January Residencies start Friday night. After the recent Arctic experience (to call it “a cold snap” just feels wrong), I was even more concerned about driving conditions than last year. Like before, I planned on splitting the drive into two parts, specifically because of potential road conditions. Last year’s experience, I missed the exit near Fredericksburg that takes me west and north through long stretches of country. The GPS guided me up 95, around DC then west through Maryland. I was not impressed.
This year, I didn’t mind going up 95, but really wanted to avoid DC. I looked for alternate routes, but was concerned about going west as soon as the Fredericksburg exit leads. Manassas came up as a potential mid-point, which gave me pause. I have family in the area, and saw it as a great chance to catch up.
We did, but not nearly for long enough. They offered me the service of their couch. We ate, we drank hot chocolate, and visited.
The next morning, I continued the drive. It was cold, and since I was already so far west from 95, the GPS pointed me toward an unusual route, through the country but away from 95, and away from DC. That’s what mattered. Eventually, that route overlapped part of my summer route in a stretch before getting near the Pennsylvania Turnpike. The last stretch, for a good twenty miles after the tunnel, was thick with fog. But the arrival was simple and quiet, with plenty of time to spare before the meet & greet session. Best of all? The roads were clear, and the temperature above freezing. No snow, and no ice.
At the meet & greet, it was announced that future iterations of the opening night session would no longer be held in the library. Pending renovations. I helped with the tour for the incoming students
Afterward, most of our group – 4s, those in our 4th residency – went to the Headkeeper for dinner, companionship and catching up. It was a moderately late night, heading to the hotel by 11pm, to prepare for the first sessions the next morning.