Sep 032016
 

7:47am: We just pulled out of the driveway. “I need coffee” I immediately said. “Yeah, I’m well aware of what everyone needs,” Henry snapped. Whoa. CRAPPY PANTS IS HERE, EVERYONE.

7:49am: Chooch is mad because Henry got a new phone (he’s been using an old person flip phone for the last few mths because his real one broke) and he wants to hold it so badly but Henry is like DONT START WITH THIS PHONE SHIT!! Kids and phones, amirite.

8:16am: I can’t believe I’m about to admit this but I succumbed to the basic bitch pressure and got a….pumpkin macchiato. I know! I’m the worst! I’m so predictable! But at least it wasn’t from Starbucks. In other news, I’m not being a bitch anymore because I got a pumpkin macchiato.

8:42am: I had planned on swinging by the Cincinnati area because I have always wanted to go to the Loveland Castle (and by always I mean for the 4 years I’ve known of its existence). Henry just had me look up the directions on Google maps so I clicked on the map thing in my Roadside America app and started crying because it said it was nearly 7 hours away and HOW WILL WE HAVE TIME so Henry got all huffy and said, “send me the directions!” So I did and he was like, “because these directions have us starting in MARYLAND, that’s why it says it’s so far away!”

While I was giggling, Henry said in a very weary voice, “How do you survive?”

8:59am: Chooch just came back with cheese curls from Sheetz and you would have thought I was asking him for a kidney, I hate him.

Oh for fucks sake, Henry couldn’t find the lemon packet things for his signature unsweetened iced tea, and some Sheetz lady JUST BROUGHT THEM OUT TO THE CAR FOR HIM BEFORE WE LEFT and Henry is SO FUCKING EXCITED ABOUT THIS and wants to write to Sheetz now except he doesn’t know the broad’s name.


He can just send them this picture of her then, I guess.

9:18am: I wonder how many hours of mocking Henry in a hick farmer accent before I finally pierce the barrier he mentally puts up between us. YOU CAN’T BLOCK ME OUT FOREVER, SWEET PEA.

9:51am: I hate when I start to like something Top 40ish and Chooch pops up from the backseat to tell me that they used to be a YouTuber, ugh.

10:42am: Stopped at rest area in some Ohio place and a man in a suit asked Chooch if his name was LESTER and then was crippled with disbelief when Chooch said no because HE LOOKS JUST LIKE SOME BOY HE KNOWS and as we left him in our dust, I could still hear him back there wow’ing in shock.


Obligatory rest stop bathroom selfie. If I look haggard that’s because I stayed up all night watching Danity Kane videos/Making the Band recaps on YouTube.

Meanwhile, I almost forgot that Chooch’s name was Lester back when we kidnapped him 10 years ago.

11:57am: Reminsicing about the time I listened to this Perfidious Words song on repeat for approx. 5 hours when I worked the late shift at my last job, and then accidentally became suicidal because of it. Henry is not enjoying this stroll down memory lane.

12:12pm: Henry is in another rest area, doing whatever he does in there, so Lester and I are talking behind his back. “He’s in such a bad mood today.” “I know.”

Just wait until we get to the castle! That’ll be sure to turn his frown upside down and back around into a greater frown.

1:38pm: well we just finished touring Loveland Castle and Henry is in an even worse mood, as predicted! The only time he smiled was when the guide mentioned THE SERVICE.


ASSHOLE ALERT.

Whatever. Lester had a good time in the castle.

1:43pm: Some broad in a car next to us at a red light sneezed so I said bless you and Lester is like SO EMBARRASSED.

2:13pm: we’re at Sugar & Spice for lunch and this place is a WONDERLAND.

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Our waitress was this old lady who seemed concerned that no one had brought me my coffee 30 seconds after I ordered it.

“You had a coffee right?” she asked. “And no one brought it yet???”

I shook my head no, slowly, because I didn’t understand how anyone would know I ordered it when she was still standing there taking our order?

“Wait—did you just tell me that now?” She asked. “Oh, ha! I saw it there and forgot that I had just written it down.”

O.o

The restrooms were DOWNSTAIRS. I love when the restrooms are downstairs! This place was EVERYTHING!


I read about it on Roadside America and literally the only reason we went is because they give out FREE RUBBER DUCKIES. Chooch and I were so nervous that we weren’t going to get one and neither of us wanted to ask and Henry was like THIS IS ALL YOU DONT LOOK AT ME so finally I cleared my throat and asked the lady at the register if the duck thing was still a go, and she silently reached for a bucket on a shelf and told us to go on and take a rubber duck and Chooch nearly clotheslined himself against the counter in his overzealous rummaging.

4:58pm: Nothing noteworthy has happened in hours but we just made it to the hotel – some generic Radisson. Three hours until Artifex Pereo!!

6:51pm: just saw Jerry’s Junk and it was mildly cool but also pretty anticlimactic.


However, I bet that man has a TON OF SHIT that I would buy if he was selling. Meanwhile, Chooch casually asked me to put on Danity Kane, lol.

And Henry is having a blast telling Louisville drivers that they’re doing it wrong. “YOU CANT TURN LEFT ON RED!”

7:24pm: Benjamin the Lyft driver is taking us to the venue now and listening to him and Henry attempt to make small talk with each other is simultaneously killing me and giving me life. Also I couldn’t get my seatbelt to fasten so I’m just sitting here with my arm thru it like a sling.

8:52pm: Huge difference between me and Chooch: when I need to pee in a public place, I freak out and spend 25 minutes trying to build up the courage to look for the bathroom and then I hoarsely whisper to Henry WHERE DO YOU THINK THE BATHROOM IS OMG HELP. Chooch gets right up and sets out to find it himself.

10:32pm: This night is so excelsior. Every band has been wonderful, the venue is great, Henry is actually in a good mood and said that he liked the last band that played (Funeral Portrait) and now Artifex Pereo is about to go on and I’m so sweaty and Chooch is half asleep in a chair and all the Artifex guys keep asking him if he’s going to make it and it’s just good fucking vibes all over, can I stay in Louisville forever.


12:02am: Waiting for our Lyft driver, Nicholas, to pick our exhausted, sweaty asses up. I hope I lost weight. I SWEAT SO MUCH.

“There’s so much wrong with my body,” Chooch just randomly said.

12:23am: Nicholas returned us safely to our hotel (he was an A+ Lyft driver and gave us non-stressful conversation) and then we had cheerful banter with the ladies at the front desk because we’re all delirious from the hotbox that is New Vintage, and now I’m ready to get my Savasana on in this stiff-as-fuck bed.

PEACE OUT, GIRL SCOUT.

Jun 012016
 

We had some time to kill Sunday morning before we were due to arrive at Bill & Jessi’s but don’t cry for us, Michigan-a — Roadside America had our back.

Imagine my sheer delight and giddiness when I discovered that Howell (where we had stayed Saturday night) was only several miles away from Hell, MI! A tourist trap, to be sure, but one that even Henry was quietly on board with.

First though, we stopped at the Pinckney Diner in, omg, Pinckney. I was wearing my Bled Fest shirt in hopes that some of my Bled Fest peeps would be there, but no. Just basic breakfasting locals.

I ordered some type of “healthy” scrambled egg and fruit cup bullshit, and Chooch thought it was hilarious that it came with a small orange juice and I try not to let him bully me, but man did I feel self-conscious drinking it, like I needed to create a curtain with my napkin.

It was a nice place but nothing to write home about so don’t be expecting a post card.

After a slight directional snafu (in which Henry was reminded that I do not understand how to read a map even when Google is practically reading it for me), we whizzed past a short stretch of road that housed a Hell-themed diner called Hell in a Handbasket and a gift shop called Screams, and a bar called the Hell Hole.

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“Oh well, everything is closed,” Henry said in a sing-song voice because I had angered him enough on the way there that he was now ready to forgo the idea and find the nearest gorge to drive into.

But before he had a chance to get very far, I had the proprietor of Screams on the phone confirming that they were set to open in a few minutes, so downtrodden Hank had to turn the car around and head back to Hell, which probably just felt like Groundhog Day to him because when is he not heading back to Hell.

I appreciated that the man at Screams answered the phone with a robust, “How the hell are ya?” I was even more stoked at this point to make it rain in this kitschy souvenir shop.

And it was pretty much exactly as expected – a fun-loving, tongue-in-cheek tourist trap. It provided just enough of a time suck for us to arrive at Bill & Jessi’s right on time and didn’t stress out Henry too terribly much so we showed up in a collectively fine mood.

Without even faking it!

I bought a Hell, MI coffee cup to use as a future succulent vessel and hopefully my asshole cats don’t shatter it. And of course I also bought a magnet because that’s my thing. My closet-thingy at work is covered with magnetic tokens of all my Americana travels, I give it a once-over every morning and it fills me with early-morning joy!

(I mean, my morning coffee also helps with that joy-filling.)

We chatted for a bit for the elder manning the register and it turned out he’s the mayor of Hell! What a piping hot honor! I asked him how much these really cool postcards were that depicted a Hell homage by some local artist, and he was like, “Aw hell, you can just have it.”

HELL FUCKING RULES.

We said goodbye to Mayor of Hell and went outside to mill about the property. Mini golf was open yet, but there was a mini lock-covered bridge to stomp across, a DAM to look at, and a CHAPEL.

No joke, if the chapel had been open,  I totally would have come home to Pittsburgh a married woman. I’m not sure who my husband would be, but at least I could tell people I got married in Hell.

Henry doing his favorite thing: looking at nature and trying desperately to tune out our cries of “I WANT I WANT I WANT!!”

And then it was time to get back in the car and embark on our 45 minute drive to the Wayne-ish area of Michigan, while I yapped on and on about Bled Fest the entire way because I had the time of my life.

No, I never felt this way before.

Yes I swear.

Blah blah blah.

May 152016
 

A/k/a MY MOTHERLAND.
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I know this trip was supposed to be all about the celebration of Chooch’s existence, blah blah blah, Chooch for motherfucking Prez….but you can’t celebrate the spawn without also heralding the INCUBATOR. So I decided that we needed to tack on Universal Studios in order to appease Cesar and my ever-tingling scar. And in usual Erin-Fashion, I can’t just write one post about an amusement park. This is going to take a while. Such thoughts. Many feels.

Henry got some Universal Studios deal through work where he bought two day park-to-park passes and got the third day free. At first I thought, “Maybe three days is excessive…” but then we got there and I was like, “Nope. Three days is going to be a fucking dream.”

