Apr 222024

We’re officially home from the weekend road trip and somehow it feels like we were gone for way longer than 48 hours and also my right thumb feels like it’s injured suddenly so that’s a fun thing that I will need to investigate further.

Not much happened yesterday aside from a brief visit to Hershey Park which I guess I will recap later although not too much to report on there.

However, afterward we stopped at The Soda Jerk for dinner. We ate here a few years ago too and if I recall / I think / we all kind of liked it / etc. etc. Dinner at Soda Jerks.

I’m delirious.

Anyway, when we walked in, Henry asked me if I wanted a booth and I said yes of course duh booth of gtfo what kind of question even is that.

So then the hostess came over and he WHISPERED about wanting a booth, literally WHISPERED, and then seem shocked when she slapped down the menus at a table.

I was so annoyed and Chooch was too out of principle so then Henry started getting all defensive about how we’re perfectly capable of asking for a booth and I said, “You literally said you were going to ask! Then don’t say you’re going to ask and turn it around on us!” And it turned into a thing so he angrily shot up from the table and stormed off to find someone to ask if we could move to a booth and then they made Chooch and I even more disgusted because we hate when he acts like a tough guy who has to do everything. Like bitch please do you know how hard our roles are as “the cute pampered entitled ones of the family”?? It is annoying when we have to ask for things that should always be done automatically!!

Anyway, we got to move to a booth. Here is Henry trying to act mad still:

I tired to move his placement over to Chooch’s side but then Chooch moved it back while Henry tried to play off the fact that no one in his party desired to sit next to him.

This National Geographic tshirt was a whole ordeal. I haven’t gotten to this in my Korea recaps yet but this (and Kodak?!) are trending and the clothes etc are $$$. I couldn’t believe it?! I bought him this shirt after being worn down by his whining because it was the only thing under $100 really. Ridiculous. I was like, “Please don’t get ketchup on your shirt.”

SIDE NOTE: They don’t use Heinz at The Soda Jerk??

SECOND SIDE NOTE: This is how Chooch has looked at both Henry and me for the last…13 years probably. OK, 16.

Chooch was excited because they had blackberry lemonade, as evidenced by the white sticker stuck to the beverage section of the menu, boasting “blackberry lemonade / strawberry lemonade” in actually very neat handwriting, so props to Soda Jerk for taking pride in penmanship. This is a lost art in some eating establishments as evidenced just by walking down our very own Brookline Blvd.

But when he ordered it, our server – who displayed the exact opposite levels of attentiveness and friendliness as NAT from MONSTER VEGAN and appeared to be looking off into the distance for her boyfriend to roll up on his hog to rescue her from this GREASE PIT – came back and reported that they were OUT OF BLACKBERRY LEMONADE. Chooch, crestfallen, said, “Oh…how about the strawberry lemonade then?”

This resulted in a slight huff from this young lady who now hated us and she said, “I DON’T KNOW LET ME CHECK” and walked the whole whopping ten feet back to the counter where she hollered down to another server, “DO WE HAVE STRAWBERRY LEMONADE??” and we heard a disembodied voice call back, “Yes, and we have blackberry too!”

Chooch and I exchanged a look, and then a glass of blackberry lemonade was set down in front of him a few moments later. “I lied, we did have blackberry lemonade” and then she flitted away without also giving me my coffee, which is ALL I HAD WANTED FOR HOURS UPON HOURS as noted by all who walked near me in Hershey Park as I whined about needing coffee and how it was rendering me incapable of walking in a straight line.

Meanwhile, Henry had just returned from lala land. “What flavor is that, raspberry?” Henry asked as Chooch complained about how his lemonade didn’t even taste like blackberry. And then after Chooch said “blackberry,” Henry goes, “I thought they didn’t have blackberry?”

In unison, Chooch and I groaned our patented teenage “Oh my god.” Literally, Henry is always four chapters behind. So unaware!!

Next thing we knew, our food was here, and my coffee still was not.

