Bah Humbug! - part II

Continuing our adventures of A Christmas Carol

2012 - Louisville, KY

Before Cece was born, Rizzo and I had already decided that she would be going to college at the University of Louisville. We again picked the location based upon the states that could be marked off Rizzo’s list and we quickly fell in love with the city and the surrounding area. As usual, we arrived on a Friday evening, made our way to the hotel, checked in, and immediately headed out for dinner. We made our stop the Bluegrass Brewing Company that was just a few steps from our hotel. This was convenient because (1) we could walk and (2) we could try the local beers.

After a good night sleep we headed out for our weekend adventure before the A Christmas Carol show and it was a knee slapping good time. First thing we had to do was to get across the river to Indiana so Rizzo could mark that off the list. We found the closest small town on the other side of the river, hopped in the car, and made our way to New Albany, IN to find a place for breakfast. It was one of the greatest decisions we have ever made.

New Albany, IN is a wonderfully quaint small town that is probably no more than 20 minutes from downtown Louisville. The main street is lined with shops and restaurants. We parked and started walking downtown to find some breakfast. Rizzo, not wanting to miss out on getting a picture with an oversized object, had to stop to get a photo with the fork in the road.

There were no guitars in New Albany, IN so Rizzo played the fork in the road

There were no guitars in New Albany, IN so Rizzo played the fork in the road

We found a little local diner for breakfast that I am so sad that I have forgotten the name. I’m not much of a breakfast person so I usually hope to find a sandwich or something of the like I can order when we are out for breakfast. Well this little diner topped them all by offering pot roast on the breakfast menu. The complete meal was pancakes covered with pot roast and gravy. Probably the least healthy breakfast every prepared and the most delicious.

Pancakes and pot roast

Pancakes and pot roast

Not only that, but this diner offered specialty coffees the likes of which you have never scene. I know, I know, I already wrote a blog about just wanting to order a cup of coffee at Starbucks and how much of a pain in the ass it is. The real point of that blog wasn’t to say that specialty coffee drinks are bad, per se. If you want one, order one, just don’t make it damn near impossible to go into a coffee house just to get a cup of coffee.  Anyway, this diner had a café mocha that was mixed with caramel and utilized a Twix candy bar as the method of stirring the beverage. It was heaven in a mug.

After breakfast we did some more exploring and took a tour of an old Victorian home in New Albany that had been converted into a museum. I wish I could recall the name of the home. It was beautifully decorated for the season and since it was only us and one other couple on the tour we got to see lots of the history.

After spending the morning in New Albany we made our way back to Louisville to tour the Louisville Slugger factory. I loved the tour as one might imagine from a baseball fanatic. It was fascinating to learn the process of making baseball bats and seeing the history of the Louisville Slugger. We also had the opportunity to swing some bats of famous ball players. I had the option of swinging the bat of Derek Jeter or Mickey Mantle. As you can see from the picture, I made the right decision.

Mickey Mantle's bat

Mickey Mantle's bat

After dinner at a great steakhouse in town (Shula’s, I believe), Rizzo and I made our way to the Actors Theatre for the show. The performance was great, as has been the case with all of the shows, but what I remember most was after the show. At the conclusion of A Christmas Carol the entire cast, led by William McNulty (who played Scrooge) came on stage to promote a charitable endeavor to support women’s health needs, including breast, cervical, and ovarian cancer. His ask for funding was touching and I’m sure inspired more than just me to contribute.

I wanted to give but immediately after leaving the theatre I had already forgotten the name of the charity. After getting back home I emailed the theatre in order to get the information for the cause. I got a response directly from the Managing Director who was able to give me the name and address of the organization, Broadway Cares. This was impressive because it isn’t common that the Managing Director would take the time to respond personally to these types of inquiry and it showed me that the theatre company cared not only about its bottom line but helping other organizations.

Actors Theatre in Louisville, KY with a super fat Wes

Actors Theatre in Louisville, KY with a super fat Wes

The next day after the show we had a chance to head back over the river to New Albany. We planned on getting some brunch and the same diner as before but it was closed. That turned out to be a blessing in disguise because we were able to get brunch at the local beer establishment, the New Albanian Brewing Company. It has been too long for me to give a completely accurate review of the beers but as I recall we were able to get some good food and get a complete flight of lots of good beers all before noon. I also remember that the artwork for the labeling was outstanding and I would certainly recommend them to anyone in the Louisville area.

Louisville has certainly been one of the highlights of the A Christmas Carol adventure so far. The city itself has all the perks of a big city with much less traffic and the wonderful New Albany would be a place I could learn to live in. I recommend you spend a weekend in Louisville. You won’t regret it.

