I was in San Antonio last week for continuing professional education. On Monday morning before I left my hotel room, keeping in line with our new tradition, I sent this text to J:
He replied: You turkey!
Well, after that, I had no choice.
I was in San Antonio last week for continuing professional education. On Monday morning before I left my hotel room, keeping in line with our new tradition, I sent this text to J:
He replied: You turkey!
Well, after that, I had no choice.
I visited my grandmother, via Wilmington, North Carolina, last month.
It felt like North Carolina. I know that sounds obvious, but it was exactly like I pictured it, even down to the overcast shoreline.
This photo was my view on Saturday at The Oceanic where Miss Rita and I lunched with three of her girlfriends, each of whom told me privately how excited Miss Rita is that I'm here!
The highlight event of my trip was dinner Friday night at Osteria Cicchetti. I had the best sweet tea of my life. The food was amazing too, but I can't get the sweet tea out of my head. : ) The OC was full of intention - striped linen napkins, wood floors (and wood ceiling beams and wood tables and wood chairs...), a silver cup for my sweetener, focaccia, and really good olive oil. It was really fun to have a long, relaxed dinner at such a charming restaurant. I could easily make it my usual for date night, birthday dinners, where-to-take-out-of-town-company, and Tuesdays.
The huge downside was that it rained nearly the whole time I was there. Actually, it's probably just as well, because like I said, we were going and gabbing the whole time. So then the real downside was just that we didn't have enough time!
I've already been invited back this summer (that invitation was extended before we even got home from the airport!) with the stipulation that Jason MUST come with me!
Every autumn for the past several years, my dad has gone on a big golf weekend to San Antonio with his golf guys (I was going to say "golf men," but that sounded funny for some reason.).
This year, his golf trip happened to fall on his 50th birthday, and he asked if Mom and I wanted to meet him down there for a celebration.
Of course, I said of course!
And he's so funny, because he said, "If you want to check your calendar and get back to me..." And I said, "No checking needed! I'm in! Awesome idea!" And at least 4 other times between the initial invite and the actual weekend, he asked if I would still be able to make it, if I like the idea, if the driving would be okay, etc.
Dude. It's your 50th birthday. I'm there.
We had a really amazing dinner at Morton's Steakhouse. My lobster bisque was incredible and so rich that I'm ashamed to tell you that I didn't finish it. But look, part of that was because I knew I had the braised beef short rib with jumbo sea scallops coming. The scallops were the best I've ever eaten. The surprise of the night was my horseradish mashed potatoes. They had just enough kick to make you sit up straight but not enough to activate your sinuses.
Oh, and the other surprise was that our waitress brought a lemon souffle for the birthday boy.
We had so much fun just doing what we do, which is basically 1. eating, and 2. cutting up.
Whose great idea was this, anyway??
Happy birthday, George!!
One thing Y & I were determined to do on our trip to the Dominican (way back last November) was to go ziplining. We agree that hands down, this was the best part of the trip.
The whole excursion (seriously, it was about 8 hours) started with us getting picked up by an animated black guy named Chocolat (Show-co-lot) in a ricketty old Nissan pickup. Uhh, can this be right? If ever there was a time for us to be kidnapped, this was it (or, actually, on the taxi ride to the resort). We were the only people getting picked up from our resort. But Chocolat was way too chatty to be a kidnapper, so we gulped and climbed into the bed of the truck.
Chocolat gave us a very entertaining history lesson on the drive. We picked up a few other couples from a few other resorts, one of whom were native Dominicans who now live in New York. They seemed doubly street-smart, so we breathed easy then.
We drove to Samana down highways, dirt roads, and finally rock paths. Then we hiked. Then we climbed makeshift railroad-tie-steps. Then we got harnessed up. Then we were ready. : )
Y and I each brought our cameras and each took pictures of the other, and we traded when we got home.
Here I am at the first line, which is over 1,000 feet long and 100 feet high.
And then I loosened up.
Y: Uhh, Angela? You might want to redo this one...
me: No, no! That one's a keeper FOR SURE!
