When I last wrote I ended my blog entry with, “That was about it for the weekend. We’ve got a short week before the 4th of July break which should hopefully give us a chance to relax. Yeah, right…”
As predicted, the past nine days and — in particular — the five-day break on Friday through Tuesday I had from work given how the 4th of July fell on a Tuesday this year proved to be exhausting by the time all was said and done. Well, that and the break got off to a bit of an early start when I volunteered to help my friend Ryan power-wash the concrete deck around their pool after work on Tuesday.
Ryan and his wife Jeanette had, as previously mentioned, been working around the clock to get their home prepared for a sort-of-almost-annual Pig Roast & Pool Party on 1 July. Throughout the weeks leading up to the event they’d been putting out calls for assistance. When the call came out for pressure-washing support I was able to open up a window in my work schedule and bring my pressure-washer along to cut the time in half needed for pressure-washing the pool deck. Debbie went along so she could see what, if any, other help Jeanette might need while Ryan and I worked on the pool deck with the two pressure washers. It was right about dusk when we had the deck finished and had put up the equipment and what started off as just sitting down to relax for a moment turned into a small social event with cocktails and then a little BBQ for dinner. Debbie was good and drank water, me… not so good as Ryan, Jeanette, our friend Patti (who dropped by for a visit) and I got into the firewater. We had a grand time and Debbie was enlisted as my designated driver for the trip home. Yeah, it was just what I didn’t need to do on a “school night” where work would come early the following morning.
Wednesday and Thursday were somewhat uneventful, other than Debbie taking the S2000 over to the used car lot owned by a friend of our son Wesley. It was probably wishful thinking the car would be sold in the first week it was on the lot, especially since our weather of late has been anything but convertible friendly. So, we’re still keeping our fingers crossed we’ll get a call for the title in the not too distant future that will allow us to stop worrying about our little car and to otherwise close another chapter of our automotive biography. The last thing on Thursday’s list was to pack for a weekend trip to the North Georgia mountains.
Friday was a tele-commute day, which is why our 4th of July break was 5 days instead of just 4. The “must do’s” on my Friday list were reports for work, paying bills and then cutting the front lawn before we headed off to pay a visit to Kathy at Atlanta Kilts around 10:00am. The paying bills part was easy, but cutting the front lawn was not-so-easy as it was raining… again. Fortunately, I was going to raise the cutting deck on the mower an extra ½ inch to see if that would keep the mower from scalping the lawn in several places where small depressions showed up in the new sod. That meant I’d only be giving the lawn a trim to eliminate the tall seed sprouts so the mower deck would not become fouled with heavy wet grass clippings. Since it was only the front yard I had it knocked out in 20 minutes which gave me just enough time to grab a shower, throw on a kilt and pack all of the bags in the truck for our weekend get-a-way.
The rain went from drizzle to downpours or something in-between on our drive across the top-end perimeter / I-285 to I-85 North. It was about an hour’s drive over to Atlanta Kilts in Buford and the only real traffic was the usual mess on I-75 going through Marietta. Well, I take that back: it was also pretty messed up at the I-285 East to I-85 North interchange. We arrived at Atlanta Kilts just after 11:00am.
The purpose of the trip was three-fold: First and foremost was getting the vest for my formal kilt’s “Prince Charlie” jacket altered as it was a poor fit from the day I took it home. It had been custom made for me, but the tailor just didn’t get it right. Kathy wasn’t at the store the day I picked it up so getting back to Atlanta Kilts had been on my to-do list since December. While she has the jacket and vest she’ll also be replacing the standard buttons with a full set of nickel ones will have a better look and feel. The second objective was ordering a grey tweed Crail-style kilt jacket and vest to wear with my tartan kilts. It will take about 10 weeks before it’s made and delivered, but it’s too warm to wear in the summer so no worries. I may have a matching kilt made so I will have a true kilt suit in my collection, or I may just go with a dark black & grey tartan cloth for the kilt; we’ll see. The third objective was picking up another black utility kilt to supplement my first utility kilt. The latter has always had a strange lay to the rear pleats and front apron which isn’t a big deal for knocking around. But, as often as I like to wear the black utility kilt for Friday’s or Saturday nights it will be nice to have the more polished-look to the pleats and apron. As always, it was really enjoyable spending a little time with Kathy at Atlanta Kilts and I’ll anxiously await the arrival of my new Crail jacket and the return of my formal jacket & vest. It was close to 12:00 noon when we headed on to the North Georgia mountains and yes, it was still raining.
