Apr 302022
 

We eventually made it to the Fountain of Youth. Can you imagine going to St. Augustine and not checking out the Fountain of Youth!? I mean, I’m sure Henry and Chooch would not have lost any sleep over that. But I learned about this in fifth grade, therefore, I needed to see it. I am just that kind of person.

I am also the kind of person who pays admission to tour museums and other places of historical import only to lose interest somewhat immediately and proceeds to skim the informational placards in an effort to get to the end faster.

It me.

I appreciate that this signage looks like it hasn’t been updated since the 1950s.

The lady at the admission booth liked my phone case! It’s my bread one from Brunch Brothers, in case Future Erin is here reading this and wondering, “Ha! Which one??” Queen of the Interesting Phone Cases.

It also me.

America’s FIRST colony!

It St. Augustine!

OK, I’ll stop with that not. I had a lot of sugar today.

I should also note that after we paid to get in, Chooch asked, “So what is this? Like, a ride or something?”

OMG that would make this place so much better, if Sally Dark Rides came in, installed some track and pretzel cars, plopped down some animatronics and jump scares….It would have been worth the $20pp!!!

We did the thing. Well, Chooch and I did. Henry was like I’M GOOD. It just tasted like an extinguished match. So you know, sulfur.

It was just us and two old ladies inside, so that was nice! I was expecting it to be packed, like we would have to stand in line just to chock back some disgusting $20 thimble of water by choice. But nope, we marched right over and helped ourselves. The old ladies didn’t even know you could drink it until they saw us and then we had to point out the cups to them. LOOK AT US, Fountain of Youth docents, basically.

Chooch always has to take a selfie with my phone before taking the phot requested of him.

And then we always get the zoomie of Henry too:

Honestly, after doing this portion, I was bored already but now we had to walk around the land and look at the artifacts or whatever.

These things seemed significant, so I took a picture to show my Internet Friends.

IT YOU.

OK for real I’m done.

Posin’ with Ponce.

Apparently, the local peacocks like to chill by the gift shop so they have feed there that you can buy and even though there are signs everywhere that say FOOD IS FOR PEACOCKS ONLY DO NOT FEED OTHER WILDLIFE, the pigeons were like, “No, the sign spelled pigeons wrong. That food is for us.” This one lady had accumulated close to 10 pigeons on her person just by holding out a hand of feed.

Here’s Chooch half-assedly fending off the pigeons.

We spent more time here than anywhere else in the whole archeological park, not surprising. At before we left, there was a healthy crowd of about 25 people hanging out, feeding the “peacocks.” Good times.

In  the gift shop, I of course bought a tiny souvenir bottle of FOUNTAIN OF YOUTH WATER and Chooch bought a puzzle of some sort – there was a lot of back and forth about said puzzle between him and Henry but I wasn’t paying attention. I’m not sure what was so special about this puzzle other than it was Noah’s Ark which was appealing to Chooch because he evidently inherited the “I love Noah’s Ark but not the BOOK it came from” gene from my mom, who had so much Noah’s Ark shit around the house when I was growing up including a MASSIVE wooden Noah’s Ark with handmade wooden pairs of animals that she collected from a store called the Hobby Horse and then our German Shepherd, Rama, started using some of the animals as chew toys so that kind of put an end to that. Man, I haven’t thought about that in so long but it was actually epic. She had it displayed in the bay window in our dining room. She must have spent thousands of dollars on that in the end because she would make trips to the Hobby Horse to pick  up whatever new animal pairs the artist had recently crafted and then I would beg for rock candy even though EW and also honey sticks, which OK those were good. They also had an old-fashioned ice cream parlor in that place. I had a love/hate relationship with it because it “so far away” (like 25 minutes probably, lol) and also my mom spent so much time there and it was essentially a cross between an antique shop and a country store, so it was dark and wooden inside with like, lots of wreaths and Americana bullshit. And like, old skillets. I dunno. It was fine.

