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Spontaneity doesn’t come easy for me. Jay and I value thinking through our choices to ensure we make the best decisions possible. Jay researches our vacations, creating a spreadsheet dozens of pages long, to ensure we hit all the best sites. We discuss retirement strategies and what we would like in a forever home.

Is it possible to over-plan? I’m sharing some thoughts at The Glorious Table tomorrow about that very topic. However, as a general rule, plans can be helpful. The key is to not hold too tightly to the desired outcome.

Jay and I decided in advance to keep Valentine’s Day pretty low-key. A friend hosted game night on Galentine’s the day before. “I just want dinner and a card,” I told him, unknowingly echoing my words from last year. I forgot that last year the Kenjo didn’t have giant cards, so I was disappointed when Jay struck out in that department again this year.

“Do we have a gift card to Alamo?” The local steakhouse serves their El Presidente Porterhouse, which we love but save for special occasions. I consulted our gift card stash, which has been neglected for much of the past year and found one. We also had a Visa gift card expiring at the end of the year.

The plan was set. We would head out for an old people’s early dinner in an effort to miss the crowd. Both Valentine’s and President’s Day falling on the same weekend meant our tourist town would be a bit busier than a standard winter weekend.

Serendipity, however, taught us that an important part of a plan is holding loosely enough to go with the flow if things go sideways.

Jay had an unexpected work errand to take care of that afternoon, so we didn’t arrive at the restaurant until 5:00 PM. We typically don’t eat dinner this early, but the crowd beat us there. The host informed Jay that the wait for a table for 2 could take as long as 2 hours. Restaurants in our area don’t take reservations or call ahead seating. That’s 2 hours of standing outside, within the rage of the pager distributed from the host stand.

We decided to try our luck at Blue Moose, a burger and wings joint. They have a good craft beer selection, so we were happy to skip the long wait and try our luck getting seating at their bar.

On the drive, Jay suggested I turn early to avoid traffic on the Parkway and go in the back entrance. We sat at the traffic light waiting to turn left and Jay looked up. “Junction 35 – I keep forgetting about that. Wanna try it?” Checking to make sure the right turn lane was clear, I changed the direction of my signal light. In a matter of 5 minutes, we’d changed our minds twice.

Enjoying the live music softly playing in the background

We parked in the shopping center’s crowded lot, masked up, and headed inside to see about the wait. “Table for 2? Right this way?” She immediately seated us near the live music – a keyboard and a cello (I think).

Terrapin Moo-Hoo Chocolate Milk Stout with dinner at Junction 35

Our entire dining experience was perfect: the food, the atmosphere, the services, and the craft beer. When the server brought our check, we realized our Visa gift card covered our meal with funds leftover. We stopped by the Casual Pint for a nightcap before heading home.

At the Casual Pint enjoying Tennessee Brew Works Country Roots

My main goal for the night was to have a break from the norm. I didn’t want us to visit the same ole, to grab dinner at our usual. Despite our best plans, and as serendipity would have it, something fresh and new is exactly what we got.