Monthly Archives: July 2012

I want the duck beer.

Finally, after seven and a half grueling hours of cornfields and Toledo, we got to Chicago. We both had been there before, but only I was here in the summer. I like to think of Chicago as Pittsburgh only bigger and with worse sports teams but I also don’t follow any sports but Pittsburgh sports so that’s how I view every city. However the weather and people are pretty similar.

Luckily we got to stay in Chicago for free with a friend’s sister. What made us even more lucky is that she didn’t have air conditioning in her third floor apartment so sorry about your blanket Liz it’s full of my sweat.

When we got there we decided to walk down to Lake Michigan. As we headed toward the lake, a little girl in a stroller turned around and sang Nicki Minaj’s “Beez in tha trap” to me which was special because at that moment I knew she was going to grow up and do great things with her GED.

We got to the lake, walked around, I scooped up some water and a bit of sand from the lake for my collection of things I take when I go places, and then we headed back to eat pizza. If you’re thinking “Yum, I bet that deep dish was really good”, I wouldn’t know because we got the thinnest, strangest pizza Chicago offers. But it was free and a nice gesture from our host so we ate 14 pieces each and didn’t save any for her Aunt who would be there in a few minutes.

After some conversation we realized the Stanley Cup was on and went to a bar down the street to watch. We chose this particular bar because a sign outside read “Free Buffet Monday-Thursday”. Before I could settle the battle in my head about heading back to the car for tupperware, we were inside. The first beer on tap I saw had a duck lever with no words and I wanted to try it. So I asked for the duck beer. She had no idea what I was talking about. After some explaining she understood what I meant. Turns out it was a goose.

When I finally got my duck beer we sat and drank and like any secret fatty would do acted surprised when they said there was a free buffet in the back. The bartender then gave us a basket of free popcorn – what kind of bar heaven was this? Free buffet AND popcorn? After eating all the popcorn, we finally headed to the back for more food. As we lifted the buffet tray lids, we realized that the buffet was actually questionable leftovers from the adjoining restaurant including what seemed to be half cooked potatoes and old penne with crusty sauce.

We stuck to popcorn.

After watching the Kings win, we headed home. The next morning we ate a quick breakfast, complained about how girls have dirty bathrooms, and got behind the wheel to dive deeper into the Midwest. Next stop: Omaha.

The Lampshade Capital of the World

As I finished up the last of my heart-wrenching goodbyes, I packed the last few things into my car for the long drive ahead. College was officially over, and I was moving to LA for the summer. The sun was breaking through the clouds in a very un-Pittsburgh-like fashion as my best friend and I climbed into my two door Honda Accord to start the long trip to sunny California. It was going to last 7 days and 6 nights with stops all across the country.

To understand the trip, you have to understand that my friend and I have a relationship that can only be described as “pushing the limits of the bromance”. Basically we’re two ball taps away from my mom “loving me no matter who I am”. It’s love in the straightest way possible.

So my definitely not boyfriend and I hit the road heading west. Our first stop was 8 hours away – Chi-Town. However we hit an obstacle before Chicago: Ohio and Indiana.

On a whim because I’m creative and spontaneous (aside from my numerous other positive qualities) I decided I was going to take a picture of the “Welcome to” sign at the border of every state we entered. Things started off great in Ohio:

This was followed by our first sight in this great state – a tractor trailer with not two but three trailers attached. This blew my mind because I’ve never seen this in PA, most likely because we have landforms. Needless to say Ohio was opening my eyes to the wonders of the free world.

When we got hungry, luckily, were about to hit Toledo. We’d heard of Toledo before, so we decided to find the nearest Chipotle (obviously). As we got off the highway, I realized Toledo was not the sprawling metropolis I had envisioned. Aside from Chipotle, I think the newest thing was an Old Country Buffet from 1987.