Wow. what was I talking about?

Oh yeah, Chooch’s puzzle. So he and Henry worked out whatever the issue was (I think maybe he needed Henry to transfer money to his PARENTAL CONTROLLED debit card lol) but then Chooch was like, “Hold the phone, this box is messed up. I need to swap it out” so he went back to a new one. This is only relevant to the story because when we got home two days later, he opened the stupid thing to put it together and it was the WRONG PUZZLE – somehow a Santa’s Workshop one was in the box instead, lol.

There’s my bottle ^^^

The worst part was that after we left, we had to walk all the back to the car and I don’t know if I mentioned this or not but my feet were like blood sacks at this point?? My right foot was so fucked with bruises and my left foot had/has some METATARSAL thing happening, I don’t know if that’s true – I googled it and didn’t get very far in my research before becoming overcome with the woozies.

Henry started walking SO FAST and so far ahead of us limpers, because he was afraid of the meter running out I guess and as you know, he already earned himself a speeding ticket on this trip and was probably not trying to add a parking ticket to the collection.

Oh shit this reminds me that I forgot to tell his mom last weekend about how her perfect tree-climbing son got a speeding ticket.

Don’t worry, we made it back to the car. I think this was when we realized that Chooch’s Harry Potter chocolate frog was in the car and consequently perished because Florida.

From here, we went to Sarbez for lunch! Please read about that here. Then we drove around the St. Augustine Beach area which looked super cute and fun and I could see us potentially coming back there someday when we’re looking for a “slow vacation” and by that I mean a super fast-paced vacation with perhaps one day where we slow down and maybe dip our toes in water and read a book or something.  But just for a day. Then roller coasters.

Before venturing out of St. Augustine and Florida in general, Henry ran into The Kookaburra to grab us some iced coffees, which was funny to me since this trip made me feel a type of way about Australians and it ain’t a good way, pal.

My nails were fucked by the end of the trip. Actually, by the second day, who am I kidding. I even brought polish so I could redo them but I was so tired every time I found myself in the hotel room that this never happened.

WAIT PS PS PS!! I just realized that there is some Noah’s Ark art on the walls in the background of this picture of my brother Corey holding a very new baby Chooch at my moms house in 2006!

Enjoy.

Apr 202022
 

I’m going to insert some filler on here because I have a sneaking suspicion that no one really gives a shit about roller coasters and people I want to kill while standing in line. So today, instead of PART 2 OF BUSCH GARDENS WILLIAMSBURG OMG, let’s look at 30ish pictures from the first part of our day in St. Augustine, Florida.

If you don’t know, St. Augustine is the oldest continuously occupied settlement in the United States and it was founded in 1565! You bet your sweetly-spanked ass that I googled that fact. I did know about St. Augustine, generally, though, all the way back to fifth grade when we did a chapter on SETTLERS in history class or whatever. For some reason, and this REALLY is singed into my fossilized brain, I was completely panicked about the upcoming test so my Aunt Sharon helped me study. She made me index cards and helped me come up with mnemonic devices, and because of this, Ponce de Leon is like a legend in my mind. I can’t remember exactly what we came up with for him other than associating him with the Fountain of Youth, but for Jacques Cartier, she was like “THINK OF MY CARTIER WATCH” and I was like “OH YEAH GOOD ONE” and  even though this was just some dumb fifth grade test, it is literally something that I think about every now and then because it’s one of the best memories I have of Sharon. She was a LOT of conflicting emotions toward the end of her life, and caused me lots of grief and stress, but she was also a fucking awesome aunt for ALL of my childhood, when it mattered most.

Um OK wow, I didn’t intend for this to be all that, but cook on, Erincheffer.

The last time we drove through Florida, I desperately wanted to step but Henry was all, “Ew barf history gross gag.” This time, I got my way. The older Henry gets, the easier he is to wear down.

Plus, we had a full day on Friday of nothingness, since all of our Florida parks had been satisfied, and we wanted to eventually start our drive home that day. And St. Augustine is on the way!!

