I spent Wednesday night doing long overdue laundry, in preparation for the impending trip, and for the overall long-term goal of having clean clothes. I stayed up questing with Nick until after midnight, and still didn't get to bed until after 1am.
My alarm clock screeched to life at 4:26am. I don't know why I picked 4:26 for a 5am pickup. I know it sounds arbitrary and I can't explain it. We got on the road closer to 6am though, as there were some delayys about which I didn't ask questions. We stopped in Boonville a while later for some breakfast.
We rolled into Louisville at about 3pm, and wasted no time in finding a place to get a drink. We checked out Louisville's older and smaller version of the Power and Light District. Keeping with Cordish's modus operandi cheesily called, "Fourth Street Live!"
I don't really have time to go over much more, except to say that we had a great time in Louisville last night. More to come.
Okay, enough time has passed and I've procrastinated enough to provide you with a detailed(enough) account of the events of and pertaining to the trip we took to Louisville for the Kentucky Derby.
After we arrived in Louisville, we parked in a fantastic spot right on Fourth Street and walked over to "Fourth Street Live!" which is an all-at-once development in downtown Louisville that was planned, assembled, and constructed by the Cordish company in Baltimore. It was kind of eerie seeing all the bars and restaurants, because many of them are also in Kansas City's brand new Power and Light District. But along with some less impressive names like Wendy's and the US Post Office, Fourth Street Live! also had an excellent British-styled beer bar called, simply, The Pub.
Erp, Amber and I sat down in The Pub and enjoyed the late afternoon sunshine and warmth coming through the opened front windows, along with some of their well-poured beers. After we finished there we walked back down the street to the patio at Bluegrass Brewing Company, or BBC as it is locally known. We greedily clutched some beers as we waited for Michael and Liana to arrive, and confirm my status that weekend as a fifth wheel.
After a couple of beers and catching up at the BBC, we all agreed it was time to move on. Prior to leaving Kansas City, I consulted Beerfly, as I always do when I travel, to find a good beer bar in Louisville. The place that seemed to have the best aggregate review was a place called Flanagan's Ale House, which was about a mile from the BBC over on a diagonal street that points away from downtown called Baxter. On the map it looked to be a simple five or six minute trip. Unfortunately though, there was a parade just getting out, so the traffic was horrendous. On top of the fact that we were sitting in parking lot traffic, the police had most of the streets blocked off, specifically designed to direct the thousands of cars back to the highway so they could all go back to their far-flung homes.
So, getting to Flanagan's took over an hour. We literally could have walked faster, there and back, but we were parked on the street, and feeding the meter would have been highly unpleasant from a mile away. When we got reasonably close we kind of threw our hands into the air and just grabbed a curb parking spot and walked the remaining three or four blocks past the stopped cars with drivers agitated as we had been or more.
Flanagan's is a great bar, and they have a lot of beer available in bottles, but the tap selection is pretty austere. We grabbed a table on the back patio, and the other four people lit up all at the same time. I think it's great that they were able to relax, but the smoke got to me after a while. I probably should have said something. We stopped at one more place on the way back, and went back to the hotel for deep sleep and breathe-right strips for me.
Everybody was up and about by about 9am, and helped themselves to free breakfast. Erp and Amber slipped away for some private time in Louisville, leaving me with nothing to do in particular. So, I went with Liana and her mother to find and choose adornments for the hat that she'd be wearing for the derby the next day. It was a hoot. For real, I actually had a good time.
After that, Michael and Liana and I went to the White Castle that was fortuitously located next to our hotel, and ate many many teeny tiny burgers. We retired to the hotel lobby after that, where I taught them how to play Maui. But Maui is really hard to play with only three people. Craig and Amber came back late in the afternoon, and we spread a map out in front of us to decide where to go for leisure time that night. It showed all of Shelby County, Kentucky, which seemed to extend for about ten miles in all directions from Shelbyville. My suggestion was that we just drive the twenty miles to Frankfort and find something downtown. This opinion was brushed off by everyone else though even though nobody would think twice about driving 45 miles to Louisville.
Anyway, we wound up just piling into the rental and driving down the main drag of Shelbyville. We were about to turn around, and Criag was indeed in the process thereof, when we spotted a bar in an unexciting building on the side of the road. We figured it'd be as nice a place as any, and wandered in. Liana lost her footing in a frantic attempt to get inside out of the slightly-drizzling rain. Her tumble was apparently watched in full by the bar's patrons inside. No matter, we thought. It was time for a beer, and possibly some food.
Sergio's, as the place turned out to be called, features about fifteen taps of carefully selected beer, and as of the day of our visit, six hundred and fourteen different bottles of beer. As I always enjoy, Liana, Michael, and Amber for the most part deferred to my judgement for beer selections, and were pleased with the choices I made for them. Sergio himself, a Brazilian immigrant who had to tell us he was not actually from the US, served the beers and was happy to fill us in about any beer-related knowledge he had. The beer was fresh, delicious, and served in chalice-like glasses. When we finished our beers, our bottles were not picked up, much to our confusion. But it allowed for a feeling of accomplishment as the table was quickly and completely covered with dead soldiers.
