run-on sentences

If someone makes a biopic of me, and doesn’t mind the songs being anachronistic, I want this to be the music for 2002.

Last week, I spent my bonus day off (I’m now at three weeks and a day of vacation) on taking my nephew on a college tour at CNU. Earlier, my mom suggested that I just pick a random Saturday or something and give the tour myself. I didn’t register to her that in the roughly 13 years since I graduated, nearly every building that was there has been demolished.

I still got to embarrass him and his sister, though.

When we got to the admissions office, I yelled. The receptionist, Donna, still was there. She ran over and gave me a hug. And then Michael and Shonda got them, too. After we spent some time catching up, we started our tour.

The format completely changed. There’s now a video and a PowerPoint. The presenter even mentioned how the school is proud of how Trible wiped away effectively every vestige of the Japanese-themed architecture that dominated the campus due to a hefty donation from Canon during the college’s early days.

The tour only pointed out

  • the Freeman Center, our gym (which is now also the new home of Gaines Theater);
  • the Trible Library (somewhere in there is structural steel from the Capt. John Smith Library, and that’s the only thing that keeps me from being terminally angry about it);
  • York River Hall, the newest freshman-only dorm, if I’m not mistaken;
  • the Student Union, which opened right after I officially left but was still involved with The Captain’s Log and my fraternity, so it’s the only new building I know; and
  • Luter Hall, one of the academic buildings.

I was a little surprised by how short the actual tour part of the tour was was. In my day, we at least pointed to every building. Sure, they did point to Hiden-Hussey Commons, but said nothing about Santoro of James River, barely touched on East Campus, said nothing about Potomac River Hall and I guess it really makes sense to not bother with upperclassmen dorms on a freshman tour. But at least go inside New McMurran and Forbes. I also wanted to see that weird addition-not addition to James River Hall and the one spot on campus that still looks the way it did in the second half of my college career. (A tree and a sculpture were removed from the Santoro courtyard, so I can’t truly say that looks like it did in 2001.)

I got to see my former boss, Angela, before we left. We also spoke in animated tones in front of Michael and Shonda.

When we headed home, I did point out a few things.

I drove past Ratcliffe Hall, which is now an athletic center and server room. I first met Renée there in January 2002.

Finally, I wound my way through the Hidenwood neighborhood, making remarks about how I can’t believe I used to bike about two miles back and forth to class for a full semester because I didn’t want to buy a parking decal, and drove past my old fraternity house on Deep Creek Road.

The building renovations finally have been completed, and it looks decent. I wish I could have gone in.

If I were younger, I probably would have anyway.

Overall, it was great to be back. Michael is interested in band, and got a separate tour of the Ferg and met a staff member with the band department. I think he wants to go there. I’d jump to the opportunity to be there with him for Freshman Move-In.

Although so much had changed, CNU felt like home. I through about all the antics I had there, like allegedly putting soap in the geese fountain now next to the chapel and mattress jousting on the Great Lawn and the Slam ‘N’ Jam and the parties and the late nights at the paper and the friendships I made nearly 18 years ago that persist to this day. Christopher Newport University set me down the path I’m on, and I wouldn’t have it any other way.

I hope Michael eventually gets to say the same thing.

my dog has cost me $60


I stumbled across Sneaks a few hours ago, and now I can’t wait for her third album to drop on Friday.

We weren’t even in this apartment a full day when Missy stuck her entire head through the blinds. Although our apartment has windows that nearly stretch from the floor to the ceiling (6-foot windows and 8-foot ceilings, which is the lowest ceiling I’ve had since 2015), we hadn’t considered her doing that. But she did, breaking the corner of about two slats in both bedrooms because they face the parking lot. We decided that we had to stack things in front of some of the windows and raise the blinds slightly on the windows where blocking them was impractical. This, of course has two down sides: I can’t really open and close the blinds how I’d like and anyone behind our apartment can look into our living room and kitchen.