We got there bright and early, right before the rush of tour groups and school field trips, and traipsed around Castillo de San Marcos. I like historical shit as much as the next bitch, but I opted to not pay to tour the innards of the fort and chose instead to just enjoy the scenery on the outside. We had plans to go to the Fountain of Youth later anyway, and I knew Henry would go, “PICK ONE, WE ARE NOT DOING EVERYTHING. THIS STUFF COSTS $$$$. ROAR.”

It made me feel like we were on a movie set or something I don’t know how to explain it LEAVE ME ALONE.

I’ll tell you, it felt strange not running from one attraction to the next but instead, walking leisurely like regular people on vacation. Well, at least for the morning….

HI. IT ME. My feet were so broke-down by this day. It was nice to lean against something, briefly.

This one’s best because you can’t see my idiot face lol JUST KIDDING I AM TRYING TO LIKE MYSELF BUT REWIRING ONES THINKING TAKES TIME. Ask me in a few months (years lol) how it’s going.

I love this picture of me and Chooch so much because he 100% did not wish to pose next to a palm tree even though I did because I had suddenly realized that SHIT it was our last day in Florida and we had not taken advantage of any palmy photo props.

“It’s not even a good palm tree!” Chooch scoffed in disgust. Just for that I made him pose with other palm trees on his own lol.

Smile, fucker!!

Why is this actually an OK picture of Henry? What is he thinking here?

I’ll go first: Remembering the time he visited a record store with his SERVICE buddies and slowly flipped through all the Pia Zadora albums. Obviously this was before he went AWOL.

Then I got bored of that area so we went to the quaint little shopping/historical district and saw THE OLDEST WOODEN SCHOOLHOUSE IN THE USA OMG WHOA YOU DON’T SAY.

The first place we went to was Auggie’s Donuts but they weren’t open yet so we explored the candy shop that shared the space with them. I bought two packages of licorice: one Dutch, one Finnish, because ever since I became An Old, I have a newly acquired taste for licorice. SPECIFICALLY Finnish and Dutch licorice, and I think also Swedish? There was some DIVINE and STRONG stuff I bought several years ago at Jungle Jim’s. I took it to work thinking it would be a big hit with the rest of my International Candies but NO ONE THERE LIKED IT. Not even Glenn, oddly. So I ate it all and now that I’m typing away about this, I want very badly to go back to Jungle Jim’s and stock up on some more.

Anyway, this Tid Bitz one was SO FUCKING GOOD I WANTED TO DUMP THE WHOLE BAG INTO MY MOUTH IN ONE SITTING which wouldn’t have been that much of a feat considering “one sitting” was basically a 5 hour car ride later that day.

See the source image

Finland knows what’s up.

While we were in there, the neighboring HOT SAUCE store opened and Chooch was like “FIRST” as he ran across the threshold but then wailed, “YOU HAVE TO BE 18 TO TASTE TEST.” The lady behind the counter laughed and said, “Oh you’re ok, hon, go for it.” And he basically tasted as much hot sauce as he could before he got sick.

Don’t worry, we bought a bottle of BBQ sauce and a jar of hot pepper flakes for pizza since we were close to overstaying our welcome.

Then the donut guy told Henry it would be about 10 minutes for his fryer to heat up or something, I wasn’t caring much at that point, and for some reason the desire for donuts had shifted from me to Henry, who was like, “WE CANNOT LEAVE NOW, IT WILL BE CROWDED ONCE HE OPENS” and I was like, “Dude, I’m not standing here watching oil heat up, I want to go look at stuff” so Henry stayed back at the donut place (I think he was still in that GET TO THE COASTER BEFORE THE LINE GETS LONG mentality) while Chooch and I went off on our own.

LOL, Chooch and I off on our own!

First, we went to the PUBLIC RESTROOMS! It was uneventful although Chooch felt that the mens room was haunted. I can’t remember why now but it was probably a dumb reason.

