For some reason last week seemed incredibly long. By the time Thursday rolled-around it felt like it should be Friday, I’d worked enough for it to be Friday and I needed it to be Friday, but it wasn’t. As you’d expect, when Friday came it felt like it would never end so I took matters into my own hands, shortened the day by burning off a couple of vacation hours and was on the way home before 2:00pm.
The early departure allowed me to stop by High Plains Western Wear to see if I could find some shorter belts for my jeans as my 2.5-year path to a leaner physique has seen me going from jeans with a 36” waistline to ones that are only 29”. Sadly, the only belt length they didn’t have in the two belts I was looking for was the one I needed. Oh well, this just meant making a trip to Horsetown over the weekend, one of my AMEX Danger Zones. My next stop on Friday was at home to swap the motorcycle for the truck so I could do some drive-through banking on the way to pick up material for a project at the Home Depot.
Once I was back at the house I threw in a load of laundry, knocked out the small project in about 15 minutes and then turned my attention to the yard which needed edging, trimming and a light cut. I say a light cut as the lack of meaningful rain caused me to raise the mower’s cutting blade a ½ inch so the grass would be able to hold a bit more moisture. I had enough time left to finish up the laundry, wash the truck as it was looking pretty nasty after last weekend’s trip down to Statesboro and also washed my black Harley as I was caught out on it earlier in the week on my home and it was a mess.
Debbie arrived home about the time I finished drying the Harley. After a quick shower for me and a change of clothes for Debbie we headed off for our Finally a Friday celebration at Loco Willy’s. As we were getting ready to leave our friends Jeff & Sharon let us know they’d be dropping by Loco’s as well. After arriving and visiting with Clark, Gene, Stewart, Teresa and Paul S. we snagged a table so we’d be able to sit with our friends as it didn’t look like any seats would be opening up at the bar. Jeff and Sharon arrived about 15 minutes after we did and even our friend Bobby dropped-in. Madelyn did her always wonderful job of taking care of us and Tanner had us covered behind the bar as she was filling in for Brian.
Photo at Left / Left to right: Bobby, Jeff, Mark, Debbie hiding behind the paper towels and Sharon. Photo at Right / Left to right: Debbie, Sharon, Jeff and Mark.
Just a great evening out with friends that – thankfully – ended at Loco’s. There had been some talk about heading over to the Beer Barrel and while that sounded very tempting I think both Debbie and I needed to get to the house and get some rest.
I was up around 6:00am and quietly left the house for the Home Depot to investigate hardwood floor sander rental, pick up a new flag pole set and find some annuals for the planters in front of the garage and was back at the house by 7:00.
I needed a fresh U.S. flag for the pole in front of the house – that was a given as they’re only good for about 6 months before the sun fades-them out – but I also wanted to add two 4’ sections to the 20’ pole so my flags would fly above the small tree just behind the flag pole. As I replaced the upper-most older poles with the new ones– noting the inside diameter of the pole sleeves had changed a bit over 20 years – I confirmed my suspicion that the 2.0” constant diameter residential grade flag poles just weren’t sturdy enough to handle two additional 4’ sections. I compromised and had to settle for a single, additional section bringing the height of the pole to 24’ and that was good enough. About the time I had the flag pole project finished Miss Debbie emerged from the breezeway looking exceptionally lovely to see what I was up to. A short while later I had the annuals planted, ate a little breakfast and by then it was 9:00am, late enough to fire up the power washer so I could clean the bead-board ceiling of the breezeway and veranda, de-pollinate all of the furniture and get the outdoor grill ready to go: it’s a spring ritual that came a little later than normal due to all of our late spring rain and cooler weather.
As I worked on the breezeway Debbie headed out to do some shopping for Sunday’s Memorial Day holiday visit with the kids and grandkids so, with any luck, I’d have everything done by the time she got back so we’d be able to either get in a tandem bike ride or head over to Horsetown on the Harley so I could get my belts and check out the current selection of western boots.
