Monday, May 03, 2010

The Road Goes On Forever

And the party never ends...

Man, what a whirlwind these past couple of weeks have been! I finally made it back from Tennessee on Saturday night, one step ahead of the biblical flooding--it was a complete mess when I left, but luckily Frontier kept their planes flying. Other airlines had cancellations, but we left on time. Hell, we were the only plane moving when we taxied motorboated from the terminal out to the runway. I believe everyone that left after us was being loaded onto arks instead of airplanes.

Anyhow, I had a total blast hanging out with the family, and even though I got a lot of relaxin' in, I still feel like I've been driving or flying nonstop for two weeks straight--there were a few road trips involved in my stay, as I spent a bit of quality time in sweet home Alabama with Reverend Dave, too.

As far as the job situation goes, I'll address it in more detail later--the bottom line, I'm still unemployed, but I've got a couple of irons in the fire. And I still may be relocating. One position that sounds promising told me that I'd be starting on June 21st, if I got the offer, and it would require me to move to another state. It's a good job, and I'll take it, but deep down I think I'd rather stay in Vegas. I really do like living here, and I've got a cool apartment in a good location that I'd really like to keep, although my lease is up in a month. So I've got some decisions to make.

But enough about that... Lets talk about my visit to Tennessee and see a few pictures. When I first got there on Saturday, two weeks ago, Cyndi and Reverend Dave were waiting for me at the airport. On the way back to her house down in Spring Hill, we hit the grocery store for last-minute party supplies. It didn't take long for me to 'get my redneck on', as once the shopping was done, we found ourselves eating popsicles in the Kroger parking lot while filling up the beer coolers in the back of Dave's truck. Hell yeah.

Once we got to her house, we had about an hour before friends and family started showing up, so we got busy in the kitchen. That night, we grilled brats and burgers, built a bonfire, and had about 25 people sitting around drinking, smoking, and laughing until the wee hours. All of my siblings but Nancy were there, as were five of my nieces, and Papasan and my stepmom had made the drive up from Atlanta, too. Mamasan was also there, direct from her week-long stay down on the Redneck Riviera in Destin. A few other friends and neighbors rounded out the crowd, and Amy brought her puglets to provide another entertainment option. (Seriously--y'all ain't seen funny critters till you've seen a couple of wound-up pugs set loose in the middle of a party!).

A few of us die-hards stayed up pretty late, huddled around the fire under stadium blankets, slowly trying to empty the beer coolers. We were surprisingly unsuccessful.

The next day was completely mellow, as a bunch of us just hung around Cyndi and Tim's house chilling out all day and relaxing. We had fun, and my niece Allie was out of town until that night, so we were watching her kids. By the way, they love hanging out with Uncle Dave and Uncle Mikey--we have all kinds of goofiness in our portfolio. Once we ran out of things to color, I took one of the markers and drew some eyebrows and a goatee on one of Brynn's dolls. But then we got carried away, as you can see below:

Reverend Dave went one better, announcing that every four-year-old from Tennessee needs a tramp stamp:

Of course we forwarded these pictures to their parents (Mom was in Atlanta, Dad was on tour with his band, Savannah Jack), and they were pleased to see that their kids were in such good hands...

But then the kids went to work on my head:

BTW, this was the second time that weekend I had my head tattooed...

Yeah, I wore it around all day long. Eventually, we put a video in for them to watch, and the 'adults' sat around the kitchen table all afternoon munchin' on leftovers and playing Settlers of Catan. It's a pretty fun game--I'd never played it before, but it's a big hit with my sisters and their husbands, so we had a few epic games that afternoon. Later that night, we did the bonfire thing again, too, although with a much smaller crowd.

On Monday, we relaxed some more and just hung out. Besides me being out of a job, Reverend Dave and Amy were between gigs, too, so we had lots of free time to spend together (Since then, they have both accepted new offers). Also, since I didn't have a damn thing to do out here in Vegas, I decided to extend my trip for another week.

On Tuesday afternoon, I had a job interview that seemed to go pretty well, and once that business was taken care of, Reverend Dave and I bounced up to Mamasan's place for a few days. One of those days was taken up with a trek to Alabama to fetch Dave's stuff from his ex's house, but for the most part we hung out at Mamasan's place playing cards and relaxing.

