Sep 182022
 

Yo. Yo yo yo. This weekend was jam-packed with delicious vegan treats (and lots of house projects, etc but that’s all boring and mostly shit that Henry was doing while I crossed things off his list). First up, we drove out to New Kensington on Saturday to pick up our pre-ordered 1/2 dozen of Stranger Things donuts. They were pretty pricey for the size (our basis of comparison was Valkyrie, another vegan donut bakery that is comparable in cost but much larger) but the taste was mighty.

I genuinely liked them all, but the Eleven (the waffle one, obv) was my favorite because it was a fry-donut which I really like, and the glaze was maple syrup-y. It was just really delicious without being too cloying.

Tied for #2 was that Demogorgan one up there that looks like a cannoli kind of. It had a tangy raspberry jam filling which tasted super fresh, like the raspberries were plucked right off a branch before being shoved inside a Demogorgan’s asshole. I am probably spelling that wrong every time because I also cannot pronounce it, even having watched all 4 seasons of Stranger Things and Chooch always has to angrily correct me. Sure, I could Google, but let’s just keep it authentic.

My other #2 was the Steve which was two crispy donut slices sandwiched together around the SMOOTHEST buttercream, oh holy SHIT it was like jizz from an angel. So silky. So sweet. So XXX inside my mouth.

The Will was a classic iced and sprinkle donut, the Hopper was topped with fried apples, and the Joyce was chocolate and filled with a peanut butter cream – this was the only one I wasn’t crazy about only because when it comes to donuts, I tend to gravitate more toward the light and fruity flavors. I thought it tasted great but it was just too much for me!

I should also note that these donuts were split three-ways, and that Henry abandoned us when we came home with them so CHOOCH cut them and I was so nervous.

THEN!! Sugarspell Scoops, the PREMIERE vegan ice cream shop in Pittsburgh, had a BOOK-THEMED pint presale to benefit the Sharpsburg library so you know I had to open my wallet and show my support for books and vegan ice cream. There were 6 flavors in all, but I’m trying to not be too pigalicious a week before the pie party, so I gave myself a 4 pint limit, lol ugh.

I had to get the Alice In Wonderland flav though because it’s EARL GREY and that’s one of the types of pies Henry is making next week! (Spoiler to all the people who are reading this who might actually be there next week.) Moby Dick is a mint cookies and cream, Huckleberry Fig is a LUSCIOUS sorbet (I love figs so I had to get this one, also sorbets are so healthy RIGHT??), and the Baudelaire’s one is self-explanatory.

DO NOT MAKE ME CHOOSE A FAVE. Sugarspell knocked it out of the park as usual. I love them so much and want everyone in Pgh to support them, whether you are vegan or not!

In other weekend news, we watched “X” (I’m so out of the loop when it comes to horror movies, someone should revoke my Fangoria card, really) and it really resonated with me in some type of way that I don’t think was a good thing? I had some pretty killer nightmares, the kinds that are rooted in reality, like “THIS COULD HAPPEN AND I CAN’T TELL IF IT’S A DREAM” and then I woke up feeling awful and disoriented.

REALLY GOOD MOVIE THOUGH, I know I did a shitty job selling it, lol. But wow, I’m ready/not at all ready for Pearl.

Then Henry knocked Wonho over and gave him apologetic fluffs. I was so mad though.

<Hold plz, Chooch has requested that we go on a walk. brb>

<OMG it was just a thinly-veiled excuse to go to the gas station and have me buy him drinks and also the stupid ONE CHIP CHALLENGE and somehow, that, two waters, and a Gatorade came to $20 and yes I know the chip is like $9 but I feel like one of the drinks got rung up twice and I didn’t take the receipt and Chooch and I argued about it the whole way home because he didn’t want to go back to get it because “that guy always makes him uncomfortable because he’s so weird” and I yelled, “YEAH HE’S SO WEIRD BECAUSE HE’S THINKING OF WAYS TO SCREW OVER THE NEXT CUSTOMER!”>

<Now Henry is lecturing both of us and Chooch won’t eat the chip because it “tastes bad” and we were like WHAT DID YOU EXPECT and then I screamed, “YOU’RE EATING THAT WHOLE THING, GET A GLASS OF MILK, ASSHOLE.” But he just laughed and went to his room. UGH!!!>

Um, nothing else really exciting happened. Lots of spray painting picture frames and old TVs. Henry said his FitBit shows that he swan for 20 minutes yesterday and we figured out that it must have picked up on the motion his arm was making when he was spray painting??

Sep 172022
 

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

UGH.

RUTHIE was so fucking annoying!

That who show was so fucking annoying!

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

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

Ugh.

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

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

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

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

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

Sep 152022
 

Woke up at 5:30am for this and have no regrets. It’s been on a loop in my head all day and I am READY to experience this performed live in LESS THAN A MONTH with my lightstick in hand.

Sep 142022
 

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Tastes best with power of suggestion.

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

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

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

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

I guess I can see it….

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

OK, that’s a very generous comparison.

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

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

What an asshole.

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

OK, this has been an ice cream interlude.

Sep 132022
 

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

They did not win anything.

Monk’s Bathroom Selfie.

Calling his mommy.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Yet.

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

Total missed op.

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

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

Sep 122022
 

You know how when you have actual adult things to stress out about, sometimes it’s easier to project that stress onto really dumb shit? Not me being the queen of that deflection.

Here’s some dumb shit I’m stressing out about instead of the actual holes in our ceiling that our landlord has been ignoring for two years, etc.

