The Long Way Home

We got up this morning and packed to leave. Summer took most of the stuff down to load onto the bus while I got ready, and by the time I got out, I didn’t really have time for breakfast. We took the junior high and the losers from the high school back to the Riverwalk to shop and eat, but this time we got to actually ride the bus there, which made it much more pleasant.

The high schoolers were pretty much jerks all day, and their chaperones didn’t seem very worried about it. Summer, Hannah, Dylan, and I all walked all the way to the end of the Riverwalk, stopping at the bi-level area so Dylan could get an electric massage, and then again so Summer and Autumn could go on a VR “ride.” Then we made it back to the food court just in time to gather everyone to eat. Johnny had kept the district credit card, so it was up to me to pay up front again. Disappointingly, all three of my cards got declined for fraud prevention, even though I specifically called Discover to make sure that it wouldn’t. We made it through eventually though, and I came back with two foot long sandwiches from South Philly Steaks & Fries. Summer really liked her chicken, and I really enjoyed my Philly, so I considered that a pretty big win.

The varsity team showed up right around that time as well, so they ate, and then we all loaded up onto the bus to say, “goodbye” to New Orleans. Aimee was worried about flooding along the way, so she played it super cautious by going through West Memphis, which probably ultimately added an hour to our trip. We never really stopped for food, and even told the students not to buy anything when we had to stop for fuel, but of course they didn’t listen. Everyone was really beat and anxious to get home, but I wasn’t quite ready to pass out. While the others slept, I unpacked and tried to put most of the stuff away before bed.

Fix it.

The Junior High Issue

Just as I started to drift off, someone knocked loudly on our door. Summer and I both scrambled to our feet, and I peeked out to see who it was. I only saw one of the girls, but soon found out it was several of them outside our door, shaky with adrenaline. Johnny was there with them, and the first words out of his mouth were that this seemed like a junior high issue, so he would be letting us handle it.

Summer and Hannah jumped right into action, kicking ass and calling parents. I wasn’t sure what my place was, so I just laid back in the room waiting to see if I would be called. I started to doze off a little, but without my CPAP I ended up exhausting myself more. I don’t remember what time Summer finally came back to bed, but it was really late, and I knew that even sleeping a bit later we would still be deprived.

They kicked four kids out for vaping, including some star players, so they knew the rest of the team would suffer for it. It was a bad deal all around, and a part of me felt like maybe it was a bit much drama for some vape pens, but rules are rules, and these kids are used to a system without repercussions. I was glad they stuck to their guns, and had one of the kids out the next morning after having her sister drive all the way down overnight. It’s anybody’s guess whether the parents will actually do anything, but at least they could rest assured they did the right thing here.

I got down to breakfast just before they closed, and then ended up babysitting the three remaining kids with Dylan while the rest went to their game. I was excited to be in control of some punishment, though Dylan got them started with copying newspaper articles. After a while, I added a modifier by having them write with their non-dominant hands. I got the feeling that only one of them was really taking it very hard, but I’m not much for empathy anyway.

When the team finished, we walked to the Riverwalk for lunch. We didn’t really have time to do anything but eat, and I was still full from lunch. My ciabatta was pretty terrible, and I was just overall disappointed to be eating food court food in New Orleans anyway. Without time to shop the mall, we headed back so they could continue their day of games. It was so hot and humid that I was excited just to be back inside.

Once those games were over, we went back to the Riverwalk to let the kids shop for a few minutes before eating. Unfortunately we found out they would only be open for about another hour, so Summer, Hannah, Dylan, and I went to the opposite end of the mall for some frozen slushed wine first. Summer and Hannah had to go back to the hotel immediately after we got them though, because a second player’s parents were coming to pick him up. Johnny had also screwed up their plan to pay for dinner, but I was able to get everyone fed with my own card.

Dylan and I carried food back for the girls, and lead what was left of the group back to the hotel safely. We ended the evening with some more Mario Kart in our room, but we kept getting interrupted by kids knocking on the door. The delinquents continued being shunned for the most part, while the rest had a little get-together party in one of their rooms. We had to shut it down early too, partly because they were being loud, but also because the adults were too tired to exist any longer.

