Monday, June 26, 2006


No, I wasn't playing A7 offsuit again.

Vacation used to mean ball games in the outfield of the baseball diamond behind the house. There were bike rides up to Kenny’s Market for NewYork Seltzer and candy cigarettes after the games. Sometimes it was just a quiet afternoon smashing a bright yellow Wilson tennis ball while perfecting a Boris Becker-esqe top spin against an Oscar the Grouch colored wooden wall. Or just a night of watching TV with the family, too bloated to move after mom made her delicious slow cooked pot roast and taters.

Before we had kids, as couple, vacation meant heading to Vegas to seek new levels of alcoholism and debasement. Shooting craps at 2am with a Cap’n Coke firmly in my hand shouting for the point to be rolled or getting all excited about a five dollar bonus game on a penny slot was a common night. There were no worries about making sure the kids had enough sunscreen on, or pleading that they’d please walk in the 90+ degree heat instead of being carried, or taking a nap when all signs of sanity have clearly left the ballpark.

Kids change your life in ways that no one could ever prepare you for. Not your parents, your friends who had kids before you, or any of the experts in the self-help section of Barnes and Noble. Vacation is just another event of a parent’s life that changes meaning after you’ve signed off on the birth certificate and purchase all those wonderfully cute and impossibly tiny outfits that your son or daughter will wear once before being hawked for a quarter at your next garage sale.

Did I have fun on vacation?

Hell yeah, I did.

I got to see my relatives that are ALWAYS fun to be around. Not too many families party almost every night playing beer pong and a drinking game called “Moose” until its time to sleep/pass out. They definitely helped keep the vacation on the fun side when the little one was doing his best John McEnroe impersonation.

The sights of Charleston were definitely a step back in time as we checked out Fort Sumter and Fort Moultrie. Walking through the halls of crumbled brick and imagining the cannon fire from the many different iron beasts of war was definitely a sight no one should pass up. The history lesson alone was well worth the $5 at Fort Moultrie and $14 boat tour at Fort Sumter (the walk-in museum on shore is free). Well displayed artifacts and story boards showing how United States slowly inched towards civil war as the first shots were fired at Fort Sumter was a little more educational then studying that crabby local in the one seat at a $2/$4 table. I tried looking around the fort for answers but… any history buffs out there that could tell me why some of the walls were covered in tar?

Next up was a trip to Patriot’s Point Maritime Museum to check out the several displays of US military’s past. The USS Yorktown was cavernous as we only managed to go on three of the six self-guided tours that included tips on how to make 10,000 chocolate chip cookies and a breathtaking view of Charleston from the flight deck. The Navy Advance Tactical Support Base was a step back in time for my dad as he spoke about his time as a helicopter pilot for the Marine Corps while describing the different planes they had on display. Never before has my dad given more then a passing comment about his tours of Vietnam, and to see his eyes light up as he gave my brother and sister-in-law a “tour” of the helicopter was something to be remembered.

The walking “Ghosts of Charleston” tour was something I wasn’t ready for after a long day of hauling the toddler around. We got a personal guide since our family group numbered more then the other groups combined. A very spirited, white-bearded, large man whose name I can’t remember walked us through the side cobblestone streets and gave us tales of ghosts appearing in restaurants and out of windows. Once again the history lesson was fascinating but some of the younger members in our group decided that the huge cockroaches were of more interest and possibly woke up a few ghosts with their shrilling screams. Nonetheless, definitely a worth while touristy thing to do, but bring comfortable walking shoes because the tour lasted over two hours and several city blocks.

Orange barbeque sauce? What the fuck is this?!?! I’ve heard that barbeque was something to be sampled while in South Carolina so we checked out Tommy Cordon for a pint of Irish beer and hopefully some ribs. The food was excellent (but a bit small for portions) as my baby back baby back baby back ribs were tender and the sauce was nothing I’d ever had before, two thumbs way up. Everyone had compliments for the food around the table; the service was a little meh however. My brother tried to order a Jameson and ginger ale and got… a ginger ale. I attempted to get a Smithwick but when I was informed they were out (at 2pm in the afternoon?!?!) had to settle for the black tar of goodness known as Guinness.

Next was the entire family heading to a seafood place called Hyman’s. Wow. Me and the wife ordered the six piece meal that included halibut, swordfish, soft-shelled crab, lobster tail, shrimp, and some other fish that left us in need of a wheelchair to leave. I’d never seen so much food on one plate in my life. The southern hospitality really shined here as the waiter was attentive and prompt to drink orders, one of the owners swung by to joke about free food if I finished this monstrosity of underwater delicacies, and atmosphere just felt like you were welcome and not getting pushed out despite the huge line sitting outside. Highly recommended.

The beach was a little disappointing on the Isle of Palms, as it wasn’t the hopping fun time like Myrtle Beach. A little more subdued but still had a couple of bars and shops worth checking out. Coconut Joe’s had a live band each night for a small cover charge (that could be bypassed by slipping into the small bar and ordering a drink then heading up to the deck above). I had a friendly time there, but my sister and cousin went up to the bar to ask for a Pina Colada and got rebuffed by the drink slinger with “what do you think this is the Caribbean?”. He was not “in-character” or trying to be funny either. A news flash to coastal bartenders… yes ANY beachside bar will seem like the Caribbean to a Minnesotan that doesn’t have the means of taking yearly trips to islands that start with “Saint”.

My only relaxing times were spend at the house pool with its proximity to “free” booze and Sudoku puzzles (ugh, those things are addicting!!). Plus, I could pop in and watch The Incredibles with Wyatt for the 532nd time and thanks to a DVD player in the rental car we never got to miss Jack-Jack’s giggles on the road as well.

Fun trip? Yes.

Relaxing? Meh. I’m worn out this morning due to Kyra’s colicky crying for the remainder of the weekend but thankfully the mother-in-law was gracious enough to take care of her last week.

I did manage a little poker, coming home and donating $20 towards the bankroll of a fellow poker blogger in the WPBT Razz tourney last night. After getting hit with bricks for a solid hour and a half, I clawed a short-stack long enough to finish 10th (that's out of 17 for those scoring at home). *A note to Al, please don’t make me play Razz at the Boathouse, I just might start sobbing uncontrollably*.

Now I’m off to catch up on a week’s worth of work and blog reading. Hopefully I’ll have time to upload some pics before softball tonight.

Thanks for dropping by, now its time for the WSOP… and if you’re not reading Dr. Pauly’s updates from the Rio, its time to finally move out of mommy’s house and enter real life. And do your mind a favor and hit up the latest “Truckin” issue in between his reports on famous urineators and professional poker players spending yearly salaries on flush draws.

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