All payment is made at the register on the way out. Sergio advised us that if we had forgotten the number or nature of the beers we drank, to just bring up our bottles as we paid. So that was why. We made it back to the hotel in time for Letterman and a deep and heavy sleep. I was awakened seven hours later by the sound of the Angry German Kid that I set as the wake-up ringer on my phone. We got hastily dressed, and by 7am we were standing out in the gloom and drizzle, ready to go. Liana's aunt was in a very big hurry to get going, but once we reached them on the highway in front of us, we found that they were driving at ten miles below the limit in open traffic. "Oh well," we thought. "We're on vacation."
We arrived at Churchill Downs about 40 minutes later, and found a free parking spot on the street in a nearby neighborhood. Apparently the folks in the other car were approached by a large man when they parked who offered to "watch their car," for twenty dollars. When they told him that they weren't worried about it, he rebuked them with, "this place is ghetto. Your car isn't safe here." Near where we parked there were lots of piece of the curb that were blocked off with milk crates and garbage cans, so that the local residents could try to charge people to park there. Everybody's trying to make a buck.
The pictures can speak better of the Derby itself, and this entry is getting long, so I'll just say that though it was the first Kentucky Derby I've attended, it certainly won't be the last. It was extremely fun, and the weather cleared completely within an hour of our arrival. We never even got wet. Beautiful women beyond count were all around, dressed better than I'm used to seeing women dress for weddings. The sun became kind of oppressive, though it never got hot out. I lost about $175 in wagers and won about eight dollars. As far as I'm concerned, the 2009 Derby is a go.
The Flying Saucer opened on Monday, and I've been there every day since, in a vain attempt to lead the persistent field of people in the UFO club in total beers consumed(with a per-day limit of three beers). I really don't care about the rewards. They're actually pretty lame, considering the investment of time and money required to attain them. It's more just a ridiculous pissing contest from which I can't bring myself to back down.
All that said, I love the Flying Saucer. It's everything I'd hoped it would be, and much more. The staff is friendly, easy on the eyes, and I always run into someone I know when I'm there. I'm about to leave the office on this lovely Friday afternoon to meet Geoff there.
I have in store a completely unallocated weekend to spend in Kansas City. I am ecstatic about this. See you on the boring end of it!
So far, I have been to the Flying Saucer every day since they opened, so I can stay on top of the UFO club list. It shortly occurred to me how unhealthy and patently unsustainable it is to drink three beers every single day. But I noticed something else too. I have had more energy lately, and I've been sleeping better. You see, the bar is about a mile away, and the walk between my place and there goes over relatively undulating streets. In short, I'm actually getting exercise that I never got before, so whether I continue in this hopeless crusade to maintain a daily minimum intake of three beers or not, I think a daily trip would be worthwhile, albeit with (much)lower consumption.
I went on Saturday for a "quick three," but settled down for four or five more when the heavens opened up and dumped ridiculous amounts of rain on the downtown streets. After the rain appeared to have completely subsided, I settled my tab and headed out into the newly cold air to meet Nick at his house. We went to Gilhouly's, where they're taking full advantage of the last three weeks of legal smoking in Kansas City, and closed it. Nick and Anna and I then went to Taqueria Mexico on Southwest Boulevard for late-late night food. I didn't get home until after 3am, and I was drunk.
I was cruelly reminded of this when I woke up at 9am for seemingly no reason. I soon found out though that I was jolted awake by my churning stomach. I optimistically popped a couple of antacids and settled back to sleep. It worked! I celebrated by still not folding my laundry.
UPDATE 5/13: I did not go last night, and it was awesome. I might not go tonight either!
The air has warmed to a level of complete comfort. I got a beer with some friends at the Flying Saucer last night, and the wonderful evening breeze drifted in through the open floor-to-ceiling roll-up windows. It was really sublime to sit there in that comfort. This is the time of year when the blossoms are all gone, the trees are finally in their full leafy foliage. Everything is green again. Unfortunately, this is also the time of year when said plants are at their randiest, and shoot reproductive particles into the air in a more-or-less continuous fashion.
This plays hell on pretty much every useful part of my face. My eyes redden up like they would after soloing a bottle of bourbon. My nose doesn't quite stuff up, but whatever fluids I may have consumed within 24 hours come out it like a disgusting slimy spigot. And so it is this morning. I woke up inexplicably early, about 6:30am. This was with a slight hangover from $2.75 pint night. I did my filthy business in the bathroom, and decided that if I went back to sleep for two more hours, it would be more difficult to wake up. It made sense at the time.
