Ghosts in the Grabyard

Ever since I saw this pic from johnhodman and its comment about ghost handjobs, I haven't been able to get it out of my mind.

Then someone told me to google image cough.


A Tale of Two Asteriskses

Remember Milwaukee's asterisk? Turns out it's called "Calling", but nobody knows or cares about that. It's Milwaukee's one landmark, along with that Calatrava thing it sits next too and Jo-Cats. Turns out Philadelphia has one too. It's not quite as tall, but di Suvero was nice enough to paint it the same color. This one's called "Iroquois", not "Calling", obviously. And while not as easy to climb, it turns out it's perfect for jumping.

Hey, Phila.


The Croatian Highway

In August we drove to North Carolina for Jobonga & Neil's nuptials. Figuring we might as well make the most of it, we left on Thursday for the Sunday wedding. There were some logic sticks to figure out beforehand, but by the day of we had it all strategized—rendezvous on American St. at 18:00, cross the Mason-Dixon line by 22:00, and dust off our cubbyholes at The Sea Foam around 02:00 the next morning. Luckily we remembered to stop for Chinese and beer in Delaware, without it we would have been hungry and with no reason to stay up all night drinking by the beach once we got there. 

Which we did. And then danced about it. And then we went for a swim. And thus began our socialist summer vacation.

We can blame Darcy for the inspiration—her offhand comment re:splitting the gas receipts set the whole thing in motion. It turns our that once you agree to share one expense it's a very slippery slope until you're expensing every purchase to the greater good and paying for breakfast in tollbooth receipts. Or at least it is with this crowd. 

Just like most socialist vacations, we were staying in a motel built in the '50's and we never had quite enough beach towels. Also, we only had one book. Which we took turns reading out loud to each other from. We may not have been the most well supplied beach goers, but we were having the most fun. And we were pretty well educated too. Plus we had a shuffleboard court, which I think Engels especially would have really enjoyed. 

Of course, also like most socialist vacations, there were some lies. Specifically, a whole lot of lies. Not so much about the value of a shared common good, but about everything else. Like the quality of the Bloody Marys at Sam & Omie's (don't do it), and the difference between chocolate, mocha, & coffee at Big Al's (there isn't any), and roughly everything at Fort Raleigh (don't miss the recreated model of the fort they built in the 1950s to look like what might have been the original colonists' fort). Seriously though, Fort Raleigh is an embarrassment to the National Park System. Maybe I'm jaundiced because of Philadelphia's actual historical importance, but a couple of fake rooms dedicated to a play "loosely based on the historical events" of the Roanoke colony is a low bar to overcome. On the other hand, if you're interested in seeing the absolute worst powerpoint presentation you've ever had to spend 17 minutes trying not to laugh at, you should definitely go. We did not succeed in our attempts to contain our judgement of the heavily clip-art and watermark photo-ed "Informative Ranger Talk" and our ranger WAS NOT AMUSED. But really, when you mention seasickness on a boat sailing to The New World in the 1500s and then flash a picture of some asian guy throwing-up on a boat in 1995, you should expect a couple of comments from the peanut gallery.

All that being said, The Sea Foam was the Real Deal. Despite our early reservations about the possible dustiness and/or stickiness, this was probably the best decision we had made in a long time. Like a summer camp for grown ups, our rooms looking out onto the courtyard were all close enough to yell our afternoon beach plans to each other from the comfort of our multi-sized beds. We all have iPhones though, so we just group iMessaged about it instead. 

With the beach as our backyard, The Piazza turned into rendezvous point, patio, and shuffleboard cum bags court in the evenings. 
They call her The Equalizer

After Friday's cocktail hour (above) we headed out for dinner on the town. You may not know this, but Nags Head is rampant with horribly named restauranteurs. We didn't make it to Barefoot Bernie'sAwful Arthur's, Dirty Dick's, The Pigman'sSpanky's, or even King Tut's Wiener Hut; I don't know what's really going on with this shifty syndicate but it was nothing we wanted anything to do with. We sunset-walked over to Miller's Waterfront Restaurant (bayside, baby!) instead. The downside to this (as with all Atlantic Coast sunsets) was the Elder Barnebey's resulting confusion about directions. Despite having left the West Coast in 1971 he hasn't quite outgrown his belief that sunsets always point towards the ocean. 
The upside was that we got to gambol past Jurassic Putt in all its fiery glory and then knock out the band's next album cover, all on the way to dinner.
Bring your grandchildren, it'll be a blast.
Carolina Lies & The Croatans

There was even time for some sightseeing. Which we tried, but didn't do very well at. The out-of-commission lighthouse pleased no one, perhaps least of all Roxy. But that look could also be because in Ukraine there is no time for smiles.
With the right filter it looks just desolate enough to be interesting.

