The General’s Bed & Breakfast – Welcoming Friends, Family, and Tropical Cyclones since 2010

In the past week, we have had quite the roster of visitors to our humble abode.   They include: an old friend from my university days, my mom, and what’s forecasted to be a Category 1 Hurricane, named Arthur.

My friend J came this past weekend for beach and merriment.  It was a fun weekend of dodging rain showers, ice cream, drinking rum, and the nightlife downtown (we were out so late….we rolled up the drive 1 minute before midnight – not sure when we got old and lame – if only the 22 year old us could see us now!).  It was good to spend some girl time with J and chat over the curveballs life has thrown us and how to deal.  I have a kindred spirit in regards to that pesky thorn in my side.

My mother, born and raised in the midwest, is about to experience her 1st hurricane.  She was coming this week for the 4th of July festivities.  In the past, the 4th of July was always a big party at our house, and she was very excited about the fact that she didn’t have to cook or clean for this one.  I’m pretty sure we’re going to be hunkered down with rum as the storm rolls into the coast.  Both of us love storms – at my cousin’s cottage on Lake Huron, we used to watch the storms roll across the lake at night on the porch.  Such an amazing show!

Actual phone conversation with my mom

Actual text conversation with my mom.

For what it’s worth, I’m still a hurricane virgin.  Chances are this won’t be anything more than a tropical storm.  The storm-loving kid in me wants a direct hit – the adult homeowner in me hopes it’ll bypass our area – the surfer in me can’t wait to hit the waves before and after the storm.

art

Nice rotation, Arthur.

A Tale of 4 Weddings

In all honesty, I’m not a big fan of weddings.  Never have been.  If I had my way, I would have eloped.  Even my own wedding is rated “Meh” in my head.

And by wedding, I mean the actual ceremony.  My marriage (completely different) is pretty awesome.

I attended Charlotte’s wedding this weekend….her and Harry were so happy.  They are perfect for each other and the love that radiates around them and from them is not only true, but of the Lord.  It’s such a blessing to see that, to experience that.  I kept mulling over the wonder of it all because I have had the opposite feeling.  And if it’s one thing I get, it’s vibes.

The 1st wedding “nice.”  Okay, it was terrible.  When I left with a carload of friends in silence, one of them said out loud: “So, how long do you think it will last?”  An collective sigh was heard in the car.  The words everyone was thinking were said out in the open.  “3 years.”  “5 months”  “8 weeks.”  The correct answer came out to be 2.5 years, after much drama (I was barred from speaking to them, I was a threat!) and children.  Luckily, the less stable one made some pretty serious errors of judgement and the more stable parent got full custody once the divorce was finalized.  I understand the kids are thriving in a new marriage relationship that is not only grounded, but loving.  I no longer have any real contact with either spouse: one I miss dearly; the other, well, if we see each other again it will be too soon.

The 2nd wedding I had an up close and personal seat to the relationship.  It was rocky at best.  The fights.  The tears.  The driving half way across the state to break up only to make up and become stronger.  It was such a 1 sided relationship – I didn’t like it.  I stated my feelings, but as I was in a non-committed/messed up relationship at the time, and I was pot calling the kettle black.  By the by, a ring came, and a year later, a wedding.  The wedding was a good party and I remember having a good time.  As I walked to my car, alone, I had a feeling it wasn’t going to work.  When a couple struggles in a dating relationship on a regular basis, I didn’t think marriage would fix anything.  Nonetheless, I figured they’d have divorced before their 5th anniversary.  I was wrong.  They’re closing in on year 10 – or is it 11 now? – with a few kids living the American dream in the suburbs.  They’re both really happy.  I know they’ve had their struggles, some serious ones, but they overcame them.  How?  I don’t know.  I can only assume it was persistence.  The wife and I talk….but not deep like we used to. It’s life, as the French say.   We’re in different worlds.

The 3rd wedding was the real humdinger.  I got some seriously bad vibes about the whole thing: it’s a bad match of personalities.  It was like serving tomatoes covered in chocolate – 2 things in and of themselves that can be good, just not together.  On the other hand, who I am to say that chocolate covered tomatoes are bad?  I certainly wouldn’t eat that, but I’m sure it strikes someone’s fancy.  The date I brought to this wedding echoed my same sentiment, which made me feel worse – it wasn’t just me making this stuff up in my head.  I’ve heard through the grapevine how things are with them currently – they’re still together with no kids yet and it’s not a healthy union.  “They’ll work it out,” I was told.  I would never want to see a marriage go down in a blaze of glory, but if this couple did separate, I would not be shocked.  My contact with them is minimal at best, and honestly, unless there is outright abuse (which is not the case), the inter-workings of their marriage is none of my concern.  As the minister said, speak now or forever hold your peace.  My silence remains.

So there I was, at Charlotte’s wedding, seated next to my husband and we were both freezing (it was a windy, cold, beach wedding and I thought a strapless number was a good idea).  I couldn’t have been happier.  These 3 past weddings kept rolling around in my head and I knew this one was the exact opposite of those.  This wedding made my heart sing.

I whispered to The General the same thing I whisper at all wedding since ours: “I hope they’re as happy as we are.”

But wait! There’s more!

Back in the day, I used to stay up late with my friend Jon (ahem) and we’d watch infomercials.  It was mainly because my parents did not have cable and we never hung out at Jon’s house.  I’m not even sure why we watched them as much as we did, but I was more easily amused in my early 20’s, I suppose.

So it’s fair to say that I’m well versed in the typical informercial.

I have a near and dear friend who is promoting a weight loss product.  I’d love to tell you the name of the company, but I’m afraid that I, too, will be promoting it by this blog or worse, draw criticisms for my own warped opinion, so for discussion purposes, it will be simply The Product.

The thing about The Product is that, well, it works in all major areas: weight loss, finances, and freedom from the typical 40 hour work week.  My friend has lost a substantial amount of weight, makes wicked money, and drives a car that I could only dream about having in my driveway (mainly because I don’t have the testicular fortitude/bank account to drop $40k on a car).  Sounds great, right?  My grandfather, who lived to be 100 once said, “If it sounds too good to be true, it probably is.”  The other proverbial shoe has not dropped yet, and has no intention of dropping, as my friend is working her way towards quitting her 9-5 job she hates and doing this full time.  I understand the typical 40 hour work week for a corporation is not for everyone: just as college, marriage, and owning a home is not for some — and I totally get that.  And while The Product is not something I would use or sell, I support my friend because that’s what friends do.

I don’t use The Product because I like food, not meal replacements that tout the nutritional equivalent of a wheelbarrow full of carrots and other preposterous ideas.  No one needs that many carrots.  Seriously.  Diarrhea would your top worry.  My food idol – another friend – who’s diet I look up to – even rolled her eyes at the idea, and she’s way into health, fitness, and otherwise being awesome.  Also, I couldn’t sell water to people in a desert – I’m a shy introvert at my core and selling things makes me cringe.  My friend is the typical extrovert with a large personality to go with it.  I think that’s why we make such good friends – we’re the exact opposite.