And on the last few, I gathered the nerve to hang upside down. : ) Mikey, one of the staff, was responsible for sending us off each platform. He helped me put my feet on the line so I could hang upside down. He would just grab my foot and flip me backwards. But not until I was ready. He only made that mistake once, and he caught an earful. ; )
Y was like an old pro. She wasn't nervous at all. Just excited and cool.
Here's Chocolat on the left and Mikey on the right.
After the 12 ziplines, we hiked to a waterfall (You can see the stream in the photo above. It was very brown that day because of the rain.) and visited a noncommercial beach, where I had some of the best chicken of my life.
Definitely the best part of the trip.
Turns out, I'm a huge sucker for Dominicans complimenting me on my Spanish.
At our resort, everyone in guest relations speaks multiple languages: Spanish, English, French, Italian, and German. And most everyone was happy to humor me and speak Spanish or Spanglish and gently correct me. And it seemed like most of the staff was flattered to have guests who obviously aren't fluent speakers attempt to communicate in their native tongue.
Like Leiny. He would come chat with us when we were anywhere around the pool.
I may have been on my tip-toes for this picture.
The only problem was that as soon as I said, "Como esta?" they would speak Spanish again...very quickly. And then I'd have to say, "Bastante rapido...repeatan, por favor?"
At breakfast and lunch every day: "Buenos dias...muy bien. Dos aguas, por favor, y solamente dos personas. Oh, y tiene limonada? Perfecto. Mucho gusto. " And then on Day 5, Francisco schooled me on the difference between "mucho gusto" and "muchas gracias." "I've been using it wrong this whole time?? I thought they were interchangeable! Ahh, that's why Manuel corrected me at dinner last night!"
My favorite was Joanne. When we met, I started in Spanish because that was my M.O. for the week. She asked how our night was, and I switched to English because I got stumped. She interrupted me with, "En Espanol, por favor." So I switched back to Spanish and stumbled through as she smiled and nodded encouragingly. Then I chatted her up about her life for a few minutes.
She told me that my accent is what makes my Spanish so good (ha!). She said that when most people try to speak Spanish, they're hard to understand because they don't use the accent. But it was easy for her to understand what I was trying to say. She was very sweet to me. : )
I did the same thing to Porfi (Porfi!!) the next night as he was counting out Y's cash at the front desk: "Porfi...en espanol, por favor. Muchas gracias."
Y and I had a really fun conversation with him and Carlos on our last night. They were totally cutting up, and I was translating back and forth between them and Y, plus retorting my own Spanish lines. And then I got corrected again:
me: Porfi!! Toma una pelicula de mi y mi amiga, por favor? Alli?
Porfi: Si, but you want a photo. "Pelicula" is a... movie.
me: Que?!?! I've been saying that wrong this whole time?? No wonder everyone is looking at me like that!
And, Diomedes said my Spanish was beautiful, but I'm sure he says that to all the ladies. ; )
Adios! Mucho gusto!
A chronological list of all of the times that Y or I exclaimed, "Whoopsie!" There are exactly ten.
1. Y gets airplane passenger riled up over glorified murder of children by children, i.e. The Hunger Games book he was reading.
2. Y runs over a lady's bare toe with her suitcase at MIA.
3. The girls almost miss their flight from MIA to DR as they are sitting in the correct gate.
Intercom: Angela Ezzell, please report to Gate D21.
me: Oh, snap!...I'm Angela Ezzell, you just called me.
lady: You're supposed to be on the plane!
me: My boarding pass says we're boarding in 15 minutes!
lady: No! You should be in your seat right now!
me: Okay! I'm flying with her.
lady to Y: Let me see your boarding pass...you're already checked in.
Y: But I haven't checked in!
lady: I show you as on the plane.
Y: But I'm standing right here!
me to Y once on the plane: We are never speaking of this. Like, ever.
4. Upon arrival to the resort, Phanuel leads the girls into the wrong villa room. "Uhh...there's people's stuff in here!"
5. "What...? Oh. I have a pair of underwear in my pocket."
