Four hours after leaving Perry GA, I was pulling into the parking lot of the ChattanoogaChoo-Choo. Joe, Elizabeth and Beth Ann were waiting, as I squeezed into a parking space, and we grabbed all my things and made a hasty retreat into Hotel 1. About 40 seconds after we walked in the door, the rain came down in torrent. After catching up for a while and discussing our options, we headed to the Libertycon convention headquarters where I went through the registration process. We decided on a new restaurant for dinner...one within walking distance of the hotel, Alleia. It was quite good, with wood fired baking and terrific Italian food choices.
Everyone was pretty tired from the commute to Chattanooga, so we all turned in early with a plan to head off base to breakfast at yet another untried restaurant called the Bluegrass Grill. Everything was homemade, even the bread. Breakfast was delightful and much more reasonable than the breakfast buffet offered at the Choo-Choo. We were so impressed that we made reservations for Sunday brunch.
Of course, we attended the annual Baen Slide Show on Saturday and made our pilgrimage to the Dealer’s Room to see if there were any items for sale that we just couldn’t live without. Saturday’s dinner choice was Ichibana, a Japanese Steak House. The food was excellent, and the entertainment was great. I took a doggie bag of filet mignon, veggies and fried rice, and threw Elizabeth’s filet in for good measure.
Everyone slept in on Sunday, then we repacked our vehicles, checked out of the Choo-Choo, and headed back to the Bluegrass Grill for our brunch reservation. As usual, a long weekend with Joe, Elizabeth, Beth Ann and Pete seemed inadequate. We made the most of brunch: ate, talked, laughed, and wished we could do it again before another year passed. Then we once again parted ways, knowing e-mail and facebook chat would have to suffice for the months to come.
The drive North, then East, then North again through Tennessee was arduous. Before I had gone three exits up I75, the rain began to come down in sheets. Determined to make Ohio before dark, I kept driving. I only had to actually pull off the road twice, but lost precious driving time to those stops. The rain let up as I neared the Kentucky state line. After that, I only had to deal with two accidents and road construction. I managed to stop for the night just before the evening twilight.
I was too tired to head out for dinner, but I had a huge doggie back of filet mignon, veggies and fried rice. I also had a bottle pomegranate zinfandel. I nuked my prize, filled a plastic cup with ice and wine and savored a tasty dinner compliments of Ichiban and Elizabeth. I ate what was left the next morning for breakfast and once again headed North on 75/71.
Four hours later I pulled into the parking lot of Bahama Breeze in Beachwood for a pre-arranged lunch with my friend Monica. We hadn’t seen each other since before Christmas, so we spent two hours eating coconut shrimp and swapping stories of the previous 6 months. We parted with hugs, and I avoided rush hour up 271 and 90 by taking Chagrin East to Som Center and skirting the freeway all the way to Chardon. I was home by dinner time. But my week’s excitement didn’t end with the trip.