Thursday, May 31, 2007

All Setlled In

I drove 4,000 miles to go to Ikea? This thought went through my mind as I picked up the various sundries necessary for the 9 weeks that I will be out here.

That story aside, I've settled into the new apartment and starting to love LA.

Work at the MPA remains enjoyable and looks to be very fulfilling. I also found a gym adjacent to the office.

So with all of this, combined with a reasonably short commute, life is pretty darn good.

Tuesday, May 29, 2007

The City of Angels

We made it!! 4,000 miles and we finally made it. The first leg of the adventure is now complete.

It was a bit of a culture shock to be surrounded by people again (keep in mind few people live in the parts of the coutry that we just drove through), but we managed to adjust pretty quickly.

Since Brian and Jeannie's flight departed early on Monday, we needed to take every advantage of the time in LA we could, it also gave me an opportunity to get all the tourism out of my system.

We took Mulholland Drive over the mountain. This windy road reminded me of a video game with its hairpin turns, and bikers flying past my car and took us to Malibu. After dipping our feet in the Pacific, we turned to an overly crowded Santa Monica Pier.

From here we stopped at Rodeo Dr, Beverly Hills and a very overrated Hollywood Blvd.

Following our lightning fast tour of LA, we met up with a high-school friend who took us to a great Cuban restaurant. With food in our stomachs and our driving behind us, we settled in for the night and went to sleep.

Saturday, May 26, 2007

Utah Is Huge!!

We returned to Arches for the most magnificent of all the arches, the "Delicate Arch." The hike out to it was relatively arduous. However, we saw lots of parents carrying their young children, which made us realize that if they could do it, so could we. Thank goodness we did because we saw a sight that rivaled pretty much any other of the entire trip.

We then left Arches for Canyon Land. Essentially this is a National Park atop a plateau granting the observer a great view of the areas below. Exciting and picturesque this vantage point allowed us to see for dozens of miles.

Leaving Moab behind we hit the road and arrived at a hotel in Cedar City, UT. We stopped at Costa Vesa, a burrito joint that attempts to rival Chipotle (dont worry Chipotle, you still have my heart). I did, however, appreciate the use of the phrase "Big Kahuna Burrito" reminding me of the "Big Kahuna Burgers" of Pulp Fiction.

After staying up till 11pm to watch the "Victory" ep of Entourage, I'm off to bed and getting ready for Vegas Baby!!

Friday, May 25, 2007

Arches Rocks (no pun intended)

After a short drive (today it was only 5 hours) we arrived at Arches National Park.

We grabbed an awesome lunch at this little joint and explored the town a little. It reminded me of Sedona except more EXTREME. Moab (the city next to Arches) is apparently one of the extreme sports capitals of the US.

As we drove through the park we saw some truly amazing sights. We then stopped and walked for several miles. Climbing rocks, leaping across chasms, and getting into the Moab extreme spirit ourselves.

This truly exhausting experience left us craving some food and a shower. At dinner we learned the secrets of Utah crazy laws:

1. No beer with more than 3% Alcohol.
2. No on under 21 can even talk to you about alcohol.
3. Wine is un-altered (not sure why wine is left restricted and beer is not. perhaps beer is more plebeian).
4. You must order food with any alcohol.

So now we get some rest and prepare for a breakfast that Brian has been talking up for over a week.

Thursday, May 24, 2007

Driving with Added Mormon Action

Once again today was pretty much reserved for driving.

We saw Old Faithful, which to its credit, was pretty freaking cool to see: totally worth the 15min we waited for its erruption.

Following the explosion we took a drive through the Tetons (picture really impressive snow capped mountain ranges like in Lord of the Rings) finding that part of the drive incredibly picturesque.

Driving past Salt Lake City we saw the lake, and the church, however, we only saw this at 80mph, so not exactly the best views of either, ultimately stopping in Provo, UT.

Tomorrow we hit up Arches National Park, a personal highlight of mine.

Tuesday, May 22, 2007

Snow, In May?

When packing for the west coast, I thought to myself, "what do I need for the summer?" Pants...check, suit...check, swinmtrunks...check. Apparently I forgot one of the most necessary articles of clothing for a summer in LA, an Alaskan certified winter parka.

We awoke this morning to the sight of snow. Thats right flakes of white gold falling from the sky. However, while gold makes you rich, snow makes you ridiculously cold. All day, throughout our trek in Yellowstone National Park it snowed.

Unwilling to let this dramatic weather affect our plans, we plowed forth (see how I used a pun there). Most of the day involved the visitation of various "hot springs." Apparently, Yellowstone is one giant volcano. As such, many of the vents on the mountain heat the earth to over 170degrees creating flowing rivers of sulfuric acid.

For those of you who dont recognize the name "sulfuric acid" its the stuff that you smell when eggs go bad. This led me to believe that Yellowstone must be the smelliest national park in the land.

Once we overcame the noxious odors spweing forth onto this park, we decided that we should get some food to eat (I'm not entirely sure why bad smells and food go together, but they do.

