A friend asked if I felt that my brain cells were dying off during this period of unemployment. I answered with a polite “no,” realizing that this person doesn’t understand what a challenge it can be to get adjusted to a new town, rock the household stuff, and look for a job. I’ve also got a library card and an appetite for really thick historical non-fiction so, again I say “no, my brain is doing just fine.”
I must admit that my brain isn’t concerned about the actual calendar date like it was when I was working outside the home. I know what day it is, but the date – not so much. It’s for this reason that we wound up going to dinner in downtown Greenville on the same night as the Christmas parade. I was pretty sure that the parade was on December 3 (which it was) and that December 3 was a Friday (no, nope not at all.)
We drove down to the West End to eat at Smoke On the Water (more on this later) and quickly realized that the parade is indeed the same night. We found a parking spot, with just a little difficulty, and decided to make a full night of it.
First for dinner, Smoke On the Water, “a saucy Southern tavern,” specializes in burgers, smoked entrees, and barbecue. The atmosphere is relaxed and modern-rustic. Our server was fast and helpful. Before our meals were served, we were treated to cornbread and brought a variety of bbq sauces. While Mr. McB found the sweet sauce to be his favorite, I went for the thin peppery sauce that was a bit like Tabasco. Neither of us were overly fond of the mustard-black pepper sauce but agreed that it was an interesting spin on the Carolina mustard sauce. I thought it could help clear the sinuses.
McB had the bbq chicken sandwich. He was pleased with the saucy, grilled breast that was topped with melted cheese. We were both quite pleased with his fries. I don’t know what’s happening, but I’m becoming a fry-thief and these were definitely worth taking.
I had the “home plate” which featured three side dishes of my choice. I selected the baked beans, squash casserole, and loaded potato cake. The baked beans were sweet and spicy; I’m almost positive that there were a few bits of jalapeno in the dish. The squash casserole was good but since it contained red peppers, something I wasn’t expecting, I had to pick around those pieces. For that reason alone, I probably wouldn’t order it again. I’ve saved the best for last with the loaded potato cake. The cake was made from mashed potatoes blended with something both creamy and tangy. It was then breaded with panko and deep-fried before being finished with a sour cream sauce and chives. That was a little lump of heaven. It melted in my mouth, my big smiling mouth.
Our meals were reasonable and we felt full but not miserable as we made our way from the restaurant and out to explore before the parade began. Our first stop was The Cook’s Station. It’s a local, high-end culinary store. They have beautiful things including some dream kitchen setups and lots of nifty gadgets. We had lots of fun looking around. The husband made a mental note that if the bank account is drained, I may have blown it all there.
We continued to stroll around until we found a spot for parade viewing. The night was warm and we enjoyed the people watching before things got started. The parade itself was lots of fun. There were bands, floats, cute little kids, several Grinches, Storm Troopers, Santa and everything else you could expect from a Christmas parade.
After the show was over, we continued up to The Chocolate Moose for a treat. We were dismayed to see the mess that folks left behind on the street and sidewalks. The pizza boxes, bottles, cups, napkins, and other rubbish were all contrary to the civic pride of the parade. Once inside the cupcake shop, we grabbed a seat and enjoyed delicious, rich cupcakes (black-and-white for him, black bottom for me) and fresh coffee that really hit the spot.
As we made our way toward the car, we made a quick stop at Ice on Main and the Christmas tree. Despite the fact that the ice wasn’t optimal for skating, everyone seemed to be having a good time including the guys in shorts.
Just this past Sunday, we decided to add another Upstate Christmas tradition to our holiday celebration and headed to see the Roper Mountain Lights. The fee is $10 per car and proceeds go to the Roper Mountain Science Center and several educational charities. They also offer a deal on three admissions for $21 which would be perfect if you are expecting company during the holiday season. In addition to the drive-through features, there is a walk-through Winter Wonderland where you can sit on Santa’s lap and roast marshmallows though not at the same time.
We enjoyed both parts of the attraction. After roasting (and eating) marshmallows, we saw the large boards that were decorated by various local schools. There was a lot of creativity and good use of recycled materials in many of these displays.
The drive-through features were quite nice as well. I thought the big caterpillar near the butterfly garden was especially cute. Our only complaint is that you don’t get a good view of the majestic star at the top of the mountain.
I hope to repeat both of these holiday traditions in 2012. I can’t wait to add new experiences to the repertoire too, as long as we still get to go to The Chocolate Moose that is.