Back in Ann Arbor

Michigan was kind enough to us to be quite mild when we arrived home this morning from St. Louis, where it was unseasonably warm over the weekend. And what a fun long weekend it was! I spent a few days at the end of last week playing catch up with loads of friends. No matter how much time you plan, it's never enough and you never get to see everyone - but I came pretty close. I got to meet my friends Matt & Sharon's new baby boy, Carter. Despite Matt's reminder that we've known each other for 18 years, it's still hard for me believe my college friends are all growed up and procreating. On Saturday afternoon, Chris flew into town with Graham & Rainey. Graham was in town to attend a Kansas City Barbeque Society course to become a certified barbeque judge, along with their cousin Derek and his coworker Nate. So while he sat for five hours, sampling meat in a church hall miles into the far St. Louis suburbs, Chris, Rainey and I dined on "nuevo latin" tapas at Mirasol in the University City Loop.

Despite the rain that had poured all day and continued throughout the evening, we had a lovely dinner before meeting up with Graham and his cohorts for dessert at Kitchen K. (We vote for the carrot cake as favorite.)

Sunday, I slept a little later to try to stave off that stupid cold everyone's passing around while Chris took Rainey and Graham on a brief jaunt down to see the arch and the rest of the St. Louis waterfront. It was a beautiful day, but downtown was an absolute wasteland, completely dead.

After, we drove out to the Central West End to have brunch at Duff's. It still stunned me to drive past the site of the old stadium on our way out of town and see it entirely gone. Good progress is being made on the new one, for certain, but...strange.

We followed up lunch with a trip to the Missouri History Museum to help us digest. It's very different than the last time I went which, I'll admit, was eons ago. It's a decent selection of artifacts, but I don't remember it seeming so cluttered and/or difficult to navigate. But Rainey picked up a stuffed plushie George Washington Carver doll and, really, what else could you ask?

It was a really lovely day, approaching 60 degrees, but the afternoon was waning so we took a quick tour around Forest Park and drove them past our wee house then headed back down to the hotel so they could rest up while we ran a couple of errands. Then it was off to Hartford Coffee Company for a performance/installment/episode of Free Candy, the non-broadcast talk show I co-host with my good friend/partner in trouble Amanda Doyle, assistant editor for Where Magazine.

I felt a bit rusty up there as I haven't been doing this on a monthly basis, but I thought the show went really well. Da house was packed - SRO, folks! And it's amazing to look out and see so many friendly faces and even some we didn't know at all. Graham was one of the best guests we've ever had - regaling us with funny tales from the bizarre world of BBQ judging, talking shop about On Point and even acing a surprise quiz Amanda worked up to test how honest I'd been with people in my new life up in Ann Arbor.

Really good time, I believe, had by all. It's fun to show new friends your old town and see it through their eyes and, yes, St. Louis is a grand place with a lot to offer. Yet we were still glad to return to the business of milking this fellowship gig for all it's worth before it ends in just three short months. Ooops. Did I say that?