Following lunch (which included an amazing chicken-rice soup that managed to increase our body temperatures to only 10 degrees below normal), we proceeded to see every other hot spring and geiser in the park.

After leaving the park, we stopped off for some really good micro-brewed beer and BBQ. Fun Fact: People in Montana seems to love Tabbouleh (this was the side dish at dinner, and I still can't explain why Tabbouleh of all foods).

Another great day came to a close, and now time to rest up for the next part of our great adventure.

A Little Bit Country

Well I managed to extract a little bit more from Deadwood this morning, probably all that Deadwood has to offer. This entailed walking the entire length of the city (its only 1.5 miles long, so this only took about 45min) stopping in each casino to ascertain who had the greatest breakfast prospects. We ultimately reconciled upon an all-you can eat breakfast buffet.

Following breakfast, we visited the location where Wild Bill was shot, we packed up and said goodbye to Mr. Bullock, Charlie Utter, and the rest of Deadwood.

Hitting the road it took an hour to get to Devil’s Mountain. A sight more impressive than Mt. Rushmore, this tower to the sky showed me a naturally created sight on par with the Grand Canyon (well the Grand Canyon rocked a bit more, but this is a close second). Walking around the base stirred a desire to attempt to scale this great obelisk, but then reality reminded me that I get winded after rock climbing for only 20min let alone the several hours required to attack this tower.

Leaving Devils Tower, a five hour drive to Cody, WI, led us through a 6,000ft altitude change in each direction. Arriving in Cody, we checked into the Cowboy Village. While most hotels provide residents with either two twin beds, or one queen bed, this hotel came equipped with two KING size beds and an LCD tv.

Following check in, a craving for BBQ took over our consciousness. Led by a desire to fulfill these urges, we came upon a Ribs restaurant in Cody. This experience provided us with some of, if not the best ribs of our life.

Now, sitting in our room, and having missed my episode of Heroes, I’m going to go to bed. Tomorrow is Yellowstone, and hopefully, it does not snow (and yes I meant snow).

Making HBO Real

After a night at one of the worst “hotels,” in fact it was less of a hotel and more of a motel in a town with only two “restaurants,” we were ready to begin the next part of our journey.

This started with a trip to the Badlands. Jeanne led the way egging us on to explore further and further into uncharted parts of this land. When she had her fill of exploration and adventure we went back to the car to attack yet another hill. After climbing up several hundred feet in only a couple of miles, we dared to reach the hill’s apex.

We then left behind the Badlands for the great town of Wall. Now let me give some background about the importance of this stop. For the past several hundred miles of the most boring driving country (yes Minnesota I’m looking at you) the only thing that kept us going was the promise of “Walls Drug Store’s” approach.

Well, Wall’s Drug Store was not quite the oasis we expected it to be. But they did in fact have $.05 coffee (take that Starbucks). And the meal we had was pretty decent including something called a Turtle Cake. [On a side note, I do not think that “Gold Digger” means the same thing out here as it does on the east coast.]

Following that we left for Mt. Rushmore. Pretty neat and did make me feel patriotic.

We now are in the town of Deadwood (that’s right just like the TV show)! In fact we are staying at the “Bullock Hotel and Casino” which is home to his ghost. Included in the price of our stay is the opportunity to “toast” Mr. Bullock (well this really is just a buy one get one free for drinks, but hey, he’s not here to drink it).

On the drive over here Jeanne had requested Italian. While it would be a dramatic change from the usual steak and hamburger (that’s right, we are complaining that all we eat is steak, we lead a really hard life), we did not believe that a small town in the Black Hills could provide such amenities. Fortunately we were wrong, and treated ourselves to a great meal that did not involve too much steak (although we had to try the “steak and rice soup”).

Saturday, May 19, 2007

Nothing But Driving

We left Chicago at 9am this morning, with the understanding that today would be the longest day of driving. Little did we know what exactly a full day of driving would entail...

The drive got off to a good start. And a couple of hours later, we stopped in La Crosse, WI (on the border of WI and MN) population 51,000 (why do I still remember that number?). We went on into a local diner with low expectations, but left filling fulfilled. Between the inexpensive10oz. steak that Jeannie bought, or my eggs and kielbasa it was a great meal. We topped it off with Raspberry Pie Ala mode (holy crap this was a great desert)!!
Jeannie especially liked our waitress, or at least her accent. This is a direct quote, "you are the first WI accent I have ever reminds me of Bobby's World"

At that point, full of food and ready to go, we had only seven more hours of driving.

Somewhere around the middle of MN, I realized that state sucks, or at least the drive across it does. Between dodging mating birs that seemed dead-set upon hitting my car, and the dozens of "Walls Drug Store" ads (just think of South of the Border, except for South Dakota). A laugh was produced when Brian's exclaimed, "That is the biggest Sarcoff I've ever seen" (what the hell a Sarcoff is e did not know, but it was certainly large).

