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July 23rd, 2010

~Friday~ I took a "mental health day" from work today and slept in. At about noon, I decided to drive to Charlotte today instead of waiting to go up tomorrow morning. I checked the hotel online at which I had a reservation for Saturday and was easily able to add tonight to it.

I had an uneventful ride to Charlotte only hitting a little traffic just west of Durham, but with smooth sailing after that. My first impression of the lady who checked me in was not good. However, in the course of conversation, I mentioned choosing her hotel due to its "stumbling" proximity to a bar, she said, "Oh? Which bar is that?"

"It's a gay bar, the Woodshed, just up the road," I replied.

"Oh," she said, "I'm going to be out tonight, too, just up a little ways from there at a Lesbian club." She was all smiles and friendly after that. Who says we all can't get along.



I settled in my room, and then went on a "test ride" out to Donna's, riding by the bar on the way out to see where that was, too. I wanted to be sure of the way to Donna's in the morning, to arrive at her house in time to head to the church with others for Vince's memorial service starting at noon.

I took one wrong turn along the way, and stopped to ask directions of a couple on a walk pushing a stroller. The guy started giving me directions, and the woman interrupted him. They debated about something, and I thought, "Oh lord. They were having a quiet little stroll and now they're going to get into an argument helping me."

She said, "No, don't listen to him. I'm better with directions. Go..." and the husband zipped it up, while she spewed forth. Her directions were impeccable, and she even said, "You go down that road right there (pointing to it), for about, 4 miles would you say, honey?" looking at her husband, and I noted that Google maps estimated it at 3.8 miles, which put a big old smile on her face, and added a great big dose to her credibility to me. I made it the rest of the way without incident.



On the way back, I stopped for gas, and at the station at which I stopped, there were three police cars. After filling up, I went inside where five cops were standing in a circle in front of the coffee machines, and I said, "Excuse me. Is there a steak house anywhere near here?"

One of the cops asked, indicating my phone, "Is that a BlackBerry?"

"Yes," I said, wondering if they were against the law or something, since it was quite obvious it was one, and I could think of no other reason to confirm it.

Another of the guys answered, "Yes, The Ranch House. Take this road here, ..." and he went on to give me directions.

I found it easily, and I treated myself to a 9-ounce Filet Mignon, a baked potato and a salad. It was good, but it was also pricey, at $29.99 without tax or tip. I handed her my credit card to pay, and she said, "Oh we can't take cards out of the customer's sight any more, so I'll be right back with the machine."

She entered in the total, and then turned it to me to swipe my card along its side, and to choose "1" for a 15% tip, which it had calculated and was showing me, and a "2" with a 20% tip calculated and displayed. I didn't like two things about this:

  1. What if I wanted to give a 5% tip? Or any other amount?

  2. It's a little awkward to choose the tip amount while the waitperson is standing there hovering over you and the machine.



Back at the hotel, I ironed my shirt for tomorrow, and then cut up a watermelon I'd brought with me. I took the plastic laundry bag out of the closet and used it to put the rinds in. That took about 30-40 minutes.

After showering, I headed over to the Woodshed. The guy at the door told me that it would save me a $1.00 if I got a membership tonight and came back there before January 1, 2011. Since I was planning to come back tomorrow night, I did just that.

This bar was okay, but it had serious air-conditioning problems. It was entirely too hot in there, and stayed that way, to the point that if I lived there, I wouldn't hang out at that bar. After getting a drink, I noticed a couple from Raleigh that I know—Swin and David—and I stood and chatted with them and a couple—Scott and Ken—that they were talking to. Scott was absolutely adorable, and Ken wasn't hard on the eyes either. Cute couple for sure.

We ventured out to the patio, where it was pretty much just as hot as it was inside, and not too long after that the four of them left, and I followed them out. One good thing that I'll say about the place is that the drinks are probably about 20% bigger than at Flex and they're $.25 cheaper, which is pretty cheap.

Oh yeah, I found this sign on one of the walls rather amusing:

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