Given how hot it was getting by the time Debbie returned home we opted to pass on both the tandem ride as well as the Harley ride over to Horsetown and, instead, made the trip to Horsetown in the truck as I also had to pick up a new bottle of propane for the grill. It just made sense to combine the trips.
As mentioned earlier, my primary reason in visiting Horsetown was to get some shorter belts as the 34” long belts I was wearing were too long for the 29” waist jeans I now wear. If fact, I had to buy shorter dress belts for my suits a couple weeks ago for the same reason: they were just too long. I’m border line for needing to have my suit pants taken in again, but may hold off as they’re “good enough” right now and I don’t plan on losing any more inches in my waist.
Shortly after arriving at Horsetown I was able to find the black and brown belts I in my size which was a good thing. After that I wandered back to the boot racks to see if there was anything interesting that would allow me to semi-retire some of my older, heavily worn boots. Of course, what I need to find is a really good cobbler who can do a proper set of soles and heels so that the boots I have can be continually refreshed. Unfortunately, the shoe repair shops I’ve found around here do OK for heel replacement, but when the soles have needed replacement they’ve done more harm than good to the boots and the repairs don’t last.
Suffices to say, we over-achieved at Horsetown. In addition to finding some boots for me, we also found some really killer boots with fringe for Debbie, something she’s always wanted. On the bright side, none of the boots we brought home were over-the-top expensive or remotely similar to anything else we have in our respective boot collection.
We made our way back to the house, picking up a bottle of propane for the grill at Lowes on the way. Once I was at home I had to figure out how to re-arrange our closet to accommodate the new pointy-toe residents. It actually ended up being a lot easier than I expected and, amazingly, everything fit. There’s even enough room for the two pair of boots I keep at work should I ever retire and bring them home. Of course, trips like this to Horsetown will keep me working a few more years so those boots will likely stay under my desk at the office. With laundry well underway, the closet sorted out and dinner time just an hour or so away, we spent about 40 minutes simply relaxing together on the breezeway before heading in to get cleaned for the evening. We both decided to break-in some of our new boots as we headed off to Loco’s and knew we’d be flying without our wingmen, David & Deb. This would be the second weekend in a row we were on our own as they were just now flying back to Atlanta from Las Vegas where they’d spend the last full week vacationing.
We had a very nice time visiting with some of the regulars and with Ashley who was filling in for Brian behind the bar. About the time we finished our smoked pork ribs Kevin wandered back in with some delicious mini cannoli’s from Gabriel’s bakery that he shared with Ashley, Debbie and yours truly. It was the perfect finish to our dinner.
About the time we’d normally head home we received word from Deb and David that they had arrived at Atlanta’s Hartsfield airport a short while ago and were on the way to join us at Loco Willy’s. We held our position and secured a couple of seats for them so they’d have a place to sit when they arrived and we probably spent another 2.5 hours at Willy’s catching up with them after they arrived; good times to be sure.
As an aside, we also ended up playing jukebox wars with folks who were queuing up rap music… at Willy’s??? …Really??? Fortunately, David & I have the digital jukebox app on our smartphones that allow us to play music without actually feeding cash into the thing and were able to use some on-line options to move our preferred music choices to the front of the queue list. Good thing, as we’d have left about 90 minutes earlier if that rap music had continued, depriving the restaurant and Ashley of some much-needed revenue. Again, just a fun evening at Willy’s enjoying the company of all of our friends.
Like Saturday, I was up early and did my best not to disturb Debbie who needs a full eight hours of sleep to feel well-rested. I poached two large pieces of boneless chicken breast for the chicken salad I eat wrapped in tortillas with spring salad and feta cheese for dinner most nights and halved another four that I baked for lunch at work during the week. Debbie came down about an hour or so after I did. The kids and grandkids would be coming over around 11:30am, so that was pretty much the focus of our morning activities. My assignment became setting up a croquet court as one of Debbie’s acquisitions while out shopping on Saturday morning was a little-person’s backyard croquet set. As far as getting ready for lunch, at least that would be fairly easy as we’d be cooking burgers and dogs out on the grill and most of the side dishes were already prepared and ready to be put out.
