David P. took me over to Paul's (the usual place), but just as we got there, the remaining stragglers in the group decided to call it a night. jss1113, David, and I went over to Shamrock (the other usual place; a gay bar). So, yeah, a gay bar called "Shamrock" on St. Patrick's Day which is also a Friday: as you might guess, it was a teensy bit busy, but in a good way. Met up with Fabulous Nate, Nate (a third Nate; not the one in MN), and Flip. Had a great time with my friends, and a few very good, strong drinks, which was just what the doctor ordered at that point. I was pleasantly tipsy, and jss1113 and I went back to our hotel. It was a bit south of Madison, but very nice and reasonably priced. After staying up a bit with Josh, it was time for bed.
Day 2 - Sat 3/18
Got up late, had a pretty nice breakfast (eggs, bacon, sausage, fresh waffle, and a bagel), and went to go ogle the hot hot hot boys who were playing around in the pool/hot tub. Eventually had Josh drive me to pick up a rental for the day. My choices were either of two teeny little cars, or a
Started out my shopping at Penzey's. Mmmmm, Penzey's. Took my time browsing around the store, which is always a pleasure. I had just picked up a container of Mexican vanilla beans, and was passing by the extracts (since I'm quite stocked up on those), when something caught my eye. Mexican Vanilla Extract! Dude! I've been asking Penzey's for that for *years*! So, I put back the beans, and bought the extract instead (I'd been planning to make extract from two of the beans anyway). On my way out, I started talking to the cashier about it, and flipping through the catalog to see how I'd missed it. The clerk said that because so little is exported from Mexico, they don't put it in the catalog; you can only get it in stores. She then said that she had some lavender behind the counter too, and that it usually isn't in the catalog either. Apparently, sometimes they put it in as a one-line item with no description, and people in-the-know will pounce on it. Good to know. Needless to say, I bought some of that too. All in all, though, a pretty low total of $41. The list:
- Mexican Vanilla Extract (4 fl oz)
- Lavender (0.5 oz)
- Shallots (0.4 oz)
- Natural Process Cocoa (8 oz)
- Dutch Process Cocoa (8 oz)
- Arrowroot Starch (1.3 oz) (a staple of mine)
- Buttermilk Dressing & Dip Base (1.2 oz) (haven't tried this before)
- Ceylon Whole Cloves (0.7 oz)
- Chinese Five Spice Powder (1 oz) (based on rwgill's recommendation, and for Alton Brown's Pad Thai recipe)
- Herbes de Provence (0.4 oz) (a staple for winter cooking)
- Ground Red Chipolte (1.2 oz) (I'm getting into hot pepper spices)
- Ground Ancho Chili Pepper (1.2 oz)
- Mexican Chili Piquin (0.4 oz)
I was on my way to the Land's End outlet when I got a call from thaaang. He's a friend of jss1113's who flirted with me a bit when I was in Madison a few years ago. I'd contacted him in the hopes of, er, continuing along those lines. He invited me to hang out with them on State Street. We met at a coffee shop, walked around for a bit (including the Land's End discount store, which sadly had very little in the way of tall shirts), and had some Ben & Jerry's (I tried the new banana rum flavor, which was better than I expected). jss1113 wanted a disco nap before the party, so I offered to drive thaaang back to his place. My advances were gently rebuffed, sadly, but at least I got to meet someone new and cool.
Figuring I should continue my shopping, I headed over to the actual Land's End outlet. A FoaF (who's 6'8") said that they carried some nice very tall-sized things, which I've been hunting. That information proved incorrect, as they had no tall shirts that I could find. Even trying on the XXL shirt proved disappointing. Bah. After driving around for a while, I could not find the REI store that I knew was there somewhere. Bah, again. I wanted to get to Hardee's since I was dying for one of their Six Dollar Burgers (the closest one to me in Seattle is 134 miles away, dammit). The website had the wrong address, and there was no sign from the highway, but I did find it, and the burger was every bit as good as I needed it to be. Yum.
At that point, I thought it might be good to hang out with jss1113 and headed back to the hotel. He was still sound asleep, so I quietly got changed and took advantage of the hot tub. The clock on the wall turned out to be about 20 minutes slow, so I spent way more time in there than I wanted to. I was a bit woozy after that. When I got back to the room, Josh had woken up, so we got changed into our Utilikilts, and headed over to the party...