hankrules2011

A polymath rambling about virtually anything

Posts Tagged ‘love’

Weird Al Concert

Posted by Scott Holstad on August 9, 2015

Friday night was the Weird Al Yankovic concert in Knoxville. Back at the beginning of the year, I found out about it and bought tickets because my wife, Gretchen, is a HUGE fan. She knows all of his songs and all of the lyrics. When I told her about it, she was so excited and was disappointed she’d have to wait so long to see him. Well, the day finally arrived. Bear in mind that, for months, I’ve been having to deal with significant head and back pain. In fact, I couldn’t remember the last time I didn’t have any. So I was concerned. And in fact, I had some. A lot. Gretchen said we didn’t have to go, but I had to, we had to, she had to see her show. So we left Chattanooga at 4:30 and made the two hour drive to Knoxville and checked into our hotel and got a bite to eat.

Let me interject. The day before the show, I got a voicemail from someone from CID Entertainment telling me I had bought the VIP package and I’d have to pick up my tickets, not at Will Call, but in a different building entirely. Additionally, there’d be gift bags and a party. I called the next day, the day of the show, to confirm this and indeed I had bought VIP tickets. No wonder they were so damn expensive. I just thought they were cause they were in the third row. Oh well. Sadly, we couldn’t make the party. We hadn’t known about it in time and just couldn’t make it. But we got our gift bags and got the tickets and we went into the Tennessee Theater, which is a beautiful theater where we had seen comedians and concerts before. The show was sold out. We got Gretchen a concert t-shirt and she was excited. Then we found our seats. They were aisle seats, which I normally like, but in this case, they weren’t that great, even though they were close to the stage. There was a huge screen as the backdrop and I could only see part of it because I was simply cut off from seeing the whole thing. Oh well.

The show began promptly at 8 PM. On the screen, Weird Al appeared. He was outside somewhere singing his hit, “Tacky.” He was walking and singing. Soon it appeared as though he were actually outside in Knoxville near the theater. Soon it became apparent he WAS and he was walking toward the entrance, singing, and soon he entered the theater and made his way into the theater from the back and came down the aisle before going up onto the stage, all the while on the screen. It was a pretty awesome entrance.

He sang several songs from his new album, Mandatory Fun, and then spent the rest of his time singing old favorites. I knew the newer stuff, as I have the album, but as I’ve never been a real fan, I didn’t know a lot of the older stuff, although Gretchen had played some of it for me, so I did recognize some of it. He came out for one encore and it was pretty great. The crowd went wild for him all night. The crowd was interesting in that there were people our age, young people, old people, teens, and little kids. A lot of little kids. And every single person there was a nerd. I’ve never been around so many nerds in my life. It was hilarious. After the show, I was still feeling pretty wretched, so we would normally have a drink or two, but we just went back to our hotel room and I passed out. Still, it was a good night and I’m glad we did it and Gretchen was really happy, so that made me happy. Here are some pictures.

 

Weird Al singing "Tacky"

Weird Al singing “Tacky”

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Weird Al singing "Dare To Be Stupid"

Weird Al singing “Dare To Be Stupid”

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Weird Al singing "Fat"

Weird Al singing “Fat”

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Weird Al singing "I Want To Be Your Lover"

Weird Al singing “I Want To Be Your Lover”

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Weird Al going out into the crowd

Weird Al going out into the crowd

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Weird Al singing "Amish Paradise"

Weird Al singing “Amish Paradise”

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Weird Al singing "The Sage Begins"

Weird Al singing “The Sage Begins”

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Gretchen wearing her new Weird Al concert t-shirt

Gretchen wearing her new Weird Al concert t-shirt

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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My Mother

Posted by Scott Holstad on July 7, 2015

My mother drives me nuts. And I feel tremendously guilty in saying that. My mother and I have always had a good, close relationship. She was always there for me when I needed her. She was always very loving. When I lived out west in Phoenix and L.A. and things were tough, I could call her at any time of the day and she’d talk to me. When I decided to move back to Tennessee from L.A. during some tough times, she and Dad let me move in with them for awhile, with my cat, and they were not cat people. But she’s changed. And not for the better.

