Monday, September 28, 2020

Weekend Trip to St Louis September 25-27, 2010: Poker, Friends, Food and Jesus

This past weekend seemed like the perfect time to get out of town for a few days. My wife and I have been getting frustrated by the lack of activity on our house that is up for sale. The trip had actually been planned for over a week, but Wednesday night brought a little more reason to want to get away. Mrs. lightning was returning home from an activity after sunset and ran her car - her precious baby - into a deer! Thankfully neither she nor her passenger were injured, but the deer did do some pretty decent damage to her car. She was able to drive it home, but then the fun started as we had to begin online  paperwork on an insurance claim. That actually went pretty well. We were able to get her car in to an auto body shop Thursday for an estimate, then was able to get an appointment to take it in for repairs on Friday at 8:00am. Sometimes you can run good even when things are bad!

Friday afternoon we loaded our stuff into our (t)rusty old 2005 Grand Caravan and headed toward greater St. Louis.

It was a beautiful day. The sun beat down. I had the radio on. I was driving. Trees flew by. Me and Del were singing Little Runaway. I was flying. Hmmm ... those could be lyrics for a song!

We checked into our hotel and decided to do one of the things on my "to do" list for the weekend: Get Imo's pizza, a St. Louis favorite. The thing that makes Imo's different is that instead of loading the top with mozzarella cheese, the pizza has Provel cheese, which is a combination of cheddar, Swiss and provolone cheeses. Also, the sauce on the very thin crust pizza has a different kind of taste to it with a bit of a zing. It is a different kind of pizza, but really quite good.

Imo's pepperoni and green pepper pizza

After the pizza, we then began the next item on my list: frozen custard at Ted Drewes, another St. Louis staple. There was a long line, but employees had it moving fairly quickly. We each had concrete mixers. The verdict: pretty good and reasonably priced. We both wished that we had tried sundaes instead so that all the flavors wouldn't have been mixed together. Maybe next time.

We went back to the hotel where my wife assembled her things that she enjoyed that would keep her busy: books, phone and movies. Meanwhile, I headed out to play poker. I decided to go to Hollywood Casino as opposed to Ameristar largely because Hollywood was using plexiglass on the poker tables and had been extremely diligent in observing COVID-19 safety protocols.

The $1/$2 NL session at Hollywood started out being very frustrating. I was actually catching cards: KK, AK, KK, ... Unfortunately, the table play was mostly tight unless two guys decided to go psycho on one another. I was making little headway until some new players came to the table and play opened up. You can guess what happened: I was card dead. One guy who came to the table had been on a dinner break and sat at the table with about $600. It looked to me like he was just using the chips to successful bluff/bully some players at our table. I looked down at pocket 8's and was hoping to make a go of it. There was maybe one limper, and the player with $600 made it $24 to go. I decided to put my trust in the snowmen since I thought his bet was bogus. I was rewarded with an 8 on the flop. I slow played it on the flop and turn, merely calling his bets. The key was on the river, which was a King. I was hoping that it helped him, and I was hoping that maybe he had A-K. However, he checked. I put out a bet of $50, hoping he would call with the amount of money in the pot, which was around $300. I was really hoping he would actually shove. I didn't have much more behind - maybe $50. He tanked for a bit and called, showing K-J! After he had a few minutes to settle down, he gave me the tap on the table, meaning "nice play." He also said that he wouldn't have called if that King had not showed up. Of course, then he would have only had K high! This hand helped me to make a profit at the table. Remembering that the weekend had just begun, I left at a reasonable time and made a quick late night food run at Jack in the Box. It included two of their terrible tacos. I was given two small containers of ranch dressing for the tacos. wtf?? Will I never learn?

Saturday morning we slept in late and headed to historic Main Street in St. Charles, MO. It had been a few years since we strolled the streets and checked out the many antique, craft and other stores. After  brief lunch, my wife decided we REALLY needed to get some rolled ice cream. We stopped at Craving the Curls Rolled Ice Cream. Half the fun was watching the young worker pour the liquid mix on the frozen board and watching her work it into a frozen state, then "scoop" it up in rolls. It was delicious!

