Friday, January 3, 2014

Christmas in Utah 2013

Good Afternoon Ladies & Gentlemen,
I'm actually home sick (again) today... so I figured that I'd take a few minutes and tell you how Utah was. Here’s a somewhat quick breakdown on my recent trip to Utah for the Holidays…
Friday – December 20th
I spent Thursday night with Dizzy before going… and flew Allegiant Air to Provo Airport Friday morning. The gate was packed, so I wandered to a basically vacant one thinking “I’ll just swing back there about 45 minutes before take-off & they’ll be about ready to start boarding. So I did that… and went back… and everybody was GONE! They had just already boarded (an hour early) was all… so I got on the plane and headed towards my seat. There was a gentleman in my emergency row seat so I asked him if that was his. It was actually the seat next to it, but a Chinese lady was in it… so we did the switcheroo & she went to her real seat. Well, while I was trying to wedge my happy ass by both the moving parties AND the stewardess, I nudged my head on the overhead bin… because I’m HUGE!!! That’s when the stewardess said “I’m sorry, you can’t sit here either (referring to the lady I guess).”
Confused $teve: “What? Why?”
Stewardess: “Sir, are you drunk?”
Confused $teve: “No? No. Not at all.”
Stewardess: “Well, somebody smells like… sir, have YOU been drinking? (to the other guy on the row)”
Dude #2: “No!”
$teve: “Ma’am, have YOU been drinking?”
Stewardess: “Well, are you gentlemen able to operate this door in case of emergency?”
$teve: “Yup… you pull this here, turn this lever, give it a push, the slide inflates, tell others to jump on out to safety. We’ve got this…”
Then I put up my hand for a high-five from Dude #2… and he instinctively returned the high-five. Yes, it WAS awesome.
Stewardess: “(Confused look) So neither of you have been drinking?”
$teve: “Ma’am, we’re done here. Please continue with your pre-flight duties. Good day!”
So that was the start… but the flight was quick & my mom was there to pick me up, stopped by my brother’s to see the niece & nephew, then we headed to my Mom’s family Christmas Party. I’ve mentioned before that she’s one of 17 children… and they’re all grandparent age now… so yeah, lots of people there. Here are some pictures…
Saturday – December 21st
I spent Saturday at my Mom’s house a.k.a. The Fortress of Solitude. The niece & nephew were up there too… we basically just relaxed and watched shows and made goodies… pictures…

 Uinta Brewing was available at the grocery store...
I tried their Mix'r pack with Wyld Extra Pale Ale,
Baba Black Lager & Punk'n Pumpkins Ale

I also transported my homebrew for presents...

Side by side of Punk'n and my homebrew...
Taste test... the same...

Snow Angel...

Sunday – December 22nd
I drove down in the morning to meet up at my Dad’s and watch some football. My dad has been having a rough patch the past few years with almost consistently being either sick or injured (knee replacement, broken bones, etc) or BOTH. He missed me… and I really miss him… but he knows how I’m living in the Bay Area so he’s happy for me… and wants to come visit when he has money again. Hopefully he can come by around Memorial Day Weekend or something. Anyway, football was awesome… Eagles destroyed their opponents and set up a final week matchup with the Cowboys for a win or go home scenario for the playoffs.
Monday – December 23rd
I started the afternoon by going to check out one of Utah’s little gems, Epic Brewing Company. This is a fairly new entry into the craft beer scene, but they specialize in high-alcohol content beers… and have a wide variety of barrel-conditioned ales. Their “Brainless” series starts with a Belgian-style ale… then they add pureed fruits like raspberries, cherries, peaches, etc… and place them for long-term fermentation (about a year) in used chardonnay barrels. What comes out is about 10-12% ABV, pretty sweet for a beer, but pretty delicious as well. While there, I tested some of their goods along with fellow travelers.

