“Up in Memphis the music’s like a heatwave. White lightning, bound to drive you wild.” — Alannah Myles

After what seemed like a whirlwind of adventure to get to New Orleans it was time to head north. Nashville is about 530 miles north and a little east of New Orleans, which translates to about 8 hours. I wanted an early start to the day as I had plans to stop in Birmingham, AL to stop at the Civil Rights Institute which was open from 1-5pm. By the time I was on the road (after a detour to drive through the Garden District, and to swing by Starbucks) it was close to 9am.

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I got to within 23 miles of the Institute when I hit some stormy weather. No tornado warnings, just a total downpour. I ended up exiting the freeway to wait it out in a CVS parking lot because I couldn’t see and the amount of water on the roadway was incredible. Very thankful for those new tires because I was certain I was going to skid off the road at one point. I didn’t arrive at the Institute until nearly 3pm, but it was absolutely worth finding my way downtown for. Because it’s free on Sundays the place was packed and we had to go inside in groups so that they could space everyone a little bit. Also because the A/C was having a hard time keeping up with all the people in there and it was a little too hot in some areas. It was very eye opening disappointing in a way. To see how far we HAVEN’T come in the past 60 or so years is, well, sad. AMERICA, PULL YOUR SHIT TOGETHER.

I wanted to grab a late lunch in Birmingham, but my radar showed a massive front headed toward Nashville (3hrs north) that had already caused problems in Memphis and had flood watches popping up all over central Tennessee.

I skipped lunch and headed North, watching as the storm clouds rolled in… and then nothing. I had about ten minutes of a sprinkle of rain and that was it. Nothing every materialized and I watched the dark clouds just roll on by. Damnit. My dinner (some diner near my hotel) was mediocre in comparison to the few places I had sought out in Birmingham. Oh well, I was able to get a pretty long, decent nights sleep.

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Rockin’ on the front porch.

The following morning I started off with a visit to the Belle Meade Plantation. What caught my attention about this place is it’s influence on the American Thoroughbred. I had *THE* best guide who led the tour of the house (no pics allowed inside, boo). He wove together the family history of FIVE generations who all seemed to be named the same, state history of Tennessee, slavery and the civil war as well as all this equestrian history. And it all comes down to this one horse I’d never heard of: Bonnie Scotland. I don’t remember the exact number, but something like 120 of the 143 Kentucky Derby winners can be traced back to this horse. Man O’War, War Admiral, Seattle Slew, California Chrome, Secretariat, etc.

So I spent a little longer touring the house, the carriage barns, the stable, etc, because it IMG_9742was 11am before I even hit the gift shop (and I’m not leaving without touring the gift shop). From there I headed to Downtown Nashville and circled FOREVER before spending a small fortune on parking. My plan was to tour the Ryman auditorium and then hit the Johnny Cash museum. Unfortunately, the Ryman was packed, so I just hit the Johnny Cash museum before my three hour drive West to Memphis.

Aside from the ridiculous amount of road work, it was a pretty easy drive. I detoured

slightly to drive through Loretta Lynn’s Ranch which is everything and nothing. When you first turn in there is an office for the campground/RV park, signs to a pool and arcade. You then drive past concert grounds, a motorcross… place (who knew she was into that?) before arriving at a gift shop and museum and place for horse rides, plus what looks like a private residence. In any case, the museum was closed (A/C broke). I let my GPS guide me back toward the highway and it took me on a long, narrow gravel road in the middle of nowhere for miles. At one point I almost turned around, but when I zoomed out on the GPS I saw it did know what it was doing.

And now, I’m in Memphis.

IMG_9780Because I’ve just got one day here, I stuck to Beale St., the Peabody ducks and a few of my favorite places to eat. But I feel like the next time I’m here, it’s time to discover a new part of town. I was a little let down by the hotel this year (the room is fine, the bed comfy) but the staff has been cold and unwelcoming which is a complete turn around from the last several times I’ve stayed here. For the past several years this has been hands down, one of my most favorite places to visit. And this time, just a standard hotel within walking distance of one of my fav. places to booze it up.

