So I turned 38 this past Sunday. I really wasn't counting on anything special. I told Brett it could be a super cheap, practically free event - Joe gave me some buy one-get one Chick Fil A coupons we could use for lunch (on Saturday, since they're closed on Sundays), and I had hoped Brett would cave in, install the 2-week trial of World of Warcraft, and play with me some... That was all I'd hoped for.
And then Friday afternoon Leslie informed us we had a 230 showing of the condo. Crap. That meant Saturday morning would be clean up/organize time. Ok, fine. Brett said we could head up to Beechwood a little before the showing, do lunch, and shop around. Perfect! After that, we'd come home and WoW! (yes, now it's a verb)
I was busy making bread (to share with Leslie and Dave) and chocolate chip cookies (for us, and for the condo showing) while cleaning. That had us running a little late for Brett's planned departure time, but still plenty of time before anyone came to see the condo. Not a problem.
After dropping bread off at Leslie's (and leaving the other loaf out to continue cooling), Brett informed me that there was something else going on (as I had suspected), and we wouldn't have time for Chick Fil A. WHAT??!! :( I figured that was part of the surprise, even though I'd noticed some toiletries were missing, and saw a "received the package" text msg from Jay on Brett's phone. Hm. Odd.
Well, I admit I wasn't dealing with it well. I'm not known for liking surprises when I'm the surprisee... But I was a captive audience, and someone meant well. Fine - going along for the ride.
We got up to Cleveland, drove around a block a few times, parked, and went into a hotel. Hm, maybe we were doing overnight and seeing some sort of show with the guys?
We waited in the lobby, and suddenly Jay shows up. Again - not a surprise since he and Brett talked on the phone while we were finding parking. And then Peter came around the column.
But he lives in Chicago!
Ok, so that was cool! I have to admit I spent a good part of the next 24 hrs in shock just because of how much work went into the surprise. Months ago Peter and Brett emailed about them coming out for a surprise, Brett and Peter working on hotel set ups, Jay picking Peter and Conrad up at the airport and taking them out to lunch, us getting an upgraded room in the Wyndam hotel... Wow, BIG surprise! NICE!
Here's me, still a bit stunned, in the hotel room. Realize *I* didn't pack a bag for myself, nor did I know exactly what was going on...so my attire was up to Brett after this point...
Brett took some extra shots of the room...
After vegging in the room for a bit we all went back down to the bar, meeting up with Conrad (who'd been napping when we arrived), Peter, Dave (who showed up a little later than us), and Jay for some wine. (Went down like Kool-Aid - I'd only had some raw cookie dough, and a McDonald's cheeseburger and fries) After hanging for awhile we all went back to our rooms to clean up for dinner.
Brett and I taking the elevator back down after getting dressed up. Brett dresses up more comfortably and nicer than I do. I'm a jeans guy!
Brett modeling in the mirror.
Another part of the surprise is that Brett was taking us all to Brasa Brasilian Steakhouse - Jay and Brett worked hard to find the perfect place for dinner that would impress us all and be an enjoyable experience. Trust me, they excelled in their decision making here!
Brasa works like this... First off, they have a kick ass "salad bar" - with SO much more than "just salad". There was a mountain of asparagus, waldorf salad, crawfish salad, hearts of palm, a delicious pork and black bean dish, mussels (no thanks Peter), couscous, sesame seasoned broccoli, and soooo much more (including salad!). Once you've dined on some of the salad bar goodies, you flip your little "meat card" over from red to green. Before you know it, staff are bringing around skewers of succulent meats - sliding or slicing off small pieces that you grab with your personal tongs and put on your plate. Once you've had enough meat and need a breather, you flip over the card (although they weren't paying attention and brought more meat, which we couldn't refuse).
Our meat selections included bacon-wrapped-turkey, bacon-wrapped-beef-filet, sausages, little tiny roasted "sheeken" (chicken) legs, prime rib, filet mignon, flank steak, parmesian crusted some-cut-of-beef, leg of lamb, lamb chops and more - I forget!!! It was an all meat extravaganza and it wasn't long before we were all experiencing the meat sweats! MMM MMM GOOD! Some of the meats were a little too rare for our taste, but still very good.
There was an adventure with picking a bottle of wine...something Brett and I rarely drink. I didn't care for it as much as what we had back at the hotel, but those who are better experienced with wine really enjoyed it.
I'm still not sure how Peter felt about the food...
What do you think - did he enjoy it?
Here's Jay and Randy posing. Randy got to show up shortly after we were seated, but Larry had to stay home with Kyle, who was sick. Sorry - we missed you Larry!
Me and Dave - shortly before the meat sweats.
Peter and Brett. Watch your hands Peter!
Conrad - I kept taking bad pics of him, usually getting someone else's arm, or a flash off the drinking glasses. Finally got a great shot of him!
Peter usually takes great shots of the dinners he eats while dining out. Here - this'll really show my appreciation for the food. Don't take the scraps as an insult to the food...I had to make room for more!
Here's the walk from the hotel to Brasa - damn it was COLD and WINDY, not to mention a bit far!
Here's the ride back from Brasa to the hotel - THANKS RANDY!!
After all that meat, we headed out to a couple bars - first to Club Argos (a "gay sports bar") and later to The Grid. Peter and Conrad hadn't been to a gay bar in years, so hey, we offered them some fun sites. There's nothing as fun as coming up with nicknames for people in a gay bar!
After all that meat and loud music it was time to call it a nite, even planning to let ourselves sleep in a bit. Brett woke up before me. I hate him:
Brett got some pics out the hotel window as well...10th floor!
And here's Brett early in the morning!
We met up for brunch and had really good food and fun times...
Brett was most likely harassing me about something...
After brunch we entertained Peter and Conrad by taking them around Cleveland, including Tower City Mall...
Annnnnd then a quick bite of pastries for "lunch" before taking them to the airport.
Wow - what a crazy fun weekend! Hard to believe it all happened in less than 24 hours!!!
Peter and I were the only ones who'd met before this weekend. I got to meet Conrad for the first time. Conrad and Peter got to meet Brett. The guys all got to meet each other. I think some great new friendships were made this weekend...and hopefully they'll all continue to keep in contact and, who knows, maybe get to see each other again before too long. There are already plans for Brett and I to head to Chicago in May, and then Peter and Conrad want to come back down later in the summer to see our (hopefully) new home and garden!
PS It took me like 12 minutes just to upload all these pics, and that was before adding comments. I sure hope Blogger doesn't barf on this entry!
PPS Ok, I'm pooped - time for bed!