Thursday, October 1, 2015

Buc-ee's: Terrell, TX

I lost my sister-in-law in a Buc-ee's once.  The one near Huntsville, Texas.  We were on I-45 between Houston and Dallas, coming or going, I don't remember which.  You can't miss any Buc-ee's as I was already well aware but at the time I thought this one near Huntsville was the only one.

It is easy to get lost in - or to lose someone in - one of these stores.  Cathy and I had wandered off from each other, as you have a tendency to do in Buc-ee's.  You can get separated pretty easily, even in the bathroom.  I went outside to wait and sent her a text telling her where I was.  She came outside later and was upset with me.  She looked all over for me (inside, obviously).  She never got my text.  Down the road about 30 minutes later, she gets a text.  My text.  As they say, technology is great...when it works.

In my defense, the day I lost Cathy, the Buc-ee's we stopped at was much busier than this one in Terrell is. I had no trouble finding a parking spot.  But even if they had been packed, I could have found parking, parking is one of the many things they are not lacking.  Parking, and gas pumps, and'll see.

As I said, I thought the one in Huntsville was it but either I didn't realize they had more stores or they have added stores since we left Texas.  Now they have several stores in and around Houston and San Antonio, two that are strategically placed on the main arteries up to Dallas from those cities.  I know the one in Terrell didn't exist until more recently.  I have driven this stretch of I-20 between Dallas and Louisiana a bunch of times.  Many, many, many Buc-ee's-less times.

Coming back from Florida, I pass through Shreveport and that is where the signs begin.  "You can hold it!" they claim.  It is approximately 156 miles from Shreveport to Terrell or about 2 1/2 hours.  This is one time where there is truth in advertising.  Buc-ee's claims to have the cleanest restrooms anywhere and they absolutely do.  You don't have to be afraid of what might be behind that partially open door as I have been at many an airport.  You could eat off the floor in a Buc-ee's bathroom.  I wouldn't, but you could.  Not only is the bathroom clean but there are a LOT of stalls.  I can't stress this enough.  A LOT.  You are not going to get here and see a bus load of kids in band uniforms and be stuck waiting in a line 40 kids deep.  At Buc-ee's, they have you covered.  Room for everyone.

No picture you ask?  Sorry, no.  I could not take a photo of the bathroom due to my personal issues with people and their cell phones in the bathroom.  Why do you need to have this conversation right now?  In the next stall?  I am trying to have what should be a private moment here people - HANG UP THE F$%^ING PHONE!

Moving on.  Bathrooms aren't the only thing that make Buc-ee's worth stopping for.  If you decide to test the eating off the bathroom floor theory, there is plenty to choose from.

Besides having anything you could possibly want to eat or drink (copious amounts of Bud anyone?), they are a merchandizing machine.  I am barely in the front door and I can buy Buc-ee's socks if my feet are cold, or wet, or perfectly fine but in need of a toothy beaver.  All of those rows over to the left are candy.  Rows and rows and rows.  If you have a car full of small children, consider yourself warned.

Even those of us who are non-meat eaters or who are trying to make choices that don't involve large quantities of sugar are covered.  Salads and fruit and veggies galore.  Huge cases of them.

At the Texas Round Up area in the middle of the store you can get fresh made Barbeque:  Brisket and ribs and sausage and chicken and other assorted flesh.  Get it on a bun, get it off, get it to go.  Hot and ready.  They also have another deli section to the left of this out of the picture, a homemade fudge counter and a drink area with every possible bottled and fountain drink (plus coffee and other hot beverages) known to man.

Not hungry?  Waiting on someone lost in the bathroom?  Planning ahead for Christmas or birthday or some other event traditionally requiring a gift?  In need of personal retail therapy? Again, they have you covered.

Candles and picture frames and rugs and clocks and cookbooks and other kitchen items and

Men's, Women's and children's clothing, handbags, jewelry, belts, hats, shoes, scarves and tons of those trendy signs and

Looking for Texas themed items? You've come to the right place.  More clothes, hats, bumper stickers, aprons, pot holders and

Need a birdhouse?

Something with a non-edible chicken on it?  
(The edible kind are also available, I covered that already.)

