Sep 162021
 

I’m not going to lie: I was HANGRY by the time we left Great Escape. I mean, we were in the middle of a line for the little antique car ride thing and I cried uncle. I just needed to leave and stuff food in my maw.

Surely someone out there can relate to this, but I often get so HUNGRY that I actually don’t even register the hunger and go straight to crimson-vision Murder Town where the only thing that seems tasty to me is lacerating the feelings of everyone around me with my silver-tongued vitriol.

Well, that’s what was happening Sunday evening when Henry rolled up to the pre-determined diner of his choice and we made it as far as the vestibule before I shouted about not wanting to eat there and stomped back off to the car.

TRAVELING WITH ERIN! The sign-up sheet is behind Todd’s desk.

(Sorry. That’s where they always put the sign-up sheets food parties at work BACK WHEN WE SHARED OFFICE AIR AND FOOD, I barely remember.)

Henry, you would think, should be used to this by now but he still gets a bee up his butt when I show signs of distress or discontent. Like hello maybe try harder to impress and satisfy me while simultaneously squashing my hunger, bitch. So he started to just angrily drive aimlessly around this foreign part of New York while Chooch was in the backseat mumbling, “Here we go.” Ah, family road trips!

He drove back past Great Escape.

Past the road he should have taken to get back to our hotel in Utica.

Past some annoying Outlets which had Chooch screaming because OMG Adidas.

Past…wait—these mini golf places are fucking cool.

IS THAT A SMALL AMUSEMENT PARK OVER THERE.

I actually gasped out loud at one point, to my horror, because Erin-Pouts-A-Lot was still very much in the throes of The Silent Treatment portion of that Sunday’s tantrum du jour.

Ah yes, my friends, Henry had unknowingly driven us right into the tourist trap of LAKE GEORGE. I had never heard of this so-called LAKE WITH THE MAN’S NAME but from the car window, it appeared to be a Pigeon Forge Lite and I desperately needed Henry to stop the car, but instead of just asking him to, you know, stop the car like a regular, functioning grown-up would, I had to play my little baby games with him by saying things like, “Wow OK cool you just passed up like 7 places where we could have eaten, but sure, just keep driving” and “A real man would have parked the car by now” and “Oh wait, I keep forgetting that you’re too cheap to take your family to a place like this.”

LOL wow it’s really amazing that he didn’t park the car in the middle of the street solely to dump my body in the lake.

Anyway, we went back and forth like this for a while, with him saying, “I SAID I AM LOOKING FOR A PARKING SPOT” and me saying, “OH JUST FORGET IT” and then him finally finding a parking spot and me complaining because I wasn’t wearing nicer shoes for the LAKE GEORGE EXPERIENCE and Chooch saying, “Hello, remember me? The growing boy who sincerely needs to be fed?”

Things calmed down very quickly once we parked, but I found it odd that while we were standing in front of the parking meter, two separate old guys basically pushed us out of the way so they could use it, and they were dumping POCKETSFULL of quarters into that thing while complaining about how it didn’t work?? One of them came back and asked us, “Did you get it to work?” and Henry was like, “Uh yeah, I used the app.”

Dumb old people.

And then right off the bat, we lost Chooch to an arcade.

We were all so hungry but I wanted to walk around while it was still light out.

I never would have thought of myself as A LAKE PERSON but I liked what I saw and now I’m desperate to go back and do LAKE THINGS as long as I don’t have to actually GO INTO THE LAKE. I want to go on one of the big boat cruise things they have though!

This reminded me so much of Europe! Probably the closest I’ll get to that in a while, fucking covid.

There’s a lot of Native American history ’round these parts. Maybe if we come and go on one of the BOAT TOURS, we will learn stuff.

Chooch spotted some Italian restaurant called Mezza Luna and his taste buds imprinted on it immediately. We had no choice but to dine here, and it was pretty decent!

MIRROR SELFIE.

There was some King of Queens asshole sitting in a nearby booth bragging to his date about how much his collectible nerd toys cost (Chooch whipped around in his seat to look at him when he price-dropped something in his collection and it was SO OBVIOUS, thanks Chooch). I couldn’t wait for him to leave because he kept doing a powerful trucker-sniffle and I cannot stand that shit, ugh.

I haven’t had pasta in a hot minute, yo, and I was pretty happy. Chooch and Henry both got different personal pizzas and our some-kind-of-European-accented waiter DENNY brought us plates to share.  Then he dropped a plate over by the bar and Henry and I both murmured, “Good job, Denny” at the same time – I hate when we’re on the same wavelength when I’m still trying to be mad at him!!

When we got the check, we marveled over the fact that it was only $10 more than the total from when Henry and Chooch had dinner at lame-ass Eat n Park several weeks ago. Look, Eat n Park, you ain’t worth all that, ok.

THEN WE WENT TO THE HOUSE OF FRANKENSTEIN!! Usually Henry frowns upon these things but he actually was like, “Fine, let’s do it.” I think Henry is really changing, you guys. It’s almost like he WANTS to have fun now??

I took this by accident but thought it was cool. I bet that snot-suckler at Mezza Luna knows how much these monster figurines are worth.

Anyway, this place was so much better than anticipated! You just walk through and peer into various windows to have your mind blown with the macabre, you know?

The only bad part was when the family behind caught up to us because they were practically running past everything instead of taking the time to really let the sinister vignettes simmer into their system. The patriarch (dad? grandpa?) of the crew was practically leering over Henry’s shoulder and it was so uncomfortable. Like, just go around us, assholes! We were actually trying to enjoy what Frankenstein had to offer.

Then Henry and Chooch got ice cream and I was going to as well but the dour girls working the scoop zone didn’t inspire me much. I have slight regertz now though because Chooch let me taste his ice cream and it was really good and he raved for the rest of  the night about how it might have been the best ice cream he’s ever had, but it was definitely the best waffle and I was like, “OK I GET IT, I FUCKED UP. TOO LATE NOW.”

Chooch kept saying this in a leprechaun voice, like “pray to me god” instead of “pray to my god” and I couldn’t stop cracking up over it.

Then we drove back to the ice cream place across from Great Escape so I could get this supposedly famous Dandee Creme that was featured on the Today Show.

Of course Henry picked the slowest line because we were behind a group that all ordered milk shakes. That was OK though because I kept wavering on what flavor I wanted and at the last minute went with raspberry and chocolate twist with sprinkles.

It was OK! I’ve had a lot of soft serve and custard in my days so I’m not sure if this really has that write-home-ability to it but it got the job done. This was a SMALL size though and I wish I had known they were that big so I could have went with the kid cone because woo-wee. That put a lot of junk in my trunk at 9:30pm at night. Yikes.

Then we had to drive nearly two hours back to our hotel in Utica, so that was tons of fun for Henry, haha!

But overall, wow Lake George, way to salvage an evening that was quickly going south! I am so dead-set on returning that I already had a travel guide mailed to us, haha. Let’s gooooo.

Sep 122021
 

Since Seabreeze was such a small park, we decided to just do a half day there and then drive another hour or so away to Sylvan Beach, a small little resort village on Lake Oneida which is similar in some ways to our Conneaut Lake Park in that the area is pretty but the amusement park is janky AF. Sylvan Beach’s park was even smaller than Conneaut’s but I ended up loving this place so much more. The vibes were solid.

And the colors were poppin’!

This is one of those places where you can either pay for a ride-all-day wristband (not worth it unless you’re a small child because the bulk of the rides were kiddie rides) so we just calculated how many tickets we’d need to knock out the rides we came to ride: the carnival-scale roller coaster called Galaxi, the Rotor, Laffland (a Pretzel darkride!!!), and one or two flat rides. SADLY, Galaxi was closed because it’s being repainted – no idea why they wouldn’t wait until the off-season to accomplish this, but you do you, Sylvan Beach. And the Rotor was also inexplicably closed. So, that was sad but we still managed to eke out a good three hours at this place, somehow, and had a lot of fun.

There was a sign on the ticket booth that said something like, “Just stand in front of the ride you want to ride and a ride operator will be over shortly.” It was that kind of a place, lol.

The first item on the agenda was FOOD. We didn’t eat at Seabreeze and were running off of vegan donut-fumes at that point. Henry went right up to some old man and asked him where he got the pizza that he was in the process of raising up to his lips, way to be a rude-ass, Henry. The guy pointed us to KAHUNA’S, where Henry went hogwild and ordered a whole cheese pizza and fries. Wow, don’t hold back, Big Guy. But then we had time to kill so we went to the nearby arcade, which apparently isn’t affiliated with Sylvan Beach but sure does enjoy that prime location right smack in the middle of this place.

You guys, I am SO SICK of Chooch’s obsession with arcades. When will it end?? Will it just eventually morph into a gambling addiction? Are Las Vegas benders in his future?? And there were like THREE separate arcades here too, I wanted to die.

Some older man walked past us at one point and dropped a quarter. Henry picked it up and tried to hand it back to him, but he dropped it again and said with a creepy, puddin’ face, “It’s for the kids.” We were like OK buddy but Chooch was like, “Wait, really??” and noticed that some young child was following in the guy’s wake, snatching up the purposely-discarded questers, so then Chocoh decided to get in on this action too and started beating the kid to the punch.

Wow, Chooch was getting some DEATH GLARES from that little kid.

Anyway, turns out that that kid was the son of the Quarter Dropper, so good fucking job, Chooch, you thief.

Meanwhile, Henry kept saying, “How hasn’t he run out of quarters yet?” OH FOR GOD’S SAKE, HENRY, KEEP UP!

Henry’s fries were done before the pizza. We stole a bunch before Henry sent us off. “GO RIDE SOMETHING WHILE WE’RE WAITING FOR THIS PIZZA!” he demanded, because he was sick of us, I guess. Even the Henrys of the world need some quiet time.

I wanted to ride this contraption called Tip Top, which appeared to be something akin to Tea Cups, but nope. So much worse. First, though, we had to wait for the ride operator over at the Tilt-a-Whirl to finish her cycle before coming over to operate the Tip Top.

Oh also, it took forever to even start the ride because two little girls were standing on the ride platform looking lost so  the ride operator came over and was like, “Hello, please sit down” and the older of the two was like, “She wants to sit in the blue one because blue is her favorite color, but…” and then pointed the already-occupied blue one. So the ride operator was like, “Aw, well how about this nice pink one right here” and the older one was like, “Blue is her favorite color” and the younger one was on the verge of crying and I kind of wanted her too because sometimes I think I feed off of children’s disappointment. Anyway, this went on forever and I was like, “COME  THE FUCK ON I WANT TO RIDE THIS THING AND EAT MY PIZZA JUST TELL THE BITCH THAT THE PINK ONE IS A RARE SHADE OF BLUE” but they ended up getting off the ride like little bitches.

Idiots.

OMG this ride was so scary. First of all, it started out Teacup-esque, where it just spins in a circle while you make your own car spin too. But then the whole platform (which was basically made of PLYWOOD) tilts up and does all kinds of other tilt-y, unsafe things and I was SCREAMING. Mostly because I felt v. unsafe and then I thought Chooch was going to fall out of the opening in our car and so he started purposely flailing around and I was like THIS IS HOW PEOPLE DIE and the ride operator wasn’t stopping the ride after like 55 rotations WHY WASN’T SHE STOPPING THE RIDE.

It was a JOURNEY.

Meanwhile, the pizza was done and Henry had already housed half of it by the time we were done having our Tips Topped.

Ew.

But not-ew was this pizza! It tasted like roller rink pizza and I was so happy about it! Also while we were eating, whatever radio station was playing announced that JACKSON WANG was coming on air in a bit, STRAIGHT FROM CHINA, to answer some of the listeners’ questions. I started freaking out! I love Jackson Wang! He was/is in one of my favorite kpop groups, GOT7. Not sure what their future is looking like as a group because none of them resigned with their agency, but they also won’t say that they’ve disbanded.

Anyway, that was a nice surprise! Of course I didn’t get to actually hear him because we were done eating by then.

For as fly-by-night as this place was, I really couldn’t get over how colorful it was. I can tell that it must have been a very nice place at one time, and it feels like they’re trying to bring back some of that magic. I think they can do it!

The fact that they have preserved this piece of amusement history is worth supporting Sylvan Beach. I am a big dark ride fan and even without the prospect of getting that +1 credit (I just learned this term! It means when you go out of your way to a small park that only has one dinky coaster just to get that credit), I would have definitely suggested that we factor this into our NY road trip, because it is a CLASSIC PRETZEL DARK RIDE.