6. When the umbrella was wider than the doorway the girls were trying to go through. "Back up! BACK UP!!"
7. Angela gouges Y with an umbrella prong and drips umbrella water down her back, on accident, of course. This was the hardest I laughed on the whole trip. I literally couldn't stand up straight.
8. While on excursion when asked if anyone can identify the passion fruit that Lulu is holding up in front of the group, Angela shouts, "Cochina!" which is apparently a derogatory word for a dirty man, instead of "Chinola!" which, in fact, means passion fruit.
9. Angela picks up an unwanted Stalker Boy (probably 19 years old and too skinny to be dangerous) at the pool the second-to-last day who says, "I seeeee you...I see you at the beach" every time he walks by her. At dinner the same night, Stalker Boy gets in line behind Angela and says, "I seeeee you...it's nice to see you again." Y tries to rescue Angela by coming up behind her and touching her waist to pull her out of line, but Angela, thinking it's SB touching her, jumps out of her skin.
10. The girls miss their flight from MIA to DFW while waiting in customs. No matter, the very nice attendant rebooked them on the next flight and even sat them next to each other. In the last row. Right next to the bathroom.
These are still making us laugh days later. I started laughing out loud to myself while sitting on the plane from DR to Miami when I was thinking about #9.
Y and I agree - our favorite meals weren't the ones in the gourmet restaurants. They were the local ones.
While we were on our ziplining excursion, our guide took our group to a local beach. We ate at this restaurant called Emma's, which is just a kitchen covered by a hut with wooden tables and plastic chairs outside. Here's the front (in the middle background) and the back of the building.
This is Emma. Doesn't she just radiate warmth?
She served us rice and beans cooked in coconut milk, salad, and sauteed chicken with a dry rub. That chicken is in my Top 5 Chicken of All Time.
Our second favorite meal was the first meal we had. When we got to the resort, it was past 7:00 p.m. local time and we had been travelling all day. We dumped our bags in the room and went to the resort's buffet restaurant for Dominican night.
The traditional staple: sancocho! Our concierge recommended the sancocho which is a traditional Dominican stew. It's kind of like gumbo but with potatoes, plantains, and pork (at least, I hope that was pork) and can be served over rice.
The filler: grilled tomatoes. Just Roma tomatoes cut in half lengthwise, simply seasoned and grilled. I'm not sure why they were so delicious. We ate a lot of tomatoes, and they were plentiful.
The "Please, Sir, can I have some more?" dish: plantain mangu with onion. Looks like grits (or gruel) with sauteed yellow onion and each bite got better and better. I was really bummed that I only got it twice.
The eat-every-day-twice-a-day favorite: passion fruit with sugar (chinola con dos azucars).
This is passion fruit. It looks like eyeballs submerged in goo. BTW, the eyeballs are crunchy.
So the first night we were there, we each got a half to try. I took my first bite. It was tart, similar to grapefruit. As I was making an awful face, a waiter named Miguel walked by and started laughing. He quickly came back with two sugar packets, one for me and one for Y. We stirred the sugar in and I tried again. Delightful.
We became fast friends with Miguel, and twice a day when we saw him, I would say, "Miguel! Como esta? Muy bien, todo bien! Dos azucars para las chinolas, por favor! Muchas gracias!"
My typical go-to breakfast: fruit and a piece of French toast. There was bacon one morning, so...that was a good day. : )
I also grew to love the hot chocolate. Start with American hot chocolate and add more milk and a ton of cinnamon. It was one of those things that was weird at first but I kept drinking it for some reason (eww, this is gross - taste it!), and then I got it again the next day.
And this was my one this-is-so-crazy-I-can't-believe-I'm-about-to-eat-this dish: fried quail egg served with sauteed onion and on top of toast. It was alright. I finished it but didn't get it again.
And I'm happy to report that I only gained 4 pounds. : )
A few years ago, I coined the phrase, "That's great for you!" Translation: I wouldn't want that, but that's great for you!
"I'm pregnant!" "That's great for you!"
"I just got a new job! In Temple!" "That's great for you!" (LOLOL)
"I'm dying my hair red!" "Whoa!... That's great for you!"