I’ve never seen a group of coworkers so divided before.

The City that Drowned

We finally made it to Quiz Bowl nationals trip day. Summer and Autumn went to pick up Burger King for breakfast while I got ready, and we made it to the high school to load everyone onto the bus. I ran into Ben outside the high school and told him my sick day was to meet a witch doctor from the south. We barely had room for everything and everyone, but I think they may have overpacked some supplies on the way out.

The first stop was Quiznos to pick up lunch to take with us. I guess it was easier than stopping somewhere along the way, and certainly expedited that process. I’m not really sure how we ended up with a full bag of extra sandwiches, but hopefully they keep until the ride home. I certainly would rather experience unique cuisine while I’m here.

Around three hours into the trip, we stopped at Lake Village behind a gas station, got snacks and took a bathroom break, and then walked over to a park to eat. Luckily it wasn’t too terribly hot out, but I did sweat a bit. It definitely took the bus a bit to cool back down after that.

Summer and I watched the first episode of Firefly after I did some finagling on my devices. I was upset to learn the iPad Plex app wouldn’t stream without a Plex Pass. I’ve never had that issue with my Android app for some reason. Not too long later we made it to a Walmart in Crystal Springs. I didn’t really need any snacks, so I wandered to electronics and picked up a couple clearanced smart light switches and a physical copy of Diablo III. It was all just so cheap.

The last leg of the trip was short, but took us through a bunch of traffic on what felt like the world’s longest bridge. It was interesting to see the water rushing out of the Mississippi River and just spreading out across what was once land. The water was high, and flooding has been expected all over, but here it just seemed a part of life.

We got to the Hampton in an old part of town, but really I think all of this area is old town. It’s been remodeled with new world commodities, but the outside shells of buildings seem to be left alone. We didn’t have any time to look around or do anything but eat, but I really didn’t want to eat the Domino’s pizza after overhearing the three telephone conversations it took to place the order. Instead, I opted to use Uber Eats to order some food from a nearby place called Magasin Kitchen. I got some grilled shrimp spring rolls and something called a bibimbap rice bowl that I didn’t dislike, but didn’t super care for either. It was decent food, but just not quite what I was looking for.

Summer passed out early for me, but it was really probably kind of late for her. I’m really glad I’m taking next week off after having to wake up early all weekend for this.

Love that chicken from Popeye’s!

Homeward Bound

I successfully canceled our hotel in Branson for tonight, and we got everything packed back up for the trip home. After a whole lot of sweating, I managed to get everything to fit into the trunk so I could strap my new Aeron chair to the hitch cargo rack. It felt solid enough that I called the guy back and met his wife to pick up his other chair as well. Why buy one when you can have two for twice the price? Even better, I got it for half what I paid for the first one due to a couple lines in the fabric of the seat.

From there we started our six and a half hour drive back home. We finally stopped at a Jack in the Box just outside of town after talking about it for a few days. It was about what I expected, but I just had to try it after all these years of seeing commercials.

We got back home around 9:00 and went to my house first to drop some things off and check on my plants and animals. It could have been worse, but I’ll have plenty to clean up this weekend. The worst was another ant infestation in the cat food. One of my succulents also seems to have melted away somehow. I think that was probably the most upsetting thing, because it was supposed to be hardy and able to not completely wither away in just two weeks.

From there, I took the girls home and got unpacked. Summer warmed up the last of my leftover egg rolls, then we watched a few episodes of The Office before bed.

How is it possible that so much house cleaning is necessary after two weeks of being gone?

What Are Traditions: Independence Day 2018

Even I slept in too late today. Everyone has been more and more tired every day, so we decided to try and cut the trip a day short. It’s our last day here, so we decided to spend it all at Fair St. Louis by the Gateway Arch.