  • The pie party. Why did I think I could handle the stress of planning this? Who talked me into this?! It’s in less than two weeks and we only just kind of had the “what pies should we do” discussion last night. Also I’m worried that the turnout is going to be grim. The announcement seemed well-received but we all know that events are forgotten if the info is not on Facebook. Sigh. Petition to go back to the time when Facebook wasn’t the end all be all.
  • European amusement parks. There are so many I want to go to before I die, but so little money. Some kid (literally he might only be about 17, I have no idea) who I’m subscribed to on YouTube recently did a SEVEN WEEK trip spanning 7 or 8 countries and including 27 parks. His older brother was with him and he has THE BEST coaster scream – it’s infectious and I want to have a scream-harmonize with him now. Anyway, I know it probably sounds dumb but I really want to go to Europe and ride rollercoasters and dark rides and be immersed in all the impeccable and magical theming. Sigh. (His #1 park was Phantasialand and that was one of the parks on the itinerary of our corona-canceled 2020 trip to Germany, Belgium, and the Netherlands. Le sigh – so first world-ish to be sad about this. But you know I’m a big spoiled brat so why hide it. I think the bigger picture here is that I’m panicking about aging and running out of time. UGH.
  • NCT127: they have a comeback later this week and I’m seeing them IN A MONTH and yes, I am stressed out about this. Excited but stressed! Leave me alone.
  • The attic makeover that will never happen. We were supposed to work on it over the weekend but then Henry was like “I have to clean the basement in order to clean the attic so that there is room to move stuff” aka HIS JUNK that should just be thrown out!!
  • Work. But for a dumb reason. My old team organized a group dinner for the 20th – it was actually rescheduled twice and then this seemed like the perfect night so we were all-in but then our Dept scheduled the next CASUAL LUNCH for that day so we were like “ok I guess we are going in to the office” and then my current group is also having an IN PERSON meeting that day so I’m already feel socially zapped but none of this has even happened yet?! Also most of our desks have been pared down to just one monitor and I can’t work like that so now I’m doubly-stressed wondering where I will be able to sit on Tuesday so that I can have my favored set-up. These are stupid things to stress over.
  • Related: I am also going into the office this Friday because I finished Sandy’s GOODBYE gift – SHE LEFT US IN JUNE DID I TELL YOU?! – and I got ETHAN to agree to be photographed with it even though he has no idea what it is and he will be in the office on Friday which is also NCT127 Comeback Day so now I have to spend that downtown in the office sitting in someone else’s office.
  • CONSTRUCTION: THERE IS CONSTRUCTION EVERYWHERE I GO IN BROOKLINE AND I HAVE HAD IT. i am sick of turning a corner only to be met with WORKERS IN HARDHATS AND FLUORESCENT VESTS standing like SENTINELS at the entrance of roads I had wished to traverse. AND now that stupid contracting company that has almost killed me twice has even more of their trucks in the area and I want to literally Hulk out and heave them into a ravine.
  • It’s been 21 years without a proposal so just bear that in mind the next time you’re like OMG HENRY IS THE BEST AND ERIN IS JUST A DUMB BITCH. I’m not bitter or anything lol.
  • Chooch – he always stresses me out but I guess would I even be a parent otherwise?!

Whatever. Goodnight.

Sep 112022
 

Late Saturday morning of Labor Day weekend, we made it to one of my bucket list parks (lol so stupid), Mt. Olympus in Wisconsin! I have watched enough vlogs on this place to know that I needed to proceed with caution, that it’s truly a ride-at-your-own-risk park. But it’s home to four wooden coasters, one of them being the notorious Hades 360 which was the first wooden coaster to feature an inversion (although this revamping of the original Hades coaster debuted with the inversion in tandem with Silver Dollar City unveiling the RMC masterpiece, Outlaw Run, which was *also* taking the title for FIRST WOODIE WITH INVERSION. So Silver Dollar City modified their claim to “multiple inversions,” lol. Coaster drama.

So right off the bat, you get a true taste of how sketchy this park is as you’re walking down the entrance and can LITERALLY reach out and touch the track of Zeus. You could slap hands with people riding it, there is NOTHING STOPPING YOU from losing a hand or climbing all the way onto the track and losing your whole damn life. Presumably, this is what they’re waiting for being putting up actual safety measures.

We didn’t spent too much time here so hopefully I can give you a succinct recap with a minimal amount of typos. Let’s goooo.

The entrance to Zeus is the first thing you run into once you get your wristband and enter the park through the gift shop. We got in line for this immediately and started doing neck rotations and windmills in order to lubricate the ol’ spine-a-roo before an afternoon of body beatings. Everything here was one-train-ops, and Zeus only had one young girl operating the ride AND checking restraints, but we still somehow only had to wait for about 20 minutes. I think that most people come to Mt, Olympus for the water park (it’s like, world renown I guess, but not a water park specialist so I can’t confirm) and it was honestly pretty chilly that day (I think it only got up to 70 at one point but felt more like low-60s) so the park wasn’t very crowded.

Um, OK Zeus! Your trains are old and busted but this was a really enjoyable wooden coaster! Not too terribly rough and it had me laughing SO HARD that I was giving myself coughing fits, which was basically the theme of the whole weekend. Janky coaster-inducing coughing fits.

Oh! When Chooch and I were getting into the back seat, there was a phone and lighter sitting there, left behind by the guy who was riding before us. Luckily, he was very distinguishable because he was wearing a bright yellow hoodie, so Chooch put the lost items in the bin with our stuff, figuring the guy would probably be lingering near Zeus once he realized he left his stuff behind. BUT HE WASN’T. So now Chooch was the keeper of the lost items and refused to give up and turn them over to lost and found, determined to find the guy himself.

