Monday, August 11, 2008


Chowder monkeys!

Sorry I wasn't around more last week. Writing and cleaning took priority. J leaves me to fly to Orlando today. I'll be joining her later this week. A friend is watching the cats while we're gone. I might be able to sneak in a post. Also I hope to sneak in at least one trip to the climbing gym in Orlando, Aiguille. I also just saw that UCF has a climbing wall, so maybe we'll give that wall a shot since it's about 4 minutes from J's parents house.

We will also be visiting Sea World's new waterpark, Aquatica, so expect a review of that next week. I'm looking forward to it. So far we're out $100 ($41.95 each ticket, $10 for parking) and we'll be doing the unlimited trip buffet deal for $20 each (one trip is $12.95), so that's a grand total of $140, oh and locker rental and figure another $20 or so for incidentals, so let's make it $170, but we'll be getting our money's worth since we get an hour early entry (so we get in at 8 when the park officially opens at 9) and with the unlimited food (lots of vegetables!) and drinks at the buffet, I figure we'll get there, snag a couple shady chairs, splash around, slide some slides, eat, sleep, maybe read during the crazy packed hot hours of early afternoon and then get back in the water once the crowds die down. I'm gonna try and milk every cent out of that 160ish dollars.

My brother's wedding in STL was a wacky whirlwind weekend. The flight up was fairly noneventful and we slept a lot considering we didn't sleep the previous night. I had originally planned to visit the local farmer's market in STL, Soulard Market, and maybe stop at the Arch and take a few pics, but we were tired and sleepy so we bailed and drove to Troy, MO but not before stopping at Bass Pro Shops (somebody tell Kevin!). I don't really know why Dad decided to stop there, maybe he just didn't want the trip to be straight Troy-airport-Troy, so we popped off the highway and wandered around, Dad, J, me and my grandmother. So many shotguns and rifles, ammo, shirts, mugs, tons of clothing, then we wandered over to the really fun section and looked at the boats and ATVs. I saw the biggest outboard motor I've ever laid my eyes upon, an Evinrude 300! Holy crap! It's a V6 and makes 300 hp! You could run down fish and catch them bare-handed with that! So J and I did some The Price Is Right work and did some boat pricing, pontoon boats are around $20,000 depending on accessories, they had a sparkly bass boat for $45,000! Yikes.

Back to the hotel to pick up Mom and Grandpa and then we got some lunch. Apparently the place was owned by someone vaguely related to my new sister-in-law, and it was a nice local diner type place. And they were still serving breakfast! Trying to keep the animals alive, I ordered an egg and cheese sandwich, green beans and fried okra. I also ordered "unsweet tea" and then wondered aloud if I had to make that distinction (this was the first time I'd ever spent real time in the MidWest - heartland of America). I was told no, there's no such thing as sweet tea in Missouri. I then pictured my US state map and realized we were above Arkansas, Tennessee and Kentucky, distinctly out of the South (the accents helped me realize this too). But they outsmarted my vegetarianism as I apparently telepathically ordered a side of bacon with my green beans. Seriously, there had to have been at least 2 full strips of bacon in my small side of green beans. You win today Pork Producers of America. As I was finishing up my apple pie, I was informed that I would be helping move tables and chairs at the reception site. Wha? No nap? No shower? But I'm sleepy. Ah well, it'll give me a chance to meet new SIL and see Brother. We had to go pick them up at a local party rental place and I got to ride in a real live Midwestern truck, complete with loose shotgun shells and duckcalls in the cab. Ah, it's nice to know rednecks are everywhere. (Not that I'm against hunting or guns but, come on, loose shells? That's not helping anybody, at least I didn't see any empty beer cans)

I finally get a reprieve and head back to the hotel, shower and relax for a bit. Then we hit the road for the rehearsal (Bowling Green, MO) and dinner (Louisiana, Missouri and yes it was on the Mississippi River, being about a block or two from the restaurant). Brother's slideshow of baby pictures to college pictures was a lot of fun and I got to see my hair grown long, then shaved, then long again, as Brother experimented with his facial hair and hair colors.

A long ride back to the hotel, 4th meal at the Taco Bell in the hotel parking lot, and sleep knowing that I would wake up and get to watch qualifying for the Hungarian Gran Prix while eating the delicious breakfast of freshly made waffles, bagels and some fruit. I think I made one guy mad by changing the channel but I'm sure he watches the morning news everyday, F1 qualifying is only 16 or so times a year. I saw no one else even remotely interested in watching. Not shocking. I'm sure there are some places in St Louis to watch F1 races.

J and I went back to the room and caught a nap. I woke up and decided to work out a little. Did some weights and yoga and then it was time for lunch. 'Rents and g'rents were going to some roast beef place across the street but J and I wanted something different so we went against PETA's wishes and hit KFC. Their BBQ snacker sandwich thing was not good but that's what I get ordering non-chicken at a chicken place. J wanted some coffee, so we hit McDonalds and encountered mass chaos. If I hadn't been in such a good place mentally, this place would've pushed me over the edge. There was a huge puddle in front of the drinks, replete with warning sign and slowly mopping employee (added note, all employees were white which is another way to tell you're in the Midwest, I challenge you to find an all white staffed fast food place down here that isn't Chick-Fil-A), kids running around inside and outside on the playground. Lots of people as the lunch rush was winding down. The reason we went is I noticed they had a McCafe sign advertising Starbucks-like lattes and the sort. J ordered an iced vanilla latte with whole milk and whipped cream. It tasted just like those gas station cappuccinos. Cloyingly sweet and delicious. A sip or two was all I needed to make it back to the hotel (we walked to lunch). They even had a little espresso looking machine making the coffee. It wasn't bad but is more expensive than the gas station cappuccino.