To be honest, if it wasn’t for the Wizarding World of Harry Potter, maybe we would have skipped out on Universal altogether and found other things to do. But there was no way that I could be IN ORLANDO and not experience the Harry Potter magic. I fucking love Harry Potter (it’s a lowkey love — I read all the books as they came out and watched all the movies, but I don’t like cosplay or write fanfic). Henry knows this. When he was “courting” me back in 2001, he would buy me Halloween and  Harry Potter memorabilia. I guess it worked. I mean, fifteen years and one wild child later…

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My initial assessment of Universal? IT’S NOT JUST HARRY POTTER STUFF*. This place, you guys. This place. Amusement parks are my things, but this one is definitely my new #1 and now I’m convinced that we’re probably going to have to visit at least every two years because I don’t want to miss out on all the things they’re adding. Also, maybe I might even be trying to get a job there. As Lisa Simpson. Or as a psychic. YOU DON’T KNOW.

*(But the HP stuff is phenomenal and will get its own post because I know how to beat a horse. You should see the welts on Henry’s back.)

 

Here are some photos from our first day there, from both Universal and Isles of Adventure.

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The food was more expensive and there were less options for the token VegetErin but I was fine eating cheese pizza because I’M NOT THERE TO EAT, JUST REFUEL.

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The Simpsons Ride was the shit. It made Henry sick though because he’s old and dumb.

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We spent most of our first day at Islands of Adventure, and I instantly fell headfirst in love with Seuss Landing.

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Basically it was like walking into what my house would look like if I wasn’t lazy and poor. A landscape of over-saturated colors.

Naturally, it was there that I may have found my new Wacky Worm, you guys.

 

If you ask Henry, it was “just some stupid kids train” that we had to wait in kind of a long line for (I mean, a 30-minute wait was unusually long on the days we were there). We were really pissed because an entire family of super rambunctious New Yorkers cut in front of everyone to join The Placeholder. Henry usually doesn’t get very riled up over these types of things, but his mustache bristles were starting to singe against the heat of the smoke leaking out of his dragon nostrils.

He was mouthing off about how rude they were and I was pissed too but the fact that there was so much vitriol being produced while waiting in line for a children’s ride was pretty comical.

And then when Henry had to ride with one of the New York Dads? Fucking priceless.

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The train got stopped TWO TIMES because of them! Once when one of the daughters complained that her seatbelt was too tight and Mouthy Mom hollered at a ride attendant to fix it. And then again right as we finally began to pull away from the station and they all reached across to high-five the remaining members of their family who were still waiting in line.

And the whole time, it looked like Henry was a part of them and I’m sure he was slowly dying on the inside because he hates shenanigans and these motherfuckers were LOUD AS SHIT. I went from hating them for line-jumping to absolutely adoring them for embarrassing Henry by association.

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Henry made a friend!

A post shared by Erin Appledale (@ohhonestlyerin) on

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Afterward, the mouthiest of all the New Yawkers came up to me and screamed, “I THINK YOUR HUSBAND HAD A GOOD TIME RIDING WITH MY FAMILY! HE PROBABLY WON’T BE ABLE TO HEAR FOR THE REST OF THE DAY THOUGH.” And I was almost peeing my pants at this point, laughing too hard to even correct her that hello he is not my “husband.” Like, ew. Gross.

Whatever.

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Cat in the Hat was scared of Chooch’s Chiodos shirt, lawl.

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BUCKLE UP, HANK.

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Chooch suddenly became a Rule Follower and was extremely distressed that the carousel had the audacity to start before he could fasten his seat belt. I mean, his concern was super adorable, but I don’t think he really was in any danger…? I love that I had the good fortune of catching him giving up in this Instavid:

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WHEEEE, HENRY. WHEEE.

A post shared by Erin Appledale (@ohhonestlyerin) on

 

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Post-Popeye & Bluto’s Bilge-Rat Rapids, i.e. the best rapids ride I’ve ever ridden! Henry conveniently couldn’t find a vacant locker near the ride so he was like, “Just go. Go on without me” like some fucking war-zone martyr.

We did get him to go on the Jurassic Park ride though and we were front row so he got soaked. Suckerrrrrrr. And since he was already wet, we convinced him to go on Dudley Do-Right’s Rip-Saw Falls right after in the Comic Strip section of the park, which was the best log flume ride I’ve ever ridden! EVERYTHING IN UNIVERSAL IS BEST. BEST BEST BEST!

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Look at that! What a fucking delight. The final drop had a double-dip!

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Man, we had a great time at Disney, but…Universal kind of stole the show. More later! I have to go and roll around in my bed of vacation pictures now. That’s totally not true at all…I’m not that obsessed. I mean, I look at my pictures constantly on my phone and cry like I just lost my best friend, but I don’t ROLL AROUND IN THEM.

God.

****

Chooch’s review of day 1: “I met a lot of characters that day and I have to agree with my mom that Universal did kind of steal the show from Disney. Mainly because of Wizarding World of Harry Potter. Thanks.”

Henry’s review of day 1: “What? I’m busy cooking. I can’t do this. Day 1 was OK.”

 

May 112016
 

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Originally we were going to spend two days at Magic Kingdom because I thought for sure we wouldn’t have enough to get everything in. Less than halfway through the day, it became evident that we were definitely going to be able to get everything in and even rode Space Mountain twice because the line was so short near the end of the night. So we decided to spend our second Disney day at Hollywood Studios and it really feels like it was a solid choice.

I didn’t realize it until the other day, but I’ve apparently been there before. I honestly thought that all these years that my family and I went to Universal Studios the last time we were in Orlando but nope, turns out it was MGM which is what Hollywood Studios used to be called. Thanks Wiki, for holding my hand as I slowly made my way down Remembrance Lane.

Another fascinating look into my childhood!

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My only memory is that it was very small, new, and had little to do so my dad bitched a lot about what a waste of money it was — typical Kelly! Bitching even when he wasn’t the one who paid for it!

There’s definitely more to do now, but it’s so small and the lines were so short that we really tried to pace ourselves. First though, we went to the guest relations place so Chooch could get a stupid “It’s my birthday” pin because we never got around to doing it at Magic Kingdom on his actual birthday. Which is just as well, because now we got to spend an entire day LIVING A LIE. So every time someone wished him a happy birthday (it was always like a janitor or snack booth cashier though and Chooch was getting SO ANGRY, haha), it felt like we were BREAKING THE LAW. Thrilling!

Right after that, I checked the app and saw that there was a super short wait for the Aerosmith coaster thing, so we headed straight for that.

I mean, after Henry took us 8 wrong ways and then he and Chooch started fighting over the map. Like, give me a break, am I right?

I believe we only waited 15 minutes or so and it was a very quick wait. Granted, we were there during a slower season, but it still seems like Disney is doing it right as far was keeping the lines moving.

Henry got to ride with some broad who was there with her husband but they “always go through the single rider line.” She was a huge talker and kept babbling on right on up until our ride finally launched. Maybe they choose the single rider option because her husband can’t stand her.

The very first thought I had was, “Wow, this ride would be so much better if it wasn’t Aerosmith.” It was really fun, your standard indoor coaster, but obviously an Aerosmith medley was blasting through the building for the duration of our fake trip in a stretch limo and I was not feeling that aspect of it.

I think it should be refurbished into the Toto Coaster. JUST PLAY “AFRICA” THROUGH THE WHOLE THING!

There’s some Star Wars stuff at Hollywood Studios. None of us have seen the new one yet and actually, I’ve only ever seen the original three (numerous times, though), but I still felt like we all collectively knew enough to get some level of enjoyment out of it. There was some 10 minute movie that was also playing but it turns out it was just like one giant, extended trailer for the new one.

Now that I think about it, I don’t think I added this to the Times Henry Fell Asleep list. I’m slacking.

Stood in line for fucking THIRTY MINUTES to meet Not Actually Chewbacca for THIRTY SECONDS (and that’s being generous). Star Wars trivia was playing on TV monitors that were sprinkled around the queue and Chooch kept answering the questions out loud which would have been fine if he was EVER CORRECT. “Stop drawing attention to the Mediocre Star Wars fans!” I hissed because people honestly were starting to turn and stare and I felt like LINDA HAMILTON in Children of the Corn.

OUTLANDER!

He wanted to also meet Kylo Ren but I cried, “YOU HAVEN’T EVEN SEEN THE MOVIE!” I wanted to ride things, not meet awkward teenagers in costumes.

But the problem was that there just weren’t very many rides there, so we did something that we never do because it goes against everything we stand for*: WE WENT AND WATCHED SHOWS.

*(Not really, but I wanted to keep with the whole Outlander theme.)

We watched some condensed stage version of Beauty and the Beast. Chooch sat alone several rows up from us, because he decided he needed to make 85 people stand up so he could barrel through and take the last seat in a full row.

At one point, I had to put my sunglasses on to hide the tears rolling down my face. Totally not my tears though. It was the invisible midget sitting on my face.

Henry just rolled his eyes but I know he walked away silently praising Gaston for his unrelenting desire to hold a bitch back.

My favorite thing is when Chooch and I decide last minute to stop following Henry and meander off in our own direction without alerting him to the change of direction. And then watching Henry tense up as he eventually realizes that his back feels lighter because his burdens have gone missing. And instead of shouting, “HENRY DEAR! OVER HERE!” we just continue doing whatever the fuck we went because we’re our own people and he doesn’t own us.

The only time things got hairy was when we missed lunch because we wanted to eat at the SciFi Dine-In Theater but we couldn’t get a table until 3:15 because we’re bad planners, so then Chooch and I spent a good two hours speaking in tongues and vomiting pea soup until we were finally seated in some classic car table thing and I bitched because it wasn’t as cool as the other ones and Henry snapped, “If we sat in one of the other ones, I’d have to eat alone!” to which I responded, “Yeah, so?”

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There were loops of sci-fi films playing on a large screen in the front of the room—I have never been in a restaurant more quiet in my whole life. Every sat in their cars, staring at the screen while their mouths chewed in slo-mo. It was like being in a roomful of pod people. I felt like I was going to get shushed for talking.

But I still talked anyway.

I dared Chooch to order an Ariel punch, which came in a collectible LITTLE MERMAID cup with some light-up Ariel thing attached to the straw. He was like, “I don’t give a fuck” and drank the shit out of it.

Meanwhile, I apparently poured my beer wrong because I rarely ever drink beer, let alone pour it, which caused Henry to jump at the chance to ridicule me because how often does that opportunity present itself. MAYBE I WANTED MY GLASS TO BE 3/4 FULL OF FOAM.

