I Don’t Have to Complain EVERY Time

Our plans for tomorrow include having lunch at a place called the Lucky Dill. (The restaurant doesn’t appear to have a webpage; this link takes you to reviews at restaurants.com. The Citysearch review can be found here.)  This is THE best place to eat around here, hands down no question, especially if you’re a New Yorker and you’re missing the overstuffed sandwiches and attendant heartburn. You WILL be well-fed when you go there. I’m 13 hours from arriving and I think I’m filling up already. If you’re in the Tampa Bay area, make the trip, bubbe!

Are You Ready For Some Football!

Yesterday, Brother and I went to my first professional football game, to see the Tampa Bay Buccaneers host the Carolina Panthers. Going to see live football is a mixed blessing, I’ll tell you what.

First, I should mention that we had GREAT seats. We were maybe 12 or 13 rows from the sideline, at about the 35 yard line. Although frankly I don’t think that there are any bad seats in Raymond James Stadium. It’s a very well-planned, well-laid-out place. The concourse is open-air at the ends, and at the north end of the stadium, the concession stands have facades decorated to resemble an old fishing village. In front of those is a full-size (103 feet!) pirate ship. That whole section of the stadium is called Buccaneer Cove. Here’s the view from one end of the concourse (click for bigger): Pirate_ship

And here’s a view from the other end of the field. Since the field itself is barely visible, I have to presume that the photo was taken with a zoom lens:Raymond101

Whenever the Bucs score, the ship has eight cannons that fire once for each point, and again once whenever the Bucs make it into the red zone (inside the 20-yard line). Plus, the skull at the bow will occasionally spew smoke. It’s very cool.

So the Bucs lost yesterday, 37-20, which means the season is basically over for them. But we had a ton of fun nonetheless. We hung out before the game and drank beer and ate sandwiches, we bought T-Shirts and a pair of Bucs socks for Daughter, we drank some beer, we won Can Cozy T-Shirts by answering trivia questions, we had some beer, we ate hot dogs and jalapeno pretzels, we had some beer, I got a free Linebacker Goofy bobblehead…oh, and we had some beer.  (Here’s where I become the #1 hit today on Google searches for "beer".)

Super Happy Rest Area Fun Time

Someday–and I’m not saying it’ll necessarily be during my lifetime–someone is going to look at the archives for this blog and they’re going to read these posts in the reverse chronological order in which they are presented and they’re going to think that it looks really dumb when I write "more on that later" when I’m talking about something that they’ve already read. Go figure.

So we’re on the big-ass push to Florida and, around the point that we cross into Georgia, the dog starts getting a little whiny. I’m thinking that she may need to take a little walk, so we pull into the Welcome Center for Georgia and I take Keiko out of the car and go down the hill into the pet exercise area that they have.

When I get back to the car, a guy approaches me. He tells me this story about how he was in Pennsylvania, he’s on his way to  Pensacola, on the way down the CV joint (on his car, the one "right next to you") dies so he has to spend stupid amounts of money to get that fixed and he’s trying to get home for Christmas, could I maybe spare a couple of bucks so that he can get gas?

I told him that I didn’t have any cash (which was true; I’d spent the last of it getting breakfast), but if he wanted to follow me to the next exit I’d be happy to put some gas in his tank. Do I know how far down the next exit is? "That part I do not know," I say (which is a lie, actually; I knew that the first GA exit is about a half-mile beyond the Welcome Center). Oddly enough, he doesn’t want to take a chance on it. So was he really hinky about not being able to make it to the next exit, or was he trying to scam me and when I made my offer, it backfired on him? You make the call. Here’s a detail that may affect your answer: Let’s say that I gave him the gas money. Wouldn’t he still be in the same position of having to worry about making it to the next exit to fill his tank? After all, the Georgia Welcome Center is little more than rest rooms and vending machines. Yeah, I thought so, too.

More Rest Area Hijinks: A little while later we cross the Florida State Line and once again we need to pull into the Welcome Center. This time I need the walk, not Keiko. I tell Daughter to take the dog over to the pet area, which is waaaay over there. I go into the men’s room, come out again, go into the Center, which is well-staffed and offers free cups of orange juice (because it’s the SUNSHINE STATE, dammit) and people who can tell you how to get where, and where the discounts are, and all kinds of tourist-based information. Me, I’m just in there walking around and un-kinking my legs. I decide to call my grandmother and let her know where I am, since they’re waiting for me and all.

