Sep 172022
 

The rest of the evening in the Dells was spent doing spooky stuff. Well, some might find the word “hokey” to be more accurate lol. Shockingly, the Dells is kind of like the dollar store knock off of a tourist trap town so while places like Pigeon Forge and ugh shit what is that main drag called in Niagara Falls? You know the one. CLIFTON HILL! While places like that gouge your wallet and practically start in on your organs, the Dells had a lot of really stupid attractions that were only $5! So since we had time to kill, we bit.

First, we went to the Haunted Mansion on the main drag. It was….a place. No live actors, nothing super memorable. When we came out, there was a group of people standing on the sidewalk, contemplating. “Was it any good?” they asked. I hesitated MAJORLY and I think that was all they needed, because I could see them glance at other but then I added, “I mean, there aren’t any scare actors in there or anything,” and they all collectively made a FUCK THAT air expulsion and walked away.

We made a quick stop to this river walk thing but didn’t go very far because Chooch was whining about wanting to go back to the room to charge his phone because god forbid he might some amazing message in the MEXICO SQUAD group chat, so we turned around just in time for some man to ask me, and I do mean me because he only locked eyes with me,  “Does this go down to the river?”

I shrugged stupidly and said I didn’t know, then mumbled, “WTF do I look like, the Wisconsin Dells docent??”

Oh I know what happened next – the big fight about ice cream. LOL.

Our hotel had coupons for $2 off this Ghost Outpost thing so we grabbed some and headed on over. I had seen this mentioned on various WHAT TO DO IN THE DELLS YouTube videos and had hoped it would be cool like the one in Gatlinburg.

NO! IT WAS SO STUPID! JUST LIKE THE LAST PLACE! The only good thing is that it ended up being only $3 a person with our SUPER 8 coupons lol.

I dunno what got into Henry but he was like, “Let’s do this one too” and so we walked over to the Lost Temple which…I have no idea wat the point was but it was dumb too. Super low quality but then suddenly, singing tree:

I just honestly have nothing else to say about these two places. Avoid them? There. Two word review!

Finally, it was time to check in for our 8:40 reservation on the GHOST BOAT! I can’t believe I got Henry to sign on to this because he usually like YOU TWO CAN DO IT, I’LL DROP YOU OFF. He really hates spending money on things like, Tight Wads Gonna Wad Tight, you know? But when we were at Mt. Olympus earlier that day, he was like OK FINE and this was like HOURS after I had originally suggested it, and not like right after one of my nagging sessions, so this tells me that it was on his mind of his own accord and that he secretly really must have wanted to do this.

Please note: this wasn’t like one of those $5 haunts – this was an actual river boat ride at night, with a haunted walk. I think it was around $40/pp so this was more of a splurge but when in Wisconsin Dells, amirite?!

First off, once we went inside the Ghost Boat waiting area, they took pictures of each group so I was really stoked because we don’t have many family pictures that aren’t selfies. There were long pew-like benches set up in a serpentine manner inside the room and we were told to go all the way down as far as we could and take a seat. I really liked this set-up because it was ORGANIZED and assured that you were going to get to board in order of arrival. Frequent visitors to this dumping ground of the Internet will note that I am notoriously high-strung when it comes to standing in line, getting good spots, losing my spot, dealing with line-jumpers, etc. So props to the Ghost Boat people for doing the Lord’s work on this one.

HOWEVER!! There was OF COURSE that ONE group who decided that they were going to just waltz right up to the front when it was time to stand up and have our tickets scanned so that we could then walk down to the loading area. They completely skipped past all of the benches and tried to cut through along the side but the ticket scanner, AKA MY HERO, was like “no can do, back of the line for you” and I actually did a fist bump out in the open because I feel like more often than not, people in that position just roll over for line-jumpers! This was a fairly big group too – I feel like there were 8 or so, some extended family sitch, I dunno.

I was happy because not only were we far enough ahead in line to sit on top of the boat, we also snagged the last row of three seats in the very back. I’m a back of the boat/bus/coaster type of bitch, as you know.