I never knew how much of a buffer Dad was for Mom. Dad spent a lot of time in his office and Mom spent a lot of time on the sofa in the living room, working on her puzzle books. But Dad died unexpectedly two years ago this month. And Mom was shocked and devastated. And then it began. I knew I’d have to be there for her and was totally willing. At the time, she lived near me in Hixson, TN, where they’d moved from Knoxville to be close to me. But she started calling me every day. A lot. Like 20-30 times a day. Too much. I thought it might be just for a couple of weeks. I was wrong. And it was for unnecessary stuff. Just cause she was lonely. And to a certain degree, I understood that. But she was also living on the phone, talking to all of her many hundreds of friends around the world, making dozens of calls a day and she would proudly tell me about all the people she had talked to that day. OK, so why talk to me so damn much then? I had to help her with Dad’s stuff and I had to go to Knoxville A  LOT to deal with the funeral, to deal with his accountant, attorney, financial planner, etc. It was a lot, and a lot of traveling and Mom loves to talk. It drove me nuts. I’m not big on talking. Meanwhile, she was continuing to call me, 20-25 times a day. I was losing my patience. I was starting to dread hearing my phone ring cause I knew it’d be her and I knew it’d be about nothing at all. Guess how many cards I got in the mail today? That sort of thing.

Time went on. She stopped getting cards. She got about 800. Literally. She stopped getting so many phone calls, although she still made them. But she didn’t stop calling me. I was starting to go insane. But she was also being generous with us. She wanted us to move, for one reason because we lived in a bad neighborhood which was increasingly dangerous and for another reason, to be closer to her. So she helped us buy a new house about 10 minutes from her that was a lot nicer in a safe, quiet neighborhood and we owe her on that. Still, she called. However, she was down to 15-20 calls a day now. By this time, however, the damage had been done. I was over talking to her. I had had enough. The irony of her helping us with this house was that she decided to move back to Knoxville to be with all of her friends and to go back to her old church! So she found a condo up there, put her house here up for sale, and moved a couple of months later. And while the visits to our house would stop, I knew the calls wouldn’t. And they didn’t. She liked her new condo and while she was busy with her friends doing lunch and going out to dinner, she was and is lonely at night. She really misses Dad, still. So she calls me. Still. I’ve had talks with her. I’ve told her she calls me too often. I’ve told her she doesn’t need to call me whenever something pops into her head that she wants to tell me about. That she can save it up for a lunch call and a post-dinner call. And for awhile, she tries that. And then she’ll start calling me at 8 or 9 AM again. And at 10. But she has gotten better. She’s only calling me between 1 and 10 times a day now, usually about five, a major improvement. But I dread every call. Every call. I hate talking to her now and I feel very guilty about that. I know she needs someone to talk to, but I’m not sure why. She can’t have silence in her home. She can’t go without talking to someone in her home. Why? Sometimes she apologizes for calling, like she knows it bugs me, but she can’t help it. Why? And I can’t express my frustration with her too ardently cause she has helped us out financially and I feel I should keep my feelings to myself as a result. She paid off my massive student loan debt that I had been paying on for years. That was very generous of her. She didn’t have to do that. But it doesn’t take away from her damn calls. And now she wants us to come visit all the time. We do go up to Knoxville every 4-6 weeks to see her. That’s not good enough. I swear, the same week we go see her, she’ll say “When can I see you again?” and I’ll tell her that she just did and she’ll have forgotten. She’s 85. Her memory’s not the best. But I’m 48. I don’t know of any other 48 year old people — men — who talk to their mothers every day, let alone 10-20 times a day. It’s crazy. Once a week I can see. That’s how often Gretchen talks to her parents. That makes sense to me. But every day, multiple times a day? Gah! She has driven me crazy and now I can barely stand her and I hate being with her and I know that is wrong and you should respect your elders, but shouldn’t they respect you and your wishes too? All I’m asking for is a maximum of two calls a day. I think that’s reasonable. OMG. Nuts, I tell you. Nuts.

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Barry Manilow Concert

Posted by Scott Holstad on June 5, 2015

Last night, we went to Atlanta to see Barry Manilow in concert. Yeah, not someone I would normally see, but my wife’s a lifelong fan and has never seen him, so I got her tickets for Christmas. It’s been agonizing waiting a half year to see him, but she said it was worth it.

We somehow made it through the crazy Atlanta traffic to the Gwinnett Center, where we saw The Who (another Christmas present) two months ago. We waited and let everyone else go in before entering. We went to the bathroom and bought drinks and then stood in line so Gretchen could get a tour t-shirt. And stood in line. And stood in line. It was horrible. Finally she got her t-shirt, put it on immediately, and we found our seats. I was a little nervous about how the seats would be. I got us great seats for The Who, but even though I tried to get pre-sale tickets for this show the minute they went on sale, I couldn’t get good seats and had to settle. So we were pleasantly surprised when we found we were in section 106, row AA. That meant we were against the wall on the bottom level. No one behind us to kick us in the back and spill stuff on us. And a walk way in front of us so we could stretch out our legs. And it was raised, so our sight line was awesome. It was a little higher than I would have preferred, but considering what I thought we would be getting, these were pretty awesome.

