Saturday, August 11, 2012

Flo-rida and R. Kansas

In the absence of one big vacation this year, Adam and I planned a couple mini-trips, centered around events we already had planned. First was Adam's iCast boat show in Orlando. He was working most of the week, but I came down anyway and took some time to myself. The first day, I walked over to the convention center in Orlando, where the boat show was being held. If you've ever been there, you know how big it is. And even though it looks like it's just a block down from the hotel, the walk took about 45 minutes. Never fear, there was a Haagen-Daz at the convention center, so I was handsomely rewarded for my efforts. :)

Seeing Adam at this show proved to me that he has found his perfect job. He was beside himself with all the "celebrities" in the fishing world who were there. Yet when he got the opportunity to talk to them, he was all business and seemed to handle himself really well. Here is a picture of him with "Mr. Crappie" (Wally Marshall).

Adam told Mr. Crappie that he has about 12 of his fishing rods in our garage. I believe Wally also makes the Ms. Crappie rod, which I believe we have a few of as well! No matter how many times he explains it to me, I will never understand Adam's need for probably 20+ fishing rods. Maybe he doesn't understand my need for jeans either. Maybe that explains why we're shopping for a house with a 4-car garage (and more closet space)!

Our next mini-trip was just a couple weeks later, as we ventured down to Arkansas for my cousin Curt's wedding in Ft. Smith. For those who don't know, Adam and I used to live in Arkansas before moving to Kansas City. I lived in Ft. Smith for almost 2 years while Adam lived in Little Rock. When we got engaged, I moved to Little Rock as well. We hadn't been back to the state since moving 5 years ago, so we used the wedding as an opportunity to go visit our old stompin' grounds. We left early Wednesday morning and headed to Little Rock, in a trip jam-packed with all the things we used to enjoy doing. On the way, we stopped in Rogers, AR to eat lunch at our all-time favorite restaurant, Rolando's. There is one in Ft. Smith, where my previous company (ABF Freight Systems) took me when I interviewed with them, and I instantly fell in love. Rolando is from Ecuador, and the cuisine is similar to Mexican, but with more of a cilantro-based spice, tomatillo sour cream and black beans. Phenomenal. I had my all-time favorite, Jose's Quesadillas:

And Adam had his standard Don Quixote burrito:

After lunch, it was onward to Little Rock. The next day and a half were a trip down memory lane as we re-lived some of the things we did and places we went during our year and a half of long-distance dating. First up was a trip to the local brewery, Diamond Bear. We used to do their tour/tasting on Saturday evenings before a night out on the town, and we got to know one of their owners, Russ Melton, pretty well. This is a family business that has grown from the ground up, and it's nice to see them doing well. They only distribute in Arkansas and a little in Mississippi, so we are still waiting for them to expand to KC! Surprisingly, Adam and I both really enjoyed their Irish Red beer. When we found out they only had 5 6-packs left (they have now made it a seasonal beer only), we snatched them all up. The brewery is only normally open on weekends, but since we were only in town for 2 days, we called, and they were happy to let us come in and get what we needed. 

Next was a trip to our old employer, Alltel (now Verizon). I think we both hated working there, but me moreso than Adam. I had a terrible boss and a terrible senior engineer who was supposed to be my mentor. When we drove down to campus, guess who we saw walking right past our car?! What are the freaking odds? The 2 far buildings on campus seem to be deserted now that it's just a regional office for Verizon. Soooo glad we got out when we did. 

We hopped on the interstate and drove out west to see Adam's old house. The house was a great starter home, in a nice West Little Rock suburban neighborhood, but there were mixed emotions about seeing it. We spent a lot of time there, and even got engaged there. But we could still see the dents in the front door from when the house was broken into and robbed over Christmas 6 years ago. I also have some suspicions about the current residents, since a bank account was fraudulently opened in my maiden name, from that address last year. Then we swung by the apartment where I lived with my lovely friend Char. It was a dump, and you couldn't pay me to live there anymore now! All in all, this little tour made me SO thankful for where we are today.

For dinner, we went to a place called Sekisui, or as I always called it, "Fish on boats." This was the first place I ever had sushi, which I now LOVE. Their happy hour consists of sushi rolls floating in a moat around the bar. Adam loaded up!

Then we got some wine and relaxed in their lounge area while watching the Olympics.

The plan on Thursday was to play some golf, but as we ventured out for breakfast, it was raining. It was such a welcome sight since we haven't seen rain in so long that we weren't even bummed about our plans changing. So, we tooled around the mall for bit and headed out to another favorite activity of ours, hiking Pinnacle Mountain. One of my favorite things about Little Rock was the nature. Lots of hills, trees, and lakes. The Pinnacle Mountain hike is perfect, almost a mile one-way, with some pretty steep ascents near the top. On the way up, Adam found a great tree for pull-ups:

My attempt was not as graceful.

 We continued our climb and got slightly off-path, which led to a bit steeper ascent than I was prepared for. The high winds really didn't help the situation either.

But after a little work, we made it to the top and were rewarded with a great view of Lake Maumelle.

Adam took this opportunity to do some push-ups and mountain climbers (ironic choice), while I watched.

We ended our time in Little Rock with an evening with our good friends, Stan and Jane. Stan and Adam met when Stan sold Adam his house. Despite a generation gap (their children are our age), we really get along well with them. Adam and Stan became great hunting buddies, and we loved to go to their gorgeous house for dinner and a game of spades. Jane cooked us a wonderful dinner, and we chatted and played spades...boys vs. girls. We played 2 hands and each won 1, so everyone went home happy. Stan's favorite saying is "Try and you might," in his bold attempts to go nil or even blind nil. They are just genuine, happy people and SO much fun to be around. We stayed up way too late enjoying our time with them.

On Friday morning, it was off to Ft. Smith for the wedding festivities. Ironically, my cousin Curt moved to Ft. Smith and began working for a subsidiary of the same company I worked for, and he arrived just a few months after I left town. I really loved working for ABF, and I loved my co-workers and my time in Ft. Smith, so it was great to go back. We met some old co-workers, including my old boss for lunch at...where else...Rolando's. Then we did what any rational people do on a 108-degree afternoon...we went out to play golf.

This was my first attempt at actually playing a course, so it was good that no one else in their right mind would've gone out golfing that day. I managed to have a couple successful holes, making a pretty long putt from the edge of the green to get a 7 (my best score on a single hole up to that point), and then making bogey on a par 3. I was so proud to have achieved a score they actually have a name for! After 6 holes, I was getting tired and hot, so I decided to quit while I was ahead. Adam finished the 9, and we went back to the hotel and jumped into the pool. In another sport that Adam is much better at, he tried to teach me the butterfly. Though inspired by Michael Phelps, I was terrible at it. I did, however, win the treading water contest, no matter what Adam tells you!

From there, it was time to get ready for the wedding festivities. I read the petitions in the wedding and was glad to be part of such a beautiful day. Curt's new wife Heather is a beautiful and sweet girl, and our family is lucky to have her! As with any vacation, it was nice to get back home. We both agreed that even though we had fun during our time in Arkansas, we are so glad to be where we are now. We are truly midwesterners at heart, and Kansas City is home!

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