Speaking of, one of my absolute favorite places in Memphis is the Kooky Canuck. A

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Flying Moose: Melon, citrus vodka, raspberry rum, sour and mist. 

Canadian restaurant. But the drinks here are amazing. As are their fried green tomatoes and fried pickles – both of which are pretty much life. Don’t let anyone tell you otherwise. Thick cut, juicy with just enough breading to keep things interesting, but not get gross.

Tomorrow I head further west to Oklahoma City. It’s about 7 hours (direct on I-40). It’ll be interesting to approach from the other direction, but I doubt I’ll need my GPS. I have a full day scheduled for the following day visiting my favorite shops, driving through a specific neighborhood in Moore that I’ve toured every year since the tornado. It’s been interesting to see how everything just slowly comes back together. And of course a martini at my favorite bar, Flint.

Ciao!

“Everybody here has a story. New Orleans was always a place where people talked too much even if they had nothing to say.” — Chris Rose

The road to New Orleans was long, but I made it! Traffic leaving Houston was a mess due to an accident that rerouted everyone off the freeway, across a small intersection and then back on. What a nightmare. And then again in Baton Rouge, I spent over 30 minutes on the bridge that crosses the Mississippi. Overall, I arrived at my hotel more than TWO HOURS later than I had planned (and that original time included the time I spent at Vermilionville Living History and Folk Life park – which wasn’t much because is was disgustingly hot and humid).

After dropping off some stuff I drove down for Kels, I made my way through the narrow, one-way streets of New Orleans to my hotel. The Place d’Armes is located in the heart of the French Quarter, just off Jackson Square and two blocks off Bourbon St. It happens to be the same place Cait and I stayed back in 2013. What can I say, once I find a place I like, I like to return.

IMG_9675The hotel is amazing! My room on the 3rd floor is in the oldest building on the property (the hotel is four buildings surrounding a quiet courtyard with a pool, and places to relax). It was originally a school and some people say it’s now haunted. Apparently a young girl as well as the headmaster were killed in a fire long ago and have been spotted around the hotel. I’ve seen nothing.

Yesterday I had a full day to explore. I started with breakfast at Stanley – which is a place that Cait and I discovered last time. Returning after 4 years, I wasn’t disappointed. Banana fosters french toast and hot cocoa with baileys. Breakfast of champions.

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Amazing breakfast is amazing. 

Afterward I explored a few shops around the square and then brought my purchases back to the hotel room before setting off for the National WW2 museum. It was 1.3 miles from my hotel and in order to save a $7 uber ride I walked. Heh. Didn’t make that mistake on the way back, that’s for sure.Â

The museum was HUGE and I didn’t see more than half in the few hours I spend there. It was speedy to get in, but I felt it worth the price. I spent extra to see the movie (which was intense as the seats rumbled and everyone jumped with the booms and bangs and other noises of war – I was actually shocked there wasn’t a warning that came with it) and this submarine thing (that was a waste of money).Â

IMG_9692I ubered back toward my hotel and stopped off at a CVS for some bottled water and then hit Cafe du Monde for a snack to bring back to the hotel. I showered and relaxed for a bit before picking another restaurant for a bite to eat and a drink and then headed back to the hotel.

I managed to sleep in this morning and then packed up what I could, bringing some of my shit back to the car so I have less to load up tomorrow. I walked a few blocks to a new place to try for an early lunch. I walked around a bit more and then returned for a shower and to relax in the AC and watch the Sounders (ugh, we lost) before getting ready for the main event.

MY BEST FRIEND GOT MARRIED! IMG_9717

We’ve been friends for a long time and have walked each other through some tough shit. It makes me so happy to see her so happy. She looked absolutely stunning! I’m so glad I was able to watch her walk down the aisle (albeit in a little bit of rain with some thunder rolling in the distance). Luckily the weather cleared up for the second line parade (google it). My videos didn’t turn out great – turns out it’s hard to wave a handkerchief  and take video and walk at the same time. Who knew?

“There are no foothills to the Tetons. They rise suddenly in rugged majesty from the rock strewn plain…” — Gustavus Cheney Doane

I’ve been waiting a long time for this trip. My last road trip of any decent length was in 2013 where I spent the majority of my time scanning the radar for possible tornado activity after a long and exhausting evening in a shelter in Oklahoma.

