The Loaner

I woke up extra early today and made it home for a quick shower before picking up Dad in the rain. We headed west and stopped in Van Buren to charge before making it the rest of the way to the Tesla Service Center in Tulsa. I didn’t even consider it, but evidently I had the car set to avoid tolls, so we took the long way there and still made it in plenty of time.

We started to drop off the Model Y, but they said it would probably be a multi-day repair anyway, so we could do our test rides first. Dad drove the Model X first and took it around some neighborhoods, getting proper lost in the process. We made it back and I took it for a quick spin, and also got to try Full Self Driving, which was pretty cool. I thought it did a great job, but it wasn’t without faults. When we got back, they let us take a Model S, which I really enjoyed, although I think between them, I’d almost rather have an X and a 3 just because of the size difference. The S would be fun if I needed it for the longer range, but the 3 is sportier and handles a bit better overall just because it isn’t like driving a boat.

Once we got the test rides out of the way, we picked up a loaner vehicle. He brought out an older Model 3 at first, but then took it back when he couldn’t get the screen to work. Then he brought out a Model S, which got me excited. It wasn’t until we got in it that I realized how much of a hunk of junk it was. The wheel wells squeaked, and there were random things wrong everywhere, like a cracked windshield, missing driver vanity mirror, a passenger vanity mirror that was taped in place, and more. Not only that, but there was no way to charge my phone, so I just had to hope it would last the day.

From there, we went to the Tulsa Air and Space Museum. Dad enjoyed it, but I found it to be really heavy with the reading, with relatively few exhibits. What they did have were mostly cockpits and engine cutaways. We spent a while covering the floor though, and then went outside to walk through a full size jetliner they had outside. Dad almost tripped and fell down the stairs, but luckily I had my footing and was right behind him with an inertial advantage. I propped him right back up and we continued into the plane.

It wasn’t until we were done that we thought to check the planetarium times. We had to kill nearly an hour before the next show, so we wandered through the gift shop and then back through some simulations we had skipped earlier. Once we got to the planetarium, I wasn’t super impressed with the show. It was probably the weakest one I’ve seen in my memory. The animations weren’t as great, and the first half was just a guy giving a lecture.

We were pretty hungry by the time we left, so we made it into downtown Tulsa to a place called Sisserou’s Caribbean Restaurant & Catering. The food was pretty good, but I expected the flavors to be a little more pronounced with some more heat. We did get some habanero sauce with the bread and butter, which was weird. It was pretty good sauce, but I don’t even know what it would compliment. I did not think it paired well with the crumbly bread, though.

After we ate, we headed right back toward home. We stopped to charge in Van Buren again, and we had trouble getting the charger door open. Luckily I got it unstuck with my finger, so we weren’t stuck without a vehicle. We charged enough to make it to Ozark where we stopped to charge some more. It seemed to be going a bit slower than I expected, so rather than fill up on Tesla’s dime like I wanted, we continued on home.

We visited with Mom for a bit, and then I started towards Summer’s for the night. Along the way, I saw Kyler’s car outside the restaurant and stopped at Ridgewood. Then Grant came out and invited me in for a “family tray” of leftover barbecue from the night. Nobody wanted anything else from it, so they let me have it all. Then they were going to throw out a whole tray of baked beans that they let me take home as well.

Once I got to the house, things were quiet. Summer wound down quickly, and Eaddie made it home from her football game around midnight. She made first chair in a wind ensemble at Tech, so she shared some music with me before bed.

What a piece of junk!

I’ll Try to Think About the Last Time I Had a Good Time

Eaddie and I had a concert in Little Rock in the evening, so I had to get home to charge up. I grabbed some hot wings on the way home since I’d be there for a little while. I actually didn’t feel great for most of the morning, but it was better once we were in the car.

I picked her up and we headed straight to The Fold: Botanas & Bar in Little Rock. Mitch had taken me there when he was in town, and I thought the girls would really like it. We got the big appetizer to try all the salsas, cheese, and guacamole, and then both got assorted taco plates. I didn’t think it was quite as good as last time, but it was a cute place and we still really enjoyed it.