As for the broken blinds, there were near the bottom, as that’s where Missy’s head was, and the missing pieces were not entirely noticeable, in my opinion. I decided that I’d either replace them before we moved out or when they told us to fix them.

Fast forward nearly a year. The blinds in our bedroom had been fully raised since the summer when our air conditioner momentarily conked out and we had to open the window. The spare bedroom’s blinds were up a bit just like the ones in the living room and kitchen, as it’s mostly my closet.

Then we got a note that generically said to lower or replace the blinds within five days or we’d be charged $50 each to replace them.

I already was having a bad day, so that was one of the last things I needed to see. I angrily lowered the blinds — because I get them wanting the windows to look uniform and it probably was in the lease, but screw you for being aggro about it and not policing it for 10 month — and swore about it the whole time. And then, as the blinds hit the windowsill, I was reminded that Missy broke them slightly.

Since inspecting for blinds compliance suddenly is a thing now, it was time to buy blinds for like $10.

Easier said than done.

Remember how I said that the windows are nearly floor-to-ceiling? The closest place that had blinds that spanned that height was across Afton Mountain. No one within 30 miles had blinds the dimension of the master bedroom window, about 50 inches by 72 inches, and ordering them meant they would arrive past the deadline. Or I could get fancy wood ones that cost $50 anyway.

I decided to buy the one for the smaller window and deal with the consequences of the other. I also tried very hard to not be mad at Missy because she didn’t know what she was doing and we should have assumed she would trip to get her face as close to the glass as possible, even if the blinds were open. I got over it, but later that night I needed to be by myself for a while.

I measured the window several times and read on every store website that blinds are a little shorter than the window measurement so they actually fit. And then I discovered that blinds come in nearly width imaginable. I consistently got 35 inches when I measured the window. Never mind that there also were 34-inch and 34½-inch blinds. In retrospect, I should have measured the blinds themselves.

WHY CAN’T WINDOWS HAVE STANDARD SIZES?

I went with 35 inches and headed to Waynesboro.

When I got back, I discovered that the blinds were just barely too large. Like millimeters. I tried forcing it, but it didn’t work.

Remember that already being a bad day? I wasn’t about to drive across a mountain to return those. I threw the blinds to the ground in frustration, sent Renée $50, since I decided we’d pay for one each, and put in a borderline aggressive work order for them to come replace the stupid blinds for their exorbitant deterrence fee. I’m surprised I didn’t curse in it.

Currently, there are things stacked up in front of all six windows in this apartment. If you come visit, now you know why. Missy can’t look out, and now I don’t have a desire to have natural light in here sometimes. Maintenance is coming in at some point Tuesday to measure the windows. If I’m home at the time, I’ll suggest the 34½-inch blinds for the spare room.

déjà vu

Brand new truck, butter-soft seats …

I’ve been on a Tribe kick since going to Queens. After The Roots, it’s my favorite hip-hop group. I remember where I was the first time I heard Award Tour when I was a kid. I used to know all the words to Scenario, and that started because I was not expected to hear RAWR, RWAR LIKE A DUNGEON DRAGON come out of Busta Rhyme’s mouth. Remembering when my mom tried to rap along to Electric Relaxation, I guess in an attempt to prove that she still was hip, still makes me cringe. (But not as bad as when she used “Chiggity check yourself before you wreck yourself!” as a catchphrase.)

Anyway, so when Tribe broke up and Q-Tip released his first solo album, I got Amplified as soon as it came out.

When I got to Let’s Ride, I paused. I had heard that beat before. And it wasn’t because I had heard Joe Pass’ play Giant Steps.

Wait for it.

When I was younger, I often would experience déjà vu. Anther one that really freaked me out was when I was in Model United Nations. I was sitting across from a kid with a distinctly odd-looking face, and I had had visions of sitting across from a kid in a suit with an odd-looking face for years.

