So this is what a real vacation feels like. Once you get there, anyway.
On Friday afternoon, Lyssa and I spent a goodly part of the day laying around Jean's apartment to recover while she was at work. Long road trips wear me out, especially when I'm driving, so I wasn't in any mood to complain overmuch because we weren't doing anything. In fact, we were doing a large amount of blessedly nothing at all. When Jean got home we set forth once more to find dinner and visit Modern Myths, the gaming and comic book store run by old friends of Jean and Lyssa. We wound up at a mall not too distant from Modern Myths and stopped off first to get a gift for Fuscia's birthday (a couple of days past) at a store in the mall called the Blue Moon Market (no URL because there are too many businesses to sort through at the moment). While Jean and Lyssa hunted for a gift for Fuscia I wandered around the store checking out what they had, and eventually picked out a couple of stickers to add to my laptop, a couple of pins to add to one of my jackets, and I also stocked up on some incense that I haven't been able to find since my last trip to Ann Arbor, Michigan. The Blue Moon, as new-agey stores go, was fluffy and light on things that would actually be useful, but had one or two gems that made the hour-and-some drive farther north worth it. As stores in the mall go, on the other hand, I have to give it two thumbs up for the assortment of stuff they have in stock, the quality of the incense, and generally having stuff that wasn't crap, even though I couldn't work with 99.997% of anything.
Dinner was at the California Pizza Kitchen, which is a good restaurant for pizza and salads. We each ordered our personal pizza of choice (I opted for pepperoni with pineapple, because I wasn't much in the mood for true Hawaiian pizza) and caught up on the events of the day. Dessert came from Munson's Chocolates in the form of freshly made chocolate confections right out of the kitchen in the back.
Frankly, Godiva can go hide itself. Munson's fare has spanked it thoroughly, in my professional opinion. The chocolate-dipped pretzel rods were not only tasty in that salty-but-sweet kind of way, but not stale inside, which was a first in my book. The chocolate dipped s'mores were also amazing, and we'll probably be heading back there to pick up a few things for the drive home. On top of all of this, I got a free sample of their raspberry jam filled chocolates by accident, a candy which ranks so far down on my list of favourites that I scarcely give it a first thought when hunting for chocolate.
Holy shit, they were tasty.
But enough of my drooling about chocolates that don't suck, let's get on with the rest of the weekend, as it stands so far... We headed for Modern Myths (34 Bridge Street #4; Northampton, Massachusetts, 01060; phone 413-582-6973) around 1900 local time and got there just as Jim was setting up for his Friday night D&D game at the store. I finally got to meet Jim the Cranky, after all these years. He's actually a very nice guy, and if he hadn't had a full table of gamers waiting for him to start I would probably have spent a lot more time talking to him. As it was, we spent the next two hours and change exploring the store, looking at all of the comics, the games, the knick-knacks, and most of all, the used stuff.
Jim's stock of manga in the store is top-notch, and on par with the shelves you'll find at Border's or Barnes and Noble, which says a lot. I didn't see anything that I'd go out of my way to pick up at the moment, though. I did, however, pick up both volumes of Global Frequency by Warren Ellis (Planet Ablaze and Detonation Radio) because it's one of my favourite series, and I can't often find both volumes at the same time. I also found JMS' re-write of the origin of Doctor Strange, one of the few things that'll make me squee like a fangirl.
Jim has a lot of RPG stuff, both new and used, in the back of his store. He's certainly got a truckload of Dungeons and Dragons v3.5 stuff, which I wasn't primarily interested in picking up. Truth be told, I was hunting for some of the lesser-known games that I've been meaning to pick up for a while, such as Full Lights, Full Steam by Kallisti Press or Don't Rest Your Head by Evil Hat Productions. Unfortunately, Jim doesn't have any of their stuff in stock, so while he was busy I left him a note with suggestions for things to add to his stock of games. He also has a lot of new World of Darkness material from White Wolf Games, which, and I must be honest, I'm not too crazy about. Still, far be it from me to tell people what they should or should not play,these are only my tastes.
All told, I dropped around $120us on stuff at Jim's store. I'm always happy to support the smaller stores that have a tightly knit customer base and good selections.
After that, Shannon (Jim's wife) stopped by the store after work and gave us the fifty cent tour of their house, which is less than a block behind the store. We hung out for an hour or two talking and catching up, and got to meet the cats. We eventually hiked a block or two to a local pub (this was a college town, after all) so that Shannon could get dinner, and the rest of us could split an appetizer or two and relax. I'm not sure what time we left, only that we got home around 0100 EST5EDT on Saturday and crashed hard before our trip up to Mystic Seaport the next day.
Come to think of it, the reason that I'm leaving out a lot of personal conversation is because I'm just tired enough to not want to write up everything, just the high points. This is a good vacation, let me be clear, but most of my energy is going into actually enjoying things, rather than memorizing them.