The boat ride portion was really fun! Well, for everyone else. For me, I was too busy obsessing over the semi-big spider that was on the move RIGHT NEXT TO ME. I couldn’t lean back and relax like everyone else – I had to sit twisted at an angle, with my back up against Henry’s side, never taking my eyes off the railing. Some spooky recording was playing, relaying the ghostly story of the lake or whatever, but I legit missed the whole thing, my arachnid focus was *that* intense.

However, I was aware of the part of the boat ride where the engine was cut off so that we could glide between a cavern thing which Henry just told me was basically THE DELLS. It was really cool yet incredibly eerie at night. The water sloshing against  the rock walls just added to the vibe, like we were in a live action horror film, at the point where something was going to go terribly awry. To be honest, this part alone was worth the price of the Ghost Boat.

I took this picture earlier that evening when we returned to the river walk and walked the whole way down (I can now go back in time and tell that man that no, it does not actually take you all the way down next to the water). The boat went all the way straight back into the trees and then the dell stuff happened. Henry said he looked at pictures of it online, daytime pictures, and the part where the boat slipped through was “actually really cool, we should do it during the day next time.”

HE SAID NEXT TIME. WE’RE GOING BACK, Y’ALL.

Anyway, the next part of the excursion had us docking and walking up a slight hill where we all gathered outside of a restroom. This bathroom break took FOREVER. It was so annoying. I also got stuck standing near the Line-Jumpers and that was annoying. They thought they were going to be FIRST but guess what? Where they were standing wasn’t actually the starting point of the trail –  it was off to the left and we had to walk down steps. So since I had been standing to the left of them, I got to go before them HA IT’S WHAT YOU DESERVE, ASSHOLES! While we were standing there talking to the guide, someone pointed out that there was a spider on some man’s back. He swept it off and then the guide STEPPED ON IT and I immediately panicked.

“What if that was my spider,” I hissed at Henry, who mumbled, “That was not your spider, wait, I thought you hated that spider?”

“I mean, yeah, but I also spent the whole boat ride trying to make sure it didn’t die and I feel horrible if I did all that just for some bitch to boot-stomp him!” I wailed.

“It wasn’t the same spider,” Henry sighed.

You guys, the actual haunted trail wasn’t exactly “scary” because our group had like 80 people, I swear to god, and the scare actors were fine and all but how scared can you really get when you’re in a group that large? We were toward the front of the group at least so that was good. Literally had no idea what was going on because it was dark, foggy, creepy blue lights were blinding us at every turn…but at some point we entered what literally felt like a cavern and I was seriously concerned about bashing my head off the side of a rock formation.

Henry was very concerned about the safety measurements of the walking portion of the Ghost Boat, as in, were there any?

“How long have they been doing these tours? It doesn’t seem very safe. I could easily see people getting seriously injured out there,” Henry said the next day in the car en route to the next destination. I mean, he’s not wrong. The couple in front of me didn’t realize there was a ramp to walk on and kept walking next to it, ground-level, which appeared to have some sort of drop-off next to it. They realized they were going the wrong way before they turned into lemmings walking off a ledge into a gorge.

I got singled out at one point as usual – no matter how big the crowd, they will always single me out. The person asked the little girl behind us if she knew me and Chooch’s names, and she said, “Um, Dylan and Elenor” and then when the ghost person asked Henry what they were, he said, “Dylan and Elenor” and the little girl was like, “OMG I WAS RIGHT??” and from that moment on, I became acutely aware of her presence and the fact that she never shut the fuck up. Lowkey hated her, especially because she kind of looked like RUTHIE from 7th Heaven.

UGH.

RUTHIE was so fucking annoying!

That who show was so fucking annoying!

We had to walk back the same way we came, which meant going through the weird cavern part again. Chooch said one of the scare actors hit her head on the rock and THE WAY THAT I AM NOT SUPRISED YO.

Of course it ended with a chainsaw guy, possibly the only chainsaw guy in the history of chainsaw guys that ever failed to scare me. Probably because before he went back and grabbed his chainsaw, he was casually walking along with the front of our group, talking to everyone. Of course RUTHIE turned on the dramatics though and screamed shrilly while pushing her way through all of us.

Ugh.

