Cajun Vacation: Day 1 and Day 2 Drive, Drive, Drive

Vacation came early this year.  Rick had his spring break start on March 4.  I decided that March might be a great time to go and check out Louisiana.  As long as I was paying, Rick was up for joining us.  Sure, why not.  Besides, his 22nd birthday would be during that week.  It’ll be like old times again.

Rich had his first distiller’s conference from March 1 through 3 for his new employer, Whiskey Resources.  Not exactly the best planning, but he could use the week to rest and recover.  Vacation planning went into full on mode in December and all reservations were made by January.

Rick arrived home on March 4.  He had finished up midterms the day before.  He managed to sneak in the door without my notice.  Sascha was right on it though.  Poor baby, she hobbled to the door so fast to greet him.  I ran to join her.  My babies were both at home.

As a side note, Sascha started to hobble on Tuesday pretty bad.  I was thinking she had bruised her paw somehow on the ice and snow.  By Wednesday, it wasn’t any better.  Being the worried mom I am, I took her off to the vet that afternoon.  After a big hit to my wallet with x-rays, visit, and meds, the diagnosis was a broken toe.  Yep, she had cracked it lengthwise down the second metacarpal.  No wonder it hurt so badly.  On the x-ray, it was pretty swollen.  The vet insisted on bed rest.  I told him that was next to impossible.  At least, she was going to the kennel for vacation and would be limited to what she could do.

Rich came in on Friday afternoon.  He was still pretty excited from the conference.  He had met so many people, tried so many distilled liquors, and had so much free stuff.  He also had the beginnings of a cold.  Darn!  This is no time to get sick.  He chattered away about his time with the distillers and I listened with lots of patience.  It was great to see him get so excited about this aspect of his new job.

We were all winding down that evening as we packed and got things ready for leaving on Saturday morning.  Rich still had to keg his Husky Paws beer before we could leave.  He got up and got moving without much prodding.  As he was moving the beer from fermenter to keg, Rick and I took Sascha to the kennel.  Everyone had to make over her paw.  As usual, she didn’t plan to stay, but could make a quick enough getaway.  We said good-bye and got in one last set of hugs.

Back at the house, Rich was finishing up.  Rick and I began to pack the car.  Wow, it was almost 11 o’clock by the time we were ready.  Breakfast was next.  I should say brunch, right?  We stopped into Island Café to get something good to hold us over until dinner that evening.  I had a plan.

It was almost noon by the time we got on the road.  Traffic was fair and we made good time out to the highway.  From there, speed was good and we were sailing along.  If you have driven in Chicago, you know it is mandatory 70 miles per hour out there.  I follow that run to keep from being run over.  Pretty soon, we were on 57 and heading south.

The trip was going well so far.  The temperature was hovering around 40, but I could blue skies up ahead of us.  Rich had checked his phone for weather and reported 65 in Cairo.  No way!  Warm weather was close at hand for us.  Just about Mount Vernon, we could see the line of clouds that outline the boundary between cold and warm.  Suddenly, sunshine was all around us.  The car was registering an amazing 55.  Vacation had truly begun.

I had been trying to visit a BBQ place in Southern Illinois for the longest time.  Today was the day we would stop and try it out.  The restaurant is called 17th Street BBQ.  The main restaurant is way off the highway, but they had a satellite open in Marion, which was right off the interstate.  We made it there about 5:00 and just ahead of a crowd.

We got seated and reviewed the menu.  Tracy, our waitress, made a suggestion to get Mike Championship Platter, which came with a little bit of everything they had.  We added several sides to that and were all set.  The food arrived.  Oh my gosh!  This was definitely some of the best BBQ I have tasted.  I do believe that Rich still makes the best, this ranked right up there.  We ate until we could eat no more.

It was back on the road.  We had a couple of more hours until we could stop for the night.  Blytheville, Arkansas was the destination.  This was the halfway point for our trip.  By 6:00 PM, it was getting pretty dark.  I saw deer hanging by the side of the road and worried that I was going to have to dodge one of these things in the dark.

Luck was with us.  We had no suicidal deer, traffic was quiet, and we managed to drive in the warm night to our resting place.  That evening, Rick and I hung out in the hot tub talking while Rich rested comfortably with his box of Kleenex.  Vacation is good.

The next morning, it was breakfast at Perkins and then out on the road.  We made a stop by Walgreen’s for more cold supplies.  Memphis was relatively quiet.  Sunday mornings must be a good time to circle the city.  We’ll be back on Thursday though.

We headed south and skirted the Delta for now.  The road took us down to Jackson, Mississippi.  We did manage to get Rick to pronounce it like the locals:  Missippi.  I was amazed to find that traffic was running pretty fast today.  I was pushing the upper limits of 75 to 77 while a lot of cars and trucks were blowing by us pretty quickly.  What is this the autobahn?

Rick took over and drove for a bit.  He was nervous, but probably with good cause.  He had to manage not to hit the group of black kids crossing the highway at one point.  Then there was the guy who was halfway up an exit ramp and slammed on the brakes so he could do a U turn and cross the grassy shoulder to get back on the highway just to try it again at the next exit.  Rick did manage to avoid all of this and get to the Louisiana Welcome Center in one piece.

From there, I drove to Lafayette.  That’s not without issues though.  We got to I-10 and the world went crazy around us.  Everyone started driving 90 miles an hour.  To keep from being injured, I felt obliged to join them.  I swear that the roadway automatically turned into the Daytona 500 and the vehicles all had decals of some sort on them.  I was actually keeping up in the race for a bit, but was getting left behind pretty quickly.  We raced on until just west of Baton Rouge when all of the participants seemed to melt away.  I didn’t realize that NASCAR was invented in Louisiana!

We got off the interstate and onto the main road leading into Lafayette.   Once again, it became a race track.  The speed limit was 40, but I swear everyone around was going 60 through town.  I was trying to keep up to prevent getting run over.  The turn for our hotel came and it led to a nice, calm street.  After several turns, we found the inviting lights of our hotel.

Inside, we talked to the clerk about the area.  He was quite humorous and had a lot of jokes to tell.  I asked for a recommendation on a restaurant.  Being Sunday, I figured most things would be closed and I was right.  He gave a coupon for Prejean’s, which I had looked at.  He assured us the Cajun food would be great.  We unpacked and headed out

This took us back out to the main road and the race was on again.  I even got passed by a sheriff’s car racing with someone else.  I guess it was just is the normal mode around here.  We made it up the road and off the expressway to Prejean’s.  Luckily, it wasn’t too busy.  The hostess tried to seat us directly in front of the Cajun band that was playing.  I asked to be seated at least one table back.  It was hard enough to hear and talk.

Scotty was our waiter.  He took our order without writing any of it down.  We had gator bites to start.  Rich got duck and andouille sausage gumbo while Rick had chicken and sausage gumbo.  It came with rice on the side and a nice yeast garlic roll.  I had the crab cakes with corn macque chow and rice pudding.  Rich got crawfish etouffee.  Rick ordered the seafood Alfred with crawfish, shrimp, crab, and some other seafood offerings.  I tasted it all just to be sure.  It was all so wonderful.  We had no room for dessert was the only regret.

Back out to the car and get gas in this out of the way location.  Then  it was back to the race track and a fast run down to Kaliste Saloom Rd.  Even the semis were trying to drive the route at 60.  It was impressive.  I wonder if it is better during the week.

