Ralph Melton (ralphmelton) wrote,
Ralph Melton

Vacation Outline

We were on vacation from June 28 through July 14. We went to Origins, drove down to my sister's wedding in Dallas (where Lori was a bridesmaid, and Ralph was the bride's man of honor), and drove back up over the course of a week.

I've not been making time to post about all the fun things we did, which is lamentable, because we had a lot of fun and it was well worth remembering.

So I'm trying to just make an outline of everything we did. I dearly hope to expand on this later. If you have particular topics among these you'd like me to post about, please do tell me more.

Wednesday, June 28:
- packing and running around preparing made us get off very late... 9 or 10pm. Stayed at Motel 6.

Thursday, June 29:
- Breakfast at Bob Evans.
- Onward to Origins.
- lunch: Krema Nut Company.
- Played Castle Falkenstein LARP. More fun than last year, still some tangles.
- Bought Dogs in the Vineyard, Breaking the Ice, Order of the Stick: No Cure for the Paladin Blues
- Connected up with the Colorbox family and 5eh and plexq.
- Dinner: sub delivery.

Friday, June 30:
- More Origins.
- Played in excellent Exalted game, with players who really made the game vivid and lively. Eventually bought Exalted 2nd Edition even though I had 1st edition, because this game was so cool.
- Lunch: Krema Nut Company.
- Lots of dealer's room time, following quest cards.
- Dinner: microbrewery near convention center.
- Late night: gaming with Alex Yeager, who now works for Mayfair.

Saturday, July 1:
- More Origins.
- Lunch: Krema Nut Company.
- GM didn't show up for Lori's Buffy game. Offered to borrow a book and GM something half-assed by the seat of my pants. Not accepted--probably just as well.
- Lori decided to play in a Buffy LARP, and had a good time as the woman-with-visions.
- Dealer's Room: bought Treehouse, En Garde, Exalted 2nd
- back to Colorbox home for evening party and conviviality. Yay party! It's one of my favorite parts of Origins.
- played Arkham Horror at party; nice game.

Sunday, July 2:
- Brunch with 5eh, plexq, sailormur, and Mur's husband whose LJ username I am unsure of.
- Final dealer's room pass; Lori bought earrings. We used Out of the Box teacher's discount to get Snorta, Letterflip, Squint Junior, free Blink.
- Slow to leave Colorbox home. (Recurring theme.)
- Dinner in Cincinatti, searching for Cincinatti chili.
- Camp Washington Chili is closed. Oh noes!
- Gas-station attendant gives us thickly-accented directions to instance of Skyline Chili, chain that invented/stumbled-upon Cincinatti chili. Pretty tasty.
- Dessert: Graeter's, local ice cream chain. Nice turtle sundae.
- Country music on radio driving through Kentucky. Amusing song: "Brand New Girlfriend", one other now forgotten
- Slept in Louisville, Kentucky.

Monday, July 3:
- Brunch at Lynn's Paradise Cafe. Delightfully wild decor, best expressed but not described by Ralph's quote: "I had previously overlooked the concrete bear painted as Elvis." Ralph had a Hot Brown ("if I die of heart congestion eating this, know that I love you."), baked mac and cheese, and banana pudding; all were very good. Lori had ???. See http://roadfood.com/Reviews/Writeup.aspx?ReviewID=117&RefID=117 for others' words and pictures.
- Stopped at Diamond Caverns in Kentucky. (Had time for one cave, asked for local recommendations for best quick cave.) Pretty nice cave. Lots of cave bacon.
- Dinner at Swett's, in Nashville, TN. Good southern food, had ???.
- Slept at Ramada Inn near Memphis.

Tuesday, July 4:
- Breakfast at the Blue Plate Cafe. Lori had yummy waffles; Ralph had biscuits and gravy (good), grits (not bad), and country ham (Ralph: "more bacony than bacon!")
- Toured Graceland. Actual paintings of Elvis on black velvet available for sale in one of five gift shops.
- Lori's first view of the Mississippi.
- Late lunch at Gene's Barbeque in Brinkley, Arkansas. Unusual options: batter-fried pickles (eh) and batter-fried green beans (mmm). Decent pulled pork. Ivory-billed woodpecker memorabilia.
- Pressed on to try to get to Dallas to sleep.
- Sought fireworks for Lori. Called home for firework recommendations. Got recommended Rockwall firework celebration--but couldn't quite make it.
- Ended up pulling off highway and watching fireworks set off by local residents.
- Made it to Holiday Inn in Addison (near Dallas).