When I was a kid in the 80s, Le Cachot was one of my favorite rides at Kennywood. Back then, I didn’t know shit about ride manufacturers and “pretzel cars” but Le Cachot had them and if you’ve been on a ride like this, you will know that there is a certain electric-zapping-whirring sound that the cars make as they whip around corners. Hearing this sound again that evening, in Laffland, was like have a bucket of ice cold nostalgia dumped on me.

Literally NO ONE was in line for this. The young guy manning the Fun Slides right next to Laffland came over and told us to hold on while he fetched the ride operator – this super friendly woman who was delighted to send some patrons through her ride.

Henry and I rode together and Chooch went in after us. He said that while he was still standing outside, he could hear me screaming through the whole thing and it was “embarrassing.” Lol.

But OMG it was wonderful! I fucking LOVE DARK RIDES. Not those newfangled shooter ones. I want the old shit! I want the hokey animatronics and the strobe lights. I want the tilted floors and laughing witches.

Ya gotta come to Sylvan Beach for the Laffland. It costs like 3 tickets. I think each ticket was $1.50 or something. It’s worth it, I fucking promise you. The sounds and the old-timey stench alone will make you remember all the best parts of being a kid and whoa, OMG – I am totally one of those Elders pining for the past.

OH BOY ANOTHER ARCADE. This one had skeeball and games that were similar to Fascination but poker-themed or something, I didn’t understand it.

AND ANOTHER ARCADE. I couldn’t stay in this one long because the guy had country music blasting and it was too much.

The ride area is basically akin to a local church carnival set-up. They don’t have much going on there, especially once you take the coaster and the Rotor out of the equation. I think the ride-all-day wristband was $25 or $35 and that was just really not worth it. We bought about $25 worth of tickets for the three of us to ride Laffland, and Chooch and I also rode that Tip Top thing and whatever that one ride is called that looks like the Zipper and a Ferris wheel had a baby. It was OK. We couldn’t get our cages to flip all the way though and I was too scared to be any more forceful with it than I already was because Sylvan Beach was cool but I didn’t want to die there.

SPEAKING OF DYING THERE, apparently some employee did just that many years ago in the Playland arcade and it’s allegedly haunted. They do after-hours ghost tours  (I will back for that, trust) and one of those dumb ghost hunting shows filmed an episode there too. I can totally see a place like this being haunted. It’s  been around since the late 1800s! Plenty of time for spirits to collect.

Then it was Carousel time! Since the carousel is independently owned, we had to buy separate tickets for it. The horses didn’t go up and down either, but it was still a fun ride.

Fascination was closed and Henry was so sad.

 

The rides looked so much better at night, lol.

We left Chooch in the arcade and walked over the lake. I had never heard of Lake Oneida before but it sure was pretty. I learned lots of geography-ish things on this trip! Like, we drove near the Finger Lakes, which is where my friend Alyson loves to go and get wine, and I had NO IDEA that was where they were in NY. Mind blown.

Also, we were in the area where my friend Val lives. Also had no idea until we drove past an exit sign and I recognized the name of her town! We didn’t have time to give her a heads up, but we will be back and I hope she is prepared, lol.

I think this trip has turned me into a lake person even though we didn’t actually do lake-things at all.

“Let’s pretend we’re a couple.”

Before we left, Henry wanted to get ice cream. I didn’t want any but said I would just have a bite or two of us. He was like, “What do you want me to get, blueberry?” and I was like, “Ooh ok” AGAIN, FORGETTING THAT HE DOESN’T LIKE BLUEBERRY LOL. So I had two bites of this and then he was left to sadly finish the cup on his own, all the while imagining he was eating the butter pecan that he actually wanted (I would have been happy if he had ordered that instead because I love me some butter pecan).

Anyway, wow! What a quaint little place. I was so obsessed with it that I demanded we swing through on our way home on Labor Day. I think Sylvan Beach could really get back to a poppin’ nature with some extra TLC and it does look like the owners are trying based on the fact that they’re repainting their coaster. I’d definitely go back to get that Galaxi credit, ride Laffland again, and inhale some of that pizza. And DEFINITELY eat at the Pancake House again. I dunno why I grew such an attachment to that place. Oh, because I’m Erin Rachelle Kelly, that’s why.

We left Sylvan Beach around 9 that night and drove for something like 30 minutes to the nearby Utica, where we stayed for two nights at Red Roof Inn which actually wasn’t too bad except for that stupid headboard that almost knocked me out. The next day was SIX FLAGS GREAT ESCAPE so check back for that scintillating recap, hahaha ugh. Sorry this is basically just an amusement park blog now but I’ve got little else going on!

Sep 072021
 

Before we went to the amusement park on Saturday, we stopped at a vegan donut joint in Rochester called Misfit Donuts. Henry and I always cruise YouTube for some vegan food vids local to wherever we’re planning on visiting next, because…well, why not.  Anyway, we watched some super low-quality vegan foodie n00bs shove a bunch of donuts from this particular establishment into their holes and even without all the bells and whistles that the more pretentious YouTube vegans serve us, I was sold. Plus, it was very close to the park and around noon by the time we arrived, so…lunch?

We got raspberry glaze, matcha (this one was all mine because I run with fools who hate matcha), apple cider, Mexican hot chocolate cinnamon roll, and whatever a “Big Bird” was supposed to me – lemon and something?

OK so my impressions of the donut place itself? It was pretty non-descript. I’m not saying these types of places need to be Instagrammable, but they usually are (see: pretentious vegans) so when they’re not, I get scared. The girl who waited on us was neither nice nor rude. She just…was. Even though we were all wearing masks, I could tell that she wasn’t smiling.

They also have a full vegan lunch menu and I kind of wish we had also got a sandwich, but after demolishing nearly this whole box between the three of us, best that we didn’t, lol.

I thought each donut (and the roll) was an absolute delight. The matcha and the Big Bird had some type of sweet putty-like filling that I couldn’t quite place, but I liked it. Chooch was a big baby and said he was very unimpressed and only kind of liked the raspberry and Big Bird.

“The Mexican one was spicy, it was weird,” he said, and Henry and I cried in unison, “THAT’S BECAUSE IT WAS MEXICAN HOT CHOCOLATE?!” like the unified front that we are.

I ate a lot of these and I didn’t feel too disgusting afterward. I don’t know what that means. Henry and I both liked them a lot and I would like to go back again to try different flavors and also get one of the amazing-sounding sandwiches they have on their lunch menu. And hopefully get waited on by someone else because the more think back on this, the less I like that lady.

Oh, and bonus points to them for requiring masks regardless of vaccination status. I noticed recently that some of the Sheetz around us have put up new signs strongly suggesting the same, but sadly it doesn’t seem like many people are following suit. (FWIW I still wear my mask inside.)

On our way home yesterday, we basically backtracked and I consulted my trusty ROADSIDE AMERICA app to find some fun and quick sights to see. I’m a sucker for water-y thngs so when I saw that there is a WATERFALL in some river in Rochester, I was mildly into it, but then when I saw that some goof in the 1800s allegedly jumped over Niagara Falls & survived, then tried to do it again over these ones in Rochester and died in front of an audience of 8000, I was like HENRY, ADD A NEW STOP TO THE ROUTE. #coolstorybro #butdidyouask

First we went to some parking lot which had a really awkward overlook-that-was-more-of-a-patio, and there were two people eating lunch at a table there and watching Chooch and I skulk around, so that was kind of uncomfy. But then I looked over and saw that there was a big ass pedestrian bridge across the way so I screamed to Henry (who didn’t even get out of the car) that he took us to the wrong place, ugh.

So then Henry brought us to the Pont de Rennes bridge. There were all kinds of historical facts along the bridge but I was only interested in the waterfall that some goof jumped over.

Me, after wiki’ing him: Wow. That’s actually really sad. Now I feel bad that I called him “some goof.”
Henry: good job.

APPARENTLY, he actually survived his first jump but the audience was like, “BOO YOU CAN DO BETTER” and essentially PEER-PRESSURED him to do it again from a higher platform!! What motherfuckers!!!

ANDREW JACKSON NAMED HIS HORSE AFTER HIM. (“Sam Patch,” not “Some Goof.”)

(Oh btw, his name was SAM PATCH. lol.)

Maybe next time we come back, Henry can go here and GIT SUM BEEEEER.

I asked Chooch if he thought it was cool and he said, “No it wasn’t cool! You knew I had to pee so bad, so what did you do? YOU BROUGHT ME TO A GODDAMN WATERFALL!”

Lol. Oh yeah.

He got to see geese and deer though, so it wasn’t ALL BAD.

Sep 042021
 

Chooch and I (definitely mostly Chooch) matched these two walls today at Sylvan Beach so I couldn’t pass up the photo op.

Anyway, day 1 of our Labor Day weekend is in the bag and it was goooood. Well, except for first thing in the morning when we left because I hate leaving the cats. :( We got vegan donuts at Misfit Donuts in Rochester, NY, spent most of the afternoon at Seabreeze Amusement Park also in Rochester, and then drove out to Sylvan Beach to cap off the day at a pretty janky carnival-esque park but the people there were super friendly and everything was totally colorful which is, as you know, TOTALLY MY STYLE.

Now we’re at a Red Roof Inn in Utica, but part of the R is burnt out so it looks like Ded Roof Inn. Henry told us numerous times how NICE THE GUY WAS at the front desk like OK HANK WE GET IT. There is a woman a few doors down who totally lives here. She has plants in the window and just had groceries delivered when we arrived.

Anyway, I’ve never been to this part of NY before so I’m living for the new-to-me views!

Aug 142021
 

Thursday, aka Birthday Eve, was supposed to be our “relaxing day” where we didn’t have to drive for hours just to spend even more additional hours in a blacktop jungle surrounded by coasters with massive lines. We started the day off by rising and shining for an early AM walk on the beach. And by “we” I certainly only mean Henry and me because Surly Teen could not be stirred from his deep seaside slumber.

Wow. What a vision. Grumpy with a side of Get Off My Lawn.

As I said before, we’re not beach people in the sense that we’d ever be content with lugging chairs & towels & umbrellas, and whatever other beachy accouterment comes with the territory but I do enjoy walking along the water. Same with rivers and lakes – you won’t catch me doggy-paddling inside an innertube, but that wet nature just lures me to it.

Even though I may lose interest rather quickly.

After an invigorating morning stroll, Henry walked over to the OLYMPIC WHICH IS WHERE I STAYED WITH MY FAMILY IN CASE YOU MISSED THE PREVIOUS 87 TIMES I MENTIONED THAT and brought back some coffee and breakfast breadstuffs for us. Then we woke up The Surly One and took a drive over to Cape May because I was obsessed with revisiting it as an adult to see if it was still boring and I’m happy to report back that YES, CAPE MAY IS STILL FOR BORING PEOPLE who enjoy walking very slowly and buying ceramic things.

We drove around for a bit and I was honestly not inspired at all to park and do much of anything else.

“Why did we come here again?” Henry wrenched open his perm-frowned lips long enough to ask.

There was always one day on our vacations when my grandma would INSIST that we go to Cape May. Back then, it always seemed like it was so goddamn far away and I would sulk the whole there in the backseat, knowing that it was going to one fucking boutique and novelty shop after another, waiting for my grandma to boost the local economy while the rest of stood on sidewalks staring into space.

One time I bought Mexican jumping beans at some toy store there, and a pair of wooden domino earrings. That was the only semi-positive memory I have of this place. I think this is where we took a dolphin-watching boat tour one summer too and even in that picture, I look like I belong on the cover of a straight-to-VHS Firestarter sequel.

Anyway, what a boring drive. Congratulations Henry: you somehow made Cape May even more boring than my grandma did.

Came back to the GOLD CREST – DID I MENTION WE DIDN’T STAY AT THE OLYMPIC. Henry and Chooch “played ping pong” briefly before we walked to lunch. Quite possibly the shortest game of ping pong that ever pinged and ponged.

Shit I already forget the name of this place. Sea Side Diner or something? It was on the way to the boardwalk which is where were heading after lunch. Henry thought our waitress was rude (she was just young) and Chooch was like WHY DON’T YOU TELL HER TO SMILE MORE but then he had to jump to clarify that he was joking because sometimes Henry is dumb.

Anyway, here is a series of pictures of Henry eating, courtesy of Chooch:

We almost matched, I hate when that happens.

Not me looking the most uncomfortable.

After lunch, we went back to the boardwalk because we promised Chooch that we’d play stupid mini golf.

I actually used to love mini golf when I was younger but lately, I do not have the patience or attention span for it. I get so bored when it’s not my turn! However, Henry was doing horribly for some reason so now that he was losing, I was suddenly inspired to give it my all.

He hit the ball way out of bounds at one point which is VERY OUT OF CHARACTER for him, and Chooch and I are usually the ones co-opting the Happy Gilmore title. Chooch and I had to do our patented pee-squat because we were laughing to the point of pee-drops as usual. Henry losing? LOVE TO SEE IT.

