EURO TRIP 2007!!! (Part II)

Ok, let's see... When last we met, Frank and Chet were out trying to find me when
Chet was ambushed by a couple of goons that looked suspiciously like my Father's latest clients, and...

...Oh, sorry, wrong life.

ACTUALLY, when last we met, Megan, Liz, Rob, and I were on our way back to Rome after our first day on the road. The trip back, as I recall, was uneventful. We were all rather relaxed and content, enjoying the sights and so forth. Well, we DID make it back safely, save for one unfortunate turn we made. See, as we were leaving base, I decided (and the others agreed, what with me being behind the wheel and all :P) we should go to pompay. Actually, we had been discussing it earlier, but we feared it was too late in the day. Well, we went for it anyway. The directions we got, however, were a little hazy. Follow the signs to Naples, eh? Ok... so we followed the signs to Naples. Then we got to Naples, and strangely enough, the signs for Naples stopped.

Imagine that.

Naples, the city. Holy freakin' crap. What a horrifying place. All the stories you've heard are true. We stopped at ONE stop light, and already the decay of society was spraying my windshield with what could only be described as SmearGrease Plus™. Seriously, he did a terrible job. So why would I pay for it? As he looked at me expectantly, I rolled up the window, shrugged my shoulders, jabbered at him in English, and sped away. Rob and I needed only use two more words for the duration of our stay:

"CHEESE IT!!!"

After several trips in a circle around Naples, we realized we couldn't really leave the way we came. BUT, we DID find the way to the bridge outta there, and sped away.

NOW, as promised, Day 2.

Adgenda: San Giovanni Rotunda and St. Michael's cave.
When I woke up on sunday, I had some spare time to just chill, and decided to get a shot of all the massive amounts of food I purchased for everyone here:

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MAN, people missed their peanut butter!! And this isn't even all of it.

So we all met outside at about 7:30 Sunday morning, ready to embark on our trip.

I think our very first turn was a wrong one.

A bad omen, yes, but fortunately for us, we're Catholic, and don't give a lick about omens. We proceeded on, undaunted. Riiight up until the moment the mountain swallowed us.

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I thought it was the coolest thing in the world... there's the mountain, and there's the hole in the mountain.

I mean honestly, in the states, we just blast our way through. Just cleave right theough the damn mountain. I wonder which way is more difficult?
Now sure, the mountains looked cool from up close, and on the inside, but let me TRY to share with you some of the sights we saw on our way. With every turn we made, you never knew what we might see off in the distance.

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This doesn'treally do it justice... like many things, you had to be there.

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Megan was in charge of the camera... didn't she do a good job?

I mean, honestly, if I got a picture that good, you guy's would've yelled at me for not paying attention to the road. And you would be right to do so. There are, as always, more pictures of this stuff, but I'm trying to save room.

After more driving(not to make it seem like wasted time... did I mention I love roadtrips? And in good company, forget about it! :) ), we started to run out of gas, as cars tend to do. So, we got gas. I even pumped it myself! That's not a big deal usually, but I wasn't sure there WERE any self-service pumps around here... not that I saved much money doing it. Behold.

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Can you say "Holy F'ing F!"?

Remember: 1 Euro = $1.40 US. That translates to a varitable bevy of money.
After running out of money, we hit the road again. We got to San Giavanni Rotunda and looked around a bit, had some lunch, etc. We were about a half-hour late for Mass, so we figured we'd just try to hit it at St. Michael's cave. But at least we figured out where to go, and everything. SO...
We hit the road once again to go find St. Michael's cave, figuring we'd have time afterwards to explore San Giovanni Rotunda a little better. Se we're drivin' along, drivin' along, going around some pretty cool mountains and valleys. Well, as we were driving through one particularly nice-looking meadow, Liz off-handedly commented that the meadow was filling her with an urge to go running through it barefooted.

Me: "OKAY!"

So I pulled over immediately, thankful that there was a shoulder RIGHT THERE on the side of the road, but nowhere else. So, we got out. Liz didn't get her frolick, since, upon closer inspection, the meadow was rather filthy. But we all just kinda relaxed for a while... Megan found some mushy almonds in the field, and for some reason, we ate them. I think we were really tired and hungry, and kinda confused. Anyway, I haven't died yet, so I guess we're ok. As we were piling back into the car, I took a shot:

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They LOOK happy, but they were actually screaming at me to get the hell back in the car.

So, I did. We got to St. Michael's cave, which was actually pretty cool... went to Mass, and all. Have you ever heard of St. Michael's cave? Apperently, he appeared there... not sure why. But they've since turned it into a basilica. VERY cool place to go to church... it's still a cave, after all. And they even have marked exactly where he stood (Megan and Rob got to see it... Liz and I hesitated, and missed out.). But at least the view outside the church was nice:

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St. Michael has good taste!

Ok, fast forward a bit, since I want that keilbasa Rob's cooking up right now. We went back to San Giovanni Rotunda, where Padre Pio is buried. Not really buried, actually... his tomb was right there. This was the place where he died, of course. They preserved most of it since the time he was there... they have his cell, and everything. Everything from the room where he was attacked by the devil, to where he slept everynight, to the room he died in. It's all covered in plexi-glass, o'course. But in the more museum-y parts, they had the crucifix he received the stigmata from, all his relics, the vestments he offered his last Mass in, and the confessional where he would spend 18 hours a day:

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I found his tomb amazing, though... we've been to so many tombs, of so many famous people. Various artists, poets, authors, saints... but they're all just been in the sides of churches, and people would snap shots, just to say there were there.
But at the tomb of Padre Pio, there was a wall of glass surrounding the tomb, and outside the glass was surrounded by kneelers. And they were FULL!
I think the whole time, there wasn't a free space on the kneelers. Everyone was kneeling reverently before the tomb, and if you couldn't kneel on the kneeler, you knelt on the marble. It didn't matter. And inside the glass were flowers, money, and pictures of people asking for prayers. I think, in all of Italy thus far, it was the single most reverent room I've seen yet. The man died 50 years ago, but looking at his tomb, you'd think it was yesterday.