We had a little bit of time to kill before the concert, so we went by Franklin’s Charging Hub for a little juice and to use the restrooms. Then we headed to the Simmons Bank Arena and parked on the south side parking lot. It didn’t seem like a very big crowd, and we got into the building really quickly. We found our seats, and then went back up for some shirts.

They had the upper bowl completely closed off, and there were still empty seats left. I was surprised, especially for $25 tickets. Simple Plan was up first, and I felt kind of bad about how low-energy the crowd was behaving. I’m not one to get up and dance, and I prefer to sit in the seats I paid for, but you could just tell that people were there for different bands. On the other hand, there was a group of girls across the aisle from us that appeared to leave after Sum 41.

We were surprised by how many small children were in attendance. There was a pretty big family with several small children seated right in front of us, and when before The Offspring came on, they had a blimp with a camera and then several other cameras taking videos of the crowd. After a kiss cam, they had a bird cam, and several of the kids were being encouraged by their parents to flip off the cameras, much to the delight of the crowd.

Overall we had mixed feelings about the concert. All three bands struggled with low vocals, and it was difficult to hear what any of them were singing. The rest of the music was just blaring, which didn’t help. We did get to witness some crowd surfing and a mosh pit, as well as The Offspring stopping for a moment due to an injury in the crowd.

After the concert, we made the quickest getaway we’ve ever had at the arena. There was no waiting at all to get out of the parking lot, and then the roads were clear right by us, all the way out of town. We decided to stop at Waffle House in Conway for a late night dinner, since Eaddie hadn’t been to one recently enough to remember. The staff was loud, friendly, and attentive until they started getting really busy with other concert-goers. We both really enjoyed our food, and then we made it home in good time to go straight to bed.

I’m sick of always hearing “act your age!”

Three Early Five Me

Julie finally fell asleep last night after screaming at me for an hour about how early she had to get up. I showered at night so I could just jump out of bed at 3:15, giving me 45 minutes to do any last-minute packing, and then we were off to the airport. There wasn’t really any traffic because of how early it was, and we ended up waiting at the gate for a couple hours before boarding. The trip back to Fayetteville was even faster than the trip up, at about an hour and 15 minutes.

We got to the car and headed toward home, stopping at a Sam’s Club and then a Vietnamese place called TyPHOon for lunch. The phở was pretty good, but the bánh mì was really lean on filling. From there, we made it to Ozark so Dad could take over driving from Julie. I just played my Steam Deck the entire way.

Once home, I unpacked and decompressed for just a little while before heading up to Summer’s. Eaddie has been driving herself around in the Murano, so I guess I’ll be taking the Model 3 up there overnight now. I should be able to charge up fast enough in the morning while I shower, to keep up with my usage throughout the day.

Summer made a turkey breast in the slow cooker, along with mashed potatoes and broccoli salad. I ended up taking over the gravy, which turned out super salty from saving all of the drippings. I kept trying to fall asleep after that, so I popped an iron pill and went to bed early.

Oh, man.

Fish and Family

We slept in a little bit today, but the fire alarm went off shortly after I got out of bed. Mom and Dad evacuated, but Julie and I never got to that point. I got dressed and picked up some breakfast to bring back to the room, and then went down for some oatmeal once my parents were ready to eat. We killed a bit of time in our hotel room afterward, and it was all I could do to mask the loud TV with my headphones until we were ready to leave.

Somebody found a different boat tour with a paddleboat instead, and we met everyone there for a 45 minute ride down the river. It wasn’t terribly hot out, and we saw a bald eagle in a tree on the edge of the water. When we finished the tour, we headed straight to Two Brothers Roundhouse for a distillery tour and tasting.

By the time we got there, I needed the drinks. It was like competing for oxygen in the car. It was a neat building that used to be a turning station for trains. A couple of the spirits were really good, and after a slightly extended tour with the bar manager, we found a table at the restaurant for an early dinner.

The food was really good, and we had some great conversations. We parted ways with Aunt Diane, Brandan, and Nicolle, and the rest of us went to a downtown area in Geneva for some ice cream at a Kilwins and a brief walk to another chocolate store before we headed back to our cars. We said our goodbyes, and made our way back to the hotel so Julie could get her beauty rest.