With its embarrassing powerpoints, lack of milkshake flavors, and broken lighthouses, North Carolina had a lot of 'splaining to do by that night. All of which was made up for by its liberal stance on beach fires. No one can be upset about beach fire. Are you listening, New Jersey‽
Who doesn't support beach fires?

Can you believe you've read this far and the wedding hasn't even happened yet! Well, just when you thought it would never come, there was a tornado. Or rather a waterspout over the bay. We were caught unawares at Fatboyz where we weathered the 1st half of the storm on the veranda. We would have made it home scott free too if Darcy hadn't had to go for the final ice cream cone. As it was, we decided to run for it once we heard a lady yelling out over the rain "there's a tornado warning until 2:45, should I get it to go??"
"I spot a spout!"
So we packed all the iPhones into Roxy's purse and took off down Virginia Dare's Trail. The Sea Foam has seen worse, I'm sure, but I was worried for it anyway. There's something about the way the water was pouring down through the balcony that didn't inspire confidence in the general sturdiness of the structure as a whole.

Also it meant that the pre-wedding tailgate planned for the shuffleboard courts was off, which wasn't ironic at all.

The wedding of course wasn't to be stopped. Joanna & Neil casually joined their lives together in front of The Waters of the Outer Banks and then later dined in front of the sharks. Which honestly was a pretty amazing way to stick it to Mother Nature for the rain earlier.
Sharks can't even get married.
You know what else is fun? Drinking wine in front of a snapping turtle, with otters carousing behind you. We couldn't resist trying our luck with our 2nd natural disaster of the day though—welcome The Hurricane Simulator...  which just turned out to be a fun way to make everyone's hair look stupid. Suck it again Mother Nature.

Even the fishes had to sleep at some point though, which meant we had to get out. Not before a couple polkas around the dance floor and a late night wedding Sway though. Obviously.  

Saying goodbye the next morning was hard. At least we had the free-flowing coffee and sangria at the Lee family brunch to look forward to. But we had to leave the Foam Lady behind for good. 
Lady of The Sea.

All that was left to do now was head north and submit our receipts for reimbursement. The south did give us one more bonus lie for the road, just for the halibut. Oh, Mochipongo Clam Shack, you with your crab painted walls and so many other things besides seafood, were a sight for sore eyes. 
Just Seafood. Also, possibly no Drive-Thru.
The final reckoning: submitting receipts & expense reports.

Final Stats:

With 44 receipts officially accepted for reimbursement, the total tallied, and the entire trip's cost shared equally among the 6, we see the majority of our expense was accounted for in lodging. Not surprising. More surprising, that we tipped almost as much as we spent on alcohol.  

Totaling 262 group messages over the course of the weekend, we averaged 1 group text every 35.8 minutes between Friday morning and the next Thursday. Evan blew us all way in volume, but the other Barnebey's were clearly playing this game too.

Talking mileage, Darcy's Fiat beats out the reliable Altima in raw gas mileage but loses its edge when adjusting for a per/seat calculation. It can always be counted on to make the trip in fewer miles though, especially when driven by Darcy.

And how did we know we had taken our receipts seriously enough? They became legal tender for all debts private, if not public.
No cash, no problem. Katie hands over her toll receipt to cover the tip.

Never Forget.


Joanna and Neil's Wedding Sway

After a long night in front of the shark tank, and a couple a spins through the tornado maker, we closed down the N.C. Aquarium with an old fashioned wedding sway. Despite some signs of vertigo, it felt good. Really good.


The Sun Also Rises...

After a night spent driving south along the eastern seaboard, riding America's longest roller coaster, and opening Delawarean beer on the hotel towel rack, we found ourselves on the Nags Head beach at 6:30 AM. Just minutes before the iPhones' predicted sunrise. Would it finally happen? It seemed unlikely. After years of trying we'd never managed to do it before. Plus, the sky didn't look very sun-like. By 6:22, precisely 1 minute before the scheduled rise, we had seriously decided that today was the day—the day that the sun actually wouldn't come up. It had been a long night.

At 6:23 AM the sun rose over the eastern horizon, like you could set your clock by that thing. Or maybe devise an entire calendar system around it. To celebrate, we danced. And then jumped into the Atlantic.


Direct Shipments

Thank you UPS, for sending my package from Ohio to Las Vegas and Cerritos, CA before forwarding it along to me in Philadelphia. I think Kayak actually offered me that flight plan for my trip back from Wisconsin next week, I decided I didn't need to see Cerritos again though.