Metal yard ornaments?

Ideas for bacon?  I almost got this for David until I remembered I would be the one cooking and then not eating the 101 things.

Anything and everything Buc-ee's.  Clothes, bumper stickers, backpacks, koozies, magnets, the list goes on and on and on.  Somewhere here at my house, there is a Buc-ee's neck pillow, like the kind you use on an airplane, that my brother bought for me.  I haven't seen it since our move but I know it is lurking here somewhere, grinning with it's giant beaver teeth.

Even at the register you aren't safe from the Buc-ee's themed merchandise.  Wondering what I bought?  Would you believe me if I said nothing?  
Nah, me neither.

I was going to get this and take it to my dad, I have to go by his house on my way to the hotel.  Then I noticed the seal was broken.

And then I saw this.  No cooking involved.  Dad would have loved it if it had survived the journey.  It is about an hour from here to my dad's house and I haven't had dinner.  Sorry dad.

Buc-ee's is worth a stop if you are passing by.  Even if you are in the general vicinity - say within 100 miles it might be worth a trip.  I might be inclined to make the detour again if I were hungry, or thirsty, or in the mood to shop, or in need of a mecca of consumerism.  Or if I need a bathroom.  Trust can hold it.

Monday, September 28, 2015

Saying Goodbye: Pensacola, FL

My aunt died.  It wasn't unexpected but really, does that matter?  Does that make it easier for the people that loved her?  Of course not.  She was ill for a long time but things had deteriorated and my cousin notified me that she was in hospice.  So I told her, when the time comes, I will be on my way.  But, as often happens in these situations, it didn't turn out exactly the way I planned.

Phyllis was my dad's only sibling.  They were close growing up.

When your mom regularly dresses you up and poses you for pictures, I assume you form a special bond.  There are a large number of pictures of my dad and Phyllis in various outfits, not always matching like the ones above, being posed both with and without their parents.  Church, funeral, school events like prom, Easter, Christmas, birthdays, a new haircut.  No event was too small for this exercise.

My dad moved to Texas in the late 60's and he and Phyllis never lived geographically close after that with Phyllis moving just over the line from their hometown of Atmore, Alabama to the Pensacola, FL area.  Almost every summer, we loaded up the car and made the 12+ hour drive to spend time with my dad's family and in particular, Phyllis's family.

This was a common ritual.  My parents LOVE the beach.  I do not (nor did Phyllis).  Possibly because I hate sand, maybe from being buried to my neck every summer.  The only plus side to this is being protected from sunburn, something I can do after being exposed to very little sun. 
Front to back:   Me, my brother Donnie, my brother Aaron, my cousin David, my cousin Dawn (they are brother and sister).

I saw my mother's family constantly growing up.  They lived nearby and we also had a boy and girl cousin on that side that were close in age to us.  I enjoyed spending time with both families but there is something about spending time with Phyllis's family that was different.  I peg it to staying in hotels and beach houses.  Staying at your aunt's actual home (which happened with Phyllis but not that often), isn't as memorable.  

I am sure our parents could say where this was taken but I cannot.  I do remember the outfit I am wearing and that a person in a gas station asked if I was a boy or girl.  Really?  I am the little blonde girl.  Do people really dress their sons in halter tops?  That's Phyllis on the left, her husband (one of my 3 uncles named Jim) and then my mom on the right.

Jim & Phyllis with David & Dawn.  This photo brings back so many memories.  We stayed in that hotel a bunch of times, the Holiday Inn in Navarre, FL.  I don't think it is there anymore, I believe one of the hurricanes damaged it beyond repair.

 Back to not sure of the location exactly.  My grandpa once took us swimming in a gravel pit so there is no telling.  That's Phyllis with my brothers on her left and Dawn in the foreground.  I don't know where I was but my guess somewhere in the shade.

I think Phyllis probably took this photo.  I also think this is the one and only year that my parents flew us out to visit in advance of their coming.  We stayed at Phyllis's house and at both of our (divorced) grandparent's houses.  I cut a huge gash on my upper thigh after I accused Donnie of cheating at cards and went to leave in a huff.  My grandpa's solution was to lay me on the floor and pour rubbing alcohol on it.  Based on the size of the scar I don't think I would be wrong in saying I actually needed stitches.  That's me in the middle in the white dress.  The tall one.