I’m still waiting to be impressed by how quickly you can fall asleep and quit bitching at me.

Droopy Roofy

We had our home inspection today, so I had to go home to clean up before the girls came to pick me up. We made it about halfway to the house before I realized I forgot the check to pay the inspector, so Summer turned around. Luckily the inspection seemed to be going quite a bit longer than we anticipated. I wasn’t sure if he just got started late or if it really was just taking him that long to be that thorough. Summer had to stop by Rose Drug anyway, and Nick was still in the attic by the time we got there.

Summer and I wandered around a bit, and Dad eventually showed up. When Nick came down, he let us into the house to continue looking around while he worked. When he finished, he went over some of the worst repair issues he found, and it really was pretty varied. The biggest concern was a drooping ceiling in the living room. Evidently the new roof over the addition was just built on top of the old roof, so the trusses weren’t built to support the shift in weight. He said some of them had just split apart, and needed to be lifted and put back together. He also measured the water pressure at 120 PSI, which was a little more than excessive. I didn’t realize that he didn’t inspect the out building at all until I got his written report later in the day, but that is one of the big repairs that has to happen for us to move in at all.

Dad headed home after that, and the girls and I went to Stoby’s for lunch. As we finished up, I saw Shane from Howard sitting at the table across from us, so I talked to him briefly before we left. Summer had to go to work, so she dropped Eaddie and me off at my house so we could go for a motorcycle ride. Eaddie wanted to see the new splash pad at the city park, so we rode there first and walked around.

It was incredibly hot and humid outside, so I didn’t much enjoy baking in the sun. We continued on to Splash to see Summer, and then rode around the city, up the mountain and down past the arena until we made it back to my house. We were both hot and sweaty, so we decided to get our suits and go to my parents’ house to swim.

Eaddie did a great job driving across town, and swimming was a good time. The pool was still in full sun when we got there, so I propped some floats on top of the ladder and we just hid under them for shade. We talked for a really long time about a whole lot of things, and it was really great. As the shade started to cover more of the pool, it got a little chilly and we decided to get back out and dry off.

We chatted with Dad for a bit inside after we got changed, and he reminded me that it was their anniversary. Mom didn’t want to do anything when she got home from work, so Eaddie and I headed back to the house where Summer was home early after having a pretty rough day. She wanted a pretzel crust from Little Caesar’s, so we picked that up on the way. It wasn’t until we got back to the house that we realized they gave us the wrong order though, so I had to go back. As soon as I pulled up, he ran out with the correct pizza and we got to keep the first one he gave us.

I reviewed the inspection paperwork and talked to Alisha a bit before going back home to pack for the funeral trip. I felt like I needed a slightly larger backpack for the trip, but didn’t want to increase my load to carry. I may just have to leave my Steam Deck behind, but I really don’t want to.

I eventually made it back up to the girls, and Eaddie greeted me at the door with excitement. Just a little bit earlier in the evening, some friends invited her to go with them to play their instruments at a nursing home, and she was super happy about it. We talked for quite a while longer while I tried to wrap up for bed. Tomorrow would be an even earlier day than usual, and I wasn’t excited.

Just don’t die.

Even When it Looks Like Rain

Today was the day for my interview at ANO. I was almost too relaxed getting around this morning, but ultimately I showed up exactly when I wanted, with enough time to be prepared, but without having to wait around in the lobby for too long. It was a bit rainy again, but nothing torrential. It was a pretty typical, scripted, and dry panel interview. I honestly didn’t feel super confident in my answers, but it was such a departure from my typical working environments. I did get at least a couple laughs, and the whole thing was over in about half an hour.

I stopped by to chat with Dad for a bit on the way home, since Summer had her car charging at my house anyway. Then I met her at the house so she could take it back home for our trip to Rogers. I collected a few things and met her there so I could make myself a leftover hamburger for lunch.

