-- Ted ... Evelyn Mosby, "How I Met Your Mother".
That was one fun trip. Four awesome, wonderful days away from the five county metropolitan area I love so much … and haven’t been able to truly flee for a few days, in nearly two years.
I spent my last four days in a place known as Dakotaland – and yes, the fact that Dakota apparently has its own land, is really neat. I mean, how awesome would it be, if you had a part of this country – be it a city, a county, a state, even a freaking cul-de-sac – named after you? How sweet would Stevoville be? (Pause). What? (Pause). (Sighing in disgust.) Fine – how drunk and/or stoned, would a place known as Stevoville be?
The reason for the trip, was to visit some great friends, who come down twice a year this way: once every summer for a weekend* … and once every football season, for the raiders game. Yes, dear readers, I freely admit, my buddy Gregg’s sister has a bigger pair than me. She actually stepped foot in the black hole, and apparently lived to tell about it. (I'm assuming that's the case; I'm guessing I'd have been informed of the funeral arrangements, if raider fan acted like raider fan, last Thursday night.)
Me? I did the next best thing: I stepped foot into the black hole north … and signed my name on the raiders fridge:
(I was told I could not write anything negative about raider nation, oakland, the raiders, or anything affiliated with the silver and black. 25 year old Stevo is furious, at 37 (and damned near 38) year old Stevo, agreeing to those stipulations, in order to sign "The Fridge". Image Credit: me, via my iPhone.)
So the trip started with a football game … and in a development that will surprise nobody who knows me, it ended with a harrowing drive home in god-awful weather conditions**. It’s everything that happened in-between, that was so epic, it deserves a recap.
Which, I guess?
Is what this is.
(*: Friday, we had lunch at a bar known as The OT. (Pause). Yes, I know – I am the one person you know, who believes there is no such thing as coincidence. Having said that, I was asked to look up when the Twins are coming to town next season, since as Ian noted, “every damned year, you host us during the week, rather than the weekend!” The Twins are here 4th of July weekend. I’m guessing – fairly safely – we’ll be attending a few Twins games, this upcoming Royals season.)
(**: this was my fourth Chiefs “roadie” with the Second Parents. It has rained (or worse) on every trip home. Then again, my trips with “The Voice of Reason” have included the most frightening ride to a stopping point in my life … and my trip home from Omaha three years ago with “The Ex”*** was so horrific, I actually gave serious thought to staying at the Sac and Fox Casino for the night ... and somehow, when Dusty and I went to Indy for the 500 all those years ago? It’s 102 when we enter Missouri on the ride home … and 42 and pouring down rain, once we enter a city best known as Allen Field House East. The lesson? Damned if I know, other than, don’t go on a roadie with me, if driving is involved.)
(***: and no, I have not heard from The Ex, since she left 18 days ago. So stop asking me, please, how she’s doing, because quite frankly, I’m too godd*mned f*cking pissed and/or hurt, to deal with her at this point.)
We left Thursday morning, a little bit after eight. The only part of the trip we knew was set in stone, was that we’d watch the Chiefs / raiders game in “The Garage” Thursday night.
We stopped at the Waffle House in St. Joe for some breakfast. To say our waitress was a bit slow, is a bit underselling her. But she tried, which is acceptable. Plus, come on, it’s the Waffle House! Just like you can’t ever go wrong with monkeys and/or midgets, you can’t ever order wrong at a Waffle House. It’s guaranteed quality food. Provided you avoid the grits. I hate grits.
From the Waffle House (exit 40 something), we somehow made it all the way to North Sioux City, South Dakota, before stopping for gas. In a 2000 GMC Jimmy. Now, I used to own at 2003 Blazer. (Same basic model and make, for the uninformed.) I knew its limitations, and knew you couldn’t trust the gas gauge. I knew if the mileage for the tank showed 250, you were in trouble.
That thing made it 302.2 miles.
Circle me impressed, Bert.
For the record, Sioux City is still the most foul-smelling city, I've ever had the (mis)fortune to step foot in.
Also, for the record, once you cross the border into South Dakota, there actually is a dual fireworks shop / casino you can stop at. (It's also a gas station. Just a RV park away from gaining Chocktaw Nation status!)
The last hour into Sioux Falls seemed to take forever. Partly because my iPhone was deader than a corpse -- I'd played too much Spider Solitare on the ride up. But mostly, because once you know you're close to the finish line, everything seems to take longer.
When we got to Sioux Falls, we agreed to meet up with our friends Ron and Becky at the VFW, located at I-229 and Minnesota. You couldn't miss the place if you tried.
Once we got inside, they ordered the second strangest drink concoction I'd ever seen in my life: a tall one of (pick your beer of choice) ... with a boatload of olives in it. Apparently most folks in Sioux Falls order their beer this way.
And no -- I didn't try it. I had exactly two beers the entire weekend, and both were consumed during our stop on the drive home. I'm not much of a beer drinker anymore. I think I beered myself out during my teenage years.
But -- but! -- as someone who admits he'll try any alcoholic concoction at least once?
An "old friend" and I, who hadn't "spoken" in at least three years, "made up", about 24 hours after beer with olives in it, was presented to me ...
The first thing I did was sign "The Fridge", after I got to Ian and Angie's place. Their garage? Hang on -- I need to properly prepare you peoples and peepettes reading this. Get a drool guard. Make sure nothing breakable is in your hands. Because this, peoples and peepettes?
