My mom and I took off VERY early Friday morning for our trip to Huntsville. We thought we were going to be so lucky as we heard that it was supposed to start storming in Dallas shortly after we left. Sounds like a good start to me! I got mom wheelchairs for all of the legs, so switching planes in Houston was easy. Upon arriving in Birmingham, I was pleased to see that my gold status got me the auto-upgrade to a Ford Freestyle (SUV) with only 38 miles on it. SWEET vehicle. I hooked up my iPod and proceeded to sing all the way into town.
The hotel was very nice and newly remodeled. We took a short nap when we arrived, and began to call friends to make plans. Mom and I generally don't do much together while we're 'home' but do check in regularly to make sure the other is still alive *laugh*. I had scheduled dinner with Tina, my best friend growing up, and went out to pick her up. We ate dinner at Chef Green's on Fountain, where weswilson works, and it was GREAT!!! If you live in Huntsville or visit Huntsville, I highly recommend it! Even the polenta wasn't half bad :)
Tina and I decided splitting a bottle of wine wasn't enough, so we headed over to Sammy T's to see the Velcro Pygmies. Tina had *ahem* a bit more than me and tried to have her way with the bass player. It worked, to a point. There is even photographic proof in several places. We stayed almost to the end, never found gwenhwyvar and missed weswilson by minutes. I finally got home around 3:30 and crashed.
Only to be sent through the roof by the ringing phone at 8:00 am the next morning. My mother's friends are obviously not on the same schedule as me. Grrrr.
This day was a lot more relaxing, spent some time reading and lolling around on my own, went to the mall to pick up my annual Auburn allotment (a couple of t-shirts only this time, and I couldn't find any I liked for Michael and Matthew!), and lunched very light at Subway. That evening, I picked up Tina again to go out for a HUGE meal at Mikata's (Mikato's, can't remember). I'm trying to put some pounds on the girl. TOO SKINNY! Since she believed she was supposed to meet the man of her dreams this weekend, I was going to bring her along to Blackout and for whatever else happened after. No dice. I think a friend of hers scared her off when he let slip that Club Ozz was actually a gay bar. I guess she didn't think she would meet any straight guys even though I told her that naught just needed a LOCATION. :) Oh well, her loss. Took her home about midnight.
Drove straight over to meet weswilson and dawsongirl70 at Blackout. YAY! I don't know how you did it, W, but driving all the way from Florida, showering, then bringing your pink body out for the night...you have more stamina than I do. Briefly saw several people, talked for a while, then we headed over to fritzling's for some sort of June birthday party. WAY too many people there, met many, remembered only a few (Hey - what is Tess/Tessie/Whatever it was's LJ name? I remember something about 001) and made some nifty grooves in the rack on the top of the SUV by misjudging the height of a tree. Yet another post-3:00 night, but not as much drinking for this one.
Did I mention I barely had a voice at this point? Sinus infections and AL allergies can deliver a heck of a one-two punch! :)
The next day, I lazed around the hotel until noon, where my good friend Danny picked me to spend the day together. We ate lunch at Old Heidelburg OF COURSE, because I can't go home without seeing Mama Bethke. I had my ever yummy escargot and chicken cordon blue. Aftwards, Danny and I played tourist and went to the Space and Rocket Center. We saw the IMAX 'Space Station', which was great but Tom Cruise's narration was a bit bland, got t-shirts for my boys, took lots of photos, and went around the museum since we both have close ties to Huntsville space and rocket history. My dad was on the teams at the command office for the HAWK and TOW missles, and Danny's dad worked on the Pershing II. I tried to get as much info as I could from there, to let Michael and Matthew know a bit more about their granddad, but other than the displays in the museum they didn't have much.
We met Danny's mom for dinner at Pepito's, and drank several margaritas while waiting for her. It broke my heart to see her. I used to spend a lot of time with her, and she means the world to me. She has small-cell carcinoma, it has spread, and she's on about her fourth round of chemo. It was a catch-22 situation. I couldn't have forgiven myself if I hadn't spent time with her, but that's now the image I have in my mind of her. I don't know if that was the start of the winding down of the trip, but it seems so in retrospect.
Danny then took me on a tour to see everything that had changed in Huntsville lately and to talk about old times. I was getting so tired, so I had him drop me at the hotel rather early that evening. I got to sleep pretty early, by 10:00 that night.
The next morning, we checked out of the hotel and drove to Arab to see my aunt. I haven't seen her since I was in my 20s, and mom hadn't seen her in a year or two. We gabbed for a couple of hours before we had to head back to Birmingham. Then the skies opened. I had forgotten what summer thunderstorms are like in Alabama. You could barely see far enough to be able to make out the car in front of you. You just focus on the lights and hope they know where they are going. It was like that most of the way into Birmingham. When we got there, I needed to gas up the car before turning it in. Nope. Phone lines out (couldn't process cards) and power going on and off made that impossible. I figured I would have to eat the cost of gas from the rental company, but their system was down as well and they didn't charge me for the gas.
We got to the airport several hours early to avoid an additional day on the rental car, and the weather cleared up before we took off. We had uneventful flights and got home about 10:00. It's great to be home, and I really enjoyed my mini-vacation and seeing so many wonderful people. Now, if my voice would just come back and I could stop coughing, things would be PERFECT! :)