The Best And The Worst In 48 Hours

For Foodies, the wife and I don’t get out much.  When dining with the family, we lean to the inexpensive, family friendly:

Wow, that list depresses me, but when you’re feeding 5, including a 12 year old that eats like he’s 16, it really needs to be inexpensive.

We generally try and stay away from “corporate” eating, despite the list above being more chain than small local.  The Rogers family will never darken the door of a Red Lobster or Olive Garden.  EVER.  Not as long as there is a Kemp’s Seafood or any small mom and pop Italian restaurant.

This past weekend, however, clearly shows the paradox being a food snob can present.  Friday night, we made a return to the Magnolia Grill for the wife’s birthday.  I will not do a repeat of that magnificent review from last year’s visit, but suffice it to say that it was a wonderful sacrifice to the culinary gods.  We need to solve the world hunger problem, and then we must figure out how to replace those round, red things in the grocery store with heirloom tomatoes.  Oh my lord!

Then there was our Sunday road trip.  When on the road to anywhere but the beach, we will eat at Cracker Barrel, a clear exception to our chain, corporate restaurant embargo.  I do despise the fact that there is as much gift shop as there is restaurant, but the food isn’t bad.  It’s actually pretty good.  It’s somewhat reassuring that within 5 exits on any interstate, there will be somewhere we can sit down and have a decent “meat and two”.  The Cracker Barrel has found a niche in that it is impossible to know of a mom and pop hole in the wall restaurant everywhere, and that’s why, when going to the beach, we only eat at Wilbur’s, McCalls, and the Meadow Village Restaurant – not Cracker Barrel.

We visited the depths of hell, however, Sunday night for dinner.  This trip was to take the oldest to Camp Cheerio Extreme (“Just 30 minutes past the middle of nowhere!”).  For the 2nd year, we’ve let our middle child choose where we ate dinner, and both years we’ve ended up at Streets of Southpoint, or the home of the corporate restaurant.  Last year it was Maggianos, but their fried cheese was “weird”, so it didn’t make the cut.  He chose the Cheesecake Factory.

What a god-awful attempt at mediocrity.  Their website claims “something for everyone”, which is the whole problem.  The 15-20 page menu has mexican, italian, american, chinese, and thai food.  PICK SOMETHING AND TRY AND DO IT WELL, instead of everything with mediocrity.

I would have been happier if the fish tacos had been bad, but they weren’t.  They were completely tasteless, even when covered in guacamole and salsa. Salt and Pepper didn’t help.  There was no saving them.

Of course, the place was packed the whole time we were there.  At least the cheesecake was good.

Reporting From Hell….

It’s your senior correspondent.

(That’s me after Scott’s run…)

Because we’re cool parents, we surprised the kids with a trip to the Great Wolf lodge in Williamsburg, VA, land of a pancake house on every corner in honor of our great presidents Washington and Lincoln.

Let me preface by saying that I am a kid at heart.  I love Disney, and I love the things that my children have reintroduced me to.

1720 The Great Wolf Lodge is amazing.  The hotel room we are in is as nice as we’ve stayed in as a family, and the water park is a blast – an exhausting, crowded blast.

All in all, I can recommend the experience, if you’re willing to part with some serious coin.

 

That said, there’s a lot to hate here.  The check-in process is a disaster, with rooms available “as they are ready”.  Sure, check in time is 4:00 p.m., but if your room is not ready, well, you’re welcome to hit the water park.  We’ll be glad to rent you a locker for $5.00 for the stuff you can’t put in your room you can’t have, because we’re not ready.

The dining here leaves much to be desired.  They have a somewhat captive audience, with hopping in the car straight from the water park to get some dinner inconvenient at best.  That leaves the buffet restaurant or the Pizza Hut take out.

In the evolutionary chain of restaurant servers and cooks, the starting point is here.  We were warned, but convenience dictated that dinner last night and breakfast this morning was done here at the hotel.  Bad food and worse service.

UPDATE! – I’ve had some time and distance to rethink things.  What bothered me so much about the Great Wolf Lodge was that it wasn’t Disney.  I love the ways that Disney tries to take money from me – there is a cleverness and an element of appreciation that I get from Disney that the Great Wolf Lodge lacks.  It seems that they have you captive, and therefore it doesn’t matter that the food is average at best, and the wait staff service is perhaps the worst I’ve ever seen.  In a buffet restaurant, your job is to get me a drink, make sure it stays close to full, and bring me the check when I’m done.  When you cannot do this, you don’t care. 

The Failure To Be Disney is magnified in the Country Bear Jamboree wannabe show in the lobby, where the tree, squirrel, and bear sing a song that is a very clear rip off of Circle of Life from the Lion King.  I wanted to wear cinderblocks into the wave pool.

The bottom line is this:

Room – A+
Waterpark – A+
Everything else – BLECH!

Go, take your wallet and outside food, and you’ll have a great time.