Well, that’s the first couple of days of vacation.  Tomorrow, we are touring the Tabasco Factory at Avery Island.  From there, we plan to see a plantation, if I can find one that is open on Mondays.  The Acadian Village is closed so there went that plan.  Still, there is good food to be had out here and we plan to find some more.  Where is that crawfish boil?

Stink, stank, stunk

Saturday night is quiet.  Just me and my hubby hanging out enjoying a little quiet time together.  About 10 o’clock, Sascha needs to go out for the evening.  We talk about going to bed soon.  Sascha wants to go and stretch her legs around the yard.  I’m sure she will be some squatting and depositing her last of the evening.

It is cold out.  I go through the usual routine of having Sascha sit on the rug.  She knows she has to sit and stay before I can open the door.  She sat and looked pretty proud of herself for doing it.  The door came open and up she popped to bounce out the door.  In the little garage, Sascha did a couple of hops and twists.  She always seems so happy to go out.

At the back door, she poked me in the back of the knees.  It’s her way of saying I wasn’t moving fast enough.  That impatient Border Collie likes things to move at her pace and not mine.  I grab her collar so I can ensure she doesn’t dash out the door before I can hook on the lead.  That rambunctious Husky would run and run until she’s tired.  Then she’d stop to look around and see where she was, miles from home.

The hook clasps onto the D ring on her collar.  I hold on to the lead and stick my head out of the door.  “Yahoo,” I yell.  “Look out world, here she comes!”  She darts out of the door and slinks into stealth mode on silent feet over to the deck.  Her nose goes in between the stairs as she tests to be sure whether her quarry is still under there or not.

He must not be hope at the moment.  Sascha dances off around the snow pile and out into the snowy yard.  She prances around and flips snow around her.  Finally, she circles the empty patch of yard that has been exposed by the daytime sunlight.  First, it’s the squat.  There is another circle around the patch of yard before she picks just the right spot for the last bit of action.

I stand in the doorway calling out, “Sascha, come here, Sascha!”  Of course, she ignores me.  She heads toward me and then veers off toward Rich’s garage.  Her nose goes up and I see the hackles on her back go up.  I heard the coyotes earlier howling.  I hope they aren’t stalking the roads just yet.  Her nose goes higher and she starts sniffing really fast.  What in the heck!  I call out some more and try to entice her to head on into the house.

Suddenly, something small and furry steps out from the doghouse.  Sascha’s head whips around toward me.  I see her eyes go wide and she gets that silly grin on her face.  She is thinking, “small and furry thing!”  I look down and see the small and furry thing moving very fast in front of me.  Now, my eyes get wide.  Skunk!

I swear that Sascha came across the driveway in a single bound to grab the skunk by the back of the neck!  I scream really loud and slam the door shut.  I just can’t stand there waiting to get sprayed.

I’m off like a flash racing for the back door into the house.  “Oh my god!” I yell as I come into the kitchen. “The skunk is back and Sascha has him.”  Rich jumps up and comes running toward me.  I head for the hallway closet to get the supplies for the preparedness kit.  The groomer gave me a recipe for a neutralizer in case Sascha ever got skunked.  Thankfully, I got the supplies and had them on hand.  How did I know?

Rich ran to get a bucket to use for the mixture.  I got the peroxide, Dawn, and baking soda from the closet.  I look for a sponge under the kitchen sink.  We look over the recipe and talk about the expected results.  I run to the closet to find old clothes I can throw away and change quickly.  Then I leave the kitchen and let Rich put together the ingredients in the blue bucket.  Time to find out where Sascha is and how bad it is out there.

I walk to the garage door on the driveway.  Looking through the mullioned panes, I don’t see her or the skunk.  I slowly open the door and stick my head out.  Nope, no black dog or black and white small and furry thing around.  I move out around the snow pile.  There is Sascha out in the yard holding down her new friend.

I start to yell for Sascha.  She is just way too happy out there.  The fluffy tail is wagging and her head is bobbing up and down.  She is playing with the skunk.  Unfortunately, the skunk is lying out flat.  Is he dead?  No, wait.  His head comes up and his tail comes up.  Sascha seems to laugh and slaps him back down with her huge paw.  That can’t be good.  She reaches out and grabs him by the scruff of the neck.  I can’t hear laughter, but she seems to have the body posture for laughter.  She’s enjoying herself.

So the skunk is not dead.  That’s bad.  I have to try and get her away from him.  I walk out past the slab in front of Rich’s garage.  Sascha’s line stretches out over my head.  With my hand up way over my head, I walk until I snag the line.  I start trying to reel Sascha in and she fights me every step of the way.  She stops and digs in her feet to stop me from pulling her.  I can’t drag her any closer and she tries to slip out of her collar.  Darn dog!

I shift my weight and yank really hard.  Sascha comes forward toward me about a half a foot.  I get my footing and pull her again.  Now I can drag her toward me.  I keep reeling her in toward me.  She lunges backwards and almost pulls me over.  I catch myself and dig in my heels.  Two stubborn females can put up quite the battle, but I’m winning this one.

I manage to get Sascha all the way to the driveway.  Now I had to hold her there.  She is barking and jumping around like crazy.  Calm down, you nut!  By the time I haul Sascha to the house, Rich is outside with the bucket and sponge.  Time to start swabbing down the crazy dog.

I hook my hand through Sascha’s collar and reach for the sponge in the bucket.  The water is nice in warm and it is freezing cold outside.  This is going to be fun.  I start at Sascha’s head and dab on the soapy mixture.  As I reach into the bucket, I look up to check on the skunk.  Oh my god, he is up on his feet and walking toward us.  What does he think he’s going to do, kick Sascha’s butt?

I yell for Rich to do something to stop the skunk.  What would that be?  I send Rich inside for a flashlight.  I figure shining a light on the skunk might stop him.  Luckily, the skunk changes his mind and starts to totter off to the deck.  He is going back into hiding.  Really?  He’s probably just going under there to die!

Rich can’t convince the skunk to stop his tottering.  The skunk is probably in pain.  He is just thinking about getting to safety now.  I have to say he is a lot slower now than he was when he tried to run by me earlier.

Rich waves good-bye to the skunk and hooks up the water hose.  I keep working solution into the thick Husky fur.  Sascha is still trying to jump and dance around.  She’s not ready to let the skunk slink off to lick his wounds.  She almost pulls me over to the ground.  Somehow, I catch myself and get my feet back under me.  I’m still more stubborn than she is mad.

Rich holds the bucket while I dunk Sascha’s tail in and swish it around.  I massage in the solution that I’ve applied.  Time to apply more solution to the face and down the body.  Rich gets the nozzle ready for the first spray.  The water is cold, but it should do its job.  Sascha stops for a minute when the water falls over her.  Then she starts fighting back to keep from being dowsed well.  I hook my hand in a little bit deeper and hang on for dear life.  With the other hand, I squeegee soap mixture and water through thick dog hair.

We think we have the first dose washed off and try to see if Sascha still smells.  Yep, that is a definite.  I drag the dog back over to the bucket and start applying solution again.  Sascha is a little calmer, but doesn’t want to stand still.  She moves around and tries her best to avoid the sponge.  No way!  You do the crime, then you put in the time.

One more soak down with solutions.  Rich is standing by with the hose and ready to rinse.  I drag Sascha over to rinse down again.  We work together against her best efforts to shrug us off.  Finally, the water is running clearer.  The sniff test indicates Sascha doesn’t smell as strong.  There is still the question about whether she is skunk free or not.