Let me tell you — I’ve never seen so many old people at a concert in my life before! It was hilarious. People in wheelchairs, using walkers and canes. White hair, if any at all. I felt young. In fairness, there were people of all ages there, but it was mostly an older crowd, and no surprise here, mostly a female crowd. Still, there were a lot of husbands there with their wives, so I didn’t feel like I stuck out too much.

The opener was a smooth jazz musician named Dave Koz. I’m not a big fan of smooth jazz, but he had a lot of energy and seemed pretty excited to be there, and he did a fine job, so it wasn’t too bad.

Then Barry came on. The crowd went apeshit nuts! I’ve never seen such a crowd so crazed over a performer before. I was wondering when the bras and panties were going to be flung up onto the stage. It was crazy. Everyone had glow sticks, which they had handed out, and they were waving everywhere. Gretchen was the first one standing, waving her glow sticks, cheering, singing, and dancing. She had a ball! That made me very happy. I didn’t know that many of the songs, but it was enjoyable. He was quite the showman. Really knows how to charm an audience. Seemed really authentic too. The crowd went nuts when he sang “Mandy.” Other songs were equally appreciated.

I guess due to the older nature of the audience members, the show ended fairly early (it started early), and we made it back to our hotel in good time. We went to a nearby tavern for a nightcap and so that Gretchen could calm down. She was psyched.  She’s wearing her concert t-shirt again today. Heh. Will probably be wearing it for a week. So, we’re back from Atlanta now, having braved the damn traffic once more and we’re happy to be home. We missed the kitties. But we had a good time and Gretchen was very happy and those are the things that count. Some pics:

 

Us, waiting to get into the Barry Manilow concert

Us, waiting to get into the Barry Manilow concert

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Gretchen in her new Manilow concert tour t-shirt

Gretchen in her new Manilow concert tour t-shirt

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Arena glow sticks

Arena glow sticks

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Lights

Lights

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Barry Manilow

Barry Manilow

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An Anniversary

Posted by Scott Holstad on December 8, 2014

Four years ago today, out of the blue Gretchen told me of some feelings she had for me, which was a really big step on her part. I felt similarly, and soon we had a special relationship. Of course, we had no idea it would lead to marriage. Now we’ve been married over a year and a half and we have a wonderful relationship and I’m eternally grateful to her for her bravery. Bebe, I love you!

(Here’s another picture of our new kitten, Ace.):

Ace

Ace

 

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Great Vacation

Posted by Scott Holstad on November 11, 2014

Well, we just got back from our much-needed vacation! We went to my former home of St. Simons Island, GA, one hour south of Savannah and one hour north of Jacksonville. And we had a great time.

My wife had been getting really burned out at her job and seriously needed some time off and she loves the beach, so I thought, why not? I could show her my old stomping grounds. I’ve been under a great deal of stress myself, so a vacation sounded great. However, we were worried about what to do about our cat, Henry. Fortunately, we hired a great – and inexpensive – pet sitting service to care for him and provide daily updates, so that worked out just fine.

We left early last Wednesday morning. It’s about a seven hour drive from here, so we arrived around 3 PM and found our hotel, St. Simons Inn by the Lighthouse. I had found it on TripAdvisor and it looked pretty good. The rooms were all unique and you could pick yours out online. We picked one that looked roomy with a king size bed. We found parking in their covered ground floor parking area and went to check in. Then we hit the room. It wasn’t outstanding, but it looked good enough. The hotel itself was quite pretty.

After we’d gotten established, we walked over to the lighthouse and took some pictures. Then we walked on the path by the ocean to the pier village, went out on the pier, and then walked down into the village. I tried to tell my wife stories about all of the places we were passing.