With all that being said, my friend is stuck in a perpetual infomercial.

I asked her about her business — and I got an email full of rhetoric.  It wasn’t a friend telling a friend about an experience – it sounded like a cut and paste job off a website.  She seems to be demonizing people (i.e. me) that work a normal job.  I’m pretty sure she’s not attacking me personally, and she’s just really excited about this experience and how it’s changed her entire outlook on life and she’s expressing that.  Her Facebook news feed is just a stream of corporate thoughts and I’m half tempted to hide them just so I don’t have to deal with how The Product is amazing and it does this and that and I feel like this because I’m now taking that and…..<sigh>  I want my friend back.

I feel slighted.  And it’s not that I’m jealous of her new career zeal – I just want a healthy perspective.  It always concerns me when people jump head first into an ideal and run with it, burning bright and fast: I’ve seen it happen to people who are in love, start a new job, become a Christian — sometimes the loudest voices and the brightest lights go out quick – a la Jim Morrison – a star so bright it becomes a super nova and collapses in on itself.  Boom.  Gone.

Have I told her any of this?  No.  I want to do that in person, as emails get misconstrued with emotions.  I already expressed my concern when she was doing this at 1st — I said my piece, there will be no more from me on that, I have accepted it.  I will support her, not The Product.

The funniest part of it all?  I actually went to one of the information meetings about this, more so out of obligation than interest, and we watched an informercial.  I was so proud of myself, I did not go all Mystery Science Theatre on it.  Although I really, really wanted to.

The Louisville Affair

I have something to confess.  I have a crush.

His name is Louisville.  He lives in Kentucky.

Granted, this wasn’t my 1st time meeting him.  I’ve met up with him (as friends) over a few weekends many years back when I was single.  There wasn’t a spark, it just was a nice common meeting.  This, however, was the 1st time I saw him as a married woman, and I must say I never noticed how handsome he was.  It was always dark when I saw him before….this time, in the fresh morning light of late August, he all of a sudden became interesting.

Louisville was a sweet man.  He smiled at me.  He played the most awesome songs on the radio (you know you’re with Louisville when you’re blasting “Lose Yourself” by Eminem in your newly rented Chevy Alero with the speakers phasing out).  He made me feel beautiful.  And best of all, he made me laugh.

“You see that exit there?” he drawls as I zoom by.
“Uh-huh.”
“You totally wanted that exit.  Your hotel is just down the street from that.”
“Whoa, crap!” I said.  “I’ll just turn around at the next exit.”
Louisville starts to laugh. “Dude, there is no turning around.  We’re going to INDIANA!”
“Oh, but I hate Indiana!”
Louisville smiled as we cross the Ohio River.  “Trust me.  I know where this road goes.”

And sure enough, 10 miles into Indiana, I turn around.  I found a Steak n Shake, so we stopped in for a quick breakfast and a milkshake.  As Lousville and I return to Kentucky, I dropped him off so I could spend some time with Alice – my friend from college.  Hanging out with Alice is always an adventure and this time proved no different.  Adventures for the day included crazy conversations, bakery runs, a solo Wal-Mart run for the most random items ever, and prepping the church for the wedding.  Because their janitor was a moron, he didn’t clean the floor properly.  And by properly, I mean at all.  So, I volunteered to mop the floor.  I haven’t mopped a floor like that since I was in high school, but it all came back to me rather quickly.

From there, I headed back downtown to this swanky joint to meet up with Louisville again before my friend/roommate Lydia would be joining me.  I changed into a sexy black dress and took some pictures with him (I totally showed them to my husband, too.  He didn’t seem to mind.).  There was a world festival going on right next to my hotel, so Louisville and I checked it out.  It made my heart so happy to walk hand-in-hand with Louisville, wandering from booth to booth with no plans or sense of direction.  He rolled his eyes when I commented that Germany was not represented outside of the beer tent.  Getting hungry, we decided to walk down 4th Street to where the action was.  We found a cute English pub that claimed to serve authentic English food.  It was so good, I still think about the Welsh sandwich I had on a pretzel bun.  Perfection.  We both ordered martinis and toasted the evening.  After being awake for so long, I needed to rest before heading out for the batchelorette festivities – which included this non-alcoholic sangria made by yours truly.  It rivals the real deal.

After some careful persuading (“Louisville, I’m married, you can’t come up to my hotel room.  Seriously.”), I agreed to meet him at the hotel gym early in the morning.  I snuck out before Lydia was awake.  While the view was breathtaking (it was on top of the hotel, some 18 stories up), it cost $5.  I told him I wasn’t going to pay that to run on a treadmill.  He winked at me.  “Pool?”  With my string bikini on under my gym outfit, we went to the pool.  It was closed for another 40 minutes.  “I’m not going to wait around, time is short,” I told him, as I had plans to straighten my hair for the wedding.  “Follow me,” he whispered in my ear as he lead the way.

I followed him outside.  “Where are we going?” I asked.
“Downtown,” he replied.  “You said earlier you wanted to explore the city a bit more, so let’s do it.  C’mon.”

Without a second thought, I took off in a steady jog, heading west on Main Street.  It was awesome.  I wished Wilmington had the money/foresight to fix up our downtown as well as this one was.  As I was running, Louisville started laughing at me.

“What?”
“You just ran over an on-ramp to I-65 and you didn’t even look behind you.”
“I did?”  Sure enough, he was right.
“You’re in the city now, gotta watch yourself.  Stop daydreaming.”

We wove down Market Street when the terrain turned into the industrial side of downtown.  So many restaurants here I wanted to try – so many drinks that have not been drunk.  I suddenly wished The General could materialize and enjoy this gorgeous city with me.  I felt almost guilty for having this awesome adventure and he wasn’t here to experience it with me.  Louisville and I jogged until the terrain changed and the people looked a less bit friendly.  We headed back to the hotel.  “I’ll catch you later, ” Louisville said with a quick peck on the cheek as he took off down the street.  I sighed a happy sigh.   This guy was getting under my skin.

The day of the wedding was perfect – so perfect, I really didn’t even notice the rain.  Alice and her groom were wonderful together.  Their ceremony rivaled my own (I liked her wedding more than my own!).  I was so happy to be a part of it!  That night, I spent the evening catching up with old friends and making new ones.  Louisville was in the lobby.  “I love how the lights of downtown dance in your eyes,” he said sweetly.  “Louisville,” I said sternly.  “You can’t come up,  I can’t go out on the town with you. Lydia and the girls are up there. And oh yeah, I’M MARRIED!”

Despite the fact I got next to no sleep in this city, Lydia and I awoke at the crack of dawn to drop her off at her car and for me to head to the airport.  I was a little sad I didn’t get to say good-bye to Louisville.  I arrived in the terminal (by using the kiosk in German, I was so proud of myself), and there he was, handsomely dressed with a big smile on his face.  I gave him a big hug.

