The Boston Diaries

The ongoing saga of a programmer who doesn't live in Boston, nor does he even like Boston, but yet named his weblog/journal “The Boston Diaries.”

Go figure.

Monday, April 11, 2016

She wore a raspberry beret

I was driving when we crossed over into Georgia, so I was not able to take a picture, but let me attempt to describe this surreal scene: picture in your mind a MINI Cooper as the flag car for an oversided vehicle. Now picture in your mind an oversized vehicle filling two lanes of the highway, carrying a swiming pool. Okay, the swimmming pool is empty, but it's still a swimming spool!

So, one of the smallest cars on the road escorting one of the largest oversized vehicles I've seen carrying the last thing I would have imagined being carried. Very odd. Keep up the good work, Georgia.

Other than that, the drive up to Brevard was uneventful. It did take us slightly longer than twelve hours to drive to Brevard this year, but only because of the bumper-to-bumper traffic we encountered just south of Hendersonville that slowed us up for about fifteen minutes.

We're again staying at the Red House Inn and this time, I was able to get our favorite room. And like in previous years, we dumped our bags and headed out for dinner.

[But she did not get her beret at a second hand store.]

Our destination—The Square Root, a high end eating establishment tucked into an alleyway in downtown Brevard. It's one of our favorite places to eat. Well, truth be told, we have a lot of favorite places to eat in Brevard. But it's become somewhat of a tradition to eat our first meal at the Square Root.

After that, a walk back to the Red House Inn where we both collapsed into bed.

Tuesday, April 12, 2016

East meets the South

The only downside to eating at The Square Root was that the food was just too rich. Between the Pecan Encrusted Brie (“Delicious Fried Brie served with Granny Smith Apples and Crackers with a Frangelico Praline Sauce”), the house salad with homemade blue cheese dressing, Scallops Saltimbocca (“Pan Seared Scallops atop Smoked Tomato Risotto and Roasted Artichokes. Finished with a Lemon, Caper and Sage Butter and topped with Crispy Prosciutto and Sage”) and the flourless Chocolate Torte (not listed on their menu and more like fudge, but oh so worth it) I had a very uncomfortable night, as sad as that is.

It's a vacation! What good is a vacation if you can't enjoy overindulging in fine gourmet food?


Due to the predicted weather (rain and then more rain) we had already planned on saying in today. Good thing, as I took advantage of some extra sleep to make up for the loss of sleep the previous two days.

[How many hotels have you stayed at with such a porch?  Yes, this entire porch is for our use.  I tell you, once you find a good bed&breakfast, stay with it.]

By evening it was nice and clear and we were able to take advantage of the private porch to sit and relax for a bit.

We had dinner at The Twin Dragons Grand Buffet, a Chinese buffet in Brevard. It was unlike any other Chinese buffet I've ever been to. You had your standard American Chinese food, like Sweet&Sour Chicken, Mongolian Beef and fried rice, but you also had southern staples like fried chicken, frog legs, corn on the cob and collard greens. But then you also had the (to me at least) the really alien Chinese food like Spicy Baby Octopus (only it wasn't called octopus but look close enough and yes, it was baby octopus).

It wasn't bad (although I did not try the Spicy Baby Octopus), it was just … an odd juxtaposition of food genres that threw me.

Wednesday, April 13, 2016

Dandelion Whine

[You can make wine from this flower? Really? Then why all the hate?]

It's been years since I've last seen a dandelion, that little cheerful yellow flower that is apparently the bane of suburban lawn owners. And I have to wonder why?

What makes this flower such a bane? They come up, bloom, feed a bunch of bees, seed and then … go away? I don't know really. Growing up, my granddad would rip the suckers right out of the lawn and when that didn't work, pour gallons of caustic chemicals in the vain attempt to rid the lawn of the things even as the neighborhood kids would pluck the fuzzy cotton-headed dandelions and blow hard to send the seeds floating down the street.

I remember asking Bunny a few weeks ago what makes a weed a “weed,” and she answered, “any unwanted plant.” Okay, fair enough. But considering that the “weeds” we get in our yard have these needle-sharp burrs that are a literal pain to remove, I think I'd rather have dandelions in the lawn. At least they don't jam painfully into your fingers, drawing blood.