By this time, it was about dinner time, so since my wife is originally from Baltimore, she’s a big crab lover. I called around, trying to find a place that offered blue crabs, but everything was soft shell blue crab or snow crab, etc. That was somewhat disappointing. However, we ventured out to a place I had gone to when I lived there called Crab Daddy’s. (It’s right beside the Crab Trap. Heh.) We were seated and greeted immediately by our server, Megan. She told us about an interesting special that was macaroni with three different types of crab, so we got that as an appetizer, as well as mussels. We also ordered drinks. Soon the food was out, followed by a generous salad with several homemade salad dressings and some delicious bread. Next came our entrees. Gretchen got shrimp while I got a filet. She said her shrimp was the best she’d ever had, so that was a big compliment. My filet was cooked to order, was appropriately tender, and tasted pretty good, so I was happy. We then decided to splurge and get crème brulee. It, too, was delicious. The bill was quite large, but it was worth it. And the service was outstanding. Hats off to our server.

After dinner, I decided I wanted to go to my old bar, Marsh Point. It’s a bit of a dive, but is very popular, the drinks are generous and they’re cheap. So we went. We missed the happy hour crowd, which was good because it can get packed. The only downer was it’s still a smoking bar and this bothered my wife a lot. As a former smoker, it doesn’t really bother me, but she didn’t like it. I recognized a couple of my former bartenders, but they didn’t recognize me. We ordered drinks and then Gretchen played Keno. We didn’t stay long, though, so we soon went back to our hotel. However, at our hotel, something happened that was embarrassing and frustrating. Our toilet clogged up. And we couldn’t get it unclogged. We went to bed anyway.

The next morning, we told both housekeeping and the front desk about the clogged toilet and they said they’d take care of it, so we went out for breakfast. The hotel had a continental breakfast, but I wanted something a little more substantial. We ended up at Palmer’s Village Café, which was the number one ranked restaurant on the island according to TripAdvisor. We were the first ones there, so we sat where we liked and were greeted immediately by a friendly server. She took our drink orders and then it was time to eat. My wife had eggs, an English muffin, and potatoes, while I had a huge stack of pancakes and some crispy bacon. My only complaint was, the sides were kind of expensive and I only got two pieces of bacon. For that price, I would have expected at least four. Still, Gretchen enjoyed her breakfast and I loved my pancakes – they were very filling. We paid the bill and went back to the hotel. When we arrived, a housekeeper told us she had fixed the problem. We felt relieved. Then the unthinkable – we used the toilet again and it got clogged again. I mean, it wouldn’t flush at all. How humiliating! And at the price we were paying, we expected better. My wife called the front desk to ask about other rooms and was told there weren’t any. She was told we could use the bathroom in the room across the hall for one night, that night, before people arrived who had reserved the room. That would have left us three more days with a screwed up toilet. My wife complained and was told that maintenance wouldn’t be able to get around to it until sometime the next day. Well, that was unacceptable.

We then decided to go rent bikes and ride around. Well, we did, but not very far. My knees and hips gave out on me, so I stood and waited while Gretchen went on ahead a couple of times. I didn’t think I was going to make it back to the bike shop. It really hurt.

When we returned to the hotel, we decided to go eat lunch and I just wanted something light, so I took us to Brogan’s, which was the first restaurant I ever went to when I went to the island. I have fond memories of the place, but I’m not sure why cause it isn’t that great. The service was average, the food average, the atmosphere average. I had a burger while my wife had a southwestern chicken salad. It was okay.

We decided to go to the beach while the hotel staff searched for another room. When we got there, it was at low tide and there were sand bars and shells and my wife was very impressed. It wasn’t crowded, except with people who had tons of dogs, which my wife loved. It’s a rather plain beach that I find kind of unexciting, but Gretchen loved it cause it was relaxed – just sand and water. Since she had her bathing suit on, she went out into the water. It was 80 degrees out and the water was warm, so she was happy. Meanwhile, I was having a hard time having a good time because I was worried about our hotel room.

So I started looking around for another room somewhere, and let me tell you, there weren’t very many rooms available on the island. Fortunately, there was a cool looking hotel just one block away from us that I decided to walk to when we returned from the beach and ask about. I’m really glad I did. It was called the Ocean Inn and Suites and they had a room for right then through when we needed to leave. It cost more than our present hotel, but on such short notice, I decided it was worth it. Besides, the room was a two room, dual king suite with a great balcony overlooking the lighthouse and the ocean. I felt good about it.

When I returned to the room with a luggage cart in hand, I found two people in the tiny bathroom plunging the toilet and pouring hot, soapy water down it. They were two owners and to their credit, they tried. However, I had no confidence in that toilet and had decided to leave, and that’s what I told them. They were disappointed, but classy about it. They wondered why we were told we couldn’t get it attended to until sometime the next day. They said if they had known about it immediately, they would have called a plumber. They said they would make it up to us. So we loaded up the car and I went to settle the bill. To my surprise, they waived all costs and we were charged nothing. That was nice of them.