Thank god the park is very small, but we still walked around aimlessly for 30 minutes, looking for the damn guy. Henry kept saying that he saw him and we were like, “Bro, that’s not even close to what the dude looks like, do you even know who you’re looking for??”

Just as Chooch was about to make his concession speech, we ran into the guy who was finally heading back toward Zeus. Chooch strode right up to him and said, “Did you lose your phone?”

The guy was, “YES” and Chooch handed it over (and the lighter, lol) and dude was like, “THANK YOU!”

And that was that. No back-claps, no promise of being penpals, no “Are you on TikTok?”s.

Super anti-climatic.

But now that we got that over with, it was Hades360 time!

The line looked a lot longer than it was, but it was still the longest wait we had all day and that was still only about 30 minutes. It’s actually good that there were some people in the park because I heard that some of the coasters won’t/can’t be sent unless the train is full or almost full. So on dead days, some coasters there won’t even open.

Also, Hades360 allegedly breaks down quite often so I just wanted to get on this at least once.

Gum tree.

This picture sucks because Henry took it with his shitty broken phone, but here we are, about to ride Hades360 for the first time! Henry was mad because when the ride attendant asked how many we had, we said two so Chooch and I were able to snag the back row while Henry had to wait for the next cycle, lololol.

OK um…I don’t even know how to explain Hades360 but if you ever want to feel like you’re having a near-collision with death, ride this. Drive yourself to Wisconsin and wedge your ass in a seat on this carriage to Hell and you will understand. It was out of control, relentless, forceful, ROUGH, and that’s before it even gets to the absolutely terrifying PITCH BLACK tunnel UNDER THE PARKING LOT. And then you have to go back through the tunnel on the way back and there is a surround-sound ROARING throughout the underground portion that literally sounds like Satan himself is telling you to SLOW DOWN.

There are signs that tell you not to put your hands up and you better believe I obeyed those signs because that was one terrifying experience, yet TOTALLY EXHILARATING. Chooch, who was being a moody teenager most of the day up to this point, dropped the facade long enough to casually admit that this is now on his Top 10 wooden coaster list. Honestly, I was waiting for him to say something totally disparaging and shit-eating, like, “That was overrated” or “Cool mm.”

I hate “cool mm” btw. It’s his response to EVERYTHING I text him.

Anyway, here is Henry riding it in the backseat after us! As soon you leave the station, you go down that first drop and then it just gets scarier and scarier from there.

Here also is a super underrated Reel I made of Henry riding this and I don’t usually care about this stuff but I do feel like it IS VERY FUNNY and no one cared, lol poor me but seriously this was the best use of an NCT song:

We also rode Cyclops which was a fine smaller wooden coaster, actually not painful as I had anticipated, but there are no pictures because Henry is the worst Coaster Dad and sat on a bench with his back toward us the whole time instead of capturing our smiling faces on “film.”

Second to Hades360, I was most looking forward to Pegasus, which is the smallest coaster of the four BUT it has the notorious “yeet turn” as it comes onto the brake run.

I actually this was NOT  that bad of a ride?! Only because it was so odd. Like, it felt like it had legit corners. Such a weirdly engineered woodie! Chooch was like “That’s a no for me” but I honestly was pleasantly surprised when I didn’t walk away with contusions or at the very least, a bruised tailbone.

Where’s Henry.

Back to being a sullen teenager.

Henry actually came through and took a picture of us on Pegasus!

LOL, I tagged Mt Olympus and they liked it. Henry was not amused.

I was hoping they would have a good Hades shirt but no luck. I just got a magnet for my collection and that was fine. Also, by “Shops” at Mt. Olympus, they mean the same shop over and over again.

Weird family photo, in line for Zeus, part 2.

Tricked Chooch into smiling.

Henry wasn’t falling for it.

Also, Henry has to take his hat off on coasters and being hatless makes him look mean(er). I don’t like it. Maybe he needs bangs. That might soften his look.

I’ll suggest it.

I think we only spent about 3 hours there in total. We didn’t eat anything (Henry and Chooch both had Starbucks and complained about it and I was like, “THAT’S WHY I JUST SAY NO TO STARBUCKS.” God, follow my lead already. I didn’t even pee the whole time we were there so I can’t give you a bathroom review, but aside from that, I found Mt. Olympus to be a clean park and the staff was pretty personable. I wish that Hades at least was more than one train ops, but I thought the line still moved moderately fast. It must have broken down right around the time we left though because we waited for a good 10 minutes in the parking lot to get a video of it coming down the hill and into the tunnel, but then one finally came so we got the damn video and then left to check into our hotel. (A Super 8 but it was actually really decent?!)

If you’re interested in more Mt. Olympus content, Coaster Idiots has a really good and funny vlog about their day there last summer!

Sep 102022
 

Hi it’s me. Your friend, Erin. Just checking in because I’m addicted to blogging but haven’t had a chance to properly sit down and pound out 2,000 words about our day at Mt. Olympus like I had planned on doing today, because instead we got caught up in STUFF AROUND THE HOUSE since we’re not on the go this weekend.

Deep breath. That was a long sentence. I’m whatever the finger-equivalent of being winded is now.