 Me and Phyllis laying on the beach.  No doubt we both sunburned that day.  It was always easy to see where I got my freckles from when I was around Phyllis.  I think I am about 16 here.  That's uncle Jim in the sunglasses behind us.  I could have sworn I had a copy of this where Phyllis was looking at the camera but I couldn't find it anywhere which makes me really sad.

When I was 18, her son, my cousin David died.  He was in a car accident the Wednesday before my wedding.  His sister Dawn was supposed to be my Maid of Honor.  Obviously, she wasn't as understandably none of that family came.  I got married on Saturday and on Sunday my parent's called to ask my new husband David and I to postpone our honeymoon so they could go be with Phyllis when David died.  We agreed.  He died that Monday.

Me and Dawn at her wedding in 1992. I'm still the tall one.

This picture was taken just a couple of weeks before Dawn's wedding (the baby is my son Blake).  We had traveled there when my grandpa died.  Someone suggested that maybe the women in our family shouldn't get married because someone always died around that event.  For Dawn it was grandpa.  For me it was David.  Phyllis's grandmother Dora died around the time of her wedding.

One thing about Phyllis that stands out to me, and really applies to that whole family, is that she always seemed happy.  She was always smiling.  Look at her in the picture above.  I know she wasn't always happy, no one is ever always anything.  But my impressions of her now and as long as I can remember, she was a positive person.  My dad has that trait too.  You never hear them complain or use words like "I wish".   I never heard her be sad about David's passing.  Whenever she talked about him she lit up, she smiled, she talked about happy times.  I want to be like that.

After her husband Jim died, things started to change.  After a few years, Dawn was forced to seek care for her mother.  Alzheimer's, early onset I would say since she was only in her mid-60's when she passed away.  Like her mother, I never heard Dawn complain.  She took care of it with a grace I hope to have half of if I am one day called to make the difficult decisions she was forced to make. 

When Phyllis passed away, my dad called me.  I asked if he planned to go to Florida and he said he would let me know.  He and my mother had been there only a few weeks before and he had said he wouldn't go back when the time came.  Knowing my dad I thought he might have changed his mind.  When he decided yes they would go, I knew my course of action.  

I would fly to Texas (from Montana) and then help him make the long drive to Pensacola.  Dad drives a truck for a living and let's face it, he isn't getting any younger (that was for you dad), so I didn't like the idea of him making that long drive by himself.  It isn't that he can't, that didn't matter.  I didn't want him to.   There are few people in the world that bring out my protective side but he is one of them.  Once, when he was playing softball, a man on the other team was heckling him while he pitched and it took a lot of self-control for me to not go punch that man in the face.  My plan is to get the keys as soon as I can and to do as much driving as possible.

All of this would delay my getting to Dawn as fast as promised but it felt like the right thing to do.  Besides, thinking Dawn would need me right away (or at all) was a fallacy.  It isn't that she didn't want me to come but she doesn't need me.  She has a great family, close friends, good colleagues at work.  She would have been okay had I never made it at all.

I flew to Texas and we made plans to start the drive the next morning.  When my brother asked what time we were leaving I told him that mom was setting her alarm for 6 am so my guess would be 9.  I was close...we got in the car at 8:30.  That's when things started to fall apart.  My mom calls her mom while we are still on the street my parents live on.   Her mom is unwell and at 90 years old, that is a big deal.  There is conversation about missing medication.  She speaks to one of my aunts who is at my grandmother's home and there is talk of going to a hospital.

Getting to Dawn quickly wasn't about Phyllis.  It was about Dawn.  When the discussion began about what needed to happen my dad said it perfectly to my mother, "Phyllis is gone, I can't do anything for her now.  Your mother is still here.  We have to take care of the living."  So dad drove me to DFW airport, I rented a car and drove on alone.  I know it was hard for my dad but I also know he would never tell you he was sorry for that decision or that it was wrong.  That's not the way he thinks.  Again, I want to be like that.