When Kelsey announced that her wedding would be in New Orleans, that familiar sense of adventure started to tingle in my spine. Obviously, I wasn’t going to miss the wedding,  but I’m not sure when “I think I might drive down” turned into “oh yeah, I’m driving down”.

In the weeks leading up to my departure I struggled with a little anxiety around heading out on my own. What if it’s stormy? What do I do if I’m in the middle of nowhere and the sky turns green? What if my car dies? Can I do 750 miles in a day?

No, no, no. Stop. This is not scary. The open road is home. It’s comforting. I know this, but sometimes I need to be reminded that I know this. For two weeks there was a quiet little track in the back of my mind reminding me of all the things that could go wrong. At 5am when I pulled out of the driveway, it disappeared.

Everyone asks if I get bored, sometimes doing upwards of 750 miles in a day, alone in the car.

The short answer, not really.

The long answer, absolutely.

There are absolutely times that I just want to be done. I want to get out of the car, stretch out and move and be anywhere but in the car. But it’s not often. More often than not I’m singing along to one of my carefully curated road trip playlists. Or lost in thought. Plotting a new story or dreaming up things that could never happen, but are fun to imagine anyway. Driving way out in the middle of nowhere is so freeing and it’s amazing. Maybe because I am an only child and learned how to entertain myself, but I’m damn good company on a road trip.

And then I get to a place like Grand Teton National Park and it’s like a continuous loop of wow with every curve and bend in the road.

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Unlike Yellowstone, I didn’t see much wildlife (a few pronghorn and hawks and people on horseback) though signs to watch for bears are everywhere. But Tetons are amazing. No pictures or words can even begin to describe how impressive this place is. The drive takes you through flat open plains and up through rugged terrain at nearly 10,000ft above sea level.

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This drive through the Park was honestly such a tease. With only a couple hours to drive through, I feel like I walked away with sneak peek and the call to return.

Leaving the park I headed toward Casper, WY where I was spending the night. I could see storm clouds in the distance, but I wasn’t too concerned until it started to rain a lot harder than just a summer shower. With about 25 miles to go (and completely alone out on the road) I decided to check my phone radar. Only to find that Casper was in the middle of a tornado warning and severe thunderstorm. I could see it was moving away from Casper and away from me. I debated pulling over, but the wasn’t much room to pull out of the way if another car came from behind. So I slowed the cruise control down 20mph and slowed my approach.

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Not slow enough.

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I rode in on the tail of a complete downpour. It was like driving through a wall of water and even on the highest setting, my wipers couldn’t keep my windshield clear. The roads were covered in standing water and they were slick, but once I turned into the town, the rain slowed and gave way to sunny skies as the storm moved northeast.

On Monday I drove from Casper, WY to Amarillo, TX — another long day, coupled with losing an hour of the day (time zone change). It’s a route that I’ve taken before, so it wasn’t anything new. But the promise of a possible tornado warning in the afternoon and I hauled out as soon as possible.

But leaving early didn’t help the drive. Much of Colorado is apparently being repaved at the same time and despite the lack of traffic, it was stop and go all over the place. The worst.

Then as I drove through the vast nothing, also known as Texas farmland, I could see some suspicious looking clouds.

SRSLY WTF WEATHER?

Thankfully it was just south of where I was and although I could see the lightning, it wasn’t anything to be concerned about. But enough, okay?

Today was a shorter drive, but I had plans. I went to the Quarter Horse Hall of Fame/Museum in Amarillo, met a friend for lunch in Lubbock and coffee with my cousin in Abilene before finally landing at my hotel just in time to watch the Sounders US Open Cup game vs. Portland (spoiler alert, we won).

Although Texas is large, I’ve found that there are a billion tiny, nearly abandoned towns along the way. In some ways, it’s nice. Plenty of places to stop for fuel, bathroom breaks, etc. But as soon as you get cruise control set to 75, you approach a town and it drops to 70… 60….55….50….45… 35. Then you pass three buildings and then the speed limit climbs to 75 again. Way to screw with my  gas mileage.