Here is a picture of Drew from this morning:

Also today:

  • I bought a bunch of new plants over the last several days because attempting to care for and nurture fauna is another addiction of mine.
  • I’m redoing the carouselfie wall because I ended up actually hating it bigly. It needs stripes I think. That’s my solution to everything. Stripes and glitter.
  • the Targets we went to today had barely any Halloween stuff set up yet and I’m mad because I want to see if they’re doing the Day of the Dead line of decor again because I LOVE THOSE PICTURE FRAMES. If you see anything LET A BITCH KNOW. (That bitch me is me.)
  • I’m also redoing the cat wall!
  • I split a Nancy B’s snickerdoodle and chocolate chip cookie with Henry and now I wish I had just eaten the entire chocolate chip one by myself but the last time I did that was when Sue brought them into work and I was like I WILL HAVE ONE AND JUST EAT HALF but then ate the whole thing and got sick. If you’re from Pgh and have had a Nancy B’s chocolate chip cookie, then you know they’re bigg’uns.

Ok I think we’re painting a wall now so bye.

(These are Target’s Dias de los muertos frames from 2019ish / 2020ish.)

Sep 082022
 

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

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

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

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

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

It remained a point of contention for YEARS.

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

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

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

I can’t stray from Korea for too long!

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

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

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

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

Then I met Henry. Sigh.

Ugh.

Anyway!

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

Wow, such important details.

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

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

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

Sep 072022
 

As previously mentioned, we had a suspiciously* grand old time at Great Adventure but there were two big ass highlights which we will now discuss at length.

*(Any grand old time at a Six Flags park is suspicious. And curious.

HOUDINI, BABY

There’s this dark ride-ish / attraction at Great Adventure called Houdini’s Something or Other that we never got around to doing on our other visits, but this time, there appeared to be no line so we walked through the queue with the utmost confidence like we knew exactly what we were getting into. But as soon as we got to the end of the queue, a line attendant roped us off and said, “I’ll get you into the next cycle,” and we were like, “Oh, OK” all knowingly as though we were seasoned vets at this thing.

Meanwhile, more people had joined us in line, most notably, a family with a baby who was SUPER FUCKING BAD AND RUNNING AMOK AND SCREAMING.

Luckily, we only had to stand out there for about 5 or so minutes, before the doors to the building opened and we were all ushered into a “haunted library”-esque holding room, where a fairly lengthy pre-show played for us and I honestly am not too sure what was happening, but we reacted with over-the-top shock and let out super embellished gasps of surprise as Houdini’s ghost started making lights flicker, etc. This part alone was wildly entertaining for all the wrong reasons, but OH WAIT THERE’S MORE…

When the pre-show ended, a set of doors opened to a long room with three long, room-length benches on each side. It was set up like a haunted banquet hall, I guess? It’s been nearly a month & three amusement parks later at this point, I can’t remember! I just know that once everyone was seated, the ride attendant – a very bored and unenthused girl who was definitely sick of her job – kept repeating in an indoor voice that could barely be heard to please put all belongings in the bin on the other side of the doorway. A few people got up and did so, but most people continued to sit with giant stuffed animals and backpacks in their lap. She kept slowly cruising the room, eye-balling all of the benches, repeating her demands, so I hissed, “Put my bag out there!” to Chooch, who was like, “It’s a fanny pack, I don’t think she cares about that” and I was like, “JUST DO IT SHE’S MAKING ME NERVOUS” so he ripped it out of my hands with a huff and practically punted it onto the loose item shelf near the exit.

Meanwhile, Henry kept asking, “What does this ride do that no one can be holding anything??? Should That Baby be here?” and I kept brushing him off because I kind of new what it was but not totally?!

That Baby was over there somewhere crying and screaming, so I whispered, “They should have to take that baby out, too” because NO ONE WANTED IT IN THERE, IT WAS SO FUCKING ANNOYING. There was a group of teenaged girls behind me who clearly felt the same, because one them cough-screamed, “SHUT YOUR BABY UP” and then “TAKE THE BABY OUT” and us COOL KIDS were fucking dying over this. Henry was frowning, but I could tell he wanted to laugh and join the Babyhaters Club because that baby was seriously the worst.

When I say that we sat in this room doing fuck all for a good ten minutes while the ride attendant slowly scanned the benches for loose articles, and then DISAPPEARED FOR LIKE 3 MINUTES, I am not even embellishing a little bit. It was the most surreal experience, sitting there, not knowing what the ride even was, while people walked back and forth to the loose article bin. One guy across from me left the room entirely and then some lady in his group went to go find him I guess and they both eventually came back and sat down, but why was this allowed to happen?? So much was going on and the ride hadn’t even begun!

Finally, the Loose Article Cop was satisfied and the ride started with no warning other than the lights shutting off. Basically, this was one of those “mystery house” type of rides where you’re essentially sitting on a giant swing, and while you’re slowly swinging, the room rotates around you so it appears that you’re going upside down but you’re not. It was actually super chaotic and kind of rough to be honest, so the girls behind us started screaming, “BUT THE BABY! WHAT ABOUT THE BABY!” and I was fucking losing my mind over this. I guess you could file this under HAD TO BE THERE but it was sincerely hurting my sides, I was in hysterics over this. Perhaps it was lack of sleep from all the traveling and action, but even Chooch and Henry could no longer stifle their mirth and actually appeared to also be sort of laughing a little maybe.

My laughs were more like JOYFUL BELLOWS though. I was into it. Bigly.

What a fucking weird experience.

Also – how did they manage to sneak That Baby on the ride?!!? It appeared to be maybe 2ish – able to walk/run as evidenced when it escaped its parents outside in line and ran into a cordoned-off area and the mom was frantically trying to capture it. I mean the ride didn’t actually go upside down and it was docile enough that there were no seatbelts or restraints on the benches, but was That Baby actually sitting on its own throughout that?! Because the rules say NO LAP CHILDREN. And That Baby seemed like a LAP CHILD to me.