We had to walk past some stupid shops selling PRO TRUMP novelty shirts and hats because FLORIDA, but then we stumbled upon this gem: St. Photios National Shrine!! RELIEGIOUS SHIT!! The reason why I noticed it was because there was HARMONIOUS MONK CHANTS wafting out of the entryway!

It was basically calling to me.

The whole little garden area was filled with the mournful music.

MY.

FUCKING.

JAM.

Since it was still so early, we were the only people there!

THE ONLY GREEK NATIONAL SHRINE IN THE COUNTRY. If you are Greek and religioso, you probably already know this.

There was recently some sort of drawing contest for kids and the entries were displayed in one of the rooms. Not gonna lie, it was the room we spent the most time in.

A NINE YEAR OLD MADE THIS.

Amazing. I would proudly display this on my wall if it was for sale.

I only took a picture of this because some old guy in front of me did lol.

Then we walked through the gift shop and I wanted everything. But then I didn’t have my credit card and stupid HENRY was still waiting for donuts so we had to leave the gift shop. The lady was so nice too and told Chooch to go right ahead and handle the nesting dolls at his leisure and I always have to pause and regroup when this happens because to me, he is still that 6-year-old bull in a china shop and not an almost-16-year-old who can handle himself appropriately around delicate items.

I swear it was just yesterday when we walked into an antique shop in Philly and the old man proprietor locked his attention on Chooch immediately and was SO CLENCHED, just waiting for him to break something so he could force to pay for it.

I’ve definitely referenced this before but every time we made it out of shops like with nothing being broken, I always think of the time when I was a kid in Italy (Assisi I think?) and we went to some Delicate Items shop. My grandma was like TOUCH NOTHING and then continued to convey this order to me numerous times thereafter with nothing more than her lips pulled into a taut line.

Yo, I made it out of that shop with nary a casualty under my belt.

But you know who didn’t?

GRANDMA.

Oh it was delicious. The sweetest irony. She ended up knocking several glass things off of a shelf with her gigantic purse as she turned around.

GRANDMA BROKE IT AND BOUGHT IT.

Well, Grandma broke it and PAPPAP bought it, to be clear.

Then we walked off the main road onto a path that led us to some old timey textile shop run by a man WHO NEVER BROKE CHARACTER even when we were talking about Apple Pay. At first, Chooch goes, “I’m not going in there, there’s nothing—-oooh, a sword I want a sword!” so inside we want. He did not get a sword (it was actually a dagger anyway, nice try) but he did get a “booty box” and a compass necklace thingie.

We were able to handle this without Henry’s aid because, as previously mentioned, Chooch asked if he took Apple Pay and he was like, “AYE MATEY” or something, he wasn’t a pirate so I don’t know why I defaulted to arrrr speak but he was something….old timey. Anyway, Chooch had to help me use it because I never do it right and he gets soooo frustrated and then it turns into a big deal where the cashier wants to insert themselves into our bickering and it’s a hassle, which is why I always just use a physical card when possible.

Technology. Pfft.

Don’t even get me started on NFPs!

No really, you can’t get me started even if you wanted to because I don’t understand them and have nothing to say about that.

Meanwhile, Henry started texting Chooch threats about how if we didn’t start walking back to the donut place, he was going to eat them and Chooch didn’t answer fast enough so then Henry posted a picture of the donuts on Instagram and tagged us and we died of second-hand embarrassment. Why is he like this. Suddenly my inability to use Apple Pay wasn’t so cringey because now OLD ASS HENRY was clobbering around on Instagram, and that was way worse. So now Chooch and I were back to being on the same age-level and making fun of Papa H together.

The dynamics change super fast with us. Try to keep up.

The donuts were OK. Not really worth waiting for like Michael Myers in a bush. But OK Henry.