But, when I was in my bedroom in 1999, I envisioned being in the back of a car in a large city while Let’s Ride played.

In early 2000, I attended the National Young Leader’s Conference. I learned a lot of things that week, one of which being that definitely did not want to be a politician. I wanted to be one of the people who brought them down. Another thing I learned was that Washington, D.C., was where my “This is a moment where I’ll hear this song” feeling came from.

I took the train there and got a ride from my brother-in-law’s brother to where I was staying. My departure time didn’t mesh up with him driving me back to Union Station, so I got a cab. Before the cab arrived, I had put Amplified in my portable CD player, as was the way in ye olde days. Let’s Ride is like 15 minutes into the album, and I had been more or less alternating between it and Things Fall Apart (I considered myself to be a backpacker at this point in my life, so I was having a little crisis about You Got Me blowing up), so I wasn’t planning on this matching with anything. I just decided that I wanted to start my trip home with Kamaal Fareed.

Somewhere along the trip, that moment that matched with the first time I heard the song happened.

I mention this because of three things. On my road trip to Kansas, Brandon brought up the night I had when I started earning the nickname Epic. My car was in Newport News. My last memory was in Norfolk. I woke up in my childhood bedroom. I no longer lived there and, thankfully, my mom and grandmother were not home that night. As absolutely no one I know has any idea what I did (I disappeared from a party, I can’t recall how or why I went to Norfolk and have no idea how I got back to the Peninsula), the conjecture is that I died and simply respawned. If you’ve been following this blog for a while, I’ve had many, many times that involve moments where I don’t understand how I did not die, so it’s plausible that I know all the save points and cheat codes.

The other reason why I bring this up is because I had a very brief
déjà vu moment in the hotel room in New York. It doesn’t happen to me as much anymore, so it sticks out that I experienced something that I swore I experienced before.

Years ago, the subtitle to the viaduct was “hoping the road of life isn’t a beltway.” I was because I was starting to have a suspicion that things sometimes felt familiar because this is the Matrix and I’m starting to remember looping through this. I have another instance where a former coworker can tell you that I completely predicted the person in the lobby waiting for him.

“He’s going to have some weird, giant sore [on his waist] that he’s going to show you because he thinks the hospital screwed up,” I said.

When Fred came back up from the lobby, he started swearing at me because I set him up. I did no such thing. I just … knew.

Where the hell’s this when the Mega Millions is obscenely large?

The third reason why I brought this all up is because I love looking up the origin of song samples. It’s why I listen to such weird music. I heard that one passage in a song that was a part of the backbone of 2001 and, the next thing I know, I’m grooving on an entire album of 1970s Icelandic acid jazz.

For some reason, I never searched for where J Dilla got that guitar loop until the Tribe pilgrimage. This album is pretty frickin’ cool.

starting the year off with a bang 2: electric boogaloo

Relax yourself, girl, please settle down.

Absolute, throbbing, searing pain for which there is no succor. That is what I felt on New Year’s Day after I decided to walk off the mild discomfort I felt in my foot the day before. I slept on my stomach with my right foot at a funny angle while my dog slept on said foot for nearly the entire duration because she likes sleeping near my feet. I woke up to a swollen foot. I couldn’t put any weight on it. Moving it was the worst sensation I’ve ever had in my life, and I’ve had three invasive surgeries and fell off a bicycle face-first.

I have no idea how I would have operated a car, but my wife had to stop me from driving myself to urgent care while I was nearly rationalizing amputation. I thought about people who have chronic pain, get increasingly potent opioids and wind up being addicted a but still in pain as their tolerance rises. I’m not 100 percent certain I would not have turned down meth at this point.