EL TORO AT EL NIGHTO

Our first ride on El Toro earlier that day was good. I *thought* that I understood the hype. Maybe? It was a bit more painful than I anticipated, but there was no way I was leaving that night without a night ride.

It was around 8:30 by then, and the park was set to close at 9, so we were treated to a station wait which could have been a walk-on if we weren’t such back row sluts.

I will spare you the nitty gritty, but let’s just say that a night ride on El Toro felt borderline spiritual. First of all, 90% of the people riding it with us were psychopathic coaster enthusiasts. The ride ops were INSANELY hyper. People were screaming OLE each time a train left the station. The dispatches were PHENOMENAL.

This is one of the most aptly-named coasters I have ever had the pleasure (horror?) of being flung around on because you legit feel like you are clinging for dear life onto the back of a murderous bull. It’s the only way to describe it. The drops alone are heart-stopping, but there is a twister section near the end of the course that made my breath hitch every single time, it is so forceful and relentless, and it honest to god feels like you’re going to derail which isn’t really funny to say since it actually did partially derail last summer, but I digress.

Henry had gotten on the train before ours for some reason, I can’t remember why, so he was waiting for us at the entrance but little did he know that Chooch and I schmoozed the line attendant who was standing at the halfway point to check fast passes – there was a garbage can blocking an opening between the exit ramp and the queue line and NO ONE WAS IN LINE so we were like, “Can we please cut through??” rather than having to continue all the way through the exit and then get back in line. He granted us passage but made us walk like zombies as our penance, lol.

I love the El Toro crew!!

Chooch and I got back in line and decided to wait for the second to the last row because we would have a better chance of getting a reride if we weren’t in the back. While we were waiting, a girl screamed VOYAGE!!!!! to Chooch, who was wearing a Voyage shirt, and pointed to a Voyage tattoo on her arm. Then our favorite ride op ran past while checking restraints, stopped in front of us, and whined, “I WANT TO RIDE VOYAGE!” while stomping her feet in a fake-tantrum. It was so adorable and I really felt like I was with my people. Finally! Like, you have to be a crazy person to willingly get back in line for El Toro. When I say that it felt like my organs were shifted on our last go-around, I swear I’m not exaggerating!

Third ride on El Toro – excellent!

When our train came back to the station, we were like CAN WE STAY ON not realizing that someone was in line for our row, but NO ONE WAS IN LINE FOR THE BACK ROW and the people who were behind us on our ride had exited so the ride op was like, “Yeah, just grab an empty seat!” and we quickly slipped into the back row. Meanwhile, guess who had come crawling back into the station looking for us after we literally never left the El Toro area? HAHAHAHENRY. We waved to him from the back row and he shook his head and gave us the “You fuckers,” smirk.

Anyway, fourth ride was super memorable because as soon as we got to the top of the lift hill, it came to a complete stop. Everyone was like, “WTFFFFFF” and I was panicking because that lift hill is high AF and I was NOT trying to walk down it in the dark. Chooch made some dumb roll-back joke and I fucking swear to god right after he said that, the train WENT BACKWARDS for a click or two. We were all fucking screaming!

Then the main ride op who reminded me of Taylor from Coaster Studios because my eyes are bad came on over the speaker at the top of the lift hill and said, “Enjoy your 176 foot drop into total darkness” and the cable lift started back up and we were on our way but HOLY SHIT. What an experience. I think this was the ride where I whacked my elbow REALLY hard and literally thought I chipped the bone but then it turned out that the pain was from the bruise that instantly appeared. I sported that bitch like a badge of honor for days afterward.

OK this is where it got super chaotic. The train came back and the station was nearly empty so the ride ops were like IF YOU CAN FIND AN EMPTY ROW YOU CAN RIDE AGAIN. This was going to be the LAST RIDE OF THE NIGHT so people were ready to tackle each other for a seat. Chooch and I got split up – I ended up sitting with an older man enthusiast who Chooch saw later that night at our hotel, and Chooch got to sit with his Voyage girlfriend who I found afterward on Insta because she’s a huge El Toro groupie and is friends with a lot of the coaster vloggers I follow so you better believe I’m now following her as well, which Chooch thinks is cringey.

Anyway!

The stipulation was that since this was the last ride of the night, if anyone came into the station before the gates shut, whoever was sitting in that row would have to leave. So of course at the last minute, a few people came and out of all the rows, two of them picked the one that Chooch and the Voyage girl were sitting in which was just some random row toward the back. So they had to get out but the ride attendants were screaming, “EMPTY SEAT! EMPTY SEAT!” and Voyage girl ran and snatched it. Chooch ended up leaving and I was like NOOOOO because our Voyage-loving ride attendant girl friend found one more empty seat and was trying to call him back but he had already left and it was actually heart-breaking, you guys.

Like, he should have been on that train with me.

But…

Then I remembered how he had the best fucking night rides of his life on FUCKING STEEL VENGEANCE at Cedar Point last May without me and I didn’t feel so bad anymore, lololol.

Holy shit, though. Ride #5 on this fucking demon, hoo boy. The shared adrenaline between everyone riding it was AMAZING. It was an enthusiast’s delight. Everyone was roaring LET’S GOOOOOO and it really felt like being a part of something insanely intense that is impossible to explain.

Then as our train was on the brake run, we watched them SEND ANOTHER TRAIN AFTER US, ARE YOU KIDDING? We were all crying, “You lied to us!” I guess the assholes that were on the train right before us cajoled them into sending them for one last cycle so THEY got to be the last ride of the night, which made Chooch feel better, lol. But he was still glowering at me when I finally left the El Toro station and returned to him and Henry, both standing outside of the El Toro entrance with their arms crossed, shaking their heads at me.