This, is what a Man Cave truly looks like:
(Yes, this is a garage. A freaking garage! Image credit: me, via my iPhone.)
The second thing I did, was change into proper GameDay attire: the yellow Chiefs t-shirt, the black Chiefs shorts, drape the January 4, 1998 "Be Loud" towel over the shoulder, throw the fading-fast red football bead over the neck, and of course, the Royals trucker cap I stole from my brother four months ago.
The third thing I did, was introduce our friends from Dakotaland to a little thing known as ... The Jacked Up. I had to change the recipe slightly, since we were using Weller instead of Jack ... but damn. Whiskey, Bourbon, Diet Coke with Lime. It's a winner every time!
As for the game itself, well, this picture pretty much says it all -- me, after the raiders took the lead with a little over a minute to play:
(I am NOT happy. At all. And my good buddy 13 is even more irate than I am! God, I love that coozie! Look at that lil' guy's arms outstretched in disgust and anger! Image credit: Mona, via the Canon.)
After the Chiefs defeat, I was done-zo. (Note: consuming approximately 20 Jacked Ups may have contributed to my inability to stay awake and "celebrate". Also, "celebrating" defeat seems pointless to me. I don't think General Lee raised a frosty cold one every year on April 9, to "celebrate" Appomattox.) So I spent the night on the basement couch -- which should surprise noone; your couch is always my home away from home.
Thursday ended apparently with everyone making a wager on when I'd wake up on Friday. Out of apparently fifteen people who wagered? Only one had me up before noon.
And here I thought my friends knew me well.
Friday, I was wide, wide awake at 8:30, thank you very much. I have a gift I guess a lot of you reading this would kill for: I never truly get a hangover. I think it's because I have a residual .06 in me at all times, but for me, 8:30am is a late wake-up. Even now, on Day Ten of my eighteen day vacation, I was wide awake at 7:22am. I rarely sleep in, and I'm never hung over, no matter how much I pound them the night before.
Breakfast Friday morning was one helluva amazing hashbrown casserole. Green peppers in hashbrowns = muy bueno! Also had my first glass of Sunny D in a very long time. That was shockingly good as well.
About 11am, we decided we needed to do something. So off to The OT! My lunch order was a BLT with cheddar, and a bowl of chili as the side. One of the two was really good. (Hint: it wasn't the chili.)
It is at lunch, that this conversation occurred:
(nicole, to me) You should try a KC Ice Water!
(me, to nicole) What the f*ck is that?
(nicole, to me) Well, it's vodka, gin, and --
(me, to nicole) No.
(nicole, to me) What?
(me, to nicole) Gin is not my friend. Bad breakup.
I hate gin. I mean, hate it. Part of it is from a horrific New Year's Eve back in the day, when I had too much of it. But mostly, I just hate everything about it. I hate how it tastes, I hate what it does to me -- so in essence, Gin is my ex-wife I'll never have. I hate everything about it.
Which of course, meant Rudy went and bought me a tall one.
And I bought the second.
For the record, this KC Ice Water deal was vodka, gin, lemon juice, and Sprite. And it was damned good.
But I'm still going to keep my ol' buddy Gin, at arms length, for at least the foreseeable future.
The rest of Friday was spent playing poker in Ian's garage (Tom and I split the jackpot), and then spent at Ron and Becky's that evening.
So allow me to say, if I ever actually own a house in my life?
I hope it's comparable to theirs.
I loved the layout. I loved the five -- not one, not two, not three, not four, but five! -- nearly hidden closets built into the billiards room. I loved every damned thing about this house, right down to the fact that the shower head in the fourth guest bedroom (and there were four!), had a rainforest raining effect on you, that literally made me stand for ten minutes both Saturday and Sunday morning, underneath said shower head, because it felt so damned perfect.
Why, you ask, do I mention that?
Because as Becky noted at breakfast Saturday: "nobody's ever used that shower before".
Now THAT'S what I call quality hosts!
Friday night's menu was venison chili (which was beyond spectacular), a boatload of booze (ditto), and games of pool, that saw me paired up with Becky.
Somehow, I won our first game, by nailing the 3 ball, then the 8, on back to back shots.
That never happens.
Then again, the punishment for losing a match, was to down shots of Cuervo. Which, to be honest, really isn't a punishment?
Here's my teammate and I, pushing midnight Friday:
(Image Credit: someone, via the Canon. Also, what's more unreal -- me winning a game of pool ... or the Royals in the World Series?)
And yet, that isn't the picture I loved the most from Friday night. Sadly, I don't have the one I truly loved the most on the laptop (which was my two Special Little Guys peering over the pool table, barely able to see what was going on).
Instead, I'll just post my favorite one I have from Friday night: me, with two kids that not only steal your heart the moment you see them?
They'll charge you to get your heart back.
Because they're that sneaky good to know.
(that's me, in the blue t-shirt. Kalen is on the left, Mason is on the right. Don't ever ask me to decide, which one I love more. #uncateve was in da house! Also, I was a solid 15 glasses of assorted adult beverages in ... yet still managed to hold onto the two lil' tykes. Again: #uncateve in da house! Image Credit: someone, via the Canon.)
The night ended with me in a guest bed, and everyone else somehow staggering to another guest room, and/or home, as Friday turned into Saturday.
Oh sweet merciful Jesus, was Saturday a day I'll never forget ...