Debbie apparently had to get a few more things at the grocery store so as she headed off to do that I did a little homework on the proper set-up of a croquet court and rules of the game. I’d forgotten how large a proper croquet court was, never mind the arcane nature of the official rules. Thankfully, for backyard croquet you make do with the room you have and you use just enough of the rules to keep things under control and fair. I ended up laying out a 25’ x 40’ court in our side yard and did my best to scale the position of the wickets to the court size and the pint-size nature of Charlotte and Caroline.
The grass was clearly too long for precision play but I wasn’t about to scalp the yard to provide a more optimal play surface; after all, this was backyard croquet and there might be 4 or 5 rounds played at best.
We had everything pretty well in hand when the kids arrived a bit after 11:00am. The usual giving of the gifts from Nama – kites, gliders, soap bubbles and solar-powered pseudo perpetual-motion toys – created the usual buzz of excitement, running about and some assembly required by Wesley. The gliders were a big hit and kept the two older girls – Charlotte 7 and Caroline 10 – and their dad busy for 30 minutes or so.
I had a grand time watching the kids play with Nama’s latest gifts and while it’s at times over the top in my book it makes her happy. I was somehow coaxed into playing croquet with Charlotte, Debbie and Julie and that was fun… to a point. It was incredibly hot out and the croquet court was in an unshaded part of the yard once the sun was directly overhead.
Left to right: Wesley, Charlotte & Julie
So, at least for me, I was one-and-done and headed off to tend to my grill and preparation of lunch. It didn’t take long to cook the burgers and dogs out on the grill and at least it was under the shade of the breezeway and veranda the temperatures were quite nice. In fact, it was so nice that we had our lunch outdoors: can’t remember the last time we did that! We had a lovely time with ceiling fans going and an occasional breeze blowing through.
I should note, being the last weekend in May, there was plenty of background noise for me all day in that the Formula 1 Grand Prix of Monaco was being carried live in the early AM, re-played immediately thereafter, followed by the Indy 500 at noon and then the NASCAR Coca Cola 600 at 6:00pm. I was able to keep tabs on all the races from the TV in our breezeway throughout the day, with just one brief interruption when SpongeBob Square pants was put on for the grandkids to watch during lunch. I fired-up my laptop and simply streamed the Indy 500 via “WatchESPN” from a side table next to the patio table on the veranda.
Post lunch had the usual fun, battles for attention, pouting sessions and other stuff you’ll get with three little girls aged 2, 7 and 10. The kids left around 3 which gave us a little time to clean things up, knock out some chores, put a coat of Zaino ZX polish / sealer on the Wide Glide and even left us with a little time to relax on the breezeway.
We decided to take Blue for a short evening ride to dinner and elsewhere as the last time we rode the big bike together was our return trip from Panama City Beach on 1 May. Our first stop was Loco Willy’s for some dinner. We were both going to tea-total but then I saw a giant fishbowl-size Margarita delivered to a patron in the restaurant and made the mistake of saying, “Man, I’ve got to have one of thos
No lens compression here; it’s a huge glass! Christian photo-bombs like a pro!
Christian was Johnny on the spot, had one sitting in front of me in no time and son-of-a-gun if that wasn’t the tastiest Maggie I’ve ever had. I believe it was the triple-sec floater that set it apart from the rest. Yummy! We split the blackened fish tacos for dinner and after visiting with our friends Gator, Christian and a few other regulars we headed off for a nice evening ride on Blue. It was too late to go too far, but we cruised around West Cobb and a bit of East Cobb County before making our way home for a quiet night back at the house and to watch the end of the NASCAR Coca Cola 600 at Charlotte. It had been a long day…
Being programmed for Monday as a work day I was up extra early. That gave me time to water the front yard and do some house cleaning downstairs before Debbie was up: Swiffering the floors, steps, firing up the self-cleaning oven, etc.
