With the lacrosse season ended, and our ants-in-the-pants wanderlust in full gear, the Mrs. and I hopped in the Buttercream Bruiser and pointed the truck towards Florida.
Our first stop was the Big Easy where our rock star niece Julia was celebrating her trusty sidekick Josette's birthday. We arrived around 10pm and headed out to the Treme' neighborhood.
The neighborhood has received a lot of attention since the HBO series "Treme'" hit the airwaves, but it has always been an center of African-American and Creole culture in New Orleans....and, of course, the brass band tradition.
It was a late, fun-filled night....which we regretted the next morning when we had to hit the road for the 650 mile, 11 hour drive to Tampa.
It felt like the longest day ever........ever......ever.
We stayed in a hotel just outside Tampa so we would be fresh for the next day.
We swung by and picked up Tina Beena and Florida Shirl...then on to one of our favorite places on Planet Earth..
Ahhh the Miramar Beach Resort. Our traditional gathering place in Florida where every year we get to hang out with all of our old West Florida friends, relax, laugh, eat, laugh, drink, laugh and laugh.
3 days of bliss. No worries, no stress, no tasks, nothing to do at all. Just hanging out.
Just catching up with family and friends. It is the good life....and it was my birthday.
Daytime party turns to nighttime party...which turns to daytime party....repeat.
As usual....it was fantastic. It is my favorite weekend of the year.
Alas, all good things must come to an end...and off we went to our next destination....
St Augustine for my Mom's birthday!
My eternally youthful mother and her family have a secret to longevity. Buttercream and Cannoli Filling.
My Moms custom made birthday cake weighed approximately 5 pounds and had 4 inches of Buttercream topping. It is so absurd and profane, I don't even know what to make of it. I thought all cakes were like this until as a child I was over a friends house and they brought out some bullshit spongecake.
Look at this freakin' cake!
I ate one small slice and I felt like I had swallowed a phone book...a New York City phone book...but..who am I to argue with my mother's family traditions? The cake was oh so delicious and only 3000 calories a slice!
After just one night with the family, we were off again....next stop South Carolina!
We stopped by old friends Darren and Erin's house in Sumter, where Darren is currently stationed with the Air Force. Unfortunately he is in Afghanistan...but we met two people we have never met before (its been a long time)
Cole & Eric
Sigh...we haven't seen our friends in so long, they have kids running around, walking and talking...and jumping...and wrestling...and swimming. They are very active and funny. I had a blast with them, like making them clean up their toys.
Erin, the hostest with mostest, made us a delicious dinner. She is quite simply the best cook I have ever met. (disclaimer: except my wife and mother....whew that was close)
It was really, really great catching up. We even got a chance to skype with Darren in Afghanistan!
The next day we all went to lunch, but then we had to hit the road again...next stop, visiting Joe & Michelle in NC.
Unfortunately, we didn't take many pictures in Fayetteville...but I can describe what they would look like.
Picture 1: Dinner made by Michelle. Breaded and Pan-Fried Pork Chops, Gravy, Rice, Cabbage and Cornbread...this picture would either be of me hugging the stove where she made it or of a small pile of bones that Joe had sucked clean. He is a one man wrecking crew who literally doesnt leave a speck of food on his plate or any bones.
Picture 2: Two black people pissed off and confused wondering how two suburban white people kicked the living shit out of them at Spades. (Black people think they own the game...not true sir!)
In 1988, a 17yr old Army Private (Me) got to his first duty station in Germany and was paired up with a "seasoned" 21 year old Specialist (Joe) who was to "show him the ropes". We took a picture shortly after of Joe and I standing in front of our Humvee...I still have that picture somewhere in storage. 23 years later, we took this picture.
It was great night hanging out with old friends....but the next day, we were off again!
Next stop......Charlotte! (stay tuned)