Amy's birthday fell that week, so one night we we had a huge gathering of friends and family at the Cheesecake Factory. While that was going on, we organized an impromptu poker night at one of Amy's friend's houses for the following evening.

We had a small gathering, and just played a no-limit tournament with re-buys, and Scottie and I ended up chopping the first- and second-place money (Dave had three rebuys, heh!). It was a good time, but after the tournament ended, we all sat around in the dining room smoking a hookah. Our host, Gaines, had a pretty cool setup. In addition to our pipes, we smoked both coconut and cinnamon-apple flavored tobacco, and man, it was damn good. I love me some hookah smoke!

Once the weekend rolled around, Dave and I loaded up his truck and headed down to Scott and Amy's place in Columbia, which is hell and gone from any other civilization in Tennessee. It's seriously about an hour from town. They've got a cool place out there, but they are moving back to the city later this summer. While we were down there, we had a blast for about four days just goofing off together, three unemployed siblings plus Scottie, laughing our asses off.

It was a rainy weekend, as I recall, so we didn't do too much outside the house. We stayed in playing cards and Settlers, and also tormented the pugs by running around in circles between the kitchen, dining room, and living room (which we tired of long before they did...). Amy made a kitchen full of goodies, and all the family members on the south end of town gathered at her place for the day.

Alli, Scottie, Dave, Tim, Cyndi, and Amy gathered around the table on Sunday afternoon, while we play Settlers of Catan.

Lord Vader looks on as Reverend Dave plays with his Iphone...

... While Bertha is content to just sit and be adorable.

One of the more fun things we did that weekend was sit outside having a 'pickin party' on the front porch. Amy and Scottie own an old farmhouse down there in Columbia, and it's got a huge covered porch, perfect for entertaining. So we'd sit outside and smoke our cigars while Scottie played his guitar. We'd sing along for hours, having a grand ol' time, covering all kinds of great old songs. And I'm here to tell you that we can cover Don't Think Twice It's Alright just as well as Peter, Paul, & Mary, and waaaaay better than Dylan ever did. For real!

Besides just hanging out with my siblings, we also had a few nice meals at pretty good restaurants while I was out there. First of all, there was the Rose Pepper Cantina in east Nashville, and underrated spot with damn good Mexican food. And Amy & Scottie got me hooked on the Battle Ground Brewery in old Franklin. Holy shiat was the food great in that place--I was absolutely blown away by how good it was. So we had to go back for a second visit.

Scottie had recommended their steak sandwich, and he was right. It's a big ol' hunk of grilled ribeye on toasted sourdough with french-fried tabasco onions and a killer remoulade sauce. It was so good that I ordered it on both visits. Cyndi had some amazing shrimp and grits that came loaded up with cheese, veggies, and andouille sausage, while Reverend Dave raved about their fish and chips (as did all of the wait staff). Their appies were pretty good, too, and I decided that if I were to ever move back to Tennessee, I'd probably eat at that place every week. And oh by the way, they also have some great hand-crafted beers on tap. I was partial to the blueberry wheat...

Another one of our favorite little spots was the Buckhead Coffee House, just up the road from Amy's place. We went there a few times for an excellent breakfast of specialty coffee and some to-die-for cheese bagels. There was also a great place down in Decatur Alabama that Dave took me to, called The Brick--I had a great sandwich called the Smokey Joe, but I especially enjoyed the Lazy Magnolia Southern Pecan Ale they had on tap.

My birthday also happened to fall during my visit, so we had another big family gathering. The original plan was to do another bonfire and potluck type of thing at Mamasan's place, but the weather wasn't cooperating. So instead, we just reserved a big long table at Maggiano's over on West End. It was good, but I think the one here in Vegas is a bit better.

While I was there last week, Reverend Dave accepted a new job down in Florence Alabama, about 70 miles southwest of Columbia on the TN-Alabama border. Since I had nothing going on, one day we road-tripped down there to hunt for apartments and such. We found one for him right away, so the rest of the day was spent shopping. Instead of a washer and dryer, he decided to embrace his bachelorhood and celebrate his good fortune with a new motorcycle:

It's a brand-spankin' new 2008 Yamaha Roadstar 1700. Apparently, this dealer bought up all the stock from some other dealers bankrupted in the current economic crisis, so it's been sitting in the shipping crate for the past two years, and Dave got a pretty good deal on it and drove it off the showroom floor. Sitting right next to it was the one I lusted after--the same model and year, but with a different paint scheme:

Good lord that bike was beautiful--and they were kind enough to supply me with a drool towel whenever I got near it.

