Journal Entry # 48 - Road Entry#38 (Red, White, & Bluezz - Old Pasadena - 8:50pm - January 1, 2011)

It's a new calendar year for most human beings. I thought to myself last night that my "New Year" begins every April 1st, on my birthday. So I'll wait 4 more months to the day where I can whole-heartedly say, "Happy New Year!".

I left off my last entry with every detail about the wedding day (or as much detail as I could recall as the majority of the reception was drinking alcohol).

It has been 4 days in Charlotte and I am on my fifth day, waking up in this hotel after the wedding. To my surprise, I wasn't as hungover as I thought I would be from a wedding. I was happy to be up, drinking coffee, and moving around. Before I went downstairs to the lobby, I remember talking to Carrie and Finch (Laura) in the room for a while. I can't recall what we specifically talked about, but it was for 30 to 60 minutes of chat in the morning.

I then went down to the lobby and get some coffee. Many of Sam's aunts and uncles were down there eating breakfast early before their afternoon flights back to Nebraska and Washington. Aunt Shela, who out-drove me during the golf tournament on Friday, had to take on of those flights to Nebraska and didn't know what to do with her sand-wedge iron prize. I offered to ship it to her in Nebraska because I would be in the Charlotte area for 5 more days before leaving for Tennessee. I thought it would be better than having Sam do it because he and Lindsay had so much to do already in preparation for their honeymoon and saying goodbye to family.

I took the club back up to my room where all of my stuff was laying on the windowsill and ground. And along side my clothes on the ground was Tim's hungover self and Chris in his make-shift chair/ottoman bed. I changed out of my t-shirt and workout shorts before heading back downstairs with my camera. I got out of the elevator and ran into Sam, just getting back from breakfast with Lindsay and her side of the family. He said that I would be more than welcome to come to Jack's house for the present opening party amongst close family members. Theresa and Rachelle were also going, so I got a ride with them in Theresa's rental car (along with her parents). We came to find the immediate family members outside with the EZ-UP tent in the middle of the deck with all the presents underneath. There were small pastries, coffee, and juice for the guests as they sat around, talked, and watched the bride and groom open gifts for an hour to two. I helped out as much as I could: filling people's drinks, cleaning up trash, and pre-opening gifts by simply cutting the tape off all boxes.

At the end of the gift opening, I cleaned up as much as a I could before Susan, Lindsay's mother, told me to stop helping so much. I said farewell to many of Sam's extended family as they were catching flights a little later in the afternoon and got a ride back to the hotel with Sue, Rocky, and Andy Johnson. After parking the rental van, I walked up to the hotel porch to find Andy P, Chris, Tim, Jordan, Abbie, Chad, and Lauren outside talking and hanging around. We basically just sat outside a recapped as much of the night as we could - looking at people's digital photos and recounting each one's experience over the course of the night. It was entertaining to recount our experiences in a forum-like-atmosphere.

At this point, I was getting hungry and left the group to go to Salsa's Mexican Cuisine with Rocky, Louise, Eugene, Janet, and Roger. The 6 of us got a table near the back where I ordered a salad due to the fact I didn't run the day prior and had no plans to run on this day. As the only person at the table born after 1960, it was interesting to just sit back and listen to the many stories of those with much more life experience than I. I can't recall any specific stories from Roger, Eugene, Louise, or Janet - but I do remember talking with Rocky about my future plans in travel and personal development (with a tad of professional aspirations as well - I Think?). From there, we all finished are lunches and walked back to the hotel.

I walked back towards the patio area of the hotel where my contemporaries were all seated - mutedly talking, laughing, and enjoying themselves as the glass doors separated us. I broke my temporary ethnographic state and proceeded to join them in their fun in reminiscing the night away some more. It got even better when Sue, Rocky, and Andy joined the table and then Brenden finally came down from the room (around 4pm). Brenden got to reveal how he got the 3-inch scar on his forehead from the night previous.

Late in the night when the entire group got back and out of the limo, some of the guys decided to hit the indoor pool and hot-tub area of the hotel. In the pool, intoxicated, Brenden thought it was adventurous to perform underwater backflips (like the ones you used to do when you were little in the shallow end). The problem for Brenden was that the pool had a continuous 3-foot shallow end and Brenden stands at 6'3'' or 6'4''.

To say the least, Brenden's mental to physical altercation with the pool floor was one of many stories shared around the patio table that got a laugh.

I then went upstairs to the hotel room to switch into jeans for the night baseball game we had all planned on going to. Jordan was still in bed when I got up to the room. He wasn't feeling to hot and I drudgingly convinced him to get moving and get downstairs in preparation for the ball game. We were going to the Charlotte Knights Triple-A baseball final weekend series against the Gwinnett Braves. Since it was the final three-game home stand for the Knights, there was a fireworks show at the end of the night for the entire group to enjoy. Our group consisted of the remaining family and friends that were flying out the next morning. The guys, plus Lauren and Lindsay, pilled into two cars to head to the stadium where we met some of the remaining lacrosse girls and Lindsay's cousins and kids. We all met in the parking lot where Lindsay and Sam hosted the group with some quaint Michelob Ultra's and Cool Ranch Doritos.

The group hung around in the parking lot - sharing more stories - until 10 minutes before the first pitch. I reluctantly had a ULTRA and chips but happily brought my camera for others to recap and recount the reception once again.

We all then walked to the front gate where we paid roughly $7 a ticket for general admission. The group chose seats along the 3rd base foul line towards left field. We all sat there and enjoyed the family entertainment atmosphere with a 5-1 victory of the Knights over the Braves. I would say that half the time I was distracted from the game by baby Kaitlin.

Kaitlin is Lindsay's 2 or 3 year old niece. This cute ball of energy (pictured below) would run and dance around in the aisle giving Dan (her father) and I some innocent entertainment relief during the middle of innings and pitching-changes.

The fireworks came, sparkled, dazzled, and vanished before we knew it.

The twenty-year-olds took a quick picture together before leaving and said goodbye to one another.

I drove back to the hotel with Sam, Chad, and Lauren in Sam's car. We collectively decided it would be beneficial for our stomachs to stop and eat some Taco Bell for dinner as the ULTRA'S and DORITOS couldn't tide us over for the rest of the night. The Taco Bell was finished by the time I stepped foot into the hotel and we all went up to Rocky and Sue's suite to say goodbye, farewell, and thank you for the weekend once again.

It was close to midnight at this point and we were all ready for some well-needed rest. Brenden and I talked earlier at the game and he said it would be okay if I stayed in his hotel room for the night as there were still 4 guys in my original room with that lone King-Sized bed. I was very appreciative of Brenden's generosity and the comfort of my own bed.

Thus the spontaneous conclusion of Sam and Lindsay's planned wedding weekend and festivities.