And, we’re back from Panama City Beach and our Bike Week adventures: bike as in motorcycle. You can find all of the torrid details in these two entries on my other blog.
But, to be honest, there really isn’t all that much torrid stuff to begin with…. just an occasional nip-slip now and again and if you have to ask that that is you probably don’t want to know!
Anyway, that said, this past weekend had only one bike ride and it was on our tandem. Sadly, what started out to be a moderate-length ride on a beautiful afternoon ended up being cut a bit short as floating in all of that beautiful sunshine was a heck of a lot of grass and hickory pollen. So much so that Debbie couldn’t get a full, deep breath and I was struggling with burning eyes and more mucous production than a Great Dane. Anyway, even a short ride in less than ideal conditions is better than no ride!
As for what came before the ride, here’s a short report on the latter part of our recovery week from Panama City Beach
Thursday was my fake Friday in that I’d be working from home and/or getting a day off on Friday. Debbie still has to work a normal five-day a week schedule so it’s not exactly a perfect arrangement, but there are some perks.
The first perk is getting an extra weekend-like day to work on home projects and with that in mind I stopped at Floor & Décor on the way home to pick up about 240 square feet of hardwood flooring for the family room redo. This is the last of three rooms on the main level that had carpet in dire need of replacement.
Of course, once I got home and had a truck full of flooring, a room with carpet that needed to go and the twice weekly trash pick-up coming in the morning my plan for the evening became pretty clear: move all of the furniture to the front of the downstairs (thank goodness for furniture dollies), cut-up, pull-up, roll-up and bag the carpet and padding for trash pick-up and begin pretty the floor for hardwood installation.
Yeah, that pretty well consumed my evening but it was good to have all of that nasty carpet out of the house and sitting at the curb for pick-up on Friday: perfect timing, to be sure.
When I woke up on Friday I knew there was no way I would be able to finish prepping the floor and put down all 240 square feet before it was time to head out to Loco Willy’s around 6:00pm for our weekly Finally a Friday celebration. So, that gave me the morning to knock out some home banking, do some final floor prep, make a trip to Home Depot, pick-up a couple of greeting cards for weekend events – a birthday card for a friend and of course a Mother’s Day card for Miss Debbie – and meet the lovely Miss Debbie at the Red Eyed Mule for our every-other week lunch date and Jake’s Big Daddy burger before heading home and getting myself fully-engrossed in gluing down the flooring.
About the only thing that bears some notice on the 1st half of the day is a little growing displeasure with the The Red Eyed Mule’s new order taker / cashier. Managing the front counter at The Mule seems to take a pretty good multi-tasker with something of a take-charge attitude to make sure the prep team’s tempo keeps pace with the flow of customers. To do that requires really clear communication and that’s where the new gal seems to fall short. She’s ‘Oh-for-Three’ on getting our burger to come out Medium Rare. The first time one of the food runners who knows us well caught the error (she’d written down Medium Well) and had the kitchen quickly turn-around a new burger that was medium rare before it even hit our table. The second time after learning about the error on the previous visit I made sure she understood we “needed” to have our burger medium rare; it’s really important to me as it’s one of the things that makes a burger at the mule taste so darn good. Yeah, well… she put the ticket up but didn’t call out and tell the cook, “One Down Medium Rare” as that’s the only way I’ve ever heard it done where you get what you ask for. Sure enough, it came out medium to medium well. This past Friday I once again reminded her how important it was that our burger come out medium rare, explained why and the ticket went up but there was no instruction to the cook that I ever heard. As before, we ended up with the standard medium to medium-well. Everything else was exactly as it should be and the gentleman working the grill is the same guy who’s been back there for several months so I’m pretty sure he’s not pre-disposed to over-cooking when he’s got a special order. Anyway, it’ll be another month before we go back as we’ll be out of town on my next off-Friday and we’ll see how that goes. Let’s just say in addition to missing Sabra and Joe, I now miss Lisa… as she and the others who came before her always got it right! If this new gal can’t get it right we may have to rethink our future visits to The Mule and that would be awful: we love The Mule!
P.S. The Chevy stake truck ain’t looking too good these days and the white trim could use a little fresh paint… just saying.