Shower, get ready, drive, show up and wait. We were there 2.5 hours before the wedding to take family pics. It was nice but the wait was not. Books, magazines, ipods and a Nintendo DS all came in handy for killing time. The ceremony was in a smaller church and really lent a warm feeling to the ceremony. We hung around after and took some more pictures and then made our way back toward Troy and the reception. They didn't have a "wedding cake" but each table had its own cake and sharing was encouraged. Our table had a sugar free strawberry shortcake angel food whip cream cake that was a decent hit. I didn't try it. I did try the monkey bread (but was disappointed when I found out it was made by a chef who used biscuit dough in a can) and it was okay, the white-chocolate cake was a half and half vanilla-chocolate cake with fondant icing and it was pretty good. The raw apple cake was really good. It was baked so the apples start out raw. It was really sweet and cinnamony and really good. The red velvet cake was decent too. The carrotcake table hooked me up. I made a comment that I was really just in it for the icing and with one deft move of her wrist, she had cut away most of the cake leaving a glut of icing, nuts and carrots. Glorious. I hit the wall at this point and stopped eating cake.

The meal preceding the cake was sparse but good. The watermelon slices were sweet and yummy. The ranch (I think) seasoned pasta salad was really good and both J and my favorite. The cole slaw was a vinegar based slaw and a welcome change from the mayo based, of course helped by the fact that I like vinegar. The pork burgers were the worst of a burger and a pulled pork sandwich put together. Maybe it's because I was raised on Southern BBQ, or maybe my Southern blood is addicted to sugar, so the sauce is a very important part of BBQ. And with the pulled pork (pork that is slow cooked and literally pulled apart into shreds with a fork) you get every inch of your pork covered in delicious sauce. With the pork burger, you only get sauce on the top and bottom, decidedly less sauce than is possible. They also didn't have any extra sauce to add. Maybe I'm a sauce junkie. Also with cow burgers, the flavor of the meat and cooking method can shine and then you can enhance that flavor with sauce. Pork doesn't have that quality (unless it's smoked, and then droooooool) so it needs lots of spice and sauce help. Maybe it was this place's pork burgers, I'm willing to try them again, but I wasn't impressed, at least it wasn't dry. I even tried putting the slaw on the pork burger (that might be a Carolina thing, cole slaw on BBQ, but it might occur in other parts) and that helped but couldn't save the bland pork burger.

We danced the night away and noticed that not all guests were created equal. I noticed one table had Guinness and Bud Light. Another had a bottle of wine. The bridal party had a sparkling blueberry lemonade that looked really good (as did the Guinness). J and I also noticed people coming from the house (the reception happened in the large side yard under a tent) had large pink looking drinks that didn't look like the yellow lemonade available to all wedding guests. I suppose that's how you save money but I would've liked a Guinness or a pink cocktail, or at least been offered one. It would've been nice to know it was BYOB.

Brother told us they weren't doing the bouquet toss or the leaving in the slightly messed up car. I love those parts! Fine, well we're leaving, be safe in Africa, said goodbye to the few friends and SIL's family and then went back to the hotel. Breakfast the next morning was F1 free because with the central time, the race started at 7 am and I missed the start so I didn't want to watch any of the race. We got to STL in time to catch our plane, boarded and then are told that they need to change a tire. No problem, those F1 and NASCAR guys can change a tire in 3 seconds, but I wonder what an airplane jack looks like? They inform us that it's both tires and the brake assembly which locked up cooking itself and the tires after the last landing and it's going to be a couple hours and get off the plane. They had someone at the desk helping to reschedule people's connecting flights but also handed out a phone number you could call if you had a cell phone (I do!). So I called that number and in 5 minutes had our connecting flight from Detroit to Greenville rescheduled. Bam! No lines, no yelling, so simple. Thanks to Northwest for offering that service. They then offered a $10 voucher good for some airmiles, a meal in the airport or a drink on the plane. J was eyeing some nachos next to our gate so we beat the crowd in and ordered. They hit the spot and were actually pretty good. Back on the plane, off to Detroit, over to the gate and finally make it into GSP not at 3:30 pm, but 9:30 pm. Ugh.

I wish we had a chance to rendezvous with Brad and the Princess of Power, but I'm sure there will be other trips to St. Louis, especially since it sounds like Brother has already resigned himself to living in St. Louis to be near SIL's family who aren't happy that she's teaching in Africa (where Brother and SIL met). And in response to PoP's comment on the last post, has your Canadian friend ever been to the Carolinas? There is no way she could confuse the almost unintelligible Southern drawl with the fairly normal except for a few vowel sounds Midwestern accent. Does she say aboot, ootside, hoser and eh? Everyone has a funny accent to somebody. I didn't make it to Southern MO but imagine it's a hybrid of the Southern/Midwest accent. I love accents and languages. I should've been a linguist. If I were good enough, I would obviously be a cunning linguist.

Labels: , , , , ,


<< Home

This page is powered by Blogger. Isn't yours?


View Products
Freedom is NORML

Search WWW Search
Who Links Here