children mentioned and photographed...
Right on the heels of the forgotten pants and salt is this week's trip to the potato chip factory.
A few weeks ago, I had run into our local organic grocery store so I could spend $4 on hot dog buns instead of the usual 98 cents (when the economy takes a down turn, I like to plump it back up by wildly spending on barbecue accouterments), and ended up bringing home a bag of potato chips. As we crunched through dinner, I read the back of the bag.
"Hey, this factory is in Virginia and Virginia is the next state over. Which means it must be close. We should go see how potato chips are made."
And by indelibly writing those words into the minds of persistent four-year-olds, a trip was born.
I have been accused in the past of not having a great sense of space and distance. For instance, I may see two rocks in the Potomac River and think they're not very far apart and try to jump them and become stuck on a rock in the middle of the water and need to have a park ranger come and help me out. Hypothetically. Or I may plan a trip to Canada that has us driving for 29 hours during each 24 hour day. With sightseeing in Halifax crunched in there as well.
Did I say space and distance? I meant space, distance and time.
After I had already told the ChickieNob and Wolvog that we were going to the chip factory and it would be twenty kinds of fabulous and we would eat nothing but potato chips for five solid hours, I asked Josh if we could do this for Succot. He mapped it out and informed me that the chip factory was not a quick half hour jaunt as I had promised but instead was three hours away in the Shenandoah River Valley near Skyline Drive.
Luckily, our friends own a cabin out there and invited us to their sukkah. At eight in the morning, we piled into the car. By eight thirty, I was spinning tales of what we'd see at the factory--we'd be shuffling along with all the other people who had decided to weave a chip factory tour into their Succot celebration, led by a strapping twenty-something who casually leaned against the wall while we watched the chips fall gently onto the conveyor belt like autumnal leaves.
By nine I was asking everyone in the car if they could smell the oil as we approached.
By nine thirty, I was begging Josh to find a McDonalds so I could feed my coffee addiction.
By ten I was asking Josh if we could stop and pee.
By ten thirty, I was back to asking everyone about the oil.
By eleven, thanks to Google Maps, we were lost.
By eleven fifteen, we were driving the same 1.1 mile of farmland for the third time.
By eleven sixteen, Josh was trying to explain that there was no chance that the factory was located in one of the dilapidated farmhouses we were driving past. His knuckles were white as he gripped the steering wheel tightly, trying not to snap at the ChickieNob as she processed her recently developed existential crisis and asked for the fortieth time that car trip, "why do we all need to get old?"
By eleven twenty, I asked him to pull over so I could take a photograph of the farm road to show everyone where Google Maps told us to go.
By eleven twenty-one, I was back in the car screaming because when I opened the door, I was greeted by a swarm--a SWARM--of crickets. Literally, a sea of crickets. It's as if instead of grass, a lawn has been entirely recreated out of little greenish-brown crickets. CRICKETS!
By eleven twenty-two, I am using that photographic memory that saw the chip factory's phone number once in my life to perfectly recall it and dial.
By eleven twenty-three, I am patiently explaining to the woman on the other end of the line where I am and she is telling me that I am in the middle of fuck-nowhere and several miles from the factory. She tells us to come back to the main road, go through a covered bridge, and find them in an industrial warehouse lot. This makes, of course, a lot more sense than making hundreds of thousands of bags of potato chips in a farm kitchen.
By eleven twenty-four, we're on our way and I am talking about the crickets. Non-stop. Just non-stop cricket talk about the swarm.
By eleven thirty, we are at the potato chip factory. The parking lot is empty save for a few employee vehicles. Our fellow imaginary Jews, the ones we thought would be also incorporating a chip factory vacation into their day were apparently celebrating Succot at home. Without sour cream and chive snacks.
We went inside where they humoured us. We stood at the window and watched the chips come through the machine where they were salted by people who were trying very hard not to feel self-conscious as two four-year-olds pressed their faces against the window. We got to see the chips fall into bags and get loaded into boxes. We tried some samples and purchased several varieties to make up for our embarrassment for being the only ones in the building, obviously misunderstanding that the invitation to see a chip fry is not the same as a bustling factory tour.
But they were damn good chips.
When we got back into the car, I asked Josh how many kinds of cranky he would have been with me if we had driven 3 1/2 hours just for the chip factory (our original plan) and were now on our way back to D.C.
And at eleven fifty (the twenty minute stop over also contained a ten minute bathroom break where the ChickieNob--recently potty trained--made me say 97 times, "do I hear rain?" before she'd actually pee), we were on the road to the cabin, our friend's sukkah, with a bag full of chips and heart full of horror that so many crickets could exist in such a small patch of space.
Oh, and I also asked Josh if we could drive to Florida next week for Simchat Torah since, you know, it's only a few hours from D.C.