Sunday, June 18, 2006

Where've we been lately?

Emily has just completed her 8th day of teaching summer school, and I've managed to complete my 8th day of being a gentleman of leisure. Another summer, right on track.

Before Summer school really got underway, Emily and I spent a couple of weeks traveling. You may have already noticed the entry from Atlanta--that was what I call my "relaxing" vacation. But before we went to Atlanta, we took a real, Griswold-Style vacation to South Dakota. It was an action-packed few days for us, culminating in that once-in-a-lifetime, "Make-a-Wish" type of day where everything magically clicks into place. I'm not really prepared to tell you about my "Make-a-Wish" day yet, but I'll take this chance to fill you in on the other things we did.

We flew into Rapid City and rented a car, and for the rest of the day we drove from tourist site to tourist site, soaking it all in. We started at Bear Country, a drive-through park where you'll

see hundreds of bears, as well as elk, reindeer, bighorn sheep, mountain goats, and mountain lions. The best part of the experience was watching a mountain lion play with her new cubs, who couldn't have been any bigger than my hand. Much more entertaining, might I say, than watching my two grown cats lay around the house holding the carpeting down. We also saw quite a few bear cubs.

Then we headed to the Cosmos mystery area. It's basically a cabin that has been jacked up so that it rests on one corner. Here's a picture:

The weird thing is that when you're inside, the forces of gravity fight with the visual experience of being in a room that's slanted. Here, I get angular inside the cabin:

Even if you know the "secret" of the mystery area, seeing things that should be straight up and down but aren't can upset your equilibrium; I felt a bit queasy, and other people in our group were on the verge of vomiting. And all that for the low, low price of 7 bucks.

We finished our day with a trip to Reptile Gardens, a fabulous reptile park where we got to see dozens of the world's deadliest snakes, like the pair of green mambas pictured here:

We also watched trainers put on a reptile show with crocs and caimans, and gators, and finished the day by hanging out with some giant tortoises from the Galapagos.

I'm planning a trip to Africa for next summer, so it was fun to point out all of the snakes I'll be seeing when I'm there: "Hey look, Emily, it's the black mamba, one of the world's deadliest snakes! I'll see him in Africa!" "Hey look, Emily, it's the puff adder, one of the world's deadliest snakes! I'll see him in Africa!" "Hey look, Emily, it's the boomslang, one of the world's deadliest snakes! I'll see him in Africa!" "Hey look, Alan, it's the double indemnity rider for your life insurance policy. Sign here, initial here, and I'll get it mailed in before you go to Africa!"

Saturday, June 10, 2006


So Emily has a legal writing conference, and I'm honing my "gentleman of leisure" act, and together those two pursuits lead us to Atlanta in summertime. Emily's been conferring up a storm, and I've been catching up on some leisure pursuits. More on that later (and more on our South Dakota adventure), but I wanted to share this evening's dinner with you.

When in the South, for pete's sake, get some Southern food. Emily and I hopped a cab to Gladys and Ron's Chicken and Waffles. By the way, the Gladys is Gladys Knight, and I don't know who Ron is; maybe he's a Pip. Their establishment isn't in the best neighborhood (the abandoned building next to it had potential, but it was still abandoned, as were several others within eyeshot), but the menu looked good.

I know what you're thinking: who on earth puts chicken and waffles together? The answer? Who cares!? The food at this joint was fantastic. I loaded up on catfish fingers (juicy, with delightful breading), cornbread muffins (the tenderest, flakiest, most delicious corn muffins I've ever eaten) and homemade macaroni and cheese that takes a close second to the M&C my very own mother makes. I know, everyone says their mom's *insert mother's signature dish here* is great, but my mom's mac and cheese is truly terrific. And Gladys wasn't far off the mark.

Emily had an apple-cinnamon waffle, and a buckwheat waffle. I helped her down them, and they were worth the eatin'. We finished up with sweet potato cheesecake. I pride myself on knowing a decent cheesecake. This was awesome. Terrific graham cracker crust, drizzled with caramel and pecan, with whipped cream on the side. And not the crap out of a can--they actually took cream and, well, whipped it. Holy cow.

The best part was the bill. The two of us ate to bloatedness for twenty six bucks, total. It was worth double that, because I won't have to eat for another week. If you're in Atlanta, or any of the other cities with a franchise, it's definitely worth trying.

Tuesday, June 06, 2006

Happy Anniversary Cecil and Joan!

Today is my parents' 25th wedding anniversary! YAY! Congrats, and here's wishing you many more!