All that solution and rinsing has left a he puddle of ice forming on the driveway.  I am slipping and sliding as I try to hold Sascha.  She is still trying to get back to the yard to look for her little friend.  That isn’t going to happen.  Time to drag this dog into the workshop.  Rich brought the crate up from the basement.  Unfortunately, Sascha is spending the night out here until we can determine her scent status.  She could potentially contaminate the whole house.

Rich grabs Sascha by the collar and leverages her into the crate.  She is not happy.  There is a lot of whining and crying.  Oh no, she is most definitely not happy.  In the meantime, we stop and get our breath.  Too soon for that though.  The workshop smells like skunk!  We figure the skunk started to spray when Sascha first grabbed him just outside of the door.  That makes it right in front of the outside wall of the workshop.  Great.  Now we hope the smell doesn’t make its way inside the house.

Back out in the driveway, we start picking up buckets and sponges.  The water is solidified into a sheet of ice.  I walk gingerly around it to gather things up.  My pants legs are soaking wet from slinging water and solution.  My sweatshirt sleeves are dripping wet.  Now that I’m no longer struggling with a wet dog, I’m cold!

We finish the clean up and move inside.  I strip off the wet clothes and grab a robe from the laundry room.  Nice to have these hanging here for the hot tub.  I don’t have to wander through the house in wet and smelly clothes.  Next, I get a garbage bag and pile my clothes into it.  These are toast.  No point in keeping these.  It’s out to the garbage can in the garage with these things.  Sascha whines as I walk by her.

Back in the house, I try to warm up.  The adrenaline is wearing off and I start to relive the incident.  Rich asks questions and I try to answer them.  He asks why I didn’t announce that Sascha was coming out of the door.  I explain that I was trying to bring her in and not put her out.  I told him how the skunk tried to run past the door on his way to the deck stairs.  That’s how he got in and out from that side of the driveway.  On the other side, he climbed over Rick’s kayak and around the side of the house.

Remember a couple of weeks ago, Rich and I came home late one night.  I hit the garage door opener and turned into the driveway.  The skunk was walking in front of the door at just that time.  We surprised him and he ran into the garage.  I had to back out and turn off the headlights.  He eventually made his way out of the garage and ran around the front of the house.  I assume he took the back way to the deck.  I should have known one of these days he would try coming around while Sascha was out.  I guess that day came.

On Sunday morning, we rescue Sascha from her crate.  She is upset, but seems unharmed.  While she is outside, I run to the drug store for more supplies.  We plan to soak her down again.  I got another collar while I was out.  We figure that one on Sascha was toast.  No point in keeping the stinky thing.

Back at the house, Rich grabs Sascha and gets her downstairs to the basement.  I shut the doors to the back room and Rich puts the dog into the utility sink.  Time for round two to begin.  Rich is in charge of applying solution and working it in.  I’m in the support role this time and maneuver the dog so solution can be applied to all areas.  Then it is time for the rinse.  Like they say, rinse and repeat.  We manage to get another cycle in.

With towels applied to all part of the dog, we stand back to admire our handiwork.  Sascha is finally happy.  Amazingly, there is little odor.  The only spot we can tell there is a problem is the nose.  We figure she took in spray through her nose and mouth.  That means that she has scent in those linings and not much you can do about that.

I find an older cover to throw over the couch and Sascha settles in to link her wet paws.  For now, the plan is for Sascha to spend some time in the basement to be sure that she doesn’t regenerate that skunky smell again.  Since she is upset about being left by herself, I join her on the couch and hang out for a while.  It has been a long and rough few hours for her.  After an hour, Sascha still smells like Dawn.  That is a good sign.  Of course, her face still smells bad.

After a quick conference, we agree that she can come back upstairs.  There is no red chair time, of course.  That means her face is too close to your own.  She moves around the house lying in the sun and under Rich’s desk.  It is almost back to normal.

We did worry about injuries that Sascha might have gotten from the skunk or from the treatment.  After an inspection, I don’t find any scratches, bites, or scrapes.  I don’t know how, but she came out of the experience unscathed.  That is if you don’t count the intervention on the scent.  I call the vet to make sure I don’t need to take her in.  They don’t want her in the office if she isn’t hurt.  I think they are worried about the possible smell.  I assure them she is almost totally scent free.  I don’t think they believe me.  She isn’t hurt, so there is no need for the long ride to their office.  I put in a call to the groomer so she is aware of the situation and can call me on Monday.

Monday morning came.  Rich felt that he was safe to return to work.  I still wonder if I smell like skunk a bit.  I was first line of defense.  That makes me a little leery of walking into the office.  I stay at home.  I need to talk to the groomer to try and schedule an appointment for a real bath.  Lorraine calls me and we talk.  I thank her for the preparedness kit.  It was a lifesaver.  Monday is busy, but one of the groomers will come by on Tuesday to bath and check Sascha out.

During the day, I run out to buy a new lead for outside.  I realize my hand smells like skunk whenever I put Sascha out.  I didn’t stop to think about the condition of the lead prior to that.  While I’m at the pet store, I look for something to help with bad breath.  I just don’t know if it will help with skunk breath.

Every time I put Sascha out, I look very carefully for the little black and white friend.  They usually only come out at dusk, but I still worry.  This evening, I made lots of noise and looked for him everywhere.  It won’t help though.  We were making lots of noise when he tried to rush by us.  Stupid skunk!

So it was a quiet Saturday.  Then it wasn’t.  I figure when the weather warms up, we’ll know whether the skunk made it or not.

P.S. Rich plans to pour ammonia into the cracks of the deck to chase out anything that could be living.  We might see Sascha’s little friend sooner, if he made it through the night.

Sorry, there are no pictures for any of this.  Probably a good thing though.

Maybe there is a blues song in this story.  Wonder what that would sound like?  Would it be a boogie we could call the Skunk Boogie or just the Sascha Skunk Solution Blues?

Big Sky Vacation Day 1: Through the land of cheese haus

Luckily, the alarm went off this morning. Otherwise, I would have slept through the time to leave.  Sascha finished the job by demanding to go out and look for squirrels.  I got moving and took my shower.  From there, it was time to finish packing.  Rich got moving, too.  Wow, even Rick got up.  Just in time to put him to work.

Sascha took one look at suitcases on their way to the car and started dancing.  Then the barking started.  She never barks!  I think she has forgotten all about motion sickness in the car.  She just loves to go.  Rick had to put her in the house since she wouldn’t shut up.  I was afraid she would wake the neighbors.

We got the car packed.  Everything found its place in the back or in the back seat.  Only later did I realize we forgot to pack the travel cooler.  Or maybe Rich didn’t bring it up so I wouldn’t try to shove it in.  The new Subaru just doesn’t seem to have the same room as the Honda CRV.  I miss my CRV.

I gave Rick a hug and a kiss.  I tried to give Sascha a hug, but she was too excited and barking to get near.  I managed to get a pet or two in though.  We got into the car and headed out for the great Western states.

First stop was for breakfast.  We got up to Richmond and stopped at the American Café.  I love this little place.  Food is always good.  We got coffee and Rich took the wheel for the first leg.  This gives me a good few hours to work on the right arm out of the window.  Once the temp gets too warm, I have to roll up the window and give in to the air.

For those who aren’t aware of it, we have road rules for the car when we take trips.  Over the years, we have devised a set of rules to create peace and harmony between the passengers.

Rules are:

  1.  Driver rules.  Driver gets to pick the music.  If you don’t like, bring your own music and headphones.
  2. Windows down until temp hits 84.  Then air conditioning can be applied.
  3. Driver gets the first slot in the center console for beverages and other items.
  4. Passenger is designated navigator and better not screw it up.

