The trip of summer 08
I've been way too lazy to write this blog because I thought it would take too long. Buuuut most pictures are up on myspace or on my flickr
Since i blogged almost everyday, i'll just do a short rundown now that i've been to 14 states and another country in the last 2 months.
I started out heading to San Diego. I stopped at some rad photo spots on the way-Tio's Tacos and Queen Califah's Magic Garden. I met up with Crum that night and he took me out in Pacific Beach. I'd been there before and had a good time but it was a little dead that night. The next day i woke up and headed to the san diego zoo! i loved the polar bears, but there were a lot of birds and monkeys, which i don't care about. the zoo wasn't the massive place i thought it would be-good, but much more of a spectacle when you're in 3rd grade on a field trip. After that i headed to Oceanside which is an hour north of SD. I met up with sarah and hung out where she does which was fun. The next day i left to ride up the Pacific Coast Highway. This was one of my favorite parts of the trip-the scenery was absolutely amazing, it was pretty empty so you just pull over wherever you want to get out and look around and the weather couldn't have been better. It was just green grass, mountains, and clear blue water. I stopped by a really cute town called San Luis Obispo for some more photo-ops and then continued on the PCH up to Big Sur. This is where colored flowers start to come in. The drawbacks though-there are no gas stations for hours so fill up ahead of time! And going 25 miles an hour so your car doesn't fall off the cliff gets really annoying after 8 hours. I loved the view, but i was getting sick of nature by the end of the day. I ended that drive by heading to the Monterey Peninsula. I did the 17 mile drive there and saw some golf courses, Pebble Beach, amazing houses, crazy trees, and the ocean. I wish i had more time to explore there, it was beautiful. Then i spent a couple days visiting Chad in San Francisco and having a good time. I went to Napa next which was another one of my favorite parts of the trip. I took a shuttle with 7 other strangers and we went to 7 different wineries. I learned about making wine and actually know a bit more about what i like and what i don't when it comes to vino. My bed and breakfast was overpriced and i had to eat breakfast by myself in my room (it sounds as lame as it was). But i woke up real early and had a 15 hour drive to see Mikey Mike in Oregon. I drove through the Redwood Forest and was definitely getting sick of going slowly through all the windy roads at this point, but of course it looked amazing. I almost ran out of gas in the forest-another place where there weren't gas stations for hours!! Luckily a station appeared when I was on mile 17 of my empty light being on. I stopped by North Coast Brewery to pick up some of their belgian beer but the place sucked. Then i headed up to Eureka, CA to go to the loast coast brewery which was really rad! People there were friendly, it was a huge hippie/gutterpunk area, and things were real artsy. I definitely liked it. I discovered those 5 hour energy shots actually work (but it give me a stomach ache) and made it to Mikey's by 1 am.
I met up with Morgan in Eugene, OR and we walked around a kid's amusement park called Enchanted Forest. Then we headed up to Portland where i expected hipster kids riding fixies on every corner. Well it wasn't exactly that, but i spent a few days seeing where she worked, met her friends, and realized everybody likes to be real healthy there. i had some great food and saw Voodoo Donuts, and loved how you can drink everywhere-like salons, movie theaters, etc. They even do a naked bike race in Portland!
Aaron and i headed up to Washington after that. It's definitely awesome scenery-I can see why the pacific northwest is a huge backpacking place. Seattle seemed really awesome-we didn't really know where to go or what to do, but we went to the Market area, the shopping district, and all around the water. It was great seafood and I really liked the style of the city. We took a ferry to another part of Washington and "camped" with my old high school friend, Leslie. Then we went to Vancouver, which I had really high hopes for. It definitely wasn't as cool as Seattle. There were more homeless people than I've ever seen, if I had shopped I would have spent 2 times the amount on a purse or shirt, our hostel wasn't incredibly friendly, and nobody was out doing anything! We finally found people from around the world at another hostel and ended up making our own fun that night.