One note about breweries in Utah is that you MUST order food before you can be given alcohol in a restaurant. There are some ways around these kind of archaic rules… but the main benefit is for the breweries, because then they can charge about $7-$8 for a Panini sandwich, then start with the beer tastings, basically doubling your bill. Not a bad racket… but yeah, it’s different from most establishments in the world. Still they’re reasonably priced compared to most here in San Francisco. I’d highly recommend stopping by if you’re in the neighborhood. No brewery tour this time, but it’s a fairly small operation with good beer.
Afterwards, I returned home and watched “Butch Cassidy & the Sundance Kid” starring Robert Redford & Paul Newman. You see… I had never seen this movie all the way through. Sure I knew the basic story and had seen most of the parts here & there… but yeah, first time watching it all the way through. Basically it's the story of two bank robbing outlaws in the Old West... and the woman they both loved (awkward?) but they get a pretty intense posse after them... so they go to Bolivia. Why? Because they've heard such great things about it... well, just watch the movie. It's a comedy... sort of... with a story about trying to turn good, paying for past indiscretions, and just a pretty decent & fun flick to watch. If you haven't, do it.
Tuesday – December 24th (Xmas Eve)
Christmas Eve was basically wrapping the last few presents... then going to my Stepmom’s family Christmas Party at her parent's house. We did the usual dinner, followed by a Nativity Scene... with one switch, typically her dad reads the passages from the Book of Luke about the birth of Christ... but this year, yours truly was the narrator of this tale... and let's just say, I rocked that sh*t. Here are some pictures...

One sad note: This year has been a rough one for my stepmom's family. Divorce, lost jobs, kids going away, etc... but the biggest part was that her mom has had some serious medical problems... and her dad has been almost exclusively the caregiver for her... and that has to be basically one of the roughest things I can imagine. Since last year, I swear he's basically aged 10-15 years... and it was pretty tough to hear him talk about family, love, the spirit of Christmas and all that... and then infer that he needs help in taking care of his wife because he can't do it alone. I was shocked. NOBODY is helping him? I live 1000 miles away and I want to help him. What the hell guys? Hopefully they'll get it all figured out for 2014... but I have this sneaking suspicion that the end is near for them. I hate to say it... but hopefully it'll jinx it & I can see them next year... but it's been rough. Sorry, Debbie Downer I know... but yeah, that was Christmas Eve... and it's things like that that make you appreciate what you have when you have it. Hug a loved one. Like... right now.
Wednesday – December 25th (Xmas)
As per usual, I was part of Three Christmases... first at my brother's in Ogden at 7 AM...

Then at my dad's in SLC around 10 AM...

Then up at my mom's in Eden around 4 PM...

By the way, greatest idea for a teabag EVER

Good times... but during the 3rd Christmas, I starting feeling unwell…
Thursday – December 26th
Which basically led to me being sick all day the next day drinking OJ & eating... well, whatever was around, probably candy for the most part.
That night, my mom & I did meet up with my Aunt Pat & cousin Alicia at Rooster’s Brewing & Eatery on Historic 25th Street in Ogden. They are a restaurant that brews their own beer... and the four kinds that they had at the time were pretty good. Standard recipes sure... but not horrible at all... and the atmosphere was pretty cool. Apparently they decorate like my mom does by putting cocks/roosters up everywhere.

Friday – December 27th
Friday, I was still pretty ill... but in the afternoon, since we were all in town, we went out to JC Penney for some Family Photos... I'll have the real ones out to you shortly once I get copies...

That night, my brother & I met up with my "brother" Isaiah who I hadn't seen in almost two years. He's doing well... has a 3rd kid on the way... and basically he & my brother chatted about a lot of theories that it sounds like they got from the TV series “Ancient Aliens” mostly... but yeah, it was good to catch up. Miss that punk...
Saturday – December 28th
I spent the Saturday at my dad's... and because I was sick Friday, I didn't get to tour the Utah Brewers Cooperative but I checked out what I could. They had an issue were their bottling line didn't start up immediately when it shut down for Christmas... so they were playing catch up... so even my charm couldn't squeeze us in. This location does the brewing & bottling for Squatters & Wasatch Beers, both pretty big names in the Utah craft beer industry. In fact, I think they've gone into the Top 50 in the nation size-wise. Anyway, I grabbed a sampler six-pack.... and yeah, they're all pretty good...

Sunday – December 29th
I watched the last week of regular season NFL Football with my dad... and yes, it was pretty awesome. Then in the afternoon my brother, his friend Jarin & the kids picked me up & we went to Provo for the night as I flew out in the morning. Of course, that was after I bought lunch... and dinner once we got to Provo... and I covered the hotel room for them to stay in... but whatever, we had fun... and we watched the Eagles beat the Cowboys to move on to the playoffs. Boom!
Monday – December 30th
Basically from there, I got on the return Flight, was back in Oakland by about 2 PM and then I was picked up by Dizzy & her mom with Philla Burgers... and we just had a great night talking about Christmas.
Anyway, that's about it. Merry Christmas everybody... and a Happy New 2014!!!

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