I wish this place was open because I would have taken a crepe over those donuts! The donuts were good, don’t get me wrong, but not like, “OMG IF YOU GO TO ST AUGUSTINE, GET THESE DONUTS.” I mean, if you like donuts in general, then Homer it up, friendos. Don’t let my blasé review sway your doughy decisions.

Anyway, after we inhaled our donut kebabs (they were actually awkward to eat, all impaled on a wooden stake like so), we excitedly lured Henry back to the SHRINE PLACE and he was like, “I’m not going in there” even though it was free to enter, so Chooch, currently on Team Erin, hissed, “MOM WANTS SOMETHING IN THE GIFT SHOP AND YOU HAVE TO BUY IT.” I’m sure Henry was nervous, thinking it was something extravagant and exorbitant, but it was just a $5 cross magnet made from sand and ocean water from the St. Augustine beach!

Also, Chooch got some religious medallion to put in his BOOTY BOX, which is also filled with all of the pressed pennies he collected on this trip.

But just as Henry was thinking he was free to leave after this transaction, we remembered that we needed cash money in order to light a candle. “Jesus Christ,” he muttered, fishing for two dollar bills which he then angrily thrust at us like we were going to run off to 1982 and buy a pack of cigarettes instead of lighting prayer candles.

“I lit mine for Ukraine, what did you light yours for?” I asked Chooch after SHOWING HIM HOW TO GET HIS CANDLE TO BURN SINCE HE “COULDN’T FIND THE MATCHES.” Seriously.

4.0 GPA.

0.0 Common Sense.

“Oh, I didn’t know we were supposed to light it for something. I just wanted to light a candle for fun…”

Oh don’t worry, there was much more St. Augustine action. Fountain of Youth, coming soon!

Mar 032022
 

Today’s post is going to be mostly a photo dump, but I need to preface it with a disclaimer.

DISCLAIMER: If you are ever planning on going to Otherworld in Columbus, Ohio and want to experience it with your own eyes, click away now lest ye be spoiled. 

Otherworld is an immersive art installation in a decrepit, run-down shopping center on the outskirts of Columbus, Ohio. It opened to the public in 2019 and I was supposed to meet my friend Michelle there that summer. But then plans fell through (I’m pretty sure it was my fault – I think Cedar Point happened instead!) and then COVID happened and even though they eventually did reopen during the height of the pandemic, I wasn’t in a rush to be indoors with a bunch of people immersing themselves in touchable art installations, you know what I’m saying, chingu?

I was really nervous though because this place was originally billed as TEMPORARY so I thought for sure I’d miss the chance. But when Henry and I had decided to do a Columbus daytrip for  a vegan luncheon, I looked it up and saw that it was still open!! Henry mumbled, “Whatever you want to do,” and I made reservations for 11AM that Saturday. Woo!

(I still feel bad that I didn’t get to go with Michelle, but she did eventually go so I’m glad about that!)

Henry hates art, culture, fun, aestheticism, so he was REALLY looking forward to this!

We got there about 20 minutes before our time slot (actually even earlier than that but we sat in the car for a bit). Luckily, the front desk dude was like THAT IS OK and didn’t put us in a TOO EARLY triage cage or anything. He was like “ENJOY!” and let us loose. I am really glad we didn’t wait until exactly 11 because the crowd levels were perfect at this time, and after about an hour it really started to get congested. If it had been like the whole time, we would not have been able to enjoy ourselves at all because this place really is a STOP AND DO SHIT kind of joint.

First of all, regardless of the blacklights making it difficult, there were so many excellent photo ops! And things to sit on, crawl through, step on, etc.! Once Henry realized that this place was more of a sensory playground then a stuffy art shack, he relaxed and started pushing buttons. “IF YOU PRESS THIS, IT SHOOTS AIR DOWN AT THE PEOPLE IN THAT OTHER ROOM” he explained as he pushed a button and pointed to a surveillance screen. Henry likes having opportunities to fuck with people so he now he didn’t mind being in an art place.

I loved this hallway!!

