Bad News, Good News For Fans of Paola's

Ali and I stopped by Paola's Burrito Place (1921 South Ave., formerly Big Dog's Hots) for dinner. There's only two weeks left before they close to move back home for personal reasons. The good news, though, is that the owners plan to return to Rochester and open a new restaurant by next year. The new place will have a slightly different theme and — hopefully — more hired staff so they don't have to spend every waking hour doing all the work.

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The Wagon's Grinding Gradual-Slowing

Ali and I were out running around in our Buick Roadmaster Estate Wagon to every furniture store in town looking for her perfect couch. Thus far, we had found one that was nice but very expensive, and several others that were cheaper but not quite what she was looking for. We went to Charlotte Furniture and Appliance (3200 Lake Ave.) and the salesperson asked what we were looking for. They had exactly one couch with furniture buttons on the back. When we went to see it, Ali saw the love-seat and thought, "that's perfect if only there were a sofa" just as she saw the sofa. It was perfect. And as cheap as the couches we didn't like. It was great. She ordered it on the spot, picking out the fabric and getting set up with financing.

So we headed out toward 390 via Stone Rd. From Ridge Road we went to get on 390 but as soon as we hit 45 miles per hour or so, we suddenly heard a sound like we were dragging a plastic barrel under the car so we pulled over. We looked under the car but saw nothing — not even from the driver-side rear wheel area. We tried driving again but it made the terrible noise again when we got to 25 MPH or so.

We called the service I signed up for: Better World Club — sort of like AAA, but without all the lobbying for bigger cars and more roads [heck, they even offer roadside bike assistance.] They contacted Towbuster Towing (510 Hudson Ave.) for us and said it would be about 45 minutes. We decided to limp the car to Ridgeway. We checked under again, hoping that we might be able to get it home on our own. Alas, it kept making the noise and I found a chunk of metal all ground down that was warmer than the cold ambient temperature — evidence enough for me that it came out of the car.

We got it to a parking lot on Lee Road and waited. Towbuster called us and said they were 20 minutes away and they had no room in the cab of the truck so we'd have to get our own ride. We wrangled a friend of ours to pick us up — the tow truck even arrived at the same time. Well, despite telling them what kind of car it was, they brought a truck that was too small. The distance from the rear axle of the wagon to its bumper was too long for the truck to accommodate. Well, it was just big enough, but they couldn't do anything more than a really gradual turn. The flatbed truck was another hour away so we decided to just leave the car and go home.

Actually we went out to dinner: Paola's Burrito Place (1921 South Ave., formerly Big Dog's Hots). We received the worst news in the world: Arturo is moving back to Austin in 6 months or so to be with his family, closing Paola's. So, if you like the place, go get your fill because it'll be gone soon. The Upper Mount Hope Neighborhood Association sent out a note that he was leaving in two months, but we're hoping he was correct. Naturally dinner was great.

Anyway, we had our poor wagon towed to Integrity Auto Repair, Inc. (241 E. Henrietta Rd.) As it turned out, the flatbed would have had the room for the both of us to ride along so had Towbuster sent it first, we would have had an easy way home.

As it turned out, it was probably good that we had the wagon towed. The brake drum had been machined beyond specification and the liner finally disintegrated. Had we driven home, we probably would have totally ruined all the brake parts inside. Integrity did a nice job with it and it's fine now. My wallet … well, not so much.

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Rochester to Glenwood Springs

So I headed out on Wednesday night, stopping at Paola's Burrito Place (1921 South Ave., formerly Big Dog's Hots) with Ali before saying our goodbyes. I drove until I got tired around Cleveland, then got up on Thursday and made it just inside Kansas. Of course, things took a downturn when the air conditioning in the Roadmaster gradually stopped working with a warning signal on the heating controls. At least I made it through the worst of it.

On the way through otherwise-dreadful Kansas, I saw a billboard for a GM dealership in Hays, about halfway across Kansas. Crap. I guess they do work. Anyway, I went to James Motor Works, Co. (108 E. 13th St., Hays, KS). I talked with Dan and they got me right in to check out the A.C. It turned out there is a leak (which I knew, having added more coolant before I left) and the ventilation system computer shuts things down when the compressor cycles too much. I got it recharged there — they were really nice and it was "only" $100 or so. Afterward I got a recommendation for lunch, and I went to Gella's Diner and Lb. Brewing Company (117 E. 11th St., Hays, KS) right around the corner. I had a really good Oatmeal Stout and a great Patty Melt: a "beef patty topped with mushrooms, schmeltz (caramelized onions) and provolone cheese on buttered marbled rye toast". Mmm. I met this guy who happened to be from Colorado and we chatted a bit before I got back on the road.

I made it to Colorado around 2:30 p.m. and managed to snap a self-portrait along the way:

Self-portrait (sort-of)

See the wagon? To be honest, it's larger than it appears.

Unfortunately, my timing was such that I got to Denver at almost exactly 5:00 p.m. Yeesh. It wasn't too bad, but getting up the mountain took a while. I made it to Sondra and Will's around 8 and got settled in. We'll be leaving on Sunday morning in a little convoy for Burning Man. Hopefully in air-conditioned comfort.

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Ali's Birthday

As the wisest of you all know, today is a special holiday because it's my Ali's birthday. [And in case you're wondering, she turned (2006 age)+1.] So we started things off with blueberry pancakes in the morning. And then she got some cake at work. And then we went to Paola's Burrito Place (1921 South Ave., formerly Big Dog's Hots) for dinner at her preference. Then she opened her gifts but we didn't have any of the pumpkin pie I made because we were stuffed from dinner. Finishing things off we went out to Solera Wine BarMySpace link (647 South Ave.) and had some wine, meeting up with a group of friends from all different places in her life. In all, she had a great day.

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