Eaddie’s friend Eli came over and we all played a little Switch until Summer finished at her therapy appointment. Then we pretty quickly headed up north for dinner before the show. Eaddie seemed to really want Olive Garden, so I took us there hoping I could find something enjoyable to eat. I had forgotten how small their menu is, and I was super disappointed to be eating there. I ended up just getting soup and salad, knowing that service would be slow and that I probably wouldn’t feel very satisfied by the mostly liquid diet. I guess the bread filled me up so at least I didn’t feel hungry. The chicken gnocchi soup was good, but just didn’t have enough stuff in it. The flavor was good, but it was all just liquid that was quick to slurp down.

We made it to the amphitheater in a decent amount of time, but a little later than I really wanted. That put us pretty far back in the line, so we tried sending the kids to find a seat while Summer and I waited in line for some shirts. I guess they came back because Eaddie wasn’t confident she had found a good spot, and Eli and I waited in line while the girls went back to the lawn. When we finally made it to them, they were sat on the very front edge of the lawn, right behind a barred handrail where people would be constantly walking in front of us. There was nowhere good to stand, and nothing to lean against, and it was hot and humid, which made sitting cramped together on a blanket even more uncomfortable.

Loverboy didn’t play at all “due to weather,” and Mick Jones wasn’t even there with Foreigner. They put on a decent show, but I was uncomfortable, irritably hot, and annoyed by our position and the constant flow of asses in front of us. The show ended up getting rained out after people started leaving in droves. Then we were just stuck in the parking garage for an eternity while Summer griped that I wasn’t inching forward enough. It poured rain for most of the trip home, so we had to stop in Lowell to charge. We thought we might have to stop again in Ozark, but we made it home with 11% after dropping Eli off at his house.

The girls went straight to bed, but I bounced around for a little bit with an upset stomach. I felt exhausted and my eyes were fatigued from wearing contacts, but I didn’t get to bed until late.

And we can weather the storm.

Air and Space Between

I got up early to meet the girls this morning, but didn’t wake Summer up in time to get us both across town. We ended up just meeting the girls at the Museum of American History. I found an exchange that would get us a little closer to the museum, hoping that we could intercept them, but we missed our first train and then exited the station in a rainstorm.

There were a few exhibits I liked, particularly about electricity and engineering, and then travel. I could have passed on most of the rest of it. I had been pretty frustrated for a large part of the morning, so I wandered off by myself with ever-aching legs and feet for a while. We eventually met back up with everyone to have lunch in the cafeteria. The girls had sack lunches for the first time, and Summer and I had some cafeteria food for $17 per pound. I was disappointed when I realized that Summer had accidentally thrown away my cup lid when she took my tray at the end of our meal, but she went back and dug through the trash to find it.

From there, we walked back to the Air and Space Museum, which was much more my speed. About half of it was under construction, but I enjoyed that visit the most. We even took in a couple planetarium shows. We ended up closing the place down, and then walked back to the Metro for the trip back to College Park.

Summer and I left the girls to find their way back to the dorm again, while we headed to the hotel. I was a little hungry, so we tried going to Ikea for some meatballs. They were all out at the mini deli downstairs, so I made Summer walk with me through the rest of the store. There was a full restaurant upstairs, but they had closed an hour early for some maintenance. We ended up picking up some Potbelly from the little shopping center next door, and took it back to the hotel to eat.

I tried to get to bed early since Summer wasn’t going to let me sleep in as I had hoped. We’ll start our journey tomorrow with a low level of sleep, so it may be very optimistic to hope that we’ll make it halfway home.

Now everyone’s tired and cranky. I just had a head start.

End of the Line

We slept in today, and then got out for lunch at a place down the road called Taqueria Habanero. The tacos seemed pretty expensive, but I sort of miscalculated the price when I suggested we share a platter of 15 assorted tacos. They didn’t go to waste, though. It was annoying that they basically brought us a salsa bowl full of chips, but more would cost extra. The green and red sauces they brought out were amazing though. We had steak, shrimp, and al pastor tacos, which were all incredible as well. We ended up saving one of each for Eaddie, though she wouldn’t have time to eat them until much later.