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I ordered the veggie burger and it was actually super delicious. Shout out to my co-worker Elaina for the pointers! At the end of the meal, Chooch said to our waitress, “Excuse me? It’s my birthday” in an attempt to finally get something better than the attention of a Disney garbage man.

“Oh really? Happy birthday,” she said in a thoroughly unimpressed tone and I bet you felt stupid, kid, didn’t you?

But then she came back with a plate of ice cream and a cupcake, lit candle and all. I wanted to take a picture because when don’t I want to take a picture but he blew out the candle too soon and basically ruined what probably wasn’t going to be a beautiful memory, but you can’t be sure!

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The Great Movie Ride thing was equal parts cheesy and amazing. IT WAS LITERALLY LIKE RIDING THROUGH NUMEROUS MOVIES. My favorite was the Wizard of Oz part. Chooch liked all the James Cagney gun fight shit. Henry liked our tour guide, Rachel.

U + God = ???? We stood around for a bit, waiting for the plane to finish the equation but it never did.

Chooch is a huge Andy Griffith fan ever since visiting Mayberry last summer. (I mean, not really.)

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In addition to cheesin’ with the characters, Chooch also makes me take his picture next to every display he deems worthy of a photo op (which is essentially every single one).

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I was terrified to ride the Tower of Terror because I hate drop-rides. But I also didn’t want to NOT go on it because even HENRY was going on it. (He vowed to ride everything at least once since everything in Orlando costs a zillion dollars + any chance of our kid going to college on our dime, so he wasn’t about to waste a single cent.)

This ride ended up being hands down my favorite at Hollywood Studios, and it managed to come in second overall when Magic Kingdom was factored in. And there’s like an actual part where you’re riding down a hallway too so it’s like WHEN IS THE DROP GOING TO HAPPEN, PAPI HOLD MY HAND!

And the drop wasn’t even that bad, mostly because I couldn’t really tell exactly how high up we were since it was inside. (Although there is one point where you’re hovering in front of an opening that looks out into the park. Holy fuck.)

And one of the gothic ride operators said happy birthday to Chooch, which he dutifully added to his “Is Hollywood Studios going to pay adequate attention to me or will I have to blow this bitch up?” tally.

In addition to Beauty and the Beast, we also took in a riveting Little Mermaid light show thing (Henry fell asleep) and the Indiana Jones stunt thing, which I thought was going to be lame but found myself getting all swept away and super excited when JEFFREY, one of the STUNT GUYS disguised as an audience member, ran right past me! There were all kinds of explosions and gun shots.

Henry actually stayed awake.

One of my co-workers was talking to me in the kitchen last week and he said, “All I remember about MGM was that there was some super lame Indiana Jones stunt show” and I basically had to turn my back so he wouldn’t see me cry. It wasn’t lame!

And then Chooch used the Disney gift card given to him by Chronica for his birthday to buy a Stitch plush because he can’t go anywhere without buying a stuffed animal.

They’re expanding the Pixar area and building a whole new Star Wars thing, so if we ever go back to Orlando, I think Hollywood Studios will be on the itinerary. There were way less strollers. Also, I don’t think I hated anyone there.

May 072016
 

The last time I was at Disney World, I was 10 years old and barely remember anything other than being a permed dork who hounded characters for their autographs while my dad spent the entire time singing “Yo ho yo ho a pirate’s life for me” thanks to one spin on Pirates of the Caribbean.

What I learned is that 26 years later, Pirates of the Caribbean is way more awesome than it was in 1990 and dorky kids are still chasing characters for autographs except that now you need to get a fucking Fast Pass for that shit unless you want to spend half your day waiting in inexplicably long queues for some kid in a costume to forge the signature of an animated character.

And my kid was one of those dorks.


He only wanted to meet Chip and Dale though because he saw a picture of me meeting them in 1984 and he is like obsessed with being just like me because I’m fucking fantastic.


The line was really short because who even cares about Chip & Dale anymore I guess now that all these horribly animated, newfangled characters are on the scene, but there were two high school graduates a few people in front of us who totally monopolized C&D’s time and had them signing like 69 different things including their idiotic graduation caps and then had unlimited photos taken and then danced with them and finally C&D’s handler was like “OK the Stars have to take their break now” so the girls got to SKIP OFF INTO THE SUNSET with them while the rest of us normal people in line with their age-appropriate CHILDREN stood there in disbelief and then the grandma in front of us was screaming at her granddaughter who appeared to be 12 or 13 for having teh audacity to WANDER OFF after she was told to SIT ON THE BENCH OVER THERE and the granddaughter was all, “I WAS SITTING ON THE BENCH” and the mom very quietly said, “OK guys, drop it” but grandma just kept railing on granddaughter and then granddaugter was ugly crying.

I wanted to leave but Chooch was like ITS MY DYING WISH and Henry was like STOP RUINING HIS BIRTHDAY so we continued to wait.

When it was the people’s turn in front of us, I was impressed by granddaughter’s ability to turn off the tears in time to jump in with Chip, Dale, her mom and little brother while smiling brightly for the photographer. What a nice big FUCK YOU to grandma. That old hag ain’t gon’ ruin no granddaughter’s day.

Meanwhile, Chooch whined about not having an autograph book so I dug out a receipt for him to have them sign, hahahaha.  #DisneyN00bs

But when it was his turn, their handler was like “the fuck is this?” and gave Chip and Dale two pieces of actual paper to sign for Chooch. It was pretty embarrassing but I was like “The answer is still no” when Chooch asked again for an autograph book.

There was no way we were wasting anymore time standing in line for this shit.

I probably would have made a concession for Pluto though. Does anyone still even care about Pluto? He was always my favorite. The first time I went to Disney, I was 4 and my DAD wouldn’t let me bring my favorite stuffed animal in the entire world with me, so my Pappap was all, “Haha we’ll show him” and proceeded to buy me any Disney plush I wanted  while we were there because he was the best man to ever exist. Anyway, the Pluto one was my favorite.

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I started to tell Henry this story and he sighed, “You’ve told me this story so many times” with an eye roll. Rude!!

My Pappap gave me the greatest childhood ever and if I can give Chooch even a tiny glimmer of that, I’ll feel like I made my Pappap proud.

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It’s a Small World is one of the few rides there that I have any sliver of memory of. Funnily, I remember more from my first trip there than the last trip when I was 10; this is likely due to the rage black outs since my brother Ryan was around by then and I was still extremely butt-hurt over the fact that I wasn’t an only child anymore.

OH THE PERILS OF BEING ERIN RACHELLE KELLY.

I really felt that this ride held up. It made me giddy.

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Even Henry was choking back a smile or two. Hard to imagine, I know.

The ride that didn’t hold up in my mind was Big Thunder Mountain. I was just OK.

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All three of us agreed that Space Mountain was the best though! It wasn’t anything like I remembered.

Mid-afternoon, we were strolling about, probably with linked arms because you know how we stroll, when someone started shouting “Riley! Riley!” In case you didn’t know, that’s Chooch’s actual name that he goes by pretty much just in school and nowhere else, lol. Turns out, it was his friend from school! He was there with his grandma, and they had lost his parents, so the grandma asked Henry if he would please call her daughter so they could be reunited.

So Henry did that and I can’t believe that lady even answered because I NEVER ANSWER MY PHONE IF I DON’T RECOGNIZE THE NUMBER and it’s weird to me that people actually will answer EVEN IF IT’S A 1-800 NUMBER!!! Anyway, Henry explained the sitch and said, “You know what’s funny is that my son actually goes to school with your son” and then it turned out that she was standing not too far away from us….

…IN FRONT OF IT’S A SMALL WORLD!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

She said to Henry, “Wow, it really is a small world after all.”

And that was our super-touching Disney moment.

I think the lowest point of the day was when this family of fuckers blatantly cut in front of us in line for Pirates of the Caribbean and I couldn’t even believe the audacity. Not only did they cut in front of us, but also a lady who was with her HANDICAPPED MOTHER. I was so outraged by this and Henry was like, “Please don’t.” So instead, I just stared at them non-stop and made loud, passive-aggressive statements about people being rude motherfuckers and Henry just sighed deeply as a new wrinkle etched itself under his right eye.

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Here’s a picture I took of them afterward in order to SHAME THEM on the Internet. (The guy with the stroller and blue balls balloons was not a part of their rude family so he can remain shame-free in this matter.

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Other things to note:

  • Haunted Mansion was way better than I ever remembered
    • So was Splash Mountain
      • My favorite part of this ride was when some dickhead served as a placeholder in line and then suddenly, his entire family came barreling through the line to join him, we’re talking a good 12 additional people! I was so livid about this because HELLO THAT IS NOT THE PROPER WAY TO STAND IN LINE, but then as we were nearing the front of the line, it was nearly those assholes’ turn to ride, when one of the Disney broads called out, “Is there a party of two?” and as luck would have it, Henry was too scared to ride this one so YES, MA’AM THERE IS A PARTY OF TWO! Chooch and I got to jump ahead of those pushy assholes. WHO’S LAUGHING NOW!?
        • My least favorite part of this was standing in line sandwiched between two families of tiny Elsas, UGH to the max. I am so glad my child isn’t into that shit.
  • Even in April, it looks like every single person in the country has descended upon Lake Buena Vista, but the lines for the actual rides were extremely reasonable, except for:
    • The 7 Dwarfs Mine Ride, which we got tricked into waiting for a good 90 minutes even though the sign said THIRTY-FIVE MINUTES. And friends, it was not worth it.
      • However, what was worth it was that Henry had to ride with some dad, who said something to him immediately after sitting next to him, and that something made Henry laugh very hard, but he very conveniently “couldn’t remember what it was” when Chooch and I interrogated him afterward.
    • Peter Pan’s Flight, which was always over 75 minutes every time I checked, but then we waited until the parade was happening and literally walked right on.
  • Decent vegetarian options, especially at Pecos Bill’s Tall Tale Inn — their veggie rice bowl was a motherfucking dream come true for this meatless mouth.
  • The stupid Little Mermaid ride made my heart melt a little bit. I forgot how much I used to love that dumb movie. I even bought the soundtrack (ON CASSETTE) from the Scholastic book order in 4th or 5th grade, doesn’t really matter, I was a fucking dork in both grades. Listening to all of the completely off-base names Chooch was coming up when when he was trying to remember “Ursula” may have been my favorite part of the day. One of them had approximately 8 syllables and the only thing he had right was that it started with a U.
    • Pretty sure Henry slept on this ride.
    • There was absolutely no line.
  • We almost accidentally got in line for some story time with Belle attraction which turns out is literally having Belle read you a story. Nope.
  • I fucking hate strollers. There were soooooo many strollers. EVERY WHERE. STROLLERS HERE AND THERE. Boooooooooo, babies!
  • We had a Dole Whip and I guess I don’t really get the mania over those because I know I have soft serve here in Pittsburgh that tastes pretty much exactly the same…what am I missing!? I actually didn’t even finish mine, but gave it to Henry who had given his to Chooch who had spilled him approximately .0005 seconds after Henry handed it to him. The circle of Dole Whip.
  • The monorail is decidedly NOT as fun as I remembered it to be.
    • We took it back to the parking lot that night, and it was mayhem. We didn’t get to sit with Henry, and Chooch said, “I feel bad for daddy. He’s sitting next to some Duck Dynasty guy.” I didn’t get to see though because there were people standing in between us. I told Henry about it later and he said, “I don’t know what the fuck he’s talking about. I was sitting next to a lady.”

