June 2006

Back to Work

After being off for two weeks because of my trip, I was back at work today although I didn’t actually get there until three this afternoon. We picked up Jeff uptown on the way. I spent the afternoon generating bills and updating the patient phone list. We left the office at five. Mom made barbeque shrimp for dinner tonight. Later this evening I finished Hitman: Contracts.

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Hitman: Contracts

I didn’t go back to work today as I was expecting. I was home all day. I spend some time with laundry, unpacking and cleaning out my closet. I didn’t get very far with the closet though. I ordered a pizza for lunch. I spent some time this afternoon playing Hitman: Contracts, a video game I’ve had for a while but never got far with.

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Madeira Beach – Home

Lauren, Arien and I went to Madeira Beach this morning. This was the first and only time I’d seen the Gulf of Mexico on this trip. It was hot outside and the water was pleasantly warm. We stayed at the beach until about 1:30 this afternoon. After we got back to Linda’s place and got cleaned up, we went over to Lauren’s friend Lisa’s place to visit for a while. Not long after four, Lauren drove me over to Tampa International Airport so I could catch my flight(s) home. It’s not an especially large airport, but they do have these little trams that go from the check-in terminal to the gates. I got to the airport well over an hour before my flight departed so I had the chance to get something to eat. I just got a ham sandwich, chips and one of those huge and expensive Starbucks cookies. There is free Wi-Fi in the terminal which kept me entertained while I ate. There were no irregularities in boarding the plane. Not long after I was in my seat a flight attendant offered any passenger $400 and a hotel room to catch a later flight. The lady I was sitting next to was familiar with the situation. Another flight to Atlanta was canceled and I guess there was just one seat left but a wheelchair-bound passenger and his companion obviously wanted to be on the same flight. The flight to Atlanta (Boeing 757) was a little bumpy in the latter half as we were flying over bad weather. This was the first flight I’d been on that had and sort of in-flight entertainment. They showed some ABC ‘news’ program that was interviewing Angelina Jolie. I listened to music on my laptop and caught up on some log entries, including this one. We arrived on time in Atlanta. I had about a one hour layover, which gave me enough time to get to another terminal where my next flight was. Atlanta has a huge airport. There are at least five terminals. An underground tram links them all. The flight to New Orleans (MD-88) was about 15 minutes late in leaving. There was some sort of mechanical problem and a transceiver had to be replaced. The flight itself was smooth and quiet enough. I met Dad and Jeff after I retrieved by checked bag. I didn’t do much after I arrived home as I was tired.

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School Stuff

I went with Lauren and Arien today while they went to take care of getting Arien registered for the upcoming school year. Our first stop was the Pinellas Country school Choice office. Apparently there were only two schools with openings, not including the one she wanted, St. Petersburg High School. After leaving the Choice office, we went over to that school and spoke with some of the staff there. The story was more optimistic at the school. After we left there we went to find a place to eat. We stopped at Chiang Mai Thailand, a little Thai restaurant on Central Drive, not far from Tropicana Field. I ordered the Phad Thai, which wasn’t bad but still not as good as Bangkok Cuisine. I think we went back to Linda’s house after that. Arien and I watched a couple movies this evening, The Stepford Wives and What Dreams May Come. The Stepford Wives was kind of interesting although I think more back story into the whole robot thing would have made it a little more intriguing. We had red beans for dinner. They weren’t bad, although they were cooked with no meat as a courtesy to Arien. If nothing else, I gained an appreciation for the importance sausage and such while cooking them. We did have some andouille sausage on the side though. I don’t remember doing much in particular late that evening. I did start packing up some thing as I will be flying home tomorrow night.

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No Traveling Today

As I’m typing this entry a couple days late, my memory of the day is a little fragmented. I think we visited Lauren’s friend Lisa and her husband William today but I don’t remember much of the visit. We might have gone to the beach but it was rainy today. I do specifically recall Arien and I going to Blockbuster to pick out a couple movies while Lauren did some shopping for dinner. They don’t rent movies from there much, but rather buy the previously viewed ones. We didn’t find anything worth watching in the 3/$20 or 2/$20 batches. We decided on The Count of Monte Cristo, which neither Lauren or Arien had seen before, but I already knew was a pretty good movie. We watched that this evening after having spaghetti for dinner.