We only ran into traffic just outside of Janesville, WI.  There appeared to be the remnants of a chain reaction accident with about 8 cars involved.  The single lane traffic was gawking at the cars and multiple police officers.  There was no blood.  So why did we have to crawl at 10 miles per hour?

As we passed through several exits, Rich voiced a puzzle that he saw forming.  Is it a requirement that all Wisconsin exits have to have at least one cheese haus?  I thought about and watching the next couple of exists.  Apparently, they do.  And it is correct to say cheese haus.

Construction was minimal and didn’t slow us down much.  We played with the new EyeSight feature in the car.  This is an adaptive cruise control feature that looks for obstructions and controls the speed of the car for you.  Rich loved it.  I hate, but I like the cruise control.  So I guess I’ll live with it.

Here’s how it works.  You set the cruise control.  You can determine the length of the distance between you and the obstacle in front of you.  Rich goes for maximum at 3 bars on the graphic.  I got for minimum at 1 bar.  When you drive up to an obstacle, the car regulates the speed so that you don’t approach too quickly and keeps you the distance you want from a car or truck.  So you come up on a car at 70 MPH and that car is only doing 60 MPH.  Your car throttles back your speed to match the car in front of you.  Once you go around, it speeds back up to 70 MPH.  It won’t let you get closer to the car in front of you based on the distance you set.

Sounds cool, but if you don’t pay attention, you can find yourself going 60 MPH for a while.  You also can’t apply more gas, because your car totally ignores you.  It forces you to pass to regain speed.  I hate a car that’s smarter than I am.  Of course, I can see where this going.  A car that drives itself to the location you designated.  Can I take a nap until we get there?

We made it across the great state of Minnesota without incident.  Rich had to have his 2:00 coffee.  About 2:00, we were in the middle of nowhere.  Every exit was blank and the signs indicates that you had to travel 10 miles north or south to find the town.  Finally, we saw signs of life pretty close to the interstate.  We found the tiny town of St Charles that was close by.  We drove through town and found the Coffee Cabin open.  It was fairly busy, too.  Rich ordered coffee and I took a short break.  I came out to find that he had ordered a sandwich also.  No harm.  I was driving from here on out today.  The place was decorated in log furniture and plaques about cowboys and cowgirls.  Funny thing was, this place was located on Route 14.  This is the same Route 14 that runs just south of us at home and we take to work every day.  We need Coffee Cabin on our Route 14.

Back on the road, we continued to listen to blues music and ride with the windows down.  The temp never got over 82.  Lucky me.  Now I was working on the left arm.  We’ve been down this stretch of road several times.  One of my favorite town names through here is Blue Earth.

Without anything interesting happening, we made it to our destination for the evening.  We stopped in Brandon, South Dakota, which is just short of Sioux Falls.  The location was perfect for easy off and on with food available.  We got checked in and went down to Tailgater’s for dinner.  Rich got the Land and Lake.  This was a steak and walleye.  Turned out to be so-so.  I found that surprising for South Dakota.  We’ve had some really good steaks here.  Well, on the way back, we’ll have to hit the cowboy bar in Mitchell then for good food.

So I finished typing up the blog du jour.  I’m going to stretch out, relax, and read before it’s time to get some shut eye.  Hope tomorrow goes as well as today.

We are headed for a stop at Rapid City to eat at Firehouse Brewing.  This is one great stop that we never miss.  Guaranteed good food there.  Rich will drive in the morning so he can enjoy a couple of beers.  I’ll have beers, too, but they’ll have root at the beginning of the name.

Two lane blacktop (and more)

On Tuesday morning, I received a call that the paving company would be here at noon on Wednesday to tear up the old driveway and put down a new one. Oh My Gosh!

The old driveway was in bad shape where it was cracked and the bed had fallen down. We had water draining into the garage and seeping under the driveway. That’s probably why it had sunk and fallen unevenly all over the place.

I had to go into the office in the morning, but I made a beeline back home before noon so I could be here for the pavers to arrive. I put Sascha out and moved the final items out of the way. I could hear the big trucks when they entered the neighborhood and made their way back to the house.

The first 20 minutes of the job was just getting the old asphalt out along with the base that needed replacement. I was sneaking peeks out the window as they were working. It was coming up fast.

New rock for the new base went in. The whole area looked great just like that. The trucks started arriving with the asphalt. The foreman had this big booming voice that I could hear over the noise of the trucks and other equipment. Not surprising since he was about 6’6″ and a good sized guy.

Pretty soon, the asphalt was down and being smoothed out. It was a really nice dark, black color. What a difference it was to look at.

In about 3 hours, the old was removed and the new was in. The foreman came to the door for his check. He played with Sascha while I wrote out the pretty big number in the small space. If it holds up to the weather, it will be worth every penny.

Rich came home and inspected the job. Rain had started and you could see where the rain was running in all the correct directions. There was no need for the extensions on the downspouts anymore.

Three more days until we can park in the garage. A few more days after that before we can start parking on the driveway directly. It is beautiful. Never thought I’d say that about a driveway.

The existing driveway was so old and crumbling while there was only gravel for the new garage.
The existing driveway was so old and crumbling while there was only gravel for the new garage.
Old driveway in front of the main garage.
Old driveway in front of the main garage.
Gravel and weeds to be replaced with better materials.
Gravel and weeds to be replaced with better materials.
Edge at the street was really beat up.
Edge at the street was really beat up.
The old driveway is so worn and cracked.
The old driveway is so worn and cracked.
Some big cracks spidering over the surface.
Some big cracks spidering over the surface.
Corner of the driveway had holes and water was seeping into the base.
Corner of the driveway had holes and water was seeping into the base.
Sascha in her spot by the small garage door.
Sascha in her spot by the small garage door.
Still warm from the crew putting down the asphalt.
Still warm from the crew putting down the asphalt.
View from the street looking up to the patio.  So nice and level and black.
View from the street looking up to the patio. So nice and level and black.
View from the main garage looking down to the street.  The level is so nice.
View from the main garage looking down to the street. The level is so nice.
A nice level surface out on the side of the main garage.
A nice level surface out on the side of the main garage.
View from the patio down to the street.  The water is pooling right where it should.
View from the patio down to the street. The water is pooling right where it should.
Very nice driveway in front of the new garage.
Very nice driveway in front of the new garage.
Water now drains away from the garage.  No need for the 12 foot extension to get the water away from the structure.
Water now drains away from the garage. No need for the 12 foot extension to get the water away from the structure.














Happy Mother’s Day

Actually, my Mother’s Day was all weekend.  I started on Saturday by sleeping in.  Rich got up with Sascha to put her out, but that was just his excuse to go fishing.  It was a beautiful morning and he had made bait the night before.  He was ready for this.

I woke up to no dog or no Rich. I knew right away that he finally got out there on the banks of the mighty Fox River to try his luck.  That was fine.  It meant a quiet morning for me.  I got my coffee and headed to the couch to read the paper in peace.  I did check on Sascha, but she was totally ignoring in case I wanted her to come in.

Today, I was getting my Mother’s Day flowers for the deck and patio.  This is what I ask for every year.  It’s simple and it’s something I truly want.  I rousted Rick from his bed to go and be my labor for the day.  This meant I had to feed him breakfast.  Oh wait, he is a working stiff as of Monday, so he took me to breakfast.  We went out to Island Café.  As soon as we stepped in the door, Rachel looks around and asks where he is.  Who?  Oh yeah, Rich.  I assured her he was doing something else and it would just be two.  Throughout breakfast, everyone asked where Rich was.  I didn’t realize he was so popular.