2013 - New Haven, CT

In 2013, Rizzo and I made the trek to New Haven, CT for A Christmas Carol. We were lucky because our friends Shawna and John, along with their son Jack, live in New Haven so it gave us a built in excuse to make that our A Christmas Carol location. It also put us close enough to Rhode Island to make hour or so drive in order to check the state off of Rizzo's list. We had originally made reservations at a restaurant (I don't recall the name) but as we were driving we got near the place early so we kept driving around. We saw a sign for the town of Westerly and decided to explore.

Old fire engine in Westerly, RI

Old fire engine in Westerly, RI

One of the things we love most about these and all of our treks is finding cute little towns that we have never heard of and Westerly is a perfect example. We just happened to be visiting Westerly at the perfect time because the town had a big parade scheduled and Santa was going to be riding down Main Street. I would guess that everyone in town was out for the event. Christmas carols were being played all over town. A small coffee shop was open selling hot chocolate to any and all that could drink it. It was the definition of festive and we got right in the spirit. This video will explain fun in our trips more than anything I could possibly write.

I was there too and I got a good beer.

I was there too and I got a good beer.

The next day before our evening show we were treated to a delicious breakfast by our in-town hosts. Following the meal we made our way to downtown New Haven to explore the local museums and walk around town. The museums were great, the architecture was great, and even exploring the cemetery was great (we got to see the grave of Eli Whitney) but what I remember most of all was the music video we witnessed.

Before you get too excited I need to explain this music video. First, it was hard to believe these guys were really filming a music video. However, on the corner of the street, all foot traffic had been stopped and three guys were playing a song from what appeared to be a 1986 boom box. One guy was manning the boom box, one guy was strutting down the street singing along with the music, while the third guy was recording with (I swear this is true) an iPhone. I know technology has come a long way but I never thought I’d see someone shooting a music video on their phone but there it was right in front of me. I wish I would have stopped to find out more so I could track down the end result but alas, that did not happen.

The performance was being staged at the Shubert Theatre in downtown New Haven. I remember the show being somewhat slow and uninspiring as compared to the others I had seen at this point. That isn’t so say it was a bad show, far from it. For me it was a lot like comparing The Avengers: Age of Ultron to The Avengers. The Avengers: Age of Ultron is great, fun and entertaining and I would watch it over and over again. However, The Avengers was a game changer for movies and how movies can be made.

I actually remember more about the theatre itself than the actual show. First, our seats were in a box to the side of the stage. I don’t know how the four of us ended up in these box seats where you would expect high rollers and dignitaries but there we were. It was the kind of box that Abraham Lincoln would be nervous to sit in, if you get my joke. Second, I remember seeing a poster on my way to the bathroom for a show called The Tap Dance Kid that starred Dule Hill. I remember this because Dule Hill was one of the stars of my favorite TV show, The West Wing, so I made sure to take a picture.

After the show, our fine guides took advantage of their night with a babysitter and took us to a local bar for some high quality drinks and snacks. I don’t remember the name of the place (Shawna should be able to help me out in the comments of this blog) but I do remember having a wonderful time. Good company and good scotch always mix.

2014 - Ford's Theatre

Unlike Lincoln, we made it through the show with smiles. (Too soon?)

Unlike Lincoln, we made it through the show with smiles. (Too soon?)

After Cece was born we knew we would have to reconsider our globetrotting plans to see A Christmas Carol but that wasn’t going to deter us from getting to see the show. At 7 months old we weren’t quite ready to leave Cece with someone else. Not to be discouraged we got tickets to see the show at Ford’s Theatre once again.

Rizzo’s good friend (and now mine) Liz was coming to town to stay with us for the weekend with her son Logan. It was an unexpected coincidence but worked out well since we could take Liz and Logan to visit other friends while Rizzo and I headed out to the theatre.

We originally planned to have lunch with the entire group but our timing was off so we simply dropped Liz and Logan off at the restaurant and started our walk to the theatre. We stopped into a Chipotle-style pizza place just outside of Ford’s Theatre for a quick lunch before taking our seats for the show.

Our tickets were much better than they were the five years before and we were sitting in nearly the center of the theatre. We were pleasantly surprised to find the same actor reprising his role of Scrooge and giving just as great a performance. It was clear that Edward Gero loves the role of Scrooge.

Seven years after starting this holiday tradition it is still going strong. Sure, some trips result in more adventures than other but every time the show makes me smile, makes me cry, makes me think, and makes me wish nothing but good tidings and good will towards men. I’m looking forward to seeing this show every year. Hopefully I can achieve my goal of celebrating the 25th anniversary of the first time I saw A Christmas Carol by flying to London to see the performance in England.

 

Bah Humbug! and Beer Snob: A Christmas Time Collaboration

Bah Humbug! and Beer Snob: A Christmas Time Collaboration

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