I Am Not a Crook

Years ago, I created a Google alert. Any time my name is mentioned on the internet, I get an email with a link to the article. I did this so long ago I’d actually forgotten all about it, so I was pretty surprised when I received an alert on Saturday. I clicked on the article and was devastated to learn that I had been charged with one count of burglary after a break-in at a bar and restaurant in Barnsley, England, in which cash and alcohol were stolen.

Now, don’t get me wrong. I like cash and alcohol, and I imagine England is a pretty nice country. But I’ve never been there, and in the words of Richard Milhous Nixon, I am not a crook. I was immediately offended. How dare this impostor sully my good name! I’m an honest, law-abiding citizen, just minding my own business. And now some lowly two-bit British wanker is trying to ruin my reputation by ruining his reputation. The nerve.

I hope this other Mark P. at least had the good taste to abscond with a quality whiskey. And I hope the Barnsley Magistrate Court throws the book at him. If the guy goes on a crime spree, I’m going to be getting an awful lot of Google alerts in my In Box, and I’d rather not deal with that!

On a more positive note, the flooring guys finally finished up with the installation. They laid down the baseboard trim and covered up their carpeting snafu with extra bamboo. Both of those look really good. Not so good? The gouges they left in the kitchen floor from dragging the fridge across it, but that’s another story.

Our first official houseguests arrive this Friday – Tara’s dad and his girlfriend. We tried to talk them into visiting any time other than during the Sturgis Rally, but their schedule is pretty full, so it was either now or later next year. Oh, well – they have been warned! We’re pretty excited to show off our new home regardless.

Last night, we had the pleasure of meeting up with a blogging friend. Jess and her husband, Joe, are in Rapid City for a couple of days and wanted to get together. We have been reading each other for something like eight years now, but they live in Wisconsin, so the odds of ever meeting in person were slim. Until we moved to South Dakota, that is!

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We had a really nice time and enjoyed their company immensely. They are down-to-earth Midwesterners through and through, very friendly and easygoing, with a penchant for good beer (they are from Wisconsin, after all) and corny jokes. We met at Thirsty’s for dinner and drinks, taking advantage of a warm summer evening to sit out on the patio, and chatted the hours away. Afterward, we ducked into Press Start, Rapid’s old-school video arcade, for some gaming. We really wanted to stay longer, but alas, it was a school night and work beckoned for me and Tara today. We didn’t want to stay up half the night and end up dragging the next day, but – irony alert! – we ended up staying up half the night when a spectacular line of severe thunderstorms rolled through around 1:30 in the morning. The nonstop lightning, heavy rain, and very strong winds made sleep impossible for a couple of hours.

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Not a great shot at all, but this was the view from our bedroom window at 2 a.m.

As Midwesterners, I’m sure Jess and Joe are used to this type of weather anyway.

Here are some pics from my work-sponsored hiking adventure last Thursday. Told you this was my dream job!

Nature’s Fireworks FTW

Four more days until we move in!

Really though, we’ve pretty much been living in the house since last Wednesday. We go home to sleep and feed Sydney; otherwise, we are here. As is most of our stuff. The apartment is looking pretty barren these days; there are a few essentials in the fridge and bathroom, enough clothes to get us through the week, and furniture that is too heavy to move (e.g., beds, couch, bookcase). Yesterday our brand new couch was delivered to the house. We’ve got cable and internet there, a fully-stocked refrigerator, and all our booze. Why wouldn’t we want to stay here all the time now?!

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Still haven’t heard back from the hardwood flooring guys, but the contractor is here today – a day early – ripping out the old carpeting in the bedrooms and bathrooms. He’s even agreed to hook up new toilets for us, even though he is not a plumber and won’t be getting paid to do so. Tara was thinking about replacing the old ones and figured it wouldn’t hurt to ask if he’d be willing to connect new ones, since either way, he had to remove and reinstall toilets to get the flooring done. He was a bit hesitant at first but eventually agreed, so we went out and bought new Kohlers Saturday afternoon. Lemme tell ya, toilets are heavy AF. Who knew? It took a lot of muscle to get them from the back of Tara’s truck up the front stairs and into their respective rooms. But these are slick new low-flow models. I tried to talk Tara into buying super fancy toilets with heated seats and built-in bidets, the kind that flush automatically and play music through your wi-fi connection, but sadly she shot down that idea.

Our 4th of July was pretty low-key, other than nearly getting swept away by a flash flood. That would have sucked, after all the blood, sweat, and tears we have poured into this house!

The day started out innocently enough. We had a nice, leisurely morning before heading out to breakfast – but apparently our morning was a bit too leisurely, because by the time we got to the Colonial House, breakfast service had ended. Lunch it was, then! Which was just as well since I was still able to enjoy a couple of Bloody Marys.

After breakfast lunch, we packed up more boxes and took them over to the house, then headed downtown to bar-hop the rest of the day away. Our first stop was the Brass Rail, which probably featured the most interesting patrons. Paddy O’Neill’s had the best food, but Wobbly Bobby Pub was probably my favorite stop because they had board games at every booth. Tara and I faced off in a heated game of Battleship, something neither of us had played in decades. She ended up winning by one move. After that, we hit up Press Start for video games.

We decided to wrap it up at 8:45 because the city’s fireworks display was scheduled for 9:30 and we wanted to find a decent spot. But the minute we stepped outside, we figured it wasn’t going to happen. The sky was ominous, with dark clouds to the west. It was raining lightly and thunder was rumbling in the distance. One glance at the radar showed a line of severe thunderstorms bearing down on us. We figured we’d grab dinner to go at Culver’s instead and head up to Skyline Drive overlooking the city, just in case the fireworks were still a go. By the time we stepped out of Culver’s with our food, there was a torrential downpour with hail and constant lightning. We got drenched just racing to the truck. Then, on the way up Skyline, there was so much water streaming across the road it almost looked like a flash flood. Granted, we were on a hill overlooking the city so there wasn’t any real danger. At least, I don’t think so, but the video I took (and posted to Instagram) shows us motoring through water so deep in places it was splashing over the hood of Tara’s truck.

Yikes.

Up on Skyline Drive, we had a great view of the storm. And wouldn’t you know it, there were still people shooting off fireworks around town (though Rapid City’s event was ultimately postponed until Friday). In fact, at one point another car pulled up next to ours in the parking lot, rolled down their window, and started firing off Roman Candles. That’s either super patriotic or super stupid. I’m not really sure which. We never did get to see an actual fireworks display this year, but the show Mother Nature put on was hard to top.

Eventually the storm subsided, but not before dumping nearly 2″ of rain on Rapid City. We have already reached our average annual precipitation total, and the year is only half over! This makes the second really wet year in a row in South Dakota. It seems like Tara and I brought a little bit of the PNW with us when we moved. Those thunderstorms, by the way, have been a near-daily occurrence. Even though we’ve lived here for over a year now, it still amazes me how fast they can build up. One minute it will be perfectly clear, not a cloud in the sky; an hour later, it can feel like the End of Days, complete with black clouds and intense lightning displays.

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Typical afternoon view from our front porch.

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And I’m loving every minute of it.

Hope your holiday was a blast (but a little less wet than ours).