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When Henry wouldn’t ride the Barnstormer with us. :( ALSO, HE’S TOTALLY LOOKING AT THAT BROAD.

Overall, I’m glad we went when we did because it turned out to be far less stressful and intimidating than I had imagined it to be. No one got lost (although Chooch and I did leave Henry once by the carousel and then “forgot” to come back) and we didn’t even really spend as much money there as I thought we would. I’m trying to remember if we fought at all and I think that we probably did at some point, but clearly it wasn’t major enough for me to immediately blog about right after unfriending Henry on Facebook.

Henry’s thoughts: I liked Space Mountain. I liked the Haunted Mansion. I would say the park was pretty people-friendly, easy to move around.* It was too expensive.

Chooch’s thoughts: It was way more than I expected. I thought it was just going to be like a couple of rides, a couple of food places, and just. But then when I went there, I saw a FANTASY. It was AWESOME. There was so much to do. There was a lot of rides. But Big Thunder Mountain wasn’t as fun as mommy remembered it so that was a big bummer**. That’s it.

 

*DISAGREE. SEE: STROLLERS.

**I must have bitched about this more than I remembered that day.

****

My first day back at work last week, I was telling my co-worker Carrie about Disney and how, while it was a fun experience, Henry and I probably won’t ever go back.

“No, you’ll go again. You’ll have to take your grandkid, Emarosa!”

Touché, Carrie!

May 062016
 

I fluctuate between thinking I don’t do enough for my kid and wondering if I’m enabling his Spoiled Brat status. But, you only get one childhood and I really wanted to get him to Disney before he was too old to give a shit. It kind of goes against everything Chooch stands for when you think about it, but he has always been very WHEN ARE WE GOING TO DISNEY WORLD!? even though we’re totally not a Disney family.  I think the last Disney movie (animated, anyway) that I saw was Lion King. Kind of not sorry about that, either. I didn’t like how the animation changed, OK?!!

Disney always kind of seemed like it was out of reach for us though because we’re not good at planning and saving for “real” vacations. But then we got roped into that time share which has turned out to be a good fit for our weird lifestyle and Henry found a way to make it work for what was kind of a poorly-planned almost last minute surprise birthday trip.

And by “almost last minute,” I mean that unlike normal families who start planning Disney trips a year in advance, we booked everything 2 months in advance and then had to deflect and ignore Chooch’s constant suggestions about where he wanted his birthday party to be.

I did a pretty good job of keeping things under my hat; only a few people knew about it because I just really didn’t want it to slip out. I didn’t even mention it on here until I was live-blogging on the way there!

Somehow, we managed to make the secret last all the way up until the morning of his birthday when we were driving to Magic Kingdom. Guys, my kid is fucking smart as shit, but WHOA NELLY is he dense. I started recorded him when we told him what was going on and his initial reaction was an ambivalent, “Oh. Cool.”

HONESTLY? YOU’RE GOING TO “COOL STORY BRO” ME?!

I was just about ready to tell Henry to turn the fucking car around, we’re going home, when Kid Genius in the backseat had a moment to think about this, let it sink in and swish around in his brain, before having an A-HA! moment. “We’re going to Disney World? REALLY?!?!” and then he lost his mind.

I’m not going to lie, it was pretty magical and I’m still so excited that we managed to make it happen! He’s a good kid 90% of the time and I try so hard to fill these formative years with happy memories. My childhood was pretty great and I want Chooch to grow up and COMPLETELY LIVE IN THE PAST LIKE I DO.

Oh my god, I miss the 80s!!!!!!! Wah.

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Here are some photos from his birthday at Magic Kingdom. I will be back with part 2 once I collect all of my thoughts. HOLD ONTO YOUR MICKEY EARS. Such revelations forthcoming.

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I love how miserable he looks here but I swear to god he’s not. We had literally just walked through the security check so we hadn’t been around each other long enough to have misery oozes down our faces yet. I think he was just in the middle of saying something.

Duh.

When isn’t he in the middle of saying something.

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Chooch and “Uncle Walt.” It was honestly hours into the day when he asked, “Wait—are we still going to visit Uncle Walt?” I gave him the universal look for “Are you an idiot?” I let that marinate for a few seconds and then he gasped, “Oh! Walt Disney. I get it now.”

Jesus Christ.

You’d never know it, but Henry was pretty much in an OK mood all day, even after Chooch knocked over his $6 Dole Whip float before even taking one bite.

At Home Henry would have made Chooch pay for it and then chained him up for a few days in the attic. But At Disney Henry was like, “FOR CHRIST’S SAKE CHOOCH YOU’RE LUCKY IT’S YOUR BIRTHDAY” and then took a few deep breaths and went off to fetch some napkins. Then we went on the Jungle Ride and he was OK again.

Maybe I’ll try to coax a review out of him sometime this weekend.

Drunk on Disney.

Huge shout out to Time Share and Tax Refund for making this thing happen.

In hindsight, it’s kind of hilarious to me that a family like us (a bunch of dicks) was even at Disney World at all. Chooch kept yelling at me, “You can’t swear at Disney World!” and I was like, “For fuck’s sake, kid. I’m fucking sorry! Look, there’s that cunt Elsa!”

WHAT A MOTHERFUCKING MAGICAL DAY.

Does this finally erase that time Child Protective Services got called to our house? Lol forever.

Apr 262016
 

You guys. I found out recently that Henry has never been to Disney World. Apparently he was supposed to go when he was Chooch’s age. He went to Florida for two weeks to visit family and they were going to go to Disney on week two but Henry ended up getting SWIMMERS EAR or something — I don’t always pay attention when he spins his yarns–and so this was his first visit. It took him FIFTY YEARS to get there. The moral is never give up! And also, visit Disney before swimming with your family.  

I don’t know why I thought Henry was going to be stoked for this experience, like it was some late-bloomer, coming-of-age feel-good tale. Because of course he wasn’t stoked and it was none of those things. From the tram to the ferry to the park entrance, he was very “MEH” as you can see in that first photo up there, and there was no twist ending, trust me. 

Here is a collection of photos from Henry on Day One and Day Two because why not. 

DAY ONE: MAGIC KINGDOM

We made Henry wait some absurd amount of time (90 minutes maybe) to ride the Seven Dwarves Mine Ride thing and he got paired up with some other dad who immediately started yukking it up with him and Chooch and I heard Henry LAUGH before the ride even started! When I asked Henry afterward what the man said to make him laugh, he conveniently “couldn’t remember.” Probably some SERVICE joke. 

Henry rides alone on Big Thunder Mountain. HOLD ON, HANK! (That should be the name of Henry’s emo band.)

Unimpressed with the line for the Jungle Ride….

…but slightly amused about taking a boat ride full of mechanical animals and bad puns. 

Confused by all of the magic and happiness. 

Sleeping on the Little Mermaid ride. 

Ambivalent to ride through Winnie the Pooh’s story and also not cool enough to have ears. 

Henry said he wished they had a “First & Last Time” pin. Dang Henry. Maybe if they had more places to nap? 

DAY TWO: HOLLYWOOD STUDIOS

This park had less lines to stand in and about 90% less strollers to dodge, and In turn, Henry seemed a little less hemorrhoid-flared. 

Here we find Henry angry because when he buys pretzels for himself, we always eat most of it, but when he buys one for us, we never offer him any. I mean, you have legs Henry. Walk up and get your own pretzel ok thx. 


Family portrait: me, Chooch, pretzel with cheese. Also, some rando. 

When Chooch and I changed directions without alerting the warden. 


At the SciFi Dine-In, Henry wouldn’t let us get one of the good tables inside the old cars because then one of us would have to dine alone (lol it would have been him) so we had to sit at some dumb table which wasn’t as cool BUT WHATEVER HENRY WANTS, AMIRITE. Here he is considering getting the Ariel punch in the souvenir cup but remembering he doesn’t have enough security in his manhood to get away with it. You know, like Chooch. 

Running tally of all the attractions Henry has fallen asleep on so far:

  • Carousel of Progress
  • Little Mermaid ride thing at Disney
  • Little Mermaid show at Hollywood Studios (a splash of water woke him up lol)
  • Walt Disney Productions film
  • Muppets 3D
Mar 292016
 

I felt #soblessed that we had time for a Dutch Haven visit before the show on Saturday. There is a certain magic to this place, like a butterscotch candy in grandma’s purse.

I have a cold and I’m half-asleep writing this on the couch. Don’t question me.

We were pretty full from our late lunch at Bridgeport Family Restaurant, where all the regulars loafed at the  counter, engrossed in whatever kids talent show that’s hosted by Steve Harvey.

I really can’t stand Steve Harvey and none of those kids had any talent worth writing home about.

Anyway, I was so big high off life (and all that manure in the air) that I was scream-laughing the whole way to Dutch Haven and Henry was not pleased. I just really love road trips, guys. 

Inside Dutch Haven, Chooch acted as though he’s never had shoo-fly pie before and devoured two samples of it before ordering a whole slice all while making foodgasm sound effects. You’d think we kept him locked in the car every other time we swung by the Haven.  

Oh my god, and the whipped cream to shoo-fly ratio is DIVINE, like a holy helmet to protect the molasses-y relic below.

I’m thankful that my beloved shoo-fly is 4 hours away because I don’t ever want the novelty to wear off.

Of course I ate my slice too fast and got really sick. Totally worth it though.

