Went out on Saturday with my friend Jack and we traversed the Appalachian Trail from Newfound Gap to Charlie’s Bunion and back. The weather was awesome and the views were super fine. It was quite warm and there were several shirtless guys out enjoying the trail as well. So … BONUS VIEWS! Ha, ha.

And … the late afternoon sun/clouds at Lake Junaluska put on quite a show yesterday.
Lake Junaluska Walk


Low Country!

So … a much needed weekend in the Low Country of South Carolina has come and gone. Charleston really is an awesome town. History, fun, food, beaches, and lots of drinks!

Downtown Charleston
Here’s the view from Philadelphia Alley (aka Dueler’s Alley).

When downtown, you really need to stop into SNOB (Slightly North of Broad) on Bay Street for a Barn Raiser. It’s easily one of the best cocktails ever. It’s made from honey, house-made honey-infused bourbon, local spicy ginger ale, bitters, and an orange twist. Pure heaven! We’ve eaten here before and the food is on point too.
The Barn Raiser at SNOB

We also partook of Zombies at Cane Rhum Bar. It supposedly the strongest drink in Charleston. They will only sell you one and it comes to the table in a cool skull glass … and it’s flaming (though you can’t really see the flame in my photo).
Zombie Drinks at Cane Rhum Bar

A walk on the beach at Isle of Palms is always a must. Thankfully it wasn’t too windy or cold on Saturday. There were lots of people out enjoying the sun and surf.
Isle of Palms

And the best thing you can do late night on Friday or Saturday (10pm to 2 am) in Charleston is get a Chicken Biscuit at Callie’s Hot Little Biscuit on Upper King Street. Seriously! Go get one of these Chicken Biscuits when you are in Charleston. I love them so much went Friday AND Saturday. Yum!
Late Night at Callies Hot Little Biscuit

And, for no real reason, here’s some Red Roof Inn Plus realness.
Motel Selfie

What else happened?
– Uber rides in BMW’s and Audi’s. Swank.
– I didn’t buy any records at Monster Music. Willpower!
– Yummy brunches with David’s former cohorts.
– Drank too many Vodka Tonics at Dudley’s on Ann.

Speaking of Dudley’s on Ann. It’s apparently the non-gay gay bar. We went to the drag show on Friday night and the number of straight girls and bachelorettes was quite annoying. We ending up hanging out/chatting with one of the locals for most of the evening. We left the bar at the same time after the second drag show and parted ways on the street. I couldn’t decide if this guy was interested in something more or just being nice. Maybe he was waiting for one of us to make a move? I didn’t think he was putting out any signals … but then again, I was very drunk and (in general) am terrible at picking up on other people’s signals. It’s probably a sad commentary on gay culture that we can’t just meet a stranger in a bar and hang out without thinking there is some immediate desire on their part to hook up.

Now, it’s back to the drudgery of daily life. I mowed the yard yesterday and got some Game of Thrones Oreo’s in celebration of the Season 8 premiere.
Game of Thones Oreos!

Sadly, I have already reached my four cookie per day maximum … and it’s only 3:00 pm.  How will I ever make it through the evening?!

Low Country!

Ups and Downs

Things are rolling along. Got the ups and got the downs.

Saturday, JR and I got to trek through the woods on the Lakeshore Trail to Forney Creek in the Great Smoky Mountains National Park. It was an absolutely spectacular day. Sunny and 70° temperatures. Maybe Spring really is almost here.

You start at the end of the Road to Nowhere and walk through an abandoned tunnel.
The Road to Nowhere

Past the tunnel, the pavement ends and you properly trek through the woods.
Lakeshore Trail

It’s three miles to where Forney Creek empties into Lake Fontana. They have the lake drawn down, so we were able to get out from under the treeline and enjoy the sun.
Forney Creek & Lake Fontana

A guy was on the other side of Forney Creek looking kind of lost. He forded the creek and it ended up being a guy we had passed earlier. He was out with five boys and they had taken a wrong turn and ended up on the far side of the creek from where they wanted to be. I tried my best to tell him to go back of the trail and get back on the official route.
Helping a Misdirected Hiker

He forded the creek again and he and the boys disappeared. They reappeared in about 15 minutes because some nice boaters decided to just shuttle them across to our side. I guess he decided not to backtrack (the smart thing to do) like I suggested.

After lunch, JR took a nap while I watched frogs jumping around in a marshy area caused by the drawdown of the lake. It really was an awesome day!