“I sure am going to miss you,” I said.  “I didn’t expect this to happen, but it was so wonderful, and – ”
He cut me off.  “Shhhh, it’s okay.  I’ve been here a long, long time and you’ll be back.  And I’d love to meet your husband.”
“He’s totally coming next time.”
Louisville nodded.  “Until then.”
One last hug, and he was gone.  By this time they had announced my boarding zone.

And just like that, Louisville was gone.  I smiled at the city below as we reached our cruising altitude.  Oh, Louisville!  I look forward to our next liaison.

Until it sleeps

What is it about June?  This one and the one previous both involved death.  This time, my friend Sam’s dad died.  It was a GSW, as we call it in the medical biz.  Gun. Shot. Wound.  The words of suicide echoed in the conversations that followed.

It threw me for a loop.  I don’t do well with death – especially suicide – it has touched my life one too many times.  I’ve attended, technically 2 “funerals” or “wakes” or “celebration of life” type things: both of my grandfathers.  I wasn’t particularly close to either of them.  I was 8 and 22.  Neither of their deaths were unexpected or tragic; they just were.  And they were old.  Outside of checking people in and out of the morgue at one job I had (and the grandfather bit), I haven’t experienced it.  I still feel too young and immature to take on such heavy things like this.  Nonetheless, I knew I had to step up and be there for my friend.  Charlotte’s boss, the federal government, wouldn’t let her leave so Miranda and I travelled to Vance County, North Carolina – the homeland of our Samantha.  Adele, Miranda’s GPS system, accompanied us on our journey, but even she wasn’t 100% sure of where we were going.  If US 17 is the “backlot” of North Carolina, Vance County is No Man’s Land.  Suddenly I felt like I was back in Illinois – the scenery changed into this poor rural section of the Piedmont.  We drove for miles until we found the road the church was on — Adele got us that far — and then we were on our own.  The road was paved, mind you, so I took that as a good sign.

We found the church relatively easy – how can one miss a building among fields?  We arrived far too early, so we kept driving off the map until we hit the Virginia boarder – I made Miranda pull off to the side of the road so I could snap a picture of the tobacco plants.  Despite being brought up in a farming community, we only grew soybeans and corn; tobacco and cotton are still a novelty. We laughed about how crazy it was and I even took a picture of the road at the boarder – you can totally see where North Carolina ends and Virginia begins.  It’s always an adventure with us!

We continued on to the church.  It was a Methodist church and my 1st time at this particular denomination.  I’ve decided that I’m lumping the Methodists with every other Protestant religion I’ve encountered: they preach the Gospel.  And that’s good enough for me.

We stepped into the church and took a seat towards the back.   It was an open casket.  Totally didn’t expect that, given the circumstances.  No sooner did we arrive and Samantha and her sister entered in.  Many people went up to say their condolences, but we hung back.

The room was heavy; abnormally heavy.  I’m not sensitive or anything of that nature, but I do have a bit of the gift of discernment – there were many people in that room that were unseen.  It’s happened with my family and I am most certain it was happening then.  I don’t have any memory of the air as thick as it was in that church. I could feel the weight of the heaviness on my chest, it was difficult to breathe in.  It was a strange feeling that I’m not likely to forget anytime soon.

A choir and piano were on hand to lead the congregation in hymns – my favorite was “I’ll Fly Away.”  A dirge in a major key.  It seemed fitting.  Isn’t that the way it should be?  The pastor had a voice like a Broadway actor and he gave a eulogy that was beyond perfect — for a man who apparently shot himself and was a long sufferer of mental illness, which he touched on — he kept the dignity of the man and used his life’s work, a road construction worker, as a metaphor.  I can’t do it justice to paraphrase here.  He also assured the congregation that he was a Christian.

After a small graveside service a luncheon followed and we were finally able to speak with Sam.  I totally lost it.  I never cry, but I was so overtaken by the grief she was experiencing, it just flowed out.  I told Sam of how I took a picture of the roads at the NC/VA boarder and how I had no idea they bridged the counties he was born and died in, and just so happened to make his career out of NCDOT.  That was a weird coincidence.  And then, out of no where, I found myself in a made-for-TV movie miniseries, or quite possibly a Lifetime movie: Sam dropped the bomb. “It may not have been a suicide, but a homicide.”

While the plot holes were gaping and not enough information, it was impossible to string the events together.  So many clues lead to suicide; yet so many loose ends and events said otherwise: the pendulum of indictment was swinging wildly.  Miranda and I exchanged looks.  The grief of losing a loved one compounded by a possible murder?  It was almost too much.  “Where is the relief?” cried Sam.  Where indeed.

Miranda and I stayed with Sam, her sister, and her mother for the afternoon.  We talked about the crazy events and tried to figure it out to no avail.  Sam spoke of the family going back to her father’s house to find the wheel.  Wheel?  I finally asked what was so special about this wheel they were looking for and Sam laughed.  They were looking for the WILL but with the southern twang it sounded like WHEEL to this carpetbagger.  Everyone had a good laugh about it, including me.  They spoke of happier times with their dad – his love of cars, music, church – when the dragon of was sleeping.  I never knew this man, but I think it was therapeutic for them to talk about it.

It’s hard to work through the mourning process without a firm cause of death.  And all I can do is pray for Sam and be there when she has a low day.  Sam is strong and she will lean hard on the Lord to get through this season.  A true ending has yet to be written.

I’d rather go naked than wear fur

I’m not one to follow the crowd; actually, I’ve never followed the crowd.  Case and point: my friends jumped out of an airplane – I stayed on the ground and took pictures.

The one thing that has gone through my friendship circle is laser hair removal.

And I totally got on that bandwagon this afternoon.

For a small fortune (I don’t even want to tell you how much it was because it is….well…..a lot of money), I am paying a physician’s assistant to basically cauterize my hair follicles with a laser beam.  The benefit?  I will have bare underarms and bikini line.  Oh yes, it’s permanent.   I have 8 appointments left, spaced out every other month.  And an interest-free payment plan.  Woo.

Why on earth did I want to have this done?  One, I live at the beach and spend most of my summers in a bikini.  I know, someday I won’t be rockin’ a bikini bod anymore – but I will do everything in my power to keep it in shape enough to do so – but even one pieces require a bit a “property maintenance,” as a good friend likes to say.  I’ve waxed for years, but honestly, I’m not very good at it. And then there’s that whole “grow it out” phase that really puts a crimp in my style mid-July.  Two, I like the spontaneity of said beach days and hate worrying about it.  I get bumpy.  It gets upset with the salt/sand/sweat/bacteria.  I’m pretty tomboyish at the core and I don’t always notice until I’m at the beach.  “Hey, who’s that French girl?”  “Fur is murder!”  The underarms speak for themselves: dresses, tank tops, halters; I’ll never again have to worry if I shaved.  I’m normally against cosmetic procedures – and outside of my tattoos – I’ve never done anything like this before.  Hell, I’ve never had a manicure or pedicure.  Or had my hair professionally dyed: just that color correction 3 days before my wedding.  Yup, this is the same girl who once shaved in a gas station bathroom (with razors bought in said gas station with soap from the dispenser) in the backlot of an midwestern city because there was a chance of……beach.  Yeah, defiantly beach.  Gotta love those lakes.