Then it was off to Castle Gardens to pick out my flowers for the year.  I had been planning for this and had decided on the flowers I wanted.  On the road just past the Volo Auto Museum, the fire department had the road shut down.  The Gardens were just on the other side.  This meant that we had to snake through the roads in the tiny town of Volo.  The fire appeared to be a field right next to the nursery.

Once we go there and got a wagon, we headed up the hill to the annuals.  I said I wasn’t going to wonder around, but I lied apparently.  I walked up and down the rows looking at the colors.  Finally, I did settle on purple and yellow jump ups, purple and white alyssum, white snapdragons, red and yellow snapdragons, and purple variegated petunias.  I wanted some other things, but decided to wait on those.

It was back to the house.  Rich was just getting back from fishing with his prize.  It was one lonely, rather large carp.  He had a story to go with it.  Apparently, he caught the fish after it took his bite and was trying to make its escape.  It was a good sized fish.  So we left Rich with his carp since my running wasn’t over.

I still had to go to the grocery store for the week’s load of good eats.  Rick went with me.  I like the company and the help.  He had ulterior motives though.  As I said, Rick is starting work on Monday and he wanted to pick up some things for lunches next week.  I saw the dollar signs stretching out in a straight line and the pinch on my wallet.

The grocery store was nuts!  Who knew that Mother’s Day weekend was the biggest holiday of the year.  It was worse than Christmas and Super bowl.  I think it was because the weather was going to be so gorgeous and people were planning to grill out.  You don’t always get that at Mother’s Day in the Midwest.

Finally back home, Rich was done carving up the carp for dinner.  There were fish scales all over the yard.  We unloaded the groceries and put everything away.  Now it was time for me to get busy with those gorgeous flowers.  Dinner was a couple of hours off.  I might just get this done.

I have the flower boxes on the deck to fill along with three pots that I keep up there for more color.  The sun was warm and the wind was nice.  I worked around first to remove the old and dead leftovers from last summer.  Then I arranged my flowers in order along the top of the seats.  After that, it was all fun and dirt.  I finished up in good time.  That left the pots along the patio.  I arranged what I had left to decide the best coverage.  They came out with a very stunning look.  I was very pleased with my work.

That was enough for the evening.  Rich started up the burner and we prepared dinner.  Rich was going to fry up a mess of hushpuppies before doing the fish.  I found a recipe and started creating.  The mix was easy and tasted good before they went into the fryer.  But they were so much better after they came out.  A variation of fried dough is always good.  Even the crispies were delicious.  Dinner was excellent.  Nothing like getting the food yourself.

I’m not obsessed with finding out as much as possible about the next connections that I’ve made in the Zurek family tree.  Through more records, I’m finally able to identify Joseph Zurek, Rich’s great-grandfather, in the records and correlate his claimed hometown in Poland.  Rudy Rysie seems like an interesting name.  I found it on the map of Poland. It is about where I thought it might be, between Krakow and Tarnow.  The village is still there.  I can open a street view through Google.  It’s cute and reminds me of many German villages.

I tried looking through some Polish genealogy sites.  I don’t find much, but not being able to read Polish kind of hurts my efforts also.  I just need to find the church records for this part of Poland.  I see a Joseph Zurek, but he is three years too young.  The mother’s name is right though.

I did manage to find the immigration record where Joseph Zurek from Rudy Rysie, Poland came through Ellis Island.  He came from Bremen, Germany to New York.  It shows that his mother was Marya.  Now I at least have one parents’ name.  I had found a Civil Registration card for what would have been the Selective Service around the time of WWI for Joe.  I have a general description of him.  This also listed his hometown as Rudy Rysie.

See, I can get really obsessed with this stuff.  But it’s 9:00 by this time.  I had asked Rich to make me up a mint julep.  We had plenty of mix left from the party.  I just need the ice to melt into the mix a little before I can drink it.  Rick wants to try a taste.  He doesn’t really like bourbon, but he thinks it’s pretty good.  We settle in to watch an episode of “Father Brown.”  I like English detective shows and this one is quirky and cute.  Apparently, it was an inspiration for Agatha Christie as well.

The night is pretty over by now.  We watch a couple of other things and I start to think about ready.  I’m finishing up an Agatha Christie tonight and moving on to the next book.  Sascha has only been nagging us to go to bed since 8:00, as usual.

That takes us to Sunday morning now.  I get up first and handle the dog duties, which includes grabbing the Sunday paper.  Coffee gets made to help me wake up and to enjoy while reading the paper.  Sascha decides to stay outside since it is so nice.  Pretty soon, Rich gets up and heads for coffee.  Rick finally gets up.  After making it through the comics, he heads to kitchen to make breakfast.  We have Sascha’s favorite, corned beef hash and eggs.  Maybe that’s because she does expect to get a share in her bowl.

Rich and I decide to head out and get some supplies to work in the yard.  The winter was hard on the roses.  Rich lost a couple.  I want to get herbs to grow this year as well as tomatoes to add to the garden.  We head to Ace first, but we just don’t find what we want.  Over at Home Depot, it’s crazy.  We do find everything we want.  After loading up, we head for home.

I start working on the flower bed off the patio.  I’m putting my tomatoes and herbs in this bed for the summer.  I’m just hoping Sascha stays out of it.  She loves to dig when the soil is loose.  I find I have room for more herbs.  I just need to figure out what I can add.

Rich is around front digging up the dead roses and replanting with the new ones.  He sees that not all of the dead ones are totally devastated.  Problem is, will they really survive?  Better safe than sorry and just put in the new roses.  The new roses are grandifloras.  These are really huge blooms.  They should add to the bed with the rest of the roses.  Then it’s time to put down the Moo-Nure.  I love the name.  The picture of the cow on the front is cute.

I get the patio bed finished and move on to the garden on the side of the house.  The garlic mustard plants are taking over.  And they smell to high heaven when you disturb them.  Well, they have to come out.  They are right in the way of planting my other flowers.  Here I’m doing some seeds and bulbs.  I plant zinnias for Rich.  I have Bachelor Buttons and Anemones for the fence.  I have to find a spot for my Dahlias.  Unfortunately, I’m finding so many of my plants didn’t survive.  The daisies are gone.  So I clean out the bed and put the Dahlias there.  My butterfly bush looks like it is dead.  I have to start all over again!

While I’m working, Rich comes around to dig up two of the roses that survived along that side of that house.  He moves to the front where I have some space for them.  More of that Moo-Nure goes in and the smell is a little overpowering.  But I guess it’s not as bad as the grass in the compost pile.  It really smells this year.

I convince Rick to come out and burn all of the wood, sticks, and other burnables.  The pile is huge and it is threatening to keep growing.  He agrees and gets the whole thing going.  It burns really fast.  I guess the amount of rot is pretty good.  Before you know, Rick announces he is done and heading back in to his computer.  Really?  It’s a beautiful day out here.

Did I speak too soon?  After dinner the clouds start to thickening and rain looks like it is moving in.  Sascha must hear thunder from a long way away.   She cowers under Rich’s desk.  The lightning and thunder start up pretty good.  Rick attempts to get the trash out before the rain and doesn’t make it.  The garbage can is out, but the recycling will have to wait.  It pours down.  I go out to the garage to watch the storm with Rick.  We see some hail, but not much.  Then the second wave comes in.  This time the hail is pea-sized and quite a bit of it.  The storm finally passes and the sun comes back out.

