Last adventure of the year, and here’s how it went…
Day 1 – En route to Ramshackle Mansion…
Woke up in the wee hours of the morning, drove to the airport in our city (mark it on a calendar, we got to fly from home for a change, without having to remortgage the house), flew to Montreal, had breakfast and coffee, flew to NY, arrived by 10:30 am and let the good times begin. Thanks Michelle and Paul for picking us up – rock stars, the both of ya! We really appreciated it a lot!! The drive to the Hamptons was uneventful and filled with laughs and plotting our visit to the 7-11, before stopping for some lunch and beer at the Southampton Publick House (decent beer selection, average food, over-the-top decorated for Halloween – not in a good way). There may also have been stops for other vitally important things like beer, rum, and maybe food. We were one of the earlier groups to arrive at Ramshackle Mansion and from the outside it looked pretty nice. Melissa gave us the tour and we picked our room in the drunken jerks wing from a solo cup. I dig it!
Kudos to Melissa and Mel for hooking us all up in the Hamptons, and please don’t forget we love you and appreciate everything you did throughout my ranting :) I have never rented a mansion before. I have never been to the Hamptons before. I don’t value possessions and I don’t think anyone in the world needs a mansion. If not for really digging this group of people, you would not have found me in the Hamptons. But for what a mansion costs to rent for a weekend, even split across like 20 people, I did have certain expectations. And to be honest, even they were not high ones because I’m a pretty low maintenance kind of person – at least a reasonable amount of cleanliness, soap, toilet paper, clean towels, and general functioning stuff… oh, and a fucking hair dryer! This is not how we found said mansion, and so I renamed it Ramshackle Mansion. The place was filthy, floor to ceiling. The kitchen was full of dirty dishes in the cupboards (lipstick stains and all), the laundry room was piled high with unwashed linens and towels (that we would need to wash to use), there was a BBQ with no propane, outdoor propane heaters with no propane, an outdoor fireplace with no fire wood, broken this that and everything, you had to guess which outlets worked, 1 of 3 coffee makers worked, stained carpets galore, and the pool had garbage in it (though it was a bit cold for the pool anyway). This is a total party house and even though it’s not that old, it totally shows. We were told that a wedding came through and trashed the place just before we got there, but I think that was something they tell everyone every time they rent it so they don’t have to clean it property (stay tuned). The layout is also completely effed up. Whoever looked at the blueprints before it was built has some really serious issues! And mansions don’t need orgy rooms!
All was not lost though, don’t fret! Good ole Ramshackle had lots of potential. The natural light in there is amazing, the grounds are lovely, there aren’t any real neighbours, and there were deer and wild turkeys and ducks. It was a giant house full of good friends and we can make anything work. Without a doubt, we left that place cleaner than we found it. The weather was also beautiful and much warmer than it would normally be this time of year. There may have also been a very large room full of booze that was not locked and we’ll call that the pantry since “pantry items” was included in the bits and bobs that come with the mansion. The consensus is that this may be because some rap dude did something or another at the mansion and it was sponsored by Heineken and Strongbow.
So back to the story… we caught back up with friends with beverages for pretty much the rest of the day. Team New Jersey made us supper (including a delicious zucchini noodle with cashew cream mushroom sauce that was awesome – thanks Melissa and Mel!). We found things to burn and had a nice fire. And generally the entire mansion called it an early night from travelling.
Day 2 – Lighthouse adventure, laughs, and kings cup
I’m not a terribly indecisive type. I pretty much always know what I feel like doing, where I feel like going, what I want to eat, etc. So we had made plans to check out the Sag Harbor farmers market and then to head out to Montauk. It was a small farmers market, with prices a bit high because it’s in the Hamptons (I’m just assuming), but we got some veg for when it was our turn to feed the troops. Some of us may have charmed our way into some free veg :) After that, we swooped in on Montauk caravan style. We checked out the lighthouse, the beach, and scaled the rocks around the back. Pretty nice spot actually, lots of high surf and surfers around that day. There was also a stop for sampling at the Montauk Brewing Company and pizza, and a look out, and Starbucks, and then back to the mansion.