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Tampa, FL

We checked out of the hotel at 10:30 this morning. We drove town to Tampa to Lauren’s friend Linda’s house, where they will be staying until Lauren finds a house. We stopped at a Publix on the way to get some things for lunch. After we arrived, Arien and I unloaded the car and Linda gave us the dime tour. Not long after we had lunch, we went over to see some other friends of Lauren that live just a couple blocks from Linda, Lisa and William. We spend the evening at their house. They have a pool in the back yard which provided amusement for everyone for a good while. Later in the afternoon there was some lightning so the pool time was over. Lisa cooked some chicken and vegetables for dinner, all of which was very good. Later on in the evening, Linda and her friend Rusty showed up. There was a couple hours of some good after dinner sort of conversation before we left shortly after nine. Later that evening I was on my computer for a little while and I watched the season four finale of 24.

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Universal Studios Theme Park

Arien and I went to Universal Studios Theme park today. There are shuttle buses running from the hotel there. We got up in time to catch the 10:05 but it was full so we had to wait for one at quarter past eleven. We got a little something to eat and sat by the pool for a bit while we waited. The shuttle arrived at Universal Studios at about 11:30. We bought our tickets at the hotel so we didn’t have to wait in that particular line. One of the first things we did when we got in was go on the Shrek 4D ‘ride.’ We waited in line a little over a half hour for that one. When we finally did get in, there was a presentation of sorts by a staff member and some animated displays. The ‘ride’ itself was a big movie theater with moving seats, blowing air and sprits of water at key moments. All that and the glasses made for convincing 4D effects. The story involved Princess Fiona being kidnapped by goons of the ghost of Lord Farquaad. It was actually quite amusing. After that ride we walked around a bit. I don’t really feel like describing the park in any great detail. I’m sure it’s very well documented elsewhere. Suffice it to say the park has streets, each of which are themed based on various cities in the USA. We stopped for lunch in one of the park’s restaurants called Lombard’s Seafood. It was a nice enough place. I got a fried fish and fries plate and Arien got some ravioli. After lunch, we went to the San Francisco “Earthquake” thing, named after the movie. There were a couple demonstrations of special effects involving members of the audience. Finally there was a ride where you get on subway cars and move to another station where an ‘earthquake’ takes place with all sorts of physical effects that end with a tidal wave of water coming down a staircase which was pretty dramatic looking. The last ride we went on was the Back to the Future ride. We waited a good while to get on as there were some “technical difficulties.” Part of the wait was in the hot sun. The ride itself was cool, although it shows its age. While we were there we also stopped in a couple gift shops. We also walked around the kiddie area for our amusement. We stopped in a couple gift shops and bought a couple key chains. We left around 4:30. Arien saw everything she wanted to see and I didn’t have any overwhelming desire to stay longer. After we left we walked to a movie theater on the grounds. I wanted to see the new X-Men movie but there wasn’t another showing for two hours so we saw Click, an Adam Sandler movie in which he is bestowed a remote control which allows him to stop time, see his past and fast forward to the future. It was a rather amusing movie, as Sandler movies usually are. It was a little depressing towards the end though. After the movie, Arien and I caught the 7:45 shuttle back to the hotel. We had Chinese delivered for dinner. I ordered a lot more food than I could eat though. I had a rather bad headache this evening so I wasn’t very sociable when Lauren got back with a friend of hers who stayed and talked for a while. I was in bed at around eleven.

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Orlando, FL

We drove to Orlando, Florida after leaving the hotel in Jacksonville this morning. If I recall correctly, we were only on the road a couple hours today. One thing I noticed that seems rather pervasive in the state is the substantial amount of highway construction going on.Before we made it all the way to Orlando, we stopped for lunch at a mall called the Seminole Towne Center. That gave everyone the chance to pick what they wanted. I got a Mexican pizza and some tacos from Taco Bell. After lunch, we each wandered the mall for about an hour and a half, perhaps longer. I went in a whole bunch of stores. I looked at a lot of clothes but didn’t buy anything. After we left the mall we stopped again at a couple of huge outlet malls on what I guess are the outskirts of Orlando. We spent a couple more hours at these places. I did buy one shirt from the Gap outlet.We arrived at our hotel, the Wyndham on International Drive, a little early. We wandered around the complex a bit and got a drink at the pool bar while we waited for check-in time to roll around. A little while after we did check in, we went out to the pool for a couple hours.Later this evening, we went to a Thai restaurant for dinner neat the end of “I. Drive” called Thai Thani. The place was thoroughly decorated with appropriate decor. I had the Phad Thai, which was pretty good, although I wish I ordered the mild instead.Later this evening back at the hotel, I got a call from Ami and we talked for a while. I went out to the one of three pools that was still open and got a drink while we spoke. She told me she recently decided she was going to move back to New Orleans, which was rather surprising to say the least. When we last spoke she was still planning to move to Sarasota, Florida, which incidentally is very close to where I’ll be this weekend. Since we were on the phone rather late, I didn’t watch any 24 this evening.