She asked if she could bring us anything else, and I asked, “Could I also have coffee?” not wanting to make her feel dumb for forgetting it, you know? So instead, I’ll just….reorder it. Maybe she was having a bad day. Maybe her pet turtle died. Maybe her boyfriend was not going to show up for her on his bitchin’ hog because he dumped her the night before. My tactic in life lately is to be an anti-Karen. For instance, my neighbor was outside bitching to another neighbor about me feeding the squirrels so instead of going out there and escalating it because when I tell you that I am stressed to the point where a neighbor confrontation MIGHT cause me to have a heart attack – well, it might be a slight exaggeration but I did have chest pains earlier today, so – I went outside and said, “HI HOW ARE YOU I HAVEN’T TALKED TO YOU IN A WHILE” and then not only did this remind her that I am a human being, but we both had a chance to bitch about our shared nemesis – the landlord.

“Sorry about that, ma’am,” she said in her monotone (which also had a slight twang, curious for Pennsylvania) and slipped away to retrieve it. And then, “Sorry again, ma’am,” as she set it down in front of me.

“I hate that she keeps calling me ma’am,” I said sadly, really driving in the nail of a weekend full of reminders that I’m a fucking old ass bitch with a kid on his way to college. I hated this weekend. I mean, it was fun, but with an underlying, foreboding sense of mortality.

Dude, I will say this was a great grilled cheese though. The rye bread was pretty substantial. Not as rye-full as I would have liked but there is nothing worse than going to a restaurant and getting served a flat-AF grilled cheese on white bread that looks like two abnormally-shaped Wonder slices that were stepped on first.

“She never brought my coleslaw,” Henry muttered, probably knowing that we wouldn’t care but I had to laugh because our server was SO QUICK to solemnly point out, “Coleslaw’s gonna be extra then,” when he also asked for fries. He said that was FINE but maybe she was just trying to save him monies.

When she came back to half-assedly check on us and ask if we needed anything, Henry barked, “Coleslaw.”

Literally, just “coleslaw” nothing else, Chooch and I were dead.

“SHE HATES US SO MUCH,” he cried and Henry, with a twitch of his mustache, said, “I DON’T REALLY CARE,  I ORDERED COLE SLAW AND I WANT IT.”

Wow, calm down, Sergeant Side Dish.

Anyway, she brought him his coleslaw and then practically ran away. Chooch and I were wheezing because she had coleslaw hanging over the side of the bowl, like she just slopped it there with her bare hands. I wished she had dumped it on his head, but alas, no vinegar-y highlights were administered on this day.

I think my favorite part was when Chooch watched her set an empty pitcher under the beverage thing, hit the water button, and then walk away.

“No way is she coming back in time for that,” Chooch said, and then all three of us were transformed into water-pouring spectators. It was exciting! We were downright giddy over it. From my vantage, I couldn’t see our waitress but Chooch said she was fully out of sight, definitely not making it back in time.

It was JUST ABOUT TO SPILL OVER when the hostess came in from around the corner, started to walk past it, but then backtracked and turned it off RIGHT BEFORE IT OVERFLOWED. “Were you guys watching this?” she asked, totally busting us. Chooch and I guiltily nodded (Henry was probably still trying to figure out what we were looking at) and then she started cracking up. “Oh, this happens all the time!” she said, trying to play it off. “Good thing there’s this grate under it!”

And we were like, “Yeah, hahaha.”


Henry was in such a hurry to get out of here, but I was like, “WAIT! I need a t-shirt!” Because as you know, collecting t-shirts from stupid restaurants we eat at while on road trips is my new “magnet collection.”

“Jesus Christ,” Henry started bitching under his breath immediately when I cried, “PINK, SMALL!” and then I resumed paparazzi stance because our server was due to come bursting out of the kitchen with a plate of mistakes at any minute.

“Oh my god, you are SUCH a creep,” Chooch scoffed, but I know one day when we’re telling his kids about this at Christmas, at Trudy’s feet (that’s where I picture Future Granda Erin telling stories to her Future Grandchildren, one of whom is always a squirrel in my imagination) he’ll be happy to have photo exhibits to go along with these tales.