Extreme bar stools, Brevard Edition

Bunny was thirsty from all the walking about Brevard, so we stopped into Hunters & Gatherers for some liquid refreshment.

[It's not normal for bars to have saddles as bar stools, is it?]

I guess the shop owners figured this would keep the women occupied as the men shopped. Or something like that.

Gluten free sodas are gluten free to a point

So I'm enjoying a lovely beverage at Hunters & Gatherers when I notice something odd on the label:

[I don't care about the wheat content as much as I care about the corn content.]

“Pardon my asking,” I said to the proprietor, “but I thought all soda was gluten free.”

“I would think so too,” said the proprietor. “Perhaps for sweetening? Like stevia?”

“No,” I said. “It's usually corn they use for sweetening.”

“Oh,” said the proprietor, who was doing a search on the Intarwebs, “sodas might be bottled in a shared facility.”

“Okay, that makes sense.”

“And if gluten is less than 20 parts-per-million, it's considered ‘gluten-free.’”

“How about that?”

“Well, the more you know

Thursday, April 14, 2016

Extreme lawn ornaments part II, Brevard edition

In Brevard, some people use cows as a lawn ornament. But others? A dog marking its territory.

[I think that being anatomically correct is what pushes this over the edge.]

Not only that, but this is in front of Marco Trattoria, an upscale restuarant here in Brevard.

Friday, April 15, 2016

Triple Falls

Today Bunny and I hiked out to Triple Falls. Okay, so it's not much of a hike, being perhaps half a mile from the parking lot.

[Lost? Balderdash! We just have to go ... Um ...]

But it was a steep climb up the trail (marked “easy” on the maps—I'd hate to think of the grade on a “medium” trail) and that still left the Escheresque stairs to the actual falls.

[You might think this is leading down, but these are Esher Stairs, which go up both ways. It was most annoying.]

All one hundred and twelve stairs.

Yes, I counted each one.

But it was worth it.

[A cascade of cascading water along the Little River, an ironic name given that it's not that little. Then again, the New River, also in North Carolina, is not that new, being the oldest river in the world.]

And yes, the hike back to the parking lot was just as grueling.

Saturday, April 16, 2016

Perhaps not so exteme bar stools, Brevard edition

While the sample size of two is small, the fact that of the two bars I've seen in Brevard each has saddles as bar stools.

[Perhaps in Brevard, it is normal to have saddles as bar stools.]

Is this a thing? Did I not get the memo?

Sunday, April 17, 2016

Extreme busking, Charlotte version

Bunny and I are in Charlotte when we come across this guy busking downtown:

[I think he wanted to try out for the role of The Tin Man for the theater production of The Wizard Of Oz.]

Although he was dancing rather than playing an instrument, so I'm not sure if this is actually busking or not.

It's extreme, whatever it is.

Exreme chess sets, Ritz-Carlton edition

Bunny and I ducked into the Ritz-Carlton in downtown Charlotte for a few minutes. Inside, I saw this very abstract, and very large, chess set:

[The Ritz-Carlton spared no expense in sponsoring this abstract chess board.]

I found it nice, but it's one of those things where if you have to ask how much it is, you certainly can't afford it.

The Alton Brown Eat Your Science Tour

Bunny and I were in Charlotte for Alton Brown's Eat Your Science Tour. He wasn't getting any closer to Florida for this tour and Charlotte isn't that far from Brevard (Orlando is farther from Chez Boca than Charlotte is from Brevard).

If anything, this show was better than his previous tour even if in this show he didn't make a pizza in 60 seconds or ice cream in ten seconds. Just two things to keep in mind when seeing this show:

  1. Be on time or you will be viciously mocked by Alton Brown himself;
  2. Even if you don't like bacon, you will like bacon or you will be viciously mocked by Alton Brown, even if you are a fourteen year old girl.

Although, if you are late, just give Alton some whiskey and he'll forgive you.

Again, if you are a fan of Good Eats or of Alton Brown himself, it's worth seeing the show.

Monday, April 18, 2016

The Jungle Book

Bunny and I went to see “The Jungle Book,” the Disney remake of their 1967 animated movie, “The Jungle Book.” Don't be fooled if you think this is all live action—it's not. It's nearly all animated, but the computer animation is quite good throughout the movie.