After we ate, we went to the university and struggled to find any valid parking. After driving around the campus a couple times, we finally settled on a lot that was actually right next to another bus stop, which worked out great for us. We actually got on the bus before it got to the stop where the girls were waiting.

We hopped onto the Metro and rode down to Chinatown so we could tour Ford’s Theater. That took quite a while just because of how much information they packed into such a small space with so many visitors. It was neat to see the theater itself, but evidently it was all a reconstruction anyway.

After that, we walked back to the National Portrait Gallery. I don’t think it was first on anybody’s list, but the girls wanted to go. It wasn’t my thing, so Summer and I mostly sped through a bit of it and then sat down until everyone else was ready to go.

When we got back to the Metro, it was right in the middle of rush hour and the first train we saw was absolutely packed. We walked to the end of the platform and waited for the next one, which was virtually empty. As we drew close to our stop, I wanted to see if I could ride around whatever loop they had at the end. The girls all decided they would go with me, but then instead of waiting on the train, everyone got off at the last stop, insisting that someone would make us get off. There wasn’t an employee anywhere to be found, so I was really frustrated that the whole point of the experiment was ruined. Then they were annoyed at me for something they volunteered to do.

We took the bus back to the car, and then Summer and I went to the most convenient Chinese buffet I could find, literally called China Buffet. It was a small, unassuming building with fair reviews. It seemed old when we walked in, and then they had us pay when we entered. I had to ask a kid that didn’t seem to speak any English whether drinks were included, and learned that we had to serve ourselves. This would have been absolutely fine if there hadn’t been a hand-written sign on the wall on the way out that asked us to “please tip the waitresses.” We literally spoke to no one. No one brought us anything. Someone periodically bussed empty plates, but not with any sense of urgency. Utensils and napkins were all on the food bar. I think I left four bucks. The food was alright.

When we got back to the hotel, we were lucky enough to be able to charge. Then we made it to the room, where the engineers had brought us an extension cord and surge protector for the things on our TV wall. Summer was excited to be able to watch television. I bounced around a bit between distractions and trying to plan our trip home. I scheduled a third interview at the mill for next week, which made me wonder if there was any competition at all, or if I had it in the bag. I’d kind of hate to leave Two Rivers, but I don’t know how I could turn down nearly twice the pay, especially if the school doesn’t transfer the vacation days like I expected.

That’s what “homesick” means, kid.

Monumental Walk

I woke up super early today so we could go downstairs for breakfast. Summer had to wait a bit after taking her medication, so that set us behind a little bit. We still ended up waiting in the lobby for the restaurant to open. Once it finally did, several minutes late, we learned that breakfast wasn’t actually included in our stay. It didn’t look any better than what we had the prior morning, so we opted to save our $15 per head and just find something else later.

We met the girls at the dorm and contemplated driving everyone down to the metro station in the trunk. It was simply too many people though, and as luck would have it, there was a shuttle that would take us across the campus anyway. Summer went in to get a parking pass, and then we took the shuttle to the bus station, which took us to the metro station.

The metro was pretty neat, and I think it was my first real encounter with big city public transportation. I thought Disney World did it better, but overall it wasn’t bad. The worst part was actually just the fact that we couldn’t hear the overhead speaker at all. It was pure static, if anything at all. The stops weren’t advertised inside of the train either, so you had to look at the poles outside for every stop.

We got off at the Archives station, and evidently my metro card recharge didn’t work and I had to take the emergency exit out without paying. Once we emerged from the train station, we started walking for the rest of the day. I mostly hung back with the grandmother of one of the girls that came along. Summer went ahead with the rest of the girls. They went off our path to see the Smithsonian Castle. Then we went to the Washington Monument, followed by the World War II Monument, and then finally down the length of the Reflecting Pool to the Lincoln Monument. I was most surprised by the tiny gift shop inside of the monument itself. It just seemed out of place, and very much like a Disney ride.

I got everyone to go down a sketchy elevator to see the downstairs area of the Monument, and then we continued walking around through the Vietnam Veterans Memorial and made a huge loop around the White House. The Secret Service was out and about, and everything seemed pretty closed off, but the girls got a few pictures before we wandered toward a Potbelly sandwich shop for lunch. I thought my sandwich was okay, but it was still just a sandwich.