If I can property brace or prepare for it, I can hide being excited or in pain. That came in handy when I am absolutely certain I broke my arm or elbow in elementary school doing something I was explicitly told not to do. I am lucky that 1) my parents did not notice and 2) I can fully extend my left arm. When I finally got seen at urgent care, I was asked where my pain was on a scale of 1-10, I said 8½. I’m sure no one believed me. But I was extremely close to wailing. I now know I will wail at 9, and 10 probably will cause me to unleash a torrent of expletives that would cause Rudy Ray Moore to rise from the dead to give me a round of applause.

I honestly was shocked when they said I hadn’t broken anything.

I was equally shocked that I wasn’t given any pain pills. Instead, I was given a corticosteroid for the inflammation and antibiotics because one of the side effect would be a weakening of my immune system. The swelling and pain went down to tolerable levels almost immediately, and I’ve gone from crutches to a cane to walking gingerly to nearly walking normally as of 2:25 a.m. Saturday.

I won’t be re-enacting the Now That We Found Love video anytime soon, though.

And I’m going to be move cognizant of where Missy is in the bed each night.

Have we really gone 28 years without discussing the dude dancing in the clear jumpsuit with just his draws on?

there was chicken, but there were not collard greens

I legitimately was in Hollis for a few minutes.
While I was waiting to get picked up, I *totally* did not see a drug deal go down.
I purposely took the LIRR to there on Christmas Eve so I could Facebook a photo of something with Hollis on it.

For the first time in about two years, I went to New York. I didn’t intend on not going to New York for nearly two years; it just happened. I visited at least once a year from 2003 to 2016, so not going north of the Mason-Dixon Line in 2017 was a bit disappointing, and although I saw it was no big deal, nearly not going for Christmas and my wife’s birthday was a big deal.

I almost didn’t go because of Missy. Our original lodging plans fell through, and driving to Hampton Roads to drop her off was about ridiculous because it would have added at least three hours to our trip and the tolls on the Chesapeake Bay Bridge-Tunnel (well, I probably would have rerouted us to the free side of the Chesapeake Bay Bridge on the way back, but that’s neither here nor there, much like how the Chesapeake Bay Bridge-Tunnel and the Chesapeake Bay Bridge are two wholly different things).

Renée found a dog-friendly hotel on Long Island, so the plan of me staying in Virginia to watch the dog was short lived. (For those of you just tuning in, Missy abhors any animals that aren’t humans, so figuring out what to do with her always is a challenge.)

We arrived on last Sunday, and Missy visited every borough that day (and the entire trip) except for the Bronx. Manhattan was thrown in that day because we got takeout from Renée’s favorite restaurant, Flor de Mayo.

I didn't take a lot of pictures of New York because I've reached the point that I'm not in awe of the city. I miss being in a heavily urbanized area, though.
We crossed the Queensboro Bridge on the way to the restaurant. I can’t traverse this bridge without thinking about Angela.
Taxi was one of my favorite TV shows when I was a kid from the music alone. Thanks, Bob James!

On Christmas Eve, we got lunch before heading to Renée’s grandparent’s in Queens. I decided to tag along with her trip to midtown with Renée’s aunts because I had plans to meet my fraternity big brother near Penn Station.

The trip became an ordeal because some idiot pulled the emergency brake two trains ahead of ours.

I only had time to take a couple of pictures of Rockefeller Center before I needed to hop back on the train to get to Herald Square.

I've seen bigger.
I was not impressed by this tree.
I genuinely was excited about this because I watch entirely too much NBC.
Live from Rockefeller Center, …

Of course I was late to my meeting at Stout. The friggin’ F train was delayed again. I could live in New York, but I would have to position myself in a way that I could avoid the Subway most of the time. I was told to take the LIRR back because I could get deeper into Queens and one does not simply walk into Jamaica Center after dark. So I took the first of two hip-hop pilgrimages.

We mostly spent Christmas Day in Queens, alternating between celebrating the day with my extended in-laws and camping out in the basement with Missy. There was another dog in the house, so we had to keep them separated. For the most part, there was an entire floor between them the entire time. Dinner consisted of ham, chicken, shrimp, string beans, macaroni and cheese, yams and numerous desserts. Coincidentally, that was the menu at my mom’s house, with the addition of roast beef.