So I took the plunge.  The PA was very nice.  I can’t say I’ve ever had an up close and personal discussion with a woman concerning my bikini line, but now I can.  The laser hurt and you could actually see the “lightning” come out of it, zapping away dreaded hairs.  The PA described it like getting hit with oil droplets from a pan on the stove.  Incredibly accurate.  My underarms were burning.  My bikini line weathered it much better (all those years of waxing, perhaps?). I have a high pain tolerance, so as long as I remembered to breathe I was fine.

The General’s take on all this? “It costs how much?” as his eyes get wide and he looks at me sideways, quickly followed up with, “Well, it’s your money.  Do what you want.  I love you the way you are.”  So sweet.  Despite this, he is really pleased with the results.  Heh heh.

My One Word for the year is grow.  This seems to be the opposite of that.  And the irony doesn’t bother me for some reason.

It’s beginning to sound a lot like Xmas

The holidays this year have been usually busy for me, hence the long break from zee blog.  Today it’s gearing up again with 2 mini holiday parties.

I’ve got 99% of my Xmas shopping done, but I seem to have tons of loose ends to fix.  And when I finish one, another one pops up.  I’m slowly losing what’s left of my mind.  I need to get my family’s presents in a box and shipped ASAP, but I still find myself procrastinating on what needs to be done.

And to make things worse, I just found this awesome gift idea recipe that I want to try.  But out of several “craft projects” I started this Christmas season, only 1 has come to fruition.  And I hope my sister isn’t disappointed with the outcome (she has no Xmas decor in her house and she’s quite in vogue, so I made her an artsy ornament tree.)  I have a feeling I’m going to try and find vanilla beans somewhere in town and stop at Old Time Pottery tomorrow to get some cute jars.  I just don’t know when to stop!  Loose ends?  I’ve got split ends!

I got into the Christmas spirit today by putting all the Christmas CDs I have into the CD changer and cranking the volume on the receiver.  It contains my CDs (Christmas classics like Bing Crosby, Dean Martin, Mormon Tabernacle Choir), The General’s CDs from long ago (mostly funny Christmas songs, some of which are pretty offensive….I’m going to have to rip the CD for the good stuff….it’s not appropriate on so many levels), and of course, the Rolling Stones hits album Through the Past, Darkly.  I know….not very Christmasy.  But it snuck into the Christmas CDs last year and so now it’s tradition.  And while following O Holy Night by the Mormon Tabernacle Choir with The Stones’ Let’s Spend the Night Together does raise a few eyebrows, we do things a little differently around the barracks.  Just not too off beat: the least offensive of the offensive CD is “Holy ____ It’s Christmas.”  I’ll give you a hint:  the blank is not smokes, mackerel, or cow.  But there’s one about not farting on Santa’s lap and the Blue Collar Comedy Tour ones are pretty funny.

I really need to fix that before tomorrow.  I’m having some friends come over to make cut out cookies complete with margaritas and mimosas.  I know – it’s about as holiday friendly as the Rolling Stones.

Our neighborhood Christmas party commenced tonight – I finally got to meet some people who live around me after a year and a half – I met a new friend tonight (and husband) who lives within eyeshot of my house – I think we could totally do some couple stuff together.  The General didn’t make it cuz of work.

Speaking of work, we won’t be able to celebrate our Xmas until the Tuesday after because of our job.  Even though it’s a few dates late, I’m so looking forward to it.  I just wish I could go to the Christmas Eve service at church.

Nonetheless, I’m ready to jump into the excitement of 2012.

Yup

Why is it that every night at work is a bad night?  I spent most of the night trying not to cry tears of frustration.  I run in circles, accomplishing nothing.  The computers AND the machines were out to get me tonight.  And as much as I hate to admit it, they won.  I actually stayed over to help catch up on another department’s work that our shift didn’t get to for the mere fact that I needed to calm down before I went home and exploded.  I can’t keep doing this.  I never smile anymore.  My blood pressure is through the roof.  I’m going to age prematurely at this rate, unless my adrenal gland detonates with all the F bombs.  Seriously, I never swear — it’s just at my job.  I even scaled back my schedule – working 5 days a week instead of 4 (less hours/day).  Today is Day #1 and already I can tell it’s not going to work too well either.

I haven’t even shot the picture for our annual Christmas card yet.  I plan to do that tomorrow.  I feel so far behind.

Having my family here was awesome — like all gatherings of my immediate family, there were a few skirmishes, but nothing terrible.  My Dad always finds a reason to re-wire a room in my house when he’s here and this time it was the kitchen.  He fixed our 3 way switch after much sighing and berating my husband for his lack of electrical knowledge (long story short: we switched out the switches in the kitchen for color reasons and they hadn’t worked right since.  Turns out we had the wrong kind of switch, it wasn’t The General’s fault [pun unintended]).  Meh.  We’re medical people and this concept seemed to evade my dad.  My mom fell on the stairs at the beach and hurt her knee quite badly, we’re thinking it’s a sprain, so she was laid up for the last day.

It’s no secret that my parents’ marriage is quite austere, to the point where it could be placed in the abusive/neglect category.  Like a Windows default, I’m programmed to stay silent during the verbal spars, as all through childhood.  I prayed when they came, if it became an abusive situation, that I would have the strength to say “STOP!”  There was only 1 conversation that was going down the road of verbal attack and I thank God He gave me words and actions.  I actually raised my voice to my father.  He got the message and stopped.  We changed the subject and all was well.  Hmph!  I will not take the kind of language in my house, especially towards someone I love.

Outside of that, it was a wonderful experience.

They spoiled us rotten.  My mom and I went to pick up a “few items” at the ABC store (it’s where us North Carolinians get hard liquor) and we bought out the liquor store.  I told my mom I actually want to remember this Thanksgiving — because we were going to float away with all the wine and spirits.  She was too kind.  And despite my alcohol fast (she didn’t know) and the amount we had, I was never drunk at any point.  My dad went to Lowe’s, Home Depot, and Auto Zone to get stuff for my car and the house — again, spoiled beyond measure.  They picked up the tab when we went out, too.

My sister and her boyfriend were fun.  I haven’t spent days together with my sister in years so it was interesting to observe.  I didn’t feel much of a connection with her.  She suffers from severe bi-polar disorder.  She’s on a lot of meds (like a lot a lot), but the disease is ever present.  She was up.  She was down.  She was wired, she was sound asleep on the couch.  My sister is slightly immature on top of it, but smart as a whip.  Smarter than me: she did better in college than I did.  Her boyfriend was cool to hang out with.  He’s so even keeled – I showed him how to play Rumikube and he won.  It was interesting to watch them interact.  He’s got her number and knows how to reel her in.  He’s good for her.  She’s good for him.  They’re going to make beautiful babies someday.

You know the psychology stuff about you marry a version of your father?  Well, I turned that notion on it’s head.  I married my sister.  If you take the bi-polar away, my sister and The General are cut from the same cloth.  And it’s kinda freaky.