Then we went to MISTER SOFTEE which I had become obsessed with the day before when I learned that they had a Fruity Pebbles thing so I had tunnel vision after that and would not consider any other ice cream establishment. But then once we were there, my obsession spread to encompass the entire vibe of the place, which I would later go back to the room at the GOLD CREST, ALREADY KNOW to write about it on the same day because I was that stupid-excited. 

Of course right as we were walking over to it, three old broads swooped in like septuagenarian sea gulls from the left and cut us off, so now we had to wait for the Granny Brigade to fuck around with their reading glasses and CHANGE PURSES.

“God, go back to Cape May,” I mumbled under my breath, and Henry, having just experienced the drowsiness of that place that morning, actually laughed.

Henry like, never laughs at anything I say. Well, I mean, NO ONE does but you’d expect your life partner to toss you a rewarding chuck, gig, or chort every now and then.

Then we gave Surly Son a wad of cash for the arcade and went off to buy souvenirs. I mean, maybe I’d have hated Cape May a little less if my grandma had had the same courtesy, YOU KNOW. I’m sure there was a Pac Man machine somewhere in Cape May.

A really strange thing happened though. As Henry and I were walking along the boardwalk, there was a family below us riding bikes on a sidewalk. A little boy was screaming his sister’s name over and over, and the mom was like, “OK WYANT STOP YELLING YOUR SISTER’S NAME.”

So I sneered, “Yeah, Wyant, you dumb bitch.” Because that’s the kind of sweetheart I am when it comes to stranger children. But then in my head I thought, “What an uncommon name for a kid,” you know? You don’t really run into many Wyant’s these days. And then also in my head I started repeating the name of the girl he was screaming. And suddenly, I was like, “OMG IS THIS WESTLEY’S FAMILY.” Because there is a neighborhood kid that Chooch used to hang out with when he was still at his old school and I remember thinking it was funny that the boys in the family all had names that started with a W (there’s an older son too who has a W-name), but then the youngest is a girl who does not have a W-name. I knew for sure that the two younger boys are Wyant and Westley because how do you forget those names, but I texted Chooch and asked him what Westley’s sister’s name is AND HE CONFIRMED THAT IT WAS THE NAME THE LITTLE BOY WAS SHOUTING AND WHAT ARE THE ODDS THAT THIS COULD HAVE BEEN ANY OTHER FAMILY WITH KIDS NAMED WESTLEY, WYANT AND GEORGIE.

So I was like, “Congrats, they’re here in Wildwood” and of course Chooch was like, “WTF” because he and Westley ARE NOT BROS ANYMORE. And honestly,  thank god because I was lowkey jealous of the mom who apparently was a REAL MOM who was always baking cookies, dusting, feeding Chooch grilled cheese, etc etc. I got such a complex about her that I flipped out one day and accused him of wishing she was his mom so that year for Mother’s Day, he gave me a card that said “P.S. Fuck westley’s mom.”

AW.

Seriously though, I eventually met her at some school function and she seemed really nice. But apparently, Wesley turned into a jerk so Chooch is no longer friends with him and that’s probably for the best because they had a Trump flag in their yard last year.

So.

(Also I changed their names slightly lest I get in trouble for this blog again.)

I’m a sucker for good signage.

You know, I have never actually been on the tram car! At least, not that I can remember.

Chooch and I only did the rides on Wednesday, but Henry still had his ticket card so our plan was to hang out on the boardwalk until it got dark, put some credits on the card and take the Great White for a spin at night. Until then, we just enjoyed our time shopping for souvenirs and taffy and letting Chooch suck our wallets dry like the money-hungry arcade vampire that he is.

I just couldn’t get enough of this lighting package!

Chooch had pre-decided the day before that he would be dining on Hot Spot mozzarella stick pizza for dinner, so we sat with him while he ate and then went and got our own slices at Mack’s.

I don’t remember if we ever ate here when I was a kid, but I watched enough YouTube videos to understand that Mack’s is a big favorite among the Wildwood purists, so we definitely wanted to form our opinions through mastication.

Um, yes. Yes, this some good-ass motherfucking pizza, friends. I got a slice of plain (ONLY BECAUSE I DIDN’T SEE THE OPTION FOR BLACK OLIVES UNTIL AFTER FML) and one slice of white, and I can honestly tell you that Mack’s was the best slice of white pizza (NOT PICTURED) that this dirty mouth of mine ever did meet. Boardwalk pizza is so fucking good and I would actually be surprised if I found a slice anywhere there that I didn’t like, to be quite frank, and my new goal is to go back there next summer and try them all.

I’m a THIN CRUST bitch.

 

We were walking past this one arcade when I noticed that there was a sign in the back that said FASCINATION and Chooch loves that game. So we went inside and it turns out it was some vintage arcade and so goddamn cool.

Also, I’m not saying this is a sign or anything, but clearly, I am living in the past with my obsession with the Olympic Motor Inn and have name-dropped it 234679827 times during this vacation recap (actually, now that I think about it, I even have some old pictures of it that I posted some time ago on here!), the summer Olympics were on-going while we were here so we ended every night with watching the latest from Tokyo in whatever hotel room we happened to be in that day, and then I just noticed that the Fascination sign has an OLYMPIC FLAME on it.

WHAT DOES IT MEAN.

I say this all the time but motherfuck, I wish there were word lotteries.

I would really like one or 5 of those chairs, please.

Oh, let’s talk about “It” some more, you say? I wish I could put this in my backyard.

Actually…one would fit quite nicely in my mom’s yard…

I think the worst (and only bad) moment of the day was when Henry and I were walking along and suddenly we heard, “*THUMP THUMP THUMP* what’s up guys?” as Chooch came casually striding up to us with the stupid ass basketball he traded his tickets in for.

“Yay,” Henry deadpanned. “A $60 basketball.”

Ugh, he’s always trying to win basketballs.

The sun had finally set so Chooch and I got our back row night ride on The Great White, and while waiting in the station I heard the previously mentioned Bush and Fuel song’s of my 90s past and wow. I literally could not have asked for a better end to a wonderful (don’t get too excited Cape May, I’m just pretending like you didn’t happen that day) Thursday.

On the walk back to, well, you know where, little pebbles were scattering around Henry’s feet. After finally reaching his limit, Henry spun around and yelled, “STOP KICKING ROCKS AT ME!” to Chooch the Pest, who calmly corrected, “I’m THROWING them at you, actually.”

Jul 262021
 

…aside from Carowinds, which was most of the afternoon.

*(EDITORS NOTE: omg I don’t even know what day it is anymore. These are things we did on SUNDAY.)

We had some time to kill in the morning and Roadside America told me that we were mere minutes away from the site of the abandoned Heritage USA, the religious “theme park” created by Jim & Tammy Faye Bakker back in the day (late 80s? Early 90s? Who could be sure. Well, Google could but Vacation Erin don’t be caring).

The site is actually an operational church now (probably one of those wack ones no doubt) that contains some artifacts from the old Heritage USA Main Street but if anyone is going to get sucked into an extreme religion, it’s me so I lost interest and opted not to pursue this any further. Then Henry was like OH SHIT YOU GOTTA SEE THIS HOUSE WE JUST PASSED and when he turned around, I screamed “That’s the place I said you wouldn’t want to go, the Upper Room!!!” I didn’t realize we were that close to it! So he pulled in the parking lot and let me and Chooch off the leash long enough to walk the perimeter.

It’s supposed to be an exact replica of the room in which the Last Supper took place but of course it wasn’t open yet so I couldn’t peep that shit for myself. But I guess I will take their word for it?

When we were walking through the outside parts of the building, Chooch said, “It smells like your pappap’s house” and it really did. It’s hard to explain the scent but it’s old, musty, and nostalgic. Earthy kind of, too.

Then I spazzed out and cried about leaving my cats and we almost canceled the rest of the trip and came home but then I calmed down and we went to Carowinds except that if you know me, you know that this likely dragged on for an hour and was way more intense and hilly than any coaster we’d be riding that day.

BIG LOL.

Ugh.

We left Carowinds around 4 after doing everything we really wanted to do and making an executive decision not to wait 60+ minutes in line for a boomerang and a wild mouse just for credit purposes, and somehow managed to find a veg-friendly restaurant in Charlotte with actual ease and little frustration.

It was called FLOWER CHILD.

And it was wonderful. They had kombucha on tap.

Only I got kombucha. Henry and Chooch grimace at that heavenly nectar.

I got the Glow Bowl which had sweet potato noodles and a vegan-based curry. It was so filling, I couldn’t finish it all and that is unlike me. Henry also got some hippy bowl of some sort and actually liked it and also said that he was surprised how filling it was considering it didn’t appear to be much food. Chooch got a Thai tofu wrap and left all the vegetables but at least he ate the tofu.

Everyone was so friendly there and the aesthetic was 100% my style.

Look how cute the bathroom was!!

After we left, we were walking back to the car, which we had parked on a street about a block away. As we were approaching it, I saw that the drivers side door was open–not fully but also a bit more than just ajar. In my head I thought, “that can’t be our car” and then “OMG THATS OUR CAR.” I ran over with my heart in my throat but somehow, all of our stuff was still there. I had my backpack on the floor of the front seat, with my laptop in it but everything was untouched.

Henry was so confused because he said he knows he shut the door so we have NO IDEA what happened, if someone tried to get in but the alarm went off maybe? I mean, we weren’t on some desolate street – it was right across from a brewery that had plenty of patrons dining outside so — not very conducive for car-jacking or petty theft I guess? It was a very yuppie area.

Man we dodged that bullet but it took a while for my heart rate to go down, that’s for sure.

We drove to downtown Charlotte after that and attempted to walk off some of that anxiety-driven adrenaline. There was this cute city park that I wanted to see because there are giant bronze book statues according to roadside america and I, as you know, am a book dork. Chooch was soooo annoyed about this part of the itinerary.

Especially when I was being hyper-bossy about having my picture taken properly and then I hated every single one anyway so who cares.

I drew a portrait of Frederick Douglass in art one year in high school and I really think it was the best work I’ve ever done and I wish I still had it…why don’t I still have it?

DISCO CHICKEN! I have no idea what this really is but I loved it.

We started our drive to Durham afterward (we needed somewhere to crash on the way to Williamsburg, VA) and I found us an Ice cream joint in Greensboro called Lucha Libre and, as you’ve probably already ascertained by the name, it was bangin’.

This place was SO OVERWHELMING though. So many different things to order, some looked like they were just TOO MUCH though so we all chose something from what appeared to be the smallest, less decked-out menu.

I had such ordering anxiety that when it was my turn, I had to ask the guy what his favorite from that particular type was and he said “coconut” so I said, “Then that is what I want” and thank god because I truly love coconut. But I didn’t see it on the menu because everything had lucha libre and Spanish names with no descriptions so we were ordering blind.

But I don’t really think you could choose poorly at a place like that. I mean, unless you have an allergy of some sort.

Anyway, the guy who took our order ended up being the owner’s son (henry was “reading about the place” while we waited for our orders to be ready, apparently) and he told us that we came at a good time because usually the line loops around the whole place and that entire families (“You know, large families!”) come in after church and it can take over an hour for an order to be ready! It was just 25 minutes for ours and I didn’t mind because the place had a real festive atmosphere, like a dance party:


I mean, they played NKOTB at one point so it was pretty lively lol.

I had to text my work pal Megan because we just had a full-fledged NKOTB discussion on Jabber last week because I was reviewing something for a company called Step By Step and naturally it injected that song into my head. Neither of us were on that New Kids-wagon back in the day but I gotta admit, I always really liked The Right Stuff – the bridge is what did it for me!

YESSSS. And each one came with a syringe of chocolate sauce, too. I *fully* enjoyed this experience but you better believe I dropped to the ground and did sit-ups later that night in our hotel in Durham – The Millennium, which was Shining-esque in its hallways and also smelled like my Pappap’s house??!! We were only there from 10pm-7:30am so I didn’t really get to explore but the room was pretty huge and I had ample space to do my “DO THIS EVERY MORNING TO LOSE WEIGHT” Grow With Jo workout that I woke up extra early for this morning and this shit better work lol.

Also, henry and Chooch both used the bathroom at Lucha Libre which was basically a shared bathroom within the strip mall and they both are still talking about “the hallway of death” that they had to walk along to find the bathroom and Chooch said he heard scraping coming from behind a door and now I feel really left out because I didn’t use the bathroom too :(

When we left, the owner himself thanked us for coming and he was so adorable and now I am obsessed with this place and the friendly people so if you are in Greensboro, go there. Also, bonus points for it being in a shopping center full of Korean businesses too! It is always a joy to see Hangeul signs in the US.