Although the following day was Renée’s birthday, it began with a treat for me: New York seltzer and pastrami. You have no idea how much I live for both. If we weren’t heading to Renée’s birthday dinner, I would have also gotten knishes and matzo ball soup. I went to the Pastrami King. I’ve been Team Katz, but I’ll probably think about Pastrami King for the rest of my life.

Living
I still need seltzer from out of a glass bottle with a siphon.
My
Food fit for a King
196 Merrick Road, Merrick, NY
Best Life
Behold the glory of the rye bred, deli mustard and pastrami.

After this food, it was time for more food. We dined at Chef Wang. I’m usually adventurous with food, but I played it safe this time. I regret not getting the braised frogs with picked peppers. I haven’t had frog since I went to Louisiana in 2010.

Thursday was our long slog home. Before we got stuck in traffic several times between Long Island and Maryland, we made a few stops. Among the first was another hip-hop pilgrimage.

For some reason, the video to this iconic song is not on YouTube.
Back in the days on the boulevard of Linden ...
If you’re familiar with the video to Check the Rhime (and a couple other songs), you’re familiar with Nu-Clear Cleaners.
You on point, Phife? All the time, Tip.
Linden Boulevard represent, represent

On our way to meet Renée’s friend Chris in Hoboken, we were trending toward going through the Bronx so Missy could be in all five boroughs. Traffic and GPS (and two missed turns) had other plans, so we wound up on the Brooklyn Bridge

I took a ton of photos as we crossed, and this was the only one I liked
I’m usually the driver, so despite this being my third crossing of the Brooklyn Bridge, this is my first photo.

and through the Holland Tunnel.

I'm a fan of typography and design, but the original decoration placement didn't bother me.
No longer the HOLLAAD TONNEL.

This trip wasn’t the first time I spent an extended period of time in New York City with people who live in New York City, but this trip more than any other made it feel like any other city in America. I honestly don’t think there’s anything in the city I desperately need to see. Like Hampton Roads, it’s a place where family members live. Like Hampton Roads, it has places with food I love to eat. Like Hampton Roads, it’s a place in which I don’t need to do anything special. I just need to be in those port towns along the Atlantic, breathe in the salt air and see seagulls.

Although I love the mountains, have no intention to at the very least not move out of this apartment anytime soon and am afraid of the rising sea, I must return to the coast at some point.

And I hope many, many, many years pass before I have another without New York.

it’s been a long time; we shouldn’t of left you without a dope beat to step to

Enough is enough
PARTY'S HERE!
Yes, I wear this sweater regularly.

This is the face of a man who has not seen his friends since February because he keeps making excuses about why he can’t drive a whole hour to Richmond.

I’ve been a terrible friend. I keep making excuses as to why I can’t go to Richmond. Some of them are legit, though — up until August, didn’t normally have weekends off.

After that, I had no excuse.

I don’t want to go to a place so close and leave my wife to tend to the dog all day and night. We can’t to certain places together with Missy because she hates every living creature that isn’t a human. I can’t just go to Richmond and come back because part of the reason for going is to drink booze.

A few weeks ago, I relented. There was no excuse. I walked Missy that morning and said I would walk her the following night. And I genuinely missed my Richmond friends. I’m seriously not joking when I say I blame my dog. In a way, I understand how some of my friends with kids feel. But I went to Kansas for a few days last month and it’s not like I won’t enjoy multiple days with this face while Renée takes a solo trip.

She's nearly 13
LOOK AT THIS LOVABLE MUG.

So, I finally arrived in Richmond. It was glorious. We sang songs, swapped stories, reminisced and shared memes and crazy YouTube videos. It was exactly what I needed.

Why have I been away from this?

I vowed to not let so much time go by before I visit again. I already have plans to at the very least go back in February to see St. Paul and the Broken Bones again.