We got there around 1:30 in the afternoon and made the walk to the arch. I made a big enough deal out of nobody touching the bean in Chicago that we all went up and leaned on the arch for a while. It was really hot out, but even with a relatively good amount of shade from the sun, we decided it best to spend most of the afternoon in the underground museum and visitor center. We ended up taking the tram to the top of the arch and spent a bit of time looking down over the city. They cart people up and down regularly, and you can just leave whenever you want, which I thought was interesting. It was super crowded, and the windows were way smaller than I expected.

After some pretty decent burgers in the underground restaurant and killing a couple extra hours in the museum, we went back up to the lawn to pick a place to watch the air show and fireworks. Summer and Eaddie went back to the car to pick up some snacks we brought, but ultimately had to give them away to someone outside the gates because they didn’t allow outside food to be brought in.

The air show was pretty good, and I was surprised to hear that one of the powered paragliders I follow on YouTube was actually a part of the act. After that, the St. Louis Symphony Orchestra got Summer all riled up, and then the fireworks filled all the viewing space under the arch, which was pretty neat to experience. But I think the most impressive part of the evening was how quickly we got back out of the city after the show. There were so many people, and we just hopped on the freeway and made it back to the hotel without too much trouble.

Seriously, why the hell wasn’t it a McDonald’s under the arch?

It’ll put Aeron your chest!

September 2, 2010

Everyone slept in today after such a long day yesterday. I didn’t get to bed until around 3AM, but I was still the first up. I went downstairs to make some breakfast to bring back up since this hotel’s breakfast only runs through 9AM.

When everyone finally got up and around, we decided to go to LemonGrass, a Vietnamese restaurant I visited with my family almost eight years ago when we passed through to pick up my R1. I remembered the hotpot being so good that I just had to go again, even in our sudden downpour of rain. We all got something different, so everyone got a chance to try everything else. My vermicelli with lamb and an eggroll was pretty great. Afterward, the rain let up so we could walk a couple blocks down the road to Gelateria Del Leone for an icy dessert.

July 3, 2018

We left there and headed back toward the hotel, stopping at a Sam’s Club right up the road. We had picked up just a few things when I got a call back from the guy in town with the Herman Miller Aeron chairs. We ran back to the hotel to drop everything off and load up the cargo carrier, and headed back through the city to get a chair.

It’s going to be tough packing everything up. I’m definitely in charge of choosing what goes and what stays for any future adventures. It’s been more frustrating than necessary simply due to how much crap we’ve been lugging from hotel to hotel. It’s all a lesson in planning and minimalism.

Eat the leftovers!

Bean There, Done That

We slept in a bit longer than I had hoped after being out late for the movie. We eventually made the trip into the city for another couple shows at the Adler Planetarium and to check out the rest of the exhibits. This time I ignored the full parking signs and went straight to the planetarium parking, and a guy let me in for the same $25 rate I paid a couple days ago in a parking structure over half a mile away.

When we finished there, we went outside and ate some leftovers on the beach. Lake Michigan was a pretty spectacular sight, and there were sailboats everywhere. I even spotted the Tall Ship Windy on a tour. I’d love to go out on it sometime in the future. The weather was nice for sitting around, and I’m sure it would have been even better out on the water.

After that spot of lunch, we decided to walk the two miles to Millennium Park to see the Cloud Gate bean sculpture. It was pretty impressive, and completely surrounded by people. None of the girls wanted to get close enough to touch it, so I didn’t bother myself either, though I immediately regretted walking that far and not taking the extra few steps to see how it felt.

Two miles back to the car and we were off toward St. Louis. We stopped at an A&W/Long John Silver’s on the way because I wanted some home brewed root beer. We finally got into the hotel around midnight, and my first impression was that this hotel was completely built out of parts and pieces that were stolen from other area hotels. It’s like the owner kept booking rooms and would walk out with a hand full of room number plaques and elevator buttons, and then come back to use them in his hotel. We’ll have to see how things look in the morning when we’re not all dead tired from a four mile walk and a five hour drive.

Seriously bruh? Follow the speed limit!