For one final Mother’s Day taste, Rich is making rhubarb upside down cake.  I saw this in the morning paper and it sounded good.  Rich wants to do something with his rhubarb.  It sounded like a good thing to try.  We’ll see when it comes out of the oven and cools off a bit.

So tomorrow is back to the grind.  Rick starts up his job in the bay preparing the hardware for the engineers to stage systems.  The weather sound like spring:  a little warm with showers.

Happy Mother’s Day to all of the mothers, sisters, daughters, wives, and role models for us all.

One of the deck boxes with the flowers planted.
One of the deck boxes with the flowers planted.
I love the smell of the alyssum while sitting on the deck.
I love the smell of the alyssum while sitting on the deck.
Snapdragons, jump ups, and alyssum on deck.
Snapdragons, jump ups, and alyssum on deck.
My bleeding heart by the hot tub survived and was blooming this weekend.
My bleeding heart by the hot tub survived and was blooming this weekend.
The pots on the patio with their color.
The pots on the patio with their color.
There's the carp that Rich caught on Saturday morning.
There’s the carp that Rich caught on Saturday morning.
That's an ugly face.
That’s an ugly face.
Sascha always gets excited when there is fish to fillet.
Sascha always gets excited when there is fish to fillet.


Getting the oil up to temperature.
Getting the oil up to temperature.
And the hushpuppies go into the grease.
And the hushpuppies go into the grease.
Rich pulling the golden hushpuppies out of the fryer.
Rich pulling the golden hushpuppies out of the fryer.
Rich preparing the carp for the fryer.
Rich preparing the carp for the fryer.
Fish fry is ready.
Fish fry is ready.
Sascha is trying to be patient for dinner.
Sascha is trying to be patient for dinner.
Rick was learning to drive Sally on Saturday.  He didn't kill it once.
Rick was learning to drive Sally on Saturday. He didn’t kill it once.
















Derby Party 2014

This year’s Derby celebration was going to be very scaled back.  There was no fresh Zurekbrau available due to the effects of the polar vortex.  It was just never warm enough out there to brew beer!  With freezing temps, it was hard to be exposed, standing on cold concrete, and trying to use water without risking frostbit.

On Friday night, I made margarita popsicles.  I gathered the ingredients and combined them into a pitcher so I could pour the mix into Dixie cups.  One of the last steps is to cut a lime into slices as garnish and to help hold the stick in place while it freezes.  As soon as I started cutting limes, Sascha’s nose went to work.  She was standing on top of me and nosing my leg.  She really, really wanted a slice of lime.  Or maybe it was nice aroma of tequila that she found attractive.

I finished up the leftovers in the pitcher after I filled as many cups as I could.  I wanted to make sure there were enough.  Why was I going to freeze this wonderful concoction?  I should just serve it like this!  I placed the limes on top with a stick in each cup.  Once adorned, I placed them into the carefully prepared shelf in the freezer to await the presentation during the celebration.

After the bowling banquet, Rich came home to start seasoning ribs, chicken and brisket.  Wow!  The slab of packer’s cut was more than 12 lbs.  It was a beautiful cut of meat.  As Rich was applying the rub, he was shaking it all over the floor.  Don’t worry, Sascha was right there to clean it up.  All I could think was that was going to hurt on the other end tomorrow.

So with ribs, chicken, and brisket seasoned and packaged, we were ready to get started in the morning.

Derby Day dawned pretty well.  There was a little sunshine and very little sign of rain.  Rich had gotten up at 5:00 to start the BBQ pit for the meats.  Sascha, of course, had to get up also.  She trotted around with Dad.  After the brisket had been added to the pit, Rich headed back to bed.  That meant Sascha had to come in also, which she fought.  She loves being outside when it is her kind of weather.

Rich had a bucket of wood chips by the pit.  These are part of his secret.  He has a mix of hickory, cherry, and oak chips to help give the meat a little extra flavor.  Sascha also found them very flavorful.  She was sneaking chips out of the bucket to chew on them.  When Rich tried to take them away, she actual growled at him!

At 7:00, Sascha had to get up and go back outside.  That meant that I had to get up.  Now Sascha didn’t want out because she had business to take care of.  She had to go out because the sun was up and shining.  That’s just how things work in Sascha’s world.

Since I was up, I started coffee and moving around to get things ready.  As always, we wait to do so many things at the last minute.  We cleaned up around the house and started getting out the items to help make a party.

Over the course of the day, Rich would go out and check the temperature of the pit and add more wood or chips.  As soon as he walked out there, Sascha would come running to help do the check.  Personally, I think she was hoping he would move the bucket of wood chips over so she could reach them.  Rich had made a mop, which is the sauce used to keep the meat moist and help give it that burnt skin.  It sounds funny to mop the BBQ, but it literally is a really small mop like you use on the floor to apply the liquid.  The smoker stay up to temp and the meats were getting down right on time.

Around 2:00, I looked out to see Rich sitting in his chair on the patio with a red solo cup of Zurekbrau.  I know I said there wasn’t any fresh beer, but there was a little bit of Husky Paws on tap.  Sascha was hanging on Rich’s lap trying to sneak beer out of his cup.  She can be very cute when she wants something.  I tried to take a picture, but I just wasn’t fast enough.

Tyler, one of Rick’s friends, was the first guest to arrive.  I love Tyler and I don’t see him as much these days.  Kim and Diane arrived not long after that followed by a few other people.  Rich started bringing up ribs for an appetizer, but the other meats were ready also.  Soon, we had a full on dinner set out.  With baked beans, potato salad, slaw, and the sides brought by the guests, we were filling plates.  The brisket melted in your mouth and the ribs fell right off the bone.  Oh my gosh!  It was wonderful.

I wasn’t sure about doing pots to draw for Derby horses, but Kim insisted that it would be more fun.  I had made up three pots, but we only got through two of them.  You really need to have a bunch of people there to make it easier.  There were 19 horses in the field and that takes a lot of dollars to make a pot.  We each had a horse or four in our hands by the start of the race.

We sat down in front of the TV and watched the race.  I explained how things worked and answered questions.  It’s really a lot of show and pageantry to the Derby.  One of the things I miss about being down there.  The three weeks leading up to the race are busy and always something going on.

In the end, Diane and Barb Doty cleaned up on the first and second places.  Rich and Mike got the third place horses.  It was a slow race this year without the excitement of past years, but it was cool to watch.  I guess in the end, it was no surprise that California Chrome won.  I was hoping for Hoppertunity, but he scratched early.

We continued to eat and talk after the race.  Barb, Mike, and Josh left to prepare for a night at the drive-in.  Before you know it, the clock said 7:00 and people started to leave.  We got down to just Spank for a while before he headed off.  He was leaving for a fishing trip the next morning bright and early.

We put in on picking up what absolutely needed to get down.  I started the dishwasher with one load and stacked the next load to be ready and waiting.  Sascha was sacked out from her exhausting day.  We settled into some TV before bed.

Sunday morning came way too early and Sascha wanted to go out when the sun was just coming up.  I got up, but not very willingly.  Coffee got started and I sat down with the morning paper.  The guys straggled out little by little.  Unfortunately, Rick woke up with a sinus thing going on.  Not too surprising with the weather.  Hopefully, it’s not a cold that the rest of us will catch.

We went out to Brunch to get breakfast.  I love this place, but it is a little crazy.  Everyone wants to eat there.  Luckily, we didn’t have to wait in line too long.  We came back and continued to clean up the house.  Rich worked on cleaning up the pit, with Sascha’s help.  She has to lick the grates and parts of the smoker.  Then there is the grease that drips down on the gravel.  I’m surprised she doesn’t eat any of the rocks.