My sister-in-law Sarah (my sister Sarah, she sells seashells...) and I got to visit during the summer that I was saying this all the time. We made a big joke out of it, trying to say it whenever possible and even when it didn't fit.
"How about ham for dinner?" "That's great for you!"
"Oh man, was that you in the bathroom?" "That's great for you!"
We all went shopping one day, and even though Sarah hates to shop and doesn't have many opinions about fashion, I dragged her into the Steve Madden store where I tried on these shoes.
And to get her goat because she hates to shop and doesn't have many opinions about fashion, I asked her, "Hey Sare! What about THESE?" She replied, "Umm...that's great for you!"
These shoes are currently in the Dominican Republic making my calves look amazing.
Dave hates these shoes because they're so tall. I love them because they're so tall. And since I'm 5' 1 1/2", I'm about 5' 10" (!!) when I wear these, which is just about perfect.
At least, I feel 5' 10". : )
So, one night after work, my best friend Yvonne (Y for short) called me. Ooh, let's sidebar for the nickname story. This was several years ago when we were new friends. So far, the only thing we had in common was that we ate lunch in the break room and we both scrapbooked. So that we could scrap together, we hosted an all-night scrap night in the fellowship hall of her church. Somewhere around 10:00 p.m., we had this conversation.
me: So how do you pronounce your name? I hear it a few ways.
Y: It doesn't matter. Either Ee-vonne or Yuh-vonne. Both are fine. Just not Why-vonne because I hate that!
me: So not Why-vonne...how about just Y? Would you hate that?
She rolled her eyes and laughed at me, and I called her Y for the rest of the night. Then Emily started calling her Y. Then Angie. Then Rachel and Jessie and Dave. And eventually even the firm partners were calling her Y. : )
We didn't quite make it all night, and I got home around 4:30 a.m. My grandparents were staying with us that weekend, and when I walked into the house, Papa was sitting at the breakfast table with his coffee and laptop, just doing his thing. He said, "Good morning!" And I replied, "Goodnight!"
Lots of sidebars, huh? That's how you can tell I'm in a good mood - I sidebar. : )
SO. Y called me one evening, which is a little unusual since we usually text or email. She had scored a great deal to Aruba and did I want to go with her? She had considered a few other options, even not going at all, and decided that her first choice was to go with me. : ) I told her my answer was ABSOLUTELY I want to go to Aruba with her, but let me just run it by Dave and call her back.
me: Hey! Y just invited me to Aruba! Can I go?
me: That's it?
Dave: Yeah...why wouldn't I let you go?
me: Because it's going to be expensive, because you're not invited, because it's going to take up vacation time...
Dave: Oh. No, it's fine.
me: That's it?!?!?!
So I called Y back.
"WE'RE GOING TO ARUUUUUUUBAAAAAAA!!!!!!!!!!!"
Then I called my mom.
"Guess what?? I'M GOING TO ARUUUUUUUBAAAAAAA!!!!!!!!!!!"
We later changed it to the Dominican Republic. : )
And bury them beneath the sea
I don't care what the people may say
What the people may say about me
I don't know if I've mentioned it, but I leave tomorrow for the Dominican Republic. I'm [almost] all packed up.
Sequins + pink + earth tones + stripes. My new usuals.
I have to be up at 4:00 a.m. tomorrow. I probably won't sleep at all tonight for fear of missing my alarm.
T minus 24 hours. : )
Whoopsie...song lyrics for a blog title and it's not August! Haven't you heard? I'm breaking ALL the rules now. (Can anyone name that movie quote?) "Pack Up" by Eliza Doolittle.
In exactly 12 days, I'm going to need my passport. : )
My renewed passport came in the mail last week. I started jumping up and down and maybe squealing when I opened the mail. The trip has been on the books since February, but it finally feels official.
I asked my mom if I could borrow her Nook for the trip, and she gave it to me instead. : ) I also have access to her library, which includes the Twilight Saga, The Hunger Games trilogy, Stephanie Plum, lots of murder mysteries, and lots of classics. So I'm all set.
