Tuesday, April 23, 2013

Out of the Wilderness

As I start out another blog post apologizing for a longer-than-usual absence, I can offer up a couple of legitimate excuses.  First of all, I had no access to wifi for about four days, and also, I was out in the middle of nowhere backpacking with some friends from the Nashville Hiking Meetup group.  In fact, that trip--with lots of pictures--is the subject of my next post, which should be up before Thursday night.  Also, last week, I was out every night last week doing some sort of activity, and my access to the computer was limited at best.  And while Blogger has a mobile app that will work in a pinch, it's a pain in the ass to try and type up a blog post on an iPhone.

Also, as much as I love this Toshiba Satellite computer, it's now six years old, and it's unable to keep up with a lot of the new software out there, (not to mention the newer, faster wifi connection at the Hippie's house), so it's about time to upgrade.  Oh, I'll keep it and leave it on the desk in my room, because it works great as a writing tool and music downloader. But for a laptop, it's relatively heavy and a total pain in the ass to lug around, and it's got the Vista operating system, which Microsoft seems to be abandoning as quickly as possible. And nobody is upgrading software that works with Vista anymore, much less coming up with anything new.  And the battery doesn't last but a couple of hours, either.

That being said, Reverend Dave was in town this past weekend, and brought his new HP Envy X2 with him.  He let me play with it for a bit, and I was instantly hooked.  I don't know why everyone bitches about Windows 8 so much--I loved it.  I found it to be pretty intuitive and thoroughly modern.  And the Envy itself, for those that aren't familiar, is a notebook (11.6 inch screen), but it converts to a tablet--the screen separates completely and you can take it with you and leave the keyboard behind.  It's got two different batteries (one in the keyboard, one in the screen), so it'll go about twelve hours on a charge, too.  I had severe computer envy once I messed around with it for a bit.

Well, just yesterday, they dropped the price $50 on Amazon, so I ordered one as an early birthday present to myself (well, that was the justification for dropping six bills on it).  It'll be here tomorrow, and I can't wait to get it up and running.  Actually, I look forward to bringing it with me to my various writing groups, because this Toshiba feels like it weighs a ton.  And I'll be the coolest wannabe-author in the Portland Brew coffee shop next time, too (off course all the Macbook fanboys with their neckbeards and hipster glasses might disagree, but you can't really trust any opinion from somebody who willingly drinks Pabst Blue Ribbon, am I right?)

Anyhow, so what have I been up to, besides the backpacking trip?  Well, last Tuesday, a week ago, I thought I was going to a Blackberry Smoke concert at the Grand Ole Opry, but we got jacked.  When we saw the announcement on my Facebook feed, the Opry website said 'Blackberry Smoke, One Night Only, with Aaron Tippin', so I jumped online and bought a couple of tickets.  For those of you who don't know, Blackberry Smoke is a kick-ass Southern Rock band out of Atlanta, filling the Skynyrd/Allman Brothers void.  I saw them last September at the Southern Grounds festival and they rocked the house, and I've been a huge fan ever since.

Well, as it turns out, seeing a show at the Opry isn't really a concert.  It's a showcase, straight out of the Fifties, where they have eight to ten different acts per night come on and do two or three songs each, and that's it.  I had no idea, so it was a complete waste of time and I was pretty pissed that I paid $75 for a couple of tickets and only got to see three songs (and it was the three mellowest songs in their repertoire, too.  Can't offend all the 80-year-old tourists!).  Oh, and between each act, there was a guy on the corner of the stage reading 2-3 minute long AM radio-style Cracker Barrel and Dollar General commercials.  It was awful. Just not anything like I expected.  But now I can say as a Nashville resident, I have been to the Opry.  Won't ever go back, though.  At least Scottie and I had a good dinner at Chuy's before the show, and I was home before 9:00 pm.  Yeah, we left as soon as Blackberry Smoke left the stage.

