And yes, I saw the Arch.
Packed 11 shirts, 7 of them worn. Packed 6 pants, 5 of them worn. Packed 5 pairs of underwear, all of them worn.
Well, I'd made plans back around October to go visit buran, who'd been having some lonely times. Managed to swing a fairly good round-trip flight with a weeklong stay- and cost was the one of the main tricks in getting down there. Vacation time had built up just enough (4 days) to make it feasible- if I worked 7 days in a row just beforehand. Oy.
Wednesday the 7th: Providence to Chicago, Chicago to St. Louis, St. Louis airport to the car rental. Alamo conveniently ran out of the Economy-class cars and upgraded me for free to a Fullsize, 4-door Malibu Classic. Rather nice n' comfy car. Drove from there to Dave & Buster's, and killed a few hours waiting for Buran playing Derby Owner's Club, Pump It Up, and other such. If you've never been to a Dave & Buster's, I highly recommend it: It's Chuck-E-Cheese's for grown-ups, with a good restaurant, bar with plenty of TVs, and lots of video games. Buran and I had dinner, spent credits on assorted games, then headed to her place. Tivo, Internet, and Sleep.
packed 7 pairs of socks, 6 worn. Packed 2 neckties, none worn. Packed 3 varieties of athsma inhaler, all used.
Thursday the 8th:As Buran had to work, I was left to my own devices, which meant 'sleep until noon'. After that, I accidentally rebooted her computer and couldn't log on.. well, so much for the plans to find *anything* in town. I drove out to the one thing I had spotted on the way in, a Mega-Strip Mall not far from her house. Circuit City had a nice variety of gizmos, Whole Foods Market had good muffins, sushi, and energy drinks, and Organized Living.. if you've ever seen the TV shows 'Clean Sweep' or 'Clean House', it was that brought to life. Containers and shelves and boxes and organization with snazz. Wish they had one of those closer.. After that, back to Buran's house, sorted out her CD collection alphabetically while I was store-inspired.
Buran got back home, and we ordered "Authentic St. Louis Style Pizza" from Imo's. Apparently, St. Louis style means you cut a round pizza into squares, and the sauce is a little sweet and faintly ketchupy. Not that impressive. Tivo, Internet, and Sleep.
Packed 6 books, 3 finished, 2 read partially, 1 unread. Packed toothbrush, toothpaste, and dental floos, used daily.
Friday the 9th: Time to get Return Of the King seen, so I drive out and catch a matinee. Excellent movie, big ferocious fight scenes.. not a lot of Gimli and Legolas, though. I don't recall Legolas having any dialogue longer than a sentence, and maybe that twice. And there was an Orc that looked far too much like Sloth from The Goonies. You'll know the one I mean.
After the movie, which took a good 3+ hour bite out of the day, wandered the mall that the theatre was in, found their local Tilt Arcade and got in some DDR time, before heading back to Buran's. Soon after I headed to TGIFriday's to meet Buran's parents, who seemed pretty groovy. Her dad *is* the Dad from MBFGW, though. Actual quote: "Well, if you look at the word claustrophobia in the original Greek..." After that.. Tivo, Internet, Sleep. Picking up on the theme here?
Packed 20 CDs, played 3. Packed 4 pairs of shoes, used all 4. packed a camera and a digital camera, used all the film and MemoryStick space.
Saturday the 10th: Jen's out of work for the weekend, so the rental car goes back- then it's time to go be a tourist. And in St Louis, you know what that means: The Arch. Or the "Jefferson National Expansion Monument", as it's formally called... but please. No one's ever going to call it anything but 'The St. Louis Arch'. C'mon, St. Louis, get your head in the game!
That all said, the Arch is very cool. Nice and tall and shiny, the park around it is nice, and riding up in the little escape-pod like elevators was fun. Surrounded by Carolina Panthers fans, in town for the playoff game.. and the stadium wasn't far at all from the Arch. Took some pictures and called my sister from the top. After that, we went on a mission to track down Buran's lost purse, then had lunch at J. Buck's, went to the Apple Store (which didn't have any of the iPod minis, not for another month..), some more shopping.. and rolled back to Buran's. Tivo, Internet, Sleep.
Packed Game Boy Advance with Golden Sun: The Lost Age, played several hours. Packed sunglasses, worn. Packed 4 Trojan condoms, 0 used.
Sunday the 11th: Slept in kind of late, so got a slow start on the day. finished with my Christmas cards while waiting for Buran to wake up. Went to the St. Louis Zoo (as my sister says: "Whenever furries go visit each other, they go to the local zoo.") The mongooses were hiding, darnit.. but the hyenas were nifty, and the big cats- lions, cougars, snow leopards and tigers- were all up and about. After that, some comestibles at an Italian place, including Tiramasu and Spumoni. Went back to Buran's. Sorted out her DVDs, then TIS, as you might expect by now.