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St. Augustine, FL

After leaving the hotel this morning, we drove down to St. Augustine, Florida. We stopped in Brunswick, Georgia for lunch at Applebees. I’m usually quite decisive when it comes to making a selection from the menu but I had a lot of trouble and ended up getting a hamburger. We spent most of the day in St. Augustine. It was rather hot there today. St. Augustine of course is the oldest city in the United States. We walked around the city for several hours this afternoon. The first thing we walked to see was the Old St. Augustine Village, but they were closing when we got there at about four, as were many other businesses in town, a lot of which are family owned. From the outside we saw the Lightner Museum, formerly the Hotel Alcazar and Flagler College, formerly the immaculate Ponce de Len Hotel. A little later on we walked down a long narrow street lined with shops and such. We stopped in a large number of them over the course of a couple hours. On the way back to the car we got a good look at Castillo De San Marcos an old Spanish fort on the waterfront in St. Augustine. We left St. Augustine and drove up to Jacksonville and the Wyndam Hotel where we were staying for the night. A little while after we got there we went to a nearby resturaunt for dinner, the Chart House Resturaunt. It was a nice place although I was having trouble forming an opinion about it likely because of the unusual, somewhat dated dcor. I had the shrimp scampi, which was very good. Later in the evening back at the hotel, we were with Aunt Lauren when she met an old friend from high school at the hotel. After Arien and I were introduced to him, we excused ourselves and went back to the room. We watched the better portion of The Skeleton Key before getting rather tired and going to sleep.

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Tybee Island

We left the hotel this morning when a Gray Line shuttle bus picked us up. We toured Savannah on these open trolley buses that are rather ubiquitous in the historic district of Savannah. The trolley weaves through the streets while the driver tells the passengers about the historic significance of the buildings. The trolleys have over a dozen stops where tourists can get off when they seem something interesting and later get on another trolley and continue the guided tour. We stayed on a trolley for a full run to see everything and to decide what we wanted to get off for later. The original city was centered around six town squares, small parks, all of which we saw during the tour. They’re all names after significant, usually local historical figures. Most of them have monuments in the middle. Our tour guided imparted a great deal of information during the ride. I think he only stopped to breathe maybe six times during the 90 minute excursion. While I found the information interesting at the time, I doubt I still remember most of it. The trolley returned to the station after the tour finished. We got on another trolley and rode it briefly to the “B stop.” We got off there to go eat lunch. We walked a few blocks to Mrs. Wilke's Dining Room, an old institution in Savannah. There was a line of people waiting to get in, although we were lucky in that the line got a lot longer shortly after we arrived. I think we waited about a half hour, it was worth it though. Unlike every other dining establishment I’ve ever been to, the food is already on the table when you sit down. Mrs. Wilkes Dining Room has a handful of communal dining tables inside. Patrons enter in groups and sit at a table with several home cooking style dishes waiting. It’s just like eating at grandma’s, except there even more food, more people, and you don’t know them. All the food was excellent. The fried chicken was the best I’ve ever had juicy on the inside, crispy on the outside and not greasy, no easy feat. After lunch, we walked downtown a bit more. We ended up at one of the trolley stops. We had one of their shuttle buses take us back to the hotel. It was the same driver that took us downtown. After getting back to the hotel and composing ourselves, we drove down to Tybee Island, the nearest beach outside of Savannah. There was easy access and it wasn’t very crowded, either with people or nearby buildings. Overall it was a nice beach. We were there for a couple hours. Later that evening at the hotel, I watched a couple 24 episodes before bed.

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Savannah, GA

We left the hotel sometime after 11 this morning to drive to Savannah, Georgia. It was about a two and a half hour trip. We stopped for lunch about a half hour from our destination as Lauren was getting hungry and Arien and I certainly didn’t mind. We stopped in a town called Hardeevil at a Mexican restaurant called MI Tierrita. The dcor left a lot to be desired but the food was alright. I got steak fajitas. After we got to the hotel in Savannah, Lauren and Arien took a nap. I ran a load of laundry and went to the lounge to type yesterday’s log post. Later on after the laundry was done, we drove to Savannah’s historic district basically to walk around to see what was there. We parked near the river and walked down a few blocks of River Street. We then walked away from the river. We didn’t see much in particular. We eventually stopped for dinner at a Churchill’s Pub and Restaurant. It’s a beautifully decorated, British owned/operated establishment that serves English and American food. Generally speaking it’s just a really cool place. I had the fettuccini alfredo. After dinner, we walked around the historic district some more. We stopped in a few shops, although a good number of establishments had already closed for the day. We went back to the hotel sometime after seven. Arien and I went down to the pool for a while after we got there. Later this evening I was on the computer for a while. I typed this entry and listened to Rush’s show, which I missed earlier today.