It took us about an hour to get to the resort where we’d booked a condo for the weekend vs. heading down to Key West for the 4th of July week as we’ve done during the past couple of years. It was a trade-off we made since we’ll be heading up to Pennsylvania for a week on the 10th of July: doing nearly back-to-back weeks off, never mind another week-long trip during the 1st week of August just seemed like a bit much. Anyway, Friday ended up being a lazy, rainy day and that was OK too. Thankfully, the weather began to clear up a bit around the late afternoon and by the time we had cleaned up and headed out for the evening it was really quite pleasant. We had a good time dancing the night away which was our substitute for the cycling we weren’t doing given all of the rain of late.
The plan for Saturday was a bit ambitious in that we’d be heading back towards home for Ryan & Jeanette’s Pig Roast & Pool Party which began at noon. We’d booked our weekend in the mountains about a week before they set the date for their sort-of-semi-annual summer blow-out so we figured we’d be able to join them for a few hours in the afternoon, but still make it back for another event in the mountains at 5:30pm. Thankfully, the weather turned quite nice for the morning and afternoon. In fact, it was downright hot! We arrived at Ryan and Jeanette’s right at noon along with a few other guests. It was a really enjoyable afternoon with the somewhat eclectic mix of their families, friends, co-workers and the like. We had to leave before they pulled the pig out of the cooking pit at 3:30pm, but still were able to visit with a lot of folks while we were there.
As we headed back into the mountains we could see the skies beginning to get dark again and there was clearly some rain falling on the horizon. We arrived at the street party just after it got under way. I’m told our friend — a professional BBQ smoker and certified judge — smoked 12 pork butts all night long and, no kidding, it was probably the best BBQ we’ve ever had: it didn’t even need sauce. Sadly, about 30 minutes into the street party the skies began to open up with a cold, somewhat heavy and brief shower. After the BBQ we headed back to our condo at the resort and took a short nap before heading out for the evening around 10:00pm; we were definitely dealing with folks who spend their weekends living on New York time. It was another great night with just the right mix of music to suit everyone’s tastes and dance styles, i.e., from the Electric Slide to Bruno Mars and everything else in between. I think we snagged some pizza around 12:30pm before heading back to the dance floor for another 30 minutes or so where I proceeded to do a little break dancing in my kilt: yeah, wood floors and bare knees don’t mix well. I’ll be sporting a couple scrapes on my knees for another week or two following that brilliant move! I don’t know how Debbie puts up with me once my feet get to moving faster than my brain.
I was up early on Sunday and saw it was shaping up to be a beautiful, sunny day. And that was perfect because Sunday was going to be our lazy day when we slept-in, had a late breakfast and then headed out to get some time in the sun. There’s no better way to unwind and relax than just sitting at the pool and visiting with some of the nicest folks you’d ever want to meet. There was a one time when a rogue thunderstorm just missed us as it moved on by and doused Dahlonega and Gainsville instead.
Sadly, we had a DJ spinning music on Sunday night that was mostly the really loud, “thumpy-bumpy” stuff hip crowds like in the big city clubs. It was a real buzz kill and apparently we weren’t the only ones who decided to call it a night early because of the music. Oh well, we probably needed the extra rest anyway. After all, we’d be headed back home for two more days of “fun and games” with friends.
We were both up and moving by mid-morning and watching the first real day of racing from the Tour de France in the background as we gathered up our “stuff” and began packing for the trip back home. Our only semi-firm plans for the day were heading over to SuBourbon’s Rock & Oyster Bar in nearby Kennesaw around 4:30pm where we’d spend the better part of the night with about 14 other friends listening and dancing to Grey Sunday, one of our favorite party bands, and then watch the Kennesaw City fireworks at 9:30pm. That gave us enough time to grab lunch at Loco Willy’s as we were both craving some healthy food: a house salad and blackened fish taco’s!
After lunch I still had enough time to tackle a full days worth of yard work: trimming hedges and bushes, edging and cutting both the front & back yards and even spent a few minutes stirring up a Yellow Jacket’s nest in our front stacked stone retaining wall. Debbie stumbled onto the hidden nest while planting flowers and walked away with three bites. I only ended up having just a slight brush up with one and that was bad enough. After that little bit of excitement I decided to finish up my last free hour by power-washing a cedar bench we had sitting under a pergola in the backyard: the bench was a Mother’s Day gift to Debbie about 12 years ago and it’s held up well. It was around 4:00pm when we started to hear friends were heading towards SuBourbon’s so I bagged the yard work, and got cleaned up.