And then Henry gave us $5 so we could buy a horseshoe from some random unattended horseshoe stand outside of Dutch Haven and I got really worried that whatever Amish kid was shilling these wouldn’t know if we paid even though I definitely shoved a $5 bill into the metal cash box and I hope no one actually steals a horse shoe! The stand was right next to the parking lot for Dienner’s, which is a SMORGASBORD RESTAURANT for disgusting pot-bellied TOURISTS UGH. Everyone knows those are the types of people who piss on the honor system!

But seriously, why would you want to buy six of these?

Someone should bake me a shoo-fly pie for my birthday which is JULY 30TH. You have time.

Feb 092016
 

 

Troy Hill is a neighborhood somewhere on a hill some direction outside of Pittsburgh. You know, over there.  The last time I was there was when Andrea was visiting in 2011 and we went to see the largest collection of relics this side of the Vatican. Right up there on Troy Hill! It was also the first time Andrea got to hear real life Pittsburgh accents, so that is usually when I think of when, if ever, Troy Hill comes to mind.

Those relics are kind of a hidden gem here in the city. I never knew they existed until I took some Christianity class at Pitt back in 2006 (once upon a time, I was going to major in English Writing and minor in Religious Studies—look at me now!) and the professor told us about it and while most of the class looked bored as fuck, I was furiously scribbling the information down in my notebook because BONES.

A few years ago, Troy Hill added another gem into their hidden treasure chest when some art-savvy dude bought an abandoned house and then commission German artist Thorsten Brinkmann to set up shop and turn this average, unassuming Pittsburgh brick house into a gesamtkunstwerk called La Hütte Royal. Kara and I have wanted to check this place out for some time now, but like usual, we get distracted by life and it gets moved to the back-burner. However, last month when I asked her if she wanted to go to the Mattress Factory with Corey and me, she rekindled the idea of La Hütte and Corey was definitely on board for this change of scenery.

Touring the house is free, but an appointment must be made. I was mildly stressed about this because 1. I hate making appointments and 2. I hate having responsibilities. THANK GOD I was able to fulfill these requirements through email, and that is how we ended up with a 2pm engagement on Troy Hill last Saturday.

This is also how I learned, 9 months after purchasing my car, that I absolutely cannot parallel park by relying on the backup camera. Plus, Kara and Corey were heckling me! Finally, I went old school and threw my arm over the back of my seat and successfully parked without the aid of a visual device.

“THIS IS LIKE A TEXTBOOK PARK JOB, TOO!” Corey exclaimed. “Like if we had a ruler, it would be the perfect distance from the curb.”  That made me feel better for the previous botched attempts, so thank you COR-COR!

(That’s what Chooch calls him and it’s incredibly obnoxious.)

Here’s the telephone pole that I did NOT wreck into, no thanks to the backup camera.

I texted the docen, Ryan, to let him know that we were running on time and then the three of us tentatively climbed the steps of a very unassuming brick house on a regular old Pittsburgh street. Kara made herself at home by plopping down on the porch swing while I tried to pee in anticipation of who was going to open the front door. I kept envisioning some stuffy older man like Dick from the Bayernhof, but instead we got a young college student in skinny jeans and a beanie and in my head I was thinking, “LET’S BLOW THIS LA HÜTTE STAND AND GO TO A BEACH SLANG SHOW TOGETHER!”

I mean, I was like, “Oh hello, Ryan. I’m Erin.”

AND I’M SINGLE AND CERTAINLY NOT EVEN CLOSE TO 36 YEARS OLD.

J/K.

We had to wait for two other people, who turned out to be SOPHIE the COSTUME DESIGNER and her plaid-shirted companion. They both seemed to be drowning in each others’ ennui. SOPHIE of course had previously visited La Hütte, but her manpanion had no idea where she had brought him. Another fun date with SOPHIE, he probably mumble-cored to his other lumbersexual bruhs over nitro coffee and poutine the next day.

(I swear to god, I leave the house repeating to myself, “You love people. All people. All people are love” but then I find myself standing on a porch with the likes of SOPHIE and I remember why I often dislike leaving the house.)

Ryan gave us the run-down on the rules, which included twisting doorknobs (all doors that open can be entered), sitting on chair-like objects (everything but the chairs in the tiny dining room could be sat upon), and red-curtained fireplaces (there is only one in the house and that was our cue to get down and crawl). I asked about pictures, because I know Corey’s head was going to blow up in wonder, and Ryan happily said that we could photograph our faces off for all he cared, and we were welcome to share them on any social media sites but that we would need permission from the artist if we want to, you know, put them on a blog or whatever.

I didn’t say anything but the whole time, I was thinking, “Does my zero-revenue-generating blog with 5 followers count?” Like, I didn’t want to ask and be laughed at. So I said nothing and figured OH WELL I just won’t post any. Except for that first photo down there of Corey, because that bell-thing comes up all over the place when you Google search the house so I made the executive decision that this was OK because I don’t really feel like bothering some German artist right now.

Once we were in the foyer, backs slightly arched to avoid Suffocation By Large Hanging Torture Bell, Ryan collected our jackets and sent us on our way. I was relieved that SOPHIE and her downtrodden date got a head start into the basement, leaving us free to explore without judgment.

We started in the basement, which had a boxing ring built in what appeared to be the garage. Here is where I want to start spewing out every single detail of what we saw, but I think it’s kind of worthless to just read the words instead of actually experiencing it. Because putting it here in type makes it seem like it’s someone’s refuse, belongings left behind, that were just strewn about haphazardly and stamped as Art. But it’s not like that — there is a method to the madness, rhyme to the reason…it’s just that I don’t know exactly what those methods and rhymes are because I’m not Thorsten Brinkmann.

The house’s innards have been completely revamped into what the inside of my head looks like, a/k/a an explosion of color, hidden passages, and filth.

The main floor was primarily built around vinyl and I had to really dig deep to keep from lying supine across all of the beauty. All of the “chair-like objects” in the living room had record covers adhered to the surface…so needless to say I came home with new dining room chair projects for Henry.

I lied. Two more pictures. Will I be arrested?!

The upstairs is where shit got real crunk. We had to crawl through a tiny fireplace and along secret corridors built between the floors and it was horrifying and exciting all at once! I am so claustrophobic and hate not knowing where I’m going, especially when tight spaces are involved. I think Chuck E. Cheese’s infamous Cheese Factory ruined me at a young age.

Please tell me you know what I’m talking about. It was the first introduction to trauma for many kids in the early 80s, and it was definitely my first encounter with the crippling fear of being abandoned and left for dead inside a giant wheel of Swiss cheese, inexplicably sound-tracked by ominous outer space bleeps.

This is how I felt about La Hütte, with the added sensation of voyeurism thrown in. There were times when it really did feel like sneaking around someone’s decrepit home.

The tour ended in the attic, when we burst through a door on a wave of Corey’s bombastic laughter to find SOPHIE and her ambivalent beau (ambivabeau?), seated in old beauty salon hair dryers and watching a film of Thorsten himself trying a number of ways to sit in a chair.

Afterward, Ryan (who was sitting in the corner and I didn’t even notice!) was anxious to get some sort of dialogue going but I refused to speak in front of SOPHIE so we all kind of just sat there while SOPHIE talked about being in COSTUME DESIGN SCHOOL and Ryan was like, “There’s a whole school for that?” So yeah, take that SOPHIE. Anyway, we stuck around while Ryan escorted them back down to the foyer and when he returned, we all had a nice chat about the house, the owner (who lives down the street in a really nice house with a black fence), the artist, etc. etc. Ryan told us that Thorsten built the installation around the history of the house and its previous inhabitants, and used most of the things he found around the house.

I was hoping he wouldn’t make us go around and offer our interpretations, because I am really horrible at that. I love art–I love making it and I love looking at it, but I rarely try to “figure it out.” I can only tell you how it makes me feel, and this house made me feel like Alice in Wonderland—like I was somewhere I wasn’t meant to be, and it was at times beautiful and quirky, and at other times creepy and uncomfortable. And in keeping with the Alice theme, I was reminded a lot of how I felt the first time I watched Alice, a stop-motion film by Czech director Jan Svankmajer, who also made Little Otik which absolutely wrecked me during my pregnancy.

While it’s not clear to me what Thorsten hopes visitors will take away from La Hütte Royal (I tried not to read too much about it before we visited), I personally felt like we were in an entirely different world. For most of our time in the house, I had no idea what floor we were even on, because there was so much crawling and climbing. I loved the play on dimensions and how space was completely fucked with—it was basically my dream house. In one room, I’d expect to see the white rabbit, and in the next, Leatherface. When can I move in!?

After a nice discussion with Ryan, we excused ourselves. “We’re going to eat PB&J now at Peanut Butter Jelly Time in Bloomfield,” I explained (IN CASE HE WANTED TO COME, TOO).

That sounds disgusting,” Ryan said.

Somewhere, PB&J is art, OK Ryan?

Sep 232015
 

As much as it sucked to part ways with Terri and Christian after breakfast at Panera (where Henry’s confident stride was in full effect thanks to Panera Worker Nikki, who was brusque and disgruntled to Chooch & me but apparently very sweet and accommodating to Henry), I was anxious to get on the road because it meant it was almost DUTCH HAVEN TIME.

It’s impossible to be anywhere in the eastern part of Pennsylvania without stopping for my favorite Dutch delicacy: motherfucking shoofly pie.

What? That’s what they call it. At night, after the bonnets come off. Motherfucking shoo-fly pie.

OK, you’re right, Google Translate. It’s probably moederfucking shoo-fly pie.

Actually, I wasn’t even going to ask if we could stop, because I had a feeling Henry was going to grunt something in a fatherly-fashion about how “it’s either shoo-fly pie or the shoe house; pick one!” and if I had to choose….it was going to be the shoe house, you guys. I know! What kind of fair-weathered shoo-fly pie eater am I? (Actually, I’ve eaten the shoo-fly in various types of weather.) So I kept my mouth shut and was rewarded when Henry suggested, all on his own, that we stop!


Some man working behind the pie counter asked us if we wanted a sample and we were like, “Pshhh, fuck that molasses-y noise, we want a SLICE.”

“Oh, you’ve been here before,” he said, but did not seem very excited about it. That’s OK. I wasn’t looking for enthusiasm to put in my mouth. Just some shoo-fly pie. Put it in there.

BAE.

(Do you guys remember the great shoo-fly pie tragedy of last fall? I’m #soblessed to have had the opportunity to eat the fuck out of it twice since then.)

Chooch has become obsessed with pumpkin pie somehow, behind my back, so that’s what he had. We were all very quiet and still while enjoying our pie outside of Dutch Haven.