I said I was going to do a lot of things now that I have weekends (mostly) off and work mostly ends at a respectable hour. Being reminded over the course of two months of what that entails has been invigorating.

I miss you, friends. In 2019, I shall see you.

And, if you don’t have pets, I’ll bring my dog with me.

backwards

I can neither confirm not deny that I heard the non-orchestral version of this song while waiting for food and then downloaded Wax Tailor’s entire œuvre.

The first time I ever drove was when I was in elementary school. An extremely hungover Theresa ordered food from the seafood restaurant around the corner. It was simple enough: A left, a right, a right, a right a right, a right and the park. Only three instances of oncoming traffic, one of which at a traffic light. Technically not even out of our neighborhood. I made it down our street well. I stopped at the stop sign. I tried to turn left and careened into a ditch because I did not realize how far one needed to turn the wheel to make a car make a 90-degree turn. Years passed before I got behind the wheel again.

Fast forward to Maryland when I was an early teen. My brother-in-law at the time knew I was going to learn to drive soon and figured he would give me some pointers.

“Driving backward is hard,” he said (or something like that). “If you learn that first, going forward is easy.”

Well, he had an early 1980s two-door Oldsmobile Delta 88. If you’re not familiar with it, it’s 218 inches long. That’s comparable in size to the Chevrolet Suburban. I shit you not.

So, here I am — 14 years old — having my second driving experience ever wheeling a vehicle in one larger than a goddamned Chrysler Pacifica minivan backwards. But I did it. I was mortified, but I did it.

But I typically avoid going in reverse. Back into a space? No. Back down a  long driveway? Watch me lose my nerve and run off to the side. Get out of a tight space? Witness this 10,000-point turn to turn my car around first.

That all changed recently.

I’m chalking it up to how I learned to parallel park when I moved to Richmond. (If you don’t know how to fit a 190-inch car in a 200-inch space, you aren’t parking in that city.) I now park in a parking garage every day at work. Occasionally, parking there is pure garbage, and the best and only way to get into a spot is to back in. The alternative is to go up a level or two. I never take the elevator, but I’ll gripe about having to take the stairs all the way to the top, so I’ve started backing into spaces to make them work.

I have been backing in like a dream. I’ve even been backing in at home lately.

Once you go backwards with a 18-foot, two-door car, throwing anything else in reverse when you don’t overthink it is a piece of cake.

But don’t ask me to back down a long driveway just yet.

redesign

This EP is giving me life right now.

I blame my job for this. We got a new website a few days ago, and I wondered how long it had been since I’d tweaked this site. It’s looked the same since March 2013. Well, I changed the header image twice since then, and changed the fonts, but the overall look of the pages was the same for more than five years.

I snagged a new free template. Until such a time that I constantly update this site, consistently say things of value and have exponentially more readers, I’m not shelling out money to pay for a premium one or get one custom made. But I’m beta testing the new text editor, hence the drop caps and the fancy subheds in the Voyage XX entries. I haven’t had drop caps since I had to hard code them in LiveJournal in ye olde days. Everything still is in reverse type because I like black backgrounds. Not since the blog was called The Springhouse has there not been a header or background image. Back when this blog was called Langley Park, this was the background image:

This took a few tries because I didn't know what I was doing.
The crappiness of that digital camera turned this flame green.

Also absent in this new look is my favorite shade of green. I could have made the background that color, but I can’t figure out how to override the color for the headers. (Probably because this is a free template.) But the green resembles the mint green of my new phone’s power button, so it works.

This is what I’ve done instead of gearing up for the City Council meeting that starts in about 18 hours.

it’s not that bad, pt. 2

I completely forgot there was a new Muse album. It was a pleasant surprise.