We then went to the other hotel and unpacked. Gretchen loved the room, the beds, the TVs, the sofa, the view from the balcony – everything. I was relieved. We relaxed for an hour or so, and then it was dinner time. I took us to Gnat’s Landing, a very popular local spot, especially on the weekends. They had made some changes to the place since I’ve been gone, and the menu was light, but we made do. They had TVs everywhere on sports channels with one huge TV on ESPN. We just kind of sat back and vegged. I got a draft cider while my wife got some whiskey. Heh. Then Gretchen ordered some more shrimp while I ordered a pulled pork barbeque sandwich. The food was decent, the service was okay, but I did have to ask for refills, which was kind of annoying. Also, they never asked us if we wanted more drinks after we finished our adult beverages, which I thought was odd. So we paid up and left.

I wanted a few more cocktails, but not wanting Gretchen to ingest the smoke at Marsh Point, I took her to one of my favorite haunts on the island – the Village Inn and Pub. It’s kind of a hotel/B&B which is just beautiful to look at. Their “pub” is actually a small, full service bar in the lobby, where they have tables and stools and nearby, some easy chairs. You can also take your cocktails outside and enjoy sitting by the pool and relaxing. We ordered some drinks from the friendly bartender and sat in some of the easy chairs. It wasn’t too crowded and I was happy to be back there. I have fond memories of the place. Gretchen seemed to like it too, so I was happy. After a little while, we heard some music, so we moved back into the lobby and got a table. Two men were playing guitars and singing James Taylor and Bob Dylan songs. They weren’t too bad. It was an enjoyable evening, but we decided to go back to the hotel because it had been a long day and since I have insomnia, I don’t sleep well – or much –- and I was beat. Bedtime.

The next morning, we got up and went back to Palmer’s and had another delightful breakfast. Then it was time for a day trip to Savannah, a place I really love and a place my wife was really looking forward to seeing. Savannah is one hour up the road from the island, and we made good time, but for a long while, I had been concerned about driving around in that town and also, finding parking, which is hard to find there. The driving can be a real hassle there. Also, there’s the problem of, if you find parking, just wandering around, never knowing where you are or what you’re missing. Historic Savannah can be confusing. So we decided to take a trolley tour with Old Savannah Tours. They had free parking, were right off the interstate, and for $27 each, would let you on and off at any of 16 stops around town until 4:30. It was a huge relief for me to do that, plus it saved us from getting blisters.

We got off at a square that had a statue of General Oglethorpe, Georgia’s founder. It was surrounded by a beautiful Presbyterian church with a very tall steeple, a huge Baptist church, some places with interesting architecture, and the old Savannah Theater. After we had explored and taken some pictures, we got back on. It was really interesting hearing about Savannah’s history interspersed with current events. They were having a big marathon the next day and traffic was getting pretty bad, so I was especially glad I didn’t have to brave that mess.

We next got off at the Cathedral of St. John the Baptist. It’s a huge building that is very impressive to look at – I’ve seen it a number of times – but we wanted to go in and we did. And let me tell you, that is one stunningly beautiful church! It’s gorgeous! Huge, vaulted ceilings, rows and rows to seat a thousand, lovely stained glass, votive candles one can light, a massive pipe organ. Words can’t do it justice. If you’re ever in town, you’ve got to come to this place. It’s certainly worth it.

We got on the trolley once more and continued our travels. We passed Paula Deen’s restaurant. We passed Clary’s. We went by the City Market. Then we went down to River Street, which is this really cool old cobblestoned street beside some ancient, tall old warehouses that now house numerous restaurants and shops, all beside the Savannah River. It’s a tourist trap, frankly, but it’s still a good place to go. For weeks, I had been wanting to go to my favorite Irish pub, Kevin Barry’s, for some good, authentic fish and chips. Meanwhile my wife wanted crab. What to do? Well, it was late for lunch and both restaurants were far away on opposite ends of River Street. We didn’t feel like walking, so we hit a nearby restaurant called Barracuda Bob’s. They had fish and chips and crab. So we went on in and didn’t have to wait. I ordered a draft cider, which you always have to have with fish and chips. Gretchen then ordered crab chowder and a meatloaf sandwich and I ordered my fish and chips. And was horrified to hear our server say they were out of fish and chips! What the hell??? How is that possible? I was so disappointed. So I ordered a grilled chicken sandwich. It didn’t take too long for the food to arrive. My sandwich was fine, but Gretchen’s bread was too soggy, which annoyed her. Additionally, they never asked if I wanted a cider refill. Shouldn’t that be automatic? We got the check, and I put my credit card down. And then had to wait forever for the server to return to get it. Average place, average food, average service. Will probably go somewhere else next time we’re there.

