Well, 11 April was my 28th birthday. Unfortunately, that day consisted of driving nine hours out to Detroit for a work weekend, followed by great dinner with my boss and assistant, and then another boring night in a hotel, made manageable by hours spent with my guitar. Then, up bright and early to work a few hours at a gluten-free vendor fair, and back in the car for the nine-hour drive home. The highlight of the trip was at the beginning of dinner when Brian called me from Iraq to wish me happy birthday. We only got to talk for a minute, but he promised to call back the next weekend.
I was able to get a little celebration time in on 9 April, at good-old Wednesday Night Drinking. Our mission was to get as many people to come out as possible, while keeping everyone else at the bar from finding out it was my birthday. Overall, we did a pretty good job, but about halfway through the last set, Chris found out. He literally dragged me to the stage, where he informed James that it was my birthday, and then forced me up there. I did a pretty good job hiding behind Bobby the whole time, but Dave was still able to snap a picture of me with his phone. James is there in the foreground, and the lead singer Henry is on the left, about to ask me to "State my name for the record." James came over right after to tell me not to worry, that they all know who I am, and Henry just has to ask that. Thanks, James, too sweet. And also for the drink he got me a few minutes later. It was a fun night overall, and even though it was for my birthday, I actually didn't do much drinking. So, in that respect, it was a typical Wednesday. Matt stayed sober, in case Dave couldn't make it out of work, so he went home and didn't sleep on our couch. Weird. My birthday present from my boss was getting to sleep in for a couple of hours, so I made it into work at ten instead of eight.
After the trip to Detroit, it was a long week at work. When Friday finally came, I met up with my brother Brian's old friend Gina at Newark Airport, and we flew out to Louisville for the weekend to spend time with Melissa, Brian's girlfriend. The flight out was delayed for a bit, but nothing major, and we had a great chat pretty much from the moment we first saw each other until the plane touched down. Melissa picked us up at the airport, and we headed into Louisville to check into our hotel. We stayed on the sixteenth floor of the Hyatt, looking down on the city, right near an area of the city that they shut down to traffic at night. Fourth Street Live is full of bars and restaurants, and you have to show ID just to get onto the block. After getting changed, we headed down there to get some munchies and a couple of drinks. I introduced the other girls to a couple of new beers, Stella Artois and Newcastle Brown Ale, because the bar didn't have the only thing that Melissa drinks: Bud Light. We watched some wasted middle-aged women celebrate a birthday by practically molesting a poor guitar player who was quietly covering songs in the corner. By this point we were all exhausted, and headed back to the hotel to crash. I didn't think it was worth it to get a second room, and the beds were a bit to small to share, so I took all of the extra pillows and blankets and made myself a great bed on the floor. It was more comfortable than many hotel beds I've slept in, and I think I slept the best of the three of us.
We were up at a decent hour the next morning, and headed out for awalk around the city. We made our way down to the riverside and walked a ways up the bank, then crossed back over at just the right point to catch the Louisville Slugger Museum. We didn't actually take the tour, just got some fun pictures with the giant bat, and picked up some souvenirs. I always pick up a shot glass for Dave , so he has them from all over the place now.
Louisville Slugger was Gina's and my main goal for the trip, so we were now satisfied. We headed back towards our hotel, looking for some food, and ended up back at Fourth Street Live in TGI Fridays. We had a great lunch, complete with a bottle of wine split between the three of us, and followed it up with some Coldstone from the food court upstairs. We took the skywalk back to our hotel to avoid the rain outside, then hopped in the car and headed out to Churchill Downs. It was cheap to check out the Kentucky Derby museum and take a tour of the track, so we did that, and then picked up some more souvenirs at the gift shop.
Melissa is from New Albany, IN, which is only about twenty minutes from Louisville, so we headed back to her house to pick up a sweatshirt for the next day. By then, we were getting hungry again, so we went toa local pizza place and microbrewery. The pizza ended up being awesome, and I got the girls to let the waiter recommend some new beers for all of us. Mine is the porter on the right, Gina's (on the left) was Sam Adams-like, and Melissa went for something similar to Bud Light, of course. We took a picture because we felt the beers were very representative of us and our personalities.
Stuffed with pizza and beer, we rolled ourselves on back to Melissa's house to meet her mom and drop off leftovers. Then, after another stop off at the hotel, we hung out at a comedy club for a couple of hours. The show was pretty good, but it felt like one hundred degrees crammed in there with everyone. We couldn't wait to get back out in the fresh air! Once again exhausted, we went back to the hotel for another great night's sleep.
After checking out in the morning, we took a ride back to Melissa's area again to get some brunch. We had a huge meal once again, and each of us got to talk to Brian from Iraq for a few minutes. Then, it was back to the airport. Unfortunately, our flight was delayed by about two hours, so we wandered around a bit, even taking a few minutes to hang out in the massage chairs. If we had been on schedule, I would've made it for at least the second half of my Sunday night soccer game, but I ended up missing it completely.