Our family adventures included walking around downtown Wilmington, walking on the pier at Carolina Beach, the rocks at Federal Point (my sis is obsessed with hermit crabs and was very amused by the ugly wild ones!), and the rocks at Fort Fisher.  I took a picture of everyone on the rocks and it looks like they were posing for an album cover.  Hilarious.  I would post it, but I can’t blur out everyone’s faces enough without losing the continuity of the picture.  We also hit up Enchanted Airlie at Airlie Gardens.  If you are in the Wilmington area, you have to check it out.  It’s so beautiful and we had a great time.

Oh!  I almost forgot the Turkey Day part!  Phenomenal.  Mom did not disappoint with the stuffing and grasshopper pie.  I brought the German roots by making a spaetzle casserole.   The General made the turkey and everyone raved about how moist and yummy it was.  Pat and Kris showed up with enough food to feed everyone for a few days.  I prayed a short prayer before dinner.  There was silence for about 5 minutes as we were all way too into the feast for conversation.  We watched the movies Fix and Zombieland.  It’s tradition: you watch movies completely inappropriate for the holidays.  Drug addiction and zombies – how more un-turkey can one get?

Overall?  It was awesome.  I loved having a houseful.  It’s kinda weird now that everyone left.  And I ate the last piece of stuffing today.  I need my mom back to make another pan of it.  And to polish off some left over wine while we make it.

I never felt the tug to stay on my alcohol fast — and while I don’t have the answers, I know who does.  And I am His.  And what will happen will happen.  And it will be for the glory of Him.  However it’s all suppose to turn out.

Sailing friendships

It’s official: my best friend from 5th grade (Pat) is moving to the Port City with her girlfriend, Kris.  They stayed with us over the weekend, securing an apartment and getting a transfer through work.  This was our 1st time meeting Kris and she was awesome.  She was one of those people that you feel like you’ve known for years when it’s just been a few days.  She and Pat make a great couple.  I really hope this works out in the long term for them.

How crazy is it that a childhood friend is moving to the town I’m in, 1,500 miles away?!  Although we’re so different now, the main friendship is still intact. While I don’t agree with the gay lifestyle, we were close friends far before her sexuality changed – I don’t based my friendships on who they’re sleeping (or not) with.  I’m not one to lecture about sexual sin: I’m not sure if I’d be the pot or the kettle.

Nonetheless, I believe the Lord is bringing them to Wilmington for His glory.  In fact, while they were checking out Durham, their car was broken into with the passenger side window shattered.  They couldn’t get the window repaired until Monday evening, which required them to stick around for an extra, unplanned day.  That was the day they found the perfect apartment (near the beach!!!!) and got to rest before heading back into work/driving home.

I don’t think we’ll see them all the time, seeing as how they’re on the other side of town, but I’m excited to have a little bit of home here at my home.

 

Beached to be beached

My face is sunburn.  There’s salt sticking to my arms as the water dried.  I have a ridiculous amount of ice cream in my stomach and dinner is just a marinade and a grill away from being fabulous.  Oh, and one of my good friends J, and her boyfriend D, are here for the weekend.  Unfortunately, my General had to work.

This work-free weekend has been brought to me by Kure Beach, Slush, and my alma mater.  Yay!

We spent the day at Kure, soaking up the sun and catching up, talking about cars and my love affair with the new 2011 Camero.  OMG.  I’ve never been so in love with a car before. And an American one at that!  And crabs!  Did you know there are baby hermit crabs out in the bottom of the ocean, about 30 feet out? I was having a blast picking them up with my toes and holding them.  I think I have a crab problem.

The adventure continues tonight with drinks and board games after dinner, as they leave tomorrow for home.

I’m leaving too…..for home, in a way.  Monday morning I set sail via an aeroplane to Illinois to meet up with my mom and start our roadtrip, “The Knuckle to the Thumb Tour.”  Confused? We’re going to Michigan (Look at your left hand.  See the lower part of Michigan?  LOL.)  We’re heading to Deeeeeetroit and then up to the thumb area by Lake Huron.  It’s a very nostalgic trip: Detroit is where my family is from and I plan to research a bit more into the past.  If all goes well and I can trick my mom, I also want to go to the cemetery where everyone is buried…..on the wrong side of town.  I’m actually a little miffed I don’t have a conceal to carry permit.  I’d feel much better if I was packing some heat.  We’re also going to see some live relatives, too like Austin.  I’m really excited to go back to the cottage of my youth.  And to top it all off, we’re going to hit up my mom’s hometown, where she hasn’t been to in over 30 years – and I’ve never been there.  It’ll be great to be there with a narrator!  I’m so excited – I’ve yet to pack, I should probably get on that – and I plan to blog from the road.

I’m breaking a cardinal rule of flying on this trip:  I’m taking my rollerboard suitcase instead of packing a week’s worth of stuff into compression bags in my back pack.  I may end up taking my back pack instead, but since I have a direct flight both directions, I feel better about it.

Oy, my back is burnt too.

I guess this trip answers the age old question: Where do people who live at the beach go on vacation?  Answer: The Rust Belt.

Martinis and Macaroons?! Yes, please.

So if you’re around and about in the downtown Wilmington area and it happens to be Thursday night you have to go to Caprice Bristro sofa bar (when you walk in, staircase is to your right).  It’s over by Kilwin’s where Market and Water Street meet.  Can’t miss it.

They have $5 martinis (normally $9) and each martini comes with your very own macaroon.  OMG.

Charlotte, Samantha, and I indulged tonight.  I had 2: my old standby, a mint chocolate martini followed by a beautiful orange creamsicle-esque I-can’t-remember-the-name-of-it-but-it-was-really-good martini.  It’s the only orange one on the menu, you won’t be disappointed.

The best part of the night?  It’s all happening.  Samantha is going on a mission trip to the country of her dreams, Italia, in October.  I have good vibes about this.  Charlotte found an amazing guy (so far, it’s new) which is more of a Mr. Goldenblatt than a Mr. MacDougal.  Miranda’s got a second interview and if all goes well, she’ll be back in the Port City before the 1st leaf turns colors.

I don’t know what my next adventure entails – but in the meantime….I’m enjoying the glow from my friends.

Run, don’t walk

….to Britt’s Donuts!  I’ve lived in the Cape Fear region for 5 years now and I have never been to Britt’s Donuts in Carolina Beach at the Boardwalk.  That all changed this morning.

The General and I headed down to Kure Beach this morning to hang out.  The waves were nice, but I didn’t bring my board because he said there weren’t any waves on the beach cam.  We took the boogie boards out, but my board rash from yesterday’s awesome session on my 6’2 short board (that I can stand up on if I squat down – it’s really pathetic surfing wise, but I had a blast!) kept me from boogie boarding properly.  So we sat on the beach awhile, as I was still half awake.