OK, now we’re en route to Busch Garden so I’m peacing out!

Sep 042020
 

OMG you guys, we’ve been so pressed for summer action around our clown house, that a 2-hour day trip to Erie was something that actually gave me the anticipation butterflies. I think that’s one of the only positive things to come out of this pandemic, is that it’s forcing us to appreciate the little things and just be grateful that we’re able to do anything at this point. 

But for real though, I woke up early Friday morning and was READY TO GO. Henry actually took the day off (SIKE! He still went in super early and came home around 7:30am, because he’s a fucking simp* for Faygo.) so we could have family fun time.

*(Chooch taught me this word and I always use it wrong.)

We started fighting almost immediately in the car so it was really like the Olden Times (i.e. 2019)! I forgot how annoying road trips are but also OMG I missed road trips! We fought over where to get our crappy road breakfast and eventually settled on Dunkin Donuts because they have Beyond sausage. Nothing more to really say about that. 

Halfway to Erie, it started POURING. Like, typhoon-style. I got really upset about this because it was beautiful (mostly) ALL WEEK but that dumb dick Henry was hemming and hawing about taking time off work and finally settled on Friday when there were no other days even left at that point, and also this is the second time  this week that I actually typed the phrase hemming and hawing so I think I am officially not a kid anymore, Toto. 

Speaking of Toto, we listened to yacht rock for a bit and that lovely Paul Davis tune, “Cool Night,” came on and I got so warm-feeling. I’ve always loved that song so much! Good ol’ Paul, he just wants to hold you by the firelight, and if it don’t feel right? You can go! No rapey vibes here!

(BENNY MARDONES COULD HAVE LEARNED A THING OR TWO FROM PAUL. )

(Quickly googles Paul Davis to make sure he didn’t lead a secretly despicable life.)

(OK, he seems to check out, dot dot dot question mark. But I admittedly left my Sleuthing Cap at the office, so I might not have really poured much energy into it. Also, his other big hit “I Go Crazy” always makes me want to die, FYI.)

Anyway! We decided that we’d make a pitstop to this place in Titusburg where there’s a lot of fish (it’s on Roadside America as “Where the Fish Walk On the Water” or something because it’s a feeding spot and they’re fatties waiting for those bread crumbs). We were in rural Pennsylvania by this point and I am sad to report that there are many corn fields supporting Trump 2020. I briefly considered canceling corn and Henry was like, “Yes please stop eating corn!” because he always has to scrape the kernels off the cob for me and he hates doing it like it’s suddenly a fucking chore to serve me?? 

While we were toiling around the backroads, looking out for Malachi and Isaac, I had switched the music back to Kpop because my heart was starting to ache without it. I can only go for so long without hearing the Korean language, OK? I put on this one Spotify playlist that I like, that features all the newer songs, and I somehow completely slept on the fact that Wonho (ex-Monsta X) recently came out with solo music and his first single is FU-HAHAHAHA-CKING BEAUTIFUL. Like, tears-spontaneously-springing-forth amazing. 

“I wish someone felt this way about me,” I said wistfully to Henry. 

“Me, too,” he mumbled.

OK, but please listen to this beautiful, heartbreaking song. I haven’t shovel-fed you guys Kpop as much as I normally do, so one video won’t kill you!! (And it’s in English.)

Then we got to the fish place but the fish weren’t at the surface because no one was there feeding them. 

But the seagulls were out and on high alert. 

It was just us and a van full of several disabled Amish people? Mennonites? I always get them mixed up, but I feel like one time we were at a nearby amusement park and there were Mennonites there on a field trip, so I guess that’s what was happening here too. I needed to pee super bad and there was a small group of them congregating over by the restrooms. They watched as I attempted to rip open a locked bathroom door, and one of them spoke to me!!!!! She said, in her German-y accent, “This one is not locked” and gestured to the one she was standing near with someone in a wheelchair. 

I was so excited!

Anyway, the bathroom was a real, well, dump as you can imagine for a public fish-feeding place. Pandemic or not pandemic, I washed my hands so hard that they were practically pure enough to fondle a Mennonite’s bible. Then I spotted some hand sanitizer near the soap and figured I’d go the extra mile because I might not very sane but at least I can be sanitary. 

Except that after I left the bathroom, I noticed that the sanitizer was not drying into my skin as I wrung my hands, but it was LATHERING. Apparently, I had been rubbing regular hand soap into myself and now I couldn’t go back and rinse it off because the MENNONITE HAD GONE INSIDE WITH THE PERSON IN THE WHEELCHAIR. I mean, I had bubbles floating off my phalanges at this point, and Henry was like, “You look stupid,” and then, “Now you look even more stupid” when I resorted to shaking rain water off of a tree and onto my foaming fists. 

Eventually, the bathroom became vacant again and Chooch also had to wash his hands so we went in together and got to have Mother-Son Bonding Time while dry-heaving at the stench the Mennonites left behind. It was pretty bad. Henry went in after us and didn’t mind it though. His big man-man olfactory system is strong & can withstand even the toughest turd fumes with no complaints. 

I’m going to stop here, because I’m listening to a fun audiobook and I want to go back to that! Check back for part 2 which will basically just be a photo dump from the fake beach at Lake Erie. Thrilling!

 

Jun 202019
 

Our Big Day On the Loose W/O Henry wasn’t over after we left Conneaut Lake Park, oh no. We had some kind of famous frozen custard that we needed to motorboat.

But first! Janna had to go the wrong way when leaving the Conneaut parking lot and proceed to turn around.

Janna’s murder podcast was still playing. Chooch told me later that he was frustrated because she had it playing on the back speakers only so he couldn’t hear what we were talking about and if there’s one thing about Chooch, it’s that he’s exactly like me and HATES missing out on adult conversations.

When I was a kid, I would always be desperate to know what my Pappap was talking about to other adults in the room so I would constantly be piping up with a “Who?” or “Why?” and he’d be all, “Are you writing a book? Leave this chapter out.”

HARSH.

Anyway, this joint isn’t too far from the lake and Janna seemed to know where she was going once she got her bearings. I guess Janna used to patronize this establishment a lot back when she went to college in this area, so that makes more sense now that I know this is why she follows them on Facebook and not just because she collects the Facebook pages of random ice cream parlors in the boonies.

I was mad when we got there though because it’s a CASH ONLY CREAMERY and Janna did not WARN ME of this! So we had to stand in line and wait for these two elderly women to push every button on the courtesy ATM and I feel like it’s blasphemy to mention my Pappap in a blog post and then go on to bash old ladies a few paragraphs later, but these bitches were so slow and annoying! I swear to God, I almost flipped out (not on them, on Janna) and demanded that we just leave because the hatred was making me not care for ice cream so much anymore!

ALSO, THE FLAVOR OF THE DAY WAS BANANA AND I DON’T LIKE BANANA-FLAVORED THINGS USUALLY.

(I love real bananas though and will typically slice one up as a mix-in for my pathetic everyday lunch of instant oatmeal at work.)

(Actually, for a while, A-ron thought that I was putting a banana in my tea because I make my oatmeal in my coffee cup using the hot water that everyone uses for tea…so he was going around telling people that I was making banana tea which I can’t tell if that sounds good or gross.)

Once those bitches finally got their money, it was my turn and now not only was I mad that those ladies got to the ATM first, I was additionally angry at the $2.50 service fee! UGH, JANNA!

AND THE SMALLEST DENOMINATION WAS $20!!

This is what happens when I’m out in the real world with Henry and now I have to be responsible for paying for things. Shit’s expensive! That inflation hullabaloo is real talk! Ugh, I really like it when I can be all young and ignorant while Henry is the one opening the wallet.

Luckily, the line to order went super fast because they were well-staffed and efficient. The guys in front of me got TWO SCOOPS each – one of banana and one of chocolate.

Well, now I was intrigued. I never considered mixing the banana with another flavor. So on a whim, I ordered the same and then prayed I wouldn’t have regerts. Unless it was like, banana cream pie, I would probably never get a banana-flavored scoop of ice cream so this was a big step for me.

I really hate banana popsicles too.

WAIT A MINUTE – banana pudding pops are pretty good though.

Sorry, I’m like really writing a research paper on my palate here.

You guys. Janna was right. So were the guys in front of me. This custard was AMAZE. I had assumed it was just going to be like the soft serve-esque version of custard but NO. It was thick, rich, creamy, and scooped straight from these giant metal vats.

And the banana tasted l like decadent banana pudding so I was SOLD. Even Chooch was like, “Wow, I wasn’t expecting to like this as much as I do…” I mean, we liked it so much that it wasn’t even worth pretending like we didn’t just to piss Janna off. That should tell you something.

We were in love with these sweet lickable mounds.

Meanwhile, Janna got two scoops of chocolate (#NoAdventure) and then had the audacity to ask for JIMMIES but of course the scooper was like, “WTF, you mean, SPRINKLES?” I was so offended that Janna said “jimmies” and I’m glad that I didn’t hear it happen because it might have caused me to lose one of my scoops.

God, Janna.

It was still raining so we stood under the overhang of Hank’s right in front of the car of the OLD LADIES, like we were having an scoop-slurping standoff.

Then it was time for post-dessert dinner. We were still starving even though we were filled with Hank (gross) and to be honest, I probably could have sucked back another scoop or three. But we wanted real food now, and I was adamant that we go to this place we passed hours ago when we first got off the highway – it was a family restaurant/truck stop diner called Aunt Bee’s and for some reason, I had really latched on to it.

But first, Janna made us drive around Meadville so she could show Chooch her old college and say things like, “I REMEMBER DRIVING ACROSS THIS BRIDGE WHILE LISTENING TO KC & JOJO” and Chooch probably thought she was talking about Jojo Siwa but also he probably couldn’t hear her over all the murder in the backseat.

It was while looking for Aunt Bee’s that Janna committed the most U-Turns. When I think of this day, I will think of U-Turns first. I lost count of how many U-Turns happened, but there was definitely one instance where two U-Turns went down on the exact same part of this road road.

In Janna’s defense though, several of the U-Turns happened because the road that Aunt Bee’s is on literally looks like some gravel dumping ground for machinery, so we didn’t think it was right, but the Google bitch just kept repeating over and over to TURN LEFT ON SMOCK and Janna was like THIS CAN’T BE IT! And then somehow we ended up on a road above it, looking down at Aunt Bee’s, screaming, “HOW DO WE GET THERE?!” Finally, I told Janna that she was just going to have to take a leap of faith and drive her car off the overpass into the parking lot for Aunt Bee’s and she did that and sadly perished but Chooch and I survived.

See?:

Janna’s ghost took this picture for us. And by ghost, I mean the pinwheel made from her vertebrae.

Anyway, see how that sign that says “WELCOME”? Oh yeah OK. Sure. We were anything but welcome! We walked in and all the elderly townies swiveled in their seats and leered upon us like we were three Pee Wee Hermans entering a senior citizen biker bar after knocking over a row of their Hover-Rounds.

“Maybe they think we’re a lesbian couple!” I said to Janna and she was like, “You’re not my type.”

Their tagline should be, “GOOD LUCK FINDING US.”

Also, I love that they bake wedding cakes.

We were the youngest people there, except for our waitress who was so nice but Janna was kind of mean to her?! She was like, “IS THERE MAYO ON MY BLT?! OH WAIT, NEVER MIND THERE IS” and didn’t apologize for jumping to conclusions!

Also, Janna ordered potato soup that looked like a clump of mashed potatoes in a cup.

(The following Monday at a work lunch, Sue mentioned that she likes thick soups and I was like, “Boy, do I know a place for you!”)

Chooch ordered spaghetti and failed to note that it came with meatballs, so while making gagging noises, he attempted to transfer them onto his napkin but then one went rogue and nearly rolled off the table, causing all carnivores within a 5 mile radius to feel a sharp pain in their heart.

Me? Oh I just had a grilled cheese and the best fresh cut fries I’ve had in some time, so I was alright.

Baby animals and life advice on the wall of the bathroom. I was going to text this to my pal Alyson but her band was in LA playing a show at the Whiskey Go Go (!!!!!) so I didn’t want to interrupt that with a loo text even though I don’t think she would have minded too much!

Selfie in Aunt Bee’s bathroom.

Now I’m kind of sad that we didn’t have Hank’s way earlier in the day, before we went to Conneaut Lake Park, because I would have like to have stuck my thumb in one of their alleged fresh-baked pies.

And then we went home, but first Janna had to literally pass up the highway exit immediately after leaving Aunt Bee’s. Like, she even slowed down and looked right at it then failed to turn.