Saturday

For obvious reasons, it was extremely slow going Saturday morning. For a chunk of it, we watched Bill and Karen’s kid play and closely scrutinized children’s songs and the videos accompanying them. Eventually, we felt up for the task and Bill, Brandon and I got ready for our day out. It was the day of the Kansas-Kansas State game, and we couldn’t get tickets. It was cold, so I’m a little glad we didn’t. 

We took an Uber into Aggieville. I deleted my Uber back when it was fashionable, so I would have gotten a Lyft. But, if I was in charge of hailing a ride, we would have missed out on our delightful driver. A native Texan, she immediately told us not to be alarmed because she needed to take her knife out of her boot because it was uncomfortable. She then went on to regale us of her verbally abusive childhood. But, seriously, she was a hoot.

Our first stop was Kite’s Bar and Grill. It was crowded, as was every other place in Aggieville, so we spent the entire duration of the football game standing or leaning against the bar. I had nothing but water, for obvious reasons, and some of the surprisingly delicious nachos they served.

The most disappointing thing about this entire trip was that I didn’t really experience a lot of local food. I was warned that this would happen.

After a football’s game worth of water, I recovered enough to head to Keltic Star Public House, where the hair of the dog, a lamb slider and rebel drumsticks rejuvenated me. From there, we called Karen to pick us up and went to So Long Saloon to some more drinks and its chipotle raspberry and black bean dip. Bill and Karen did not tell us there were raspberries in it before we tried it because it sounded a tad odd. I would have tried it anyway, though. (It was spectacular, by the way.)

Back at Bill’s house, we analyzed the absurdity of children’s programming once more before I drove us back into Aggieville and we headed to The Varsity Truck.

I keep forgetting to do Alt Text. Butts.
One of its slogans is “The Varsity Truck for some late night back alley fun!” Oh, college towns.

The Varsity Truck is the back half of Varsity Donuts. Legend has it that the historic building housing the doughnut shop lacked a kitchen and the shopkeepers were not allowed to install one. The solution was to permanently park a food truck in the alley to cook.

As this is a college town, drunk students were lured into the alley by the smell of doughnuts cooking in the moonlight and began asking for food. This led to the truck becoming a late-night food spot. Its wares include corn dogs (I love corn dogs, so of course I got one) and grilled macaroni and cheese sandwiches. (I love the occasional gross, fattening food, so of course I got one.) We ate them in the alley as The Walking Dead played on mute and a grossly inappropriate song — I think it was Andy Gibb’s An Everlasting Love — played.

We ended the night with ranting at Tiny House Hunters, which might be my new thing, and the house was asleep by 11:30. Because we’re in our 30s, and multiple days of rallying all night long are out of the question.

Sunday

After waking up at about 8 a.m. and subjecting ourselves to more children’s programming, Brandon and I decided against breaking our ride back into two parts (I initially planned to stop somewhere in Kentucky). When then dedicated the day to Karen. She’s been as much as a integral part of our college experience as Bill. And before Bill and Karen were dating, our road trips began to include her (which led to me realizing Bill liked Karen before Bill knew he liked Karen).

Karen gave us a driving tour of the city that included all of the places that weren’t Aggieville. Although we went to Aggieville. I needed to get a magnet for Renée, and I also got a key chain. Because why not?

As the tour began winding up, Karen mentioned that there was a winery. So we went.

I didn’t take a lot of photos, and this was the only one I enjoyed.

The winery was called Liquid Art. We each did a flight and briefly sat outside. It took a while for us to figure out the fire pit, and then the wind picked up.

Back inside, I decided that the winery’s boldest, reddest wine was pretty good. But I decided against buying a bottle.  On the way to Kansas, we brought in Virginia beer and cider and Kentucky bourbon. There was a brief mishap with the bourbon in transit from St. Louis to Manhattan, so I decided against carrying any other quantity of booze over state lines. 

Unless the ghost of Burt Reynolds could be my blocker.

We could have been East Bound and Down, though.