We decided to get breakfast and get some espresso in me.  Our 1st stop was Majik Beanz, a hippy-dippy coffee shop off the main drag in CB.  I got a latte with some chocolate vanilla in it and I am in heaven.  We then walked to the boardwalk for donuts.  Now, I’m not a big donut fan.  It’s the one sweet treat I can say no to.  I don’t crave them.  I usually am very picky (chocolate) about what kind (chocolate) I like; no glaze (chocolate), no cream-filled stuff (chocolate).  I was skeptical, but everyone I know raves about this place so I had to try it.

Oh. My. God.  Amazing.  They melt in your mouth.  My mouth wasn’t watering, it was crying for more Britt’s Donuts.  I told the General we had to leave before I bought another one.  And other one.  I could have finished off an entire dozen myself (if only it all went to my boobs…..).  It’s a good thing that they are only open during the tourist season and only take cash – I rarely carry cash.  I will be back!  And they’re 85 cents a piece.

Another fun spot introduced to me by Samantha was The Fuzzy Naval   The Peach Belly Button  The Fuzzy Peach.  They have one up off Racine, downtown, and soon to be Monkey Junction.  It’s heaven.  All sorts of flavors of frozen yogurt with EVERY TOPPING YOU CAN IMAGINE!  From fruit to crushed up graham cracker to anything with chocolate, holy cow, it’s an amazing experience.  You pay based on weight, you get to fill yours up!  I joked they have one in heaven, but when you get to the cash register, Jesus shows up and says, “No, it’s okay.  I got this, it’s paid for.”  Samantha, Charlotte and I sat around eating these amazing creations and catching up since it had been forever since we chatted.  We just need our Miranda and we’d be all set.

I live in paradise.

Gifts from God

My friend Samantha and I were talking over upscale martinis the other night when I told her about something I have discovered about myself in the past couple of years: I pick up on vibes other people give out.  I still say I am a poor judge of character, but I can sense the atmosphere of people when I’m around them.  I know how people view me and I can usually tell if they’re being sincere.  It’s weird, I am not psychic, I cannot tell the future.  Just the present.  Most of the time I ignore it: sometimes I will meet someone and just not like them; I will have no reasons to back up my dislike.  And sometimes, their true colors are revealed (a cheater, a fake, etc.)

It came to a culmination some years ago when I sensed something was going on between 2 people of my acquaintance.  I saw them standing next to each other for a split second in time — they were standing much too close for 2 people who were married to other people.  They’re having an affair, I thought. I had no tangible proof and I was by no means going to confront them, it was just a weird vibe.  I let it go.  Several months later, I find that my suspicions were confirmed. How…odd.  Things like that happen and I wonder.  Same thing happened with my friend’s girlfriend.  I didn’t like her and I didn’t know why.  She was kind, beautiful, and made my guy friend so happy.  I figured I was just jealous because she seemed to have it all and I was single at the time and not happy about it.  Soon after that, she left my guy friend for a co-worker in the meanest way possible.

Samantha said, “Oh!  You have the spiritual gift of discernment!”  The what?  I looked it up and this is what a website said:

Discernment / Distinguishing of Spirits – The special ability God gives to some to know with assurance whether certain behavior or teaching is from God, Satan, human error, or human power.

The divine enablement to distinguish between truth and error, to discern the spirits, differentiating between good and evil, right and wrong.

People with this gift:
– distinguish truth from error, right from wrong, pure motives from impure
– identify deception in others with accuracy and appropriateness
– determine whether a word attributed to God is authentic
– recognize inconsistencies in a teaching, prophetic message, or interpretation
– are able to sense the presence of evil.

Meh.  Some of it sounds like me, some of it no.  I don’t have much practice with “sensing the presence of evil.”  I’m not sure if my definition is the same as what it says here.  I dated Lys — no discernment there!  Maybe it’s because I was too immature to recognize it?

Curiosity took over and so I took a quiz (You can take it too. Scroll to the bottom to start.)

My top 5 results:

Faith
Poverty
Wisdom
Exhortation
Encourage

I also accidentally took the youth quiz and got these results:

Faith
Giving
Writing
Discernment
Hospitality

I feel I better relate to the youth quiz.  I feel I do not have the gifts of poverty, wisdom, exhortation, or encouragement; I do feel I have more of a giving, writing, discernment, hospitality persona.  I was equally surprised to find that faith topped both lists.  I never saw myself as someone who has rock solid faith, but the more I thought about it, my actions and thought patterns do reflect someone with that gift.  Here is what they say about the spiritual gift of faith:

Faith – The special conviction God gives to some to be firmly persuaded of God’s power and promises to accomplish His will and purpose and to display such a confidence in Him and His Word that circumstances and obstacles do not shake that conviction.

The divine enablement to act on God’s promises with confidence and unwavering belief in God’s ability to fulfill his purposes.

People with this gift:
– believe the promises of God and inspire others to do the same
– act in complete confidence of God’s ability to overcome obstacles
– demonstrate an attitude of trust in God’s will and his promises
– advance the cause of Christ because they go forward when others will not
– ask God for what is needed and trust him for his provision.

I find all of this fascinating.  When I was saved at 16, I found my spiritual gift to be “service.”  Now, 14 years later, I’ve matured in Christ and as a person, I wonder if those gifts change as we change? I  am who I am at the core, but more fine-tuned now.

I plan to pray and research a bit more about this, so that the Lord can reveal more about all this.

Conversely, my  lowest ranking gifts are 100% correct:

Celibacy
Music
Speaking/Understanding Tongues
Craftsmanship
Pastor
Prophecy

What’s your spiritual gift?

All together now

Necrotic infection. I-95. College friends. Running. Adventures. Playing hooky from work.

It’s been a whirlwind of a week.

The The General and I embarked to Florida to visit friends from his college days. It was awesome. More about that later.

This week my buddy Zetta from college is staying with us in between gigs (she’s on the road, lucky girl). It’s been fun. It’s hard to believe its been 6 years since we hung out – and that we became friends – we met because my boyfriend at the time had a crush on her. A lot of drama insued, but we’re better now; although Zetta is the reason I can’t drink vodka anymore. There’s a bottle of it on my sink, I have a feeling it will be gone by the time she gets on the plane….

I totally played hooky from work today because Zetta was here and I almost got caught….twice!  Once at Wal-Mart and another time leaving the best sushi place on earth: Yo Sake in downtown Wilmington.  Holy cow.  I NEVER call in, I’m usually the one who stays another shift because someone else calls in – and the one time I do I get caught.  Such is the luck of a former honor student.

Another holiday spent at work — working all of Easter weekend and I’m actually going to be at church for Easter for my bouncer duties.  Ever hear of Creasters?  They’re those people who only attend church on Christmas or Easter (because you know, God sees that and finds favor……::rolls eyes::).  The General and I are the exact opposite: we attend church on most Sundays and not major Christian holidays because the crowds are beyond nuts and we feel it’d be better to give up our seat so hopefully someone who is not a Christian is there with friends to hear the message. And we’re usually working.  Ah, the simple joys of having family 1,000 miles away and no children.

Stay tuned, more to come after I find the Easter candy.

