Monday, January 30, 2012

Dustin Proposes to Girl, Girl Says Yes, World Fails to Collapse Upon Itself As Promised - Story at 11

On Saturday, January 28th, 2012, Dustin proposed to his girlfriend, Suzanne, in San Jose, CA. He was supposed to propose to her in sunny Big Sur, on a clifftop or dangling from a tree limb or something similarly romantic, but the powers that be - namely, the deli at Whole Foods Blossom Hill - decided to give his girlfriend food poisoning on Friday night [update = everyone at Suzanne's work got food poisoning, so the deli is innocent; please don't sue for libel, Whole Foods].

As bad as this was for Dustin, this was far worse for Suzanne. Compassionate boyfriend / fiancee-to-be that he is, Dustin did his best to nurse his girlfriend back to health as swiftly as possible, so Dustin's well-thought-out romantic plans would be realized.

Because here's what he envisioned:

Dustin envisioned putting a rock the size of Gibraltar on his girlfriend's finger while the Big Sur breeze swept through her hair.

He envisioned the sunlight taking root in the margins of the 1.19 karat emerald diamond and bursting forth with blinding exactitude. He also envisioned snobbish prose, apparently.

Dustin's clear vision was marred by the myriad options of a proposal site. Would it be here, with Bixby Bridge in the distance and a plethora of rocks and arches in the foreground?

Or would it be a stone's throw from the bridge itself? After all, "bridge" contains the word "bride," thought the reigning champion of the bar trivia circuit.

Although this option would have been fairly inconsiderate when factoring in Suzanne's acrophobia, not to mention Dustin's clumsiness when handling expensive (albeit insured) jewelry.

See how happy Suzanne is in Dustin's vision? Notice she is not looking down.

Dustin is also fairly happy in Dustin's vision, because he is looking at Suzanne.

To celebrate the envisioned vision of proposal, Dustin envisioned taking Suzanne to her favorite Big Sur restaurant.

Where they could relax and take in the million dollar views...

And think fondly about their upcoming lives together, instead of the massive bill awaiting them.

Dustin is a fairly romantic guy after all... a bit of a dork, but lovably so. Or so he envisions.

* * * * * * * * *

However, food poisoning is pretty ghastly, and Suzanne and Dustin were equally discouraged by the former's lack of progress in terms of health restoration that Saturday afternoon. Dustin let his girlfriend nap for a few hours, and went out bitterly for bitter beers with friends, confused and dejected by the curve balls of life.

Later that day, Dustin, somewhere in that territory between sober and intoxicated, thought soberly for a moment about his well-thought-out proposal plans, before deciding to throw caution to the wind and proposing to her anyway, as she lay sick in bed.

Which, upon sobering up, he actually did.

Fortunately for reckless Dustin, Suzanne acquiesced to his deman... er, agreed to marry him. She wore a wonderful smile from then on, including the following day when she was temporarily well enough to actually go out to Big Sur with Dustin after church to take the above photos...

Just like Dustin envisioned. :-)

Sunday, January 22, 2012

New Orleans, LA - Day 12

I had been to New Orleans previously, but it was the first time for my girlfriend. Here's what we did on our first full day in the Big Easy.

We stayed at the recently renovated Hyatt Regency in the Central Business District; we would see the Superdome every day at the elevators on the 24th floor.

The lines were long everywhere that day for some reason (they weren't so bad on subsequent days except for New Years); this is the line for the muffuletta at the Central Grocery.

It was about an hour wait. The interior of the shop is a simple Italian grocery store, although few come for the supplies.

Their muffuletta isn't as massive as some of the other knock-offs, but it tastes way better. If you're an average sized person, one half of a muffuletta will probably be your limit.

Time to walk off those calories at the Mississippi River levee.

Jackson Square

Semi-professional street performers in front of Jackson Square.

Quintessential French Quarter

The fleur de lys, for New Years.

Crescent City Brewery - I had the tasting flight, and she stuck to the red ale.

As full as we were, we decided to get all of our "must eats" out of the way, so we went to Johnny's Po Boys to share one. Another long wait...

Shrimp po boy (I wanted oysters, but the chica was not having it). Verdict = the shrimp was delicious but the rest of the sandwich wasn't very appealing. Overly dry bread, not very much taste, and way overpriced. Live and learn.

Time to go back to Jackson Square to enter the St Louis Cathedral.

Andrew Jackson, one of the more controversial presidents.

The weather was gorgeous that day, by the way.

The interior of the church doesn't fail to impress.

Right next door is the Louisiana State Museum, which was hosting a Hurricane Katrina exhibit.

This is Fats Domino's piano; he was feared dead in the flooding, but lived to tell the tale. His piano wasn't so lucky.