I can’t wait for our next day trip!!!

Jun 122019
 

When I look back on this day now, all I can see is that we had really quality FAMILY TIME learning about another religion, eating good foods, and talking to peacocks.

But it started out to a completely different tune, less Donna Reed Show theme wafting from a 1950s den and way more Viking death metal blasting from behind a teenager’s locked bedroom door. Remember how I was just droning on last week about how I’ve been getting a bad case of the (je)Junes every year? (And, that’s putting it mildly.) Well, I have been READY FOR IT, you guys. I have been standing at the door with my paper mache armor fashioned from pages of self help books, I’ve been extra-exercising to keep those endorphins pumping like a bad 1990s club hit, and I have been trying to make plans – you know, the good old DISTRACTION TACTIC.

This…almost backfired. When I suggested to those two ass poles (this was the name of a company that I saw today at work!) I live with that we take a day trip out to New Vrindaban a/k/a The Palace of Gold after Chooch’s piano lesson on Sunday, Henry said nothing and Chooch just flat out said no.

Yeah, this went over real with me, the girl who wakes up on the perpetual wrong side of the bed on Sundays. So I threw a mini-fit, said JUST FORGET IT, pretended like I was going to go alone, and in the meantime, Chooch and Henry had some emergency meeting in Restrain Erin Headquarters, I guess, because suddenly Henry was like, “We’re going to Palace of Gold and we’re so excited about it! Yay! Woo! Look at us!” and he and Chooch were waving their arms in the air like they were trying to lure people off the highway to buy new mattresses.

So I grudgingly got in the car and then Chooch immediately started bitching because he realized he left his headphones at home and had to GOD FORBID listen to his lame parents talk which just consisted of Henry trying to butter me up and me telling him to fuck off in a myriad of super creative and sickening ways. I even told him to take us home three times and then Chooch started screaming about being kidnapped and I yelled, “I’VE HAD ENOUGH OF THIS SHIT” and TURNED OFF the 1980s Soft Rock Spotify playlist that usually always pacifies me. This is when Henry was realizing that maybe this was a bad idea.

However, once we got to shitty West Virginia, things turned around because Chooch and I started making comments about how the rural town we passed through looked like a place where Henry would gladly live and then we saw a hick walking down the road with a fishing road jutting out of his backpack and I started dry-heaving and then I decided that if Henry didn’t have Chooch and me in his life, he’d probably live in a houseboat, and then Chooch and I started laughing so hard we were crying and JUST LIKE THAT our day turned around.

Thank god we worked out our grumps because it ended up being a fantastic day!

But first, we had to deal with the car from Florida doing 12 MPH that wound up in front of us as we swerved through the windy roads to Palace of Gold and suddenly we had a common enemy so we bonded as a family over this.

Then, I was disoriented because Henry brought us in the back way! Of course he’d have to go rogue with directions, this is basically what he was born to do.

Anyway, by now we were all pretty much acting like sane, non-possessed human beings again and maybe even sort of looked like a family who liked each other. We parked at the top of the hill, across from the Palace, and then walked down the road to where the compound, Temple, and–most importantly–the CAFETERIA are located. I marched them right into the establishment like I was a seasoned regular, even though this was only my third time eating there…

…but first time FINALLY indulging in the buffet!

Chooch almost ordered from the “regular food” menu but at the last minute, he sighed and said he would try the buffet.

Newsflash: Chooch has spent the last thirteen years of his life actively avoiding Indian food. Henry and I used to eat it pretty often in the glory days of our relationship, but then Chooch was hatched with a bland palate so we can only feast on paneer and curry when we’re sans Chooch.

Since this is a Hare Krishna compound, there is NO MEAT to be found on site. Henry said that there was actually a sign forbidding visitors to bring the fleshy contraband on to the grounds which made me wonder if Henry pitched his pocket jerky beforehand.

SPOILER: Chooch LOVES Indian food now. He kept going on and on about how shocked he was and how he never realized it was so good while Henry and I just glared at him.

He even went back up for seconds!

Meanwhile, Henry was writing an investigative report under the table about how everyone started at the buffet FROM THE WRONG END so then he was TRAPPED BY THE SALAD.

Honestly, boyfriend kept jawing off about this — NO ONE CARED.

After we ate, I wanted to take them into the Temple but they were too scared or something because there were a lot of people milling about probably because it was some sacred prayer hour.

Well, those heathens don’t know what they were missing because the Temple is one of the best parts of the joint!

You should have seen the first handful of pictures Henry took of us in front of this holy elephant. Most of them weren’t even centered! I kept yelling, “WHAT IS WRONG WITH YOU” until I got distracted by an empty beverage can that someone had carelessly discarded by the pond so then I spent a good whole 2 minutes holding it gingerly between the tips of two fingers because GERMS, looking for a garbage can.

I’ll never understand what goes through a bitch’s mind when they toss trash onto the ground except that OH WAIT nothing goes through their mind because they’re self-centered pigs with low IQs.

Honest question: if you were strolling along this beautiful path, would you feel compelled to litter?!

“Why didn’t you tell me there are PEACOCKS here? I wouldn’t have been so mad about coming here then!” Chooch cried, and seriously, why didn’t I?? I should have known that would have been the biggest selling point for him and we could have avoided all the dysfunction in the car.

WOW I HAVE ORIGINAL IDEAS.

I’m trying to be less camera shy in my older age. I was thinking about how when Chooch is older, he won’t have many pictures of us that aren’t just shitty selfies so I’m trying to put aside my self-consciousness.

(I still delete a lot of pictures, though.)

(I need to find someone better than Henry to take pictures — he usually finds my worst angles and I’m starting to think he does it purpose.)

Man, we spent a good long while out in the area of the swan pond and Dancing Acolytes, listening to the mating calls of the peacocks and waiting for some crazy cult person to come bursting out of one of the cabins, wielding a handsaw and shrieking the Hare Krishna mantra in reverse.

Next, we walked back up to the Palace for a tour. Hoo boy, better tune in tomorrow (probably) for that installment.

Dec 082018
 

In addition to the 5 billion other things I’m obsessed with, I’m extremely fond of Bavarian things. I definitely get this from my grandparents, man, and their house had some awesome Bavarian footprints in it.

(Like, not real footprints. But you know, Hummel figurines and cuckoo clocks and other fine Black Forest shit.)

This is why I keep going back to the Bayernhof Museum. It’s not like much changes, but I just can’t get enough of the early-80s tackiness.

I’ve written about this place before, so there won’t be much detail here, but here’s a bit of background: The owner of the house was a real quirky son of a bitch named Charles Brown, a super rich business owner with a sprawling imagination.

My kind of guy.

He built this big house right outside of Pittsburgh without even consulting legit contractors or architects and then filled it flea market finds and exorbitantly priced pieces. It’s like my pappap’s house on steroids. So many parts of this house have strong Gillcrest vibes and it’s bittersweet. Long story short, he knew that when he died, he wanted this place to be opened to the public, because one of his favorite things to do was host parties and give friends and their friends tours of his sprawling Bavarian bachelor pad. But he knew he needed something that would be more of a draw, some gimmick that would enable the house to be labeled a museum, so he started collecting these massive antique music machines, nickelodeons, calliopes, etc etc. Some of the pieces in his collection are the only ones left in the world, which is nuts considering he didn’t even know how to use them!

Charles died in 1999 and the house was eventually opened to the public in 2006, I believe. That was around the first time I saw a billboard for it, on my way to class at Pitt. I knew immediately that I needed to go and Kara was going to go with me, but then we realized right before leaving  my house that we needed to make an actual appointment for a tour, like a real life grown-up thing, so instead we went to Phipp’s and made fun of people looking at flowers and I found out that Kara hates orchids.

I finally managed to get to the Bayernhof in 2011, when some broad was visiting me from California. She absolutely hated it there because she basically just hates everything in life, but it may have also been because the guy who gave us the tour was also the guy in charge of maintaining and servicing the music machines, so he was a bit stuffy.

I went again a year later, this time with my brother and my friend Kristy, and it was just as fantastic. Especially being there with Corey, who immediately picked up all the Gillcrest vibes that the Bayernhof was throwing down.

Now that Chooch is 12, he’s finally at the acceptable age listed on the Bayernhof website, so I gathered Janna and Kara (finally!) for a Sunday tour last weekend.

The Bayernhof is one of those places that you can tell people about until you’re blue in the face and your mouth is all gummy but there is no way better to paint the picture than by having them step into it themselves. So while Chooch was feigning excitement in that awesome, monotone pre-teen way, I knew that as soon as the tour started, his outlook would turn around and he would maybe stop pining for Fortnite for a few hours.

We got there as soon as it opened, fifteen minutes before the tour started, because I am a fucking eager beaver and I also know from past trips there that they don’t wait around – that tour starts at 2 and one of my greatest fears is walking into something that has already started and then everyone stops and looks at me and, NO THANKS.

So, of course we were the first group there, which meant we had to awkwardly stand in the foyer with our guide (a young woman whose name I forget but she is a SCIENTIST and also super cool) and an older woman assisting with the tour. The older woman started laughing at one point and said, “Oh, I just noticed that your purse is a rollerskate!” and Chooch started to grumble because as you know, he hates when my accessories take attention away from him. I laughed back and said that it was from the kids section at Target* and she said, “Hey, you might have to grow old, but you don’t have to grow up” and I was like, “MOM?!”

*(My friend Katrina sent me a picture of the purse a few months ago and I sent Henry out THAT DAY to get it. It was on sale too for like $6! Granted, I can only fit  my car keys, one lipgloss, and one small vial of hemlock in it, but the cuteness is worth it.)

Meanwhile, Chooch was pocketing a discount card for some brewery affiliate, and the guide saw this happen and started jokingly calling him out for being too young to go to a brewery. So Chooch was happy to have the attention back in his court.

Eventually, two more groups arrived: two men and a yuppie couple. I had strong feelings against the woman part of the couple because almost immediately she made it perfectly clear that she was going to be That Person on the tour that had Something To Say about everything. There was also something about her that reminded me of my ex-friend Cinn so I was immediately turned off.

 

As I mentioned before, I’m not going to get into the details of the tour because I have numerous posts about it in the blog archives, and also because it’s something best experienced in person. I can tell you that it is not one of those boring tours full of needles dates and facts – Charles had a fucking fascinating personality and this new guide actually told some stories about him and the origins of the house that I definitely don’t remember hearing the other two times I was there. So it was almost like being there for the first time for me, too!

The cool thing about this is that many of his friends are still around and involved in the estate so the stories are almost always first hand accounts.

See that gas lantern thingie? These are the products that were manufactured at Charles’s company and I don’t know why I never made the connection before but my pappap’s house was FULL of these lights. He had them outside his front door and at the end of his driveway too so I wonder if they were from Charles’s company!? I asked my mom if the name sounded familiar and she said she wasn’t sure, and that my grandparents had a decorator named Herbie who did all that shit for them. But it’s still fun to imagine my pappap and Charles knowing each other!

They were in the process of decorating for Christmas!

The lady I disliked of course knew almost all of the old-timey songs that the machines played, and then her dumb yuppie husband would high-five her. After the tour, Kara was like, “I kept trying to make eye contact with you because that lady was so annoying” and I was like “FUCK YES I KNEW IT WASN’T JUST ME!” I think the guide was even getting a little miffed at the constant “witty” interruptions and would just respond with, “I know, right.”

They call this guest room The Red Room, not to be confused with Redrum. I want to sleep here.

This other guest room REALLY reminded me of my pappap’s house and I can tell you without a doubt that some of the furniture in there was either the same or extremely similar. I almost started to cry.

This was Chooch’s favorite room until he saw the billiards room. He’s obsessed with pool lately and the pool table at the Bayernhof has purple top!

The amount of times Chooch’s eyes widened like saucers was hilarious.

When you have to share your seat.

Janna was upset that my grandparents never thought to add a pool into their enclosed porch.

The infamous “horse-shoeing” picture! I actually made this into a pendant after the last time I was there. The other curator caught me giggling at it and he sighed, “They’re shoeing a horse.” Lol!

I already can’t wait to go back again. It’s honestly one of Pittsburgh’s hidden treasures and I would 100% recommend it to anyone visiting. I even included it in my Pittsburgh Tourism List that I wrote several years ago! So if you’re planning a trip to the ‘Burgh, or already live here and want to go to this place, PLEASE LET ME GO WITH YOU. I will even call and make the appointment and I hate calling and making appointments! IT’S ONLY $10 FOR A TWO HOUR TOUR!