We had to wait a very long time for another trolley to appear. In fact, I called the company to see if they were still running. I guess it was the bad traffic. Eventually we were picked up, but it took forever to get back to our car and then the traffic on the freeway was terrible, so it took forever to get to I-95, the freeway to take us back to the island.

By the time we got back to our hotel, we were pretty beat. But we had gotten some good pictures and had had a nice time. Since we had a late lunch, we didn’t want a heavy meal, so we decided to just to somewhere for appetizers and a drink or two. We walked to the village and chose Iguanas. I think it looks very different from how it looked when I lived there 10 years ago. It’s very bright and crowded with people of all ages. That wasn’t the case then. Darker inside, younger crowd, more of a bar. This was a restaurant. Well, we were sat in a booth which was uncomfortable. I ordered a cider and my wife ordered a margarita. I ordered a plate of fried cheese sticks and my wife ordered a crab soup. Our waiter seemed a little surly, had kind of an attitude. I didn’t like him. The place was crowded and kind of loud and far too bright. Also, it was cold, because unlike yesterday’s 80 degrees, today’s high had been 62 and it was a lot colder. We got our drinks and then our food and to my surprise, Gretchen announced that this crab soup was the best she’d ever had, which was a shocker to both of us. My cheese sticks were just that – cheese sticks. Gretchen finished her margarita and was trying to figure out what to order next. She was thinking of a cosmopolitan, a whiskey sour, an Irish whiskey, or something different altogether. I wasn’t through with my cider, but planned on ordering a rum and Coke. The waiter asked my wife if she’d like another margarita and she said no. Next thing you know, he plopped the check down in the middle of our table and walked away. Um, excuse me??? Did we say we were done? Did we say we didn’t want anything else to drink? Did he ask me if I wanted anything else? What an ass! We contemplated ordering more drinks, but I think his attitude ruined it for us, so we paid and left. He didn’t get the biggest tip in the world.

That night we got to bed at a decent hour, but as often is the case for me, I was up at 2:30 the next morning for the rest of the morning. That really tires me out. I hate insomnia. It’s very frustrating. However, we were excited about the day because we had some big plans. First though, we had to have breakfast. This time we walked to the Mallery Street Café. It was packed! We had to wait and then basically share a table with some other folks, who moved away a little bit. It was a good breakfast, though, and reasonably priced, so we were happy.

After breakfast, I drove us across the island until we reached Christ Church, a very old Episcopal church that Charles Wesley founded. It’s beautiful and it has a huge cemetery, which is fascinating to go through. We found many old gravestones, including a number of Confederate soldiers. We found burial plots for entire generations of families. It was really cool.

After Christ Church, we drove off the island to Brunswick and then took the big, scary bridge to Jekyll Island, which is now one giant park, but once was the playground of the rich and famous. You have to pay $6 to get onto the island, which is kind of annoying, but I guess it’s worth it, so there you have it. We immediately drove to the Jekyll Island Club Hotel, which is beautiful. We parked and started walking, because it’s there that you find Millionaire’s Row. Millionaire’s Row is a group of mansions (called “cottages”) built at the turn of the 20th century by people like JP Morgan, the Vanderbuilts, the Rockefellers, the Goodyears, and others like them. The houses are absolutely huge and very stunning. It’s amazing to think about the luxury these people lived in (during the winter months) back then. We had a good time walking around and then went into the hotel to ask for directions to Driftwood Beach, a beach Gretchen wanted to visit. The person who helped us noticed my Pittsburgh Penguins shirt and showed us her Steelers and Penguins stickers on her computer. In fact, we met several Steeler/Penguin fans while there. That was really cool. We got a map to the beach, which was helpful since there are no signs, and we parked. It was near high tide and there was virtually no beach to speak of, but we saw some cool driftwood and walked around for a bit before returning to St Simons Island.

