Two Days in Columbus & Butch Walker

I forwarded an email to Chaz a month ago with Butch Walker’s tour schedule which was going to take him to Columbus the week after my birthday. I told him that tickets to see Butch would be a great cheap present for my birthday. He decided instead of just driving up and driving back that we would drive up the day before and drive back the day after. Driving to Columbus is pretty much like driving to Louisville with different scenery. Not too far for a day trip.

We checked in to the hotel and walked around downtown before we got too settled into our room. Our first stop was at the North Market right across the street from our hotel. It wasn’t long before I found the chocolate.

Chocolates from Pure Imagination Chocolatier

Chocolates from Pure Imagination Chocolatier

And then I found a splendid arrangement of teas.

An assortment of teas from Bubbles, the Tea & Juice Company

An assortment of teas from Bubbles, the Tea & Juice Company

We circled around and walked the Short North District. Basically, we walked up and down North High Street. We did about three miles of walking in all. I was beat by the end of it. Two would have been enough for me. We walked by a lot of great restaurants, shops, galleries, centers, and condos. I shared a few of these on Instagram, Twitter, and my personal Facebook page, but not everyone follows me on social media so I am sharing again.

Striking beauty in the midst of downtown

Striking beauty in the midst of downtown

A retreat from the hustle & bustle

A retreat from the hustle & bustle

The Hawai`i local in me was doing a dance when I found this in a shop filled with upcycled/reclaimed items

The Hawai`i local in me was doing a dance when I found this in a shop filled with upcycled/reclaimed items

I've got the TARDIS! ALLONS-Y!

I’ve got the TARDIS! ALLONS-Y!

I love colorful glass.

I love colorful glass.

Epic bicycle basket

Epic bicycle basket

The guitar was just one of the items covered in old ticket stubs.

The guitar was just one of the items covered in old ticket stubs.

This garden was in front of a youth center. There were name markers so the kids knew which plant was theirs.

This garden was in front of a youth center. There were name markers so the kids knew which plant was theirs.

More chocolate at Le Chocolatique.

More chocolate at Le Chocolatique.

I did not try the chocolates at either place in case you were wondering. Some of them were marked as gluten-free at Le Chocolatique, but with all my food allergies, I was not about to ask or risk it.

I do not do a lot of selfies. I suck at taking them. It takes me at least a dozen tries to get one with my eyes open and my mouth in a full smile, instead of a grimace that makes me look like I am sitting on the toilet. And no, I never take selfies in the bathroom. Never. I took this next one after Johnna sent me a message asking me to post one on Instagram with #rightfrigginnow after she posted her Soften Saturday post, Before and After Pics.

Me, after that three mile walk and ready for a gluten-free cheeseburger & fries.

Me, after that three mile walk and ready for a gluten-free cheeseburger & fries.

We drove up to Cheeseburger in Paradise, a forgone conclusion before we even drove to Columbus. Finding gluten-free, soy-free, and peanut-free french fries in Cincinnati is not easy. I had a couple of Torched Cherry Mojitos, too. Cherry, lime, and mint. My new favorite combination since I first tried it while I was in Virginia two months ago. Columbus 13The next day, we drove out to Cooper’s Hawk Winery & Restaurant for lunch. I shared pictures from our lunch there in Chicago this past summer. I was yeast-free during that trip and could not try the wine. You better believe I tried it this time around. They let you taste the wines you want to make sure you like it. Plus, they have numbers beside the wines and menu items so you can pair them if you like. I am clueless about pairing. I just drink what I like. I do know that dark chocolate pairs wonderfully with red wines. Mmmmm.

It was a tough time deciding between the Malbec and the Cooper's Hawk Red, but I eventually chose the Malbec.

It was a tough time deciding between the Malbec and the Cooper’s Hawk Red, but I eventually chose the Malbec.

I went with a salad for lunch because I needed a lot of veggies.

I went with a salad for lunch because I needed a lot of veggies.

We walked to the Arena District for dinner and the concert. We chose something along the way to the venue that I found on the Find Me Gluten-Free app, Ted’s Montana Grill. It was our first time at the chain restaurant. It reminded me a little of old steakhouse meets bar. I had to go with a burger and fries again. Only this time I had mine with bison.

Bunless bison burger and fries.

Bunless bison burger and fries.

We walked straight to A&R Music Bar for the show. There was a line waiting to get in. Because it takes SO long to take tickets and check ID.

When I discovered the show was sold out through Twitter the day before I had one of the lines from Freak of the Week in my head. Tell me I sold out/Tell me I sold out, go ahead. Yep. I'm a Butch Walker geek.