“It wasn’t even the last ride of the night, nice try,” Chooch said, clearly still jealous though lol.

And then a week later, several people got hurt on El Toro when it allegedly hit a pot hole at the bottom of one of the hills and now the ride is closed again, under investigation. Enthusiasts are coming out left and right talking about how they really felt like it had been running exceptionally rough over the last several weeks so um, that would explain my bruises (some of which were probably internal too!).

I’m glad that no one was seriously injured and I hope that Six Flags does everything and more to ensure that this ride can safely reopen at some point, because it is truly amazing and I’m sorry that it took me so long to get out to Great Adventure and ride it.

OLE.

El Toro (Six Flags Great Adventure) - Wikipedia

(Got this picture from Wiki – would you just look at it.)

Sep 052022
 

While many of you are off and enjoying whatever Labor Day is, I will be over here diligently working to give future me a detailed and acuítate memory of our million hour drive home to Pittsburgh.

It’s 8:58am (central time) and we’re waiting for dippy Henry to check out. The first thing that happened when I woke up around 7 was that I opened Instagram and found out one of the ex-pat vloggers living in Korea that I watch died of leukemia and even though I didn’t know her, I INSTANTLY started to cry. Her name on YouTube is HojuSara (she’s Australian and hoju means Australia in Korean) and she was sooooo full of life and love for Korean culture, spoke Korean fluently, and was one of the first channels I started watching back when I became obsessed with Korea. She and her Korean boyfriend had recently gotten engaged and had gone back to Australia last winter to visit her family when she started feeling off, and that’s basically when it was discovered that she had leukemia.

I’m just sad. I didn’t know her, obviously, but sometimes you can tell when a person is one of the good ones and that was my impression of her.

Ok wow depressing start to a live blog!

9:36am: I hate being this close to Chicago and not stopping!!

9:59am: Another embarrassing Dunkin drive thru experience because Henry is soooooooo bad at relaying our wants and wishes. Chooch and I are mocking him and now Chooch is trying to hide in the backseat. They asked what kind of donut chooch wanted and Chooch was like “any kind” so Henry was yelling, “pick the worst one!” into the window after the girl walked away, and then when she handed Henry the bag, he threw it really hard into the backseat without even looking and it was pretty funny but I guess you had to be there.

Meanwhile, Henry gaslit me and said they didn’t have croissants which is all I wanted and I said oh that’s weird because I’m pretty sure I’ve had one from there and also weird that it’s a bread choice for the breakfast sandwiches but ok, you know everything Henry. So I was pressured into getting avocado toast which held up the drive thru line and meanwhile YES SIR THEY HAVE CROISSANTS so I was crying about that and accused Henry of gaslighting and Chooch piped up from the backseat to tell me I don’t even know what that means which is REAL RICH coming from Gaslighter Jr.

11:07am: Henry brought along all these different Tupperware containers of various trail mix type stuff for car-snacking. I opened one that had granola in it and instantly recoiled as it hit my tongue.

“What is this, from the ’80s?? It tastes like it come from someone’s storm shelter.”

“First of all,” the White Knight started, adjusting his medieval jockstrap. “How many things have you eaten from a storm shelter?”

3:08pm: time changed somewhere back there and now we’re in Toledo for food and wow this place is supremely ugly no offense if you live here but I high key hate it.

3:23pm: WE’RE HERE AND JACKIE BLUE IS PLAYING AND THIS IS MY KIND OF PLACE I LOVE IT.

CHOOCH IS ASKING THE GUY IN THE GIFT SHOP WHERE THE TED NUGENT SIGNED HOT DOG BUN IS. THE REAL MVP.

I made Henry come over to the Ted Bun so I could get take his picture for Alyson and he was a big bitch baby about it because THERE WERE PPL EATING AT A TABLE 10 feet away. God, cry about it. This is literally why people come to Packo’s–for the signed hot dog experience!

I mean, I’m guessing!

Chooch: I don’t know who any of these hot dog bun people are because I’m not over the age of 70.

LOL.

Pierogies.

Chooch got a veggie dog with vegan chili and I had slight ordering remorse.

I made Henry order the paprikas dumplings as his side even though that’s not what he wanted lol.

The food was fine but the ambiance was exactly what I had hoped. I love restaurants that look like this, while also offering some kind of road side attraction schtick to reel you in. I’m here for it every single time.

CHERRY STRUDEL BABY.

It was decent! I have Yugoslavian and Austrian heritage though so I grew up eating some of the best apple strudel in the world, HUMBLE BRAG. So most strudel I have at restaurants is still delicious but not like the kind served at a local fire hall baby shower, if you know what I mean.

Also there wasn’t enough of it!

Packo Bathroom Selfie!

Then we bought some shit at the gift shop – Chooch got a pickle pen (apparently Packo’s is famous for their pickles and Henry said they’re even sold at our local Giant Eagles which I wouldn’t know because I probably go to a grocery store maybe 5x a year). I got a magnet, obviously.

<3

On the way out, crybaby Henry saw that chocolate chip cookies were for sale near the bar and he sulked because he wanted them but didn’t want to put $2.50 on the credit card so he came back to the car and cried some more but then Chooch said he had a $10 bill so Henry said, “GIMME IT” and legit snatched it from him and ran back in to get his fucking cookies, so Chooch kept saying, “COOKIE!!!” in a Cookie Monster / caveman voice and it was especially funny when he was saying it as I watched in the rear view mirror as Henry stormed back to the car with cookies in hand, like some fucking war hero.

Anyway, you’re welcome as usual, Henry and Chooch, for having the novel idea to eat there. I always have the best ideas.