When we got back to our hotel, we decided to get some lunch, so we walked down to the village. This time we wanted something a little different, so we went to a little place called Palm Coast Coffee, Café, & Pub. It was tiny inside, although they had a big courtyard out back. It was too cold to sit outside for very long though, so we were fortunate to get a table inside. Several employees passed us before one was kind enough to seat us, but this girl then took pretty good care of us. She brought us some iced tea and then Gretchen also ordered a latte to warm up, and she brought that right out. They had an interesting menu. It wasn’t your average burger joint. I ordered a chicken club sandwich, which came with kettle chips, while Gretchen ordered Brunswick Stew and a veggie sandwich. She loved both and my meal was delicious too. I can see why the restaurant is rated so highly on TripAdvisor.

That afternoon, we returned to East Beach, even though it was overcast and chilly. It was just good to be in the sand beside the water. There were a surprising number of people there, as well as many dogs.

Saturday night, we wanted something different to eat, so we went to the #2 restaurant on the island – Jonesy’s Pizza and Pub. It had rave reviews and was within walking distance. The pizza was good. The crust was hand tossed and just right and the toppings were good. We didn’t finish it, but we took the rest back to the hotel room to have for breakfast the next morning. We also had some of their half baked chocolate chip cookies, which were wonderful! We then retreated to our hotel room and watched a little football before going to bed.

We wanted to get an early start Sunday morning, so we checked out and left the island around 7 AM. Traffic was light, which was good, and after an hour, we were on 16 up to Macon. However, I was really, really tired due to my insomnia, so after awhile, I pulled over and Gretchen drove. She did a good job and drove the rest of the way home. On the way, we had to stop for gas and we were in the sticks. We stopped at an exit that had a BP, but it was a mile and a half away from the freeway. When we got there, we saw plenty of rusted pickups and one pump. It didn’t even have a credit card slot. I had to go in and prepay. While I was paying, I was behind people in line buying crickets and worms to go fishing with. People out in the parking lot were talking about the bucks they had shot. We were in hillbilly heaven. There was nothing around for miles. It was creepy. We headed back to the freeway and soon hit 75 to Atlanta and then Chattanooga.

When we got home, Henry was glad to see us and we had a lot of mail. The pet sitter had left us a nice note and we unpacked, before collapsing. Gretchen watched football and I took a nap. It was a great vacation, but it was good to be home again. Whatever the case, we’ll always have fond memories of this trip.

Some pics:

 

St. Simons Island Lighthouse

St. Simons Island Lighthouse

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Our hotel on St. Simons Island

Our hotel on St. Simons Island

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

East Beach on St. Simons Island. Low tide.

East Beach on St. Simons Island. Low tide.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Savannah's Cathedral of St. John the Baptist

Savannah’s Cathedral of St. John the Baptist

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

St. John's ceiling. Impressive!

St. John’s ceiling. Impressive!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

A chapel in St. John's

A chapel in St. John’s

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Part of the Cathedral of St. John the Baptist

Part of the Cathedral of St. John the Baptist

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The pipe organ at St. John's

The pipe organ at St. John’s

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Gretchen and me at the beach

Gretchen and me at the beach

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Christ Church, SSI

Christ Church, SSI

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The gravestone of a Confederate soldier

The gravestone of a Confederate soldier

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

An impressive "cottage" on Jekyll Island's Millionaire's Row

An impressive “cottage” on Jekyll Island’s Millionaire’s Row

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Another Jekyll Island cottage

Another Jekyll Island cottage

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Yet another Jekyll Island cottage

Yet another Jekyll Island cottage

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

A massive cottage on Millionaire's Row

A massive cottage on Millionaire’s Row

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Our Wedding and Honeymoon

Posted by Scott Holstad on April 14, 2013

Gretchen and I got married last Saturday, April 6th. It was beautiful out — a perfect day for a wedding. Our wedding was at 5 PM at our tiny Episcopalian church we attend. My father was my best man. Gretchen’s best friend, Cindy, was her matron of honor. We had invited about 22 people to attend. It was a small, intimate gathering.