Back at the house I changed into my work clothes, racked the flooring, pried the lid off the adhesive and became fully committed to putting down as much flooring as that one container of adhesive would support. Sadly, it turned out I must have gotten a really old bucket of adhesive as the consistency was more like molasses than fresh chocolate icing. It was incredibly hard to spread and was also drying way too fast. Once I put a board down, getting it to nudge took a major effort and forget about pulling a board up and repositioning it. The boards would come up, but it was anything but effortless. It suffices to say, I was never so happy when I only got three two-foot wide courses of flooring down before that bucket was empty. It was the most challenging six feet of flooring I’ve ever installed!
Again, I was glad the adhesive was pretty much gone after that 3rd two-foot course as it was about time to start cleaning up and getting ready for the evening. This was extra important as in addition to being a Finally-a-Friday celebration night at Loco’s, we had a friend who was celebrating their birthday early who decided Loco’s would be a fine place to go and have that celebration. I had everything cleaned up when Miss Debbie arrived home from work around 5:30. After getting a shower and a quick change of clothes we headed to Loco’s around 6:00pm, not being too worried about getting a seat at the bar since we’d most likely be trying to snag the large table for 8-10.
Sure enough, when we arrived David & Deb were already there and guarding the 7 empty seats at the big table, as there was a lone gentleman occupying the 8th and we weren’t quite sure what he was doing… and neither was he. A short time later Bobby & Carrie Ann (our birthday girl) arrived, followed by Ryan & Jeanette, and Patti. We clearly had the momentum on our side and laid claim to the table and the festivities were then well underway. Bobby snuck over to Gabrielle’s to grab some cakes for the celebration as the girls all descended on our bartender Brian in search of a certain specific cocktail that he rather enjoys making, modifying and joking about. A short time later our friends Julie & Chuck joined in and we had a grand time enjoying good meals and good friends.
After having our fill of cake, fish tacos and Ahi Poke at Loco’s, the next objective was to find a place where there might be some live music and dancing. As we quickly scanned the local clubs the one that jumped out was Paddy’s Pub in Kennesaw where the band Three Left Standing was playing. We first heard them play at Brewster’s a couple years ago and were really impressed with their sound, playlist and ability to keep the dance vibe alive for all of their sets. We’ve been to see then a couple times since then so Paddy’s is where went and we were not disappointed.
Now, I will say that some of the other patrons at Paddy’s had me scratching my head a bit: eclectic or eccentric comes to mind. We had one table that looked to be a group of four older fellers with four escorts which was just really weird: fellers in plaid shirts and jeans looking somber on one side of the table and gals on the other dressed to kill and ready to party. There was a gal who looked like she was channeling an acid trip at Woodstock who remained in the middle of the dance floor the entire night, never taking her seat and just kind of shrug dancing with her head down the whole night. There were a few others that I could also describe, but I’ll leave it alone. After all, I’m sure my antics could easily be included in someone else’s blog as I always have way too much fun when there’s a good band and a dance floor. Bottom Line: It was a great evening I hope Carrie Ann enjoyed her first of two nights out. I think we finally headed towards the doors around 11:30pm.
Since the first half of my Saturday was going consumed by finishing up the hardwood flooring installation in the family room, Debbie packed up some gardening tools and headed up to visit with her mother and work in her flowerbeds. It’s something Debbie enjoys and her mother always appreciates getting to have her around the house for ½ a day.
I actually found myself making very good progress on the flooring installation Saturday morning. The adhesive from the fresh bucket was very easy to work with and that made a huge difference. I also simplified my racking process by just working from the top down out of two open boxes: the different board lengths, colors and grains was about as well mixed by Bruce as I’d be able to do pulling from neat piles of wood that I’d stacked according to length, color and grain: clearly a non-valued-added step. I pretty much had the last 220 square feet put down in about 4 hours and was cleaning up by 2:00pm. Of course, when I say finished putting down that means there’s still another couple hours of cleaning the wood and then cutting, pre-painting, installing, calking and then finish painting the ¼ round base moldings and base boards. That could / would wait until Sunday.
Debbie arrived home around 2:30pm and we both decided we could use a little down time and spent about 30 minutes getting a little sun in the backyard. It was a cloudless, 85°F day with light winds which made for a delightful time just relaxing for a bit with my sweetie at my side.
After getting our batteries recharged a bit we both got cleaned up and ready for dinner out with most of the same friends from Friday night’s birthday celebration for Carrie Ann. The plan was to meet up with Bobby & Carrie Ann, Ryan & Jeanette, Tom H. and Patti at the Appalachian Grill in Cartersville, Georgia, about 25 minutes from our house. It was an easy drive but our GPS was confused since the Grill is technically located under a street; an overpass to be more specific. So, it got us to the right parking lot, but it then took us on something of a snipe hunt that made what should have been a 100 yard walk about ½ a mile. On the bright side, our snipe hunt took us over to an antique and classic car show being held in the downtown square and that was pretty cool.