“Any fool can make something complicated. It takes a genius to make it simple.” Woody Guthrie

Hot.

When I have previously driven to OKC, I’ve able to slowly adjust to the heat – usually as I make my way through Wyoming, Colorado and into New Mexico. By the time I make it to Oklahoma City, I’m relatively adjust to the blistering heat of the summer. But when I fly in, there is always a huge shock when I step out from the climate controlled airport and into the furnace otherwise known as Oklahoma.

It’s like a level of hell, or walking into an oven or just… Of course I’m here just in time for an excessive heat warning. In Seattle we have ‘heat advisories’ for the low-90s, telling people to stay indoors, drink water, etc. Through Saturday we’re under an ‘Excessive Heat Warning’ with a heat index (temp/humidity) up to 115. Gross.

IMG_8769But since I didn’t drive down, I rented a car for my stay. The Colcord Hotel (home away from home) does have a shuttle for Downtown/Bricktown, but with a few days to explore, I’d rather have a car at my disposal.

I arrived around dinner time on Tuesday. I found a liquor store to buy a bottle of wine (because you can’t get wine in a grocery store – nor can you buy a wine opener where they sell wine, had to find one elsewhere), ordered room service and crashed out early. I was up and out the door by 9:30 yesterday. Since I didn’t get to road trip down, and I have unlimited miles on my rental, I decided to try and put a few miles on. From OKC I drove 110 miles up to Tulsa to visit the Woody Guthrie Center. It’s not a big place to explore, but it holds several interesting pieces from his collection as well as a ton of history surrounding his songs and art work.

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Lyrics to “This Land is Your Land”

From Tulsa I headed 115 miles west to Enid, OK for an ‘old time museum’ that was supposed to be open. Except it wasn’t and I wasted 2.5 hours driving there and then back toward I-35S. Oh well, it was a pretty drive. From Enid it was another 100 miles back toward OKC. I made a stop in Guthrie, OK to visit the Oklahoma Frontier Drugstore Museum – wow, they had a ton of stuff on display. And I love how pretty much everything was cured with morphine and alcohol. Established in 1887, Guthrie was the original capital of Oklahoma and it’s beautiful downtown is considered a National Historic Landmark. I wanted to spent more time exploring the city, but at 105F, it just wasn’t worth the misery of strolling the old streets. I might try and head back up on Saturday, but we’ll see.

Once I got back to the hotel, I met up with some friends who arrived from various corners of the US (and one from England). We walked down to the pub for a bite to eat and ended up playing Trivia. We were doing great, but fumbled in the last minute to come in 4th (I think?) out of six. For the majority of the game we were in second place. Boo.

This morning I was up and out the door around 9am (already 85F). I headed south to Moore, OK where a massive Tornado hit in 2013 just prior to my visit/tornado dance. Cait and I had explored one of the neighborhoods and I returned in 2014 to the same block for progress photos. This year it was almost unrecognizable. There was still one empty lot, but otherwise life goes on, right?

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Life not quite back to normal.

From there I drove down some backroads (only other traffic I saw was a tractor) to El Reno where the tornado that put me in a shelter, touched down. There is a memorial for the three members of the TWISTEX team that died. I have to say, it was a little nerve-wracking being out in those fields, so far from anything. There weren’t any storm clouds in the distance or anything (I would’ve chickened out), but still… It didn’t help that the radio had played an ad for storm shelters on the drive out.

Tomorrow a few more friend arrive in the morning, Harmon’s charity event tomorrow evening. Since I opted out of the Saturday golf event, I hope to spend the day exploring a bit more. Sunday will be lazy until it’s time to say goodbye for another year and head home. In an airplane. Zoom Zoom.

“That’s the real trouble with the world, too many people grow up.” – Walt Disney

Two words encompass Disney World: Mickey. Magic.

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It has been twenty years since my last visit to Disney World. I had been to Disneyland a few times (three between 2002 and 2010, I think), but the comparison between the two is non-existant. When I was offered the chance to go along with the family I work with, I jumped at the chance. I was excited, of course, but I think I had really forgotten the magic that goes into a Disney trip. Until I got there.