After we ate, we continued walking until we got to the Smithsonian National Museum of Natural History. We spent several hours there, getting lost in nearly every exhibit. Some were way better than others, and I grew tired of looking at things that still existed today, like the skeletons of non-extinct animals.

As the evening came, we had to get the girls back to the cafeteria for their dinner. Both Summer’s and my phones died while we were on the train, so we had to exit through the emergency exit again. Then we got off at the wrong bus stop and had to walk up a big hill to get to the cafeteria. Summer and I went even farther to her car, where she had gotten an $85 parking ticket because nobody told her what lots were available to us.

We made it back to our hotel, where housekeeping cleaned up a little bit, but left the empty drug bags. We had new towels and a made bed, but the power on the TV wall was still out. I tried calling the front desk, but again nothing was done. Summer was hungry enough to eat again, so we went to a West African place called Koité Grill. They ended up not having dine-in service, so we took that back to the hotel and ate. Then Summer went to bed, and I stayed up late with a bit of a belly ache.

Should have gone with the dirtier shoes.

I’m Not High, but I Did Stay at a Holiday Inn Express

Summer and I got up for breakfast this morning, which was pretty much the bare minimum for “hot” hotel breakfast. Then I showered while the girls went downstairs to find some food for themselves. We loaded up, and Summer took the first half of the drive. The girls slept some more, and even I started to doze off quite a bit. We stopped to charge one last time in Strasburg and shared a couple Junior Whoppers next door.

I took the final leg of the trip and had to sit through a bunch of stop-and-go traffic to get into Washington. We made it to the University of Maryland without incident, so I guess the trip has been a success so far. I dropped the girls off at the Student Union building to register while I parked. Luckily there were a couple chargers just across the street, so I parked there and went inside to find them.

Once they were registered, the girls were ready to go back to their dorm. They walked while Summer and I drove their luggage over. We ran into their other partner and her grandmother on the way, so after they registered, we went back to get them back to the dorm as well.

We ended up sticking around in the dorm longer than I wanted. Summer stumbled through the Metro Pass process and probably ended up spending about four times as much money as she needed to before I looked at any of it. I finally talked her into leaving the girls alone to decompress, and we headed across town to find our own hotel.

There was a mob of angry patrons in the lobby, and the staff were clearly frustrated, but handling the situation with absolute grace. When it was finally our turn, I told our girl that she was doing a great job, and Summer ended up going around the counter to give her a hug. We got checked in super quickly and then went around the building to find our room. We took everything up, but then found an ozone generator in our room, with the door ajar. I decided I really didn’t want to leave our stuff there, so we took it all back down to the car and went around the block to Buffalo Wild Wings for dinner.

The restaurant was actually pretty busy, and the food was good. They still didn’t give me any celery or carrots, which I never understood. After we ate, we went back to the hotel and found a couple EV chargers. One was broken, and the other was in use. We made our way back up to the room instead, and unloaded before heading back to the university for the opening ceremony.

Traffic by then was horrible on campus. There were so many people, and the volunteers that were directing traffic seemed to be a little slow in that special kind of way. We made it back up the parking garage to charge though, and then walked down to the McKeldin Mall for the ceremony. Nobody was more disappointed by the use of the word “mall” than me. The “ceremony” was a relatively long and boring “thank you to all of these highly important people,” followed by a roll call of all 50 states and some international participants. They ended the ceremony with a parody of a One Direction song I had found the lyrics to earlier in the day.

Summer and I left for the evening and headed back to the hotel. We got settled in, but then the TV wouldn’t work and we had to call the front desk. They sent an “engineer” up to inspect, and he brought a little non-contact voltage tester that beeped at every outlet. In the end, still nothing worked, so he walked the mini fridge to the other side of the room to a working outlet. In his rummaging, we moved the TV and found a couple empty drug baggies under the stand. Several things about our room felt extremely sketchy, but at least our check-in clerk was nice.

I never thought I’d complain about being too cold in a hotel room.