Archive for City Recaps

Fayetteville, Arkansas

After Austin, we headed to Fayetteville, Arkansas to visit cousins of mine. It was really good to see them all two nights in a row. It’s always interesting to see people grow throughout the years, and since we seem to meet up every six or seven years, it always makes it more interesting catching up after/while going through various stages in life.

In fact, the last time we all got to hang out, my hair was dyed green, I had one visible piercing among others, and I was in the dead-center of my rave days having just taken the lease on a warehouse that would further change my life. Now, we’re growing up, drinking beer, getting married, and making our lives our own in the best ways we know how…whether it’s going back to school, living in a van, exploring e-commerce, or making your life and business 40 minutes outside of the nearest town.

In addition to catching up on lost time, Karma, Katherine, Bauer and I went on a beautiful hike through part of the Ozarks. One of the things we’ve mentioned on this blog, and even more often between Alexi and I, is that there seems to be an infinite number of environments in this country. The Ozarks brought yet another environment to explore.

The Ozarks feel as old as the Blue Ridge and Appalachian mountains, but instead of being on an igneous foundation of granite, they are on a sedimentary foundation of limestone (Though I’ve also heard there’s phenomenal sandstone climbing around there as well). Being that Fall is finally over, there were no leaves in the trees, offering an austere scene from the higher cliff lines.

We also got to see some of downtown Fayetteville’s massive spectacle of Christmas lights, their “very accurate Statue of Liberty”, and got our butts whipped at Mario Kart and shooting pool. I’d say that the humiliating defeats in sport and game really topped off the trip.

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Austin, TX - I Love You

Right now, we’re driving up I-35 from Austin to Fayetteville, Arkansas. We’re listening to Christmas music, in our Santa hats, the Christmas lights are on, and my knit Christmas sweater is out in full effect. Sometimes, that effect is nauseating, but the clear skies and brisk temperature are reducing the sensation.

Austin has never been a bad time. Ever. And this trip continued the dynasty.

We stayed with our good friend Tim through the weekend, resulting in a trifecta of 20-something awesomeness brought into the world in a matter of 48 hours in July of 1981.

Friday night we met up with our friend Tray and headed straight for Chuy’s, the classic Mexican restaurant in Austin, stuffing our faces with deluxe tomatillo sauce, burritos and enchiladas. People who haven’t lived in Texas and other similar border-sharing states often have a difficult time grasping the fantastical deliciousness of great Mexican food. For them, I recommend a hearty filling of Chuy’s.

Next, we met up with some other friends, Daniel, Toddy and Sarah, and went to a bar called Creekside - a bar with reasonable drink prices, a decent jukebox, and walls adorned with oil-paintings inspired by leather and bondage fetishes…seating position and directionality was crucial to avoid staring at certain, awkward, visual arts.

We rounded out the night throwing it down and destroying the dance floor at Beauty Bar. The opening act was a band that played a bit too long for those of us with our dancing shoes and feet itching for a good time. Finally, the DJ came on and opened with Daft Punk’s Revolution 909 from their classic album, Homework, and our expectations of a nuclear war on the dance floor began to become self-fulfilling.

On this night, I decided to rock out with the disgustingly over-the-top Christmas cheer of Road Trip 2.0 and adorn myself in my $6 knit Goodwill Christmas sweater, complete with dog and un-looped threads accentuating the dog’s scarf, and my deluxe Santa hat from Walgreens. The kids seemed to appreciate it, as did the awesomely cute sociology major who suggested that I take swing classes instead of salsa or tango who I will likely and unfortunately never hear from again. (Mental Note: Another situation in which having a cell phone is a good thing.)

Then, it was back to Tim’s place for more Lone Star beer and passing out on the floor.

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Road Trip Lives!

Contrary to the rumors, we didn’t get abducted in Roswell. We did get to see some interesting sights and talk to some interesting folk. I also had an Encounter of the 17th kind; that’s when you’re driving down the highway leaving Roswell and you see a spaceship looking thing, covered in a tarp, on the back of a flatbed semi-truck. Ben was asleep, but I saw it. Of course, no photos.

We’ve been in Denver for the past few days catching up with friends and family. Ben with his old buddy Dylan, and me with my Grandpa, Uncle & Aunt, and cousins. Until recently my relationship with the familial extremities has been mediated by my parents, so it’s nice to get out and say ‘Hi’ on my own accord. For those of you who can relate, I think you’ll find it feels good to shoot out an email, phone call, or visit to unsuspecting relatives.

Tomorrow we’re doing just that for Ben’s side of the family: his Aunt in Wichita Kansas. We’ll be there for two days and then drop straight down I-35 (a road I know all too well) to Dallas for our Thanksgiving break. Ha… Break from lifecation. Who woulda guessed!

Pictures since the last update after the jump.
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Esa Barranca es Muy Grande

Heading out to the Grand Canyon shortly! The four beautiful days spent in LA reaffirmed that this is where we want to live once we stop “living in a van down by the river”. We’ll be spending four days camping in the desert, so stocking up on tuna and water is a must. I don’t suspect any Internet out there, so this might be it until Friday when we head up to Colorado to visit my mom’s family. To keep you busy in the interim, here’s some of our LA photos:

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A Microsoft Omelet

The ChallengeWe got a late start today. For some reason we were feeling under the weather. Fortunately, there’s no better cure for party-sickness than breakfast food, and there’s no better source for breakfast food than Beth’s Cafe. They serve a 12-egg omelet there. From one excess to another, I guess! Ben having the self-proclaimed “champion attitude” decided he was gonna tackle it. I’ve never seen so many calories in one place. I couldn’t even finish my 6-egg omelet, but Ben got through at least 90%. Hey, he’s a champion!

