It’s cold here. At least it’s cold for someone who has spent the past 15 months in constant 85 degree weather. Otherwise, pretty quiet.
My daughter has been trying to entertain me, asking what I want to do. All I say is I’m here to visit with her and my granddaughter. Still, she’s trying to make sure I complete my “bucket list” of things to do and eat during my stay. Right now, she’s fixated on my yearning for pastrami and swiss on rye.
We did go out for barbeque at Creekside Cafe the other night, one of my food requests, but the ribs were a little dry. Will try again before leaving. On the drive up here from Atlanta, I fulfilled another food target, stopping for a Wendy’s bacon cheeseburger. It was a disappointment.
In Atlanta, I had some problems with car rentals, as my booking was cancelled due to my airline delays. They wanted almost twice the amount I had booked online, so I decided to just rent a car (from budget) to get me to North Carolina. You have to pay a penalty for not bringing the car back to where you rented it, so it came to $380. I brought it back two days late and thought there would be a daily fee. Instead, I was slapped with an additional $170 per day, without an explanation. I was told to call someone and will follow up, but basically I got shafted. Budget will hear from me.
Barely made it in time for the poker game in Atlanta. Had to find a hotel once I left the
airport and stopped at one outside the perimeter. Called Billy to pick me up and we went to a clubhouse they rent for special games, where a barbeque was already underway. Hot dogs and hamburgers, good comraderie, lots of laughs, and I even might have made a few bucks.
On the way to Asheville the next morning, I stopped off at my friend Elizabeth’s home in
north Georgia. Her husband, a good friend, died last year at age 53 and I wanted to visit her to talk. I stayed the night and we talked until 4 in the morning (she needed to vent with me about Eric), which is why I was late returning the car the next day (didn’t get up until about 11 a.m., the first real sleep I had had since leaving Batam.
I’ve been just hanging around the house since then, did some shopping at Walmart before turning the rental in, as well as made a trip to the bank to take care of the PIN problem I had with one of my bank cards. Once again, Wells Fargo did a nice job of customer service.
My second night here, we went to a billiards hall downtown (City Billiards), where they were supposed to have a 9-ball tournament – except they didn’t have enough players. So, after thoroughly beating my invisible opponent for about an hour, we went to a nearby pub, Beer Garden, where we met a couple of Kim’s friends.
Yesterday, we went to a discount shoe store and a discount clothing store (Dillards). I should be fully
restocked now. A second suitcase I bought at Walmart is nearly full. (I will be 2 Bags and a Pack again on my return trip, with the resulting baggage fees they charge here.)
One of my tasks here is to find gifts for staff back in Batam. I’ve decided on t-shirts that say “I love (heart with U.S. flag inside it) USA. I’m ordering 20 shirts from a friend of Kim’s. I’ve learned that it’s best to bring everyone back the same gift, so all the waitresses and office staff will get some U.S. propaganda (but they’ll love the shirts). This is not a cheap proposition but they all treat me so well and I enjoy bringing them something from my trips. They kind of expect it now.
Tomorrow (Sunday), there is a festival downtown coinciding with Cinco de Mayo, so we’re going to join the crowds. And I still want to look at laptops, with the possibility of buying one here instead of in Batam. They may actually be cheaper here and the selections will be greater. Have to replace the one that was stolen from me but may not have enough room even with my expanded luggage to bring two laptops back with me.
I’ve decided to fly back to Atlanta Thursday rather than rent a car again. The airfare went
down by $100 since the last time I checked and is less than a car rental would be (with the drop-off fee they charge). US Airways will charge me for both checked bags, however, and might charge me for my carry-on. I’m hoping that Delta doesn’t charge me again for bags in Atlanta. I paid no baggage fees coming here, as the international carriers are far more lenient regarding bags. I wonder how they can make ends meet while the U.S. airlines need the baggage revenue to stay afloat (sarcasm). At any rate, I’m not looking forward to the 40-hour trip and hope I don’t encounter problems again.
I do miss my people back in Batam.