When I discovered the show was sold out through Twitter the day before I had one of the lines from Freak of the Week in my head. Tell me I sold out/Tell me I sold out, go ahead. Yep. I’m a Butch Walker geek.

Marc Scibilia is opening for Butch on this tour. Blues-y rockish. I was impressed.

Marc Scibilia is opening for Butch on this tour. Blues-y rockish. I was impressed.

If you have never heard of Butch Walker or seen me mention him on Facebook or Twitter I will try to give it to you short form. He is a singer, songwriter, and producer originally from Cartersville, Georgia. He was previously in the bands Southgang (think 80s hair metal, previously known at Byte the Bullet before landing a record deal), Floyds Funk Revival, and Marvelous 3. Now he is a solo artist with a backing band (The Black Widows).

Butch opened soft on his own before the band came out.

Butch opened soft on his own before the band came out.

His lyrics tell stories full of raw emotion in a simple way or they are just full of fun. He has a knack for capturing the small moments beautifully. From “Cigarette Lighter Love Song”, Now I know you’re not asleep/I can feel you moving over there/You’re playing with the seam/Of your worn out underwear. From “ATL”, Cause some become lovers because of sex/And some, you know, they just become friends/In our case, we just became bad at it all/And never got good at it again. From “Mixtape”, You drive away from my car crash of a heart/And I don’t know/But you gave me the best mixtape I have/And even all the bad songs ain’t so bad/I just wish there was so much more than that/About me and you. From “I Just Want You To Want This Again”, You said to call and I watched as you left/I told my friend not to pull off just yet/So I could watch every inch of you walking away. I will share a video of one of his earlier songs at the end of the post. Or just go search for him on YouTube. If you end up liking him, you’ll spend hours watching his videos. Or at least listening to them.

Even if you have never heard him, you have probably heard him through the bands and recording artists he produces and co-writes with: P!nk, Katy Perry, Fall Out Boy, Anberlin, Puffy AmiYumi, Taylor Swift, Gin Wigmore, Avril Lavigne, Train, and Panic! At The Disco just to name a few.

I will never see another show like that again. Small bar, small stage, big talent. Butch shreds a guitar just as well as Eddie Van Halen, and I have seen Eddie shred a guitar live. He has seemingly boundless energy while on the stage.  He will bring up a fan to sing “Freak of the Week” because he hates singing it but knows his fans love the song. His fans love him and he loves his fans in equal measure. There is a reason why friends and fellow musicians/recording artists will introduce/refer to him as “mother fuckin’ Butch Walker” and you want to do the same after seeing him live. 

I enjoyed seeing Butch live finally. However, I realized during this show that general admission concerts are no longer good for me. I am claustrophobic and with my adrenal fatigue and Sjogren’s Syndrome, standing on my feet for four hours was a killer. I was crushed as soon as Butch took the stage between the guy on my left who pushed his way through with his girlfriend at the end of the opening act and the woman on my right who could not stop looking at her phone. Chaz was behind me making sure no one got me from behind. The guy on my left kept pushing into me, most likely to get me to move over and I refused to budge otherwise I would have been pushed into the woman, her phone, and her drink. And on general principle. Just because I am a woman does not mean I will let people edge me out. I had a hard time enjoying the opening with the feeling of being so closed in and the deep desire to punch the guy next to me. Later on the woman next to me was replaced by another guy and his girlfriend and I was crushed again.

I could happily say this is my last concert I will go to, but I would happily entertain seeing him again if it was not a general admission show.

"Bartender, can I get a shot of Jameson. I'll pay you back," is something you might hear near the end of a Butch show.

“Bartender, can I get a shot of Jameson. I’ll pay you back,” is something you might hear near the end of a Butch show.

Allergy-Free Eating in Manassas

Torched Cherry Mojito

Torched Cherry Mojito

I left Jerm and DD’s house the same time they left for work. I drove to Manassas for my last stop of my vacation to see my friend CG. I intended to drive around and kill a lot of time until she got off work even though her husband, Steeler, was home on vacation working on projects around the house.

My first stop after exiting the freeway was Target. It was RIGHT there. And there were a few things I needed. Mostly a razor because my razor head broke two days before. I also knew I could kill a lot of time in Target. I picked up what I needed, found a lot of washi tape for art journaling, and realized I forgot The Fall of Five by PIttacus Lore (any other I Am Number Four fans?) was released two days before.

