"What?!" I said. I didn't want the police officer to think that we had lied to him. I had told the truth! I couldn't believe what Matt was saying.
"This is going to be a great story," Matt clarified. Just moments earlier, we had suddenly, frantically, found ourselves staring at the prospect of being without a vehicle in the middle of West Virginia for two days.
But let's back up.
Matt planned this trip for me as my Christmas gift. We were going to drive up to West Virginia, so I could cross another state off my Life List. He researched things to do, places we should eat, things we should try. He booked a hotel. It was really sweet of him, and he did a good job.
We drove into Charleston, WV and, after a quick lunch, headed to the state capitol building. It's really quite beautiful; gold-leaf dome, marble interiors.
When you first walk in. I couldn't get a good shot of the chandelier, which was made of thousands of crystals.
Hall of governor portraits.
And this random stuffed bear. I had to get a picture with it, of course.
The grounds are really nice too, and it was a nice afternoon so we spent some time walking around and looking at the various statues and memorials.
A war memorial that included sides for the Vietnam War, the Korean War and World Wars I and II.
A memorial tribute to the West Virginian women who have served in the military.
On the other side of the capitol building, there's a view of the Kanawha River. I bet it's beautiful in the spring.
Afterwards, we went to the West Virginia State Museum and Culture Center. Which was VERY thorough, and very good. Twenty-something rooms about West Virginia history and famous individuals and the split from Virginia and its participation in various wars, and you could easily spend hours and hours and hours in there.
They had a giant phone switchboard in one of the exhibit rooms. This picture is mainly for Matt's dad's benefit. :)
Afterward, Matt suggested we head to downtown Charleston, where he had looked up this pizza-and-beer restaurant called Pies and Pints. We found the restaurant, but were having trouble locating metered parking that allowed us to park for longer than 30 minutes at a time. So we drove around for a few minutes and found a parking garage. The arms of the garage were up, but I figured, it's a Saturday, they probably only charge people for parking during daytime working hours. I misread a sign on the front of the parking garage in a way that supported my hypothesis, so we parked Matt's truck in the garage, and walked the three blocks over to Pies and Pints.
The restaurant was crowded, but the pizza was oh-so-delicious. We got a large pie, half Black Bean (spicy with jalapeños!) half Sriracha Shrimp (spicy, with pineapple bits to cool your mouth down!). It was SO good. Not only do I wish there was one of these restaurants closer to us, but I'm also considering trying to re-create the sriracha pie.
Spicy enough that I ended up picking off some of the jalapeños. Hoo boy!
I tried so hard not to eat too much pizza though, because directly across the street was Ellen's Homemade Ice Cream, which Matt also had planned for us to try. My tummy had just enough room for a raspberry chocolate chip ice cream, and it, too, was excellent.
All this time, Matt had been worrying about the car. I kept brushing him off. The car is fine! Hanging out a few more minutes won't make a difference!
But when we walked back to the parking garage, all was not fine. It was barricaded up at all entrances with those floor-to-ceiling metal grates, not to be unlocked until 6 a.m. Monday morning. We couldn't even get up the stairs to get our bags out of the truck.
So we freaked out a little bit. We called the West Virginia transportation phone numbers, only to get voicemails. (It was a Saturday night, after all.) We tried to think of alternative plans — call a taxi! go to Target for clothes and toiletries! pick up the truck at 6 a.m. on Monday and drive like bats out of hell back to Virginia so Matt can get to work on time! — and seriously hoped we wouldn't have to put any of them to use.
When we could think of no other places to call, we called the West Virginia police on the non-emergency line. Matt explained the situation, that we are knuckleheads that aren't from around here, and that we'd gotten ourselves into this pickle. And thankfully, they sent a security officer that had keys to the gates. He raised them, and we raced up the ramp toward poor Edward, who was parked on the second floor, then drove down the ramp and thanked the officer profusely as we made our escape from parking-garage jail.
It was only about 8 p.m., but we were exhausted by this mishap, so we headed to the hotel for the night.
The other big activity that Matt had planned was to go to the Mardi Gras casino on Sunday, because they have greyhound races every night. They were supposed to have matinee races on Sundays too, but based on the signs throughout the casino, I think they stopped offering the early races right before the new year. We didn't really want to stay until 7 p.m. on a Sunday night and then have to drive back home after the race, so we skipped it. We did watch some simulcast races, but I hope we'll get to go back and see a live race sometime.
But! We did get to play some $5 roulette, and found some slot machines that I used to play in college (OU is only a few miles from Riverwind Casino, and we used to go all the time to play the penny slots). I'm fairly picky about the games I play; I don't like games where you never have a real chance at winning. I like games that give you that false sense of security that you could win, by letting you win small amounts often enough to keep you engaged. I introduced Matt to roulette that time we went to Shreveport, and we like playing it when the minimum bets are cheap enough.
After a couple hours of fun and games, we headed back to Virginia. And we were very thankful that we had the option to leave.
What is your favorite casino game? What's the best pizza you've ever eaten?