Also, the lady in the bandanna tunic is the one who busted us watching for a water pitcher foul.

The back of my new shirt LOLOL.

Also, I tried to get Henry and Chooch to pose for a deranged selfie in front of the diner’s mirrored facade, but they both said, “Fuck no,” and ran to the car.

There were people sitting right on the other and Henry was like, “THOSE PEOPLE ARE TRYING TO EAT, CAN YOU NOT!?”


And that’s all. Then we continued our drive home. Got in around 9PM.

Feb 202024

Every so often*, I go through some boxes of old photos, always on the hunt for ones that I want to frame, post on here, share with family, rub in Chooch’s face (he hate hate hates my storied childhood, lol). I recently found this one of my aunt Sharon, me, and my Pappap posing in front of the Leaning Tower of Pisa back in 1989 and I knew I had to keep it out of the box because Henry and I were recently watching someone’s travel vlog in Pisa and I was questioning whether or not I ever went INSIDE the tower because when I googled, it appears that it’s been closed to the public for quiet some time.

*(Approx. 3x a week, honestly lol.)

So today I was inspired to dig out the ol’ vacation journal and see what 10-year-old me wrote (IN YELLOW INK, APPARENTLY) about this moment of my life, and it appears that YES, I did go inside the tower, phew, now I have something else to rub in Chooch’s face.

Anyway, here’s a little transcription of the super informative words I wrote on August 30, 1989. :/

TODAY IS GRANDMA’S BIRTHDAY!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! and a google more. We went to breakfast and now we’re on the bus going to Pisa. We saw the Leaning Tower of Pisa after lunch. Me and Sharon walked up to the top. Well, not the very top. (Sharon was afraid to.) Then we finally ate lunch! Thank goodness (for Chef Boyardee). We ate at the turnpike.  Then we went to the hotel. It’s called the Hotel Cavalieri. Then we ate dinner with the tour. It was like a buffet. It was very good. I didn’t like desert [sic]. Then we went to Pappap’s room & sang happy birthday to grandma and had a mixed fruit strudel (fig newton almost). Then we went to bed.

WOW. I FEEL LIKE I WAS THERE ALL OVER AGAIN, DON’T YOU?? Drowning in detail over here.

Some thoughts:

  1. I prob thought I was tres cool for using the word “google.” I wonder if I had just learned it from Highlights.
  2. All of those exclamations were done in BUBBLE-STYLE, thank you very much.
  3. So…did we eat two lunches?
  4. I think by “turnpike” I meant that we ate at one of the really cool truck stop restaurants but I can’t think of the name now. Sharon used to love those places because if you bought whatever the “special” was, it came with a collectors plate.
      • According to that post, the highway restaurants were called AUTOGRILL
  5. Can you imagine Little Orphan Chunkie up there in that photo not liking a dessert?? What was it, dirty prunes?
  6. The Chef Boyardee shoutout, I probably was cracking up writing that. OK calm down Erin.
    • as if I don’t still crack myself up when I’m blogging, once a loser…etc.
  7. August 30th and I wasn’t in school?? This must have been back in the good ol’ days when school didn’t start until after Labor Day.
  8. WHAT ELSE DID WE DO IN PISA, ERIN?? I feel like we were there for a few hours. I have a vague memory of walking down a road full of locals shilling their wares and trying desperately (and succeeding a lot) to swindle tourists. I think I bought a coin purse?! Who the fuck knows, ugh.
  9. All joking aside, revisiting these days of my youth seriously brings me so much joy. I really miss my Pappap, and my grandma and Sharon even though they were often, um, pretty cruel and emotionally damaging to me. Ha ha haaaaaaaa. Ha. :/

I want to try and do this more often: post an old travel picture, find the corresponding vacation journal entry, and then see if I can remember anything else to add. Obsessed with documenting memories? Join my support group. It’s currently just me sitting in pile of journals and photos, wet with tears. If you bring donuts, I’ll brew the coffee.