We had ourselves at the bar just a bit before 5:00pm where we found two of our friends — Richard & Robin — at one of the five tables we had reserved, or about 1/2 of the inside non-smoking section! If memory serves we had Bobby & Carrie Ann, Ryan & Jeanette, Chuck & Julie as well as two of Chuck’s sons, Dave & Cory as well as Mike & Bettianne, Matt & darned if I can’t remember the other gal’s name. But, it was a great crew to be sure! One of the managers at SuBourbon’s was apparently trying to live-stream about an hour’s worth of the goings-on where various members of our group got captured in the video, both at the inside bar and at the outside bar: you can see it here if you’re so inclined. It’s not exactly riveting TV but you can skip around and find bits and pieces that are interesting along with long stretches of ice buckets with Cokes when the gal who was asked to stream video for the manager just put the phone down on the corner of a cooler.
What made it a bit odd was having to shuttle back and forth between the inside bar where the owner — Dave — was DJ’ing and the blistering hot parking lot where they had three live bands playing one after another on a sidewalk stage with the asphalt parking lot as a dance floor. I’m sure I scrubbed a year’s worth of boot sole life with my dancing antics, never mind sweating off a couple pounds and even having to shed my Tshirt at one point as it had gotten soaked with sweat. On the bright side,I was about the only guy dancing so it was me, Debbie, Robin, Julie, Carrie Ann and Jeanette for the most part. When the outside band would take a break — or we’d just get too overheated — we’d go back into the bar and dance to the DJ: all told, about 10 hours of dancing if I had to guess!
Well, OK… we also did a bit of celebrating and then gathered outside for a really outstanding fireworks show by the City of Kennesaw. Just a great night out celebrating our great nation’s independence one day early — so as to deconflict with neighboring towns events scheduled for Tuesday, the actual 4th of July. We ended the night with a small after-party on Ryan & Jeanette’s back deck and a slightly smaller group / sub-set of the SuBourbon’s gang.
The plan for the 4th of July was hatched early on Monday when Sharon & Jeff invited folks to come over to their home on the lake for either a dock party or a trip across the lake to one of the coves where boaters barge their boats side-by-side and hold what are essentially block parties on the water. We made a point of clearing our calendar so we could join them on the 4th as Sharon has probably invited us to join them on the boat a dozen times or more over the past few years and there’s always been a conflict. Not so this time; we’d be making a point of it so long as the weather cooperated.
The plan was to meet at Jeff & Sharon’s home around noon at which point we’d make sure there were enough boats with life vests aboard for the passengers. We ended up with three boats: Jeff & Sharon’s party barge which holds about ten, Julie & Chuck’s ski boat that holds eight and Zack & Katelyn’s ski boat that also holds about eight; just about the right number of seats and jackets for all of the folks who were there: Julie plus me and Debbie, Carrie Ann, Jeanette, Richard & Robin. Zack & Katelyn’s plus Dave & Cory, Morgan & Danielle. And, with Jeff & Sharon there was Bobby, Ryan, Patti & Brad and I believe it was Steve & Jill. Once we reached Illinois Creek Cove we joined up with several other folks including Susan & Brian, Karen & Chuck and eventually Elvis… no, not that Elvis. It was stupid fun.
We did end up getting caught in two rain episodes. One was just a short sprinkle that came out of a rogue cloud, whereas the next one was a fairly organized storm system with lots of thunder and lightning. We almost got caught out in a 3rd storm but, fortunately, had headed for the docks just in time to duck out of the rain. Well, I say “we”…. Julie’s boat / group of seven. Jeff’s pontoon boat did not make as good of time as we did and Zack had to go to a marina to off-load people and pull out his boat. But, through it all we continued to laugh, smile and have a good time while trying to stay warm and dry.
We had a bit of a mini-buffet back at Jeff & Sharon’s breezeway as everyone began to pull out the excess food they’d brought along for the day. We had BBQ & slaw from JD’s, sub sandwiches with Boar’s Head meats and cheeses, chips & dips and the like before every began to scatter for the hills as Jeff & Sharon had to leave at 6:00pm for Michigan in their motorhome. I think we said all of our goodbyes, but may have missed a few as my memory is a bit clouded on some of the details from the weekend. I’m sure it’s just exhaustion and fatigue…
But, as if we hadn’t had enough, we ended up heading over to Loco Willy’s to grab a burger and see if some of our friends might not hanging out there. Alas, it was pretty much us and a few of our Lockheed friends with Billy behind the bar. We ended up having a great time for the short time we were there and it was a good finish to an amazing weekend with friends on all fronts. The things we didn’t get to do included cycling and motorcycling, but that was about it. So, still not a bad way to spend a week.
Looking forward, this is a short work week of just three days and then we’ll head to Pennsylvania on Monday at 6:00am. We’ll be visiting my parents on Monday afternoon through Friday morning and perhaps again on Sunday afternoon and evening as 16 July is Debbie and my 24th anniversary. On Friday through Sunday noon time we’ll be at a tandem rally in Manheim, PA, aka, the Tour de Chocolate! Oh yeah, that’s what we need!