We did get to enjoy crossing both the Mississippi, and Missouri Rivers.

After 800 miles (thats right), equaling twelve hours of driving, we were all ready to go to sleep.

Stay tuned for tomorrows amazing blog, South Daktoa, not as crappy as you think.

Friday, May 18, 2007

450 Miles, and Boy are My Arms Tired

The day started normally enough. Woke up, got some free breakfast at the Holiday Inn (yes I be chillin at the HOLIDAY INN...and inviting all of my friends), and then hit the road. The drive went pretty well, until I decided to get some coffee.

Believe me, coffee will result in many, many bathroom breaks. Ultimately, we took a break from driving to check out the wonderful landscaping of South Bend, IN. This involved meeting up with my aunt and uncle, who took me to my favorite spot in all of South Bend, Pat's Restaurant (since they stop serving lunch at 2:30, I drove like a maniac to make sure we got there on time).

Now for those of you who have not experienced the awesomeness that is Pat's, just imagine a pork chop the size of your head, and second one for only $2 more, talk about a supersize.

Following this lunch, we got a personalized guided tour of Notre Dame. Okay, granted it was led by my aunt and uncle, but hey, they live there!!

After all was said and done, we said goodbye to South Bend, and made our way to Chi-town (Chicago).

After meeting up with a friend from high-school, we went to Millenium Park. Let me just say that sometimes a city spending $50 mil on a sculpture shaped like a giant lima bean is worth it (just check out the picture).

We then were treated by our host to an amazing steak dinner. I then left this group to meet up with my old roomates from Beltsville. Yes, none of us could believe that we once lived there, and all of us were glad that we did.

Now, after gaining an hour driving, it is 1:45AM, and 2:45EST. So I'm going to go to bed and rest up for our 12 hour (thats right, 12 hour) drive tomorrow.

Here is to Red Bull and all its caffeinated glory!!

Steve Bachelor Party Update: we settled upon a date to head to Vegas. I also sent out an email exclaiming that I made reservations at Circus Circus (as a joke which you will soon understand), and promptly received a phone call from my friend who fears clowns (yes these people do exist outside of Animaniacs).

Thursday, May 17, 2007

North Lima??

So it took forever for me to get out of work today. I planned to pick up Brian and Jeannie at 3, but like all the best laid plans of mice and men....something....?

Anyways, we made it out of the city in a decent amount of time rocking out to "hipster music," until I put a stop to that. I busted out the VH1 100 1 Hit Wonders, and soon we replaced angry feminist rock groups with the Macarena (i still can not get this song out of my head), and we never did learn Who Let the Dogs Out.

We stopped for the night in North Lima, OH at a Holiday inn Express (go Government rate! I knew I brought Brian along for a reason). I think I spelled it correctly since how else could you spell Lima? Great local beer BTW...see attached picture, and a damn good spicy chicken sandwich.

Well, next stop is Chicago and our last taste of civilization.

Monday, May 14, 2007

Getting Ready for the Adventure

Well, three days to go before the insanity begins, I felt that I should explain exactly what this blog is all about.

1: Why go to LA?
For the past year I have been struggling to get a job offer to work for the MPAA. About two months ago, the offer finally came in. This job entails working in LA for two-months on anti-piracy.
Unfortunately, two months is a pretty short amount of time to, find a place to stay in LA, find someone to house sit my current apartment, pack, and get the rest of my affairs in order.
Also, as it turns out, my current employer did not want to give me leave to undertake this opportunity. As such, part of the plans for this trip entail me packing up and leaving my current job (and with it the ensuing search for a new job when this summer is over).

2: How to get there?
When I told my friend Brian that I would be taking this job opportunity in LA, he saw this as a great chance to also utilize this trip to see the sights of the country. This turned into a 10 day excursion cross-country with stops in Chicago, Mt. Rushmore, the Badlands, Vegas and several others.

Friday May 18th: South Bend and Chicago, IL
Sunday May 20th: Badlands National Park, Wall, SD, Mt. Rushmore and Deadwood's Bullock Hotel and CasinoMonday May 21: Devil's Tower
Tuesday May 22: Yellowstone Lake, Mammoth Hot Springs, Tower Falls, Yellowstone
Wednesday May 23: Old Faithful, Tenton National Park
Friday May 25: Arches National Park
Saturday May 26: Vegas Baby, Vegas!!
Sunday May 27: Arrive Los Angeles, CA

3: Why blog about it?
It is true that I hate blogs. Why should I care about another person's quasi-introspective opinions about "why dogs are good," or "how stupid this kid in the cafeteria is"?
However, I am doing this for myself, as a virtual diary. this way, two years from now, I can return to this blog and remember all the neat interesting stuff I learned throughout this summer.

So here I am, 3 days to go. I can now check off "Set up Blog" from my To Do List. So expect to see more blogs throughout the summer.

Note: since I am going to be driving for two weeks, and through some of the most backwards places, I may not be able to get the internet access necessary to update this for a while.

Check back soon, and away we go!!