When we finally arrived at the Grill we found our friends in the adjacent pub. The Grill doesn’t take reservations so a 30 minute wait was the norm, or so we were led to believe. Yeah, well… 30 minutes became 45 minutes headed for 90 minutes as Bobby visited with the hostess to check on our progress. We finally decided to just go ahead and eat in the pub and that was fine by Debbie and me. While it’s nice to have a sit at the table meal now and again, there’s just something intimate about eating alongside your loved one in a dimly lit bar. Debbie and I split the Salmon over rice with a nice side salad and it was really quite excellent. It was a great follow-up to the amazing Portobello mushroom appetizer that Bobby shared with us. I also had a piece of Jeanette’s steak and it was excellent. All-in-all, a tasty meal but kind of an odd arrangement eating in this particular pub as neither the main bar nor the bar tables were really set-up for eating entrees. I was also surprised to find the bathroom for the men was pretty nasty and in dire need of attention: not what you’d expect at what is billed as a fairly high-end bar. I’m told the ladies room wasn’t much better.
After finishing up at the Grill someone suggested heading over to Sixes Tavern just a about 15 minutes away as there was purportedly one of the truly great 80’s tribute bands playing called The Breakfast Club.
I should probably note this was our first visit to Sixes Tavern in Cartersville, Georgia. We’d been to the original Sixes Tavern in Canton a couple times and while the original was a bit cramped at times and pulled in a couple ruffians from the local area, it was a generally a pretty nice, new facility that doubled as a mid to mid-high end restaurant with very nice fixtures, a copper covered bar, stacked stone, etc. Sadly, the service at the old Sixes was hit or miss and we had a couple bad experiences there as did a great many people which is probably why they clearly developed an exit strategy by opening up the second, music-focused venue in Cartersville.
As for my first impressions of Cartersville’s Sixes Tavern: it’s clearly a bar and not a tavern and that really caught me off guard as I was expecting something similar in look and feel to the original Sixes on Sixes Road in Canton. That said, if I adjust my perspective and compare it to other bars that are built around a stage for live music it’s probably on par with Dixie Tavern in Marietta. Yes, they have an honest to goodness stage in front of a wooden dance floor and then plenty of bar table seating. The old Sixes squeezed a stage and dance floor into a space that left very little room for seated patrons. The small bar that served the patrons in Canton has been replaced by a bar that’s easily 2x as long as the bar at Dixie Tavern and on par with the length of the bars at Brewster’s, Highlands, Jimmy Mac’s and a few others but in a linear format not an elongated horseshoe shape. The restrooms near the band were of outhouse quality, but the ones near the bar were about par for a better-maintained bar; again, Dixie Tavern like. The gals waiting on the tables were very efficient but ours had zero personality: perhaps acting like you’d rather be anywhere else is a new fad for employees???
As for The Breakfast Club band, checking their Website they’d been around for 23 years and I can believe it. I can also believe that back when they first started they were a pretty hot act. Unfortunately, I don’t think they’ve updated their act or some of their equipment in 23 years and it was one of those evenings when you looked for the silver lining. As one friend said, “They’re so bad that they’re good!” underscored by the electronic drum kit, the laser-light projector from the 80’s with graphics that looked as though they were hand-drawn by a 4 year-old and the choreography… oh the choreography. And, at the end of the night I guess it’s fair to say they were technically very good and most of the vocals were strong as the band played music we remembered from the 80’s – albeit, not all of it was immediately recognizable – and they played a few tunes we could dance to. So, all-in-all we had a pretty good time.
The day began with a return to the family room floor for hand-cleaning. No matter how careful I try to be there always seems to be a lot of adhesive left dotting the freshly installed wood flooring and after it dries it’s a bugger to get off. So, I easily spent a good 2 hours crawling around, attempting to remove the dried adhesive with some environmentally friendly mineral spirts. I was also able to run and buy some ¼ round moldings at Lowes and get those cut and mitered before the kids and grandkids showed up to visit with ‘Nama’ for Mother’s Day.
In regard to the latter, I had to take about a 30-minute break to clean-up the breezeway and veranda when Debbie informed me that “meeting them for lunch at Loco’s” became “the kids will be stopping by on their way home from church.” With a week’s worth of pollen covering everything I had a little work cut out that was not part of my daily plan, but no worries. The kids arrived shortly after I had everything blown-off and washed-down and they spent a good hour or so visiting with Nama as I continued to work on the flooring project.