An example of notations made on doors / walls to show that a house had been inspected by an official agency for survivors, bodies, etc. Very sad about the dog.

Time for a drink - off to the Napoleon House!

They're famous for precisely one drink = the Pimm's Cup. Recommended.

The alleyways of the French Quarter are charming.

The Carousel Bar, maybe the best gimmick I've seen. The bar actually rotates (it takes 14 minutes exactly to make a revolution - I timed it).

While we waited for a seat to open up at the actual bar, we ordered our drinks. I had a Ramos Gin Fizz (yummy).

Our perseverance paid off - as silly as it sounds, the bar is a lot of fun.

I know it seems like we did nothing but eat and drink - and that's true. However, there was actually a fair amount of time between meals. Our last meal of the day would take place at the Acme Oyster House.

My girlfriend doesn't do oysters (especially raw ones), but I talked her into the cooked ones. She absolutely loved them.

The French Quarter at night is an exciting place.

But it can also be a bit spooky.

We finished the night watching jazz at the Snug Harbor in the Fauborg Marigny district (adjacent to the French Quarter). However, my camera died - this is the only photo I have of the district the club was in. Sigh...

To be continued...

Saturday, January 14, 2012

Pensacola, FL --> New Orleans, LA - Day 11

We got into Pensacola, FL on the later side, and while I wanted to go out, my traveling companion was exhausted. Sigh... but the next day we went to the beach before driving I-10 to New Orleans.

Pensacola Beach was remarkably empty, for being such a ridiculously amazing stretch of sand and surf.

"Where IS everyone?"

No, seriously... did we really have this beach to ourselves?

At least we had this extra large beach ball all to ourselves. ;-)

Oh rats, the masses showed up.

Time for me to check out the water conditions.

I've only been to the Gulf of Mexico once before (the last time I was in Florida), and it was a teaser. This felt right.

Oh yeah, no oil slick either (wooooo).

Frothy goodness.

The birds were digging it.

So was the chica.

Back in Pensacola proper = we had lunch at Hopjack, which had something like 100 beers on tap. I had one of the two purple highlighted ones (see below).

Dogfish Head's 120 Minute IPA is 17% ABV, and they only served it in a 4 oz. pour. It was incredible.

It went very well with this amazing pizza, featuring filet mignon.

Pensacola felt more southern than the rest of Florida that I had previously seen. Like the saying goes: "The further north you go in Florida, the deeper south you get."

I was rather proud of myself for discovering this brewery = Pensacola Bay.

Here, you buy the glassware, and they "give you" the beer to go with it.

I got the tasting flight: my favorite out of all of them (hardly a bad one in the bunch) was Lil' Napoleon IPA, which is now in my top 5 favorite IPAs (along with the aforementioned 120 Min., Pliny the Younger, et al.).

Afterwards, we needed to head to Perdido Key to fulfill a stupid dream of mine = seeing Flora-Bama. Along the way we thought we'd pop over to the Gulf Islands National Seashore, but the parking was $8. Since we weren't going to spend a long time, we turned around. Oh well.

Looked like a nice stretch of coastline, however.

I had no idea of what to expect at Flora-Bama, except that it straddled the Florida-Alabama stateline (hence the name).


Ok, so it's a dive bar!

Very divey...

But we had fun... although we actually didn't drink or eat anything since we were full from Hopjack.

But it didn't matter, because the beach out back was a big draw. This is the Florida side...

...and this is the Alabama side. Gotta love the Redneck Riviera.

The beach entrance to Flora-Bama.

We were headed to New Orleans, which was where the BCS Championship was going to be held, so I found this appropriate. Of course, Alabama beat LSU a couple weeks later.

Back in Sweet Home Alabama (this picture was taken from the Flora-Bama parking lot).

Perdido Key wouldn't be a bad place to retire, actually.

I thought Cleveland, OH and San Jose, CA had pathetic skylines, but Mobile, AL rivals both cities.

However, the treelined boulevards made up for it.

Time for dinner = we went to the Brick Pit BBQ, recommended by various travel books.

It was decent, although my girlfriend ordered the ribs, which really gave her a stomach ache. I took a bite and noticed they tasted largely of carbon. My pulled pork was quite good, however, and the potato salad was amazing.

I like to document when I enter a state for the first time.

Finally we entered Louisiana, around 7:30pm.

The night was still young, and fortunately my girlfriend's stomachache got to manageable levels.

The Preservation Hall Jazz Band was playing its last show of 2011, so we had to go, of course. It was worth the wait in line.

Fantastic set. I love this dingy looking box of a music hall.

Jackson Square at night is a delightfully spooky place.

I couldn't wait to delve deeper into New Orleans. To be continued!