Our Whirlwind Tour Of The Midwest

I was going through the pictures on my phone and realized I had a bunch from our trip to Delaware, Columbus, Toledo and Valparaiso. Yeah, this is the same trip where we encountered the creepy clown in the bar. I’ll think you’ll get a kick out of at least a few of these. Let’s jump in shall we?Our buddy Heather took us to Eddie George Grille 27 (the added “e” makes it fancy, just ignore the 70 TVs playing sports, some of which aren’t even in season right now) in Columbus after our reunion shenanigans. They ordered deep fried cheeseburgers (the missus snapped a picture of hers with my phone at my request) while I got a deep fried Italian sandwich. Mine was awesome and so were the burgers. While visiting my parents in Toledo, the four of us all went to a Toledo Mudhens game (that’s the minor league team that feeds into the Detroit Tigers). I got the tickets for my dad for his birthday and the seats turned out to be pretty awesome. Also, the beer was cheap. And, to answer your inevitable question, no, I don’t know what a mudhen is.
The great thing about the new(ish) Mudhens stadium is that it looks like it was just dropped in the middle of downtown Toledo. You can see how there’s buildings all around it. Some of those are hotels and apartment buildings, so you can just hang out and watch a game from there. Of course, that also means you can get hit by a ball if you’re just walking down the sidewalk. I was disappointed to find that Tony Packos hot dogs were not served in the stadium, though there is a restaurant across the street. This is how close we sat to the bullpen, by the way.The next day we left for Indiana for my buddy Geof’s marriage to the lovely Eileen with my folks driving (they were also invited, though they probably would have driven us and gone back home if we asked cause they’re awesome). Just outside of Valparaiso we stopped at a rest stopped that a carload of my friends from Toledo also happened to stop at. It was all very serendipitous. Anyway, there was a little gift shop that had a ton of statues like the dragon and fairy here. I contemplated buying one as a wedding present, but the missus reminded me we already had a gift and I’m not that generous. And finally, the day after the wedding we had a crazy-early flight out of Midway in Chicago that my parents were nice enough to drive us to. While walking through this strange new place, I was delighted to see them celebrating Chicago’s two finest sons Jake and Elwood Blues. There were actually two statues, but with the sun coming in through those huge windows, this was the best I could get. The other photo was completely washed out. There you have it. It was a great trip filled with friends, family and fun, plus we didn’t have to drive out, so you can’t really go wrong with that!

An Epic Journey

This weekend Em and I went to Columbus, Ohio for the wedding of a friend I’ve known since my freshman year of high school and his lovely new bride. In a weird twist, we have three weddings this year, and for all three the bride’s name is Megan. Crazy right? Anyway, that turned out to be one of the more normal aspects of this trip as it slowly descended into whatever can go wrong, will go wrong territory.

The plan was to fly out Friday afternoon from the airport right down the street from our house, connect in Detroit, have an hour layover and then fly to C-bus where my buddy Randy and his wife Lindsey would pick us up and we’d head downtown to hang out with almost all of my friends from high school. It was supposed to be fairly easy and end with some drunken revelry. That’s not quite how it went down.

At the airport, we actually ran into Justin who was off to Cali for work. They boarded his plane really quickly because this storm was rolling in and then they got stuck on the runway for 45 minutes to an hour. The storm pushed our flight back about 50 minutes, but things cleared up and we headed out with enough time to not miss our connector in the D.

The flight itself was fine. I dozed off after reading some House of Seven Gables (I’m trying to get some culture). Once we landed we ran down the terminal and made it with time to spare (it’s not easy to run in boat shoes with a big ass back pack on your back). We made it with time to spare and had a seat at the gate. It was then that I realized I had left my copy of House of Seven Gables on the previous plane. Since we didn’t have much time and it was just a Barnes & Noble version of the book, I wasn’t too worried about it. Soon after, they started boarding the plane, which was supposed to take off around 7:15PM. Em and I got on and got situated. Then, about five minutes later an airline guy came on the plane and told as that the airline had changed this plane and it was now going to Cincinnati. And we had to get off the plane.

Between the two of us Em and I have done a good bit of traveling, but neither of us had ever heard of something like this. So, after getting off the plane, the new departure time was 8:00PM. After that I grabbed a beer at an Irish pub right across from our gate, which was nice and calmed me down a bit. Then the departure time changed to 8:30. Then 9:00. Then 10:00. Around 9:30 or so, one of our fellow travelers got a call saying that, according to the internet, the flight was cancelled and it had disappeared from the board in the airport. The woman at the gate started making calls and it turned out it was cancelled due to weather. Here’s the crazy thing, even if there was bad weather, which I’m doubtful of, there was another flight for Columbus leaving at 9:30. I’m not sure how that adds up, or how bad the weather could get in a half hour, but there was definitely some shadiness going on (this was a Delta/Northwest flight for the record).