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The doors to our building at the hotel.

We stayed at the Art of Animation, one of the Disney resorts. And from the moment I stepped off the Magical Express shuttle, I felt the Disney magic. Granted, I didn’t get a room for several hours after a red-eye, but they did all they could to make up for the room confusion (balloons for the kiddos, extra fast-passes and a $150 credit to the room).

We spent a whole week at the parks (Magic Kingdom, Hollywood studios, Epcot and Animal Kingdom), but there is SO much to see and do, I need another week (or two) to really take it all in.

The weather was perfect. A little chilly on one day, up around 80 and humid another day, but otherwise the low 70’s most the time which is perfect for my fair-weather skin (I wore a sweatshirt half the time which ruined some fun disney-inspired outfits, but whatever).

I was also pleasantly surprised with the quality of food. While they have your standard theme park snacks: popcorn, pretzels, etc. Each of the sit down dinners we had offered a wide selection (both for those with adventurous palates and those who preferred a more basic choice). Chicken with goat cheese polenta, Norwegian meatballs with lingonberry – I never felt like I was getting the same thing at every restaurant.

It’s funny though, stepping into the park, I felt instantly like a kid again. I wanted mickeyeverything – all the fun toys, the over-priced clothes. I wanted to get my hair done like a princess (legit though, you had to be under twelve or I would have had it done). I had my picture taken with all the characters and I think I was in awe of the castle lit up at night, just like the boys.

I’ve been home for 6 weeks and I find myself thinking back to the trip frequently. Reflecting back on my favorite rides (space mountain was far less jerk-y on my neck than I remember), goofing around with Buzz Lightyear and Woody and cruising gift-shops like it’s my job. As well as the things we didn’t have time for, like the rest of Animal Kingdom.

The staff cast members are 100% on point. From the ride attendants to the restaurant hosts to the the street cleaners, everyone was *on* at all times. Friendly, helpful each person I encountered didn’t hesitate to help with whatever was needed, or start up a friendly conversation about my disney manicure, the family reunion pins we wore, or just about the magic of Disney.

Can go back yet?

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“The ocean stirs the heart, inspires the imagination and brings eternal joy to the soul.” – Wyland

Two weeks ago we took an extended weekend down to Newport, Oregon. Newport and the surrounding area has long been a happy place for the family. Camping, Mo’s, salt water taffy, Beverly Beach State Park, kites, whales, Depot Bay, barking sea lions, salty sea air, Oregon Coast Aquarium, crabbing, gift shops, the beach.

IMG_6755Oh, and the smell of campfire.

While it’s been a long time since we’ve camped, instead moving to the dog friendly Best Western at Agate Beach.  That said, it doesn’t mean we’ve given up on the campground 100%.

We had a combination of credits and gift cards for 3 free nights, so we headed down IMG_6747 Thursday afternoon to stay through mid-day Sunday. Because the hotel is dog friendly, the Boo got to come along and be a ‘beach dog’ – she was thrilled. We played in the tide pool, chased the waves (well, she did), searched for shells and played with seaweed (and then passed out later on).

IMG_6741Friday we spent most the day in Downtown Newport. We ate at Mo’s, wandered the shops and watched the Sea Lions fight for space on their designated dock.

Saturday had a slow start, but we spent the afternoon on the beach and then headed to our camping site for a fire. We roasted hotdogs for dinner and made s’mores for dessert. The campground was full, and we felt slightly guilty about holding a campsite from someone who would’ve spent the night, but for $28 bucks, it was worth the campfire and cheap (but delicious) dinner.

In all, it was a great, albeit short weekend away.


 

Best Western Agate Beach Inn review: 3.5/5 stars.

I love this hotel. We’ve stayed here numerous times over the years and for the most part, it’s fantastic.

The beach: You walk out the back door, and down a little hill and you are on the beach. If you’re lucky enough to have a beach view, there is nothing in your way.

The rooms: Clean, but dated. For the price, I’d expect it to be a little more updated. On one hand, maybe because we’ve always stayed in a dog-friendly room (certain ones are designated for the pooches), perhaps they just aren’t updated..? Spruce it up, and this would be a top place on the coast to stay.

