Friday evening I took my last of five trips into the State Fair for 2012, and with My-Sugar-Na in tow, we left right after getting home from work with no specific agenda (other than eating dinner and enjoying a crisp evening and not sweating through the day)
As with all previous trips, I head towards the old neighborhood on Orchard Street and find most of the neighborhood flagging in cars (excluding the folks my our old house. They bought the place for a song, do they feel that they do not need any extra money?) But contrary to all other trips, a reasonably close street parking spot was not to be had. I worked my way east on Orchard, looking up and down each cross-street and coming to the realization that I may have to (gasp!) be one of those people who actually does pay for parking. I got as far east as 78th Street when it occurred to me... One of my best buddies lives on 75th & Orchard.
One of Bowler's Pro Shop's best friends, I'll call him Grap, has been battling cancer for three years now. The damn thing won't go into remission, and he is fighting the hell out of it, and on Friday, he looked better and more chipper than he has in quite a while. His weight has stabilized, but still bald as a, well, bald guy.
Though a previous course of chemotherapy, one of the potential side effects was some loss of feeling in the toes. Unfortunately, not only did he get that loss of feeling, it lost just about all of the feeling in both feet. It was hard watching him walk, much less try to do anything else. Since his balance is off, he hasn't bowled in three years and (like me) bowling was much of what defined him and his travel opportunities (to various state and National tournaments). Yesterday, Grap reported that not only is he feeling better, but he is regaining feeling in his feet. His toes still don't exist, but his balance is light years better than the last time I saw him.
The National tournament is in Reno in 2013, and Grap vows to be ready to come with us. He very likely still won't be able to bowl, but he can't wait to be able to just hang with the guys again. He came with us in 2010, and hasn't since. I can't wait for him to join us. (Side note; I linked to my Reno trip report from that year, but I don't want to understate this photo, which is the greatest photo ever.)
It was about 70 degrees when we left Reno to head to Lake Tahoe (only an hour away, but about 3000 feet higher in elevation than Reno), and while we were inside Harvey's Casino the area received 2" of snow (in late-May). The snow was tapering off as we waited for the valet wearing shorts and no jackets. Grap took the photo like a man. Ray Sunshine? Not so much)
After parking my car on his driveway, My-Sugar-Na headed to the east entrance of the Fair with a bounce in our step... 70 degrees will do that for you! The goal being dinner then relax to some music, My-Sugar-Na first hit the lemonade stand, then went for the Spaghetti and Meatballs on a Stick (something she passed on during Crazy Grazin' day... her review, "Deh, they were OK. I wouldn't do it again") then an ear of corn.
My dinner decision was tougher. I had too many things I had wanted to try. There were past favorites like a Rupena's Hungarian or a Charlie's Italian Sausage, and stuff I had wanted to try like the Bacon-wrapped deep fried Tater Tots or a rib platter from either the Charcoal Grill Roadhouse or Saz's.
So what did I have? A Cream Puff Ale from The Micro.
We then walked over to listen to the Dueling Pianos at the Starlite Pub for a couple of hours. I am sure this is a pretty routine part of the act, but in the "You Had To Be There" Department, the following was the best part of the show...
A person requested Sweet Caroline with a $3 tip.
One of the pianists did one of those "Who doesn't like Neil Diamond? For $6 I'll stop the song".
Right before the chorus (as the crowd readies for the BOOM, BOOM, BOOM), a lady gives $6 and requests Faithfully.
Sweet Caroline stops, and after the pianist says "$18 to stop this song".
About halfway through Faithfully, someone comes up with $20, and the crowd goes nuts, Sweet Caroline resumes and everyone sings the chorus extra loud.
Around 8:30 and getting hungrier, we leave the pianos behind and I resume my quest for dinner. The winner(s)... a Tenderloin steak sandwich from the Steak Stop ($9.50) which was excellent but overpriced and then a Jamaican Red Hot ($5) from Tropics at the Fair which was nice and big and nice and spicy.
And I still never got my Hungarian, Italian, Tater Tots or ribs. Sigh.
Day 9 in 2011 - This one's for you, Mitten