Monday, February 14, 2005

For Old Times' Sake

This past weekend was one spent on the road. For Valentine's Day, I decided to take Brandi on a little weekend trip back to the area from which she moved about six months ago. She wanted to come back to this area because she likes it and missed it so much, but both of us liked the area she left as well. We hadn't been back there since driving her dad's pickup to her old apartment and bringing all her stuff back here in August, so I planned a few things for us to do and then took off early from work on Friday so we could get started.

I headed home from work at noon on Friday, so I arrived home around 12:30. Brandi had worked early that morning, so she was napping when I got home. I let her sleep for a while longer while I got some of my stuff together for our trip. I finally woke her up, and we got on the road around 2:30. We had some stops to make, but eventually we made our way to the turnpike.

Now that I'm not making the drive twice per week, it's not bad at all. Of course, I never really minded it--I like to drive, and the hours spent on the road gave me plenty of time to think about just about every topic under the sun--but this time it just breezed past. We found our hotel, which was in Kent, shortly before 6:00.

We checked in and took our stuff up to our room, then took a few minutes to get ready before heading out again. We had tickets that night to attend an NBA game, with the Cleveland Cavaliers hosting the Denver Nuggets. Brandi and I went to three NBA games last season, and we had a blast each time. I bought tickets for this game on eBay a few weeks ago, as the Cavs' ticket office was sold out. A lot of people wanted to see the matchup between Lebron and Carmelo. Of course, I paid quite a bit more than I would have through the ticket office, but it really wasn't all that bad. The seats were awesome, too. We were in a corner, but we were only ten rows up from the court, right above the corridor from the Cavs' locker room. Kobe Bryant was at the game, and he was only one section over from us--if we craned our heads forward, we could see him in his luxury box. Brandi tried to get into that section during halftime to get an autograph or a photo, but she was turned away by an usher.

The game was a lot of fun. Unfortunately, the Cavs lost, but it was a contest right down to the end. Lebron had a good game, at least, and I'm glad I got to see Carmelo play in person. He was mostly a non-factor in the game, but he's got a ton of talent. It looks different in person than it does on television, especially from such close range. It was also fun to see Earl Boykins play. I like to see MAC alumni do well in the pros, and Boykins is fun to watch since he's only 5' 5" tall. At one point he got screened by Zydrunas Ilgauskas, Cleveland's 7' 3" center, and the whole building erupted in laughter.

After the game we walked around downtown a little bit, just to check out the new House of Blues location. A lot of the musicians we like play venues like that, so it was nice to find it for future reference. It's also handy that it's in an area we're already familiar with, and very close to our normal parking location. From there we went and got Brandi's car and headed home. We had to navigate through a busy parking garage and then the streets of downtown Cleveland to get to the interstate, but we've been there enough at this point that we did it with no real trouble. I don't know what it is, but Cleveland's streets generally turn my brain to mush. Hopefully I'm starting to get past it.

On the way back to our hotel we stopped at the grocery we used to frequent when Brandi lived in Stow. We picked up some snacks and stuff, then retired for the night.

We slept in a little bit on Saturday. We had a king size bed, and it was surprisingly comfy for a hotel bed. The whole room was pretty nice, actually. We stayed at the Hampton Inn. It was a pretty standard room, nothing fancy, but I would definitely recommend it if anyone is looking to stay in Kent anytime soon. The staff was nice, the room was big, the bathroom was big, the bed was comfy, and Internet access was free (we didn't take Brandi's laptop, but I was glad to know access was provided nonetheless)...what more could you ask for?

Anyway, we rolled out of bed around noon on Saturday and went to Mike's Place for breakfast. We ate dinner there fairly often when Brandi lived in the area, and the food was awesome, so we decided to try it for breakfast. It was a lot busier in the afternoon than it ever was when we were there in the evening--we actually had to wait for a table this time. It was worth it, though. Brandi wanted some breakfast-type food, and they serve it all day. I'm normally not all that into breakfast, but I got into the spirit and had some waffles. They were really good.

From Mike's Place we went onto campus at Kent State. BGSU's basketball team was playing there that afternoon. That was the impetus for the whole trip, actually--I wanted to come for the game, but I knew there was plenty of other stuff we would want to do while we were in the area, so I thought we'd just make a weekend out of it. We went last year when BG played at Kent, and it was pretty cool--their arena is nice, and the entire upper section is general admission.

Brandi and I got there about 45 minutes before tipoff and claimed our seats in the front row of one of the corner sections. It was where most of the BG fans congregated last year, but everyone scattered throughout the arena this time. Nonetheless, we stayed where we were. Being in the front row of a sparsely populated section allowed us to stand for the whole game, which we like to do. We were pretty vocal up there--Brandi actually tried to start an organized cheer for the Falcons, which didn't go over so well, but it was a nice effort. It was a great game, too. The Falcons stormed out to a lead, then had to weather a storm to hold onto it. Last year's game was much the same, except BG let the game slip away at the end, whereas this year they hung on for the victory. It was awesome, as Kent is the MAC's signature program, and wins on their floor are hard to come by. Brandi and I, decked out in our bright orange BG gear, got some high-fives from fellow Falcon fans as the crowd streamed out of the arena.

We headed back to the hotel after the game to hang out and relax for a while. We exchanged our lesser Valentine's gifts while we were there--I gave her a box of Godiva chocolates, and she gave me a glass which has my name engraved on a cool metal plate.

After the gift exchange, we got ourselves ready to go out for dinner. We headed up to an area called Beachwood to eat at the Cheesecake Factory. There we met up with Adam, a guy Brandi worked with when she worked in the area, and his wife Laura. We had to wait an hour and a half for a table, but the time went by pretty quickly. We discovered that Adam and I are a lot alike, and having so much in common provided plenty of good dinner conversation. It was fun, and the food was incredible as well. We finished off with dessert--Brandi had the carrot cake cheesecake, I had the chocolate mousse cheesecake, and Adam and Laura split a hot fudge sundae. As we left, we invited them to come visit us in Bowling Green sometime, and I think they probably will.

It was fairly late by the time we finished dinner and headed out. Brandi and I thought about going to the BW3 in Kent, where we used to hang out all the time, but neither one of us really felt like it all that much. Instead, we just stopped at the grocery on the way (again) to pick up some wine, which we drank that night while eating snacks and watching television.

On Sunday we pretty much had to get up and get on the road, as Brandi had to teach a spinning class in Toledo in the afternoon and had to do some stuff beforehand. We made the drive back, and arrived in Bowling Green shortly before 1:00. We stopped immediately at the grocery store so Brandi could pick up some refreshments for the people at her class, then we went back to our apartment where she started putting together a CD to play during her class.

As soon as the CD was finished, we got on the road for Toledo. I don't know exactly how it happened, but she had somehow talked me into taking her class. It actually wasn't quite as bad as I thought it would be. I was having a little trouble at the beginning, as I struggled to get into a rhythm, but once I got there I feel like I did pretty well. I definitely didn't feel like I was in over my head or anything, which is pretty good since a lot of the people there take frequent fitness classes like this. It was also interesting to see Brandi in her element, doing her job. All in all, I liked it, although I must say that spending an hour riding hard on a bike was, quite literally, a pain in the ass for the rest of the day. It still hurts today, actually, and not a little bit.

We didn't do a whole lot after her class. We came home and watched a movie, and pretty much turned in after that. It was a pretty quiet ending to a hell of a weekend. We didn't get to do everything we wanted to do while we were in Brandi's old stomping grounds, but we did have a lot of fun. I'm sure we'll be heading back there again sometime.

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