Dec 062022

Here is where I eat crow –

(except not this crow)

(wait, I’m a vegetarian, so not ANY crow)


– the hotel that I threw a fit over actually ended up being….pretty OK. Like, the room was big and modern shockingly, and the shower was very clean and nice, and it had a cute balcony that overlooked the Pigeon Stream or something, I forget what it’s called. It was literally babbling like they say in the fairy tales or whatever. Very quaint.


Here’s what it looked like from the street when we were en route to get our Gatlin’ on.

  1. It was like 40 degrees but would Chooch wear pants and at the very least a hoodie? Obviously not.
  2. I fucking swear to god Henry as an array of flannels but this is the only one he hadn’t vacuum-packed last spring and keeps re-wearing it because he can’t be bothered to deflate his winter clothes. Sigh.

Pretending he doesn’t belong to us.

GUYS. Guys guys guys guys. There was only really ONE THING I wanted to do while we were in Gatlinburg and that was revisit the Mysterious Mansion. Chooch and I went through the last time we were there in 2018 and it was SO GOOD that I think about it every Halloween season because I wish so badly we had something like this in Pittsburgh.

Aerial views while waiting in the foyer.

The ticket lady made us wait for “five minutes” to see if anyone dared to join us. A group of ladies and their annoying preteen girls approached at one point and one of the moms came in to ask questions. She went back outside and relied whatever info she had gleaned and it turned into a dramatic tug of war because wahhh, the girls were too scared, etc etc. They lingered outside the house for a good while and the ticket lady called out from her window-nook, “Let’s just wait a minute and see what these people are going to do.”

Finally, they retreated and I was tres relieved (lol, I used to say everything was tres this and tres that in middle school for no good reason other than I probably learned it from Sassy). As the lady was finally reading us the rules and letting go through the turnstile into the formal waiting room, two guys showed up and also bought tickets. I was pissed at first until they joined us and I realized that they were adults, maybe young 30s, and as Chooch said, kind of like my brother Corey. They ended up being great companions for our tour through this fucked up house, which requires lots of hands-on action, searching for hidden doors, etc.

I won’t give anything away because there is one thing that this place does that is different from any other haunt I’ve been to and it’s FUCKING JARRING, but for a haunt to have only 2 or 3 scare actors yet still make grown men jump is a true fucking feat. I just want to give a shout out to the Ringu-esque girl and the clown for being the real MVPs, and when I say that clowns usually don’t scare me…

DAMN this one got me GOOD. Like, 87 times. And then I think I imprinted on him.

“Do you think he thought I was pretty??” I breathlessly asked Henry after we left the house, with the clown leering at us from the exit.

“Sure, Erin,” Henry sighed.


Things I didn’t take pictures of:

  • Walking to the main drag of Gatlinburg where Henry gave Chooch $40 to buzz off into an arcade while we did a cider tasting at the Tennessee Cider Company (I think this was the name?). Dude. I cannot hold any sort of alcohol anymore, which is perfectly fine with me because I truly don’t care that much about drinking, but after the second sampling, everything just tasted like lighter fluid to me, even though I am first and foremost a cider gal. Not to be a HIPSTER about it, but I was totally drinking cider (Strongbow for life) before it became trendy and…everywhere. Anyway, we had a hysterical cider-slinger assisting us and two other couples. We snagged 6 bottles (3 for gifts, three for us) and everyone who bought at least 2 got a free bottle of peanut butter cider and um, I can see why they were giving it away. Everything we sampled was delicious, but this tasted like smelling a scratch-n-sniff sticker while drinking…blank alcohol. Do not recommend. I honestly preferred the OG plain-ass apple flavor.
  • Then, Chooch popped into and was like, “Oh cool, you’re still here getting drunk anyway here are the pointless things I won at the arcade also I lost $20.” This got Henry’s attention. “You’re kidding,” he said. “Nope. I have no idea how it fell out of my pocket. It’s because I left my wallet at the hotel.” Then Henry called him an asshole really loud (not that loud, actually, but he did use his “I’m kind of in a loud bar environment and want to make damn sure my son knows he’s being called an asshole” voice-volume. Then Chooch asked for the key to the hotel now that he had “no money and nothing else to do” and the skulked away. “Wow,” I said. “He’s way more honest than I was at that age. I never would have admitted to losing cash! I would have been like, ‘Hi here I am, back with these two prizes that cost $40 at the arcade!'” I mean, even if he hadn’t lost the $20, he still would have lost the $20 in the games.
  • Then we walked the rest of the side of the road we were on. It was SO FUCKING CROWDED. You couldn’t get near the bar in the moonshine tasting places, and the line to ride the cable car had half a block’s worth of sidewalk congested to the point where we had to keep stepping into the street. This was not how I remembered it last time we were there, which was also the weekend after Thanksgiving!