The one thing that we knew we wanted to do today was get in a tandem ride of some length, which meant out on the bike NLT 3:00pm. However, we still hadn’t had lunch and Debbie let me know that she needed to go and pick-up some earrings as she was going to have her right ear re-pierced now that it was fully healed after being repaired back in November.
With that, we headed off to Loco Willy’s to grab some Ahi Poke for lunch as our first stop. We’d both been craving the Ahi since Friday when we had the fish tacos as we watched our friends enjoy the Ahi Poke. When we arrived it was surprisingly empty with not a regular in sight. We’re guessing that most of them were spending the day with their own “moms” instead of hunkering down at Willy’s bar. So, aside from four other patrons enjoying lunch whom we’d never seen at Willy’s before, we had the bar to ourselves. Also, having enjoyed two nights out on the town both Debbie and I opted to stick with soft drinks so our lunch visit was just that: your basic NASCAR splash and go stop.
After lunch we went to Jared’s – because quite frankly I’ve just gotten so tired of Shane Co’s awful radio ads that I no longer want to reward them with our business – and found some nice shiny-stones that were the right size for her very tiny ears. The gal working with us continued to urge us to up-size but just didn’t quite grasp the concept of proportions; Debbie just needed a nice pair of earrings that she could wear every day that complimented her necklaces and bracelets, most of which are yellow-gold with shiny stones. As to why Debbie didn’t have any earrings, she had a large loop earring pull through her little earlobe’s original piercing back in the 1980’s. She’s gone without wearing earrings ever since; in fact, I don’t know that I’ve ever seen her with earrings in our 25s together. However, we had an opportunity to get that little tear fixed this past November and it finally healed to a point where she could have it re-pierced and once again wear earrings.
That then brings us full circle to where this blog entry started: our tandem ride. As mentioned, we headed home from Jared’s fully intending to get in a ride of moderate-length as the weather appeared to be perfect for cycling. A bit on the warm size since the temps suddenly jumped from the upper 60’s right to the mid-to upper 80’s. As we headed off on our ride our enthusiasm was quickly tempered by all of the pollen that was still blowing around. I had in my contacts and the pollen was irritating my eyes. I also had a head full of crud and was constantly clearing my sinuses with a farmer’s blow about every 5 minutes. On the back of the tandem I could hear Debbie laboring to get a deep breath whenever we climbed so when we reached the point where we can cut it short for a ~17 mile loop vs. going on to do 20, 23, 25 or more we opted to head for home and hope for less pollen next weekend.
The ride did a pretty good job of soaking the wind out of our sails so we spent the better part of the late afternoon doing indoor, weekend tasks and pre-painting the ¼ round baseboard moldings so they’d be ready to go in for a dry-fit later that night.
When it came time for dinner Debbie didn’t even feel like heading anywhere and asked if I had what I needed to make one of my Ort’s Special pizzas. It just so happened that I’d picked up everything I needed on Thursday so about 45 minutes later we had piping hot pizza topped with 2% mozzarella, Cajun sausage, pepperoni, green chilies, onion and cashews. I like to dice all of the toppings vs. placing larger chunks on my pizzas which ensures that every bite gives you a bit of all the toppings. It was yummy!
It was a quiet evening at home punctuated by a call to my mother and Bill so we could wish her a Happy Mother’s Day and check on Bill’s joint replacement recovery. They were both in good spirits and that always is good to hear. I advised my mother that her weekly installment of our blogs would be a bit late; however, the nearly 16-page long, two-part Panama City Beach report would make up for the lapse in reporting. Yeah, it was like 13,000 words all told.
That was pretty much it for the weekend. It was a good weekend with lots of satisfying work on home projects, good social engagement with our friends, a little shopping for my sweetie, time with the kids and grandkids and of course lots of us time!
The family room project extended into Tuesday night, as Monday was when I installed the ¼ round base molding, and then caulked and painted the baseboards and began to move the large pieces of furniture back into the room. Tuesday evening was spent wiring the receiver back in to all of the various speakers and components, and then putting all of the knick-knacks back in place… cleaning as I went. It’s a very nice look having the wood flooring vs. the white carpet. Now I just need to refinish the 450 square feet of existing flooring and figure out how best to bridge the gaps between the old and new!