So, I got to work this morning at 7:15am. That's a new record for me, at this job. My car was the first one in the parking lot. I have spent the time between then and now buying computer parts, and using up about ten yards of toilet paper to blow my nose. Sorry I didn't have anything of substance to say.
As has been previously noted, I got up with the sun yesterday. By 3:30pm I was nodding in my chair. So, I decided I'd been in the office long eough, went home, drew the blinds, and slept until 6pm, when Geoff called me to invite me to dinner in Independence. I groggily accepted, and splashed some cold liquid on my face before meeting Geoff and Matt on the corner. With them was Bill, a guy from Texas who Matt once met at the wedding of a mutual friend, and who it turned out was moving to Kansas City for work.
To show him a good time, Geoff, Matt, and I took him to the Rheinland Restaurant on the Square in Independence. Dinner at the area's last remaining German restaurant was delectable, and everybody seemed to get along pretty well. Bill was in talks with a real estate agent who had designs on him buying a house somewhere in 913, even though his place of work is going to be in North Kansas City. We talked to him about houses in North KC and Parkville, and he seemed encouraged.
Bill and Matt wandered off after dinner, so Geoff and I went to the Flying Saucer, and met Brad and Stacy there. They left soon after we got there, and we were soon joined by Katie, and later by Cassie, an off-work waitress with whom we have a good rapport. Geoff and Katie left us there to talk. After two or three more beers, and lots of discussion about inconsequential crap, she invited me to join her and her friends in Westport.
I suppose my age began to show at that point, as she was a very attractive young woman that appeared to be at least somewhat interested in my company, and all I could think about was that it was almost 1am, and I had to go home and go to bed. She gave me a ride home, taking a relatively leisurely and roundabout route, like an attractive cab driver. She told me that she'd be working the next day, and that I should come in and see her. I suppose I should go.
I woke up this morning with a headache, and uncomfortably tired from not getting enough sleep. The building next door to my building is a DST(ironically, my employer) office building, and there was a semi-truck backed up to the loading dock when I went to get in my car and drive to work. The semi was taking up the space that's normally taken up by the DST delivery vans that shuttle between their various downtown and suburban locations. So, there was a DST van blocking my car. I asked around over at the loading dock to see about getting the van moved so I could go to work, and a middle-aged guy came out and offered to trade parking spots between my car and the van. "Sounds good," I said, and I climbed into my car, splitting my pants wide open as I did so.
This is both a test of some new media functionality for this website, and a showcase of an awesome song.
play_mp3(Trash80 - Bait and Switch.mp3)
I went to bed before midnight last night, and slept like a loud, open-mouthed, snoring baby. I woke up with diseased breath to grey-tinted darkness and the soothing sound of intermittent distant rumbling thunder. It was 7:30am, a half an hour before my alarm would go off, and when I would then reset it for 8:35am. This morning was grey and dark. It was a perfect morning for staying in bed and having weird extended dreams about sitting and staring.
But instead I woke up, got ready, and drove to work in pouring rain, getting drenched on the walk from my car to the door of my office building. I had a long morning, most of which was spent thinking about how I'm going to miss my friends Craig and Amber when they move to Chicago in a little over a month. I feel much the same about Craig's departure as I felt as my brother's wedding: that I'm losing one of my best friends to much greater things. I'm very excited for him, but I feel like I'm losing a part of myself.
I hope everybody has a nice Memorial Day weekend.
After a long weekend of almost complete sloth, I got a call from Geoff this morning, proposing a run to the Flying Saucer. I happily accepted. After checking off the three unexciting beers I hadn't yet tasted(there), I switched to Rogue's delicious "Love and Hoppiness." After settling our tabs, we agreed we should go to Pizza Bella over by 18th and Baltimore. The rain had cleared and given way to blindingly bright sunshine, so we mostly just felt our way there. We arrived on the doorstep to find that Rob Dalzell gives his employees Memorial Day off. We followed the path of least resistance down Baltimore toward Southwest Boulevard, and after a couple more buildups and disappointments, we had reached the row of Mexican restaurants in the West Side part of the Boulevard, and saw that El Pueblito was open.
We sat down to some two-dollar Modelos and some of the best chimichangas either of us had ever had. After finishing we left, promising ourselves and each other that we'd be back as soon as we were hungry again. We started walking up Summit, and stopped at the 51 stop just before the light for Avenida Cesar Chavez. It was 4:40pm, and the next 51 would be along at 4:49pm. Nine minutes seemed like a perfectly acceptable time to wait for a bus, to me. Geoff wasn't having it though, and insisted that in light of the ridiculous nine-minute wait time, we should walk the 2-mile, 250-foot vertical to get home. I found this odd, considering it was now well into the upper 80s, or at least felt like it.
We walked home, and I wound up having to change my clothes and shower again when I got home. Now, I'm trying to find someone to join me for a movie today.