And if money were no object at all, there was another fine piece of machinery on display up front. It's some sort of Triumph, but since I've got no job, I didn't ogle that particular piece of eye candy for too long.

Once he finished all the paperwork and everything, he bought himself a more suitable helmet and road-tripped it back up to Spring Hill while I followed behind in his Urban Assault Vehicle truck. He parked it in Cyndi and Tim's garage for a couple of days while it rained, but him and Tim managed to get a couple of rides in last week (Tim also got a new bike a few weeks ago, so they're trying to talk me into moving out there and getting one so we can form our own gang! Hmmm--the truck is almost paid off...)

As my visit wound down, things kind of mellowed out. I spent some more time up at Mamasan's place hanging out with her and Reverend Dave, and then my last night in town was also my birthday, so there was one last night of buffoonery on tap before I made my way back to Vegas.

My nephew Mike, is part of that band Savannah Jack, that I mentioned earlier. Well, just today, their first single was released to radio stations all over the country! It's obviously a pretty big deal, and we're all excited for him because they're definitely on their way. But on Friday night, they had a gig down at The Stage on Broadway--they played to a packed house and it was a fantastic show. I've seen them dozens of times already, but Friday night's show was something special--they had that magic 'It' factor going and everyone knew it. I'm not a huge country music fan, but they are a hugely talented and entertaining band. (But for all of you country music fans out there, start calling your local radio station and requesting 'I Know' by Savannah Jack!)

Anyhow, it was a great crowd down there that night--shoulder to shoulder in the venue, but I got my biggest laugh of the week when they went into a cover of 'The Devil Went Down to Georgia' and some midget from the crowd ran up on stage and started river-dancing during the fiddle part of the song. The crowd went wild and everyone was laughing so hard that the lead singer could hardly keep himself composed. Damn, it was something to see--we're all hoping that it shows up on YouTube later this week...

They did a three-hour show, and after it wrapped up, a bunch of us wandered around downtown on Second Avenue and Broadway, but we ended up at Mulligan's Irish Pub for a nightcap. And since it was my birthday, Fate decided that a bridal shower should show up at to the bar at the same time my crowd rolled in. Yep, good times had by all!

The gal in the yellow is my niece Rachel--she's such a cutie, isn't she?

My brother Dave, my niece Diana, and my other brother Dave...

Once we'd had enough, or more likely, the bar had had enough of us, the party broke up. Dave and I cabbed it back to Mamasan's place, just a couple miles away from downtown, where we slept it off for a few hours. He got up a couple hours later at the crack of dawn to start moving all his stuff down to his new apartment in Florence--he started his new job today. I got a little bit more sleep, then spent some time doing laundry and packing for my flight back to Vegas. I took Mamasan out for breakfast at Bob Evans over by Opryland like we used to do on weekends all the time, and that's when the deluge hit.

It was raining like a sumbiatch, so the rest of the day was an adventure. All of my sisters and their husbands were going to the Jimmy Buffett concert that night (it's against my code to attend one of his shows indoors, and I had a plane to catch, anyways), but we were pre-gaming it over at my niece Stephanie's place. She'd cooked up a Caribbean feast of marinated chicken, mango salsa, black beans and rice, and assorted other goodies, finished off with pina-colada cupcakes. And yeah, there were some boat drinks, too. It was a damn good meal and thankfully my camera was packed up in my luggage, but there were a few outrageous outfits--all of us dudes had the coconut bras and grass skirts going. I was quite sexy, if I do say so myself. But you'll just have to use your imagination...

All too soon, however, I had to head to the airport--my trip to Nashville was at an end after two wonderful weeks. I had so much fun while I was there, and I swear I laughed more in those fourteen days than I have in the past year. My family is truly nuts. On the other hand, those past couple of days were spent with me getting my arm twisted about moving back. I don't know if that's going to happen, but we'll see how the job search goes. If things in Vegas or Phoenix don't work out, I'll probably go back, but I've still got a bit of time to decide. Even though the weather was creating havoc all over the city, my flight left on time and I made it back to Vegas without incident. It was good to be home.

I'll go back to a more regular posting schedule this week, but in the meantime, let me leave you with my more modern take on Dogs Playing Poker...


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