We’d been invited to out on the lake by our friends Jeff and Sharon on Monday, but had sent our regrets as we had a lot of things to do. It would have been a lot of fun spending the day with them on the lake, but we really needed to get some exercise out on the tandem and there were a few other things that we needed to get accomplished. None of that would happen if we were going to be at their place and cast-off around noon.
So, with that decision made and because we hadn’t been able to get in a tandem bike ride on Saturday or Sunday, that was 1st on the list for Monday. It was a warm morning ahead of a warm day, to be sure, so we made a point of getting out a little after 9:30am for a 25-mile ride. We had a bit of a false start when I realized I’d pulled a couple parts off the tandem for use on our triplet during last weekend’s Georgia Tandem Rally that I failed to re-install. We had to ride about 100 yards back to the house to make a couple quick adjustments but with those adjustments made we were off again. About 10 minutes into the ride my cell phone rang and it was Sharon, just confirming we’d not be able to join them for the day on the boat: definitely need to let Debbie answer those calls as riding a tandem and talking on a phone is just so very wrong! Now, taking selfies while out riding, that’s cool… right Cheryl?
I wouldn’t call it a great ride, but it was better than not riding. Debbie was having some sit-bone discomfort throughout the ride that I simply couldn’t adjust out with slight changes in her handlebar position. Looking at her leather saddle, it appears as though she’s putting most of her weight on her left sit bone and as you’d expect, that’s the one that ends up being very sore. I can always tell when she’s uncomfortable on the tandem early on just by how much she moves around. I can also tell when it’s getting serious as she’ll begin to ask for ‘butt breaks” where we just coast for a short while as she stands up on the pedals to give her backside a rest. In all honesty, we needed to have been finished at 20 miles, as those last 5 miles were really tough on her: I was feeling awful for not realizing from her on-bike movements just how much discomfort she was in earlier in the ride as there were a couple of shortcuts I could have taken.
Back at the house I could also tell that the sudden change in our weather – going from mild just a few weeks ago to upper 80’s / low-90s – was also very draining on our energy levels. During the winter I rarely touch my water bottle and it was about 2/3d’s empty after Monday’s ride. We did our best to finish up a few tasks but, honestly, we weren’t moving all that fast. I did, however, call Sharon and Jeff back as they’d mentioned they’d being heading over to the Acworth Fish Camp for dinner later in the day. The Fish Camp recently changed owners and there was a sense that the place had been vastly improved in terms of food, service, etc. so we were interested in trying it out as it was only 20 minutes from our house and provided a nice view of the lake. We lost our original lake side bar & grill nearly two years earlier when Little River Grill in Canton shut down: hard to believe these little lakeside restaurants can’t make a go of it. Anyway, we told them to let us know when they would be headed to dinner and we’d ride over on the Harley and meet them: that would be a win-win for us since we’d have gotten our tandem ride and several weekend chores done but also got in a little social time.
Talking about food reminded us it was lunch time, so we looked around the fridge to see what didn’t get sent home with the kids on Sunday and found a big chunk of ground beef. I fired up the outside grill and cooked up some specialty burgers that I molded into patties with feta cheese and onions and then seasoned with Cholula sauce; they were really quite delicious! No sides, just the burgers and that seemed like more than enough.
With that done and the kitchen cleaned-up, I headed out to the garage to do a little tweaking to our tandem as the front shifting seemed to be off a bit and there was an annoying creaking noise when we were both putting a lot of effort and force into the pedals. The only things I discovered that needed to be adjusted were (a) the front bottom bracket / eccentric was installed backwards and I’ll be darned if I know how I did that and (b) the rear drive crank arm was a little under-torqued. I sorted out the front eccentric and torqued the rest of the hardware so, fingers crossed, the bike will perform better next time. I was also applying top coats of Zaino polish to the black Harley as I walked past it so I was clearly getting a couple of things done in parallel so that was good.
We relaxed on the breezeway for about 30 minutes and spent another 30-40 minutes getting some sun before Debbie headed in to get cleaned up. I’ll be darned if I can remember what I did because I think it was a bunch of little things that are easily forgotten… once they’re done!