Back on the boat. It was a different boat so I had no way of checking for my spider. This time, the very last row of seats was just a two-seater, so we had to sit in the row directly in front of that. In hindsight, I wish Chooch and I had just grabbed that last row and made Henry sit somewhere else because TWO PEOPLE FROM THE LINE-JUMPER GANG sat there and they were so very utterly annoying. Definitely in their late teens/early 20s, and part of that generation that talks just to talk. Nothing either one of them said had any weight or meaning to it. Just lots of, “Yeah”s and “Same”s and at one point, the girl part of the duo talked about her sleeping preferences while the guy interjected grunts of agreement here and there. And they both had REALLY STUPID VOICES. Like, the voices of stupid people. Sorry if you think that’s mean BUT THIS BLOG IS A SAFE SPACE FOR ME TO PLUNK OUT MY HONEST THOUGHTS. These kids were fucking STUPID. Especially when they were trying to act like astrologists and the guy was like, “I watch <some science show> and am basically a scientist now.” SIGH.

These poor stars. They had so much to say about them.

Anyway, that was the whole boat ride back, trying so hard to not listen to their basic conversations but being unable to get away from it since they were talking at a volume 5x what was appropriate for a nighttime boat ride with strangers.

Then I made Henry pay $28 for a portrait package so now we have like 12 copies of this photo. Guess some lucky people will get one tucked inside this year’s Christmas card.

I do really like this picture even though we look like 3 strangers picked at random to stand in front of the Ghost Boat backdrop. AFFECTION? WHAT IS AFFECTION? I’m actually surprised that Chooch as least smiled but Henry looks like he’s our warden, ready to break out the taser the moment one of us tries to flee. Look at that balled-up fist!

Sep 142022
 

The only glitch to our entire day in Wisconsin Dells was after the rootbeer museum when I had expressed a desire for ice cream. You would think that Henry and Chooch would know by now that my demands, especially ones that involve SCREAMS FOR ICE CREAM.

I had seen a sign for GELATO at one of the ice cream places on the main strip of the Dells, and had wanted to walk back and find it but CHOOCH was being a pain in the ass and peer-pressured me into going into a different ice cream place that was closer and it turns out it was just because he didn’t want to walk past this lady street performer again because she was making him uncomfortable (she was one of those statue people but didn’t do a very good job staying in character). The ice cream place was also a cafe and sandwich shop? I couldn’t tell what was going on there, but they had regular ice cream that you could get anywhere – like Hersheys or something – and then Henry said he didn’t want any and Chooch had just had a root beer float – I didn’t want to eat ice cream alone! So I left in dramatic fashion and speed-walked all the way to the parking lot. To be fair, the plan was already to go back to the hotel to rest because the next thing on our agenda didn’t start until 8:40 and we had two hours to kill.

I acted like a big crybaby on the way back to the hotel though because gotta stay on brand.

Anyway, we ended up going back out a bit earlier because there was a stupid haunted house I wanted to go to (MORE ON THIS SEPARATELY) and Henry was like, “Hey look, you can get your gelato afterward” because the same candy shop that I originally wanted to go to had another location right across the street from the dumb haunted house!

Chooch opted to wait in the car, probably was chatting with his Mexico Squad, so Henry and I went inside like we were impersonating a COUPLE ON A DATE. I guess Henry learned his lesson because he came prepared to place his own order so that I wouldn’t have to eat my cold treat alone like the true loser that I am.

So…I knew from first sight of the case that this was not going to be anything even close to traditional gelato. But nothing could have prepared me for the truly bizarre taste of my birthday cake and…what was my other flavor? Butter pecan maybe? gelato scoops.

It was truly alarming. The texture was like moist, frozen playdoh and the taste was SUGAR. And ARTIFICIAL. And FREEZER BURN. It was all of these things with a suggestion of whatever the flavors were supposed to me. Recommended to enjoy while thinking of your chosen flavor.

Tastes best with power of suggestion.

Somehow, it started to grow on me. I mean, I would never in my life go back there for a replay, but it wasn’t so grotesque that I couldn’t eat it. Henry had similar feelings with his choices, which I can’t remember now what they were. He had originally asked to try the banana but immediately wrote it off after realizing that it tasted like “cold nothing.” I’m glad he didn’t choose it too because the way it looked in the display case, it was wet and oozy like a pile of melted yellow popsicles. Totally unappealing.