Nov 262018
 

It’s 8:05am and we’re waiting for Henry to check out of the hotel (the Ramsay – actually not a shit hole!). I wanted to have been on the road much earlier but no one listens to me. Anyway, I’m live-blogging because this is an 8-hour drive and I need to stay occupied or else I’ll start picking fights with Henry – which I’ll do anyway, who am I kidding LOLOL.

The mysterious bruise on my thumb went away but now I have a mysterious cut on my finger that even cut thorough my nailpolish?? It hurts but it’s not bleeding.

8:14am: So here we is y’all at the Red Rooster Pancake House where Chooch was thrown off that there is NO LEMONADE on the menu and proceeded to act like it was his first time ordering in a restaurant and kept looking at us with frantic PHONE A FRIEND eyes and we were like psychically coaxing him to just order chocolate milk and then when it was time to order breakfast, he got eggs and toast and ordered the eggs like a pro (overeasy FTW) but then he complicated the toast part of the order by making her run down the whole bread inventory and then asking “do you have Texas toast?” and we were like OH COME ON and she was like “Oh no, honey lololol” in her thick southern drawl like he just asked to see the Alamo’s bread pantry.

This waitress hates us so bad.

Ugh some old song just came on and I could vividly remember it playing in my pappap’s kitchen when I was little and now I’m crying in the Red Rooster Pancake House.

9:04: I couldn’t stand that bitch GPS voice so I made Henry change it to Santa, who just now told us that there was a cop reported up ahead. “Thanks, Santa,” Henry mumbled.

10:24: Chooch has me playing some word game called Letter Press and he is cheating sooooooo bad it’s not even funny.

We just stopped at Sheetz and Chooch and I got so riled up that Henry threw our stuff at us when we got back in the car and then he started eating a banana that I got for myself but didn’t want because it wasn’t done enough so then that set Chooch and me off all over again and we almost peed and then Henry yelled IF YOU PEE YOURE SITTING IN IT! and then he saw some guy sitting alone in an RV and said he wished he was him.

11:10am: Stupid GPS Santa keeps calling us Comet big what if I want to be Donner?! LIKE THE DONNER PARTY.

11:24am: Mino’s solo album dropped today and the MV for “Fiancé” is fire. I watched it this morning in the hotel while Henry struggled to pack everything on his own. I don’t care what anyone says, YG has the best rappers in Korea. DON’T @ ME.

12:33pm: One of our favorite road trip games to play is calling out HENRY LOOKED! HENRYS WANTS TO GO THERE! every time we pass billboards for adultmarts and strip clubs. Henry just blocks us out now.

1:26pm: Hello from some highway in WV! We ate a quick lunch at Sheetz (ballin’) and now we’re en route to some monster museum in Sutton WV. Speaking of museums, I need to call the Bayernhof Museum to schedule a tour for this Saturday but every time I tried to dial the number I started to crack up because I’m so giddy so finally I admitted defeat and Henry said he would do it for me next time we stop YES ANOTHER VICTORY!

2:40: We just rolled up in Sutton and Henry read the welcome sign out loud. I thought he said “bitchin’ history and hospitality” but it actually said “rich in history and hospitality” which is less rad.

3:03: Wow so the Flatwoods Monster Museum was pretty amazing! I mean, if you have low expectations. They had the documentary playing and it was creppy (autocorrect is always trying to change this to creepy ugh). Basically A UFO CRASHED THERE in the 50s and a bunch of boys and some old broad SAW A MONSTER and experienced symptoms similar to those that MUSTARD GAS cause but also HYSTERIA!!! So you tell me!!!

We’re back in the car and cracking up so bad at everything and Henry is like NO ONE IS LAUGHING and I’m like CAN YOU NOT COUNT BECAUSE TWO PEOPLE ARE LAUGHING?!

Anyway, that was a fun detour! Henry probably disagrees.

He actually bought us this adorable miniature Flatwoods monster but then bitched about it being EXPENSIVE.

Then we saw this creppy Santa on the way back to the car.

Chooch is playing this dumb Scattergories-type game; the letter was P and the thing was “Things You Find in a Bedroom” so Chooch and I simultaneously screamed PLAYBOY and PENIS while Henry calmly and vanilla-ly suggested PILLOW lol Henry you’re so square.

4:34pm: Oh god, we were just talking about the Dollywood coasters and then I said, “Remember when they went to an amusement park on The Smile Has Left Your Eyes??” which is the last drama that Henry and I just watched and in fact, I refused to leave for this road trip on Friday until we watched the finale because I knew it would bother me all weekend otherwise and turns out, it was THE MOST TRAGIC KDRAMA I have seen yet and the impact it has had on me is so ridiculous, so my weekend was totally affected by it anyway because I just started crying after saying that to Henry and he was like, “…oh my god” because the whole way to Tennessee I was dissecting the entire show and then I would start wailing WHYYYYYYYY in the stylings of a Korean Kerrigan.

Honestly, this drama was spectacular and I highly recommend it if you’re looking for a thriller / emotional roller coaster.

4:57pm: One more hour to go! I just said, “It doesn’t seem like we’ve been driving that long” and in tandem, Chooch piped up from the backseat, “I know!” while Henry frowned deeply.

“I guess that’s because we’ve been playing those games,” I said, all up-beat, and this made Henry’s frown deepen into something more murderous.

5:38pm: “Nice turn signal, a-hole” — Henry, in a very calm voice to someone in a minivan.

We are 35 minutes from home and I have to pee BUT I DONT WANT TO STOP DO YOU THINK I WILL MAKE IT? Also I forgot to mention that at our last Sheetz stop, Henry had the nerve to tell me and Chooch that we are embarrassing. WE ARE?? He’s the one who dresses like an off-duty trucker shopping for guns and jerky!! I just started cracking up after I wrote that because I’m the only person I make laugh, and Henry tried to quote an IU song where she says “Stu-p-i-d” but he completely fucked it up so then I started laughing harder and now he won’t talk to me.

5:45pm: Chooch and I are playing that letterpress game again and he just cried in anguish from the backseat, “I wish there was a P because I wanted to play ‘pansexual'” and I cried OMG ME TOO and Henry just shot me a glare. Eyes on the road, partner.

6:00pm: 17 minutes from home! I’d like to thank all the new Kpop drops, Chooch inviting me to play Letter Press or whatever it’s called, and Henry’s willingness to be the laughing stock of the car. BITCH LASAGNA.

6:19pm: We’re a mile from home and Henry just said we’re the stupidest people he’s ever met and this is the last trip he’s taking with us, so there you have it! The official ending of the liveblog!

Aug 252018
 

Oh, it was fraught with adversity.

My obsession with Holiday World started about five or six years ago when we were planning a small road trip around a visit with our pals Bill and Jessi in Michigan. I started looking up amusement parks around that area and found two in Indiana that seemed promising: Holiday World and Indiana Beach. I remember it was a big to-do because I wanted to go to both parks and didn’t understand what the problem was, no matter how many times Henry showed me on a map that they were on opposing sides of the state from each other.

SO WHAT!?

Henry just wasn’t as committed as me I guess, and in the end he made me choose one.

In his own gruff dad-words: ONE OR THE OTHER!

I ended up choosing Indiana Beach because they had several rides and y’all know that dark rides are my absolute favorite things in amusement parks. A pox on those that don’t have any, I say!

Something made me jump back on the Holiday World train sometime in late April.

“We’ll see,” Henry said, utilizing his favorite cop-out response.

“But we never go anywhere!” I cried.

“We literally just came back from Korea?!” Henry cried while foraging in our backyard for that night’s dandelion dinner because Korea left as poor people.

(It didn’t really but that’s how Henry acted because it gave him an easy way out of having to do anything for the unforeseeable future.)

My begging and pleading went on for MONTHS culminating in him flipping out and yelling, “SOMETIMES I FORGET THAT YOU’RE ACTUALLY AS OLD AS YOU ARE!” in the middle of Target when I was pouting.

I even took this one particular Friday off work because it was getting down to the wire and I couldn’t get that asshole to confirm but if we were going to go, it was going to have to be on that weekend and finally I was like FUCK YOU and booked the hotel and then the rest of that week was really tense and silent in our house, lol, not really but Henry wasn’t pleased with me at all.

At one point, just me and Chooch were going to go but I hoped that my bluff wouldn’t come true because I definitely didn’t want to make that 7 hour drive myself. HOW WOULD I LIVE BLOG?!

After I booked the hotel though, I started to tell work people about it because I thought maybe if I vocalized my desires, they would be more apt to come true so I was all, “YEAH WE’RE GOING TO HOLIDAY WORLD THIS WEEKEND NO BIG DEAL” and blew on my finger nails a few times like I was a 1950s greaser who just called some nerd Coke Bottle Eyes at the soda shop.

Glenn was like, “That sounds dumb” but Lauren and Margie were all in. Especially when I told them that there was the promise of FROZEN HOT CHOCOLATE WITH SANTA IN MRS. CLAUS’S KITCHEN.

I walked past them one time last week and casually called over my shoulder, “Oh, and all soft drinks are FREE at Holiday World. Sunscreen too” and then I fake-yawned and continued on to my desk.

But then the day before I admitted to Lauren that I wasn’t actually sure if we were going for real because I still hadn’t gotten Henry to say the y-word (“yes,” come on guys, I shouldn’t have to spell out everything for you, get a clue) but that I had taken the following day off a month prior.

“Did you take that day off specifically for this, without knowing for sure–” and then she started cracking up when I sadly nodded.

So then Friday came. I knew Henry didn’t take the day off because god forbid he ever takes days off work, but sometimes he can get out of there semi-early depending on other people. I fucking paced around Brookline ALL DAY and then Chooch and I argued because I didn’t feel that he cared enough about this trip, and he was like, “But it’s just….Indiana—I mean, no I’m really excited! I want to go! Yay, Holiday World!” but his forced enthusiasm wasn’t foolin’ nobody. NOBODY.

Finally, that d-bag Henry came waltzing in the house around 3:00 and I was like LET’S GO but then he had to take a stupid shower first and pack and I was tapping holes into the floor with my foot.

It was around 3:30 when we finally left the house and I was like, “OK we’re doing this, we’re finally leaving” and Henry was surprisingly in a good mood so that made me feel ominous, you know? Like was something going to happen? (This isn’t foreshadowing, nothing happened, but I am a very superstitious and paranoid person so I was ON EDGE all weekend.)

The funny part is that part of my deal was that if we went to Holiday World, I would drive part way. Originally, I said I would drive for the first part because I can’t drive well at night (see: eyes that can’t see) and Henry was like, “Deal” but then I was like, “Well, I’ll just drive to Columbus and then you can drive after that because I get confused around Columbus” and he sighed heavily but still agreed.

(When I was friends with my ex-bff who lived in shitty Cinci, I would always make her take the Greyhound to Columbus and then I would pick her up there and make her drive the rest of the way to Cinci because following directions on a highway is not my strongsuit. On my very first time ever visiting her, I got the exit number screwed up and got lost like 2 hours into the trip, lost my temper, and came home. Turns out my head scrambled the exit number and instead of taking, say for example, Exit 81 I took Exit 18 and it didn’t occur to me at all that it was awfully soon into the drive to be “almost there” and then I stopped at a gas station and got in a fight with some trashy bitch in Marietta, OH and I have the rest blacked out but I think I wrote about it on LiveJournal so maybe I’ll go and look that up on a rainy day which could be any day since all it’s done here in Pittsburgh this summer is rain and will you just get back to the story, Erin?!)

I was prepared to get in the drivers seat when we were leaving but Henry said he would drive for a little bit because he’s a big tough man and everyone knows women should just shut up and get in the passenger seat. He was going to switch off with me once we got to West Virginia but HILARIOUSLY it started storming so hard that it was hazardous and everyone was crawling along the highway with their flashers on and by the time it stopped, we were nearly to Columbus, and Henry was like, “WOW YOU SURE GOT OUT OF THAT ONE” and I just smiled cutely because we all knew I wasn’t going to do any driving, come on now, I have shit to do.

It was around 7 at this point (yes, that rain took a major chunk out of our travel time) so we stopped in some podunk town for dinner. We were going to eat some joint called Clay’s which was an ice cream parlour and family restaurant, but there was a bit of a wait. I put in my name and we sat on a wooden bench with some of the locals who knew we were outlanders, but then Henry realized there was a Loving Hut nearby so we left and he was mad at me for not telling the lady to take our name off the list like he suddenly is the authority on restaurant couth.

Got to Loving Hut and originally sat down near a fucking screaming toddler whose ear-piercing screeches were ricocheting in my head, and I almost left because I was on the verge of flipping a table (its mom just sat there and scrolled through her phone, like hello maybe your idiot kid is screaming because it wants you to look at it) but then Henry asked a waitress if she could clean off an empty but dirty table on the other side of a wall so ALL WAS WELL.