5:05pm: Packo’s has a bunch of M.A.S.H. memorabilia because of the Toledo connection I guess – I actually had to ask Henry because I didn’t actively watch that show since I was YOUNG but my dad watched it so I know some stuff, like the basic gist of it and various actors who were on it. This pushed me down the rabbit hole because I was like WASNT ONE OF THEM THE DAD ON PROVIDENCE and Henry was like I DID NOT WATCH THAT but Mike Farrel was the second name he offered up as an answer and I was like THATS IT so I started reading the Providence wiki until I landed on the PICKET FENCES page because holy shit I forgot that was a show!?

I never watched it. Henry said he sort of did whatever that means.

Ugh it’s 6:49pm and we still have an hour to go because we’ve stopped so many times for pee breaks etc. All you’ve missed is shitty Starbucks and my obligatory once-a-road-trip rant about BTS’s mediocrity. I guess I will just post this now because who cares bye.

Sep 042022
 

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


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


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

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


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

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

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

FIRST ONES BEST ONES!

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


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

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

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

음ㅁㅁㅁㅁ, 옥수수 🌽.

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

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

끝.

Sep 022022
 

Dear blog I can’t believe I forgot to come crashing through your gates screaming my wet face off about the NEW SONG that Pierce the Veil dropped the other night at midnight, after a SIX YEAR HIATUS since their last album (I know, not *that* long but in the Kpop world, groups have like 3 comebacks a year and that is what my spoiled American ass is used to now).

I dunno how they did it, but it all at once sounds super fresh and new, yet nostalgic all at once. Vic’s screams drop-kicked me out of bed (their midnight text woke me up and I had to listen to the song immediately!) and straight to 2008.

We’re on our way to Wisconsin (lol) and I just played it again and even Henry was like “yes I like it” and that is saying a lot because Henry was never a fan of PTV – he wouldn’t even stand with me when I cried in front of their stage at Riot Fest in 2016!

I think PTV is just one of those bands that I will never outgrow. The whole band is a diamond in the rough but Vic especially is God tier in my eyes and I just want to protect him forever. Long live PTV!

Sep 012022
 

Today I’m going to tell you about one of two times in the span of a week that I sobbed like I was auditioning for a soap opera.

I’m not proud of my behavior, but I also CAN 100% JUSTIFY IT OK STEP OFF.

It all started last week when my best Kpop friend Veronica DMd me on Insta. She had randomly noticed that she had a Ticketmaster email in her SPAM FOLDER.

Announcing NCT127 US DATES.

Two of them, to be exact. LA and Newark.

At first I was like OMFG yessss! So excited!

But then it quickly dawned on me that only two dates meant that tickets were going to be EXTRA HARD to procure. It’s already Hunger Games for a regular Kpop tour, just a bleak landscape of scalpers and Ticketmaster price gouging, preventing the true fans from getting the best seats possible without their parents having to take out a second mortgage.

Tickets for Newark were slated to go on sale Monday at 3pm, so from the moment I read Veronica’s message until Monday, I was a mess of stress, a web of sizzling nerves and heart palps.

Henry came home Monday afternoon in an effort to help me get tickets. I thought he was going to be late, but he strode in around 2:30, totally carefree, pep in his step, while I was sitting at the computer burping up stomach acid and running my hands through hair slick with PANIC GREASE. I threw myself at him and wailed, “I KNOW I’M NOT GETTING TICKETS. I’M NOT SEEING NCT. I’M NOT GOING.” And then I just started sobbing like a three-year-old who needs a nap but doesn’t know it.

I think you know the hell that is Ticketmaster. I won’t get into the nitty gritty, but that waiting room bullshit is so stressful (like, they could at least play some Chuck Mangione or something, even Kenny G for God’s sake) and the fucking QUEUE is insulting. Henry and I both had 2000+ bitches in front of us, and by the time it “our turn” to buy tickets, everything was already resale or TICKETMASTER PLATINUM.

You guys know about this, right? Just another way for TM to fucking price-gouge by being THEIR OWN SCALPERS. It’s so fucked up, I can’t even….

I was fully prepared to throw down a pretty penny for a floor seat, but they were already up to $4000.

I can’t.

I wish.

But even if I could.

Would I?

That’s a shit ton of $$$.

Sorry: $$$$.

So then I was like, “OK, if I can’t get the floor, then I’ll take the next section up. But those were all Platinum by then, and every time I would click on a seat, I would get the frustrating, “We’re sorry, someone else us beat you to it” message AND I WOULD FUCKING RAGE OUT.

At one point, I screamed really loud and threw my mouse across the desk and Henry had to put his hands on my arms and say, “OK. EASY.”

Finally, I panicked and paid entirely too much a seat in the first row of section 127 (127!!!!) which is not where I wanted to be.  I could have waited to see if resale tickets would go down as the date gets closer, but when it comes to Kpop I don’t gamble. These groups have expiration dates and military enlistment is looming for some of them.

I thought I would get a chance to see SHINee, and look what happened.

I thought I would get a chance to see BIGBANG, and look what happened.

So, I spent a lot of money, but even though it made me sick, I can’t say I regret it because NCT127 is my #2 group, you guys. (BIGBANG and SHINee now share the honors for being #1.) So, I splurged.

I didn’t realize just how much stress over this my body was carrying until after it was all said and done, and it almost felt like static electricity lifting off my body. It was insane.

