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 RoadTrip20.com 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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Sleepless in Seattle

Pike's Place MarketHow can you not use that as a post title? I suppose it’s even somewhat accurate, as we’re currently enjoying some caffeine at the Local Color coffee shop near Pike’s Place Market. Both Ben and I were getting that nagging feeling to get some work done. Hopefully that’s an instinct that will allow us to soon be living in a posh Santa Monica apartment :-)

We got in late last night, leaving Vancouver after a full day of roaming around. Vancouver is, in my opinion, a really weird city. There doesn’t seem to be much rhyme or reason to the placement of condos, office space, or parks; everything’s just mashed up together into the second most densely populated city of North America. Streets that looked nice had a lot of unsavory types which make it hard to tell the good parts from the bad ones. Ultimately, it was really hard to tell if I liked it or not.

There aren’t too many To-Do’s on our list for Seattle, but getting stuffed on sushi definitely made the cut. I’m also curious to see the Microsoft campus and the 12-egg omelet at Beth’s Cafe. I sure do love me some breakfast food! The Space Needle has been dubbed “The World’s most expensive elevator ride” by WikiTravel.org, so that’s probably out. We have two nights here, then we’ll be enjoying the scenery down Highway 1 all the way to San Francisco.

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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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Entering Yellowstone

Snow BallWe’re about to go to the dark side of the Moon. Almost. We’re actually driving up into Yellowstone National Park for a 4-night camping extravaganza, and there probably won’t be any sort of way to communicate. At least there wasn’t when we drove through Big Horn National Park, which was amazing. I’ve uploaded one picture to whet your appetites, more will be coming after we get back. Luckily my mother (henceforth referred to as “Mama,”) provided us a care package to supply us with a few warm meal options, including Tuna Helper! Now how did she know we loved tuna? : )

It’s also worth mentioning that we learned an important lesson about large vehicles. Trying to decelerate a 5000 pound vehicle over a 2000 foot drop in elevation can make your breaks catch on fire! Smoke, anyway. Apparently the sign that read “Trucks Use Low Gear” also applies to Class B RVs as well.

Give us a break, we’re computer guys.

(Edit: and by Yosemite, I meant Yellowstone :-))

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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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Illness Strikes, Roadtrippers Unhappy

Before Ben left for Miami he feared that he was coming down with something. I didn’t worry since I don’t get sick very often. Alas, two days later, I’ve got a case of the sniffles & a sore throat. The fact that it’s rainy in Chicago doesn’t help, same with the partying last night with my brother-in-law & friends.

The Gang

Illness be damned, today I’m venturing into Chinatown. My plan: get a tasty meal and buy chopsticks. You see, when you only have room in your life for one utensil, you have to make it count. I believe chopsticks are the most versatile and easy to clean. I’ll keep you posted.

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Back in Ship Shape

The van is fully functional! The guys at Frank’s did a great job, and cost significantly less than Ben’s dad’s estimate. If they weren’t busy helping other customers out when I left I was gonna snag an honorary H.t.b.o.t.I. photo.  Oh well.

Penguins  Orchids

While I waited I checked out the Lincoln Park Zoo (left) & Conservatory (right). They’re both surprisingly big, and pleasantly free. I got the broken-spirit vibe from a lot of the animals at the zoo, but the plants seemed to be decently happy. Surprisingly the Conservatory was the more interesting of the two. After feeling pumped up about my superior intelligence and opposable thumb, I proceeded to place my $18/5-day transit pass into the dollar bill scanner. The words “don’t act like a monkey” were all too audible despite Ben not being there.

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Homeless in Chicago

I drove Ben to the airport this morning at 5:00am so that he could make his flight to Miami. Circumstances with his family dictate that he needed to be down there this weekend, and that I would be solo in the Windy City for 4 days. Now is the time, people, to toss suggestions for things to occupy my time :-)

Since I was up early anyway, I drove down to Frank’s Auto Repair to get repairs started on our busted speedometer/odometer/cruise-control. Google My Maps + City Search proved pretty handy in finding a good place to go. The guys at Frank’s were down with H.t.b.o.t.I., so I knew they were cool. Having learned the hard way, I also plotted my next Internet hookup on My Maps, and am presently waiting it out at MoJoe’s Coffee Lounge. It’s pretty dead here. Hopefully they’ll view me as an asset, making the place look lively for the next, oh, 5 hours.

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