I did, however, get a new cover for her my Nook. I stopped in at Barnes & Noble one afternoon and found a super-cute case and then realized I didn't know which size case I needed. So I asked the customer service guy.
me: Hi. I was wondering if you could help me pick out a case? My mom just gave me her Nook, and I like this one, but I don't know which Nook it is, and I haven't used it very much, and I don't know if this is the right size, so this is going to be a difficult conversation.
him: No, no! This is going to be a great conversation! We can figure this out! What can you tell me about it?
me: Um, it has the slidy-thing along the bottom (as I'm motioning with my index finger), and it's in color...I'm pretty sure it has internet access...it's white...
him: Okay, great. Is it more square or more rectangular?
me: Um, I think it's like this (making a rectangle with my hands). And you can turn the pages with your fingers?
him: Okay! Let's look at these. Is it like any of these?
me: I think it's this size. OH! It has the little clicky things on the sides!
him: Oh, okay! Perfect! That's a first generation...You can't use that case.
But I found this cool silver one, so it all worked out. : )
I'm trying to wait until Wednesday to start packing. We'll see if I make it. : )
It was actually a really awful flying experience. My flight was on a Friday in the early afternoon, so I took the day off of work and slept in. I woke up feeling terrible. Feverish, faint, and very weak. I had to sit down and rest about every 10 minutes as I was getting ready.
I briefly thought about cancelling my trip, but I was flying to visit a doctor, so I hoped it would all work out.
When I got to the Waco airport, I risked a ticket and a tow by parking on the front row in temporary parking. Y'all know how I hate to break the rules! But I wasn't sure I could make it from the lot across the street. Then the shoulder strap on my big ol' carry on bag broke, so I had to actually carry it. And at DFW, I had to navigate my way through the monorail system which would have been a great feat for me on a regular day.
Even though I was sick, I felt very grown-up and somewhat glamorous flying by myself to a girls' weekend. I hadn't done that since college.
When I got to Beth's, she loaded me up on a bunch of medicine. I woke up on Saturday morning feeling fantastic. : ) And then we had a really great weekend.
Supplies: Cardstock: Bazzill. Patterned paper: October Afternoon, Hambly, Scenic Route, American Crafts, Echo Park, Sassafrass. FabRips, rubons, arrow: Studio Calico. Fabric alphas, clip: American Crafts. Stickers: October Afternoon. Ticket: Jenni Bowlin. Twine: We R Memory Keepers. Paint: Apple Barrel. Punch: Fiskars.
Oh, and when I got back to Waco, my Jeep was still in temporary parking, no ticket or anything. ; )
Where my girls at??
These deer freaked me out. They were walking across neighborhood streets like it was nothing. Hello, I've seen Gilmore Girls! I saw that deer hit Rory's Jeep! Plus, I have an irrational fear of stampedes.
These waterfalls were pretty, but they smelled naaaasty. Like rotten eggs plus a home perm.
-Hello, Katarina. Make anyone cry today?
-Sadly, no. But it's only 4:30.
What's a trip to Milwaukee without a huge party, lots of family time, and hammock shenanigans?
And if I had a nickel for every time I heard a Milwaukee native complain about how hot their 85 degree weather was, I'd be on a boat to Barbados right now, away from the 102-degree-with-a-107-heat-index-and-50-percent-humidity-Central-Texas-weather.
Last weekend, we went to Bastille Days in downtown Milwaukee. It's the largest national outdoor French-themed festival in North America. It comes to downtown Milwaukee every summer for the last 30 years.
This wasn't the first time we've been.
It felt a little more magical the first time, but the second time around was still fun.
Except for this...
Last weekend, Dave and I celebrated our 6th wedding anniversary. [Happy anniversary, bebe.] I didn't wake up to donuts, but he did let me sleep in until 12:30. I KNOW.
We had the greatest overnight trip to Messina Hof Villa & Winery. It's only an hour and a half down Highway 6. We splurged a little since we were only staying one night. It was pretty perfect. The hospitality was amazing. So was the breakfast casserole. And the Angel Riesling. : )
This is how much Dave loves me: not only did he give me several unsolicited bites of his steak, but he also obliged when I jokingly-but-seriously suggested that he soak my bread in his steak juice. AND, he didn't even judge me for it! That's love. : )
I have some anniversary snipets to share.