So I drove and I thought.  And thought.  And thought.  And wrote some of this post in my head along the way.  Probably some really good stuff I didn't write here. Driving to Florida to say goodbye to Phyllis and to do whatever it was that Dawn needed me to do gave me lots of time to think about them, about family, about my childhood.  

I remember that trip when we flew to Florida without mom and dad clearly.  Maybe because mom and dad weren't there.  Maybe because a lot happened and we had that factor of staying in homes we weren't familiar with and with people we barely ever saw.  What stands out the most is that when we arrived at the airport in Mobile, Phyllis and Jim were there to get us and I was sick.  We drove to their house with Phyllis sitting in the back of the van with me, holding my head in her lap, while I fought the urge to vomit.  I can't be sure that I didn't.  I just remember her caring and kindness and her promise I would be fine.  Those are important things when you are young and away from home and with what almost amounted to strangers.

Phyllis and I saw each other once, maybe twice on average, per year over the whole of my life.  Less after I was an adult.  But there are parts of my life that only she and her family bore witness to.  The time I was sick after the plane ride, when I cut my leg on the table, when I threw up large amounts of watermelon in my grandma's back yard.  Now I think, maybe those things never happened.  There is almost no one left to tell me otherwise.  

My family on that side is dwindling.  My dad, my brother, me and Dawn.  Our families of course.  But as it always is as generations begin to pass on, sometimes those below have a hard time keeping in touch, finding time to be together.  We have that whole geographic distance problem:  Dad and Aaron in Texas, me in Montana, Dawn in Florida.  Both Dawn and I have been married  more than 20 years and our husbands might have met once or twice.  Recently, Dawn and I have made an effort to find a way to see each other at least once a year.  Just like when we were kids.  

 Dawn and I in Nashville this past April.  I'm the one on the left.  Always the tall one.

Memory works in strange ways.  Phyllis lost hers.  I feel like some of mine are less real now that she is gone.  As Dawn and I go on and make new memories, maybe together, by seeing each other and talking about the old times, the fun times, hopefully those memories I feel are fading by the loss of their witnesses, can stay real.  At least for a little while longer.

Saturday, September 5, 2015

Crater of the Moon National Monument & Preserve: Arco, ID

A person could starve to death in Idaho.  Not only that but it is unlikely anyone would ever find you until you are a pile of bones and, just maybe, not even then.

On the way home from Boise we decide to make another side trip, this time to the Craters of the Moon National Monument & Preserve near Arco, ID.  During the 190 mile, 3 hour trip from Boise to Arco, the nearest town to the Monument, there was nothing.  No gas stations.  No fast food.  No mom and pop store.  Nothing.  I can't stress this enough.  Nothing.  David and I became vaguely concerned about options for lunch.  Once you arrive in Arco there is a gas station that has a little convenience store so we were able to get drinks and snacks.  David, as per his usual, picks out hot and spicy pork rinds...a decision he later comes to regret.

As I mentioned in my last post, this part of Idaho isn't what I expected but what you really don't expect is to be driving along and come to a volcanic wasteland.  

This wasn't one volcano but a group of them called The Great Fissure. The National Monument and Preserve cover 750,000 acres.

There is a very nice visitor center where we watch a movie about a man who in 1920 hiked across the entire length with another man and a dog.  The poor dog was wishing pretty quickly he had been left at home.  The sharpness of the rocks damaged his feet both quickly and badly.  Geologists say this is the most recent fissure eruption in the US (excluding Hawaii).  In 1924, President Coolidge used the 1906 Antiquities Act to preserve this area as a National Monument.

There are campsites here for both tent camping and RVs.  It is easy to understand why NASA sent astronauts here in 1969 to prepare for moon missions.

There are several parking areas where you can walk a trail to view the different kinds of volcanic rock along with the other scenery here. I will say these were not really ADA friendly although they are paved.  The paths were narrow and not really flat and it was easy to trip if you weren't paying attention to where you were walking.  Or even if you were if you are like me and find yourself tripping at places like the mall or the parking lot at Walmart.

There was a surprising amount of wildlife here including lots of chipmunks, some who posed nicely to have their portrait done.

And a large variety of birds.