It was about 4:00pm when Debbie headed up to get cleaned up and we’d pretty much pegged 5:00pm as our departure time for the Fish Camp, as we’d arrive about when we thought our friends would. It was an easy ride over but I was quite surprised to see what looked like rain falling towards the Northwest and Cartersville, Georgia. Debbie had clearly sensed we’d be getting rain even though all of the weather forecasts showed a zero percent chance and by golly she pegged it. So, we were now having to watch the skies and hoped we’d be able to have dinner and get home before the rain came in.
After parking the bike and walking towards the entrance to Fish Camp we ran into our friends Ryan and Jeanette. They’d jumped off the boat as their group came in to dock as they’d seen us riding up to the restaurant on the hill overlooking the marina. After chatting with them for a few minutes we headed to the back porch and found a table that would hold our group of nine. On our way in we also ran into some other friends who were just finishing up their dinner. We had Jeff, Sharon, Ryan Jeanette, Katelyn, Zach and a friend of Katelyn’s at our table, the seven of them coming on the boat and the two by land for a total of nine.
We had a bumpy start to dinner as our server was struggling to take care of her other tables while just getting our cocktail and beverage orders to us. As for the food, I don’t know. The dining experience at Fish Camp was a total logistical and customer relations failure. I could go into a lot more detail, but here’s my Yelp / Google / Travel Advisor critique:
1st visit. Arrived at 5:30pm and place was about 3/4 full. Waitress seemed overwhelmed with just four of our nine guests. Group ordered entrees at 5:50pm. At 6:30pm informed by our waitress the food order was just started in the kitchen and it would be an hour before we’d see our meals… they were backed-up??? The place was now 1/2 empty. Asked to see manager / owner and were told one was on an errand and the other was working the kitchen and couldn’t come to our table.
Hard to believe a nine-patron party that would have easily dropped $300 on a slow holiday weekend didn’t warrant any attention when they first arrived to ensure the dining experience was a good one. Once there was a problem, inconceivable that no one involved in running the restaurant would even come to the table when they learned there was a problem, never mind blowing off a request to see the manager / owner from the party.
Mistakes happen, what owners and manager do after that are what make for good or bad experiences. This was a bad experience and they won’t get a second chance because it was a total failure on the part of the owners / managers who declined to step forward and address the issue. There is no excuse or room for forgiveness that will ever repair that mistake.
All the while we were sitting there anticipating the arrival of our food at any minute we were keeping one eye on the approaching thunderstorm. So, adding insult to injury was the possibility that we and/or our friends would get soaked on the way back to our respective homes and all for naught since the Fish Camp was unable to figure out how to serve us the food that we ordered in a timely manner. For Debbie and me, we’d be able to high-tail it back home in 20 minutes where we had any one of a number of different meal options, well ahead of any rain. However, our friends had a fairly long boat trip to make across the lake without access to other places where they could drop-in for a bite to eat and they’d be travelling towards, not away from the weather. Nothing worse than being treated poorly, hungry and possibly wet instead of enjoying a nice dinner out with friends.
We did, in fact, make it home before the edge of the passing storm dropped a few minutes of rain on our home turf. As for dinner, Debbie had her choice of a few things, including our traditional Sunday special: hot wings & fries ala Mark, or the homage to the Gay 90’s “Orts Special with Cashews.” She went with the Orts Special and it was the best yet! I upped the oven temp from 450F to 500F, put the pizza on the lowest rack directly above the heating element instead of the top rack and cooked it for 10 minutes. Not sure how to improve upon that unless a pizza stone would work even better than my perforated aluminum pizza sheet.
That pretty much wrapped-up our long weekend. The rest of the evening was spent getting things ready for work and what not.
All-in-all, a pretty good weekend. I would have liked to get a few more things done and will need to ratchet it back up to get the wood floors done inside the house in June along with a front yard tune-up and perhaps having the house painted. I need to get a few more quotes to make sure I have a good feel for the cost before deciding if that’s something I want to take on as a several week-long project to save on the cost or just get it done and be sure that it gets done correctly by professionals.