Friends are friends forever

I learned recent that my best friend from high school, Pat, is moving to Wilmington this summer!  How crazy is that?!  She’s come down the past couple of summers with her significant other to hang out at the beach and stay with us.  She’s going to come down this spring to check out the apartment scene and hopefully transfer through the company she works for.  What’s even more interesting is how different we are.  In high school we were cut from the same cloth, but now we have completely different lifestyles.  Half way through college, she came out as bisexual. Totally did not see that coming at all!  By the end of college, she decided she wanted to transgender into male.  Whoa.  While she has the clearance to get testosterone, she hasn’t had surgery nor the hormone injections, so she’s essentially a female living and dressing like a guy – and being so thin and lanky, she looks like one too.  Luckily her name is androgynous, although she’s toyed with the idea of changing it.  She doesn’t shave and wears board shorts with a sports bra and t-shirt to the beach.  Despite all the pronoun changes, I can’t bring myself to refer to her as a “he.”  In my heart, Pat will always be Pat.  Despite all the changes, the core person is still there – the one I became friends with in the 5th grade.

While I do not  agree with the homosexual culture, I don’t shun people of that world either.  Yes, the Bible states – rather plainly – that it is wrong.  The Bible also says other things are wrong like fornication among heterosexuals.  Jesus spoke with a Samaritan woman at the well – a HUGE social taboo for Jews – He didn’t judge her, he pointed her towards the Father.  Just like everyone else, we all have issues that are contrary to the Bible.  I make my friends based on who they are at their core and their heart, not who they are sexually.  Nonetheless, I am looking forward to having a little slice of my home life here!

I wonder how this chapter of our friendship will be in this time and place.

Time being of the essence

I took yet another roadtrip (!) the other day, this time to Charlotte, to see off a dear college buddy of mine who will spend the next 6 months as a missionary in the African jungle working with school children.  Her name is Alice.

We went to our favorite traditional restaurant from our Illinoisan homeland: Steak n Shake.  I ate way more than I should have, but it was worth it.  We caught up with each other’s lives and the lives of mutual friends, and of course, talked about her upcoming trip of a lifetime.  Our conversation quickly drifted to the future.

Where would we be in 6 months?

This trip is going to change and challenge Alice in many ways I’m sure we can’t even fathom at this point in time.

Where will I be in 6 months?  How will I be changed and challenged?

One of my biggest issues is control and fear of the future.  I’m so much better if I know.  I don’t care if it’s good or bad, I just want to know what lies ahead.  I know it’s a God thing, it is totally up to Him and I have to let go and allow His plan to unfold.

I always worry the Lord will not give me what I want (in terms of abstract, not physical/monetary means), that He’ll give me a vase of fake flowers instead of one beautiful live rose – I certainly don’t deserve it.  As I look back at my life, His provision has always left me satisfied.

Our pastor says the Lord will give us everything we need to fulfill His plan for our lives.  And while I won’t be battling malaria or bugs as big as my head, I will have things here to enliven me.  What will they be?

After all, time is of the essence.

Messin’ with Texas Tour: Day 4

I had booked my flight from San Antonio to Atlanta to Wilmington early Monday morning so I could be home in time to work.  My plan would have been flawless if it weren’t for the snow that shut down Atlanta and Wilmington.  Luckily, I had found out early Sunday about my flight cancellation so I was able to call Orbitz and Delta to get things straightened out.  The funniest part was I had changed the trip name on my Orbitz account to “Messin’ with Texas Tour” and when I spoke with the heavily-accented Orbitz operator, who obviously was not a native English speaker, who asked, “Is this regarding your “Messin’ with Texas Tour?”  I could barely respond “Yes” to keep from laughing so hard.

After a lot of silence on the other end, the kind gentleman at Delta and I figured out a plan.  I would fly from San Antonio to JFK in New York City to Richmond, Virginia.  Crazy?  I’ll explain.

I have a college friend who I haven’t seen in ages who lives in Richmond, a decent 5 hour haul from Wilmington.  I figured since Wilmington was probably going to be shut down for 2 days for the blizzard (< 10″), I’d just rent a car and drive down the next day from Richmond.  I was all about the adventure.

I hugged Miranda good-bye, got out of San Antonio on time and landed at JFK, an airport I had never been to before.  I got twisted up in my itty bitty terminal and ended up walking out of the secure area in search of my non-existent gate.  Bugger.  I’d have to go through security again.  While I’ve traveled many cities in Europe, I’ve never been to New York, and as soon as the wanderlust started, I realized it was January, I was in New York, and my “coat” was a knit zip-up sweater.  Brrrr.  So I went through security AGAIN and figured out that gate 23 split into several different avenues (hence why there was no terminal H).

I stumbled upon a French bistro for lunch and had a crepe with Nutella.  I am currently battling an addiction to Nutella (especially after I came home and found a recipe for crepes), and oh my goodness it was heaven.  I got on the plane, tried to sleep, but the lady next to me was too close for me to slump in my seat and it made for a very uncomfortable nap.

I landed in Richmond and was picked up by my friend J.  We went back to her house and played a board game, ate a lovely dinner prepared by her boyfriend with steak and potatoes, and played some Kinect for the 1st time (that game is awesome!).

The next morning J made breakfast with real bacon and sausage and drove me to the airport.  I rented a Toyota Yaris (not a fun car to drive) and it ended up costing more than I thought it would, but it was so worth it.  I plugged in my iPod and headed for the sunnier skies of Wilmington.

The roads weren’t too bad – just wet – and as a former Illinoisan, I am quite comfortable in snow.  Unfortunately the car rental companies do not have any manual transmissions, so I was forced to take an automatic, something I don’t like to drive in bad weather conditions.  Well, it was one of those maze-like gear shifters and I noticed how hard the engine was running.  I didn’t have a tachometer or any other informative gauges, so I figured it was just the way the car sounded, having never driven one before.  I was about an hour down I-95 when I realized I was in 3rd gear.  Oops.  Shoved her into “drive” and all of a sudden it was a lot quieter and ran better.  I’m such an idiot!

I made it into Wilmington early afternoon, sort of sad that my adventure had come to an end.  I grabbed sushi at Nikki’s and all was right in my world.

I’m ready for my next adventure!

Messin’ with Texas Tour: Day 3

Miranda’s family is fortunate enough to have a ranch in Texas that was passed down through her family.  We took this opportunity to head down to the ranch and experience the real Texas landscape and to see what she grew up in.  The ranch is in a remote part of the world, very few human footprints can be seen for miles.  It was such a beautiful sight.  We hiked around, I was in awe of the plant life – a lot of things I had never seen before; large cacti, nifty live oaks (which aren’t like what we have here in Wilmington), brush, buffalo grass – just to name a few.

The weirdest thing was the cactus in a tree — apparently birds can take the needles and deposit them on the tree branch and if conditions are right, voila! a cactus will take root in a tree.  Amazing.

Another great thing about the ranch is the free-range cows.  The cows were awesome, I think I bonded with them.  They are such gentle creatures and I think it helped that I had pellets to feed them.  Despite my love for the bovine, I still love steak.