Restaurant: Decent for breakfast. The Banana fosters french toast was a little soggy and overly sweet when it arrived. Then I realized they made it with banana bread. Stick to regular french toast for this dish, Best Western. You’d win an award.

The cost: CHECK YOUR CREDIT CARD ACTIVITY AFTERWARD. Ok, so they made things right immediately when I called, but I was frustrated to see that they double charged me for the pet fee ($40, instead of $20 per stay) despite the fact that they shouldn’t have charged it at all – we paid it in cash when checking out.

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“Best way to live in California is to be from somewheres else.” ― Cormac McCarthy

Had a (mostly) fantastic long weekend down in the Bay area and along the Oregon coast. A little rocky to start – some asshole in front of us lost some of their camping supplies and we hit their frying pan. Luckily it was only a tiny scratch and we laughed about it the rest of the way down.  The drive down was long, hot and oh-so-boring. We hit temps as high as 110, added nearly an hour in construction detours and with nothing but dry, brown grass, it’s not exactly my favorite drive.

photo 2 (8)We arrived just past dinner time on Friday, checked in and headed to my favorite ‘Crawdaddies’ for dinner. It’s a hot, garlic, shrimpy mess – but well worth it. Saturday we were up and headed into San Francisco. We explored the wharf, found the house/park they used for Full House (yep), Lombard Street and then popped over the Golden Gate Bridge.

The reason for the trip was the Sounders vs. San Jose Saturday evening. Jason wanted to go to see the new Levi’s Stadium and I, of course, to see my team. Clearly he got the better half of the deal. We weren’t awful (and much better than the game against LA) but it was still uninspired and we just couldn’t connect. We ended up going to see Guardians of the Galaxy afterward to ease the pain. Great movie!

The drive up along the coast was much better than the drive down. It was cooler (fucking cold, according to Jason). But it was sad in some ways, photo 2many of the small towns along the way in very sad shape. Eureka, once busy with lumber mills and fisherman, has taken an obvious nose dive. The town is run down, homeless (most looked like they were on some sort of drug) were roaming the streets and the conversation we were privy to in the pub was… sad. Gold Beach was similar, though the people were friendly. The bartender invited himself up for a cup of noodles or bagel dog – when I said I didn’t have either of those (or know what a bagel dog was), he invited himself up for a popsicle. Um, okay. But it was funny – everyone knew every one and at the grocery store, the lady in front of us mentioned something about her brother going away. Jason asked where (thinking he was joining the army or something big like that) and the lady at check-out looked up and was like who the fuck are you? Clearly we were outsiders and they all know each others business. Turns out the chick’s brother was only headed down to LA (must be for school).

The best part of the drive back might have been the Trees of Mystery. What a great (little) hike and then the gondola ride further up into the forest. It was cloudy so we couldn’t see far, but it was still fantastic. No bigfoot sightings, but plenty of Elk, deer, a lizard and other little creatures (and road kill) along the way. My favorite tree was this one – a single tree with 12 smaller trees growing off of it. Amazing! Others grew in absurd angles, in tight clusters and/or with massive girth.

It, of course, wasn’t a trip to Cali without a stop at In & Out.

No visit is complete without a peek at the resident sea lions.
No visit is complete without a peek at the resident sea lions.

The last stop was my forever favorite, Newport, Oregon. We met my parents at the KOA where they spent two nights with the dog. Once they were packed up we headed in to Newport for lunch at my most favorite Mo’s (on the water, not the one across the street). Shrimp salad in an avocado, chowder and garlic cheese bread. I don’t think, in 15 years, I’ve ever had anything else. In fact, I don’t remember ever ordering anything else. Jason headed out right after lunch with a long drive back to the Tri-Cities, but we hung a bit longer and walked through a few shops.

Overall, the trip was fun. I just wish we could’ve come home with three points (or even one), but we can’t win them all.

 

Capitan Douchwaffle, at your service. ;)
Capitan Douchwaffle, at your service. 😉

 

brb, Memphis kitchen calling!