(On Friday, 2 days before our anniversary)
A: How do you not know that about me yet?!
D: How am I supposed to know that? We haven't even been married for 6 years!
A: Okay, so on Sunday, you'll know everything?
(On Monday, filling out the comment card before checking out of the resort)
A: I added that I like that they have a DVD player in our room.
D: Can you show me where the DVD player is?
A: [I point to the black box.]
D (squints and gives me a small grin): Where?
A (pointing again): Right there on the edge of the dresser.
D: [stifling a laugh]
A: Is that not a DVD player?!
D (giggling): No. That's a satellite box.
A: Well, why do they have all those DVDs in the lobby? I saw those and thought I finally put 2 and 2 together! I'm not changing the survey!
D: Those poor employees! They're going to be looking all over this room for the DVD player!
And here's what our anniversary looks like on pretty pretty paper.
This page is currently in Arlington for the Great American Scrapbook Convention! Woot woot!
Okay, I think that's finally all my tales from Memorial Day weekend. Man, it was a good one!
I was in Nashville last weekend to visit my friend Beth and tour the city. When I look back, I can’t believe we did so much. It would be a lot faster to tell you what we didn’t do, which is sit around.
Lunch at Bread & Company
I had the T.A.B. sandwich, which was shredded turkey, bacon, bleu cheese, Granny Smith apples, and pesto mayo on their homemade wheat bread. It was a big ‘un.
Beth had the PB&A (peanut butter, Granny Smith apples, and honey cinnamon cream cheese on cranberry walnut bread) which sounds crazy but is amazing.
Shopping in Historic Hillsboro Village
At store Social Graces
We didn’t know exactly where this store was. Beth had inadvertently left her phone and GPS at the house. My phone had a nearly dead battery and no internet access. So first we called Beth’s husband to get us to the right part of town. Then I called the store for directions. It was a little comical since I don’t live in Nashville and the girl I talked to just moved to Nashville. In actuality, it was Beth and the cupcake girl conversing via me. The girl didn’t sound confident but said it was 1.5 miles past the Wal-Mart and on the left. Beth knew where that was, so we were set.
So we go to the Wal-Mart, and after about a mile, we pass a second Wal-Mart. On the same road. Hmm. Maybe it’s 1.5 miles past the second one? So we drive further until there’s really nothing left, make our first U-turn, and head back, all the while still looking thinking that maybe we missed it because surely we’ve already passed it. It’s still not there.
I make my second phone call to the store and we get redirected by a different cupcake. After the third Wal-Mart and second U-turn, Beth said to me, “Okay, I’m up for whatever, but let me know if you’d like to give up.” To which I replied, “Uh uhhh. I’m committed.” And finally finally we found it. [Insert gospel choir here.]
Dinner at Park Café
Brick Roasted Chicken Breast
Molasses Glazed Pork Chop
We also had lots of great girl time, homemade meals, movies, and general merriment.
My only disappointment was that I didn’t bump into Taylor Swift. I was prepared to block the exits until she agreed to be my friend.
I have to say, I’m really enjoying these “city” tours. Who's next?!
Anyone who knows me knows that I like to eat. And I didn't really hold back on our road trip, either.
First stop: Doe's in Little Rock. I ordered the grilled turkey and Swiss which was a mistake. Dave ordered a cheeseburger which was delicious. I could usually take it or leave it when it comes to burgers, but I ate about one-eighth of his. (Maybe one-fourth. Dave just coughed. Fine! One-third! Stop offering me bites if you don't want me to eat it!) They have a 2.5-3 pound porterhouse that I've heard is amazing, but Dave wouldn't let me get it. True story.
Rendezvous in Memphis. It's in an alley, but don't let that scare you away.
Notice the sheer joy on my face. Dave and I shared this. The ribs were goooooood. The pulled pork was the best I've ever eaten. I didn't know cole slaw could be so tangy. It made my jaw lock like I was eating a good lemon meringue pie. And the sweet tea was perfect after walking all through town. Ah-mazing.