I drove through Idaho, which was completely boring and my least favorite state the whole trip, just to get to my hotel at a hot springs. There were hot springs all over the place in the midwest, so it was pretty cool to just relax in this huge hot tub with a cement bottom for awhile. This part of the trip started me being alone and not knowing anyone for about a week-but I was really exited to finally get some time to myself. I netflixed a movie that night on my laptop and fell asleep. The next day I drove up to Wyoming through Jackson Hole. The town is so cute, I loved it. People were so nice, and it was warm enough to not wear a coat but i could still see snow on the grass. I headed to the Grand Tetons and there was a huge tornado in Colorado which knocked all the credit card machines down. So-no $25 entrance fee! The tetons were beautiful and I got my favorite shots of my trip there. The drive through to Yellowstone took an hour and then once I got in Yellowstone it was all snow. The lake was frozen over and i just drove and drove waiting to get out of the snow. Well I finally did-there's sort of a loop and it's about 20 miles to each cool spot on the loop. Well i was really looking forwarding to seeing all the wildlife that Yellowstone is known for-but no. Nothing. I was actually kind of dissapointed that it wasn't as amazing as it looks in brochures or postcards or pictures. I did go to the Yellowstone Grand Canyon and saw a pretty awesome Waterfall. I think the park is named after all the stones which turn yellow from minerals. then again that could be a made up conversation i overheard. I had another 6 hours to my hotel that night so I got moving and stopped in Cody, WY for some steak and to see a really western town. I know it's all for tourists-but the places in the midwest were awesome. Real saloons and streets lined with flat buildings that really look western. There were gun fight reinacters, and i think i fit in because i had my cowboy boots on the whole time. I had the worst drive of my trip that night-I hit Big Horn at Sunset and as my altitude got higher and higher, I was driving around these windy forest roads where there was so much snow I couldn't see grass. Add to that no lights on the roads, and then the fog started. I was driving in the middle of the road because the only thing I could faintly see were the yellow lines. I couldn't pull over because i might have fallen off a cliff! I was moving 5 miles an hour for hour, and then I saw a car in front of me. Well their headlights helped me relax a little bit, we sped up to 10 miles an hour, and after another 60 minutes we were out of the forest!
The next day I woke up early to go to South Dakota-which was another huuuge favorite of mine!! The sites to see are all real close so it's an easy drive. I stopped by Bedrock City-the Flinstones themed trailer park. Well it was $9, totally not worth it, but i got some funny pictures. It was raining on and off that day, which sucked, but it started after I went into the Crazy Horse Memorial. The carving is crazy-it started I believe in the 50s and only the man is worked on, not the horse. I can't imagine when it will be finished. I did learn a bit about the native american history there, I'm still confused though...guess that's why history was my worst subject. I went up to Mt. Rushmore and they didn't accept credit cards so I got out of paying as well-but i thought karma would catch up with me so I went back and gave the lady money. In case you didn't know, it's pretty massive. I think the artist had wanted their bodies and hands from what i saw on the original mockups but that obviously didn't happen! The area where people stand it pretty far away and way lower than the mountain, but i thought the museum there and everything were really pretty and very good for a tourist spot. I didn't get to drive through Custer State Park because I was so tired, so I just drove up to Deadwood which was where I stayed. I didn't get any pictures, which is a shame, cause it was my favorite overnight stay the whole trip. Rich had tipped me off to this place-which is a gambling/western/touristy spot. Just look at this to get an idea. Well my hotel was really cute, I played some table black jack, and the whole place was just really fun. I definitely would have had a good time if somebody was with me there.
The next day I drove across South Dakota which is the most broing 5 hours. Luckily there's stupid little things for road trippers to do to break up the day-like Wall Drug-this huge drug store in the middle of nowhere where coffee is 10 cents and you can get a bunch of souvenirs. The next random spot was 1880 town-my favorite tourist trap! It was a town preserved from 1880 (i think) and you could put costumes on and sit in the saloon if you wanted! I made it to Corn Palace-which I really thought was going to be a building made of corn. Well it wasn't-it just had murals made of corn. The people there were pretty rude-I never experienced the extreme friendlyness that's supposed to make up the midwest. I made it to the Mall of America that night-and talk about another dissapointment! I guess this place was awesome when no other malls existed, but it didn't have any cool specialty spots like I thought it would-just your average stores.
The next day i headed to Minneapolis. It was pretty dead because it was Memorial Day. I have a feeling I would really like the city if i knew what to do there. It seemed very artsy. There were bridges between all the building so you never had to walk outside in the cold. I met up with Tom and we had some drinks after i made him see the Queers with me. The next day I drove through Wisconsin. I stopped by Leinenkugel Brewery which I was very excited about. It was my first brewery tour and I got to sample their Berry Weiss and Summer Shandy-I'll stick with the Sunset Wheat. I made it to Madison that night-again, totally dissapointed in the place. The guy at my hostel was really awesome but no one else was friendly. I just seemed like a college town to me. I did try going to Gumby Pizza-but they weren't open!
I went to Milwaukee the next day which I totally loved! I went to a Brewers game and saw them win while drinking some Miller.
I headed to Chicago the next day and stopped by the most entertaining restaurant of the trip-The Choo Choo. A little toy train delivers all the food! Chicago was awesome, i realized how cheap it was and I loved the Wrigleyville area that Brian and Terry live in. There were so many places to go and things to see-I'm really thinking about moving there.
I headed to Michigan to see Mark the next day. Ann Arbor is really cute and Detroit is not at all. Then I went down through Ohio to see relatives.
I arrived in Pittsburgh and stayed for about 4 days. I know I'm going to have a lot of fun and I already know so many people there. I just want to meet different people and make sure that I get a lot out of living there. Which means I'm going to be at a lot of Stillers games.
So, in short, if you're taking a roadtrip through the midwest, or anywhere I did, the PCH is a must! Yellowstone isn't the greatest, but Jackson Hole is. The Black Hills area in South Dakota was my favorite spot. And I love Seattle and Chicago!