KT and I headed out to North Carolina to visit Billy, Bethie & Logan this weekend. We came into a little extra cash (refund for medical bills actually) and my wife was amazing enough to take me to see some of the greatest people we know. Is she the greatest wife ever or what? Far and away the greatest wife I’ve ever had!
We headed out early Friday morning. Had to drop the puppy off at the kennel and then hightail it to the airport. KT was smart enough to print our boarding passes, and we only took carryon bags, so no waiting at the ticket counter – we headed straight to security.
Everything went smoothly in Denver, and we were even a bit early getting to Dallas for our connecting flight to Raleigh. Besides, we only had to walk 2 gates away to get to the next plane. However, the flight was overbooked and they were looking for volunteers to give up their seats. KT immediately went to the ticket counter, much to my dismay. I am just a very structured person and like to stick to schedules. However, when KT reiterated that we would only be delayed by 2 hours getting to our final destination, and the airline was giving us $600 in vouchers to take an extra plane and only be 2 hours behind schedule, I stopped complaining. That was more than the entire trip cost! Bill and Beth were very understanding, so it worked out really well.
We headed to Austin about 45 minutes later. Timing was still good! Heck, we even had time to eat a little something! Not bad, considering our arrival time was about 20 minutes before the next plane was scheduled to load!
Ah, the next plane! This thing was a bit creepy! It was small (only held 34 people) and rickety. It was also snowing inside. Some pieces of frozen condensation kept dropping on me and I had no idea what they were at first. The seats were nice, and the legroom was a bit better than the bigger planes, but it made a TON of noise and was a little shaky. I’m not a big fan of shaky planes!
Bill was waiting to pick us up and he shuttled us to his house. NC reminded me a little of Pennsylvania at first – many trees and very pretty. I understand now when people from the east coast say we have no trees in Colorado – it’s because we can literally see for miles here. In NC, there are trees everywhere (in my mind) blocking your view of the rest of the city. See what happens when you grow up here?
Their house is very pretty – classic southern architecture with a front porch and high-pitched roofs. Everyone has an attic, and there are no basements. Bill and Beth’s house is sensational with wooden floors, a screened in deck in the back, and instant access to the forest in the back yard.
I also have to say that finally meeting the young (10-month-old) Logan for the first time was a thrill. Sure the kid looks almost exactly like his old man back in the day, but he’s still a beautiful kid. I guess that’s what happens when you have great-looking parents!
After a quick tour of the house, Bill began working on dinner for us. He made pork loin, salad, veggies, homemade applesauce, and (forgive me for not knowing the proper name here) a rice dish with mushrooms. They even purchased Mike’s Hard Lime for us, as we’re kinda wimpy drinkers. And then it was revealed – the famous Bitter Buffalo Century Hot Sauce! This is Bill’s own homemade hot sauce and it is HHHAAAAATTTTTTT!!! Holy shamoley! It’s called “Century Sauce” because it’s made with 100 habaneros! It keeps your mouth ablaze for a good 45 minutes and really must be attempted in very small doses. And, as Bill warns, it will get you again later, if ya know what I mean…
Great dinner conversation slowly escalated to X-Box trash talk between Billy and myself. Soon the ladies went to bed and Bill and I went at it in NHL 2K6. Many battles went on until about 1:30 (Bill also shared some of his favorite other games with me, but it’s all about the hockey and has been since 1992) with some evenly played games and some ridiculous blowouts. The new shootout rule is F-U-N!!!
The next morning, Bill made some great eggs (over-easy) and they were willing to share bacon with us. The bacon in NC has the rind still attached and it gets really crunchy and crackly when it cooks. It’s almost like bacon pop rocks! But boy is it good – KT and I sure do love the piggy!
After breakfast, Bill and I discussed the CD in the new issue of CMJ that I was reading in the potty. For those of you who don’t know, CMJ New Music Monthly is a magazine that comes with a CD each month featuring cool bands. I used to subscribe, but I got frustrated with their inability to deliver it in a timely and consistent manner. The new magazine had some cool bands I wanted to hear, so we popped it in. I was really impressed by the new single by Gogol Bordello - enough so that I needed a trip to the record store, which is kind of a tradition when Bill and I see each other. After all, we met by working in a record store together.
We all hung out for most of the day, snacking on cheese, pickles, olives and sausage (KT’s version of the four food groups – do these two know us or what???), and then we headed down to Oysterfest in downtown Raleigh. After a nice scenic drive, we hit the block where Oysterfest was taking place. We thought we were an hour late, but actually nothing had started. This meant no cover for us (woo-hoo) so we slid over to a bar and grill called Ri-Ra’s. After a couple of drinks and appetizers on the porch, Beth’s parents and aunt showed up. We had some great conversation on top of the horrendous cover bands that butchered about every typical frat-party-bad-cover-band-song you could contemplate.
Bill then directed KT (she was driving since Bill and Beth were drinking and I forgot my wallet – but it was her twin Equinox so no biggie) to a frozen custard place near their home.
The boy (uh, Logan, not Bill – well, kinda Bill) was getting a little fussy (it was pretty late, but he somehow managed to nap during that horrible music) so we headed home to put him down. However, we did decide that Mexican food would be the best bet for the evening. So, after dropping the ladies and baby off at home and taking orders, Bill and I went to the local Mexican restaurant that the Purdy’s enjoy. Now, you may be wondering if you can get decent Mexican food in NC. The answer is a resounding “HELLS YEAH!” I know Colorado has great Mexican Food (even though I feel Hacienda Colorado is the equivalent to Casa Bonita – at least Casa Bonita has Mexican people working there – I will never understand the infatuation with Hacienda), but I have to say I was very impressed with the place we went to for Mexican take-out. I ordered chili rellanos (that came in an order of 3) smothered in green chili. These guys added spiced ground beef to the chili rellanos and did not batter the chili in anything. They were hot and spicy and incredible!