New location: other side of the street.

Christmas dogs!

The best parts of Gatlinburg IMO are the little squares tucked away from the main drag. They’re these adorable little courtyards with fountains and specialty shops away from all the MAGA SWAG and MOONSHINE and RIPLEYS BELIEVE IT OR WHO GIVES A FUCK. (Honestly, how much stake does Ripleys have in Gatlinburg and Pigeon Forge??) One of the courtyards had a place called FRIAR’S DONUTS and it called to me. Not so much because I was craving a donut (although I could use a sweet carb to sponge up the cider in my gut) but because FRIAR and I saw from the doorway that they had MERCH.

“Oh, I KNEW IT. We have to go inside because I want a magnet!” I cried. “But you have to buy a donut too because then it just looks weird if we only buy a magnet.” This was one of the few times Henry didn’t question my logic because MMMMM, ME EAT DONUT NOW!!!!!! MMMM!

This guy looked so much like Henry’s son’s Blake’s BFF Artie, who also is one of Henry’s drivers at the Faygo Factory! He calls Henry to chat way more than any of Henry’s actual sons, which is hilar to me


We split a glazed and it was CLASSIC tasting. Like, it tasted like a donut my Pappap probably ate at Mr. Donut in the 70s with his drywall employees. Do you know what I mean? Like a genuine donut that knows its role and isn’t trying to be something it’s not. I would go back for more donuts next time we’re in town, for sure, and actually – was this open Sunday morning because I would have preferred another glazed over the meh hotel breakfast we had…

Although I was purposely having a meh breakfast because I was saving myself for the DOLLYWOOD CINNAMON BREAD LATER THAT DAY. More on that later, but I might need to take a break here for a second and stare at the ceiling with my tongue drooping out the side of my mouth as I recall the flavor fiesta in my mouth….

Taffy puller lost in thought.

We also bought some delicious cookies from a very friendly pregnant lady at some cookie place and an assortment of moonshine chocolate from a super bored young guy who was 100% wasn’t trying to make a sale in an empty store in the corner of the FRIAR’S DONUTS courtyard. I thought we were just going in to sample them but Henry was like OH TWIST MY ARM, WHY DON’T YOU and bought a box of 10 and I mean, they were fine but not $20-some worth of fine.

We walked back to the hotel on a much quieter back street, collected Chooch, and set off to do a mountain coaster but all of them were like SO CROWDED that you could barely even pull into the parking lots, so instead we went to a gas station to get beverages (Henry got some smirnoff mixed drink thing in a can and I was like WHO ARE YOU) and then we went back to the hotel, watched Friends as is our hotel routine no matter what (or Golden Girls!) and then got some rest in preparation for a full day of DOLLYWOOD!

(But yeah, if you ever go to Gatlinburg, do the haunted house!!!! DO NOT DO THE RIPLEYS ONE!!! If you see a haunted attraction on the main strip of Gatlinburg, THAT IS NOT IT. The one you want is on a back street, you have to cross over the creek via a pedestrian bridge, and the haunted house butts up against a hillside. Dude, you gotta go.)