The phones are just outside the building, so I step outside to make the call. Just as I hang up, Daughter is just returning from waaaaay over there with Keiko. She’s looking about for me and spots me at the phone, so she walks over to where I am, dog in tow. As she reaches me and we start to move away from the phones and toward the car, a maintenance worker comes up to us and points out the signs "over there…and that one over there" that indicate that dogs aren’t allowed in that part of the Welcome Center. It’s not really worth responding to him, so we just continue moving to the car. But you know what? There are nicer ways to indicate that we’ve (inadvertently) broken the rules, other than pointing out signs, especially when we’re looking at the backs of those signs as he points them out. So at this point, all he’s making us look at are some metal rectangles on poles. Hey, buddy, don’t get pissed at me because you have to work on Christmas Eve (and probably make all kinds of OT doing it, besides). This is supposed to be a Welcome Center; let’s see a little more bonhomie and like that. Especially since this wasn’t us playing Frisbee with the dog all over the area; this was a 13-year-old kid seeking out and locating her father, and the three of us moving out again immediately. Dumbass.

They Know A Thing Or Two About History Here

Whee! Greetings from Boston, Massachusetts! Let me regale you with a little poem:

There once was a girl from Boston, Mass
Who went into the water up to her ankles.
(It doesn’t rhyme now, but wait till the tide comes in.)

That was my grandfather’s favorite joke. Go figure.

So anyway, Girlfriend and I decided a few weeks back that, since we weren’t going to have our kids for Thanksgiving weekend, we’d go away somewhere. And what better place to visit at Thanksgiving–where we’d stand a good chance of places being open and all–than Plymouth, Massachusetts?

I looked up some information and made a couple of phone calls, and next thing you know I have tickets to have dinner at Plimouth Plantation. GF made a few calls of her own and got us lodging at a Bed & Breakfast for Wednesday and Thursday nights. For Friday and Saturday we’d go to Boston and stay at the Tage Inn. (I’ve stayed at other Tage Inns and really liked them all, but this seems to be the best one if you want to be a Boston Tourist, based strictly on proximity and services.)

Let me tell you a little bit about the Mayflower B&B. It’s a really cool place to stay. The owners are Charlotte and Ron Schoen, and they are just the nicest people around. GF called a few places and let them know that we’d have to arrive late, and she was the only one who was willing to accommodate us. Plus they didn’t hassle us about late breakfast the next morning. It was that, plus a million little things, explaining to us where to go and whom to talk to and the local history/color and the chitchats we had and…yeah. If you’re going to stay in the area, go there. They’re great and they’re also one of the more inexpensive places to stay, besides. Because you know what? You could stay a little cheaper in a hotel, but they won’t feed you the next morning AND you’ll have to pay a horrific hotel tax, so it all actually cancels out. So, Mayflower. That’s the place. Tell ’em I sent you.

Plymouth, Massachusetts, is a town where tourism is definitely the main industry, although I also get the feeling that it didn’t occur to anybody until maybe 80-90 years ago. Before that, it seems like the town had no real interest in their past. But anyway, there are plenty of cool things to see in the town itself, including the Mayflower II (a reproduction, there’s a story why the original isn’t around anymore) and Plymouth Rock itself. Some people have said that Plymouth Rock was a disappointment, that it wasn’t as big as they expected, etc. but I was OK with it. I did find it kind of funny that, at some point, the rock broke and they repaired it with cement. There’s a whole story behind that, too. I’ll let you look it up yourself.

We also got to see an honest-to-god protest march. It being Thanksgiving Day, the local Native Americans (the Wampanaog tribe, don’tcha know) kinda-sorta have a problem with that whole White-Folks-Screwed-Us-Out-Of-Our-Land thing. Not that I blame them. So since 1970 they’ve held an annual Day of Mourning to make more people aware of what’s happened. They have a rally with speakers and such, and then they all march through the town. Again, I have no problem with that. What I did have a problem with was the banner regarding Native American homosexuality and how that’s a perfectly natural thing to have. And again, I don’t have a problem with that specifically, but if you’re getting into the whole "Broken Promise" argument, you really don’t want it diluted with other issues such as Leonard Peltier (a Native American political prisoner) and Wampanaog homosexuals. Stick to the topic, people. You can get extra marches out of the other two. And hey, at least the homosexuals got to march in this parade. Look at all the grief they get on St. Patrick’s Day.

OK, it’s late. More later.