Applauding the autumnal offerings.

Before we left, we stopped at the neighboring building, which used to be this creepy BBQ joint and is now a creepy popcorn joint. A young employee was outside on the porch, working hard at a popcorn machine. “Please, help yourself to the samples on the table inside,” he said in a strange robot-trying-to-act-human staccato. I think he was probably recently estranged from Amishdom, so not quite a shitty human being yet.

There were two elderly women in there, and the one was determined to make sure Chooch tried all of her favorite flavors, and then when that was done, she started pressing him for information on his favorite flavor profiles and he kept tossing me furtive glances, like I was even thinking about saving his annoying ass. HOW DOES IT FEEL, SUCKER? ANSWER THE QUESTIONS! The lady’s companion finally pulled her off of us and we were able to enjoy samples at our own leisure and without her staring at us expectantly.

We each chose a small container to buy and the other woman cried, “Well, what did you choose?!” It’s like they’re reporters for the Popcorn Times.

Or, you know, “just friendly,” according to Henry.

The only other notable moment of our drive home was when we stopped to eat the the Summit Diner in Somerset, and Chooch decided to reenact the time last December when Henry asked the waitress for a napkin, not knowing that there was an entire napkin dispenser on the table. So Chooch asked our waitress for our napkin, and then shot us giggling glances as the waitress said, “There’s some right there on the table, hon.” It was incredibly awkward because it looked like he was laughing at the waitress and she totally picked up on that; and since I was the one sitting next to the dispenser,  I had to go through the motions of getting him a napkin that he didn’t even need.

“Thanks for making me play a part in your stupid reenactment,” I mumbled, crumbling the napkin and chucking it at his face.

Sep 222015
 

A few years ago, we were going to Lancaster, PA for a Pierce the Veil show and I thought it would be incredibly fun to stop at this storied house that’s shaped like a shoe in Hallam — a true road tripper’s wet dream. I had seen it on some local roadside attractions show and started obsessing. Like I do. Since it was off-season, I emailed them two months in advance to see if we could stop by for a tour. The reply I got was curt and also kind of rude. I don’t remember what they said exactly, other than it made me rage vocally at my desk. I mean, don’t live in a shoe  if you don’t want people to email you about it!!

Fast forward to several weeks ago. My anger had subsided a bit over the years and I decided to look the house up again since we were going to be in the area in a few weeks. The website announced that not only was this still peak season, but the house had new owners! I asked Henry if we could stop for a tour on our way home from Philly this past weekend, and he said yes, which leads tme  to believe that he is either cheating on me or dying.

I excitedly told Glenn  that not only did I get my way about going to Philly, but Henry was also taking me to the shoe house!

“He really needs to stop rewarding behavior,” Glenn sighed. He was really happy when Henry initially said no to Philly because I came back from my break crying. But you know, THINGS CHANGE. It’s harder for Henry to say no to me in person, anyway.

The Haines Shoe House is really close to Rt. 30, so Henry couldn’t bitch about it being out of the way, like he did about every single place we stopped at on the way home from vacation last month. The man who built it in the 40s put it close to the highway so it cold be seen because it was essentially advertising his shoe company.

The tour is $5 a person, what a steal.

“Nope, I’m good,” Henry said as he handed me $10. Chooch wasn’t too excited about this either, but I was like, “DO NOT MAKE ME TAKE THIS TOUR ALONE, PLEASE, I BROUGHT YOU INTO THIS WORLD.” And he was like, “Yeah, a world full of stupid novelty houses to tour.” He and Henry just don’t get excited about these things.

After I paid the lady in the gift shop, she asked Chooch for his hand so she could stamp it. I stuck mine out too and she said, “Oh, no. We just do this for the kids.” She laughed a little and then realized my hand was still there. “But I mean, that’s fine, if you want a stamp too.”

“I mean, she basically is a kid, so…” Chooch said with a roll of his mean eyes. Shut up, Chooch.

She stamped my hand but didn’t even bother to re-ink the stamp first so it looks STUPID.

It’s supposed to be a shoe! You can’t even tell! Chooch’s was so much nicer than mine.

So then our tour guide came in and retrieved us. Immediately, she made a passive aggressive comment about not sitting on the furniture, because of course as soon as we entered the house, Chooch’s ass helped itself to an armchair cushion. But you guys, his leggggs. They were so tireddddd. He was so exhausteddddd. His life is so roughhhhh.

We learned some boring ass facts about Mahlon Haines and his shoe company. He was really into pimping out his company and even ran for Congress at one point just so he could essentially advertise his company with promotional compact mirrors. I didn’t know what else to say, every time the guide stopped talking and looked at me expectantly, so I just kept saying, “Wow, he was like, really smart.”

Chooch just looked really bored and annoyed the whole time, but I swear to god it was really cool to walk around and see that even the windowsills were curved. The guide kept encouraging me to take photos, and I’m so used to being told to not take photos so that I have to take clandestine spy-cam shots the whole time that I actually felt too nervous to take more photos than I did.

In the early days of the shoe house, Mahlon held contests for newlyweds to honeymoon in the shoe. In the honeymoon suite, there’s a laminated letter of marital advice he typed up for his guests. “YEAH, TAKE A PICTURE OF THAT!” the guide said when she saw me awkwardly taking out my phone. I felt so on the spot through the whole tour!

He really thought highly of himself.

My favorite thing about the house’s interior was the eccentric color scheme. The upstairs bedroom was mint and lavender, for fuck’s sake. I commented on this and the tour guide said that the new owners are actually in the process of repainting all of the walls neutral colors. “They’re trying to get the house back to the way it originally was, since the people who owned this for the last 15 years had it painted this way,” the guide continued, practically turning her nose up at the glorious hues. Apparently, they’re using old black and white photos as their reference. GOOD LUCK WITH THAT. You own a house shaped like a shoe! Why try to downplay that with a neutral interior of beige and egg white? Go big or go home!

In the maid’s quarters, the guide said, “I bet you’ve never seen one of those before!” pointing at an old sweeper leaning against the wall.

“It’s a vacuum. Mu grandma has one of those in her house,” Chooch said, spitting chunks of ennui onto the floor for the invisible maid to sweep up. He was just not impressed by a single thing in this giant shoe, but at least he was being quiet about it.


And then the guide instructed us to sit at the kitchen  table so she could take our picture, because that is apparently what all of the other tourists like to do. I got really nervous and stressed out because I hate having my photo taken and what if one of my furry-lovers sexted me while she was holding my phone!?

(Just kidding. I don’t have any furry-lovers. Yet. #Anthrocon2016)

But would you look at my happy face!? And Chooch’s pained expression.

Our guide said something about the arch at the top of the steps, so I took that as my cue to take a picture of it.

The tour was over after a soft 10 minutes. We found Henry in the parking lot, leaning against the car, and looking at boring Henry-things on his phone. Probably pallet DIYs and computer part auctions.  I made him go back into the gift shop with me because I didn’t have my wallet and I wanted a post card and a magnet to add to my growing tourist trap desk-shrine at work.

It’s actually pretty nightmarish, now that I really look at it. I found out later that Henry had checked in to the Haine’s Shoe House on Facebook, like he was actually so stoked to be there. He didn’t even go inside of it! What a shoe house poser fan.

There’s even a shoe-shaped doghouse in the yard. And Chooch wants everyone to know that he was “as calm as [he] was at the stroller place.” I asked him if he learned anything at the shoe house and he said no.

After we left, Henry kept asking me questions about the Haines shoe company and my response to every question was a solid, “I don’t know.” So, I guess I didn’t learn much either. Except that I need to do a better job advertising all of my crappy wares. Maybe Henry could build me a Jeffrey Dahmer-shaped house?

***

Today after work, I asked Chooch if he told any of his friends about the shoe house.

“Nah,” he shrugged. “I told them we went to Panera, though.”

OK that was cool too because it was when we had breakfast with Christian and Terri, but the Panera was not SHAPED LIKE A SHOE.

Sep 012015
 

Last winter, after we decided where this summer’s vacation was going to take us—-and Henry started bleeding money from all blue-collared orifices—-I excitedly consulted Roadside America to find all the ways to drag our trek back to Pittsburgh into a poorly-written modern remake of Homer’s Odyssey, only with less blood weddings, spiritual growth, and Latin declensions.

One of the “attractions” I read about was this mysterious-sounding African village in Sheldon, SC called Kingdom of Oyotunji. I sent Henry the link and received no response. Shocker. During the beginning half of our trip, I kept bringing it up, and Henry just kept saying things like, “We’re not going that way” and “It recently burned to the ground” and “Katy Perry is performing there all week.”

But I would not be deterred.

It turns out, when we left Savannah that Friday in July, the village was on our exact route to Charlotte, NC. Henry either must have had his guard down or was just that fatigued from fielding my lofty requests all week, because he actually turned off the highway when we arrived at the Sheldon exit! I couldn’t believe my good fortune.

“Is this place is even open?” he sighed. “It better fucking be open.” But I could tell that what he really meant was, “I hope it’s not open because I don’t want to go but I am still going to be mad if it’s not open because either way this is a waste of time and I hate you.” Over the years, we have learned to communicate through a series of huffy sighs, glares, and fists slamming against steering wheels.

Actually, their website said that they were open until 7:00 (it wasn’t quite 6 yet so we had time in our favor, at least), but they recommend that you email them if you want to stop by for a tour. I mean, I did that, but we were already about 20 minutes away so we were going to stop by regardless. Also, it seemed weird to me that this mysterious US-seceded African village in the Gulleh Geeche South Carolina low-country (I got that from their website because I’m a journalist now) even has the Internet and didn’t require me to send notice via carrier pigeon.

Just kidding. I’m not that culturally ignorant. But on that note, the Oyotunji community is something that I definitely know nothing about and I was genuinely interested in learning about how they live. (And also genuinely interested in making Henry feel uncomfortable, because he HATES taking tours of places.)
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Chooch was sleeping when we made it to the entrance of the kingdom, which required us to turn off the highway and continue on down a dirt road buffeted by forest. The whole time, Henry was murmuring, “I hate you. I fucking hate you. Fuck my life” through gritted teeth, while I cracked up next to him so hard that I was wheezing.

“It’s not fucking funny!” he said. BUT IT IS, HERNY.

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At the end of the path, we could see the gate to the compound, and Henry started to rejoice because it was closed.

“Yeah but keep going, maybe there’s a doorbell,” I urged, because we had come so far!

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Most of my pictures are blurry and out of focus because I guess I was just that excited about being there.