Dec 052022

If I was a POSER, I would skip the part of Saturday where we came down from the mountain and went to our hotel in Gatlinburg and the sight of it from the parking lot alone made me throw a fit because IT LOOKED SKETCHY so I cried about how the whole weekend was awful and I just wanted to go home and Henry was like NO and I was like YES and Chooch was like *here we go* and then Henry called my bluff and said FINE and started to “drive home” and we made it as far as Pigeon Forge, past the signs for Dollywood, when I screamed, “PULL OVER, I AM GOING TO FIND MY OWN HOTEL” and Henry was like “OK YOU DO THAT” and Chooch was like *this is gonna be good* and I “found a hotel” in Pigeon Forge and Henry was like, “OK LET’S GO CHECK MOM INTO HER HOTEL” and I was like “OK but before I confirm my reservation, can we please eat lunch.”

And that’s how we ended up at Mellow Mushroom, which is tradition (4x makes it so), and then we all had a big laugh over The Fight while shoveling delicious pizza into our mouths.

And then Chooch told me my smile is just as fake as my voice.

I ALWAYS GET THIS ONE, it’s their mushroom pie and it is delectable. The waiter (super friendly chap in a cowboy hat who Henry originally thought was faking his southern twang but I don’t think so) agreed that it’s the best one.

Pretty uneventful (BUT FILLING AND DELICIOSO) lunch, which was actually welcome considering the stressful morning and high-octane temper tantrum of mine. It was nice to just sit in a booth and speak gently to each other. (Gently? Eh, we were still probably being assholes to each other but probably with more good humor and less vitriol.)

Look, so happy and fed! Hanger squashed. Real smiles! People walking by were laughing because we were laughing and this actually happened another time too, according to Henry. “That lady was laughing because she saw you laughing,” he said, slightly concerned.

After lunch, we went to the Old Mill …. something. Somehow, after two trips to this area, we had never known about this! I just happened to see it from the window when I was still sulking on the way to lunch, after the HOTEL HULLABALOO.

Look how beautiful! Once we crossed the bridge, I immediately recognized a bunch of spots from the In The Loop travel vlogs from Pigeon Forge. Legend and Molly are huge Pigeonheads (that sounded good at the time) so it all started to come back to me.

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We checked out a soap shop and instead of getting local soap, Chooch got a mass-produced brand name (Duke Cannon) bar of Pumpkin Spice Latte soap. I mean, you do you, Chooch, I guess.

Metal-working. Other people were taking pictures so I felt like I should too, but then I realized they were taking pictures of their family members who were metal-working with the professionals.

Next, I bought some local jams for Xmas gifts at one of the Old Mill shops. Surprisingly, this area wasn’t too outrageous people-wise for a Saturday afternoon, so we had a pretty pleasant time

We stopped in this alleged cat house but there were only THREE CATS TO BE FOUND. And then just a bunch of cat art and people clothes with cats on them. It was disappointing except for the actual cats we got to see.

Some cafe was next door. I had a pretty good apple cider chai.

By now, I was fed *and* caffeinated so I was feeling even better about life.

This picture actually became very useful a few nights later when we were back home in Pittsburgh and I lurched forward on this couch. “WAIT, WHERE ARE MY JAMS?” I exclaimed.

“……………..um,” Henry stammered.

I ran out to the car to check, we checked our luggage, but NO JAM. NO FUCKING JAM!! I started to think it was my fault. I vaguely remembered setting the bag down when Chooch and I were sitting in those adirondack chairs in the cafe.

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But then I was going through my pictures and cried out, “A HA!!!! YOU WERE CARRYING THE BAG AFTER THE CAFE!” So we had to have lost it somewhere between that bridge and our car. There were THREE more shops we went to before leaving: a nut place, a candy place, and a gaming place.

But as soon as I showed Henry this picture, he said, “I set it down in that planter behind Chooch when I took your picture.

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I was already mad at him because he took the stupid picture from the wrong angle (the mill was to the left!!!) so this dumb picture ended up costing me $20 in lost goods.

I know, it’s not A LOT of money, but it’s not….NOT a lot. And it sucks, especially because I bought the jam with the intention of tucking them in gift bags for some friends.


And Chooch’s stupid soap! I should have made him carry my jam too!