I took a selfie on the trail and suspect that I am too beardy. At the very least it needs shaping … and maybe some Just for Men. Damn, damn. I am getting grey.

Sunday, I met up with Mary (who used to costume for the theater) and we had lunch and beer at Bearwaters. I hadn’t seen Mary in a long time and we spent four hours catching up. I need to be better about keeping up with people. It would have been nice if we could have sat outside at the brewery but a 70° Saturday gave way to a 45° Sunday. Grrrrrrr.

Then yesterday. My Dad’s dog, Mia, very unexpectedly had to be put down. I got asked to come up and bury her and it was a pretty traumatic experience … more traumatic than I though it would be. So, last night I was really down … thinking about poor Mia in the cold, dark ground. 11 years is too short a time for her to have been around. RIP, Mia.

Mia and me back in 2010.

Now the work week is well underway and I am just struggling … just working and waiting for Friday afternoon to get here.

[There’s only one link because I am tried and lazy and too later getting this posted.]

Ups and Downs

Four Days of Randomness

Random Things that have happened since Friday …

Re-watched The Private Eyes. It’s totally silly but totally filmed at Biltmore.
The Private Eyes (1980)

Speaking of …. I went to Biltmore and took in the new Vanderbilt House Party exhibit. It was really cool and the flower arrangements throughout the house were spectacular.
Biltmore Flowers

Finally watched Overlord. It’s B-Movie goodness and I enjoyed it!
Overlord (2018)

Finally binged Bodyguard on Netflix and really dug it. The story didn’t go where I was expecting it to. Be sure to check it out.
Bodyguard on Netflix

And … Double Baconator Meal at Wendy’s!
Wendy's Excitement

Four Days of Randomness

Weekend Update [Moonshine Edition]

This past weekend we took our new friend, Colton, for some drunken fun in everyone’s favorite moonshine soaked town … Gatlinburg!

Ole Smoky Moonshine Distillery
Doc Collier
Ole Smoky Whiskey Distillery

We made some new friends at the Ole Smoky Whiskey Distillery. They recognized us from around town earlier in the day. They spent 5+ hours getting to Gatlinburg. Thankfully, it only takes us 1-1/2 to get to the sweet, tasty moonshine town.
New Friends at Ole Smoky

And what trip to Gatlinburg is complete without a trip through the Mysterious Mansion?
Mysterious Mansion!

We also took in the view (and opportunity to sober up) on the Gatlinburg Sylift. It’s going to be much more fun this spring when they open the longest pedestrian suspension bridge in the states. I can’t wait to check it out!

Back at home, I have counted the moonshine we have on hand and it added up to 50 bottles. Something tells me we need to get drinking! Who wants to come over for a sampling?

Weekend Update [Moonshine Edition]

DRS [Dead Man’s Cell Phone Edition]

This past weekend, I finished up the first show I have done in two years. Dead Man’s Cell Phone (by Sarah Ruhl) went off pretty well and the cast had a lot of fun.

So, here another round of … Dressing Room Selfies! With only two men in the show that were on stage a different times, the dressing room was a pretty empty place. Apparently, the major takeaway from these is that I was either sleepy or cold on any given night. Enjoy!

And, whenever the photographer gets around to sharing the photos of the show, I will post those as well.

DRS [Dead Man’s Cell Phone Edition]

And … We Opened

Dead Man’s Cell Phone opened Friday night. We had great houses for the first weekend and have been held over for this coming weekend. I warned all my friends that the show was weird (because it is). Even though we got a lot of nice compliments, I don’t think anyone really liked the show because of said weirdness. Oh, well.

Dead Man's Cell Phone Cast
This is a fun group of people! I am also “all smiles” because I had just eaten a Pimento Cheese & Bacon Panini. Yum!

Some Other Random Happenings:
– Took Kat & Greg to Biltmore.
– Bought the Indie Exclusive Blue Vinyl of The Twilight Sad‘s new album.
– Took a nap.
– Finally watched (and napped through) Kong: Skull Island. Meh.
– Had a potato Soup and Cornbread lunch with Carrot Cake for dessert!
– Went to the dentist for a cleaning.

Such fun!

