Wednesday, July 8, 2009
We decided to do a meet the parents/see where we come from, kind of visit. It started with a float trip in Noel, Missouri. For those not in the know, a float trip consists of camping, followed by a bus trip about 8 miles up the river, where you and your friends then float in a raft all the way back down to your campsite, all while drinking in the sun. I have, in the past, rafted down a river before, but I've never experienced anything like this. Superfun for everyone. I even got peer-pressured into jumping off a bridge into the water. We had a pretty awesome group of people, and they were very welcoming to their east coast newcomer. Overall, the only damage done was a few cases of uneven sunburning.
The drive home consisted of 2 stops to meet the family. First, with a stop in Pittsburg, Kansas to see the sister plus babies. And then onto Hamilton, Kansas to see his hometown and have dinner with mom & dad. I will admit I had a bit of culture shock upon arrival. It's basically a whole lot of nothing. He drove me around in his pickup truck and showed me the town. Very green. Very flat. Very surprising that this person I've grown to know could come from such place. He taught me how to shoot a rifle and shotgun. See for yourself. Prepare to laugh at my expense.
So, his parents are about the cutest people in all of ever. So hospitable, his mother had all my favorite beverages ready for me. We had a feast with steak, and she even spared using the black pepper! Later on, as we were relaxing, he was about due for a prank. He handed me a root from a plant he dug out of the ground earlier in the fields. He told me to chew on it. I was reluctant, at first... but then he did it, so I trusted it was okay. Dummy. Nothing happened for the first few minutes... so I chewed harder. I'm waiting, wondering... then BOOM- mouth completely numb. Tongue limp. Pins and needles all over. The worst taste ever. Forcing you to salivate, and subsequently spit. The name is snake root. Not recommended.
When we returned to Wichita it was a good 110 degrees. With very, very high humidity. I think the ozone layer is thinner there. It looks like any regular suburban town... wide streets, shopping malls, walmart. We spent most of our time house/apartment shopping... but we did at least go out for lunch a couple times, and dinner. Both of which were very good, and very cheap. They like their burgers big and greasy. This is especially apparent at "Bomber Burger"... a little hole in wall, semi-sketchy, Steeler joint. That's right... Steeler fans in Kansas.
Next was onto my hometown, Pittsburgh, PA. We started with a nice evening out with my dad and stepmom. The next day, my mother had a large portion of our family over for a get together. Michael had no idea what he was in for. Those that know us, know that we aren't very traditional, but I think he handled it well. He fit right in while we told politically incorrect and what some would consider offensive, jokes. My mom even got him initiated with a Hines Ward Steeler Jersey! During free time, I showed him downtown, with a view from Mt. Washington. And then onto the next: road trip to Erie, PA.
We stayed with my girlfriend Amanda in her cottage on the Lake. We made camp food and taught Michael the awesomeness that is Settlers of Catan. Sailing on Lake Erie followed with me getting seasick and having a sunburnt nose. Then switched to our friend/captain Nagle's cottage, played with fireworks, and ate the famous local "Smith's" hot dogs. We then sped home in order to just make it to the airport in time to fly back to New York. 3 hours later, Michael was on his way back to France.
We are now up to 16 days total together.