So this year’s Derby party is in the bag and the cleanup is complete.  Have to think about whether to do this again next year.  Maybe we should not have a party and just go to New Orleans for Jazz and Heritage Festival.  Might be fun to do something different for once.

Rick and Sascha hanging out on Friday.
Rick and Sascha hanging out on Friday.
That's a sweet face.
That’s a sweet face.
Margarita popsicles.
Margarita popsicles.
Sascha was paying close attention as Rich was prepping the ribs.
Sascha was paying close attention as Rich was prepping the ribs.
Sascha enjoys her cuddle time with Rich.
Sascha enjoys her cuddle time with Rich.
Rich and Sascha enjoy their morning ritual on Saturday.
Rich and Sascha enjoy their morning ritual on Saturday.
Rich needed to move things around to get the most of the fire.  Rick helps by holding the brisket.
Rich needed to move things around to get the most of the fire. Rick helps by holding the brisket.
Rick holds the brisket while Rich tries to put it back on the pit.
Rick holds the brisket while Rich tries to put it back on the pit.
Diane always has a crazy hat for the Derby Party.
Diane always has a crazy hat for the Derby Party.











Smoky Mountains: Day 2 Adventure Awaits

So as predicted, we slept in. But only a little.  Sascha can’t seem to make it past 6:30 to go out.  It’s not because she needs to go to the bathroom.  She is wasting daylight if she is not out there guarding her yard from the much dreaded squirrel population.  As soon as it is good and daylight, she has to go out and sit in the yard.

I got up at 6:30 with Sascha.  Rich was left to sleep in a bit.  I got the paper and sat down to read in peace and quiet.  I made it through the whole thing before anyone else stirred.  After Rich made it through the paper, we showered and packed the car.  Rick helped get most of the stuff out there so I could pack.  Don’t think he was trying to get rid of us, do you?

No, he was hungry and invited himself to breakfast with us at Island.  We went out and eat a very nice meal.  That should hold us for a while.  But we couldn’t start just yet.  Rich forgot his Bourbon Trail passports and really wanted them for the stops in Kentucky.  We finally got underway.

Getting out of Chicago wasn’t too bad.  Traffic was relatively light with only the big trucks taking the road.  We hit I-65 in good time.  Then we got to Indianapolis.  The downtown route was shut down for construction.  This meant we had to take the loop around.  The traffic moved fine for a while, but was stop and go around the bottom half of the circle.  Finally, we managed to get back on 65 and head south again.

A few weeks back, I had to go back home to Southern Indiana and I stayed with my friend, Kay, and her husband, Don. I had forgotten my jacket while I was there.  I decided that I really wanted it on the trip.  We made a slight detour to go out to her house to get it.  We didn’t stay long.  Don was showing Rich around the place while Kay and I talked for a bit.  Pretty soon, we were back on the road and headed to downtown Louisville.

A couple of years ago, we had stayed downtown for a trip to visit the Bourbon Trail.  We had stopped by the Marriott to get a drink at Blu and hang out for a while.  I thought it was a very cool hotel.  I really liked the location.  This was our stop for the night.  We were 2 blocks from Fourth Street and just down from Bluegrass Brewing Company.

We went by BBC for dinner.  We started off with pretzel sticks and beer cheese.  It was so good.  From there, Rich had hot brown while I had a fish sandwich.  Both were excellent.  I had the Dark Star Porter.  Rich started off with the Double IPA.  But his second choice was better.  They had a Bourbon Barrel Stout that was out of this world.  Now, I don’t like bourbon that much and I loved this beer.  I wished I had gotten that one.

After dinner, we walked down to the Jockey Silks Bourbon Bar at the Galt House for a drink.  We were trying to catch Jeanne. Now Jeanne was the nice bartender who had started us off on the Urban Bourbon Trail a couple of years ago.  She had explained a lot of information to us and we appreciated the help.  Unfortunately, Jeanne was no longer there.  We had the signature drink for the bar though.  This was the Jockey’s Dream.  It was a fruit punch made with bourbon.  I loved it, but Rich wasn’t too thrilled with the sweetness.

We completed our drinks and walked out to the Belvidere to enjoy the river and the sunset.  Both were beautiful for the evening.  The Belvidere is the platform with gardens and fountains that overlooks the river.  We watched a very large barge of sand and gravel make its way up river toward Cincy.  At one point, a boat had stopped in the shipping lane to fish.  The barge was blowing and blowing its horn for the smaller vessel to move.  He finally did.  Bet that was a shock to almost get run down by a barge at twilight.  There is a reason why they mark those lanes with the buoys.

Then we walked down to Main Street and over to Fourth Street.  Festivities were already under way.  There was a band playing, people dancing, people wondering around, and just a general nightlife.  We walked down to the Maker’s Mark Bar.  Rich had experienced a Manhattan there two years ago.  He was wanting to try it again.  We settled in at the bar and Rich ordered his drink.  We noticed that some of the bottles were signed.  I just had to ask why.  Nicole, our bartender, said that when someone famous came in, they always tried to get a bottle signed.  There were sports people, music stars, and movie star types.  Pretty cool.

Rich finished his Manhattan and we moved on out to the street.  The evening was warm and we wandered slowly back up to Jefferson Street.  When we got almost to the entrance of Fourth Street, a young guy came running out of nowhere to Rich yelling, “Cool shirt, man!”  He and Rich were wearing Hawaiian shirts.  I guess his friends were giving him a hard time for his style.  He just had to appreciate someone else’s similar style.

We wandered back to the hotel.  But before going upstairs, we had to stop by Blu.  Unfortunately, neither one of us had room for more alcohol.  So it was beddy bye time.  We went up and got ready for bed.  We found out that the internet connection was going to cost us $15.00.  No way.  I got out the hot spot and we had internet for nothing.  I still didn’t get my blog written that night though.

Rich at his favorite brewpub in Louisville, Bluegrass Brewing Company.
Rich at his favorite brewpub in Louisville, Bluegrass Brewing Company.
Rich on the stairway to Bourbon in Galt House.
Rich on the stairway to Bourbon in Galt House.
Watching sunset from the Belvidere.
Watching sunset from the Belvidere.
Entrance to Fourth Street.
Entrance to Fourth Street.
Band playing on Fourth Street.
Band playing on Fourth Street.
Rich doing a rose pose outside of the Maker's Mark Bar.
Rich doing a rose pose outside of the Maker’s Mark Bar.
Manhattan at Maker's Mark Bar.
Manhattan at Maker’s Mark Bar.







Day 9 We’re not in Kansas anymore?

We made it home.  We were in no hurry again this morning.  It’s vacation, right?  Our last day of lazy mornings and no need to be anywhere soon.

I started out in the passenger seat.  I wanted one good day to brown my right arm.  Since I do a lot of the driving, my left arm gets pretty brown after a day or so.  It had been too hot from Texas to Iowa to have the windows down.  A/C was a requirement to sustain life.

I got a couple of good hours in before I needed to take my turn at the wheel.  It was also my turn to read one of my books and ignore Rich.  Seemed fair since he was reading his newspaper and playing Sudoku.  By then, we were at the Illinois border.

We noticed right away that it had rained on this side of the river.  And rained a lot by the look of it.  There were flooded fields everywhere.  It had been dry over on the Iowa side.  At least it was sunny now.  We were making good time, until we hit the continuous road construction that occurs on this stretch of 88.  Every time I come this way, there is construction.  I think this is how they occupy those guys in the part of Illinois.