And … We Opened

Finally Acquired [Skinny Puppy Edition]

One of the things I was on the lookout in Toronto was original pressings of certain Skinny Puppy albums. The original Canadian pressings (the band is from Canada after all) of certain albums have cool designs or features not available on the pressing readily available in the States back in the 80’s. The original pressing of Mind: The Perpetual Intercourse has an insert with the track names (none were listed on the back) and a lock groove at the end of side two so that Burnt with Water plays on until you lift the needle. The original pressing of Cleanse Fold and Manipulate has really cool A & B Side labels on the vinyl. These pressings tend to be expensive to get here in the States and I was hoping to find them cheaper in their native country. I did not find these two …

Which brings me to VIVIsectVI, Skinny Puppy’s masterpiece. I LOVE this album and it has my favorite-est sleeve art ever. Plus, it’s the original pressing I have been wanting the most. I have been trying to find it for quite a few years but this particular pressing seems to be scarce and expensive to buy. Hell … any pressing of VIVIsectVI from 1988 is expensive. The original pressing of this album features a gatefold sleeve and the A & B Side labels have art that was used as the 12″ sleeve art for the first single. Steven R. Gilmore has been quoted as saying this his favorite of the sleeves he design for the band and that it was always intended to be a gatefold presentation. If the internet is to be believed, only 500-1,000 of these were made before they switched over to a single sleeve with the inner gatefold art being used to make the front/back of a printed inner sleeve for the record.

So, I was absolutely gobsmacked to have found a copy at Sonic Boom Records. And, it was reasonably priced too! Needless to say, I am pretty beside myself to finally own this. Now I just need to find those other two and my Skinny Puppy Vinyl Wishlist will be almost complete.

Skinny Puppy's VIVIsectVI
Skinny Puppy's VIVIsectVI
Skinny Puppy's VIVIsectVI Gatefold Sleeve
Skinny Puppy's VIVIsectVI Gatefold Sleeve
Skinny Puppy's VIVIsectVI Vinyl Label

Finally Acquired [Skinny Puppy Edition]

So … Toronto Happened

So, yeah … the boyfriend (David loves it when I call him that) and I traveled to Toronto over New Year’s.

There was a lot of pre-trip craziness with work that had me in a near meltdown. It seems like vacations are always a pain in the ass in that respect. There always seems to be some last minute rush job that has you throwing things around your office, hyperventilating, and crying out of frustration. Yay.

We did eventually make it down to Atlanta for the overnight stay before catching out flight the next morning.

The hotel we stayed in was insanely swank.
This Hotel Room

Friday morning we were at the airport at 6:00 am for our 9:00 am flight. I hate flying, so there was liquid courage flowing in the Delta lounge and on the airplane before take off. It’s fun to be buzzed at 8 o’clock in the morning.
Pe-Flight Courage
More Pre-Flight Courage

The flight was (thankfully) uneventful. Yay!

Upon arrival, we Uber-ed over to Andrew & Kathleen’s place and hung out for a bit. Andrew is David’s best friend from high school. We walked around the neighborhood and saw Casa Loma. the Baldwin Steps, and the Artscape Wychwood Barns.

Casa Loma (obviously) …
Casa Loma

Reading history at the Baldwin Steps …
At The Baldwin Steps

We also hit up the ATM for some Canadian currency. The bills are made of some sort of plastic and have clear, see-through sections running through them. Definitely a switch from boring old US dollars.
Canadian Benjamins

After a tasty dinner of Pizza Pizza, it was off to our hotel (which was nowhere near as swank as the one in Atlanta) where, much to David’s chagrin, I crashed early. Old Fart Mode was in full effect.

Saturday, we kicked around in the morning and ended up at the Bata Shoe Museum. A&K had told us it was a cool museum. David and I were skeptical, but we had time to kill before meeting Andrew for lunch. For the record, you should totally check out the shoe museum. It’s really interesting and fun!

Then we met Andrew for a super tasty lunch at KINKA IZAKAYA on Bloor St. We had Sake and ate with our shoes off. Super fun!
Eating With My Shoes Off

After lunch, we met up with Kathleen and went up to Yorkdale to go to the Lego store, catch a movie, and get dinner. I don’t know that I have even seen a mall that big with that many people in it.

On the way back to the hotel, David and I stopped into Storm Crow Manor which claims to be the nerdiest bar in Canada. It is indeed pretty nerdy. I had Butterbeer and we rolled a 20-sided die for random shots. Pretty damn nerdy.
Storm Crow Manor
Butterbeer and Shots at Storm Crow Manor
Butterbeer at Storm Crow

We also stopped in a Woody’s to check out Toronto’s landmark gay bar. Pretty cool place and somewhat nerdy that night too. They were showing Alien and Blade Runner on the televisions. We were bummed to find out we missed watching the Best Ass Contest by one day.