This was on the ceiling of one of the rooms and there were plastic arcade guns  that you could use to shoot at them. Henry liked this room I think – OMG I wonder if he was picturing  my faces on the ceiling?!?!

DUDE THE LIGHTING IN THIS ROOM MADE EVERYTHING LOOK SEPIA AND I WAS OBSESSED.

We found out later on when we were revisiting this room that if you opened the coffin behind me, it would slowly turn the room back into color and there were inflatable flowers along the windows of the room  that would re-inflate – it was so cool. Hat tip to that lady who was  totally telling her family the secret and not us. Glad we were there for it!

“Henry! We shoul—–”

“NO,” he cut me off before I could say that we should have this neon shit hanging from the attic ceiling. I think he was mildly panicked the whole time we were there because he could see the wheels turning in my dumb design head.

P.S. I appreciated that masks were still mandatory and that everyone was obeying the policy. I also appreciated the copious amounts of hand sanitizer stations considering how much forbidden touching was going on.

Wow. Now it just sounds like we were at a 1970s key party.

I just realized that there was no one there that I hated. Probably because we got there early enough. The assholes probably come later.

Literally the bedroom of my dreams.

There were little children watching Henry take this picture like “mom why is that child so big, I don’t understand.” I found out by accident that there was a secret passage under the bed! I found out by crawling through an opening in another room only to be spilled out into a mass of stuffed animals. Henry, who had actually followed me, said, “We’re under the bed,” and I was like “OH SHIT YOU’RE RIGHT. TAKE A PICTURE OF ME.”

I was really just living my best life here, you guys. It felt so good to just run from room to room and the best part is that there was no hard and fast rule with which to explore so you could loop around as much as you wanted, cut through different ways, etc. We kept returning to our favorite spots and I really feel that we got our money’s worth even though we only stayed for a little over an hour because the crowds started to pick up exponentially and it suddenly felt very stifling.

I feel like I really chose the correct mask to bring with me.

We actually got along pretty well the whole time! Except for when I was trying to take this picture and he got moving out of frame because he’s a Big Dumb.

When we first got there and entered the first hallway, I jokingly said, “Let’s start here” and pretended to walk into an open storage closet that was clearly not part of things. But then an hour later, we pushed our way through those magazine clippings up there and walked out of a locker right INTO THE STORAGE ROOM!!! Mind blown. Otherworld, you cray.

I look sad in all of my pictures because smiling feels weird under a mask. I never did get used to that part of it over these last two years.

This was another secret room!! I was kneeling in it because it was basically just a little crawl space.

Well, you can believe that after gallivanting around this outer space mind fuck, we were definitely ready to pig-out at Seitan’s Realm. We both hit the restrooms before leaving and on my way out, I passed a girl who gushed, “Cute purse!” and I was like “THANK YOU” and was going to ask her if she likes NCT127 because it’s a CHERRY BOMB purse specifically made to display NCT enamel pins, but I had no energy and probably she didn’t. It just really is a cute-looking purse regardless of Kpop stanning.

So, that’s Otherworld in a little over 1,000 words and way too many pictures  (this wasn’t even all of them! I went easy on you guys). I do really want to go back again sometime while it still exists, maybe wrangle Corey and Janna to go with me?! AND THEN WE CAN EAT AT SEITAN’S REALM??

*is planning*

Feb 032022
 

When I referenced Morocco in my book post yesterday, it made me remember that I recently found some panoramic photos that I took in Tangier in the 90s. I took some GOD AWFUL pictures as a 13-year-old, and I was actually shocked that this one looked so decent! Maybe my aunt Sharon took this one, actually.

Morocco has always had a special slot in my heart, but when we first arrived there, I actually hated it. I think I was just being a bitchy, not-yet-diagnosed bipolar brat, if we’re being frank with each other here. I was an asshole pretty much during the entirety of that summer’s vacation because, and this is going to make me sound soooo Silver Spoon, but I didn’t want to go on vacation that summer because I had a crush on my MOTHERFUCKING TENNIS COACH.