I got to experience new things: riding a 4 wheeler, climbing a windmill and seeing a wild armadillo.  I am not very good at riding a 4 wheeler – I can drive a manual no problem, but shifting gears smoothly evaded me. Both Miranda and I feared for our lives and all I could think of was how far away we were from a trauma center.  There were several windmills on the ranch to pump water for the cows.  Miranda climbed so high!  I, a well established rock climber, only got about 10 feet off the ground cuz my vertigo kicked in and I wasn’t tied in, nor did I trust the windmill.  It was my only let down of the trip.  On our way out we saw the armadillo – we chased this little guy, but he got away.  Fast little suckers!  I didn’t see a roadrunner, but I think I will save that for my next trip.

After a long day at the ranch, we headed back to her house and cleaned up for a night downtown on the Riverwalk in San Antonio.  As it turns out, the river walk was closed!  They were doing the yearly drain of the river to clean it and all the stores and restaurants were closed.  We were so bummed!  So we stopped at the Marriott and asked the front desk for their recommendation of a good Mexican restaurant.  They suggested Rosario’s and so Adelle lead the way.  The atmosphere was great, the food was wonderful, and the margarita I ordered had a lot of tequila in it.  I had my 1st chalupa and it was amazing!  I would totally go back!  It was a nice way to end my visit to Miranda’s corner of the world.

But my adventure wasn’t over yet.

It had only begun.

Messin’ with Texas Tour: Day 2

Day 2 started out early – we were on the road before the sun came up.

After Alabama, we hit Mississippi ::yawn::, and then Louisiana.  It was here that Miranda learned of one of my notorious roadtrip impulses: wanderlust.

I was all about stopping somewhere for breakfast and we were nearing Lake Pontchartrain when it hit me: let’s have breakfast at Cafe Du Monde – in the French Quarter in New Orleans. I had been there once in 2001 on a mission trip and the thought of a French breakfast was slightly overpowering.  Without much thought – or consulting Adelle – I took the next exit, I-55 south – and headed towards The Big Easy.  It was then we realized that it would take the better part of an hour to get there (delaying us about 3 hours total), we had a dog, and a SUV full of Miranda’s possessions.  So we decided that maybe this would be something for our next roadtrip and made a “legal u-turn” after Adelle nearly stroked out with our change of plans.

And so we continued on to the great state of Texas.  After only being to Texarcana, which is not technically Texas, I got schooled in all things Texas.

  • The state flag flies at the same height as the American flag.  Crazy Texans.  They will be their own country someday.
  • Texas has these “feeder roads” the parallel the interstate – much like a service road – and you can easily move from feeder road to interestate with out exits (but they have those too.)  I wonder why no other state has this.
  • ZZ Top is from Houston, which I’m told is not a fun city.
  • It’s quite an agricultural state, which I didn’t expect.  They refer to things such as farm roads.

Our 1st stop was for lunch – Miranda and I split a Whataburger, a hamberger chain that has the most yummy burgers ever.  Unfortunately, the closest one to me is in Georgia.  Their chocolate shakes were pretty good too.  Our next stop was at D&D, a cowboy store.  It had everything from cowboy knick-knacks to saddles for your horse.  I even tried on a cowboy hat – I was way too Yankee for that store, but it was interesting to see all the clothing.  Just when I thought I had seen everything Texas, we stopped at Buc-ee’s, a traditional Texas truck stop with a novelty shop with all sorts of Texas goods.  I got the General a stand for pop cans so he could shoot them with the pellet gun.  Hee hee.

My brain was about to explode with all the new stuff I learned about the Lone Star state as we pulled into Miranda’s homestead.  Her family was so sweet and her house was so warm and homey.  Once we’re done decorating our place, I hope our house has the same appeal.  We dined on this amazing pot roast her mom made and then made our way for a quick tour of downtown San Antonio.  After that, it was time for bed.  I did too much Texas in 1 day, I was beat!

Messin’ with Texas Tour: Day 1

We started our 1,400 mile roadtrip from Wilmington, North Carolina to San Antonio, Texas started early at 0330.  Miranda, who is moving back to Texas til May, showed up at my house well before sunrise…..she had no sleep; I was running on 2 hours of slumber due to work.   There was no coffee involved: oh yeah, we’re that hardcore.  Also along for the ride was Miranda’s 2 year old Havanese and Adelle Magellan, a GPS system who reminded us to do legal u-turns (she’s named after a combination of our middle names since this was her inaugural trip) – our adventures had just begun.  And so, with an Xterra packed to the gills, we hit the road.

We drove to the Cocaine Corridor (aka I-95) and watched the sun come up over the South Carolinian horizon heading for Columbia.  We then headed east towards Atlanta with a stop for gas at a crazy hickish gas station.  We then hit Alabama and got lost at the exit with the Kia Motors factory – Adelle swore there was a gas station there – there was not – just a lot of cars (oh the puns!).  Luckily, the next exit had  gas station.

We kept our selves amused by talking about random stuff, my first generation iPod via a radio transmitter, eating peanut butter M&M’s, granola bars, and drinking water.  How we stayed awake is beyond me. Isabelle, the Havanese, was good in the car; a lot of nervous panting, but she kept me warm by sitting on my lap.

12 hours later we arrived at our 1st stop – Mobile, Alabama.  We got a dog-friendly hotel just outside the downtown area – it was cheap, but it was nice.  We set up shop, got ourselves cleaned up, and headed downtown in search of food (we really didn’t stop for breakfast….or lunch).  Because Mobile is a port city, I expected it to be like Wilmington – a cute downtown with some nightlife.   We weren’t in the right mode for bar hopping, obviously, but we figured there would be something interesting to see or do.   There was not.

Even though it was only 5pm, but they had already rolled up the sidewalks for the night — on a Friday night, no less.  It was strangely quiet among the french-inspired buildings of long ago.  A very quant and nice downtown, but pretty dull people wise.  We walked along Dauphin Street for awhile, and finally settled on dining at Buck’s Pizza.  We both had strombolli’s since it had been forever since we had one – Miranda got one with mostly meat, I went with all veggies — so good — especially after not eating a full meal in almost 24 hours!

Because of our crazy hours, we were in bed by 8pm so we’d be up and ready to go by 0530.  Yikes, another early morning for this night owl!

All went well until about 0100 and we heard gun shots – from a handgun, in our little corner of the commercial district of the city.  Of course, Isabelle took this opportunity to want to go outside, so I followed Miranda and Isabelle outside, still dazed from sleep — no one was going out there alone after gunshots!

We fell back asleep until I heard Miranda rumaging around — my alarm clock that has been to more European cities than most Americans — didn’t go off.  It was, as the Germans say, kaput.  Ran into the shower, grabbed a granola bar and headed out the door.  It was my turn to drive.

Isabelle ready for the road, a view of I-20 somewhere in Georgia, an the Kia Motors factory in Alabama

Driving down the beautiful view of Government Street in Mobile, view of lifeless Dauphin Street