At one point, I thought it was trying to rain on us. I kept hearing what sounded like raindrops hitting the car.  No water though.  Then I realized that I was running into bugs.  As we moved east, the bugs got bigger and there were more of them.  What was that movie some years back about a growing bug population?  Maelstrom I think it was called.  I felt like I was living it.  Once we turned north, the onslaught stopped.

On the road, we had a lot of conversations.  It’s hard to put them down on paper.  It was more than funny billboards and interesting people in the car that we passed.  I like talking to Rich and I think our individual sense of humor plays off the other one.  Probably one of the reasons I like him hang around.  That and he pays his share of the bills.

When we got outside of Dallas, Rich was looking for the Texas roadmap that he had collected when we had entered the state some days ago.  We stopped at just about every Welcome center we hit during the trip.  It was a good place to stop for a break and talk to someone about their state.  Rich would get a roadmap for the state and any brochures that he thought looked interesting.  You never know when you might come back to visit the state.

So when Rich wanted to know something about roads, he would pull out the map of that state and study it for directions.  He was also looking for things we might stop and see.  We like playing tourist.  We will stop for just about anything interesting.

However, on this occasion, Rich just could not find that darn Texas roadmap.  He looked in the glove compartment, the hidey-hole in the console, and in the back seat.  After a while, we started to speculate where that map might have gone.  Did it get thrown out with trash?  Did someone break into the car and take just that map?  Maybe the guys at the repair shop took it.

Then we started getting closer to home.  Maybe Lily was reading it and forgot to put it back.  No, maybe Rose took it because she knew it would drive Rich crazy when he couldn’t find it.  We reached Oklahoma by that time and Rich pulled out that state map.  Our thoughts moved on to other things.

We always have music playing on the radio.  Rich prefers Bluesville to most of the channels we have plugged into the radio using XM.  I didn’t really care.  However, we got the download of the new Trampled Under Foot album.  This meant we had to listen to it on the way back.  We went through that album and several more on Rich’s music player through the Aux input.  It was a change and we got to listen to the TuF album in our own environment.  It was great.

When we first started out on the road, we heard a song called, Butter for My Grits, by Big Bill Morganfield.  Bill is one of Muddy Waters’ sons.  I loved that song.  We decided to make it our theme song for the trip.  I then attempted to get grits for breakfast or other meals just so we could say that.  We heard that song over a dozen times in the course of our driving days.

The song is about a guy who goes to eat his grits and finds that he is out of butter.  He goes to the store, but they are out of butter.  He goes to the neighbor’s house, but they are out of butter.  He just can’t find butter for his grits.  Just not a southern thing to eat grits without butter.

I found out a lot of facts as we traveled also.  Oklahoma raises the most horses and has the most horse related events than any state.  Kansas has a lot of limestone and in the central section where the Tallgrass Prairie is, you can see a lot of stone fences.  We had a couple of people arguing if they were walls or fences.  Apparently in Kansas, they are fences.

OK, I’m winding down here.  We got close enough to home to call Rich and tell him to get the party out of the house.  We do this every time and you would think he would be used to it.  He just gripes at us.  I think I heard something about grow up.  Not sure though.

We came up Oak behind the garage.  Sascha was outside, but couldn’t really see up until we got past the new garage that blocks her view of the road.  She was pretty much just lying next to the house watching the world go by.  Then you could see the thought go across her face, “Daddy and Mommy are home!”  She pushed open the small door as I raised the big door.  She was dancing and barking.

Rich went to get his Husky hug.  I didn’t wait for my hug.  I had some place I had to be and quick.  I got my hug when I came out to help bring in the bags.  She was so excited to see us.  I think she was more excited to see Rich than me.  After we got the stuff all in the house, I brought in.  She attached herself to Rich for the rest of the night.  She was on his feet, touching his foot at dinner with her paw, and leaning against him as he was working on a secret project.

It was nice to be welcomed by one person.  Rick just tells me he liked having the entire house to himself with the dog.  Maybe we could go back out on the road.  However, we did have to pay all of the bills and keep moving money to his account for food and necessitates.

Did you wonder what happened to that Texas roadmap?  I found in with some papers I had stuffed into my backpack.  Oops!

It’s good to be home.

Saschi Sayings

I keep thinking of these and just never get them written down.  Here are some new ones:

  • Mom is not a very good anchor.  When I see a squirrel I think I can get, I tend to drag her down the street with me.  Didn’t she get the memo to just let go of the leash?
  • No, I don’t want in.  There are squirrels out here that need catching!
  • I just don’t get enough Big Red Chair time lately.  What’s up with that?
  • It’s called blowout, Mom.  Just keeping brushing.
  • That’s snow in the yard; that’s Husky hair.



Home Sweet Home: Day 4

Sunday morning was our last day in downtown Chicago.  We decided to go back to Yolk since was so delicious the first time.  It was full with a 15 minutes wait.  No problem.

I forgot to mention the man we had to pass each morning on our way to the restaurant.  He was an older guy, but it was really to determine his age.  Surprisingly, he was very well spoken and seemed somewhat intelligent.  He was dancing around and talking to folks as they passed.  On Saturday, we were the lady Juliet and her Romeo.  On the way back past him, we were m’lady and kind sir.  All of this was in an exaggerated English accent.  On Sunday, he addressed us as that beautiful couple.  I don’t remember the greeting he had as we left.

We were seated at the bar area where we could watch the action.  There was one guy on our side of the grill window.  He was organizing trays for the servers to pick up and take out.  Another guy on the grill side was taking the orders out of the machine and assigning them to a cook.  All of this was done in a loud shout over his shoulder without turning around.  Pretty impressive.  Of course, they were yelling and I could barely hear them over the noise of the place.  Everyone was talking over each other.  My ears were never so glad to leave.

We decided we had time to get the earlier train home.  So we packed our bags, paid the bill, and went out to catch a cab.  We walked up to the cab stand in the Hilton.  A cabby was just dropping a fare.  I’m afraid I broke etiquette and asked him to take us.  The doorman agreed to let him.  We had to pay the doorman he share of the booty to help put the bags into the trunk.  We were whisked down State St to Madison and dropped in front of the train station in a matter of minutes.  Then the cabby got his fare and his share of the tip.

We went in, purchased our tickets, and wandered out to the tracks to find the train.  Luckily, it was boarding already.  We found a car that was relatively empty and stowed our bags.  I got settled in with my magazines and Rick worked on his Sudoku.  The conductor came in and grilled the ladies behind us on the amount of luggage they had and where it had be placed.  They had managed to stuff it in behind the seats.  There were four of them with three bags a piece for an overnight adventure downtown.

I volunteered Rich to help them put some of the bags in the overhead as the conductor asked.  They really could reach up there by themselves.  They thanked Rich and praised him for being nice.  I still don’t think that made him think any better of me for volunteering him.  I’d want help though.

Rick was just pulling into the station when we arrived.  We went down the ramp and loaded into the car for the ride home.  Sascha was there and so glad to see us.  We each got a hug, but I think Rich is the one she missed the most.  She followed him around and promptly arranged herself across his feet when he sat down to his desk.  She definitely has a soft spot for Rich.

I miss walk around and getting to things, but I love my gardens, my dog, and the great outdoors.  I say this after spending an hour or so on the patio brushing the blowout from Sascha’s coat.  There is Husky hair everywhere now.  We took Sascha for a walk.  She only went after the rabbit and didn’t bother with the squirrels too much.

It’s good to be home and we have stories to tell everyone.

Sascha missed her Daddy
Sascha missed her Daddy