There is a surprising amount of vegetation, considering all of the rock.  Lots of sage and other desert/scrubby bushes and craggy trees. 

A lot of the trees appear to be dead and those make up some of the most interesting scenery for me.

There is one large mound of fine gravel rock that you can hike to the top of.

This picture doesn't do it justice.  That is not an easy hike.  As we were going up a man and woman coming down notified us that when you get to what looks like the top, it isn't.

You can see a LONG way from up there.  Not that the view is what most would consider spectacular since it is scrub brush, dead trees and volcanic rock but I think it has a beauty of it's own.  It is very windy at the top and I have to hold my shirt down lest I flash the other visitors.

I have always really liked black & white photography and this place lends itself to that, in my opinion.  Here are a few of my favorites:

We spent close to 3 hours here and I am glad we made this side trip.  It is a very interesting place and it isn't overrun with tourists.  We set off for home with the hot and spicy pork rinds and a bag of ruffles because the visitors center didn't have any food at all, no snack bar or anything for purchase.  Home is 260 miles away, approximately 4 1/2 hours.  We haven't eaten a meal since breakfast in Boise, around 7 hours ago.  The snacks don't hold us for long and we are both seriously hungry not far down the road.  I keep thinking we will pass something, anything but just like the first half of the drive, that is an incorrect assumption.  I start to be vaguely concerned we will have to go all the way to Hamilton, only about 30 miles from our house before we find food.  Then I see a sign for Salmon, ID.  A town I have heard and it has a sign so it has to be big enough for us to find something to eat, right?

Driving through Salmon on a Sunday told us very quickly that our choices would be limited.  We were actually slightly concerned there wasn't anything open at all until we made it to the very far edge of town, right before our turn for home.  Burger King.  David is very happy, he likes Burger King.  Not only do I not like Burger King it is one of those that is inside a gas station, not my favorite place to eat food.  Plus, as a person who tries to not eat meat, Burger King isn't a great option.  But, we are both so hungry there is no way we are passing this by.  We both assume at this point we won't see anything else between here and Hamilton, close to another 100 miles away.

They are offering their fish sandwich at this time so that is what I order.  It is terrible.  I only eat half.  David eats all of his burger even though he was still feeling a little queasy from the pork rinds.  As you can image, this doesn't help.  I make the remainder of the drive home with him in the passenger seat on strict orders to tell me if he plans to puke so I can pull over.  

Next time I think we will take a cooler with food and drinks and possibly other life sustaining items like flares and toilet paper because we might find ourselves in need of them out here on the lonely highways and back roads of Idaho.

I feel ya buddy.  I really do.

Saturday, August 29, 2015

Side Tripping in Idaho: Twin Falls, ID

I've been busy with other things but now I am finally to get back to business which means, back to Idaho for a few more stories.

When I booked our trip to Idaho, I only set plans for the evening.  I made our plans over a month in advance and had no way of knowing what the weather would be.  I looked up some indoor and outdoor options but in the end decided just to live in the moment and see where the universe took us.  The day after the concert proved to be a beautiful blue sky day and since we don't need to be back in Boise until 7 pm, David suggests we take a side trip over to Twin Falls.

David is constantly telling me what he has "read about" and in this case he has read about a bridge and a falls.  What he hasn't read enough about is how to stay awake in the car.  The drive from Boise south to Twin Falls is not exciting and I experience it largely alone.  As with many aspects of my life (myself, other people, situations, events and in this case places), Idaho isn't what I expected.  Living only 30 minutes from the border with Idaho I expect it to look like where we live.  Mountains.  Trees.  That was wrong.  The northern parts of Idaho do look like that but as you go south, not so much.  I think there are more trees in Amarillo than there are between Boise and Twin Falls.  It is flat and brown.  You can see for very long distances.  I didn't appreciate when we set out that we would be so close to Nevada until we started seeing signs on businesses about serving "Southern Idaho and Northern Nevada".