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Henry kept trying to tell me in a dozen different ways that this joint was closed, but too bad I noticed the “Blow Your Horn” sign next to the gate before he had a chance to gouge my eyes out with his strong and masculine Service thumbs.

“Blow the horn,” I demanded.

“No, I’m not blowing the fucking horn,” Henry hissed in response.

But if you ask Henry to do something enough times while consistently raising your voice until it’s a crackling screech, he eventually gives up and does the thing! So he reluctantly pressed down on the car horn and then we waited.

“No one’s coming,” he sighed, ready to throw the car into drive.

“Just wait!” I begged, holding my gaze hard against the big red doors.

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After about 30 seconds of nail-biting suspense, a man dressed in a white robe stepped out from behind a fence along the left-hand perimeter of the property.

“Oh great, Erin. Just great,” Henry huffed, lowering the window so the man could talk to us.

“Are you guys looking to do the tour?” he asked after we exchanged proper Southern salutations. (You know. “Hello”s were said.) Leaning across Henry, I emphatically nodded my head. You bet your white-robed ass I want a tour. I want to know all about the Oyotunji tribe! I was just getting ready to barrel-roll myself out of the car when he went on to explain that unfortunately, they’ve been mourning the death of their leader, in Africa, for the last three days and had closed the community off to the public for that.

“We open back up tomorrow though, if you’ll be in the area?”

Henry nodded and said something along the lines of, “Yeah, we might be.”

“I was actually just on my way out to take a shower when I heard you beep,” the man said, explaining that he’s not usually the one who gives the tours.

He then gave us a brief run-down of the community, told us how he’s originally from Florida but had shed his American citizenship 20+ years ago in favor of living a simple life in the woods of South Carolina. They’re a community of around 40 people, self-sustained, they home school their children, and basically live a life where no one has to give a shit about the things that Americans give a shit about that don’t even matter, like Donald Trump, the idiot Superbowl, and Miley Cyrus’s pasties.

I can only imagine how better behaved their kids are than Chooch.

This whole time, I was trying to maintain strong eye contact with him while chewing on the insides of my cheeks to keep from laughing outright. Look, please understand that I don’t think anything about their community is funny, and I certainly don’t find humor in the fact that they were all in mourning, but it was the situation itself: the detour into the woods of Beaufort County, Henry’s reluctance, the Jonestown Massacre vibe of it all….it was all of these things, like sitting in church during the homily and feeling that itch to laugh out loud for no good reason, that had me writhing in giddy discomfort.

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Some other tourist-sucker pulled in behind us about 10 minutes into our on-the-fly history lesson from our new robed friend. He quickly wrapped it up and then excused himself to go talk to the other visitor.

“Are we really going to come back tomorrow?!” I screamed as we slowly drove back out to the highway.

“Wha—-? No!” he said, his big bushy brows all furrowed.

“But when that guy asked if we were going to be in the area—”

“Yeah well, I didn’t mean it.” And he used his End of Story tone, so I sulked for awhile.

Oyotunji, I’ll be back for you someday.

But then we pulled over at the Carolina Cider Company! We had been on a mission to procure boiled peanuts the whole time we were in the south and finally, it was our time. On our last day, no less.

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Chooch was still sleeping, how he managed to sleep through all of the Oyotunji excitement, I’ll never know. At first, Henry was like, “Just crack the window, he’ll be fine.” But then I was overcome with paranoia and something else that I couldn’t quite put my finger on….the overwhelming need to PARENT, maybe? Nah. I think I have it confused with the desire to not have Child Protective Services called on my ass.

What would the Oyotunji do, I thought hard to myself.  Aside from probably not giving a shit about boiled peanuts, I mean.

I went out to the car to wake up Chooch and proceeded to set off the car alarm. The proprietor of the cider establishment and the only two patrons there at that time stopped what they were doing in order to gawk at me from the open doors of the store.

“What are you doing!?” Henry yelled, marching over with the car keys to stop the alarm. SO SORRY THAT I WAS TRYING TO SAVE MY KID FROM ASPHYXIATION.

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So then I was able to save Chooch and he groggily followed me into the store while I excitedly told him about what he had missed, but I don’t think he believed me.

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Henry bought us stuff and boiled peanuts are weird as fuck, yet I couldn’t stop eating them.

Eventually, we made it to a shady Red Roof Inn, I mean shadier than the typical Red Roof Inn, in Charlotte. We had to pass Carowinds on the way, with its coasters all sexy and lit up against the night sky. I begged Henry to take us there but he was like, “IT’S NEARLY 10’O CLOCK AT NIGHT!” God, he always has an excuse.

Luckily, the Red Roof was only shady on the outside (i.e. the parking lot and the entire right section of the motel where I’m pretty sure people were living and since it was a Friday night, shit was popping off) and the inside was clean and recently remodeled. I realized that HENRY hadn’t fed us dinner, so he went to a vending machine and came back with snacks and a Snickers. THANKS, PA.

We live large on vacation.

***

Anyway, aside from some additional pictures from our travel day back to Pittsburgh, that pretty  much wraps up our whirlwind Southern road trip, which took me an entire month to recap. But holy shit, we did so much! I love these trips so much, and I know that they don’t really seem like “vacations” because we’re so go-go-go, but I couldn’t imagine sitting in one place for 7 days and “relaxing.” I honestly don’t know how to relax. I look forward to these trips so much because we get to see cool things, meet really awesome people, and make some pretty hilarious memories.

We hadn’t even crossed the Pennsylvania state line yet and I was already asking Henry where we’re going to go next. He just glared at me.

Aug 172015
 

My sole purpose on road trips is to assume the role of car DJ. Obviously. What else could I possibly be good for? I put on Loverboy to see if Henry would get that far-away look of nostalgia in his eyes.

#negative

So then I put on some good old Engelbert Humperdinck. Classic, you guys. Also, hair goals for Henry. Detached sideburns?! There’s absolutely no rhyme or reason to that. It looks like an accident. In other words: Henry could rock it.

While still in North Carolina, we began passing billboards for South of the Border, a TRUE TOURIST TRAP that I have only heard about, never visited. The first billboard I noticed said that it was 87 miles away.

“EIGHTY-SEVEN MILES AWAY? THAT’S SIDNEY CROSBY’S NUMBER. IT’S FATE. WE HAVE TO GO,” I squealed into the intercom of Wish Headquarters, also known as “Henry’s Ear.”

Then we passed another billboard that said South of the Border is 66 miles away! “THAT WAS MARIO LEMIEUX’S NUMBER! We’re going.”

See also:Letang’s number. Talbot’s number. Sutter’s number. And so on, and so forth.

I had a teacher in elementary school that said “and so on, and so forth” SO OFTEN. And then I never really heard it again.

Probably because it’s really stupid.

Inside Henry’s head at this moment: The letters “FML” fucking each other and giving birth to baby Nancy Kerrigan “whhhhhhhhhy” sound bytes.

The gestation period for these types of mental burdens is very short.

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Of course we stopped. And that place was dead. I don’t know what I was expected exactly but I thought it was going to be some sort of fannypacked madness. Tourists bustling about, darting to and fro, scooping up collector’s spoons and flurescent-brimmed visors.

But no. It was just us and a few other carfuls of weary travelers stopping for a bathroom & cold beverage.

I wanted to buy it all inside one of the large gift shops but Henry had that tight-lipped “DONT EVEN” expression on his idiot face, so instead I settled on a magnet and an ice cream dish in the shape of an ice cream cone that says South of the Border on it, which is already the new home to a succulent, THANKS FOR ASKING.

Chooch got nothing because he’s annoying.

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At first I thought we were going to have to climb to the top of the sombrero, which is fine but it was 1000 degrees out and I can’t climb steps that are so exposed like those ones. NO FUCKING WAY. Turns out, all we had to do was pay some Mexican guy in the arcade $2 each and then another Mexican guy wordlessly ushered us into an elevator and hit the button. As soon as we began our ascent, I nervously laughed, “Haha, it’s a lot higher than I thought.” Our elevator chauffeur politely smiled but I’m sure his mental FMLs we’re currently embroiled in a steamy affair with Henry’s mental FMLs.

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Yeah so then we arrived at the brim of ye ol’ sombrero and I proceeded to have an internal panic attack because I just can’t play the heights game anymore. I start hearing nuts and bolts popping in my head, and that slooooow squeak of bending metal, until whatever suspended platform I’m standing on snaps and I’m plummeting to my death along with whatever other idiot tourists are with me, and next thing you know there’s a new addition on Roadside America: “Former location of giant, roadside sombrero that hadn’t been inspected since 1984, where tragic tourist disaster occurred.”

Something like that. I’m writing this is in an un-air-conditioned house and occasionally black out.

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Henry enjoys waiting until the last minute to book a hotel room. And for the rest of our vacation, “hotel” will be used loosely.

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Half past bustling traveler’s mecca, more toward cesspool of sadness.

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“What’s that? Oh just the sound of all my time & money being punted off the brim of a giant sombrero.”

  

It doesn’t seem that high, but it felt like I was standing on the shoulders of Andre the Giant while he was standing on the shoulders of Lady Liberty. Oh god, I just had a flashback and my legs did the jello thing again.


Still trying to book us a “hotel.”

Before we left, we stopped in a convenience store across the street called The Pantry, where I was certain we were going to get shot by two suspicious young men who came creepin’ on ah come-up. I didn’t say anything though because Henry gets really annoyed when my “unfounded paranoia” rears its ugly head-in-the-crosshairs. I had the whole thing scripted in my head though, right down to the Erin RIP Glenn that hopefully someone would be uncouth and crass enough to create.

There’s some local ginger ale maker in the area and I wanted to tour the factory but Henry either said nein or “it’s closed” or “go to hell”, either way it was probably Henry’s fault. It’s called Blenheim and thank god, so blessed, the convenience store sold it in glass bottles which is my dad’s favorite way to drink carbonated beverage. He’s kind of an enthusiast. So I figured, golly I better knock one back in my dad’s honor.

I chose the “hot” variety, which was smirk-worthy for Henry.

“Do you even know what that means?” The words fell from his patronizing lips like crumbs from the testosterone sandwich he was eating at the Mans Rule World, Gurlz Dumm convention he’s perpetually attending in his head. “It means it’s extra ginger-y. You’re not going to like it.”

Yeah, well, guess who liked it, motherfucker? Ten kicks to man’s universal ballsack for all womankind.