We headed back to our hotel to relax, shower, and change clothes for dinner. I had arranged for my wife and I to meet up with Twitter friend Vegasfan1970, who would be bringing along his girlfriend, HuckleberryGirl, who I also knew from Twitter. Vegasfan had suggested that we meet at a place that has great smoked chicken wings, the Brass Rail in O'Fallon, MO. We all met for dinner and as what usually happens when meeting Twitter friends in person for the first time, we had an absolute blast! I already knew that my wife and Huckleberry had a lot in common, and I knew that both Vegas and Huckleberry were great people to talk with on Twitter. Easy call to meet up. It is always fun to talk about some mutual acquaintances from Twitter, so if your ears were ringing early Saturday evening, you now know why! And oh yeah - the smoked wings were pretty good!

Mrs. lightning36, blog hero, HuckleberryGirl & Vegasfan1970

Vegas and Huckleberry were going to a concert after dinner, so after saying our goodbyes, my wife and I were ready to head back to our hotel. Except ... Mrs. lightning had been discussing Ted Drews with both Vegas and Huckleberry and noticed that there was a frozen custard place in O'Fallon that had great reviews. So ... after filling up the van with $181.9 unleaded gasoline, we tried out this other custard place -- Fritz's. One word: Outstanding! We both had sundaes and I believe mine was the best turtle sundae I have ever had. Good call, wifey!

After filling what little room was left in our bellies, we headed back to the hotel. Mrs. lightning was just planning to stay in the rest of the night. As for me ... after a brief nap, it was back to Hollywood for more $1/$2 NL! I was card dead for quite some time and never got more than $75 up or $75 down. I decided to call it a night slightly after midnight, settling for a meager profit. But hey - I had fun, and it WAS still a profit!

We were in no great hurry to get up Sunday. After spending the morning sleeping and lazing around, we checked out of the hotel and headed for lunch at a BBQ place with a reputation: Sugarfire Smoke House. I had a burnt ends sandwich with creamed jalapeno corn and Mrs. lightning had a pulled pork sandwich with green beans. We shared an order of hushpuppies. The verdict: Meh. My burnt ends were a tad fatty and were missing the flavor you expect from burnt ends. The jalapeno in the corn was minimal and I felt little heat. It tasted like corn drowning in butter. The pulled pork lacked flavor, and the green beans and the hushpuppies were just okay. It was a very disappointing meal, especially for what we paid for it. Maybe it was just a bad day for the restaurant - I dunno.

Burnt ends sammich and that buttery corn

As we headed east on I-70, we stopped in Effingham (yes - that is the town's real name!), IL to visit close up the Cross at the Crossroads. We actually lived in Effingham for three years, but that was before the cross was built. At 198 feet, it was once the tallest cross in the United States, but is now the second tallest. It is really quite a sight for the drivers on Interstates 70 and 57.

To give you a little perspective, Mrs. lightning is standing at the base of the cross!

Since we were in Effingham, I decided to surprise my wife by stopping at - what else - our old favorite ice cream stand, the Homewood Grill. Mrs. lightning had a turtle sundae and I had the best Chocolate Peanut Butter ice cream in the world!

If this trip sounds like it was an overindulgence in sugar, you are correct. However, this was our weekend to just do whatever. It was not our plan to overindulge in sweets, but it felt like we were kicking COVID-19 in the teeth! And as long as we were being sugar degenerates, we made one final stop: Flesor's Candy Kitchen in Tuscola, IL. One of my retirement gifts from a work colleague was a gift certificate to this place. We stopped in before it closed for the weekend to get me some huge malted milk balls that I had tried before. At least we took them home instead of eating more ice cream at the store!

So ... what a weekend! We did get in our 10,000 steps on Saturday, so at least that will help a bit with all the sugar we ate. But it sure was good!

And a special thanks to Vegasfan1970 and HuckleberryGirl for meeting up with us. People who know me know that I am always trying to arrange meetings with people I am friends with online. I am proud to say that many of my online buddies are also among my very best friends. Although I certainly worked my butt off in a serious occupation prior to my retirement, I also set a goal for myself to try to have fun in whatever I do. In doing so, I sometimes piss off family and friends when I make jokes about serious situations, but that is the only way I know to live. As I get older, I have become intensely aware that most of my life has already passed. You can bet that for the rest of the years that I will be granted, I will be trying to squeeze the most fun out of it that I can. This vehicle accepts passengers, so join me for the ride!

Thanks for reading!


Post a Comment

<< Home