Last weekend ended with the beginning of the next phase of my life. I hit the road Saturday morning left my life on the east coast headed towards my new adventures in the west. I arrived to my parents house in the northern suburbs of Chicago later Saturday night. The culmination of a busy week.
After I'd dropped Kari at the airport on Monday, I headed to New Town Bistro, an establishment in Winston-Salem where I'd imbibed more than my share of frosty beverages over the past five years. Dana, our Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday bartender forced me down the bar to talk to a couple of people my second or third time in there about five years ago which was the start of my introduction of the Monday Night Liar's Poker Club, and in turn many wonderful friendships.
We played a few hands of Liars Poker that evening, after which I was presented the official Liar's Club plaque to take with me, as well as a great picture of Kari and I from my friend Ann's going away party a few weeks earlier that everyone signed.
My friend Joe also gave me a 4 wt. Sage rod that had been given to him by a good friend of his, Gerald, who he often fished with in New York but has since passed away. It was truly an honor that Joe thought so highly of me to pass along a rod that had such great sentimental value to him. I certainly plan to put it to good use.
Tuesday I packed. Wednesday, my realtor Betsy and her husband, Don (a Liar's Club member as well), took me out to dinner. Thursday I went to dinner with Captain W.G. "Wild Bill" Walton and our friend Bob, formerly of QST fame. Bob helped me out a lot during my time at QST, and I only hope he's as happy as he seems at his new job building Cobra's and GTs.
Mr. Walton, if you don't know, is great, and has often been called the greatest. If you don't believe me, ask him, and he'll happily tell you. All kidding aside, Bill is a true gentleman and one of the nicest characters you'll ever meet. I'm going to miss our bi-monthly lunches. Hopefully he'll find a way to get his old butt down to Jacksonville a bit more often once I get down there.
Friday, I was surprised at work with a luncheon that was set up by the employees in my building. There was all kinds of wonderful homemade food and desserts, and I was really touched. The women in my office also gave me a beautiful knife with a Tarpon engraved on the side, which I will always cherish and think of them fondly.
There's been a lot of mixed emotions for me in that building over the years as the textile industry hasn't been hitting on all cylinders lately, especially in the US. Walking out Friday, I was sad to leave so many people behind who have truly become friends to continue the struggle. However, after all we've been through, after the lunch and after I'd said all my "so longs," I walked out of that building feeling like I had earned the respect of the bulk of the people working there over the last fiver years. That's what I leave most proud of.
Friday evening, my friends Brad and Robert helped me move out of my house. They were lifesavers, as they did a bulk of the heavy lifting while I finished packing, and without them, I'd ever have gotten out Saturday morning as I'd hoped. There are a few odds and ends I'll need to take care of in NC from the road, but in essence, I'm pretty well done.
I'd love to say that Saturday was a magical day, with magical road trip stories and wonderful pictures, but it was really all I could do to even keep my eyes open for the drive. I probably pulled over at least once an hour to make sure I was awake.
Spent time with family yesterday, and will get back on the road again today. I think when I leave Chicago, which is still home for me, I'll really get the rush of being on my new adventure. I plan to hit Madison, WI tonight to see my best bud Ryan, and then I'll head west on Tuesday, likely through Minnesota and into South Dakota. I plan to meander through the Bad Lands and Black Hills on Wednesday, and then head down and spend Wednesday night with my friend Brent in Laramie.
Thursday, I'll take the short two hour drive down to Denver to spend a night with my sister, Janis, and Friday I'll head up to Idaho. Should be a lot of fun, and hopefully, you'll all enjoy the journey right along with me in this blog.