Saturday, July 28, 2007

Laddy's and Amy's Visit to Chicago

Last weekend, Laddy (Steve's cousin) and Amy (his far superior half) visited us in Chicago. When they arrived on Friday, we went to the city for dinner and met up with Nathan Matney, a friend of ours from Grundy, whose wife (Sarah) is from Chicago. They just happened to be in town for the weekend. We reminisced and exchanged "Cline" stories over dinner at the Grand Lux Cafe. Afterwards, Sarah and Nathan said their goodbyes and the rest of the crew headed off to Second City to see "Between Barack and a Hard Place". It was absolutely hilarious.

The following day, we woke up late and took the train to the city for some Chicago-style pizza at Giordano's. After lunch, we strolled Michigan Avenue, allowing Laddy to take his pilgrimage to The Apple Store. To say that he is an enthusiast would be stopping way short of the true extent of his love for reliable, fast, user-friendly electronics products. If he received a referral fee for everyone that he has switched over to a Mac (including Rachel), he would be a rich man.

We also went to the Lego store to take pictures of the 8 foot tall Lego Darth Vader (Laddy and I are both avid Star Wars enthusiasts). Arriving at Millenium Park, we watched the kids play in the tower fountain. It is really a neat concept; the towers have faces of people on them. Once every five minutes, the face forms an "o" shape with their lips, and water is shot from the tower onto the screaming kids below.

Unfortunately, the Art Museum was closed when we arrived (Laddy and Amy, if you are reading this, we really apologize. We had no idea it would close at 5 PM). Luckily, a puppet-master provided entertainment for us before we caught the train back to Tinley Park.

After a quick stop at Benny's Beverage Depot, the Home Depot of refreshment (shout out to Reed), we grilled out at the house and listened to Jimmy Buffet, who was playing a concert at the First Midwest Bank Ampitheater (about 1/2 mile from the house).

It was awesome to hang out with them. We wish they could have stayed longer, but we are looking forward to catching up with Laddy and Amy again (and all of our other friends in Knoxville this fall).

I would like to give a shout-out to my boy Reed at and his spot-on analysis of the Michael Vick saga. Check it out. I promise to get links to some of my blogging friends as soon as I get through with finals and find a new place to live in Philadelphia.

Friday, July 13, 2007

Steve's Visit to Texas

Hello all. I thought it would be worthwhile to update everyone of my escapade's in Texas last weekend with college buddies Mark Clark, Bill Langston and Reid Stephenson. Bill and his lovely pregnant wife, Erin, graciously hosted us at their home in Dallas. The gang, pictured here enjoyed a night of horse racing and fireworks in Arlington.

The following day, we went to the Fort Worth Stockyards, where Bill almost convinced Reed (above wearing the cowboy hat that he bought for his daughter, Pace) to jump into the corale with the steers.

On Friday, we left for the Shiner Brewery in Shiner, TX and an evening in Austin, TX. Shiner, TX ended up being the highlight of the trip. I consider myself extremely lucky in that my group of friends usually creates a memory anywhere they go. Shiner, TX is one of the better stories from over the years. We arrived at the brewery late but were able to get in on the last tour.

The staff (shown above) of Dotsey, Anne and Zina (L-R) were AWESOME!!! After Anne's tour, they put up with us at a tasting for over an hour and were extremely friendly and helpful. They also directed us to a place called "Howard's" where the locals hung out. After enjoying our samples, the boys all loaded up and headed to Howard's.

No description that I can give will adequately describe Howard's because there is nothing like it in most parts of the country. Howard's is essentially a gas station/convenient store with beer taps of 4 kinds of Shiner beers as well as Bud, Bud Light, Miller Lite and Coors Lite. He also has a beer garden, movie rental, and bait and minnows. Howard himself, who is by the way a non-practicing dentist, is shown below filling beers as Clark shuttles a few.

While at Howard's, we socialized with some locals, including DJ and Pauletta, who currently live in Houston but are working on their retirement home just outside of Shiner. Smitten by Reed's endless supply of jokes and our group's enthusiasm, they invited us back to their place for dinner - local sausages, baked beans, homemade cobbler and homemade ice cream (did I mention that they, too had Shiner at their house?). Their place was amazing. It was an old barn, which they renovated into a log cabin. We then packed up and Bill drove us back to Austin.

The following day we visited the TX state capital and the University of TX campus. Their football stadium is "WEINEE" compared to the REAL UT. Ironically Clark was almost thrown out of the capital for playing with a toy that Reed bought in the gift shop.

10) Clark almost getting thrown out of Texas State Capital
9) Bill almost convincing Reed to jump into corale with Texas Long Horns
8) Ozzie Guillen
7) Playing putt-putt at Bill and Erin's home course
6) Bill cross-checking Reed into an inflatable play-pen at Kay-B Toy Store
5) "Not Relaxing"
4) Reed's purchase at Brookstone
3) Anne, Dotsy and Zina - The Spoetzl Brewery Hospitality Team - Those guys ROCK!!!
2) Going to DJ's and Pauletta's for dinner having known them for 2 hours from Howard's Convenient Store/Gas Station/Bait & Tackle/Movie Rental/Bar & Beer Garden. I miss the south and great people like them.
1) Making new memories and laughs with old friends.

Wednesday, July 4, 2007

July 4 - Independence Day

Steve spent the day hanging out with old friends in Dallas, TX. That's right, we chose the hottest place in the United States to meet for a guys college reunion weekend. Luckily, the temperature is only in the 80's. The humidty is still hovering around 100%.

Fellow Bloggers, Bill and Erin Schwangston hosted us for the weekend. While there, Reed Stephenson and I finally set up blogs ourselves, much to Bill's chagrin (he does not enjoy relaxing - must be the oxygen deprivation from cycling). Mark Clark has also graced us with his presence for the weekend.

Tonight we went to the horse races. It was crowded, but we had a lot of fun. The horses were beautiful. Reed took out a second mortgage on his house for the last race, and of course lost. He has to spend the rest of the weekend figuring out how he is going to tell Pace that they have to move. Bill picked the winning horse on both of the last 2 races. He was the big winner. The fireworks afterwards were pretty impressive.

Following the fireworks, we sat in the parking lot for an hour and a half waiting on traffic to clear out. It took forever! Reed wanted to go postal on a guy in a Toyota Camry, who would not let us in line. He did not have a sense of humor either.