Continuing on through South Carolina, I learned that Henry knows that #SPOBY means Spencer and Toby from Pretty Little Liars, which is sad and hilarious to me all at once. I was going to buy him a limited edition SPOBY shirt that Spencer (you know, the broad who plays Spencer) was selling on Instagram for charity but either my order didn’t go through or I’m about to have 6 of them delivered to my house in Henry’s name.

We stopped at Smith’s Exxon in Santee, a plain-named store that apparently boasts a wide array of local ciders, and Henry, suddenly a connoisseur of the jugged juices, was excited for maybe the second time of the whole trip. The southern gas station clerk behind the counter gave us samples of the peach cider and then taught us about muscadine, which is basically some kind of grape thing, I wasn’t listening. We sampled that too and Henry was making sex sounds so I knew he was going to buy a jug of each. (And he did. And just so you know, I never even got to drink any of it!)

How you know you’re not in Pittsburgh anymore. ^^

Chooch was so sick but I was like, “Son, I recognize that you are ill at the moment but please sit down and let me take your picture on this Cheerwine bench as proof that we are wherever we’re currently at.” Also, Cheerwine, nothing to Q-tip your dickhole over.  (But I don’t really like soda-type beverages to begin with, so.) Before we left, Henry cleaned out the car and threw out my ginger ale bottle which I was planning to save as a souvenir!

“Oh, we’ll get another,” he said.

“There will be plenty more places selling it,” he said.

GUESS WHO NEVER GOT ANOTHER BOTTLE?!

More driving.

We made it to Savannah around 9 and realized that we hadn’t eaten since The Creamery in North Carolina, so we went to the Waffle House next to our “hotel,” which is lame to go to chains, I know, but it was either that or get frustrated with Yelp and then wind up going to bed with an empty stomach and a heart full of hate.

At least the southern Waffle Houses are way better than the ones in our area. We had a super nice waitress and I got to stuff a waffle in my maw, and Henry had his cherished grits (seriously, what’s the backstory with Henry and the Grits?), and Chooch actually ordered something and ate it all.

“Father, might I take a sip of my milk now?”

Afterward, Chooch made a cat friend in the parking lot, and then we found out there were like 6 more where that one came from so we quickly left before Chooch got too attached.

And then I willed myself fall asleep, totally hyper about finally meeting Octavia the next day!

Aug 152015
 

And on the fourth day of vacation, Henry expressed a barely audible modicum of joy when he spotted F-15s in the air.

****

Wednesday morning, a/k/a The Day Before My Birthday, was our officially check-out day from King’s Creek. Chooch and I were sad, but then Henry held up our timeshare starter package as a silent reminder that we’ll be back.

Again.

And again.

And again and again.

THE LAST TRIP DOWN THE SIDEWALK. :(

Being a travel day, my plan was for us to be leisurely about it. We didn’t have plans with Octavia until the next day, so there technically wasn’t much rush to get to Savannah anytime soon on Wednesday.

Which is a good thing, considering that Savannah was twice as far away from Williamsburg as I originally thought! I was super pissed though because I thought we were going to be passing through Norfolk but Henry explained that we were taking a more dumb and Henry-esque route through the middle of all the states.

“We can’t get to Savannah by going that way,” he said as I whined about Norfolk and all of the things I found on Roadside America that now were not going to be anywhere near us.

“Yes we can!” I cried, showing him a map on my phone.

“THAT IS ALL WATER. THOSE ARE NOT ROADS,” he yelled, so by the time we arrived at a rest stop in North Carolina, we were all miserable and hating each other, which only got WORSE when Henry copped an attitude when we had the AUDACITY to ask for beverage from the vending machines! Oh, I’m sorry. Maybe give us an allowance then so we can purchase our own beverages!

“He hates us,” I hoarsely whispered to Chooch as we power-walked in anger out of the rest stop. But then I was all, “Ooh! A thing! Let me photograph you by that thing!”

Chooch leaning against a thing.

Turns out, that thing is a WHIRLIGIG and there was an entire PARK full of them somewhere “down the street” in Wilson, NC. I begged and begged Henry to take us there since he had previously ruined our day by being a tight-wad motherfucker.

I looked at my map on Roadside American and determined that the exit for Wilson, NC, home of the Whirligig Park, was straight up ahead. What I failed to mention was that the actual destination was another 20 miles or so from the exit ramp. Henry hates being lead astray and was unreasonably irritated about whirligigs. Who could be mad about these sharp metal sculptures of joy?!

Also, I failed to note that the park is not yet open. We rolled up and saw a dirt lot, a backhoe in action, and a small sprinkling of whirligigs. That was good enough for me! Henry slammed the car into park and mumbled something about “you two assholes can get out and look; I’m staying here. Fuck a whirligig.” Even Chooch was being ungrateful and uncaring about the whirligigs and I was pretty disappointed. Here we were, parked across from a national treasure (debatable, but still) and these two were trying to ruin it for me.

I pulled Chooch out of the car and into the blazing heat and made him be a good tourist with me.

The whirligigs are the creation of artist Vollis Wilson, and are currently in the process of being relocated from some museum to the park-in-process in Wilson, NC. Wilson is, how can I put this delicately, a real dump of a town, so the hope is that this park will help with the revitalization project that’s currently underway, and I can definitely get on board with that.

I might start creating whirligigs to decorate the Law Firm. The ceilings in the partnership center are tall enough to accommodate art of this stature. BYE BYE GENERIC ITALIAN ART, HELLO ERINGIGS.

 

Maybe it’s nuts, but I love these road trips that we take so much because I am fascinated more by small, unknown towns than actual big cities. This was why I tried in vain to get people to guest blog on here about their hometowns, because I want to know all the insider, townie scoop. (Still looking to feature people, just saying.)

This is why I decided that Wilson was where we were also going to eat lunch that day.

Just…not here though.

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We stopped down the road at The Creamery, which has been serving Wilson since 1946.

That man sitting next to Chooch ordered two large jugs of sweet tea. NORTH CAROLINA FLAVOR!

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I already mentioned this in my birthday post, but they had cabbage on the menu! I ended up ordering okra though because I love me some okra. It came deep-fried, and I am used to eating it steamed or boiled or whatever Henry does to it (maybe I don’t want to know), so that was different.

Another cheerful family lunch!

While we were there, Hot Naybor Chris called Henry. Henry took the call out in the parking lot, leaving me to sit at the table and panic because WHY WAS CHRIS CALLING WAS OUR HOUSE ON FIRE AT LEAST WE DON’T HAVE PETS ANYMORE TO WORRY ABOUT!? He knew we were on vacation so it must be something tragic and devastating! It reminded me of when we were on vacation in Ocracoke years ago and had some sort of gas situation at our house and my mom and Janna kept calling us about it and we thought it was OK but then it wasn’t, and we ended up leaving early because I was so freaked out that our house was going to explode and also I hated the people we were vacationing with, so win-win….?

Turns out, a package arrived for me, air mail, and Chris just wanted to let Henry know that he took it off our porch so it wouldn’t get stolen. After Henry came back in and told me this, I cried, “WHY DOESN’T HE EVER JUST TEXT YOU THESE THINGS!?” Jesus Christ, I was worried sick.

Aug 122015
 

I have so much wow to bring you guys right now. I’m sitting here with Henry J. and he is going to tell me his HIGHLIGHTS and LOWLIGHTS of our vacation, at which point I will TYPE WHAT HE IS SAYING.

We have nothing better to do. Pretty Little Liars is over for the season.

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        Here I am waiting for Erin, Octavia and Chooch to figure out where Forrest Gump’s bench used to be.

HENRY’S HIGHLIGHTS

  • the cottage at King’s Creek Plantation
  • morning trips for breakfast and coffee for “my babies” (because they weren’t with me)
  • meeting Octavia
  • (I suggested when Henry got to talk about moss at the Bonaventure Cemetery but he just gave me an annoyed look, so I guess…no.)
  • talking about the SERVICE with someone who was actually interested (Octavia)
  • watching Erin and Chooch play tennis and realizing that those two can’t do anything together without fighting. And Erin is way too* competitive.
  • getting to have grits with every meal.
  • the breakfast that Octavia’s husband Dustin made us
    • these were the best grits of the whole trip

*(Henry is mad because I spelled this correctly.)

  • attempting to teach Chooch to swim even though in his mind he knows how to already.
  • Busch Gardens
    • I didn’t have a favorite ride. I only rode three things and liked all three.
  • Watching a couple fight at the rest stop in Virginia while their kids ran amok.
  • Seeing a drunk girl at breakfast in Charlotte and watching her get kicked out.
  • Finding out that Jonny Craig’s band Slaves broke up.
  • buying peach and muscadine cider at a convenience store in Georgia
  • Mayberry
  • Almost having to go to a show when Erin found out a band she likes was playing in Charlotte but thank god we were on our way home
  • Watching Chooch writhe during dinner in Pulaski because of the girls at the table near us who were looking at him and giggling, and then the oldest one telling him he had nice hair.
  • WHEN HOT NAYBOR CHRIS CALLED ME WHEN WE WERE IN WILSON, NC!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!111111111111111111111111111111111111
  • GETTING TO LISTEN TO ALL OF ERIN’S AWESOME MUSIC AND TALK ABOUT WARPED TOUR FOR 7 DAYS STRAIGHT!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!11111111111111111111111

HENRY’S MIDLIGHTS (?)

  • the African village in South Carolina
  • boiled peanuts. I didn’t really get to try them because I was driving forever.
  • Dale Earnhardt museum
  • South of the Border – getting to take a selfie in front of a giant gorilla.

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HENRY’S LOWLIGHTS (and I’m not talking about the gray in his beard, you guys)

  • driving to Virginia for 7 hours with Erin and Chooch.
  • then driving 10 hours to Savannah
  • the 14 hour drive home because of Erin’s “detours”
  • Tortuga’s Island Grill in Thunderbolt, GA —> Erin’s birthday breakdown and Chooch’s “You don’t love me” breakdown. God forbid I should say anything to anybody.
  • Looking for the post office in Orangeburg, SC
  • Learning that Jonny Craig’s band Slaves did not actually break up.
  • Pulaski, VA (thanks, Octavia!)
    • Erin almost died. (I just said, “I didn’t almost die there…?” and Henry snapped, “Yeah, when I almost killed you.”)
  • Driving back into Savannah after we had already left because Erin supposedly forgot to buy postcards and a magnet when we were there for 8 hours walking around the day before.
  • Mayberry
  • Not buying enough peanuts while we were down there
  • the overpriced ghost tour in Williamsburg

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Here I am being a land shark in Savannah!