Wednesday, July 5:
- First Holiday Inn annoyance: water dripping from ceiling in bathroom. Moved to new room.
- Poor breakfast from Holiday Inn.
- Joined parents, Laura, and Jeff at home.
- House-cleaning through the afternoon.
- Dinner: slow-cooked chicken cacciatore at home.
- Laura and Jeff out to airport late to pick up Laura's host parents from her year as an exchange student to France. Because of delayed flights, they land after 1am.

Thursday, July 6:
- Poor breakfast from Benedict's.
- To church for pre-wedding planning. (Family church, but our first encounter with new building.) Recover anguished woman's dog while at church.
- Pick up Laura's out-of-town bridesmaids at airport in afternoon: Rachel Vigour and Maggie Trias. Many good times with them for rest of our time together.
- My parents host barbecue for those folks in town. (Dickey's Barbecue). Start to meet groomsmen.
- Evening: go to bridesmaid Allison's house with large group of bridal party to watch The Libertine. Sexy bits at beginning, much reduced sexiness as syphilis sets in.

Friday, July 7:
- Bridesmaids' collective nail appointment. Ralph comes along to beauty school and gets his hair cut. Entertaining conversation with hairstylist Patrice; Patrice graduated from rival high school at same time as Ralph, favors Macintoshes for his DJing/musical applications, has two children but no current romance.
- Bridesmaid's luncheon at Mary Ellen's Tea Room. Nice little tea room.
- Wedding rehearsal.
- Rehearsal dinner. Ralph sits with Laura, Jeff, Maggie, Rachael, Michael Smith (groomsman). Discovery: Jeff is a gamer, he and Laura are now playing D&D. (W00t!) Strive to explain RPGs to Maggie and Rachael and make sure they get to participate in conversation.
- Jim Frasca (Jeff's brother, best man) proposed bachelor party. First choice of comedy club turns out too full.
- Allison suggests watching Mating Habits of the Earthbound Human at her house. Excellent movie for the occasion--sexy and funny.

Saturday, July 8 (Wedding Day):
- Bridesmaids without Ralph go to church to get made up and hair done.
- Ralph goes with men to barber shop. Barber shop just does haircuts, not shaves. Oops.
- Ralph wants Tex-Mex: lunch at El Fenix.
- Wedding!
- one slip during wedding: veil removal hasn't been rehearsed, so neither Daddy, Laura, nor Jeff removes veil. Ralph goes up and pulls back veil as Scripture reader is taking the stand.
- Ralph next to Jim in receiving line; able to introduce each other to the other half of the visitors, much banter and wisecracking back and forth.
- Ralph and Jim collaborating as emcees of reception, deciding when things are supposed to happen.
- Uneventful bouquet toss, but exciting garter toss: usually, men part like the Red Sea when the garter is tossed, but this time they lunged for it--the groomsman who won the bouquet got a bloody nose off of Michael's skull.
- Ralph and Jim drive newlyweds to hotel at airport. Jim has festooned car's back seat with condoms and lube samples. Newlyweds receive coupons for breakfast, for value up to $12.82. (Why such a wacky amount?)
- Lori goes off to dinner with Ralph's maternal relations. Ralph goes to meet up with paternal relations, but they've changed plans by the time he gets to planned restaurant. Instead, rejoins Jim for dinner with Jim's relations. Fun, convivial time! Would happily get together with Jeff's friends again.
- Rachael knocks on our hotel room to say goodbye. Long conversation develops. Michael joins us. Move into hotel room and keep talking. Chris eventually joins us. Very long, very pleasant conversation--like spontaneous college dorm-room conversations I didn't really have.

Sunday, July 9:
- Check out of hotel just before 2pm to avoid $10 fee for checking out later.
- Make it to Benton, Arkansas with plans of eating at Ed and Kay's next day.
- Unpleasant Ramada: feels seedy, has van with religious-fanatic painting near motel room, door deadbolted. Get refund from new-hire night manager who has to call to learn how to do refunds.

