Okay, I'm back from Bluefield. Did you miss me?
First of all, I want to say a quick thank you to Nicole for taking over the Question of the Week on Friday and for posting something so nice yesterday. I appreciate the thought and effort she put into those posts. And I know, I need to go back and answer the question. I'll post it in a comment later. For now, I'm gonna spend some time talking about my extended weekend in the old college town.
I managed to take a vacation day on Friday, and since I don't work Thursdays, I embraced the opportunity to drive up to Bluefield a day early. Andy was able to do the same, so we met up at Mark's new house on Thursday evening.
I actually arrived a few hours before Andy, so I was treated to a tour of The Hipes Bungalow. I was very impressed. The last time I saw his house wasn't long after he initially bought the property. At the time, the place had been completely gutted. Mark bought the place for a tidy sum of $21,000, so needless to say, it was a fixer-upper. The finished product is a vast improvement.
Okay, not completely finished. He described some of the other things he wanted to do to the place (finish the basement, add on a deck) but the main floor was incredible. It's a nice little 2-bedroom, 1-bath home that will be perfect for a young married couple someday, should Mark decide to sell it for a profit.
Thursday evening, Mark and I had some dinner at the local Pizza Hut while we waited for Andy to arrive. We were also treated to a great deal of snow. Snow is a common sight in the Bluefield area. It was beautiful and sort of made me miss living there. Mark, however, said that's all they've had for the last four months. I think he was a little sick of the white stuff.
When Andy got to Bluefield, we headed over to the college campus to play some basketball in the Dome (Bluefield College's gym). We were there 'til about 1am or so, then headed back to the house where we stayed up to watch Role Models. Bedtime on Thursday night: 4:30am.
Friday morning we slept in a bit and then drove out to the Mercer Mall to have lunch at the Lotus Garden Chinese Buffet. You may remember the Lotus Garden as the birthplace of Carp Dime. The food itself was actually not very good at all. In fact, it was downright nasty. To be fair, it was nearly 2pm by the time we got there to pick whatever we could from the bar. The big news is that our waitress was, in fact, the same crazy old lady that coined the phrase, carp dime, nearly seven years ago. We didn't get any sage wisdom from her this time.
Back at the house we played some video games, killing time until Brandon was able to get there from Roanoke. He was able to get off work early on Friday and arrived around 4 that afternoon. Again, we went over to the school and played some basketball. Well, they played, I mostly watched. I'm not what you call athletic.
After shooting around, we headed back out to the mall to have dinner at Macado's. In college, we had a tendency to eat there multiple times each week. Every time I eat at Macado's, whether it's in Bluefield or Roanoke, it's always as good as I remembered. I love that place.
Friday night, we just hung out at the house, played video games, watched some TV. Bedtime: 3:30AM.
Saturday, Mark took us over to the campus once again, but this time for a tour. This brought back a ton of memories. We walked through the dorm we all used to live in (which is now a girls' dorm). Thankfully, the kids were on Spring Break, so we didn't have to compete for space with any students. We walked the halls and visited all our old rooms. We didn't go inside the rooms, obviously, because now other people live there.
We also got a look at the long-term plans for the development of the college. We saw the images of what buildings will be appearing over the next five, ten, and twenty years. Currently being built is a new dorm. Coming soon will be a new athletic center/activities center. It was exciting to see how things are developing for our alma mater. It will be an impressive thing to see as all this unfolds over the next twenty years.
For dinner yesterday, we ate at the local Applebee's, where we met up with our last remaining roommate, Dereck. He had to work Saturday morning, so he drove down from Charleston as soon as he got off. None of us had seen Dereck since 2005, and I had even lost touch with him for the last couple years. During college we were all very close friends. It was great to have all of us back together, however briefly. After dinner, Andy had to head back to Charlotte to be home for church this morning.
Mark, Brandon, Dereck, and myself, comprise the Four Fathers. At least that's what we like to call ourselves. This stems from the year when the four of us lived in a suite in Rish Hall where we decided to move all the beds into one of the rooms while turning the other room into a living room. It was a great idea and a great place to live.
This entire weekend was a reminder of all of the best times we had in college. Friends come into and go out of our lives like the seasons of the year. But these guys are the ones that I never let go of. As I said, we hadn't seen Dereck in several years. The rest of them, we tend not to see each other for months at a time. But when we're able to get together, it's just like old times. We're able to talk and laugh and have fun as if no time has passed by.
It was a great weekend and a great reminder of why we've all remained friends for as long as we have. Hopefully it won't take us so many years to get back together like this.