Brother Juniper's in Memphis:
I had the special: French toast with strawberry creme fraise and the best bacon I've ever eaten, maybe with the exception of the applewood bacon of 2006. Dave is dunking his toast into his cheese grits. I mean, c'mon. That's good stuff.
Superdawg's in Chicago. That's the owner and his wife at the top - no joke. And this, my friends, is a Superdawg:
A hot dog cocooned in a steamed poppy seed bun with mustard, onion, picalilly, dill pickle spear, and a tomato. Normally, I would not eat any of those on a hot dog. I'm a chili and cheese kinda gal. But when in Rome and all of that, so I just went for it, with a strawberry shake thrown in for good measure. It was reeeeeal good. This was Dave's favorite part of the trip.
And for the home cookin':
Yes, more ribs. Plus a great salad, roasted potatoes that my sister Sarah (hee, hee) made, cookies, chicken, and all the great company needed for a proper backyard barbeque. Thanks to the in-laws for putting this on.
Mexican lasagna with everything but olives, jalapenos, and the kitchen sink, plus homemade guac. Recipe here. (Note: You can click "print recipe" towards the bottom of the page. If you print from File/Print it will print the whole blog post, which is about 41 pages. Also, the recipe says it serves 8. The only way it serves 8 is if you multiply that 8 by 2.5.)
For Dave. He usually gets vanilla, but the chocolate was great, too. ; )
From our day in Chi-town:
The double bacon BLT from Riva at Navy Pier. My in-laws shared it. Good, but not when it's 85 degrees out and you're walking all over town.
Sigh. We were in a store on Michigan Avenue, and we asked the sales associate where she would go for great Chicago deep dish. She said she likes Giardano's just around the corner. I had heard lots of great things about Gino's East, but it was (apparently) on the other side of town and alas, not meant to be. So we put our names on the list at Giardano's for the 30 minute wait and decide to walk around as we're waiting. Somehow, we rounded a corner, and right there on the side street was Gino's East! I swear I heard a choir somewhere. We hopped in line for that 30 minute wait and didn't look back. It was worth it. FYI - the pizza takes an hour to cook, so plan accordingly. Once again, worth it.
And finally, from St. Louis:
(for the line that was literally down the hall, back up the hall, and out the door)
Pappy's Smokehouse in St. Louis where the waitress sat us at the "big and tall" table. Seriously, there was a sign. I couldn't help but blurt out, "Really? You're going to put the 5' girl at the big and tall table?" We got suckered into ordering brisket even though Dave argued that living in Texas, we know brisket. It didn't compare, and not in a good way. Notice the lack of a smoke ring. The ribs were good, but I think I've been spoiled all my life because I've enjoyed many a rib. (P.S. That is a half rack pictured above. You get a lot for the money.) These didn't make my top 5, but the restaurant has won bazillions of awards and a shout out from Zagat's, so more power to them. If you're from Texas, I recommend taking a shot in the dark at St. Louis BBQ. If you've never had BBQ, by all means, this is standard fare. I'll also give you the option of coming over to my house for Dave's ribs, Mom's modified potato salad (read: no raw onion : ) ), and Meme's baked beans. THAT will make you unbutton your pants. : )
Obviously there were more meals along the way, but nothing else I would write home about or have photos of.
If you find yourself in Chicago, Garrett's has tins that can be shipped nation-wide... ; )
It was good to be gone, and now it's good to be home. I'm 96.2% sure that it will not be good to get up for work in the morning.
I think I'll be sharing more photos and stories of our road trip this week. Next week, we'll move onto bigger and better...
And now, car photos. We spent a lot of time being goofy with the camera. That's what you get when you drive cross-country.
Just to prove that we left before the butt crack of dawn. Time of departure: 5:10 am.
Coming into Memphis - "Do you think he needs bigger blinkers?"
Caught Dave singing. : )
I'm sampling Dave's chocolate shake at Superdawg's carhop in Chicago. They say they give you a straw just to prove that the shake is too thick to eat through it.