I was 13! He was like 35! (I had to wait until I was 21 to finally snag my 35-year-old, LOLOL ugh wtf is wrong with me.)

So I remember being such a cunt and writing shit like I DO NOT LIKE HOW IT SMELLS HERE in my vacation journal and whining and screaming OMG WTF KIND OF BUG IS THAT and just making myself be as miserable as possible.

But then there was a cute guy working at the gift/convenience store thing attached to our hotel and he smiled at me once so then I was IN LOVE and suddenly OMG MOROCCO, I LOVE YOU! I vividly remember the song that was playing too, something reggae-ish and all I knew was that they were saying “a lalala la la” so I called it the “la la” song forever and you have to remember, this was like 1993 or 1994 and my carrier pigeon didn’t have Shazam capabilities, so I was left to hum this unknown song to myself for the rest of the trip. I’m pretty sure I even wrote about it in the postcards I was sending home to my friends, because I have always tried to drag my loved ones down into my pit of obsession.

Anyway, at some point, the details of which elude me 30 years later, I somehow learned that it was INNER CIRCLE – SWEAT and literally it’s known in parentheses as A LA LA SONG. I recently made Henry listen  to it with me and nope, does not hold up.

Inner Circle – Sweat (A La La La La Long) – YouTube

Back  to the picture though. I remember, as a 13-year-old girl, being really scared of the Casbah because the tour guide was like EVERYONE MUST HOLD ON TO EACH OTHER AS WE WALK THROUGH HERE BECAUSE SOMETIMES AMERICAN WOMEN ARE TAKEN.

But then somehow my aunt Sharon and I were chilling with a rug merchant, drinking mint tea (that’s one of the things I will never forget about Morocco – the wonderful taste of that mint tea) and bartering for a rug. I imagine we must have stopped there as an entire group because I 100% cannot imagine Globus or whoever we were traveling with being like, “Ok I know we just told you that American women are a hot commodity up in here, but please now enjoy an hour to wander unsupervised around the labyrinthian passages of the Casbah.”

I definitely posted this on here before, but here’s an AWESOME picture that Sharon took of me riding a camel. To this day, I fully believe that she cut my head off intentionally and I honestly probably deserved it. I can tell from here that those were my CHAMBRAY Keds. I was a KedHead 100% in middle school. I used to buy my Keds at Kaufmann’s! What a 1990s sentence!

You know, I was going to end this here but then I felt a surge of ambition and decided to dust off the vacation journal from 1993 and treat you with a passage. (OMG you guys will love this: In order to get my vacation journal from 1993, I had to ask Henry to open his BIG SHOT SERVICE GUY TRUNK that he gave to me to store all my diaries in (I have A LOT) and the lid thing came down and hit him in the head and knocked his glasses off and he is so mad now!! Then a few minutes later, I heard him spit into the sink and I screamed, “OMG did you just spit out a tooth??” and he barked, “NO, IT HIT ME IN THE HEAD WHERE THE MARK IS, NOT IN MY MOUTH” and it turns out he was only just brushing his teeth as he just woken up from a nap. Yes, all of this happened RIGHT WHEN HE WOKE UP FROM A NAP, RISE AND SHINE, MOTHERFUCKER.)

(Wouldn’t it be really funny if, right now, I was like, “Sorry blog friends, but on second thought, I have nothing to add from the journal after all”???)

Well, I had to skim through a lot of fatalistic woe is me nonsense, bitching about people complimenting Sharon on her “fake, decrepit tan,” and an incessant use of the word “gay” that I thankfully grew out of! And this was back when I wrote “Ha³” instead of ha ha ha because I WAS WAY TOO COOL FOR YOUR SCHOOL. Anyway, here’s a sample of a journal entry written by an entitled white 13-yo American asshole, yikes.