“I mean I knew it wasn’t going to taste like real gelato because WISCONSIN but this also doesn’t taste like ice cream,” I said, holding a spoonful up to the light like my tastebuds had phoned my eyeballs for help decoding this gelato mystery.

For every scoop this place sells of fake gelato, an old man in Italy crashes a Moped.

Meanwhile, I was sitting in front of GREEN M&M and that was the third time in two days that she had come up in my life! WHAT DOES IT MEAN. One of the times was because one of the characters in a book I had just read admitted to thinking she was hot.

I guess I can see it….

On the way out, there were new suckers perusing the gelato case and I heard the scooper say, “It’s more like frozen yogurt.”

OK, that’s a very generous comparison.

Right after this, we went back to the main Dells area to prepare for our RESERVATION and when we walked past this REALLY COOL ICE CREAM SHOP that I somehow missed earlier, Chooch suddenly was ready for Ice Cream Part 2 and went in for a cone.

Dude, I was so pissed! I would have much preferred an ice cream cone from this place!!!

What an asshole.

Of course he ended up with ice cream on his shirt too right before our RESERVATION (I dunno why I’m acting like there is going to be some reveal, it was just a boat ride / haunted walk thing).

OK, this has been an ice cream interlude.

Sep 132022
 

I don’t know what’s wrong with me but every time I sit down to recap Labor Day weekend, I start getting all wet-eyeballed and weirdly sentimental for something that JUST HAPPENED. Like, it’s barely even a memory yet?! I think time/age is really starting to terrorize me and I am hyper-aware of the fact that Chooch will soon be in college and definitely not trying to hop aboard the Oh Honestly Road Trip Express anymore. So I’m just trying to live my best life & do the most while we’re still a trio.

And sure, that means spraying dolla dolla bills into the mouths of some of the most questionable tourist traps in Wisconsin Dells! But first, food.

I sincerely don’t know what’s going on in this picture. We had just parked in a (shockingly free!) lot and had to cross over a busy street on a crosswalk with no traffic light – one of those HONOR SYSTEM pedestrian death traps where you’re supposed to step right out into oncoming traffic with all the confidence of someone who is not in a position to be pancaked onto the asphalt. I think I was probably yelling at Chooch here for not waiting for me. I HATE CROSSING STREETS!

Me: I want to kick this and break the glass.

Henry, somberly: You’d probably end up doing more time than he ever will.

Just like every other touristy town we’ve been to lately, Wisconsin Dells was chockful of disgusting Trump merch in all of the souvenir shops. So grotesque.

The first thing on our agenda was DINNER. Henry chose a bar called Monk’s because it had NOT JUST A VEGGIE BURGER, but a black bean burger as well. Hold me back.

We (and Chooch is not included in that collective, so you can hang up with CPS now thanks) rarely drink when we’re out but I felt inspired to get something so I chose this local blueberry beer and selected something that was banana-flavored for Henry even though it wasn’t what he wanted. I’m glad I chose the blueberry for myself because his tasted too beer-y. I mean, mine did too and I should have stuck with cider like I generally do but I felt like trying a BEER. It took me the whole entire meal to finish it and also I kept pouring it into the glass without angling it so the foam was overflowing and it was making Henry so uncomfortable, haha.

Chooch, meanwhile, was bitching because all he wanted a grilled cheese but they didn’t have it. C’mon, Monk’s – THIS IS WISCONSIN and you can’t make a kid a fucking grilled cheese?

So he got the veggie burger and I got the black bean burger which came on a pretzel bun and had a tortilla chip layered in it. It was pretty good. The waffle fries were good too. It was all good. Except for the asshole kids who belonged to the table next to us but instead sat at the arcade games situated IMMEDIATELY behind Henry and me. They kept pounding on the buttons and making this terrible music play and I was really pissed off. Their lazy asshole mother just sat at their booth staring off into space, periodically picking up the SIPPY CUP that the BABY BROTHER kept pelting onto the floor.

I was getting loudly passive aggressive about my dislike of this situation until the mom finally caught on and called the idiot kids back to the table. God they were so annoying. Thankfully they left before our food came but still – it was enough to put me on edge.

Chooch was mad because the parents left a really small tip too.