It’s Buckshot Thursday

Diabetes

  • I’d like to be able to say that I’ve been quiet lately because I’ve wanted to leave the diabetes letter at the top of the blog, but it’s been more laziness than anything else. On the diabetes front, we’re doing pretty well – our team consists of 34 walkers, and the team has raised almost $5000 as of this morning. As a reminder, you can join us or donate at The Rogers Family JDRF page and you can read my letter at Scott’s Story. This is the first time we’ve done any significant fundraising and it’s been pretty surprising. The idea is to flood family and friends with requests for support, and cross your fingers. The surprising part is how some friends have really stepped up, and others have been disturbingly silent. Sadly, you go into this with certain expectations, with the thought that certain folks should be able to donate, and others won’t participate because of their financial status. Belle’s thoughts on giving have really rung true at our house, and we will more thoughtfully consider requests in the future. We’ve been asked for the three years prior to support the JDRF walk through a friend, and we’ve previously ignored that request. A $10 donation would have spoken volumes to them, and that’s $10 more than the JDRF can put to a cure.

Anniversary at Our House!

  • This past weekend was our (the wife and I) 18th anniversary – Holy Crap! It’s actually been 21 years of “exclusivity” – more than half our lives! What started out as the boys spending the night at Grandma’s, fancy dinner and….. ended up with a very interesting meal at Tasca Brava (with perhaps a Fat Boy Restaurant Review© to come) and a George Clooney movie. My attempts at romance included a comparison of my looks to Mr. Clooney’s, which yielded the response “well….. you both have salt and pepper hair”. Seriously, though, it is amazing that the past 21 years have been as great as they have been, and it seems like only last week…

Growing up, I wanted to be a garbage man… (Seriously – you can ask my mom)

  • As I was leaving for work this morning, the good folks of the City of Raleigh Waste Department were picking up the recycling that they failed to get yesterday – and throwing it all in the back of a regular trash truck. Good thing we separated it out and pay them for the privelege. I hope the City manages the Great Drought of ‘ought 7 better.

Politics

  • Mark my words, this 18th day of October, the Democrats are going to screw this presidential election up. It’s their’s to lose.  It is time for a change, but the front runners don’t seem to be much of an option.

Raleighing R.I.P

  • I’m not sure which was a bigger blow to growth in Raleigh, the City Council elections, or the death of Progress Energy’s CEO Robert McGehee. We should all hope that Progress Energy’s support of Downtown Raleigh was not because of their former CEO’s vision.

The Summer Of Suck, Still Continuing

Did you ever have one of those years?

I hope it’s just a year, and that we have only one month left.

For part 1, look here.

Since that time, a wicked combination of our new puppy and groceries on the stove could have burned our house down (fortunately, we just had some damage to the countertops and the vent hood).

Our middle son has been diagnosed with Type 1 Diabetes. He’ll be fine, but it has changed things drastically at our house.

Our water heater burst over the Easter weekend, requiring the replacement of said water heater and the carpet in our playroom.

Then, on the way to Soccer this past Saturday, we got hit by some lady who didn’t see us coming – the new Jeep (less than 7 months old) gets it’s third rear bumper in it’s short lifetime.

We’re gonna catch a break, I can feel it. But looking back on it, perhaps we already have. Most of the trials we’ve faced have only been financial in nature, and the one truly significant issue (the diabetes) is something that can be managed, and perhaps cured in his lifetime.

More on Imus…

Imus In The Mourning – Jerry DellaFamina in the New York Post

Let me be clear. I haven’t listened to Imus in years. My Dad is an Imus junkie, but I’ve been a fan of XM Satellite Radio since it started years ago, and I haven’t looked back since.

This became a racism issue when Rev. Al & Rev. Jesse made it so – not when Imus made his comments. Imus was doing what Imus does – making fun of everything. Equal Opportunity Offender.

What offends me is that these two Reverends can find no Christian forgiveness after what I believe to be a sincere apology from Mr. Imus. These two Reverends certainly must know forgiveness, because they have received it throughout their careers – Rev. Al with the Tawana Brawley incident, the Crown Heights Riot, and Freddy’s Fashion Mart – Rev. Jesse for his remarks about Jews and his extramarital affair.

I’m angry that this has raised racist feelings and resentments in black and white people for the wrong reason.

I had a phone message over the Easter weekend from my college roommate – a black guy. He was good-naturedly inquiring as to when I was going to call him with my apology for slavery, and provide him with his 40 acres and a mule.

I’ll apologize for that when he apologizes for allowing Rev. Al & Rev. Jesse to become the spokesperson for all black people, and the arbiters of all things racial.

Current Events and the Art of Being Shallow

Between Terri Schaivo, the Pope’s passing, and Carolina winning the championship, is there anything else going on in the world? Can’t seem to find anything in the media otherwise. Oh yeah, Prince Charles got married and Brad Pitt and Angelina Jolie might be doin’ the nasty.
Michael Jackson is going to get off, this time just without the direct involvement of young boys. Martha Stewart’s always been a thug, now she’s got street cred. Important stuff there.

We’re being told what’s important by a select few. This isn’t just some grand conspiracy theory, just a fact of life. My house has a subscription to Us Weekly, not the New York Times, so we’re as guilty as anybody.

Some friends suggested reading the Brothers Karamazov in preparation of a Sunday School class – I’ve never been so overwhelmed in my life. The section I read before abandoning it for being too highbrow was plenty violent, but not nearly enough sex and explosions.

Another friend recommended a Tennyson poem to me regarding something I said to them. WHO?