I usually try to just eat at local establishments when we travel but the call of Loving was just too strong. We used to have a Loving Hut in Pittsburgh but it closed and I’m not sure if it’s reopening somewhere else or just gonezo forever, but it’s a vegetarian joint that even Hank the Meat-Tank can stand so we were all happy. (Even Korea has Loving Huts!)

I want to go back in time and tear that sandwich apart with my gnashing maw all over again it was so good. (Vegan BBQ with coleslaw, ugh more please). I don’t know what Henry got but he nearly licked the plate clean while Chooch complained because he didn’t like the sauce on his burger bun – that kid is so averse to condiments, it makes me sad.

We were sooooo off-schedule by then. Our original ETA was 10:30pm but we had only made it to Cinci by 10, and Santa Claus was still 3 hours from there. But the bright side of running late was that we got to see fireworks over top of an otherwise bland city.

Chooch fell asleep sometime after this and I was burdened with the task of making sure Henry didn’t fall alseep at the wheel even though I was tired too but SOLIDARITY. The drive from Cinci to Louisville wasn’t too bad (we drove past the Vent Museum!) but holy shit it was all black nothingness once we hit Indiana. And then we somehow got rerouted so the GPS added 45 minutes to the drive time and I started crying out of anger while Henry was threatening the GPS robot lady, but then somehow it recalculated and shaved off a bunch of time so we celebrated.

We rolled up to the super basic (but clean and not crawling with sex workers like the last place Henry booked in Newark) Motel 6 or 8 or whatever number they use sometime after midnight which was actually after 1am for us but time rolled back an hour when we crossed over into the central time zone somewhere in Indiana. There was some family in a banged-up minivan who got there at the same time as us and the dad was like, “HAHA you guys look as thrilled as us” because we were just dragging at that point. He had on shorts and a wife-beater and as the elevator door closed on us, Chooch said, “He looked like a discount Vin Diesel” and I couldn’t stop laughing at that because he kind of did look like that.

We crashed and then woke up bright and early to get ready for HOLIDAY WORLD! First we went to Subway for a light breakfast (I get sick if I go to amusement parks with too much food in my gut) and we were in line with a young alternatrash couple that were super skinny probably from drugs and the dude had TERRIBLE face tattoos, which was basically my prelude to a day full of more face tattoos, so many face tattoos, Indiana must run specials on them. And they weren’t on people who looked cool and edgy, like guys in bands or tattoo artists, guys who can pull that shit off because it’s part of their lifestyle as a musician or artist, you know? No, these were the kinds that screamed, “I just finished beating my girlfriend and gave myself this shoddy prison face tattoo.” Every single guy I saw in that park who had one just looked so fucking trashy and heroin-y and I can guess that they all had at least one Kid Rock CD in their car at that moment.

But that didn’t affect our glorious time at Holiday World!

We got there right when it opened at 10am and expected it to be relatively crowded because it was a Saturday and we try to avoid going to amusement parks on weekends. I was fully prepared to have to do a lot of waiting in lines but it was gloriously sparse!

The Raven was the first ride we rode! It was a wicked coaster and unexpectedly fun – Chooch and I sat in the back and got our asses (and necks) kicked on it.

I took some family’s picture here and then the mom was all, “here I’ll take yours too” and I reluctantly agreed but I hate having my picture taken so bad so that’s why it looks like I have 87 fire-sticks up my ass.

Henry was going to wear a gray shirt that I hate because every time he wears it, he’s in a bad mood, so then he changed into a different gray shirt. The man loves grays and browns, I don’t think he’ll change up his wardrobe at this point.

I’m going to stop here and get into the real meaty portions of Holiday World in my next post because SPOILER ALERT we had such a great time there and I can’t stop thinking about those majestic wooden coasters.

Aug 202018
 

Before I get into the real reason we were in Santa Claus, Indiana, I want to talk about the delightful time we spent at the Santa Claus Museum before departing for Pittsburgh yesterday morning.

Yes, the museum was open on Sundays, much to Henry’s dismay!

I thought it was pretty strange that a random town in Indiana was named after Santa, but luckily, I learned immediately at the museum that it was originally called Santa Fee, but when it was time to, I don’t know, do something postal-related, I can’t remember now (I’m the worst at museum-ing!), they realized that there was a town called Santa Fe also in Indiana (WHICH SANTA FE CAME FIRST!? Who has time to google, not me — I want to get through this blog post and finish watching the Taemin Off-Sick concert!! HE WEARS A SWEATER VEST WITH NOTHING UNDER IT DURING ONE SONG, AND HIS PANTS HAVE SUSPENDERS AND HE HAS SOME WEIRD SWEATER COOZY ON HIS ONE FOREARM – ONLY LEE TAEMIN CAN MAKE THIS DORK-STYLE SIZZLE).

Anyway, back to the Sante Fee vs. Santa Fe debacle. There was a town hall meeting to come up with a new name and during that meeting, a strong gust of wind blew the door open and some child-broad yelled, “SANTA CLAUS?!” So that’s how that happened.

A likely story.

But first, we had to snoop around this creepy Santa statue which is allegedly the oldest in the world but then I also read that it’s the only tribute statue to Santa, so…It was still very cool! When we were walking over to it, we saw an older couple that was standing in line in front of us for our first ride on the Voyage at Holiday World the day before!

SPOILER ALERT: We were in Santa Claus for an amusement park.

Such secrets.

(It wasn’t a secret. But we almost didn’t go so I was trying to refrain from being all FOUR MORE DAYS UNTIL HOLIDAY WORLD except at work. Those poor people had to hear about it a lot. The new admin lady is learning so much about me whether she wants to or not.)

‘Sup Santa.

So the museum was actually a museum for the TOWN and not Santa in general, which was fine. I appreciate learning the history of a quaint little town every now and then.

I love that they keep old letters to Santa on display.

LIKE THIS ONE.

One of my favorites was from some polite bitch who was like I don’t want anything for Xmas but peace and whatnot and then she conveniently left a PS:

But then the one below it, OUCH MY STUPID HEART.

Chooch was diligently working to piece together this puzzle which ended up missing a bunch of edge pieces and he was in a fit of extreme outrage over this but before the rage happened, some super annoying midwest family came in and the young daughter screamed, “MAMA IS THAT REALLY SANTA” while peering at pictures of some old town Santa in a cabinet. Chooch spun around so fast with the most disgusted look on his face and I was like OH GOD IS HE GOING TO END THIS BITCH’S CHILDHOOD RIGHT NOW but then he turned back around and focused all of his energy on that stupid puzzle that I would have had pieced together in like two minutes, but let’s not make this a competition.

Then the mom was hovering while I was reading the letters to Santa so I stepped aside and she swooped in and started taking pictures of every single one.

The other appealing thing about this town is that some dude back in the day was like, “I have a lot of money so I’m going to retired and build Santa Claus Land” and that’s what he did but then it was only mildly successful and something happened, I can’t remember, and now it’s Holiday World.

OH! There was a wall in the hallway that had a bunch of framed celebrities’ headshots with signed dollar bills in each one and it turns out that some townie back in the 80s decided to write to famous people and ask for their autographed pictures and they included a dollar to also be signed and these celebrities like Johnny Carson and Danny DeVito actually complied?! I thought only soap opera actors did that shit.

Chooch was like, “I DON’T KNOW WHO ANY OF THESE PEOPLE ARE” so I pointed to Charlton Heston and started mouthing off about the NRA and Henry gave me the NOT HERE, NOT NOW moustache bristle so then I mumbled, “He was Moses.”

GUYS, IF I WRITE TO G-DRAGON IN THE MILITARY AND INCLUDE A 1000 WON BILL, HE WILL SIGN IT AND SEND ME A GLORIOUS PHOTO OF HIS PERFECT FACE.

THEN WE WENT TO THE FAKE POST OFFICE.

AND CHOOCH WROTE A LETTER TO SANTA.

(Even though the lady in the museum didn’t ask him if he had written his letter yet, but she practically pounced on the kids in the annoying family about it because they were younger OK #AGEISM.)

This fucker really asked Santa for V-Bucks. I RUE THE DAY FORTNIGHT CAME INTO OUR LIVES. I literally start to shake when he starts begging and whining for V-Bucks. He wanted this “special” they were having the other day and then told me it was TWENTY-FIVE REAL DOLLARS to get a bunch of FAKE DOLLARS to buy FAKE GOODS for his VIDEO GAME CHARACTER?! Um, no. This is the dumbest thing ever, Santa don’t you dare get him V-Bucks.

Get me a gift certificate for Choice Music.

Then the annoying family came in and took over so I was like OK LET’S WRAP THIS UP because I just couldn’t handle the mom with her neon pink Loony Toons shirt and fanny pack.

I don’t know if it was actually Loony Toons but it was neon pink and something a mom would wear in the early nineties and I needed to get away from her.

(Ironically, I was wearing a Hypercolor shirt BUT IT WAS FOR THE BAND HANDS LIKE HOUSES so don’t lump me in. Don’t you fucking dare do it.)

This old-ass creepy church was also on the property so we poked around.

Oh god, it smelled SO OLD in there, and I felt like I was for sure inhaling asbestos and ancient sins. I can’t believe they let people go in there. The floorboards were whack in some spots and I felt like rafters could have started falling in on us at any moment and not just because we heathens yo.

The museum was free but there was a suggested donation of $5 for families so I made Henry cough it up and then I only signed Chooch’s and my name in the guest book, hahahahaha.

Afterward, we went down the street to Santa’s Candy Castle which I mentioned in my liveblog (DID YOU READ IT?! I can’t remember what I wrote but it was probably not important). This was originally part of Santa Claus Land – oh hey, the candy castle’s website has a history page! Here, just read this. 

I just love shit like this. I didn’t even want any candy, I just wanted to see the building. But then I saw that they sold salt water taffy so I bought a bag for work just to be a dick because everyone goes to the beach and brings back legit salt water taffy. WELL HERE’S A SACK OF TAFFY FROM SANTA CLAUS, INDIANA!

Glenn was not impressed.

Overall, Santa Claus, Indiana is a quirky little town and even though I couldn’t imagine living there, it was a fun little road trip and I hope that one day Chooch will be like, “KIDS WE’RE GOING TO SANTA CLAUS” and his partner will be like, “WTF WHY.”

Aug 042018
 

Last fall when we visited our friends Bill and Jessi in Michigan, Jessi mentioned that there was a strong possibility they’d be in Pittsburgh at the end of July for a Rocky Horror Picture Show convention and that weekend had been emblazoned in my mind ever since. I refused any publicity events, interviews, or party invites that I received for that weekend (LOL). Seriously though, we had all been looking forward to this so hard but I kept my expectations super low because I knew they would be busy with convention stuff.

They had time Saturday afternoon for a museum break so Henry, Chooch and I met them in front of the Omni William Penn where they were staying (it’s haunted, so that was a bonus for them!) and made the 10 minute walk to the Heinz History Center because they were interested in seeing the Mister Rogers set artifacts.

First we had to walk past a sidewalk filming of this one really aggressive religious group that has a show on the public access channel and that was scary. But then I got to show them the famous Two Andys mural  and of course point out the Army Navy Store with the infamous machete purchased. Meanwhile, they were both saying very nice things about the city and it always helps chip some of the jade off my soul when I’m seeing PIttsburgh through someone else’s eyes. So I was kind of like, “Yeah, it’s not too b ad here.” Then a few days later I got caught in a rainstorm and almost passed out at the rising fumes of urine BUT I GUESS THAT’S MOST CITIES IN THE SUMMER.

Jessi took this picture of Chooch and Bill in front of what used to be the Toonseum, one of only three museums in the US dedicated to cartoon art, but apparently it recently closed and I have no idea how I didn’t notice this because I walk past there nearly every day!? I guess it closed in March and is now going to be a “roaming-museum” where they do events and stuff and honestly that does make more sense to me because my recollection of the Toonseum is that it was very small and not much was in there. So now I’m not too sad about it anymore.

We made it to the History Center safe and sound because I was a fearless troop leader and if there is one place I know my way around, it’s downtown Pittsburgh. Just don’t ask me for street names like some lady did the other day.

“If that’s 6th down there at that corner, is that 7th down this way?” she asked, pointing a certain way and I fucking FROZE and kept saying “um, uh” but then I remembered that she pointing the direction where there is a restaurant called Nine on Nine because it’s on 9th Ave and 900 Penn so that is how I was able to deduce that yes, the numbers went up in that direction. She didn’t seem very confident in my answer and was just like, “mmmmmmkay” but hey, she walked in that direction!