My stomach was growling so I checked the “Find Me Gluten-Free” app to find a good restaurant for lunch. Three restaurants down, Cheeseburger In Paradise.

SQUEEEEEEEE!

We don’t have one in Cincinnati. If you look at their locations, they are not widespread like most chains. Which is a damn shame because they get gluten-free and allergy-free. Their fryers for the fries are dedicated. The only time I get to go to one is if we are out of town where there is one.

Burger and fries at Cheeseburger in Paradise

Burger and fries at Cheeseburger in Paradise

I went all out. I was tolerating cheese before vacation so it was a bacon burger. They offered a gluten-free bun and while I shouldn’t have because of the egg, I did anyway (and no reaction!). I even posted a picture of it on social media. My phone blew up as soon as I did. Tweets and texts. It was a hearty mess of deliciousness and I savored every last bite.

CG texted me while I was eating to let me know I could go to the house when I was ready and that she and Steeler would be going to lunch soon. I was paying my check so I hightailed it out and over to their house. I went with Steeler to pick her up for lunch to surprise her and sat with them in Qdoba while they ate. I went back home with Steeler and did some reading until we left to meet CG and a co-worker of hers I know (and hadn’t seen in years) for drinks.

I ordered a Prosecco when I saw it on the wine menu. Manassas 4

Then I noticed they have Angry Orchard hard cider. That was next. Manassas 5

Then I remembered when CG and I get together we drink. I was immensely grateful for the allergy treatments that allowed yeast back into my diet.

I fixed dinner for us that night but the next morning I went out to breakfast at Potomac Mills. I decided to see The Mortal Instruments: City of Bones (again) at the theater there, then walk around the mall and I had more than enough time for breakfast by the time I got there. I used the Find-Me Gluten-Free app and settled on Silver Diner. A local chain with farm-to-table practices. Manassas 8

Their menu has gluten-free options marked, as well as vegetarian, vegan. The options aren’t huge, but with their menu it was a good thing because I never would have been able to decide. I chose the Coconut Quinoa Pancakes without bananas and since I did okay with eggs baked into a bun the day before, I decided to test eggs.

Coconut Quinoa Pancakes at Silver Diner

Coconut Quinoa Pancakes at Silver Diner

The pancakes were delicious and I had no reaction to the eggs. I did a little happy dance because I knew tolerating cheese and eggs meant my body is healing. I loved the diner feeling of the Silver Diner without being too kitschy. Plus, each table has a mini-jukebox with all the selections and the music plays overhead and through the jukebox. No leaving your table to choose your song or your child wandering around to get to and from the jukebox. Manassas 7

I enjoyed the movie (again). If you haven’t read the Mortal Instruments series by Cassandra Clare and enjoy books in the teen fantasy/paranormal genre, read them! They’ve become my favorites since picking them up and I love the casting of the movie so much I was able to forgive all the changes they made in the movie. Okay, all but two. But that’s just me and what I thought was important to the story. I spent several hours in Potomac Mills and bought a few things for me and a t-shirt Chaz seems to love because he keeps wearing it.

I knew I still had a couple of hours before CG would be done at work so I decided to find a Starbucks to use their wifi and do some writing. Turns out I found a Starbucks without wifi and since I was already settled I tried to grab wifi from the Chick-fil-A next door. It worked in about one minute increments. I did what I needed to do and anything else I couldn’t do with the shaky wifi could wait. I focused more on editing and writing.

Of course I lost track of time and I hurried home to find CG home from work and Steeler already gone to his fantasy football meeting. CG and I decided to go out to dinner. I opened up the Find Me Gluten-Free app again and started looking at the nearby restaurants. We settled on Glory Days Grill because they use a dedicated fryer for their gluten-free wings and fries and CG decided she wanted wings.

When we got there and I started asking my million questions it turned out they use a mix of vegetable oil and soybean oil for their gluten-free fryer. Soybean oil for the fryer. I really don’t get the widespread use of soybean oil in restaurants. I really cuts a lot of options for me. I went with a cheeseburger and red potatoes. I really wanted fries, but the potatoes were a good substitute. And guess what? They serve Angry Orchard hard cider!

Cheeseburger & red potatoes at Glory Days Grill

Cheeseburger & red potatoes at Glory Days Grill

I definitely ate out more than I planned to while in Manassas, but I was able to do so safely, I mentioned the FInd Me Gluten-Free app. It is a lifesaver for me if we happen to be out and we need to eat. I’ve tried several other apps that didn’t give me the information I wanted. I started using this one months ago and it has not failed me. I even used it to start researching places in Vegas for our trip in December.