ANYWAY...
Oh, before I forget - we WERE going to try to go to Lanciano, but we were too late leaving, and figured it was closed. Lanciano is the location of a Eucharistic miracle, where apperently the Priest had doubt in his heart regarding to Transubstantiation during Mass, and so after he said the words of Consecration, the Host became actual heart tissue, and the wine became actual blood.
Take THAT, doubting priest-guy.
Point of note - apperently our Lord's blood type was AB. According to Rob, that's the most common middle-eastern blood type, so it kinda fits. Anyway, we passed right by it, but didn't get a chance to stop in, so that was kinda sad... oh, well.
So eventually, we hit the road (I'll post a video of the trip back after this post), and looked for somewhere to get some food. We found it. Liz insisted on buying dinner, and we grudgingly accepted.
"OK, Liz, I GUESS you can buy dinner... geez..."
During dinner, the girls started asking if I was EVER going to teach them to drive stick(this is something I've been saying I'd do ever since we booked the car). Well, it IS late... I'd like to get back...
The girls turn to one another: "Liz, why doesn't he want to teach us to drive manuel?" "I dunno, but it makes me sad."

*SIGH*

So we headed out to the empty parking lot, and got to work. Liz went first, and after a couple of rocky starts(it's so weird to NOT be the one making the car stall for once), she got the hang of it pretty well. Then it was Megan's turn. She did really well, but she also cheated - turns out it's a lot like driving a motorcycle, which she does a lot of. So that was fun. I thought it was pretty funny how they both marveled at putting the car in reverse - the stick is weird here, you have to pull a lever to put it in reverse, and they couldn't figure it out while I was in the commisary the previous day. ANYWAY, Megan asked if she could try it on the freeway. Sure, why not?

Oh.... that's why.

Heh, no, I'm just kidding - she did fine. She was pretty confident, too, which is usually the biggest problem. Fortunately, driving on the freeway is actually easier than driving in a parking lot anyway. Once I was sure she wouldn't kill us all, I started flashing lights in her face, just to test her:

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And she STILL didn't crash!

Yeah, she did really well... after about an hour, I asked Liz if she'd like to try the freeway. Why yes, yes she did. So after we got Megan to ease off the gas pedal:

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AAAAAHHHHHHHH!!!!!!!

...we stopped, and made the switch(and bought more gas). Liz got goin' flawlessly, and we were off once more. As before, once she was sure of herself, I started flashing lights in her face:

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She seems pretty calm and collected to ME...

And so, we sped on back to Rome. I DID eventually take the wheel back, 'cause I was starting to get jealous. I still reserved complaining rights at driving the whole time, but I DID actually enjoy it like no other. In fact...

Thank you, Rob, Megan, and Liz, for that weekend. I think it's been the most memorable experience since I've come to Rome. Freakin' amazing.

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Ciao,
--Hich

9 Comments:

Anonymous PianolaGirl said...

Hey - road trips are great and I sure enjoyed yours, but I had to use Dramamine just to watch that second video . . . you know the one . . . where it looks as though you drive up on the guard rail?

3:36 PM  
Blogger Scarcely Human said...

Hey, the video is so crazy because I was paying attention to the road!!! Would you rather the camera was steady and the CAR was doing all that?!

12:14 AM  
Anonymous PianolaGirl said...

Oh . . . was that AFTER you did that Exorcist thing where it looked as though your head did a 180??

2:19 PM  
Blogger Scarcely Human said...

Why does everyone keep bustin' my chops about that?! I thought you guys'd be PROUD of me, learning a trick like that!!!

5:30 PM  
Blogger White Phantom said...

You ate mushy meadow almods? Yuck! Did Meg & Liz do better at stick than me? (I suppose if they didn't peel out backwards or almost drive off a cliff they did. :P)

6:18 PM  
Blogger Scarcely Human said...

Cliff? When did you almost drive off a cliff?

They did pretty well... I think I taught them better than I did you... I was kinda out of it that day, and kept forgetting the basics, so no blame on you. I'd say, all things considered, you and Liz tied. Like I said, Megan cheated, and already knew how to do it.

7:53 PM  
Anonymous Steve Johnson said...

You ... uh ... y'DO know what the peasant euphemism "meadow almonds" means, doncha?

Oh crap.

You don't.

Well, now you do, I guess.

4:23 PM  
Blogger Scarcely Human said...

Um... unless it means mushy, semi-unpleasant almonds found in random fields, I remain unfamiliar with the concept.

Crud... what the hell did I eat?!

2:19 AM  
Anonymous Preggo white she devil said...

Hmmm, I'm wondering if "meadow almonds" especially the mushy kind, could possible the signs that wildlife was around, if ya catch my drift. Heh, yes Joe. You should always beware of mushy, brownish, almond shaped leavings in a field. Good thing you have a cast iron stomach.

1:38 PM  

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