However it did have the following: a restaurant called “Good Food”, a hotel called “Best Hotel”, and most importantly an enormous store called “Lampshade World”. This proves that Ohioans are not only creative, but are on the forefront of technologic and economic prosperity. When I think “What is one product that is so versatile and profitable I could fill up a warehouse with it and call it a store?” I think lampshades.

We dined with Toledo’s finest, and after about 15 minutes of lampshade jokes, we got the fuck out of there, dubbing it “The Lampshade Capital of the World”. We crossed into Indiana, where my “Welcome to” sign picture taking ability greatly improved, and started counting down the minutes til we got to Chicago.

Day 1 had already been a whirlwind of exhilaration, and it was barely noon.

There’s Not Enough Hours in the Day. Or Life.

I think about travel often. Places I want to go (Alaska), places I’ve been (San Diego), places that I never want to go (Kansas – unless it’s for a KU Basketball game, in which case I will fly in as close as possible to campus and leave immediately following). I’m sure you have places you want to go, I mean, who doesn’t?

Obviously, traveling has its setbacks. It’s expensive, there are a ton of logistics, it can be dangerous – luckily all of these can be easy to overcome with some good planning. One problem that everyone has though is time – when will I ever be able to see these places? I’m so busy with my job/kids/kickball/underwater basket weaving that I’ll never be able to find the time to travel.

I’ve thought these same things. However, a few days ago, I heard a really interesting speaker. Actually the speaker was painfully boring (I dozed off), but when I was awake and listening he had a great piece of advice about traveling – to travel when you have “breaks” in your life. These breaks can be between high school and college, college and the real world, grad school, between jobs, retirement, etc. Whenever there is a time that things are changing or slowing down, and there’s free time in your life, travel.

This advice is great because it solves the biggest issue many of us face when traveling – not having time. These “pauses” work perfectly for traveling not only because you now have the time, but, let’s be honest, chances are you have a huge decision in front of you soon and traveling will most likely allow you to relax, straighten out your priorities, and make a good decision about what to do next.

Or it could make you totally forget about your decision and stress you out even more. Who knows. What I’m saying is travel when you can! It opens your eyes to so many things, gets you out of your bubble and allows you to appreciate the vastly different facets of life around us.

That being said, over the past two years I’ve done a lot of traveling – in particular a cross country road trip from Pittsburgh, PA to Los Angeles, CA where I’m currently living – and I’m going to chronicle this experience with a “mini series” of posts over the next few weeks. It will culminate in my return cross country trip to Pittsburgh early this August.

Stay tuned! Hilarity to ensue.

Probably not though.

“The person who says something is impossible should not interrupt the person who is doing it.”

Buckle Up

Driving in LA is my new favorite sport.

I moved to LA a few weeks ago and thought to myself “How bad could traffic really be? They’re probably just being overdramatic.” Well Wrong. It’s nuts.

Think back to the worst traffic you’ve ever sat in, now add two more lanes and overly aggressive drivers, and you have a taste of what it’s like driving here on a good day. Not only are all six lanes always full of cars, but if you’re not sitting in stop-and-go plans-ruined traffic then you’re going 80 mph look-out-I’m-crossing-five-lanes-without-looking madness. Every time you drive. I like to think I’m good at texting and driving. Now I put my phone in the trunk.

Merging onto the highway is even more fun. If you’re not gonna cut someone off then here’s hoping your lane doesn’t end. Or you’re driving a Hummer and not a two door Honda Accord.

Growing up in small town Pennsylvania, I got excited when a highway had three lanes. Here, if a highway has less than four lanes I refuse to use it because it doesn’t put my life in enough danger. Who needs coffee in the morning when you have the median to your left and an 18 wheeler merging into your lane on the right? My 25 minute commute is a rollar coaster of emotion.

Basically what I’m trying to describe is summed up perfectly with this clip from the comedic geniuses over at Family Guy.

[youtube http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=QKcSZfY1sf4&w=420&h=315]

Be safe out there friends.