The night concluded in a very similar fashion as the night before – the ladies were smart enough to go to bed as the dumb men stayed up playing video games. It was pure bliss!
The next morning, Bill again threw together a great breakfast of French toast. Oh, and that bacon again! It was not a low-fat weekend, but why else do you go on vacation?
After breakfast and showers, the boys and girls split up to do separate shopping. The ladies hit the mall, and the men went to the record store! Like I said – it’s a tradition!
The independent record stores are what it’s all about. Best Buy will work for major label releases, but the good stuff can only be found at the mom-n-pops. As we entered, there were some crates full of “just-make-these-go-away” CDs. I started digging and found a few treasures. There was a Beatles tribute, a Kiss tribute (that I used to own but traded in a long time ago), a Dead 60’s EP, an odd Madness CD, and – the find of all finds – a promo of the new Gogol Bordello CD! So what if it had no booklet, the SOB was $1.99! Bill found it “on sale” for $10.99 in the regular bins. I also located a used copy of a tribute to Megadeth that I’ve always wanted. 7 CDs for about $21.00 totally made my day.
Bill then took me on a scenic route to a greasy burger joint that was incredible! As we scarfed, some hillbilly was trying to read the “Top 11 Things You Can Spell With The Letters in ‘Gerard Patrick Angello’” list on the back of Bill’s PAFC T-Shirt. It was truly comedic! We then headed home and watched a little football while we waited for the ladies to come back.
After the girls returned, KT and I made sure we were all packed and ready to head home. It was a great weekend, but I was pretty worn out from lack of sleep and incredible food kicking my literal ass! However, Billy was kind enough to give me a jar of the Sauce!
Bill took us to the airport and we headed straight to security – again with the boarding passes printed and ready to go. While I’m here, let me just commend the security staff at Concourse C of the Raleigh/Durham airport. Great senses of humor and having fun at their job – honestly!
We got to our gate and saw that the plane to Dallas was delayed about an hour due to mechanical issues. Um, that wasn’t going to work for us because we had a connecting flight that would have been gone before this plane landed. So, the very nice woman behind the counter scrounged up tickets for us on a different airline (America West). It didn’t leave until 9 PM (the original flight was scheduled to leave at 7 PM getting us back in Denver by 11:30 PM), and it went to Vegas first. That’s a 5-hour flight. We were now scheduled to be back in Denver by 2:30 AM! We had a puppy out of the kennel and waiting for us, so we decided this was the best choice for us. However, we needed to walk over to Concourse A for America West. Let me commend American Airlines right here for being so cooperative and helpful for us!
After a few questions for directions, we ended up on Concourse A and at the America West ticket counter. The woman printed our passes and directed us again to security. These guys were just as friendly! In fact, they were a little too friendly. We were randomly selected to go through additional screening, but they made it sound like we won some wonderful prize. “You have just been selected to go through additional security screening! YAY!” This just basically meant a search through our carryon bags and a little wand action, if ya know what I mean. For the record – the Bitter Buffalo Century Hot Sauce can legally be taken out of the state of North Carolina.
We finally got away from security and went to our gate. I paid close attention to the bottom line scroll during the Packers/Browns game to make sure my Broncos somehow pulled a victory out of their bums, and they did. We each had a personal Godfather’s Pizza (something you can no longer get in Colorado), and then waited to board the plane.
I have to say, 4:45 is a L O N G time to be on a plane. Guh!
Welcome to Vegas! I have just four semi-brief observations about our 90-minute stay in Vegas:
1) Can you no longer feed individual quarters into the slots? Am I just dumb? Maybe the quarters feed right next to the “25¢” sign and I just missed it. I dunno. Maybe I was just really damn tired!
2) Some dude in the men’s room was tossing cookies. We’re talking guttural heaving that could be heard a good 50 feet outside of the bathroom, and Vegas is a loud place. It was cool!
3) Weary travel affects everyone. We stood in line at Burger King and hit a delay. Some girl’s credit card would not swipe, and the Asian woman (who spoke stereotypical broken English) kept asking if the woman had another card to try. The woman did not and stormed off. The girl in line behind her tried to offer to help pay, and even chased the woman down. Now the woman was back in front of the cashier demanding to speak to a manager. (Meanwhile, there are about 50 people in line behind her wondering what the holdup is.) The manager approaches and the woman with the bad credit card suddenly turns into an audience member in the Rikki Lake show. Her hand is on her hip, she’s shaking and contorting at her neck, and she’s doing a horribly racist impression of the poor Asian cashier: “Dis car no work – do yu haf anotha?” Finally girl number 2 gets her to chill out and buys the food. I am in my typical grumpy sugar-crashing mode trying to stay calm.
4) How can only one hour in an airport make you stink like smoke? Seriously – I got on the plane and could smell it all over my hands. Nasty!
Alas, we finally got home and got to bed at 4 AM. I went to work on 3 hours of sleep, but lasted most of the day. VERY tired to say the least!
Our puppy was a little nervous and basically had a diarrhea accident in my brother-in-law’s car, as well as destroying his jacket. OK, she NEVER gets like that. We haven’t kenneled that dog in years, and this really surprises me. Now I feel awful, but I blame Mallory for being out of town and not taking the dog in like she sometimes does when we leave town. OK, I don’t really blame her. I just can’t wait to see what that interior detail bill will run me!