Anyway, I can’t remember the name of this game store but the guys working there were FANTASTIC. They treated Chooch like a prince and when he asked for suggestions, one of the was like “WALK WITH ME, M’LAD.” I mean, not in so many words. But yeah, I would recommend this place if you’re in the area and looking for a game to play on a rainy night in your hotel, or whatever!

Oh, and the nut place we went to was full of MAGA shit so I did NOT buy a magnet even though their logo was a bad ass squirrel.

Back to the jam! Henry emailed the jam place on a whim to see if anyone turned in the bag.

“No one would have done that!” I scoffed, because my faith in humanity is at an all-time low. I mean, that’s 100% something I would have done – and been super panicked about it too. “WE HAVE TO GET THIS JAM BACK IN THE RIGHT HANDS!” as I’m darting all around Pigeon Forge like Dolly Parton looking for her car in the lot after working 9to5. (Look, that and Steel Magnolias is pretty much as far as my Dolly knowledge goes, but I am sure thankful that she has a theme park!)

“You never know, being the south and all,” Henry reasoned. “It’s worth a shot.”

WOULD YOU BELIEVE that the jam store emailed him and said that they weren’t aware of any misplaced jams being returned, but they would check with the managers of the other stores in the square AND ONE OF THE STORES CAME BACK AND SAID THAT YES, SOMEONE HAD BROUGHT IT TO THEM!

Ugh I’m so pissed that I didn’t realize it was missing while we were still there. BUT they were kind enough to issue me a refund (they also offered the option of shipping it to me but I didn’t feel like dealing with that). Whoever returned this is a true hero.

I mean OK it wasn’t like it was my WEDDING BAND (you can’t lose something you don’t have, lol) or my prosthetic thumb, but it was still a small weight off my shoulders.  I don’t have enough money for “It’s only money” to apply to me.

I did not thank Henry for getting me a refund because this was all his fault in the first place, so…

Anyway, after we left the gaming place, it was time to go back to Gatlinburg and check in.

“Don’t we have to drop Mum off at her hotel first?” Chooch deadpanned from the backseat.


Sep 292022

I forgot that we brought “the good camera” to Florida with us last April because literally time it was used was the last day when we went to the Fountain of Youth. I was being lazy and didn’t feel like carrying it so Henry ended up sort of using it. Here are some pictures he took, which I didn’t know existed until I was using the camera on Sunday at the pie party and saw them when I was scrolling through the pictures. I know it was forever ago that we were there, but I wanted to post some anyway because it was such a fun trip and I still think about it a lot. Traveling with Henry and Chooch keeps getting better the older we all get even though we still HAVE OUR MOMENTS of cattiness, ha.

Speaking of getting older, one thing that I appreciate so much more now that I’m nearly middle-aged (am I already middle-aged??) is plants! I never would have given a shit about Florida’s vegetation back in the day but now that I’m a houseplant hoe bag, I had to run my fingers along every plant that I passed. I loved these ones and I have several similar plants in my house! Of course, they’re tough for me to keep happy since they’re tropical-y.  I was happy when I discovered these pictures on the camera and saw that  Henry took one of these!

There were all kind of crab-things in that water and it was creeping me out, bigly.

That bruise on my calf! What a temporary memento of all the insane coasters we rode on this trip.

The fact that we paid like $20pp or something to enter this sulfur water tourist trap and spent most of the time fucking around with the peacocks, pigeons, and squirrels is very on brand with the Appledale clan.

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We don’t have any road trips set in stone until Thanksgiving, so I will be occupying my mind with haunted house-hopping and counting down to  the NCT127 show in Newark (doesn’t count as a “fun road trip” because the drive to Newark, and Newark itself, is never fun).

I love fall so so so much but a bitch is depressed that summer is over, sitting here shivering in leggings and a hoodie. :( I was just going to whine about how I haven’t ridden a rolleroaster in x-amount of time, but then I realized it was literally less than a week ago, lol. STILL.

(As I was writing this I had no idea that St Augustine was affected by Hurricane Ian. I hope everyone is ok!)

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.”


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.


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.


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.


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.


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.



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.)


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.


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.


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!


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.




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.


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?


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.


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?!?!


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.


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!


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.