Afterward, we went to Little Apple Brewing Co., where the featured meal was Memphis loaded sweet potato fries. I ordered supplemental food, because I wanted soup and it somehow didn’t register that a flatbread was a small pizza, 

While we were eating, Mandy visited because I hadn’t seen her in seven years and just getting a cup of coffee just didn’t seem right for the only other person who know as much as — if not more — about me than Bill.

FINALLY, A LOCAL RESTAURANT.

 After Mandy left, we decided it was time for dessert, so we headed to Vista.

If I hadn’t had entirely too much food that day, I would have gotten a Vistaburger. Although it’s a hamburger, I at least would have been able to say I ate something unequivocally local. Instead, I got a hot chocolate float. I’d never heard of one before, so I guess that counts.

We wrapped up the night with more Tiny House Hunters, two shots and a beer and an early bedtime so Brandon and I could hit the road at 6 a.m.

Monday (and about 40 minutes into Tuesday)

Brandon and I woke up at 5 a.m. so we could leave by 6 a.m. Brandon had to get to work on Tuesday, so we had to get going early. If we only stopped for gas, we could have made it back to Charlottesville by midnight. I was shooting for 12:30 a.m. (and I probably would have made it too, if I noticed like all the locals that there was a cop up ahead, as I mentioned in the first part).

Once we got to the St. Louis Metro area, I drove the portion that I missed while passed out in my backseat and completed driving the entire length of Interstate 64. I stopped short of doing the entire Hampton Roads Beltway earlier this month, so I can’t say I did the entire thing in less than a month. But I did it. I’ve wanted to do it ever since the early ’90s, when I found out where 64 ended.

We made a few stops in Missouri to get gas and then for me to get a Mountain Dew. I was still a little sleepy when we started, and nothing perks me up lie doing the Dew. I rarely drink it because a 20 ounce bottle keeps me moving for about 18 hours.

Oh, I forgot to mention that it snowed from Kansas to the Mississippi River. It wasn’t sticking to the pavement, but that was awful. It was also interesting to go from scraping ice and snow off my car to effectively driving into a sunny fall day.

We didn’t make another real stop until we grabbed food in Mount Vernon, Illinois. It was an arbitrary stop, but we went from Manhattan to Times Square.

Yes, it’s at Broadway and 42nd.

Seriously.

Again, we did not plan this at all.

A few hours later, after stopping for gas in Kentucky, it began to rain. A lot. A whole lot.

And it was foggy in West Virginia, too.

But I soldiered on.

“Years of playing driving simulation video games with a steering wheel and gas pedal prepared me for this,” I said to Brandon, who sometimes woke up to me more or less navigating by dead reckoning along some higher elevations.

We got back at 12:40 a.m. The rain still was coming down in buckets. The Mountain Dew kept me up till nearly 3 a.m. I slept until nearly noon Tuesday.

I’m grateful that tomorrow is Friday.

All in all, I greatly enjoyed this trip. Again, it was great to see people I’ve known for between about 13 years, in Karen’s case, and as much as about 25 years, in Mandy’s case. (Mandy and I knew of each other since fourth grade but didn’t truly become friends until 10th grade.)

That saying about being able to pick up where you left off with good friends is true. If stepped into night out with Pete and our banter felt like my favorite, most comfortable pair of shoes. Both coming and going from Kansas, Brandon and I went a good four hours before the conversation tapered off. Bill, Karen and I have have quiet and raucous times in equal measure so mostly sitting on the couch as their child played seemed like a natural progression. I talk to Mandy so much, there wasn’t exactly much to catch up on. Unfortunately, we’ve drifted away from some of our mutual high school and college friends to the point that there isn’t as much gossip as there used to be.

Since I’ll still have three weeks of vacation to Renée’s two, I might split those days into weekend trips to St. Louis and then another trip to Manhattan.

Although I want to explore St. Louis, I’m looking forward to returning to Manhattan more.

This is the key chain I bought.

If you didn’t see this coming, I’m disappointed in you.