The next night, Wednesday, I met Amy after work and we drove down to Arrington Vineyards, way down south of Nashville, and met up with Scottie and our buddy Gaines for a wine tasting.  I'd been there before, but the first time I visited, I thought the wine was kinda shiatty.  I mean, Tennessee isn't exactly wine country.  But I went with an open mind.  We had a picnic dinner out on the lawn and then went up to the tasting house.  Gaines is a member of their wine club, so as his guests we got to choose SEVEN different wines to taste for free.  Oh hell yeah.  As I recall, a couple of them were actually pretty damn good.  By the time I got to the Port at the end, I had a slight buzz going and it all tasted good.  But that was just a prelude to the main event.

Down on the patio, they had a huge events tent set up and the folks from Riedel Glassware were hosting a big, official wine tasting, their take being that proper glassware is necessary to really enjoy your wine.  Of course, I thought it was a bunch of hooey, just a way to sell glasses, but it was very well put together, and after trying the different wines in different glasses and even out of plastic cups, plus matching them with the right kinds of cheeses, I was total believer--my skepticism had evaporated like the angel's share from the casks in the cellar.  It's hard for me to make a case for it here on the blog, but yeah, I'm convinced.  Besides, for the $35 cost of admission, we got to keep all four of the different glasses, too.

After the tasting was over, we went back up to the main tasting house and picked up a couple of bottles to go, and a couple of bricks of their gourmet cheese, then headed back over to Gaines' house to continue the festivities. I was pretty happy that I didn't have to work the next day, because it was a late night.  But that red wine helped me sleep like a baby.  I stayed down there at the hippies' house and spent the day on Thursday playing with the pugs and working on chapter revisions for Linda Lou (dialogue is hard!).  And like I mentioned before, my laptop requires the old 'N' wifi, and Amy and Scottie use the newer 'G' band wifi (or do I have that backwards, I always forget), and since Amy works at home, they can't really put this computer on the network without slowing it way down, which would affect Amy's job, so I couldn't get online.  But I got a lot of work done.  At some point in the afternoon Reverend Dave called and said he'd drive up to Nashville that night instead of the next day, so I opted to stick around and spend the night there again.  Friday is casual day at my office, so I had plenty of clothes with me.

We had dinner at a local Mexican joint, and just hung out goofing off at the house that night, but I was up and out early on Friday.  Luckily, it was only a half day for me, and it was all meetings, so it was an easy day when I pulled the ripcord at noon.  I drove back to my house and gathered all my backpacking gear and a few necessities for the weekend, showered, changed clothes, and got back on the road a couple of hours later, heading back down to the Hippies house.

It was Amy's birthday that weekend, so we were having a party that night.  David grilled some ribeyes, plus made some asparagus wrapped in prosciutto and goat cheese, grilled corn on the cob, and also made a baked brie with apricot preserves, too.  And Scottie made his awesome caramelized-onion and garlic mashed potatoes, and of course we cracked open a couple of bottles of red wine, too.  As soon as dinner finished, people started showing up, and we lit up the firepit and broke out the sangria. Good times!

It was a great party, but I had to go to bed at midnight--my alarm was set for 5:30 in the morning.  I had to be out in Lebanon at 7:00 (forty miles away) for our carpool meetup, because it was another hundred miles or so to Pickett State Park where we were going backpacking.

By the time I got back late Sunday evening, I was a tuckered out little trooper--completely wiped out.  I had Monday off, which I needed, because I was hobbling around the house like an old man who lost his cane.  But I felt much better today, and was extremely bummed to get up early this morning, drive in to work, only to find out that I was supposed to be out on vacation all this week.

Had I known, I would've stayed in bed.  I couldn't really do much about today, so I cancelled the rest of it and came back home. I must still be pretty tired, because I fell asleep on the couch as soon as I got back, but I'm up now and trying to take a bite out of my never-ending to-do list.  And one of the things on it is to write up the weekend's adventures out in the park.

I better get on it.


1 comment:

laura said...

wow! you had a busy week.looking forward to reading about your hiking adventures.