By decree of Gel, we were to be playing drinking games that evening, and so we did… after some more fire action (which include Paul, D, Greg, and I hunting for firewood in the forest, armed with a bag, beer, and a small golf club… you know, in case of zombies). The “other Canadians” – how people referred to them around us, I didn’t name them – made us a lovely spread for dinner (and thanks Frank, Scott, and Kathy for the other spreads throughout the day) and then people got drunk and it was hilarious and you had to be there, so I’ll fast forward to day 3. But there was a cake for Gel and Herb – congrats on the engagement you two!
Mel, I’ll get started on all those ebooks right after the holidays :P
Day 3 – Lazy day at Ramshackle mansion and trapping Binjas
Sunday Funday in the Hamptons… so much of the gang donned their football finery and camped out in the theatre room. Ingrid n Co made us a lovely brunch (though Ingrid was baking cookies and doing stuff in the kitchen pretty much all weekend – thanks Ing!). There was also much lazing about. D headed back Sunday afternoon cause she had to work but we found her again in the city. Michelle, Paul, and I went out and found stuff for operation taco night (which can also be referred to as operation get out of the house for a bit… I am sooo not used to sitting around that much)… and then team Canadia & Queens (surely we can mash those words together better!) did up our taco spread (and chocolate avocado pudding – because Michelle NEEDED it!). The theatre was commandeered later in the evening for zombie o’clock. There was a group picture fiasco that did finally result in a picture of almost everyone – I’ve done lots of group photography at weddings and I realize it’s like herding cats. An incredibly large game of pass the ace followed, though they all call it something else and the rules are slightly different. I was never so happy to be out of a card game so early before (and I’m not competitive enough to care either way)… my head felt like it was going to explode after loud time spent in the kitchen, super loud tv watching in the theatre, and more loud again. It’s no slight on anyone – the acoustics of that house were a bit bonkers, to the point that in the kitchen you could literally scream at someone right next to you and they couldn’t hear you… and everyone in the world likely watches tv louder than I do. Beer helped.
Anywho, had a great chat with Paulie (I have a lot of unconventional opinions on stuff and I dig it when others do too), said our goodbyes to Scott and Frank and everyone leaving early in the morning, chilled for a bit and tidied up some mess, and called it a night.
On a side note, we had a lot of visitors at the mansion on Sunday. I think they were both on Sunday, but it’s kind of a blur. The first mister showed up with a couple and wanted to show them around the mansion because they wanted to book it for a wedding the following year. When someone in the gang mentioned to this mister (rental agent or something maybe) that it was kind of a shabby mansion, his “well, it’s only a 5 million dollar mansion” comment may not have been well received. And then he asked for some of Ingrid’s cookies… and I don’t mean this as any kind of code :P She was really making cookies. Visiting group number 2 came while we were making supper and was surprised to find us there at all. She was part of the family that rented the mansion the previous weekend and trashed the place… except that maybe they didn’t trash the place, and who knows what the deal is with that one… kind of sketchy. But they were looking for clothes, cake, appliances, etc. that they left at the mansion and the only thing left was some flowers… and trust me, the boys searched that mansion from top to bottom finding mass amounts of weirdness. They also claimed they still were renting the mansion, but they were sent packing… but they did “excape” with a coffee maker they claimed was theirs.
Most everyone who was still around in the morning left pretty early… the rest of us cleaned up the rest of the mansion, locking the hundred million doors and windows etc. It was about 11 when we all took off and headed into the city. Team Canadia and Queens (Queenadia?) stuck together on the way back in, took the train into the city from near Michelle and Paul’s place (next time we’re coming to visit!!), hoofed it to the hotel and dumped our stuff, and met up with Team California and D slightly later… and Gel’s uncle Gilbert as well.
PS: our budget hotel in the city had many things that Ramshackle did not – a lot of clean towels, soap, toilet paper, kleenex, and a fucking hairdryer lol!