Self-timer shots. I kept trying to take it without smiling, but as soon as the camera started the warning beeps, Dave would say, "What is that smell?!" and make me laugh.
I got him back. : )
This is my favorite car shot. It was taken some 200 miles on our way back from St. Louis. I notice several things:
We both have our shoes off.
I'm curled up in a blanket, even though the sun is shining down on me.
Dave has his mints close by.
I've taken my ring off because my fingers are swollen because I'm not drinking much water because we're hard core about potty breaks.
I'm reading The Girl Who Played With Fire by Stieg Larsson. Dave made up a "game" that we couldn't eat lunch until I finished the book. ("We'll have to sit in the parking lot!" "What is it with you making up all these rules?!" "They're traditions!")
Dave is not reading because he's driving.
We finally finally have Starbucks. We missed the alarm, slept an extra hour, and bolted out of bed to get ready asap. This was the last day with the 13 hour (minimum) trip. Our hotel didn't have breakfast, so we just loaded the car and went. After an hour on the road, we stopped for gas and I asked the cashier if there's a Starbucks at a westward exit. No, honey, you missed it. Alright. Around 10 (two hours later), we spot a logo on the next exit sign. Yahtzee and high five!! Exit, turn right, do you see it? No, just a grocery store and gas station, keep going. Road forks. Turn right? Sure. We drive a half mile, see Casey's general store that was on the exit sign, but no Starbucks. Giddy-up U-turn and drive a mile in the other direction. No dice. Turn back on the main street and pull into the shopping strip parking lot where it inevitably has to be because we've exhausted all other options. This feels a lot like the detour 30 minutes ago when Dave was bested by the exit sign teasing a Panera. Finally Dave spots it. No circle logo, just small letters. It's inside the huge Price Saver (Price Mart? Price something) grocery store. WHAAAAAT?!?!! Fine, whatever.
Now, this next part may seem rude, but remember that 1. we have a long trip ahead of us, 2. it's past mid-morning and Dave hasn't had coffee and worse, I haven't had breakfast, and 3. Missouri has been withholding caffeine at literally every turn.
So we go in and order. I ordered a caramel frap, lemon pound cake, and a petite vanilla bean scone (which was delicious). The 16 year-old girl asked me if I want whip cream. It comes with whip cream, and I didn't say no whip cream, so yes. She asked for my name and wrote it on my cup. I don't know why she didn't go ahead and give me my food, but whatever, I have to go to the bathroom first anyway. Then I left Dave for a restroom. I come back, Dave's gone, and two women are hovering over the small counter where the baristas/girls deliver the drinks. The girl puts a small frozen drink on the counter and says, "Tall caramel frappucino." One of the women immediately picks it up and starts examining it and wonders out loud why it doesn't look like the vanilla bean frap that she ordered! I peer around her and see my name on the cup. Lady, that's mine! I interrupt her before she starts sniffing it or sampling my whip cream.
Then the girl puts another drink on the counter and says the name of the drink. I don't know what Dave ordered since I had already left. She looks at me and says, "Is that yours, too?" Well, I don't know! What's the name on the cup?! Why do you write the name if you aren't going to say the name? That would keep people's grubby paws off other people's drinks AND avoid confusion for spouses! Dave walks up at that point and claims his drink. The girl looks at me like, "We're done here." Excuse me, I had food. Oh, okay, here you go. Uh huh.
I was in a remarkably better mood once we got back in the car.
Moral of the story: Don't dangle food, Missouri, in front of a hungry Texas girl unless you're ready to fight!
Also, I get crabby when I'm hungry. : )
I underestimated you.
I never felt so much like a true city girl as when I was riding the train in, the trolley, and the L.
The bustle of Wacker during lunchtime ignited my inner businesswoman.
I almost skipped your Willis [Sears] Tower, and the glass platform made me downright giddy.
My taste buds reached out and slapped my grandma when my tongue hit that yeasty deep-dish crust.
As I walked through your crosswalks, I saw myself in the faces of the young twenty-somethings wearing gabardine city shorts and savvy flats.
You almost make me want to live in a real city.
Chicago, I like you. A lot.
Yes, yes I did. : )