Over 20 years ago David and I talked about the possibility of living in Twin Falls.  He was finishing school and we had agreed that it might be best for us to get out of Texas.  We had been through a difficult time in our marriage a few years before and we had just spent a little over a year getting him through school while I was the only one working.  We had 3 kids in a crappy 2 bedroom apartment.  They had little foam chairs that pulled out into mats they slept on all in one room with no other furniture.  Our mattress was sitting on the floor and we also had no other furniture.  Everything of value had been sold or pawned to get him through the last few months of school.  Now he was graduating 1st in his class and we were ready for a change.  He applied for a job in Twin Falls.

The job he ended up getting was within walking distance of that crappy apartment and for the next 20 years we stayed in Texas.  Worked and raised a family.  But we always talked about going north and west someday and now here we are living in Montana.  And I think it worked out the way it should.  But for the writer in me it is interesting to look at this town and to think how different things would have been if we had moved all of those years ago.  Especially for our kids whose whole lives would be different.

The bridge isn't hard to find, you have to drive right across it coming from Boise.

The I. B. Perrine Bridge has been here (under other names) since 1927.  When it was built, it was the highest bridge in the world.  

 This bridge spans the Snake River and somewhere in that near distance is a site where Evil Knievel crashed in 1974 after his parachute malfunctioned during a jump.

As soon as you cross the bridge there is a visitors center so we stop in to see what information they have about the area.  What we end up seeing are people working on packing parachutes.  It turns out this bridge is a very popular BASE jumping site.  David and I grab our cameras and go to find a good vantage point to watch from.

Checking to see if the coast is clear.  There are a lot of boats, kayaks and paddleboarders on the river.

Over the edge.

The first step is the hardest.  This guy did a flip on the way down.

The girl he was on the bridge with jumps next.  No fancy flips for her.

Chute's out.

The landing site.

You can sign up at the visitor center to try this in a tandem jump.  We don't for a few reasons.  David has a fear of falling.  I have a fear of looking like an idiot or them telling me I weigh too much.  But a big reason is it seems like a LOT of work for such as short experience.  The packing of the chute appeared to be a very time consuming activity and then getting on all of the gear and walking out on the bridge to wait for a good time to jump.  It was over in a few seconds.  Then they have to hike back up to the top of the bridge carrying all of this equipment.  It is a steep, difficult hike.  After crying during our hike on St. Mary's, where only David was around to see, I am not prepared for the possibility I could have that same experience here with all of these people watching (and taking photographs).

Plus, there is a falls to see.  Shoshone Falls is listed as "The Niagara of the West".  I have been to Niagara Falls so I am really anxious to compare.

It may be 45 feet higher than Niagara but in scope and grandness...not even close.

They have much of the flow dammed up when we are there but even if it was flowing over the whole of this area, as it apparently does at times, this would still pale in comparison to the real deal in New York and Canada.  Still, I am awed by most waterfalls and the park/visitor area here is very nice and there aren't a lot of people so it was definitely worth the side trip.

On the way back, I treat David to a burger since there is no Popeye's in Twin Falls.  When we walked in I almost walked right back out.  I thought we were in the wrong place.  I wasn't expecting this "restaurant" to be in a bar/pool hall.

It is a good thing we stayed.  The burger came with tots.  I know the way to my man's heart.  I just might not be able to get in there someday when his arteries clog up.

On the way back to Boise, I think about what it would have been like if we had lived in Twin Falls all these years.  I told David - during the part he was awake for - that we would have been okay there.  It's hard to say I am glad we didn't move here back then because we went through some very rough years when our kids were teenagers and maybe that would have turned out different.  Well, I know it would have.  But different isn't always better, there is always the possibility of different worse. 

What I really need to learn from this trip is that my expectations are often wrong - about people and about places - and that it doesn't matter what the people we would be in that alternate universe would be like.  After all, they don't exist.   And look at his face in that picture.  Who would want to miss out on this version of David?

Sunday, July 26, 2015

The Anti-Foodie: Boise, ID

One evening when our friends Steven and Joanne were over for dinner, comments were being made about David's many food issues.  In an effort to semi-defend him I said, "He's just not a foodie".  Steven said, "Yes he is.  He would drive his motorcycle all the way to Boise just to eat at Popeye's Chicken."  And I immediately realized Steven was right.  David is a foodie.  A Crap Foodie!  Or as I now think of it, an Anti-Foodie, like the Anti-Christ only with food.  He stands for everything that is the opposite of what traditional foodies stand for.