Tour guide Michelle gave us a rocking tour of the city… I wanted to make sure Greg saw something he actually wanted to see before going with the flow, so after a quick bite at a Korean food stand at Broadway Bites, we hit the High Line (a re-purposed train track that is now a walking path and green space) and then we hit up Chelsea Market and ate our way through a bit. Greg bought some ghost pepper-flavoured salt and harissa, we tried some malted pumpkin ice cream at Ronnybrook, had some juice, and there was tea and beer and ravioli sampling. It was interesting to me to see how the bakeries and stuff there package things (and the CRAZY prices they charge for stuff). Post Chelsea Market, we checked out the Sex in the City staircase (I have no idea what this means, I’m assuming it must have been in that show), the Magnolia bakery (since we just happened to walk by it, Ing and I needed treats), a bar that made me incredibly uncomfortable called Employees Only (we split up there and D, Greg, Paul, and I went to a different pub style place – Bayard’s Ale House – and we met back later), had a bite at the Meatball Shoppe, and called it a night. Thanks D and Gilbert for the beers! So kind!
Day 5 – Here, there and everywhere in NYC…
There was a great place with breakfast food and a Starbucks across the street from the hotel, so I had a tasty breakfast of chocolate chia pudding and coffee. Then we hit the trains minus Gel (hope your back is feeling better now Gel) to check out the World Trade Centre. The last time we were around there was quite a while ago and they were still more digging out than building. Now the site contains one very tall and shiny new building, and two stunning fountains surrounded by the names of the fallen. It’s a very powerful spot and I needed to wander off with Greg for a bit to wipe away some tears. We didn’t go in the museum.
Spent a bit of time at Battery Park for the views (though it like many things in NY is under construction), headed up to Macy’s to meet Michelle and Paul, and then headed to Carmine’s for lunch (where we met back up with D and Gilbert as well). Carmine’s is a big Italian eatery where everything gets ordered family style. I have a pet peeve about paying a lot for pasta when it costs pennies to make, but the food was good and the company was great.
We had to walk off the pasta following Carmines, so we visited Rockefeller Plaza, St Patricks (sat that one out, don’t like churches), and Central Park to check on the rats. Stopped for a visit to the NHL store for Greg, to try and rescue a squirrel from the Dolce & Gabana store entrance way (poor little guy, I hope he got out… I wouldn’t want to be trapped there), “admired” what is “fashion”, and just plain walked a lot – which was nice after a lot of mansion sitting during the weekend, but is somewhat challenging in a big group. (But we don’t need to put people on leashes, Binja :P)
We had tickets for Once, so that was our next event of the evening. I really loved the show, and it wasn’t sold out, so they put us in better seats when we get there. The stage is set up like a bar, so during intermission, they served drinks from it, which I thought was pretty clever. The whole cast came out quickly after the show and Paulie got them all to sign a program. I don’t know anyone who knows people who’ve been in shows and movies better than him and Michelle. After the show, we walked people places they needed to be and said our goodbyes. We walked Ingrid and Kathy back to the hotel, and then Greg and I wandered off to find something to eat… and then we called it a day.
We got some food in the morning, packed up our stuff, said our goodbyes to Herb and Gel, and headed to the airport. Flight was on time when we left the hotel and delayed by the time we got there. I forgot I had tasty chocolate chia pudding in my bag that I was going to eat later – and I still contend that that is not a liquid – but security stole it… I think he wanted to eat it :P Our first flight ended up delaying enough that we would miss the second, so we had them reroute us before we even left NY. The section of LGA we were in was sketchy and boring and we could barely get the also sketchy free wifi to work… so that was a bit of a long wait. We should have gone and drank beer with Paul for a few hours instead! We finally made it to Montreal and got everything sorted for the next flight, and then proceeded to wait for another 4 hours or so to catch the new flight we were on. At least we had functional wifi and Starbucks for that one. We finally made it home around 11:00.
And the morals of the story… don’t rent an only 5 million dollar mansion… and it never really matters when you’re surrounded by cool kids!
And now we work every day until the end of the year… thanks for the good times gang. See you in Feb!
Update: A quick bit of Googling shows that Ramshackle used to be known as StadiumRed estate, where they partied so hard that they got the place shut down… and that possibly it was all happening while some celebrity owned it and didn’t know what was going on. That explains a lot :) And still in no way discredits how awesome our weekend was and how appreciative we are to Melissa and Mel for sorting it.