Oh! And the waitress had to run outside and try to catch them because of course they left the SIPPY CUP on the floor despite all the times MOM and what appeared to be GRANDPA hollered to the older boys to PICK UP YOUR BROTHER’S SIPPY CUP.

They always bond over claw machines for some reason. Chooch can be deep in the bowels of Teenaged Surly Town when suddenly he’s presented with a crisp dollar to lose in a claw machine and it’s like someone pressed a button in the nape of his neck to reanimate him.

They did not win anything.

Monk’s Bathroom Selfie.

Calling his mommy.

We went out the back exit and I was oddly excited about this.

Then we stumbled upon this little courtyard which reminded me a bit of Gatlinburg, TN crossed with Sugarcreek, OH. The cuckoo close was telling the story of the pied piper!!

Then we went to the root beer museum! Well, we didn’t actually go into the museum portion because THERE WAS AN ADMISSION FEE god forbid and none of us cared that much but I’m certain my dad would have forked over the cash for it (it was only around $5 I think) because he is OBSESSED with pop. He always had glass bottles of Barq’s stocked in a vintage soda machine when I was growing up. He probably still does!

We got a flight to share and they were all wonderful – I rarely drink soda/pop/sugary bevs but I do love me some root beer. I admittedly could not tell the difference between any of these until the SODA JERK (is that what soda jerks are!?) described them to us and when he said that one of them had honey in it, I could suddenly taste the honey.

I’m real easy like that. My mind is a whore ready to be finessed and wooed by any ol’ John.

Chooch, meanwhile, opted for a root beer float except that he doesn’t like root beer? So every time he’d get down to where there was just ice cream left, the SODA JERK would snatch his cup and refill it. Chooch was not immediately OK with this but then he went with it and kept trying to get the guy to give him a different root beer but the SODA JERK got real weirded out by this request and muttered about not usually mixing root beer.

I mean, it’s root beer, not chemicals in a beaker, but OK my guy.

Then he and Henry bonded bigly over the Amish farm in Landcaster that sells really gross homemade root beer in unmarked jugs from their barn. I vaguely remember buying a small jug of this years ago and thinking it was totally poisonous.

So that was a fun pitstop! I still like root beer just the regular amount though. It wasn’t life-changing for me. I haven’t enrolled in any Dad’s secret societies or anything.

Yet.

Can you believe that Henry didn’t humblebrag about moving around pallets of FAYGO ROOT BEER as his OCCUPATION?

Total missed op.

Henry gave Chooch a dollar to put in the stupid animatronic outhouse next to the TRUMP fortune teller thing. It was a total waste of money and I know you just slapped your knee and screamed in disbelief.

Stop back for PART 2 when I tell you about the haunted shit we did next. Henry was super amenable on this day for some reason and let us actually do stuff.

Sep 082022
 

Originally for Labor Day Weekend, I tossed around the idea of going to Missouri to hit up the Six Flags and Cedar Fair parks out that way. But then when Chooch was in Mexico, he made friends with a group of kids and some of them live near-ish Chicago, so I was like NO, WHAT ABOUT SIX FLAGS GREAT AMERICA and Henry was like “Whatever” so I told Chooch to ask his Illinois-based squad members if they wanted to meet up with him there and the two main girls were like YES DEF and now you’re like OK cool, but what does Wisconsin have to do with this.

WELL IF YOU WOULD HOLD ON A SEC, I WILL TELL YOU!!

Way back in the beginning chapters of the Erin & Henry saga, we had gone to some farm town in Wisconsin for a hard rock festival, specifically because one of my favorite bands of all time, COLD, was performing. This was one of our first road trips, pre-Chooch, back when we both worked at the shitty MEAT PLACE.

Driving back through Wisconsin on the way home, I have a VIVID memory of passing a giant Trojan horse with a go-cart track built around and through it, and then as I looked around, I saw ROADSIDE ATTRACTIONS everywhere. Approx. 87 road signs were telling me that we were in WISCONSIN DELLS.

I begged Henry to stop but he was like, “ALL THIS SHIT COSTS MONEY” and kept driving so I threw an epic fit and at the next rest stop, I got out and sat in the backseat where I proceeded to hurl insults and death threats at Henry while assassinating his character in my vacation journal.

