I traveled to the US with a series of lists. I had places to go, people to see, food to eat, and crap to buy. In eighteen days, I drove my rental car over 1200 miles across three counties. Here’s why:
I had a Culinary To-Do List, because there are just some foods that have no good analog in Germany.
- I ate at Friendly’s with Lorrie on my first night back in town. After a year in Germany, it was a little bit jarring to be handed the check before were finished eating.
- I got my diner fix, including the aforementioned Friendly’s visit, the Moonlite Diner with Vicki and Ilona, iHop, and Denny’s (in which I ate the Gandalf’s Gobble from the Hobbit Menu. Hilarity ensued.)
- I got proper Thai food, having dinner one weeknight at Chaiyo Thai with Vicki.
- Plenty of good burgers were eaten, including Jack’s Old Fashioned Hamburgers, and Charm City Burgers, where I also fulfilled my tater tot needs while lunching with Marc.
- I had lunch at Muddy Waters with Karen.
- I met my Tex-Mex cravings by joining my brother and his boyfriend for Taco Tuesdaze at Tijuana Flats.
- I had Sushi with Holly at Katana, a fantastic tiny Sushi place in North Miami Beach.
- I had a proper and delicious steak with my elder brother at the local Longhorn.
- I finally got around to trying The German Bread Haus, a German bakery on Commercial Boulevard, East of I-95. I brought some pastries into the office with me, and they were quite good.
- I also ate at the Cheesecake Factory, the Melting Pot, Rotelli, Miller’s Ale House, TGI Fridays, and Jimmy Johns. I may be forgetting a few places- this trip was all about the food.
I had an Acquisitions To-Do List.
- I stopped at Costco to get a ginormous bottle of Excedrine and some Flintstones chewables for myself. I also picked up some generic Sudafed, another thing I haven’t found a satisfying version of over here.
- I managed to find a pair of New Balance shoes I liked to replace my aging and slightly less comfortable pair. I also picked up some more work pants and long sleeved t-shirts in Target.
- I went back to the ski store in Delray Beach to get another scarf and wound up buying an awesome neck fleece that I already love beyond all reason.
- I went to Abercrombie & Fitch to get a pair of sweatpants that Jenny asked me to bring back to Germany.
- I also went to the grocery store for some other requests- I came back to Germany with Reese’s Peanut Butter Cups, Nerds, and A-1 Steak Sauce.
- As an aside, shopping makes me kind of looney. This results in bad product based puns. For example:
I had an actual task-based To-Do List.
- I successfully moved my stored stuff from a 5×10 unit in one location to a 5×5 in another facility. The place I was using claimed to be climate controlled and pest controlled, but it was near a canal and the doors weren’t sealed very well. As a result, I had various droppings and former insects, frogs, and worms in and around my stuff, along with live silverfish in the books. As if that weren’t bad enough, there was already humidity damage starting to show on some of my books. The new facility is immaculate and completely indoors. Also, the smaller unit in the new facility will save me roughly $65 a month in storage fees. You can see what’s left in storage in the picture to the right, including my beloved coffee table.
- I snagged an International Driving Permit. I don’t drive here, but if I need to, this could be handy.
- I got a haircut at Kathleen & Company, the place I went to for eight years before I moved to Germany. I can get a haircut anywhere, but this place deserves loyalty.
- I worked a week in the Florida office.
- I went back to my Neurologist for a followup. I haven’t made the time yet to find a Neurologist in Germany.
I also had a Gatherings To-Do list, which originally contained just a few shindigs, but wound up including much more.
- I drove out to Wellington for my sister’s fabulous Thanksgiving Extravaganza. In the past, our family has sometimes splintered off into different directions for Thanksgiving, but this year most of us were all in the same place. A small portion of the group is visible in this photo, including both of my parents, one of my brothers, my brother-in-law and his brother, my nephew, both nieces (2 and 22), and my niece’s boyfriend. Not pictured, but present: The other brother, my sister and my sister-in-law. Like I said, it’s a big and convoluted family, but we’re a fun group.
- I went to a “Friendsgiving” dinner that was being held by John, another long time friend. I arrived between their dinner and dessert courses, which was perfect timing for chatting and being social. It also gave me the opportunity to give him one of the two Bavarian beers I brought with me from Germany. He was pleased.
- I had a pair of birthday shindigs- one with friends, and one with family. The friends party was held on the Saturday night before my actual birthday- I had friends join me for a fantastic dinner at one of my favorite restaurants, Season’s 52, followed by some drinks at a Ft. Lauderdale Irish pub.
- My aunt, uncle, and cousin were in Miami for a wedding and since the timing matched up, they joined part of the family for brunch on that Sunday.
- Sunday night was the second birthday shindig- my father put together a dinner at another restaurant and I got to see more family there, including a few who weren’t at Thanksgiving dinner.
- I have a lot of friends outside of Florida who I wanted to see, but I only had the time to travel to one other state. I took the dart-board approach to selecting who to visit, and I wound up going to Minneapolis to hang out with Debra, another old friend there. We had dinner in the Mall Of America, which I had never been to. That place is HUGE, and has a theme park in the middle of it. There are roller coasters. In a mall. Amazing.
Last but not least, the most important to-do list item of all was to remember to come back to Germany.