Henry had retreated to the bedroom for his daily after-work nap by this point, confident that I was pacified and that the kitchen knives wouldn’t need to be confiscated. Stress now replaced with frenetic, nervous energy, I followed him up there, threw myself down on the bed and wailed, “HENRY I DON’T CARE IF I SOUND LIKE I’M 16, I JUST LOVE THEM SO MUCH AND WANTED TO BE AS CLOSE TO THEM AS POSSIBLE, NOW HOW WILL JAEHYUN HEAR ME SCREAM HIS NAME??” I flung my arm across my forehead for good measure.

Henry casually said that we could try to find them in NYC afterward, and I got really excited about that, BECAUSE ONE TIME WE ACTUALLY DID SEE A KPOP GROUP IN NYC, but then he said he was kidding. :(

I let myself wallow a little bit. I ate ice cream out of the carton with whipped cream. And then once I came back down to Adult Land, I was finally able to realize that I was lucky I could afford one overly-inflated ticket (um, my one ticket was 3x what Corey and I paid to see Genesis, so…) and the big picture is that HELLO I AM GOING TO SEE NCT127!!

So then I sniffled, “Alexa, play NCT127” and straight-up sobbed when “Favorite” came on because I AM GOING TO SEE NCT127!!!

Poor Henry has been periodically checking to see if he can find a cheap nosebleed seat for himself (I am not making it up when I say that he likes them!) so hopefully he can also go. I’m still also holding onto hope that they announce more US dates (they did say “more dates coming soon” but this is a world tour so that doesn’t necessarily mean more North America dates ugh.

I love that Kpop is finally acknowledged and not treated like a joke so much anymore here in this shitty country, but I also hate it because now it’s so hard to get concert tickets!

I woke up Tuesday morning feeling like a brand new person though, and that’s when I realized just how stressed I was over buying a ticket. It just….shouldn’t be that way. Ticketmaster needs to, I dunno, go to prison.

Oh and in case you were wondering, the other time I sobbed like Susan Lucci was the weekend I had COVID. I was so emotionally depleted to begin with, so when I realized that my new FitBit, which Henry had just set up for me that day, had LOST ALL OF MY STEPS AND 3/4 OF THE STEPS FROM THE DAY BEFORE, REMOVING MY STAR AND BREAKING MY 2 YEAR STREAK, I fucking lost my mind so hard that I started LOUDLY CRYING while home alone. Like, full body-racking sobs, real tears, all snotted up.

Over a FitBit.

I called Henry and basically threatened his life, so he came home and spent 45 minutes researching the inner workings of FitBit and (mostly) fixed it then had the audacity to request a THANK YOU from me? AFTER HE CAUSED THIS? I clearly was very sick and my body need to cleanse by way of Ugly Cry, so this was the opportunity I chose to let it all hang out. A choice, for sure.

BUT I’M GOING TO SEE NCT127!!!!! I’LL GET TO USE MY LIGHTSTICK IN PUBLIC!!!!

Aug 312022
 

Hola, I’m here with a weekend recap. Henry and I both recently finally lost our 2.5 year streak at COVID dodgeball. I actually tested negative but am 100% positive in my heart and mind that I had it. Henry tested positive a few days later. I probably certainly got it somewhere along the way on our recent NJ weekend but luckily, I didn’t go into the office…or anywhere else because I have no life / no friends….between that time and the time when I started to feel NOT RIGHT.

We both just felt like we had the flu – I was more exhausted than anything, no fever or headaches, no loss of taste or smell. Just felt like a sad sack zombie. Henry slept for three solid days and then acted like nothing happened. I dunno, overall, not the worst I’ve ever felt, thanks to being vaccinated / boosted and I can tell you FOR SURE that I am ready for the next booster.

While this was going on, we told Chooch to say away from us and he mumbled, “That’s literally my goal every day.” WOW.

Anyway, all of this is to say that last weekend was the first time since all that went down that we were well enough / symptom-less enough to actually go out.

Chooch had been wanting to go to Duo’s Taqueria, a Duolingo pop-up taco joint next to Duolingo headquarters (did you know Duolingo is based in Pittsburgh? NOW YOU KNOW). He was even texting us about it from Mexico and we were like, “You are in Mexico, why are you sending us stuff that is in Pgh?” Anyway, we finally took him and he ordered for all three of us in Spanish and then acted like it was the most embarrassing thing he’s ever had to do even though he ordered with solid confidence. The lady who took his order said, “For your good Spanish,” and gave him a free taco card :)

Acting like he doesn’t know Spanish. Mmm, ok son.

Took our tacos to the cemetery and ate by the pond like old days.

Later that evening, I watched The Red Queen Kills 7 Times, in an effort to get back to my Italian horror / giallo roots. It’s been so long since I watched 70s Italian horror and that used to be my bread & butter, yo.

In between all of this, Henry was finishing my neon TV which I am still obsessing over whether you like it or not!!

On Sunday, Chooch apparently sat next to me for a second, which was weird.

Henry and I went on a long walk at the cemetery where I fed a deer – she came right the fuck up to me like we knew each other from the corner bar – and tried to persuade some frogs to come home with me. “I used to build hotels for you guys in the 80s! Don’t you know who I am??”

They didn’t care :(

Went to Target and bought the cats their ninth (??) seasonal cardboard scratchpad thing. “Yay, more stuff for me to kick blindly in the dark while leaving for work,” was the SOS pattern that Henry’s furrowed eyebrows emitted.

Aside from me going on a hangry rampage up and down Murray Avenue on Saturday, the weekend was pretty nice (except for the fact that hanging over my head all weekend was the stressful knowledge that NCT127 tickets were going on sale on Monday so that HARSHED MY MELLOW a bit  – sorry I just wanted to know how it would feel to use that expression and it kind of made me feel gross)!