It remained a point of contention for YEARS.

Then, once we eased into our current COASTER ENTHUSIAST niche, my favorite coaster vloggers started posting MT OLYMPUS content. MT OLYMPUS is the amusement park with the TROJAN HORSE!! And not only that, but they have 4 wooden coasters that are infamous for being weird and ride-at-your-own-risk.

“Henry, hear me out,” I started after we had decided for sure that we were going to Six Flags Great America. “What if first we drive THRU Illinois and go to WISCONSIN.” Henry bristled at this suggestion, but I prevailed. I barely even have to work on him anymore, he’s like permanently worn down.

We left last Friday as soon as I was done with work at 5:30 and drove until nearly midnight, stopping for the night at an actually not so bad Baymont in FT. Wayne (I think?) Indiana. I didn’t live blog because nothing too exciting was happening – Chooch slept in the backseat and Henry and I briefly went down the screamo/post-hardcore rabbit hole on Spotify because Pierce the Veil has a new song but after about an hour, my earholes were begging for Hangul to hug on to, so I put NCT127 back on.

I can’t stray from Korea for too long!

All I remember about the hotel is that there was a gross drunk couple laughing sleazily on a bench outside of the lobby while Henry was taking forever to check in and they were making me so uncomfortable. Also, there was a weird wrap-around balcony above the lobby that I was obsessed with but Henry and Chooch thought it was dumb.

We got up super early Saturday morning to continue the drive to Wisconsin. It was about 4 hours I think. Originally, we were going to detour to Green Bay because there is a free park there that has a coaster called Zippin Pippin that was Elvis Presley’s favorite coaster. It’s a moderate bucket list coaster for me, but we ended up scrapping the idea that morning because we wouldn’t get to the Dells until that evening which seemed dumb. Also, it’s for the best, because it was raining up that way and for all we know, the coaster may not even have been running!

I got really excited when we drove past Chicago. I love that skyline so much, but then I was just instantly sad because I wish we had time to spend there. I have been in and around Chicago so many times but only really did semi-touristy stuff once so I would really like to go back with NO OTHER AGENDA – no concerts, no amusement parks. Just Chicago stuff.

FUN FACT: Did you know that back in 2001, I was considering moving to Chicago?

Then I met Henry. Sigh.

Ugh.

Anyway!

It was dreary all day in Illinois and Wisconsin! We drove through some heavy rain for a rain but luckily it wasn’t raining at all in the Dells, it was just chilly and overcast all day. I was kicking myself because I usually always bring a light jacket with me, especially to put on in the car because I’m always freezing, but I packed REALLY STUPIDLY this time around, and ended up bringing a bunch of stuff that I didn’t want to wear BUT I did stuff in one long-sleeved shirt in there, thank god. So I changed in a gas station parking lot.

Wow, such important details.

Before I changed though, we stopped at Mouse House for cheese curds and souvenirs. Henry took that terrible picture up there and we had a moderate argument about how much he sucks at taking pictures.

Then it was Mt. Olympus time! Which I will get to in a separate post, so we can just call this THE PROLOGUE.

[Also, this was a new “state credit” for Chooch, lol. I started to count all of the states he’s been to but I have an NCT127 vlog on (Fill It Up ep 2!) and it’s distracting me so I keep losing count.]

Sep 042022
 

One of my favorite things to do before going on a road trip is look for restaurants in the area. I have a very particular set of requirements so it’s good to be proactive. If we’re going to a bigger city, I will for sure look for vegan joints but small towns have me looking for the greasy spoon time capsules. If a review is bad because the place is outdated, it goes on the list.

If it’s quirky or novel, borderlining on roadside attraction, here comes Erin. (See: Mr. Happy and Pal’s!)

These are the very important duties I task myself with, in case you were wondering what I do when I’m not getting yelled at by attorneys at work or walking my feet off because I’m a slave to my step goal.

So when I came across Mr. Pancake, housed in a structure shaped like a river boat and family-owned dating back to the 60s, I refused to leave Wisconsin Dells until we ate there.

Especially after watching some local news story from 12 years ago highlighting the breakfast spot loved by tourists and locals alike.

That clip of the food-faced bitch getting floaters all up in her apple juice made me dry heave though.