With the organist playing from Handel’s Water Music, we processed down the aisle and then it was Gretchen’s turn to be walked down the aisle by her father. She looked lovely. It was great to see the faces of friends we hadn’t seen in years out there. We had a ceremony that lasted about 25 minutes, and it was wonderful. Nearly perfect. We each said, “I will” instead of “I do,” per the rector. Afterwards, we stayed for some photographs and then proceeded on to the Mayor’s Mansion for the reception. It was lovely. We had a bar with Merlot, Pinot Grigio, and Reisling. We also had coffee and tea. We all mingled for a bit, while they played the wedding mix I had prepared — Tony Bennett, Frank Sinatra, Mozart, before later kicking it into gear with the Bee Gees and KC & the Sunshine Band and Queen and the Moody Blues, etc., et al. The food was Italian, and it was arrayed beautifully in buffet format. It sure didn’t look like your typical buffet. Somewhere along the way, we ran out of wine and had to order more. Lushes — hah! Dinner was fantastic and we had a good time talking with people. Then it was time for the champagne toast, and my father gave a really excellent toast. It was very moving. Then cake cutting time. We had a simple two layer cake which looked lovely and we fed each other a piece. We’re not into smashing each other with cake. Gradually people started leaving, and we said our goodbyes sadly, knowing we wouldn’t see some of these people for a long time. Still, some long distance friends said they’d be coming back, so that’s cool. It was a wonderful reception, and I want to give a shout out to the people who were there: our parents — both of us — and Gretchen’s two sons, Sean and Jeremy (and Sean’s girlfriend, Katie). Gretchen’s friends Linda and Bob came down from Maryland. My friends Arnold and Little Amy came separately from Knoxville. Chris D and his wife Steph came from Virginia. Ami I came from Asheville NC. My friend Rachel came all the way from Seattle, which was a pretty long distance to come. Kudos and thanks to her. (She took lots of good pics too. Thanks Rachel!) We also had local church friends Dee and Kelly there. It was nice.

We spent the night there, as it is a posh B&B. Gretchen’s dad put us up there, which was nice of him, especially since he took care of the reception. We had a lovely night and ate a nice, lite breakfast with her parents the next morning before going home to prepare for our honeymoon.

On Monday, we left Chattanooga for the beach at Gulf Shores, AL. We had a fantastic honeymoon and with the exception of one day, the weather was perfect. The ocean and beach were beautiful. We stayed in a large condo at the Beach Club in Gulf Shores. Aside from the fact that one of their restaurants and their little store were closed for renovation, it was quite nice. Since it was a private beach, it wasn’t crowded and the pools were great, as were the hot tubs.

After spending time at the beach Monday and Tuesday, we drove over to Pensacola FL on Wednesday. We immediately went to McGuire’s Irish Pub, which we had heard about. The food was delicious — the second best fish and chips I’ve ever had, after Santa Monica’s Kings Head Pub. We then went to the beach at Pensacola, mostly to say that we went to the beach in Florida. We then went to tour the Naval Aviation Museum, home of the Blue Angels. It was interesting and we saw lots of planes from WW I on to the present. We could have spent much more time there, but we wanted to get back, first stopping at the lighthouse on the way. On Thursday, we went to a place where we raced go karts and that was a lot of fun. I whipped poor Gretchen’s hind end there, never letting my foot off the accelerator. Sorry honey! We then found a really cool putt putt place with a pirate theme. The game was tied after 17 holes, but I made a great putt on the final hole to win by one. Gretchen handled it well, considering she’s a self described poor loser. LOL! We went souvenir shopping in Pensacola and Gulf Shores and picked up some t-shirts and post cards. Thursday night, we went to King Neptune’s Seafood Restaurant on the recommendation of Little Amy. I had flounder and shrimp while Gretchen had crab and oyster stew. We were both pleased with the place and the food was delicious. Since Friday was our last full day there, we were determined to grab some more beach time, so we did — and got a little burned. Heh. It was fun though. That night, we went to Lulu’s to grab a bite. I was less impressed with Lulu’s. It was a tourist trap and although it was supposed to be a seafood restaurant, aside from shrimp, all they had was mahi mahi and snapper. I had a burger. Their souvenir shop was virtually as big as the restaurant and somewhat gaudy. Oh well. We went back to the condo and had a cold bottle of pinot grigio. Yesterday morning, we packed up and hit the road to return to Chattanooga, happy with our wedding and honeymoon, but a little sad that it was all over after all these months of planning. We were sad, too, that we probably won’t see this gathering of friends again like we did at the wedding. However, Little Amy, Ami I, and Rachel all said they were hoping to make it back some time this year, so that’s something to look forward to. I also have to look forward to spending the rest of my life with my one true love, Gretchen, my twin soul cubed. We’re a good match and we’re happy together. I guess that’s about it. Tomorrow we start back to work. Tomorrow is also Gretchen’s birthday. I wish we didn’t have to work on her birthday, but I’ve gotten her a cool gift, so I think she’ll be pleasantly surprised. Cheers!

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