I actually felt really bad for the woman at the gate, because, it’s obviously not her fault, she’s just the one giving a bunch of pissed off people the bad news. And the news got worse as we stood there waiting. First, her computer stopped working so she couldn’t tell us what other flights there were and we were waiting for her supervisor to show up and tell us if they would be providing accommodations. We were sure what we were gonna do. The wedding wasn’t until 5:30 or so on Saturday, but it turned out that the first flight to C-bus on Saturday was 11:45AM and they wouldn’t pay for hotels because they blamed the cancellation on weather. I call total bullshit. Maybe if they hadn’t pulled us off of a plane and continuously bumped us back, it would have been different, but it’s not okay to keep yanking people around like that and I don’t think we’ll be flying Delta or NWA again.

So, we decided to rent a car and just drive the 3-4 hours to the hotel and just make it work. At the baggage desk they told us that our luggage had already gone through to C-bus on that 9:30 flight. Meanwhile this woman who wasn’t very nice at all walked behind the desk and told all the people helping us that they would not be getting bags because they didn’t have the manpower. Now, I don’t know if that was true or not, but she was a total asshole the way she said it loud enough for all of us to hear it.

Now, before we actually went to baggage an older gentleman offered to give us a ride. I told him I’d talk to my wife and let him know. After trying to talk about it while passing through the color-changing German techno tunnel:

we decided to just get our own car, but after finding out our bags we actually ran into the guy again right outside the car rental place and he offered again, so we took it. He seemed like a nice enough guy and then he went to find this other guy who he talked to.

The four of us waited for the bus to take us to the rental car place and made small talk, something we made a LOT of during the long drive down to C-bus. But, before we could get going there was one more snag: the car’s tail lights were out. A guy pulled up next to us and told us. Both of them. Have you ever heard of that happening? The brake lights were fine, it was just the running lights. So, we headed back to the rental place (we were only about 5 minutes away, so it wasn’t a huge deal), got another car and left around 11.

The drive was fine and both of the guys were really nice, but it was hard to stay awake. On paper, it might not have been the smartest thing to do in the world, but he seemed like a nice guy and he turned out to be an incredibly nice man, as he wouldn’t let us pay for any portion of the car or even for gas.

We ended up getting to C-bus (he actually dropped us off right at the hotel) after driving through the town we went to school in and our old stomping grounds, which was kind of surreal. I think it was around 2:30? My sense of timing is all off because I was so exhausted. But it was great seeing Randy, Lindsey, Chad Yates and meeting his new lady Kristen. Toth and Matt Hartmann showed up later (they were hanging out with the rest of our friends, including Matt Bond, the groom, near OSU). I was bummed to miss out on that, but I grabbed a whiskey and Coke and relaxed. Meanwhile, Chad had a Pomegranate Passion Fruit Cooler (this from the dude who I invented Sweet Tart whiskey with):

I had a beer before/in bed and then fell asleep but didn’t sweep too well. The next day we met up with Heather, who was in our wedding, and everyone else in our hotel (Erica showed up after we did actually, but we were asleep) and got Mexican food. We came back and it turned out that Chad and Randy were wearing the same shirt:

We then went to the wedding and it was amazing. I remember the first time I met Megan. Geoff and I went down to visit Bond and she refused to hang out with us on a Friday because she had to study for a test on Tuesday. I always thought that was pretty funny. Anyway, the ceremony was great and it’s always fun to see my friends in the same spot I was in a few years back. I’ve made it a point to watch the groom when the bride shows up. Sorry brides 🙂

The reception was equally awesome and it was great to see everyone who we missed hanging out with the night before. Charlie was in from Texas, the Suttons were there, Jen, Geoff, his fiance Eileen, Chad Mikrut in from Japan and of course Bond and Megan. Did I miss anyone? If so, I suck and am sorry. Everyone seemed to be in a really good mood which was awesome and I got to have some great conversations with everyone. We were a pretty tight group throughout high school and it’s nice to know that we can pick right up where we left off after all this time.

The best part of the whole reception, though, was when Matt got up and played “When I Think About You I Touch Myself” with the dueling pianos guy. It was amazing and luckily I took some video with my new phone. Excuse the weird angle, I’m still getting used to this thing.

Everything was great and we ended up heading back to our hotel where we hung out before going to sleep. Well, I was sleeping in theory. I was paranoid about not waking up on time (we were getting a cab to the airport at 6:15AM). Plus, there was quite the commotion going on out in the hallway as there were almost several fights and then some dude kept coming back to a room and banging on the door trying to get inside. It was not optimal sleeping conditions to say the least.

Luckily, the trip home went off without a hitch, somewhat renewing my faith in the airline industry, but not 100%. We even got to go out onto the tarmac and get right on the plane:

So, the journey was long and crazy and not optimal, but it was absolutely worth it to see the Bonds get married and to see all my friends again. I hope they enjoy their honeymoon in Mexico, hopefully we took away all the bad travel karma and theirs was a nice and easy flight. Congrats again you guys!