Packed comb, razor, deodorant; all used. Packed cell phone, about 15 minutes of time used. Packed snazzy leather jacket, worn most days.
Monday the 12th Buran headed to work, leaving me to my own devices, but carless. After doing laundry, some time on the internet and Tivo (Man, I love Tivo..) I walked down to the grocery store a few blocks away, bought some dinner, and headed back.. Got Buran's kitchen cleaned up and some expired groceries thrown away, then cooked: Honey-Dijon-glazed Pork Chops with Boursin Cheese, Twice-Baked Potatoes, and Bok Choy, Squash, and Carrots sauteed in Sesame Oil. Turned out well, I thought, though Buran didn't eat her veggies. Tsk tsk. ;) Aside from that, started sorting out Buran's bookshelf- I'm a bit of a compulsive organizer that way- then TIS again after dinner.
Packed Pocket Beatmania and Pocket Para Para Paradise, unused. Packed checkbook, unused. Packed Credit cards and $300 cash, about $450 spent total, not including plane ticket.
Tuesday the 13th: Woke up early to accompany Buran to work, at the cell biology lab at Washington University of St. Louis. For those on the internet before 1996, you'll recognize the school best as ftp.wustl.edu. The bio lab was cool, with all sorts of sciency stuff.. cleared out of the way once Buran's boss got in, wandered their (small) campus a while.. then went for a 'direction walk', something I don't do often enough. Simple enough: Given time, pick a direction in a city and walk it, looking to get distance between you and your starting point just on foot. And The Arch beckoned eastward.. so east I walked. Got about a mile and a half, then banked north when the road came to a stop, then.. hmmm... what's this?
Bumped right into Saint Louis University, and their perfectly lovely campus. Very classic walking-path between buildings, green grass all about, big clock tower in the middle of campus, random sculptures and 'mod' fountains. Ahh. Felt almost like Baylor again. Stopped at the Museum Of Contemporary Religious Art, on campus, which was very powerful.. some great art pieces. After that, found the campus library, relaxed, then began my trek back on a slightly different route.. past a Red Cross building.
Well, it'd been some months since my last donation, and I had time.. so I went in and gave a pint. Among the odder things I'd done on vacation, indeed. They had a TV set up and one of those TV design shows playing, which was a niftiness. The traditional juice and cookies later, and I was on my way back to WUSTL. Walked past a lovely cathedral, then Optimist International headquarters. Trippy. :) Hung out in the lab with Buran, goofing on a spare iMac while she finished up, then we headed out to The Cheesecake Factory. Mmmmm... Miso-cooked Salmon, Dulce De Leche cheesecake.. glorious. Pricey place but worth every penny. After that, back to her house so I could pack up. Some nice, friendlyish snuggles on the couch.. TIS again to close out the day.
Packed one hat, worn. Packed a water bottle, refilled and used about 4 times. Packed 16 stamps, 11 used mailing christmas cards.
Wednesday the 14th. Had to get moving early for the flight.. luckily traffic wasn't bad, and got there in plenty of time. Good I came early, too, my original flight had been cancelled.. they had rebooked me on a later one, but managed to squeeze me in on an earlier one instead. It made for a convenient goofup, letting me chill at O'Hare longer instead of the St Louis airport. And there's no comparison. O'Hare has a bookstore, an honest-to-god goodsized bookstore, not just a new-releases and paperbacks newsstand; a huge variety of shops and restaurants- including a Wolfgang Puck's, where I had a good $7 burger for $9. If O'hare were an actual mall, I could see hanging out there. It's that good.
After said burger, i plunk down in a seat to wait for the plane.. and a few minutes later, a woman with a guide dog sits down across from me to wait for the flight. Cute pupdog, couldn't help but smile. (and the woman looked nice, but a different cute-evocation there, naturally..) So, it's boarding time, and then I realize... the flight we're both on is leaving..
From gate K9.
Cosmic, man. And from there, just the final flight home.
And now that it's over, and I've had some time to reflect on it...
It was a good trip, in some of the ways I really needed. This was a relaxing vacation, but never crossed the line over into boring. I came back to work refreshed and ready to go. Still.. there's a sense that I was looking for a little more.
Only took one roll of pictures and a hanful of digicam pictures. Wanted to take more.
Only did two really touristy attractions, the Arch and the Zoo. Wanted to see more.
Only mananged a few things cleaned and organized at Buran's house. Wanted to help more.
Had some G-rated snuggles with a lovely lady. Wanted to do more.
My vacations often tend to be about doing a lot of things in a short time. They rarely leave me as refreshed as this.. so perhaps... less was better than more, in some ways. It means not as much of stories and experiences to tell friends, family, co-workers.. but if it left me re-charged... well, that's why it was my vacation.