Back at the hotel …
Hotel Fun

Sunday, we woke up to some snow. Yay!
It Snowed ... A Little!

We beat it over to the Royal Ontario Museum and had a fun time checking out the special exhibition on spiders plus all their regular exhibits on natural history and ancient art.
Royal Ontario Museum

Spiders at the ROM
Spiders at the ROM

Dinosaurs at the ROM

We had planned to go to the Art Galllery of Ontario as well this day. I was pretty museum-ed out by the time we got done at the ROM. We had lunch wherein I tried poutine for the first time. It’s pretty damn amazing. We then went on a record store quest (more on this in another post). As a bonus, we came across a cool bookstore and video game store. We also made a quick through Eaton Centre. Yep. It’s another ridiculously huge mall with way too many people crammed in it. Afterwards, we went to Andrew and Kathleen’s to hang out with one of their friends. It was relaxed evening (with way too much gin) after a pretty hectic day.

On New Year’s Eve (Monday), I went and toured Casa Loma while David and Andrew ventured into Chinatown for lunch and a return visit to the video game store we had come across the day before.

Casa Loma was pretty sweet. I love grand old mansions. It would have been better had there not been 5,000 kids running around due to their holiday Nutcracker presentation that was still going on. One of the thing I had not realized was just how many movie have been filmed there.

Here is Downtown Toronto as seen from Casa Loma’s Norman Tower.
Downtown Toronto as seen from Casa Loma

After the tour, it was back to Andrew and Kathleen’s for a low-key New Year’s Eve with takeout Thai and junk food. It was this night that I tried All Dressed chips and fell in love with them. Canada really does rock! I really dug the Canadian New Year’s Eve celebration that was on the CBC. It’s much nicer than that overdone Time Square insanity. Nice thing too is that the TTC (Toronto’s mass transit system) was free from 7 pm until 7 am. So, we got a free ride back to the hotel.

New Year’s Day is apparently a bit of a crap shoot in Canada with lots of places being closed for the holiday.

While foraging for coffee that morning, I ran across some gay Pepsi at Loblaws. We were staying in the gayborhood after all.
Pepsi Pride

I also discovered that Ketchup chips are a thing. Weird (and gross).

The main tourist destinations were open for sure and we decided to take in the Art Gallery of Ontario. Along with the permanent exhibition, we saw the fascinating (and depressing) Anthropocene exhibit along with the Mickalene Thomas excellent solo show.

Anthropocene …
Athropocene at AGO

One of Mickelene Thomas‘ pieces …
Mickalene Thomas Art

Here’s Downtown Toronto as seen from the back of the AGO.
Downtown from the AGO

We grabbed a delicious fried rice and dumpling lunch in Chinatown. The wind was particularly cold this day, so we beat it back to the hotel before meeting A&K for dinner near Yonge-Dundas Square.

Here we are being even more touristy.
In Yonge-Dundas Square
Yonge-Dundas Square

After dinner, at the suggestion of A&K, we nipped into Eaton Centre for some Sweet Jesus. Holy Crap. This place has the BEST ICE CREAM EVER! I loved it so much I stole some spoons.
Sweet Jesus Ice Cream!!!

We said our goodbyes to A&K and beat it back to Woody’s for some final gayness before leaving the city. After Woody’s we ended up in the Church St. Garage because we some queens performing inside. We had a drink there, I tipped the performing queen and got a kiss … and then it was back to the hotel to finish packing for the return trip the next day.

Everything was packed up and ready to go, so why not take another hotel bed selfie?
Last Night in Toronto

The next day, I was not nervous at the airport. Yeah. See how casual David is? Ugh.
Return Flight Nerves

The flight back was a bit bumpy but we landed okay and survived the 3-1/2+ hour drive back home in the rain.

Now Bowser is home, the work week is underway … and I am already ready to go on vacation again. Though I doubt David is up for another round of my travel craziness quite so soon.

And thanks to David for letting me use a lot of his photos. I was very lazy about taking pictures on this trip. Probably because I had gloves on the whole time.

So … Toronto Happened

Back At It

Downtown Toronto as seen from Casa Loma
Downtown Toronto as seen from Casa Loma’s Norman Tower

Last week was a bit insane with Christmas, a work trip to Tennessee and then vacation to Toronto for New Years! I am a bit tuckered out this morning but will be back with some details once I get my work stuff caught up.

Back At It