July 24, 1993 – Tangier

Today, we went to Malcolm Forbes’ house and toward the end of that tour, Sharon started to get to me. Then we went to the Casbah and the people there really scared me! I was gonna get my picture taken with a cobra around my neck but Sharon spoiled that. The Casbah is like a Labyrinth*. Our guide, Ishum, told us that if a man got lost, he’d be out in two days, but if a woman got lost, she’d be in there forever because a man would take her! These very persistent people were shoving merchandise in our faces. This one little boy asked me if I speak English, and then said, “Welcome to Tangier!” – how sweet! Then we went to a nice store & sat ↓, had some mint tea (umm- Morocco’s main drink) & watched a rug presentation. After about a 1/2 hour of “bartering,” we finally bought the rug for my room. The price was $650 and we got it for $320! Our guide kept whispering prices in our ears (well, Sharon’s). We were in the Casbah for God knows how long. Pappap & Grandma would NOT like it.

Sharon’s been nice to me ever since she bought my rug**. When she wasn’t gonna buy it, she said, “Do you really want it?” and I said, “No. It’s too much money. Maybe someday Pappap will come here and buy me it.” I think  that’s what did it.*** I <3 it!


* I knew how to spell this with no hesitation back then because that was one of my favorite movies

**Shouldn’t that be the other way around lol

***This tactic no longer works on Henry. I pull that shit now and he’s like “OK cool” and moves on with his day.


UPDATE: Henry has a blood blister forming on his TRUNK TRAUMA.

Sep 162021
 

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

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

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

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

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

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

He drove back past Great Escape.

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

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

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

IS THAT A SMALL AMUSEMENT PARK OVER THERE.

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

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

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

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

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

Dumb old people.

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

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

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

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

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

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

MIRROR SELFIE.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Sep 122021
 

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

And the colors were poppin’!

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Idiots.

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

It was a JOURNEY.

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

Ew.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Fascination was closed and Henry was so sad.

 

The rides looked so much better at night, lol.

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

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

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

“Let’s pretend we’re a couple.”

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

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

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

Sep 072021
 

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Lol. Oh yeah.

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

Sep 042021
 

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

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

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

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

Aug 142021
 

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

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

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

Even though I may lose interest rather quickly.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

We almost matched, I hate when that happens.

Not me looking the most uncomfortable.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

AW.

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

So.

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

I’m a sucker for good signage.

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

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

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

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

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

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

I’m a THIN CRUST bitch.

 

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

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

WHAT DOES IT MEAN.

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

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

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

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

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

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

Ugh, he’s always trying to win basketballs.

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

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

Jul 262021
 

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

BIG LOL.

Ugh.

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

It was called FLOWER CHILD.

And it was wonderful. They had kombucha on tap.

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

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

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

Look how cute the bathroom was!!

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


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

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

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

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

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

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

Sep 042020
 

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

“Me, too,” he mumbled.

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

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

But the seagulls were out and on high alert. 

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

I was so excited!

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

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

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

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

 

Jun 202019
 

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

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

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

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

HARSH.

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

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

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

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

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

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

AND THE SMALLEST DENOMINATION WAS $20!!

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

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

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

I really hate banana popsicles too.

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

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

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

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

We were in love with these sweet lickable mounds.

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

God, Janna.

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

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

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

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

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

See?:

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

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

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

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

Also, I love that they bake wedding cakes.

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

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

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

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

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

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

Selfie in Aunt Bee’s bathroom.

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

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

I can’t wait for our next day trip!!!

Jun 122019
 

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

…but first time FINALLY indulging in the buffet!

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

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

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

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

He even went back up for seconds!

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

WOW I HAVE ORIGINAL IDEAS.

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

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

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

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

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

Dec 082018
 

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

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

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

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

My kind of guy.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

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

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

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

They were in the process of decorating for Christmas!

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

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

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

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

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

When you have to share your seat.

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

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

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

Nov 262018
 

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

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

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

This waitress hates us so bad.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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