Tag Archives: Parking Garage

Where Am I?

The question isn’t is this embarrassing. No, the question is one of degree.

Just how embarrassing is it to get lost in your own “hometown?”

Even worse, this isn’t the first time it’s happened to me. I’m beginning to think I might have a problem.

The first time was when I was in junior high school. (For those of you unfamiliar, that was the school between elementary [k-6] and high school [10-12].)

We had some friends come in from out of town. They wanted to go to Six Flags over Texas, which was just outside of the small suburb of Dallas where I grew up.

We managed to make it there all right, with only a few minimal disruptions. The problem came when we headed home and there weren’t any more signs leading us to our destination. This was (way, way, way) before cell phones or the like, so we were on our own. The older kids from out of town didn’t know which way to go and they looked to me for answers.

I turned around to see who they were looking at behind me. I had a vague notion of the direction to go, but it wasn’t all that good of a vague notion. I was asked — repeatedly and forcefully — how I could live in a town and not know my way around it. Mostly it was because I wasn’t driving yet and spent most of my car time with my nose buried in an actual paper book.

We didn’t starve to death. We eventually found our way home (hours and hours after curfew, but the parents had been too busy partying to really worry) and all was good.

Until the last weekend when I got that horrible flashback feeling. My friend, Pitt (who I’ve known since high school and who recently moved here from Pittsburgh) and I were headed to a fundraiser put on by the P Strong Foundation to raise money to support research into rare cancers.

I was in the driving seat, a position with which I was intimately familiar considering I’d been driving for more than three decades. I thought I knew my way around Charlotte. Turns out, I was wrong.

Pitt, who’s been here less than two years, knew where the event was. It was Pitt who knew where to park and how to get from the parking garage to the Bal Masque Gala at the Marriott City Center.

The first one I can blame on youth. The second time? I’m still going to blame that one on youth. Not my own, of course, but my young dudes. See, I’ve been so busy rearing the young dudes since I came to Charlotte fifteen years ago that I never got a chance to really know my way around the city. Unless you counted the areas around the Chuck E Cheese and other young-dude attractions.

That counts, right? You dudes are buying that, yeah? Right?

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Another Dream Date

by Richard

Just walking in to an actual theater was a big thing for young Hyper Lad, the only young dude in the house who wanted to go with me to see Dream Girls, a musical play. Not that I wanted to be there, either. I’d much rather have stayed home to watch football, but Hyper Lad got lucky.

You see, I’d asked if anyone wanted to go to the show with me and he, of course, jumped at the chance, long before I’d actually thought to look at the TV schedule and see if there were any good football games on at the time. There were. And I wanted to back out, but Hyper Lad was just too excited. I couldn’t turn him down.

That’s not to say I didn’t try, though. I emphasized that he would have to dress up. That is, wear actual long pants and a nice, button-down shirt. He wasn’t happy about that idea, but he took a deep breath, manned up and said he would be ready to go. And he was. The young dude was excited.

I let him hold our tickets as we walked from the parking garage to the theater just so I could watch him strut with responsibility, him being in charge and all. He handed over the tickets and actually listened to the nice usher lady. We were, of course, early. I’d budgeted time to eat in an actual restaurant, not Chéz Jack’s so we were the first people in the theater to take our seats.

Hyper Lad could barely sit still. He was bouncing up and down, looking up at the high ceiling, pointing out the box seats along the upper wall and basically trying to absorb everything all at once.

When the experience is so important like it was for Hyper Lad, the show doesn’t really matter. He’s going to have a good time. Which was a good thing, especially considering what happened.

The show is basically centered around an analogy related to the rise of the ’60s Motown singing group, the Supremes. With that sort of group, you’d expect a lot of really great songs. And, don’t get me wrong, there were some good songs, there just weren’t enough of them.

Although both Hyper Lad and I loved the Jackie Thunder Early character, there wasn’t enough of him, I’ll tell you.

The best part of the evening for me came a little way into the second act. We were settled into our seats, going through a long section of rather slow songs when I felt a pressure on my right shoulder. Hyper Lad had nodded off and slowly fallen down to the left, his head eventually coming to rest on my right shoulder.

Now that was nice, and I mean that most sincerely. I got to spend the rest of the show with him sleeping on my shoulder, bringing back a rush of memories of the young dude falling asleep and me carrying him to bed. He might have been asleep, but I was awash in and loving it the memories he evoked.

It was one of those things where I know I won’t be getting too many more of them. It was well worth missing football games on TV just so I could be there for Hyper Lad, letting him know his best pillow will always be his dad.

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Dude Review: Universal Studios Orlando

by Richard

One of the places I spent time at during my recent time away from the family was at Universal Studios Orlando. My buddies and I hadn’t planned on going because one of our number had been there and at Walt Disney World for 10 full days just a couple of weeks before. We didn’t want to kill the poor dude.

However, he relented and decided that going wouldn’t cause irreparable damage to the frontal lobes of his brain. Although, having known him for more than 30 years, I’m not sure he really can damage his frontal lobes any more than he already has. Still, we decided to go.

Universal Studios Orlando is divided up into three sections. There’s Islands of Adventure, Universal Studios and the city walk area.

Islands of Adventure is where most of the high-power roller coasters are located, along with Marvel Comics super heroes, Jurassic Park rides, cartoon strip-based areas for kids and an entire section based on the works of genius writer Dr. Seuss. Universal Studios is more movie based. There are shows based on the Terminator movie franchise, the Jimmy Neutron cartoon, Shrek, the Simpsons and a whole bunch more. There are also exhibits based just on movies in general, not any specific one. The City Walk is the area leading from the parking garage to the other parks. It’s full of a movie theater, tons of great restaurants and live entertainment.

As for admission price, you can choose to buy separate tickets for each park. (The City Walk ticket is only available at night and costs about $12.) However, I’d recommend that you buy the two-park pass. This lets you into the City Walk for free and then allows you to walk from Islands of Adventure to Universal Studios and back and back as many times as you’d like. You can also add on the VIP Express to your ticket and I really recommend it. The VIP Express pass allows you to, basically, walk to the front of the line for any ride as many times as you’d like. I won’t lie to you. It’s expensive, about $150 for a fully loaded adult ticket. Still, if you’re going to go there, you really need to get this sort of ticket. You can ride tons of rides, while most people are still waiting to get into their first one.

Speaking of rides, on the Islands of Adventure, make the time to ride the Hulk coaster and the Dueling Dragons coasters. The Hulk ride has a great series of twists and turns and loops, but it’s a little surprise early in the ride that really grabs you. And, no, I’m not going to spoil it. The Dueling Dragons ride consists of a fire dragon and an ice dragon. They are two different tracks laid out within and around each other. At times it feels like you’re about to crash into the other coaster. All good.

For the less coaster inclined, there’s a great 3-D Spider-Man ride and an exciting Jurassic Park water ride (sort of like Disney’s jungle river ride). For the little dudes and dudettes, there’s the toon section and the Dr. Seuss section. Both were being highly enjoyed by the little dudes.

At Universal Studios, the best ride is definitely the Simpsons 3-D motion simulator. It’s a wild, wild ride. We must have done it three times, if only to make sure we hadn’t missed anything. We also enjoyed the Hollywood movie make-up show. It was loads of laughs with a little education thrown in.

Personally, I’d rate this over anything Disney has to offer, but I might be prejudiced by having had to go there oh, so very many times over the years. Still, I’d give Universal Studios Orlando 3.5 dudes out of five. I took off a half dude because it really is expensive and I’m a cheapskate at heart.

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