Relatively Prehistoric

Today started off particularly slow and late. My Aunt Diane called after she got out of church so we could set up an early dinner. We left the hotel in the early afternoon to go shopping at an Old Navy that offered less of a deal than I expected, and then killed the rest of the afternoon there until we met my Aunt Diane and Uncle Rich at Greek Islands for dinner.

It was nice to visit with them, but they insisted on paying and the place wasn’t particularly cheap. It was probably the fanciest and most different meal we’ve had our entire trip though. I had a roasted suckling pig, Summer got lamb, Autumn had some kind of chicken spaghetti, and Eaddie had something with spinach and a flaky crust. The flaming cheese appetizer seemed to be pretty popular with other tables as well, and it was really good with the bread they had. None of my cousins could make it, but we managed to keep a conversation going.

After dinner, we separated and went our different ways. Summer spent the evening trying to prepack things to load in the morning so we could go catch Jurassic World: Fallen Kingdom at an IMAX just a few blocks away. It was a super late showing for the girls at 10:20. The theater was a full-service dining experience, which was new to all of us I think. I don’t think I’d do it again except for a movie I’m really not interested in seeing. It was too distracting for my taste, and the screen wasn’t a traditional IMAX size. The girls had fun though, and we all got to experience a Dyson bathroom faucet with built-in hand dryers.

Life, uh, finds a way to pay.

Gettin Spacey

I grabbed a Groupon for a year family membership to the Adler Planetarium, which got us all in for under 80 bucks. We ended up having to park at the stadium parking garage for an extra $25, and it was a pretty long, hot, and humid walk. I’m not sure why the planetarium parking was blocked off, but it was super annoying to see so many empty spaces there. We did, however, get to peek on some pretty expensive boats on the lake, and even saw a Tesla Model X in the parking lot there.

The girls seemed to really enjoy the couple shows we got to watch once we got into the planetarium. One was of the Chicago night sky, and then another was called Planet 9 about the search for Pluto’s replacement as the solar system’s ninth planet. Even better, they seemed to really enjoy the rest of the museum, but we had to leave in order to make it back to dinner with Beth and Bryan at Giordano’s.

The pizza was pretty good, but we ordered about three times more food than what we needed, so it was a chore to get the leftovers to fit into the mini fridge back at the hotel. We stopped at a huge Goodwill on the way back, and the girls picked up some clothes. They had a reel mower that looked to be new in box, but may have been missing some parts. I couldn’t tell, but for 40 bucks, it would have been a great deal if I wanted to start mowing someday. Still on the fence there.

Mom’s a bed hog.

The Eaddiest Beattiest Birthday Party

We got to play real-life Tetris today, except none of the luggage disappeared when I got it perfectly loaded into the trunk of the Murano. I’m still not entirely sure how I got everything to fit. I think it was mostly the soft stuff that filled the odd empty spaces. I should invent amorphous luggage.

Once we got everything loaded up, we stopped by Boston Store in the mall to search for deals. I kept getting stuck on dress shirts and jackets, first because non-universal sizing is ridiculous, and then because even at 60% off, some of the prices were still super outlandish. I dig a brand-name thing occasionally, but not for the things I was finding. I did actually end up finding a great deal on a puffy Nautica coat and a Chromecast Ultra. I wished the store was closer to home so I could really spend some time there finding the best deals.

When we finished shopping, Eaddie decided she wanted to go to Chuck E. Cheese’s for her birthday. It wasn’t quite as nostalgic as I thought it might be. I think it was mostly due to the location. It was, however, a great time once we got past the eating. They have a new system for gaming where you just get a certain amount of time instead of having to spend a finite number of tokens. I think the whole experience actually lost something for not having the tokens, but at least they kept paper tickets.

From there, we headed out of town, stopping by a Harbor Freight to pick up a locking hitch pin. We made it to Chicagoland in just about the amount of time Google Maps stated, and with only minimal cursing over toll roads. Overall I think I’m just glad we didn’t die while following other traffic at 20 over the limit. Years of offensive driving habits prepared me for this.

You can’t show people how many you are anymore!