Monday, July 10:
- Ed and Kay's closed. Eat brunch at Lunch Box Diner. More country ham and biscuits. (Not listed as Roadfood, but tasty food.)
- Drive on to Memphis.
- Lunch plan: Leonard's BBQ. But Leonard's closes at 2, and we arrive just afterward. Alas!
- Lunch at Cafe Napoleon, downtown. Delicious southern food: mac and cheese, greens, flat cornbread, ???
- To National Civil Rights Museum, site of former Lorraine Motel where Martin Luther King was shot. Good museum--3 hours was not enough time for us to spend there.
- Considered King's Court motel downtown. Saw roaches, asked for money back. Checked into Best Western in West Memphis.
- Evening on Beale St.
- Dinner at Blues City Cafe. Ralph: tamales (fine) and gumbo (pretty good). Lori had ribs that I loved incredibly much. My word, they were so wonderful. I will probably still favor Texas brisket in my barbecue, but there's a compelling point to be made for ribs like these.
- Carriage ride in an incredibly gaudy carriage. Looked sparkly and pretty with Christmas lights and iridescent fabric from a distance; when riding, noticed shamrock lights and disco ball. Pleasant conversation with driver Sally. One of the things she mentioned was being brought home from the hospital after being born and being immediately set on a horse for her first ride.
- Much fine music on Beale Street audible for free.
- Stopped in Silky O'Sullivan's to listen to some music. Tried a mint julep--it tasted like whiskey, but entirely smooth and drinkable.

Tuesday, July 11:
- Went to Mud Island for the river walk, at Rachel's recommendation. (Thanks!) I really enjoyed the river walk; walking along the scale model of the Mississippi was very peaceful and serene, like walking a labyrinth.
- Lunch at Leonard's BBQ Buffet. Yummy barbecue! Too much excellent variety to savor everything. Introduced to local custom of BBQ nachos. Yummy corn whiskey pudding, greens, maple peaches.
- Souvenirs on Beale St., finally leave Memphis around 4pm.
- Dinner at Loveless Cafe near Nashville. Good fried chicken and biscuits. Nice decor with paintings of country stars. But Ralph feels that it's a bit overly conscious of its own success.
- slept at Day's Inn near Nashville.

Wednesday, July 12:
- Ate breakfast at Pancake Pantry. SO GOOD! Waitress helped us arrange a joint meal of cherry-filled, peach-filled, strawberry-filled, buckwheat, and sweet potato pancakes. Everything was superlative. Sheer delight.
- Onward to Gatlinburg. Lori's sister Heather has recommended seeing Gatlinburg by night.
- Gettiing to lodging in Gatlinburg involves a lot of slow driving through tourist shlock in Sevierville, Pigeon Forge, and Gatlinburg. We arrive late.
- Did you know that Gatlinburg alone has almost 11,000 accomodations? Motels as far as the eye can see.
- Late arrival means that first-choice restaurant is closed. Wander around trying to find another appealing non-chain restaurant. Hunger and fatigue impairs our ability to make decisions. Finally settle on Hard Rock Cafe because it's available and open. Food is fine, and music is noisy but not too noisy--but Ralph's mac and cheese with grilled chicken is certainly the worst mac and cheese he's had on the trip.

Thursday, July 13:
- More Gatlinburg shopping. Little delight from stores.
- We notice opportunity for Hillbilly Wedding but decline opportunity.
- Then find Arrowmont School for Arts and Crafts--or rather, their store. End up buying large nice suncatcher, jewelry with dogwood pattern.
- Stop at Cooter's Place to behold Dukes of Hazzard memorabilia. Lori talks with actor who played Cletus. He doesn't like recent movie either.
- Into the Great Smoky Mountains at last. Beautiful scenery, lots of pictures of mountains shrouded in clouds.
- brief hike in Smokies, shortened by rain.
- visit Appalachian farm museum.
- drive briefly along Blue Ridge Parkway.
- Hustle up to Johnson City, TN to try to visit another Roadfood place: Dixie Barbeque.
- Call Dixie Barbeque for directions at 8:45. They close at 9pm. She offers to prepare us sandwich plates if we don't make it there by 9. How nice! Make it there at 8:55. Food is pretty good; beans are spicy.
- Drive on. Hit rainstorm in western Virginia, so hard that we pull off road for a while.
- Sleep at Motel 6 in Wytheville, VA.

Friday, July 14:
- Eat breakfast at Shoney's in belief that there will not be more roadfood. New appreciation for biscuits at Loveless Cafe.
- At truck stop on US 19, notice billboard: "Summerville. World's Largest Speed Trap. 4 miles ahead." Unable to make out URL on billboard; news article found later.
- Eat late lunch at Ritzy Lunch. Satisfying chili dogs and Giovanni burger.
- Press on driving, arrive home with just enough time to change before going downtown for performance of 42nd Street.
- Lovely vacation, but glad to be back.
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