One time someone asked me where to get birth certificates and I was like, “Uh, have your mom re-birth you and the hospital will bring you one?” No really I just screamed I DUNNO and the person acted like it was a personal affront. Sorry, I only know alleys and cafes.

Anyway, it’s a shame that I have only been to the Heinz History Center once, and that was nearly 10 years ago at this point, when Vatican Splendors was touring the country and made a stop here in Pittsburgh so I made Kara go with me and watch me cry because religious artifacts really do it for me.

I know what you’re thinking, wow how much history could a dump like Pittsburgh have that it needs its own museum and here is where I will tell you to fuck off because only I can shit-talk my town, lol. I get really defensive when outsiders say disparaging things about it! But seriously, like most cities, Pittsburgh is rife with history and it’s not all steel mills and football, yay. I think it’s pretty common that Heinz was a huge deal for Pittsburgh and we are morally offended when we go to a restaurant elsewhere that has anything other than classic Heinz 57 on the tables. Piss off with that Hunts catsup junk.

After Bill nearly bought two memberships by accident, we headed straight to the Mr. Rogers exhibit which opened in March to celebrate the 50th anniversary of the show. I actually saw a lot of this stuff back when I was at Pitt when my creative non-fiction class took a field trip (lol) to the WQED building specifically to tour the Mr. Rogers set and write about it. Little did I know we were going to have to read it out loud the next week in class and here I was making asshole-y observations as I am known to do, so that was cool, reading that out loud. My writing teacher was the only person who liked me in that class. She had high hopes for me and I bet she would be so proud to know that I am still doing the same shit I was doing then – writing on a shitty blog.

Anyway! My favorite part of this day was actually seeing how happy it made Jessi to be there.

My second favorite part was when Chooch found out that there a stair-walking challenge where you take a slip of paper and get it stamped next to each stairwell to prove that you took the steps on every floor and then you can turn it into the gift shop and collect a prize! You better believe Chooch and I ran back up to the top of the last two floors to start this process, and yes, it would be super easy to just collect a stamp and not even take the steps but I hope that people wouldn’t do that. YOU’RE ONLY CHEATING YOURSELF!

Chooch was excited to point out the hearse to me. The funerary collections were definitely my favorites out of the whole museum.

This kneeler is so much better than ours! I’m jealous! (Yes, we have a kneeler in our house. Henry brought it home as a surprise one day because sometimes he’s actually in tune with my interests.)

If Jessi’s favorite part was the Mister Roger’s stuff, then Bill’s was this weird tooth-head doll. He was obsessed.

Henry didn’t have a favorite part because he’s seen all this shit before in his daily life. Because he’s old and museum artifacts ain’t got nuthin’ on him.

When we were looking at all the Heinz shit, I had this vivid flashback to when I worked at the Bad Place with Henry and our bosses had just come back from cruise. They were excitedly telling us that they were eating dinner with some other couples on the cruise and one of them was struggling to get the ketchup to pour out of the bottle. You’ve been there before, unless you’ve never had the pleasure of throttling a glass bottle of ketchup. Anyway, our boss Joe excitedly said to us, “And then I told them to strike the 57 with the heel of their hand and they thought I was joking but then they did it and it worked!” It’s a super common trick here in the ‘Burgh but people always think we’re nuts UNTIL THEY TRY IT AND THAT SANGUINE SAUCE COMES SHOOTING OUT. If you have no idea what I’m talking about, there is a small “57” on the actual glass of the bottle, not on the label, and striking it does the trick.  I didn’t see if the museum mentioned that anywhere but I’m also super well-known for peacing out when it comes to reading signs in museums.

I get bored easily.

Jessi was obsessed with the fact that pickle salesmen had leather cases for their pickles back in the day. I wish men still wore hates like hat but I can’t imagine Henry looking good in one.

I am suspicious of people who don’t like ketchup, just like I am of people who don’t have pets.

<3

My third favorite part was when were in the interactive kids zone and I waited until some dumb kid finished making a picture on a lightboard and then I went over and messed it up. Henry frowned so hard but it would not be his biggest frown of the day.

Then I got lost for what seemed like days because that joint is big with lots of different ways to go!

I only went into the sports area to see the Penguins stuff but really it was because I was still lost and ran there in a panic. I almost considered joining another group and no, not once did it occur to me that I could have texted Henry, Jessi, or Bill using that newfangled contraption that it always glued to my hand.

You know, a cell phone.

God, you guys make me spell everything out!

I wish the Racer still looked like this! I’ll post pictures of when it looks like now soon, since I still have to vomit all my Kennywood birthday memories up on here.

Chooch wore this Isaly’s hat for the rest of the afternoon. IF YOU LIKE KLONDIKE BARS, THEN YOU’RE WELCOME.

The museum has an old trolley car that you can walk through and if the trolleys still looked like this perhaps I wouldn’t bitch so much every morning!

Anyway, Chooch and I collected all of the stamps needed and the nice lady at the museum gift shop register gave us each a small plastic Heinz ketchup pin and we were both like WORTH IT.

“Those probably cost like fifty cents,” Henry said, always trying to poop on our joy.

STILL WORTH IT.

Stay tuned for the grand finale of their visit!

Oct 142017
 

Look. I used some ironic Pittsburghese up there in that title and typically that is a pet peeve of mine but I figured since this is kind of a Pittsburgh tourism post thing, might as well add the full flavor, right YINZ GUYS?

Ugh.

Scott and Maya had left the itinerary of the day up to me, but they did express interest on going to the aviary at some point to watch the bats getting fed. I had no objections to this, but I will admit that the aviary is not something that I would have put on my own Pittsburgh travel itinerary. Not because I’m like, anti-birds or whatever, but because I honestly usually forget that this place even exists.

In fact, the last time (and maybe possibly even the only time?) I was ever there was when Chooch was 3 months old and I was adamant on taking him there for some reason even though Henry kept reminding me things like, “He’s only 3 months old” and “His eyes can’t even focus yet” and “He will never remember this.”

I think I got a discount for being a Pitt student maybe, and that was back when I was trying to milk it for all it was worth. So we went and two things happened:

  1. Chooch didn’t care
  2. Chooch doesn’t remember it (and I barely do, either)

I went to the aviary’s website the night before to see what the admission fee situation was like, and was surprised that it was only $15 (that seems reasonable) and that it’s apparently the largest in the country!

So after our Millie’s ice cream lunch, we walked over to the Gateway T station where some elderly couple, clad in Hawaiian button-downs and fanny pants, accosted us and started firing off questions; first they asked us if we were from Pittsburgh and I hesitated, unsure of my answer, because I was afraid of the questions that would follow. Turns out they were trying to get to the Carnegie Museum of Art and Janna and I tried to explain that they couldn’t get there by using the T and then the lady was pointing at a map like, “But it’s right there, can’t we just walk” and we just like, “Hey babe, that’s just where you catch the bus to get you there” but she was arguing with us about it and then the guy was like WHERE ARE ALL THE CABS which is the Pittsburgh equivalent of Pee Wee asking to see the Alamo’s basement, for real.

We suggested an Uber or Lyft but the lady was like, “I DON’T HAVE THAT APP” and honestly, their attitudes were pitiful and didn’t make me feel inspired at all to help them any further. Fucking swim there, it’s a beautiful day and the river’s right there, you know?

Ugh, talking to strangers is so exhausting.

Anyway, we got on the T and Maya was just like, “Aw, this is cute” because she and Scott lived in NYC, so…..the trolley here really is cute compared to a true urban transportation system. But I managed to get us off at the right stop (fine, Janna did – I’m not very familiar with the T past Gateway) and then we made it to the aviary on foot without getting lost so this day was shaping up to be quite the success. And all of my work friends were so worried about what I was going to do to these poor people!

Inside the aviary, I was reminded about how much I love birds and how so many of them remind me of my cats. There was one majestic owl in particular that made me mentally weep for Marcy. :( She always reminded me of an owl.

The penguins were especially delightful and showing off for us. Maya said their daughter is really into penguins so that’s just another check for the “pro Pittsburgh” column because HELLO OUR HOCKEY TEAM IS THE PENGUINS. Plus, they’re a better team than Nashville. *insert fingernail painting emoji*

I really liked this room because not only was there a Buffalo Bill’n flamingo, but Janna almost whacked in the head twice by free-flying birds and it was amazing.

You guys, I didn’t realize the bats were going to be so big!  I was expecting those little tiny fruit bat things that my dad used to taunt in our backyard by throwing a wiffle ball high up into the air and making them dive down for it. Sigh, fun times on Gillcrest Drive. These bats were like ACTUAL VAMPIRES. I was so stoked! These particular bats are Flying Foxes.

Janna mused, “Aw, they’re like foxes with wings.”

“That’s why they’re called FLYING FOXES, JANNA,” I yelled. God!

Anyway, the feeding was way more exciting than I ever could have imagined. One of the aviary workers came into their habitat with a pail of watermelon, grapes, and…papaya? I can’t remember what the third fruit was now. You know me and my details! Let’s just gloss over everything as usual.

While the lady was hand-feeding them (they’re particular little suckers! GET IT—SUCKERS?!), she relayed some facts about them, like how big their wingspan is (like 4 feet or something) and then started talking about the dangers of unsustainable palm oil so now I’m obsessed with it and even downloaded the app that she recommended so that when I buy Halloween candy, I can make sure it’s from a company that’s not an enemy of the rain forest. (Look up “sustainable palm oil” in your app store and join me!)

Major props to Scott and Maya for suggesting the aviary. I had a lot of fun there and felt that just watching the bat feeding alone was worth the price of admission.

While we were there, I sent Chooch a picture of some giant condor that reminded me of his idiot cat Drew and he was so angry that we wnet to the aviary without him. I mean, even before he knew we were going to the aviary, he was mad that he got left behind, but have you met Chooch? He is the worst when it comes to things like this and would have totally impeded upon the day and started to complain that his hip hurt from walking too much. He’s pretty dramatic.

We capped off the day of sightseeing with some coffee at Colony Cafe, where we got to relax and get to know Scott and Maya some more. They are so freaking easy to talk to, it’s kind of maddening. How do I unlock this life skill?!

After that, we all walked back to the Wood Street trolley station, where Janna had a total tourist moment by not being able to put money on her Connect Card, so Scott gave her a dollar so that she could just be a TRUE N00B by paying cash on the T. Oh, Janna. While we waited for the T, some crazy Steelers fan tried to engage me in FOOTBALL TALK but I shot him down, only for Scott to be like, “I know football things” so then they started talking about sports things and I thought to myself, “If they move here, they will be just fine.” Honestly, all it takes is even one small nugget of knowledge of one sport, any sport, and you can get by. Plus, Maya accidentally was wearing a Batman shirt in the official color palette of Pittsburgh so I think people were mistaking her for a fan of the Pirates/Penguins/Steelers, pick one, any one.

(I think it was on the trolley where we heard people talking about Nashville for the second time that day, and we all exchanged looks because what were the odds, you know?)

Anyway, we parted ways with Maya and Scott when the trolley rolled up to Station Square. They were going to check out Mt. Washington via the incline and I really wanted to do that too but Janna had a pie to make and I had to go home and get all of the pie party decorations out of the basement and then decompress because I always get so stressed out the night before the pie party, you have no idea.

As soon as they got off the trolley and the door closed, I looked at Janna and gushed, “OMG I LOVE THEM!” and Janna agreed that she also thought they were great and we both started to hardcore hope that they will move here. There were absolutely zero bad or weird vibes. Yes, I was still a little nervous and a lot shy because that’s just me, but I could tell that these are people I can be myself around and I was really excited for Henry to get to meet them the next day.

Meanwhile, not only did Janna have to pay an extra fare for using cash, she also lost a quarter because the fare thingie doesn’t give change. She was pretty nonchalant about this though which was annoying because I wanted her to be more upset. On the walk back to my house, though, some (possibly drunk?) guy walked past us and when he pulled his hand out of his pocket, some change flew out and clattered to the sidewalk. He glanced behind him when this happened, but then kept walking, undaunted that he lost money.

“Janna, you should pick that up. It will make up for the quarter you lost,” I urged. There was at least a dime and a nickel chilling on the sidewalk, plus whatever he dropped further up the sidewalk, but she chose to just pick up the nickel. As soon as it was in her hand, I yelled, “JANNA YOU JUST STOLE FROM THAT MAN!” and he whipped around to look at us while she tried to pass the nickel off on me! I was like, “I DON’T WANT YOUR STOLEN MONEY!” so she ended up leaving it on some sign that was in front of the pool hall we were walking past.

It was great. You should have been there.

*****

Later that night, I got an alert that the Pens game wa starting. They were playing Nashville. I guess all the “random” Nashville talk we kept overhearing that day wasn’t so random after all! Oh ho ho hockey.