It follows more the 1967 version than the book, but as a remake, this is darker and quite a bit more violent than the original Disney version—it defintely earns its PG rating (and I'm surprised it didn't get a PG-13—Shere Khan is a villian in this vesion). And just like the original, you get the musical numbers “The Bare Necessities” (which didn't seem that out of place) and “I Wan'na Be Like You” (which … um … didn't quite fit).

All the voice actors were good but … well … when King Louie (not in the book and created by Disney) first appeared in the film, it seemed as if the voice actor was doing an odd impersonation of Marlon Brando as Colonel Kurtz when it finally dawned on me—it was Christopher Walken, who I think was doing a Christopher Walkenian impression of Marlon Brando doing Colonel Kurtz and finally doing a Christopher Walkenian impression of Christopher Walken.

But aside from that (even as an orangutan, Walken is Walken) it was worth seeing. We both enjoyed the movie.

Tuesday, April 19, 2016

Driving to China

Bunny had this large china dinner set she wanted to sell, and given that we would be in the neighborhood (for medium values of “neighborhood”) we drove to Replacements, Ltd. in the small town of McLeansville, some three and a half hours from Brevard. It's not a small operation:

[No need to dig to China when there's a metric butt load of china right here.]

And not just limited to plates. They have crystal; they have figurines; they have … lots of stuff.

And for those of you who are not in the “neighborhood,” they ship as well.

Extreme drive-thru, Winston-Salem edition

Bunny and I stopped in Winston-Salem for dinner on the way back to Brevard. Inside the restaurant—

[It's a pan-dimensional drive-thru, which is fine if you're Buckaroo Bonzai. But I'm not, so that's why we didn't notice it at first.]

We didn't realize it was also a drive-thru restaurant. And upon leaving, we realized we should have driven through and not stopped at all (the staff was wonderful, unfortunately, the food wasn't so wonderful).

Wednesday, April 20, 2016

Black Dog Salvage

Bunny is a fan of the television show Salvage Dawgs and since we were in “the neighborhood“ (for medium values of “neighborhood”) of Roanoke, VA we figured we would drive on out and check out Black Dog Salvage.

[I think they'll need a bigger rocket if they want to beat Andy Griffith to the moon.]

It's not a bad place if you are into architectural salvage stores. And it's huge. A ton of stuff for sale, from tiles to columns (Corinthian, Ionic and Doric), doors, and even stairways. It's all for sale.

The main cast members were not there as they were out salvaging some more stuff, but Bunny did recognize one person who has appeared on the show.

We had fun.

A sooperseekrit blast from the past

While at Black Dog Salvage I came across this:

[... and the Harmonic Llamas, chanting “Emmit with the hemmit and the shouldama pads.”  Only two other people are expected to get this. The rest of you will just have to keep scratching your heads in puzzlement.]

It obviously stands for “Black Dog Salvage” but it caught my attention because it has another meaning to me (yes, this is an inside joke from a long time ago).

Thursday, April 21, 2016

A quiet day on vacation

This is our last day in Brevard and we took it easy. We had lunch with an old friend of mine who lives in town. For dinner, we went to Binion's Roadhouse, a place we liked last time we ate there.

I'm not sure what's going on in North Carolina, but it seems we cannot get a good steak in this state. Ribeye. Medium rare. It shouldn't be that difficult. Tonight, shoe leather—twice! At least the second one had a bit of medium on it.


Tonight we pack and then tomorrow—driving! Lots and lots of driving.

Friday, April 22, 2016

… aaaaaaand we're back!

It's night. It's more a monsoon than a heavy rain. The thunder is deafening. There are lightening bolts slamming into the earth every few seconds. I'm driving in a construction zone. And every other driver out there is an idiot with their hazzard lights blinking.

I'm having way too much fun for the driving conditions. What a blast!

We're home now. The drive was pretty uneventful until Jacksonville. As I was filling up the car, some guy in an unmarked white van tried to sell us frozen steaks (no, really!). But despite the lack of good steaks recently we decline to buy any.

We then hit very heavy traffic through downtown Jacksonville and by the time that cleared up, we were in the middle of a monsoon for the next eighty miles. After that, it was clear skies all the way to Chez Boca.

Now we collapse.

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