We have potentialAfter that we headed up to Redmond to check out the Microsoft campus. They have a visitor center with a bunch of exhibits / installations. Fittingly, about 1/4 of all the exhibits weren’t functioning. Either way it was fun to be in a geek-Mecca. One of their cooler installations let you make a video & email it to all your friends. Having no dignity, this is what I made.

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Scandalous in Seattle

Alexi with BeerThursday night was a success! We started off from the coffee shop fairly nonchalantly, looking for a microbrewery that Ben plotted on our MyMaps page. I was in a funny mood, a mix of homesickness and blasé-ness, which I knew meant that I would be either “zero” or “hero” in terms of consumption. As you can see to the right, Gordon Biersch Brewing Company made such an exceptional dunkel that I was obliged to become a hero. I discovered a new and exciting beer size, “the Tankard.”

Ben and I debated long and hard on what to do next. Part of us wanted to go back to the van and sleep, but the other part (I believe in psychology it’s called “The Tankard,”) wanted to party. Desperately, I text messaged an SOS to Twitter. I expected nothing. In less than an hour one of the awesome readers of replied with a suggestion. We took it.

Alexi & Ben The rest, as they say, is history. At least it’s not fit to publish in a family-style blog such as this. A synopsis of the evening involves me asking a door man where “my drunk friend went,” discussing psychology with homeless people, and finding out about a Sander Kleinenberg show tonight which we may hit up at some point. I really won’t go in to how Ben conducted himself, but I will highly recommend that if you talk to him, ask incessantly : )

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Seattle Shoutouts

So Alexi’s Twitter post from his cell phone last night ended up getting us a great recommendation from Miles to head to Pioneer’s Square, ultimately ending up in a night of awesomeness that will forever be remembered.

Seattle has definitely had a significantly higher amount of interaction than other cities.  While at Beth’s (which I am now completely freaking stuffed from about 10 eggs of the 12 egg omelet), we got an email from Monica.  Monica happens to be the resident of the apartment near where our van was gloriously resting and recommended that we hit up a show tonight for the Mob Law.

This resting place also resulted in us getting a free CD from one of the band members which we’ll be listening to later today which we’re now also planning on going to the show tonight.  So, if you’re there as well, look for the short Greek dude and the pastey-white blonde guy and say what’s what.

I’d also like to give shoutouts to three other very special people:

  1. Our cab driver last night who informed us of interesting stories that can only be experienced as a cab driver.
  2. Frank, the awesome (assumedly) homeless guy that we talked to for about 30 minutes.  I love Frank.
  3. The girl who engaged  us in a great, short conversation involving this gem: “___ You!  I know he’s not a mute!”  Apparently, I have a way with the laydeez.

If any other Seattle folks have ideas for tonight, send Alexi a text message (his number’s at the right)!

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The Great Yellowstone Snow Jam of 2007

Having been in the car for almost two and a half days straight (note the minor deviations in the Midwest and Big Horn National Forest,) we were anxious to get to Yellowstone and out of the car. As fate would have it, that wasn’t gonna happen. The story after the jump.
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Breezing Through the Midwest

To be honest, there wasn’t much in the Midwest that we had our hearts set on seeing. We caught almost all of the highlights that we had intended on: the Mall of America, and the Wall Drug store. Unfortunately we missed seeing Mount Rushmore because we didn’t roll in to that part of South Dakota until 7pm, long after the park closed. Instead of bumming around until morning we decided to try to make the 2000 mile drive as short as possible.

The people of Mitchell, South Dakota made up for our loss by presenting us with an undeniable barrage billboards (only beaten by Wall Drug, numbering in the hundreds) suggesting that we visit their “Corn Palace.” They found a sucker in me, and I convinced Ben to pull the van over. We were amazed by what fancy creations can come from a town full of highly motivated & deathly bored citizens. The pictures speak for themselves.

Ben & Alexi on a rollercoaster The Corn Palace Wall Drug Bad Ass Van

So there’s America’s Midwest: indoor roller coasters, corn castles, anamatronic cowboys, and awesome scenery. Our stay at Yellowstone was quite another story, but that’s… another story. More photos after the jump.

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Wrapping up Chicago

Drunken bar peopleWe hit all the major attractions in Chicago, most importantly deep dish pizza. Our waiter at Gino’s East recommended a good bar that was open on Monday night, so we went there afterwards for a few drinks. Ryan, our ex-waiter, turned up a few minutes later and we shared stories from the road. Turns out he’s about as well traveled as we are. It also turns out that being a waiter at Gino’s East is more lucrative than a lot of jobs in the Internet industry :-)

We head out shortly for Minneapolis, MN, mainly to see the Mall of America and break apart the long East -> West migration. After that it’s a night at Mt. Rushmore and then four beautiful days at Yellowstone National Park. I checked the weather out there which suggested that we purchase large winter coats at the Mall. We have decided that should we get stranded and have to eat our limbs / road trip companions, it’ll make for really good blogging material. Lets hope it doesn’t come to that!

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