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Folly Beach

We all got up at a decent hour this morning to go to the beach. We drove down to the nearest one, Folly Beach in south Charleston. We got a good parking spot just by a public access path. It’s a nice beach and it wasn’t very crowded today. Beaches are pretty new to me so I was surprised how warm the water was, even with the education on hurricanes I received in the last year. We stayed at the beach for a couple hours and then went back to the hotel. We went out again some time around three or four this afternoon. We went to walk around downtown Charleston for a while and get some dinner. We also planned to tour an old jail this evening. Not long after we parked, we walked by a restaurant and decided to go ahead and eat. We dined at a barbeque place called Sticky Fingers. I had a half rack of ribs, which were pretty good. The meat fell off the bone and I was able to eat it with a fork so I didn’t have to make a mess of myself. Although if I had, there was a towel wrapped around the utensils I could have made more use of. The ribs were good but not quite as good as what can be had the Blues City Cafe in Memphis, which serves the best ribs I’ve ever had. After dinner we walked around downtown for a good while through their “French Quarter.” We stopped in some shops and went through a marketplace that strongly resembles the French Market in New Orleans. This evening at seven we went on a tour of the old city jail. The jail has historical significance in relation to the city of Charleston and the Civil War. The building is currently being renovated and is being turned into a school of art. That being the case, the rooms were all empty but there were some interesting stories. After the tour we drove a little ways closer to the river and then walked to the riverfront and went to find a place to get a drink. We sat in the bar of the Fleet Landing Restaurant for a while. We got a couple drinks and left after about an hour or so to walk back to the car and go back to the hotel for the night. Late that evening I did some laundry and watched a couple 24 episodes before bed.

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Charleston, SC

We packed up and left the hotel this morning sometime around 11 this morning. Before heading out of town, Lauren dropped Arien and I off at the Cape Fear Serpentairum. Arien wanted to see it before we left. It’s basically a small indoor zoo for snakes. They had several on display, mostly the dangerous, venomous variety. We left there after an hour or so and Lauren picked us up and we headed down to South Carolina. Our first stop was Myrtle Beach. We stopped at a pizza place/deli Aunt Lauren picked out earlier in the day called Da Vinci’s Pizza. We ordered a pizza with meats and vegetables that was pretty good. After we left there we stopped at an “Art in the Park” event that we saw going on nearby the restaurant. There were a good number of artists displaying their wares in the small, tree shaded park. There were paintings and photographs and other assorted artwork. The only vendor I really talked to was this guy who makes cypress beach chairs, which were quite nice. We were all at the park for a little under an hour. We left the park and walked a couple blocks to the beach just to see it. It was a bit crowded and lined by high rise hotels. After we left the beach we got back on the road. I think it was about four o’clock when we made it to our final destination for the day, a Holiday Inn in Charleston, South Carolina. After we all got settled in we went to the pool for a little while. We had plans to go on some sort of tour this evening but I think we were a little late getting ready to go to dinner so we put that off until tomorrow. Lauren picked out a restaurant downtown on Pickney St. but decided against eating there when we arrived. We walked down East Bay Street which seems to be a focal point of the night life here. We decided on Pearlz Oyster Bar, a dim and somewhat upscale bar/restaurant. It was a nice place though. I got a fried shrimp plate which was good and well portioned. After dinner we just went back up to the hotel. That evening I watched a couple 24 episodes before bed.

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Wilmington, NC

After leaving the hotel this morning, we headed down to the town of Wilmington. On the way we took a wrong turn and ended up in a place called Kingston. We had lunch there at a place called Kings BBQ. There were a lot of cars there but it wasn’t great. We arrived in Wilmington and the hotel sometime this afternoon. We stayed around the hotel for a while before leaving a few hours later to go to dinner. We ate in downtown Wilmington at a place called The Reel Caf. It was a very decent restaurant but not crowded. I had a fried fish plate. After dinner we walked along the Cape Fear River a bit and stopped in a couple shops and a gallery. This evening, we all went to a play at Thalian Hall, or more precisely, two separate one-act, monologue plays. The first was called Chug, in which this guy discussed how me met a woman and they eventually decided to raise bullfrogs. I don’t really feel like explaining it beyond that. The next, much longer play was called Blown Sideways Through Life is a monologue about a woman in Brooklyn who discusses the many jobs she’s had including artist's model, receptionist at a whorehouse, waitress and proofreader. It was an amusing and enjoyable performance. I can’t help but respect anyone who can go on talking by themselves for over an hour, especially after recalling how parched my mouth was after my short presentations in speech class last semester. We came back to the hotel after that. I caught up on this log and watched some 24 before bed.

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