The Barbs, On Two Non-Consecutive Occasions

Despite their seeming similarity, those two strips of from two non-consecutive events. Right along there with liking the way you look is that when you try to push 6 people into a photo booth there's gonna be a whole lot of somebody's head. I guarantee it. One of these came after a day-long birthday party on American street, watermelons and piñatas included. Also a thunderstorm. We showed up at 1:00 AM perfectly drenched to blend in with the the sweat-soaked crowd that was already there trying to finally topple building to the ground. 

A couple weekends later I was wearing a bowtie and we had all been at a wedding. It sounds more out of place than it actually was though; I was wearing shorts and we had ridden our bikes to the reception. And there's nothing The Barbary appreciates more than riding a bicycle to a fancy event. Beth & Rafiq had put on a little summer fête champêtre up at the B2G2, complete with a jumble of wine-inspired glasses.

The original plan of course was to pedicab the bride and groom to the reception down Germantown Ave., with a procession of bike riders following behind. It eventually turned into just Evan, my dad, Larry, and me making the ride. It'll still be hard to beat that time we took a warm summer evening's ride through North Philly in bow ties, seersuckers, and pink jackets though.

Or that time they had self-serve Vernor's and Evan Williams at the reception. The worst part of that sentence is Vernor's, but the best part is self-serve.

Also, the Trudeaus came. Because what kind of party would it be without them?


Choppin' the Chicken

I often find myself alone and with a bad case of the melies on Valentine's Day. The obvious solution is to fry yourself a chicken. So I did, and it become sort of an American Street tradition. The first two successive weeks of fried chicken occurred in February, followed by several more intermittent weeks of fried chicken. Here, the first two chickens are chopped for what was known originally as Fat Tuesday, and then actually was Fat Tuesday, and then became Fat Thursday, and finally Fried Fursday.


A Weekend That Was

God smiles upon those who forgo all medical treatments.
When we had a ski weekend planned for early February we thought we'd get at least a little bit of the snow up in the Pennsylvania hinterlands. That wasn't true, but it did mean we had the entire place to ourselves. And of course by place I mean Christian Science summer camp that rents itself out as a cross-country ski center in the winter. Not a ski resort. Obviously. We did have the run of the main lodge/camp office for the weekend at least. It comes complete with sun rays, two fireplaces, seven bedrooms, and a ban on alcohol of every kind.

There's also a lake. And although we couldn't get any official confirmation on its frozenness, they were fine with us deciding for ourselves; the healing nature of god and all. We still sent Evan out first.

Broomball (with hockey sticks) proved both successful and non-leathal. The ice-skating slightly less so since there were only 3 functional skates. Like they say—thems the skates.

Other highlites? The gaming selections, including a hectic round of couch-based Trivial Pursuit, a spirited  Pictogram session, card games galore, and Bibleopoly—A Biblical Game of Fun and Faith.
With Bibleopoly, you can enjoy the fun of a property trading game while learning about the remarkable cities of the Bible! Start "In the Beginning", and travel through biblical cites of Meditation, Community Celebration, and occasionally the Abyss! You can earn a Cornerstone by helping a fellow player [like handing over a property that completes a monopoly], or by doing community service [sitting out 5 turns, hopefully making more coffee], and make offerings in order to earn the bricks and steeple you need to build a church. Watch out for the "Go Meditate" spot on the board [i.e. jail], though--you'll lose three turns! Also, though good deeds are rewarded, sometimes "Faith Cards" intervene.
It's not as much fun as it sounds. Or, actually it's exactly as much fun as it sounds.

Then there was the ropes course, complete with Leaps of Faith, moon-lit zip lines, and Darcy's judgements.

Leaping Sweater, Hidden Sweater

T. Trudeau up to bat.
Darcy never forgets ... her hipster accessories.
Then there were the illicit activities. Like the hot chocolate wine & whisky outside by the fire pit, and the wine we hid in the oven, and the pitchers of wine drank over The Pursuit, and the bottle of rum we drank over cards, and the beer cans Evan & I left on the end of the dock, and the wearing of the bearskin rug, and the late-night Sevens, Elevens, Doubles games that broke out around 2 AM each night.
And of course the anti-religious rant the younger Barnebey's went on Friday night. It's unlikely god appreciated that. At least we got a couple of pretty nice sunsets out of him.

In an unrelated note, proving once and for all that tofu is the scrapple of the soy world, see if you can spot the difference between the two:

The Fireside Shot
The Jump Shot.

The Video