But I was otherwise reminding Henry by way of FACE-SCREAM that we were going to eat at Mr. Pancake and he was like “ok” while pushing past me to finish his chores and Chooch would just curtly say, “I don’t know what that means” and then acted like it was NEWS TO HIM when we drove past it yesterday while going to our hotel.

Anyway, we almost had to scrap the plan because they’re only open until noon so we would have had to go Sunday morning except that we still need to drive to Chicago-ish to go to Six Flags and prefer to get to new-to-us parks when they open because we’re always on a mission, you know.

I’m sure Henry and Chooch were less then thrilled with my declaration that we’d just have to leave the hotel earlier than intended and get to Mr. Pancake as soon as they opened at 7.


We were the first ones here! We arrived at 6:53 and Henry was like I AM NOT SITTING IN THIS PARKING LOT IT WILL MAKE THE WAITSTAFF NERVOUS so we had to drive around the still-sleeping Dells. When we got back at 6:58, the lot was still empty and I told Henry to park right next to the door and he was like I AM NOT PARKING THERE I WILL PARK OVER HERE AWAY FROM THE BUILDING. What a weirdo.


Then I got out and ran over to the door but the CLOSED sign was still up even though it was now exactly 7 so I got nervous but JUST THEN the hostess came over and flipped the sign while smiling at me through the window of the door.

I ran back down the steps and yelled, “SHE CHANGED THE SIGN TO OPEN!” to Chooch who was like “yes I know I’m standing right here, I saw, you’re so annoying.”


MR PANCAKE SELFIE! WE WERE THE FIRST PATRONS! Our waitress’s name was Paula and she was amazing and really helped us navigate the tricky menu.

(It was not tricky but she still held our hands and promised us that we would never walk alone while in her care.)

(Fine. She didn’t hold our hands but her soothing tone implied that was spiritually braiding her fingers into ours while leading us down a path of tulip petals and housemade maple cinnamon syrup.)

FIRST ONES BEST ONES!

Chooch is in the Blocking His Face From Mommy’s Camera stage of his life.


You guys!! I got a blueberry waffle which came with lemon butter! When Paula checked in on us later, I blurted out with such urgency that her face flashed with alarm, “I didn’t know the butter was going to be lemony!” But then I gushed, “I love it!” so her face relaxed into her standard cheerful Wisconsin visage and she proudly declared that it’s made in house. JUST LIKE THE SYRUP.

A few years, two bitches from some local supper club took the reins of Mr. Pancake from the family who had been running it since the 60s. The history on the website says that they kept the OG recipes but added some stuff to the menu and I told Henry I bet the BARISTA section of the menu and the fancy house made butters and syrups were their doing. But for some reason I said it is a disparaging, snippy tone like these uppity supper club broads were really leaving me with a bad taste in my mouth for literally no concrete reason that I can give you to back up my intentions. Sometimes I JUST BE LIKE THAT.

Anyway, I also had my eyes on the Iowa Corn Pancakes (?!?!?!) because they were filled with corn and corn meal!! But I cannot eat three pancakes and there was no down-sizing option. However, Henry got an omelet which came with two pancakes and Paula said that he could substitute any of the specialty pancakes for a small upcharge so I told him to get the corn ones and he did and they were SO GOOD. Actual corn kernels plopped out when he cut into them. I mean, it wasn’t like a pouch of corn cooked into the cakes but more so just interspersed throughout. I love corn stuff, especially when it’s surprise corn like in Korea, where they love to sneak handfuls of kernels in where you’d least suspect it, like pizza and lattes.

음ㅁㅁㅁㅁ, 옥수수 🌽.

By the time we left, Mr. Pancake had filled up with patrons filling up on carbs before a day of water-parking, including a family with a really fucking bratty toddler that proceeded to scream its face off immediately upon being seated and at one point the mom yelled YOURE BEING BAD and I am going to start publicly calling Chooch out for being bad too. It’s what he deserves.

Mr. Pancake gets an A- from me though because I didn’t like their souvenir T-shirts and they didn’t have coffee cups for sale!! I would have bought one for sure. They should make white ones with a red outline of the Mr. Pancake river boat thing.

끝.

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!