In my mind foodies are interested in quality ingredients, whole, organic food and they are open to trying a lot of different things - squid and brains and quinoa.  For David, it is the opposite.  The Dollar Menu?  Absolutely.  Pesticides?  Bring them on.  And there is a long list of things he will not eat.  Like onions in any form, cooked or not.  Lettuce, forget it and if it even so much as touches anything he is going to eat, it is over.  Almost all vegetables are out of the question.  Strawberries or anything strawberry flavored.  He will eat spinach from a can but not raw or when I wilt it from scratch. He is more interested in Pop-Tarts and Spam.  Hot and Spicy Pork Rinds.  Frozen Pizza and Kraft Mac & Cheese.  Ranch Style Beans with cut up Earl Campbell's Hot Links is a staple when I am out of town.

And he WAS planning a trip to Boise.  He had brought it up more than a few times.  Boise happens to be the nearest city that has a Popeye's Chicken.  One of the main things he misses about living in the Dallas area is proximity to restaurants and in particular, fast food.  Popeye's is at the top of his list along with Jack-in-the-Box, Sonic and Whataburger, all places we do not have here.  To drive home how much he misses it...Boise is SEVEN  HOURS away.

So with his 50th birthday approaching and my general aversion to purchasing gifts for people who aren't lacking anything, I wanted to do something different.  I decided to drive him to Boise for chicken.  I started looking at what there is to do in Boise, as it is so far that we will have to stay overnight, and saw that The Zac Brown Band was going to be at the University there so I bought us tickets.  They also have an Escape Game.  I enjoyed that so much in Nashville and thought it would be right up his alley so I booked that too.

When I told him that for his birthday we were going to Boise and presented him with our travel itinerary and tickets (including the address for Popeye's), he was very excited we would be there more than one day.

I don't hear anything but David swears he hears angels singing.

He tells me before we leave that he plans to eat there 3 times.  Once on Friday night, the day we arrive, once on Saturday, before the Escape Game, and lunch on Sunday before we go home.  I inform him that I don't plan to eat there even one time but as it turned out, it didn't work out for either one of us.  We arrive in Boise and check in to our hotel and have just over an hour to get to the concert.  Popeye's is across town.  By the time we get there we really don't have time to go to a second place for me so, trying to be the good wife and considering this is his birthday trip, I suck it up and we go in.

David orders his favorite chicken strips.  He is almost giddy.  I try not to eat meat other than fish and fortunately they offer both shrimp and catfish.  However, I am weird about the possibility of food poisoning, something I have had multiple times, and it takes me a bit to weigh the options.  I go with the shrimp. Fingers crossed.

This photo is blurry because I am laughing.  Eating with David is a lot like eating with a small child.  He can watch me take food out of the oven or off the stove and put it on a plate and he will immediately try to eat it and burn his mouth.  Every. Time.

See?  It has been "SO LONG".  He couldn't wait.

My shrimp is terrible.  I ate about half only because my expectations for options at the concert are low.  In my mind, the first stages of imminent, unavoidable food poisoning have begun.  David ordered a 5 piece but they gave him 7.  He ate them all.  In the car on the way to the concert, he is regretting that decision.  "They were just so good," he says.  But he is miserable.  He's lucky I have Tums in my purse.

We never ate at Popeye's again.  He said the 7 pieces were the amount he might have expected to eat over the whole 3 days so he got it out of the way all at once.  We did make the pilgrimage to Sonic and Jack-in-the-Box, both for breakfast.  And we did find one other place he was quite happy with on a side trip, more on that next time. 
We Escaped at the Escape Game (with 30 seconds to spare in a 2 person team, something the worker said is very hard to do) and I thankfully escaped another trip to Popeye's.  Two wins in one day. 

If you are ever in the Salt Lake City airport Terminal B, you can swing by Popeye's.  Maybe you will see me there trying go soak up the smell for when I get home.  It's better than any perfume I could buy as far as David is concerned.  But soaking up the smell is all I will be doing.  I definitely won't be eating.  Even if you are buying.