Before this latest trip to Memphis, I had never tried friend green tomatoes.  Funny enough, the first place I tried them was a Canadian bar/restaurant called The Kooky Canuckphoto 3. Not exactly your soul food restaurant. Unless you’re Canadian and poutine is your comfort food. 😉

I was at the Redmond market yesterday and surprise one of the stalls had green tomatoes – not some heirloom variety (you can find those at whole foods) but legit GREEN tomatoes. I picked up a couple and tonight decided to fry them up. I’ve never made them before, never even fried anything before, so it was a but of an unknown going into it.

I found a basic recipe here and picked up the rest of the supplies at Whole Foods. Frying things at 9pm probably isn’t the greatest idea I’ve had, but the results were worth it.

Step 1: Make sure you’ve got an assistant. Mine had four legs, quite a bit of fluff and eagerly accepted the bits of red tomato I offered. But soon gave up to watch me from her bed.

Step 2: Measure everything out, mix the milk and eggs, the breadcrumbs and cornmeal, salt and pepper.

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Step 3: Dip sliced ‘maters in flour, milk mixture, and then into the breadcrumb/cornmeal mix

Step 4: Fry that shit up! I used canola oil. Medium’ish heat – don’t want it too hot because the outside burns before the inside becomes tender (but no mush).

Step 5: Drain, dip in sauce (ranch in this case) & enjoy!

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I think the cornmeal was a little too course. I fried a few firm red tomato slices as well and left out the cornmeal – those turned out great too. But I think it’s a fine line of being firm’ish and turning into mush. I also threw in a few walla walla sweet onion rings as well. Again, for never having fried anything they turned out pretty tasty.

 

“Touched down in the land of the Delta Blues…” Mark Cohn

Oh man…

For as much as I bitch and moan about the ridiculous heat, high humidity and sketchy liquor stores down dirty side streets because you can’t buy wine at a grocery store – I really love this place.

I know I mostly get the ‘tourist’ view of life in Memphis. While poverty is a big issue here, there is enough police

This place should be hoppin' with tourists and locals alike!
This place should be hoppin’ with tourists and locals alike!

presence that the general area around Beale st. feels very safe. You’re not completely sheltered from the homeless, but even turning them down when they request a few bucks, they wish you a blessed day. It’s sad to walk along main st. It’s tucked between tall, old buildings and the combination of those buildings and some trees keeps the pedestrian area pretty shaded. There are a few bars, cafes dotted along the way, but the majority of the shop fronts are closed, boarded up and unused. There is a trolly (that I didn’t see) that runs down the center of the street and no cars can drive down. It’s a fantastic space and greatly reminds me of Strøget in Copenhagen. But with Beale st. getting the majority of the tourism, no one really ventures a few blocks over. It seems like it’s a vicious cycle, money is needed to get the cafes, shops off the ground, but it’s also needed to keep them going. And it would be hard to pull tourists off historic Beale st., so attracting locals would be their number one draw. But with poverty levels nearly twice that of Seattle (28.3% vs. 15% – for 2012) I don’t know where they would start. That one day, when I win the mega millions… you know what city I’ll be adopting.

But other than the heat/humidity, I have had a fantastic time. The locals that I’ve talked to have found it amusing at my dislike of the heat, saying, “honey, our summer weather hasn’t really started yet.” Which I find horrible funny that 92F (and the app saying it feels like 102F) isn’t summer weather – that’s a damn heat-wave! Apparently once it hits 100F the electric company won’t switch of your electricity even if you haven’t paid, so you can keep cool and survive the summer months.

Hotel staff have been exceptional (even granting me super late check out so I don’t have to wait half a day at the airport with my suitcase). I’ve been able to catch up on some much needed sleep (10-12 hours a night) and they’ve let me be with my ‘privacy please’ sign hanging on my door. I heard the house-keeping lady across the hall and requested an extra roll of TP – we chatted for a couple of minutes and I returned to my room with a smile on my face. Everyone is just so friendly! This is my fourth stay in the past five years, and although staying across the street at the Peabody has become more and more affordable (only a $20 difference last year when I booked), I still choose to stay here at the Holiday Inn. I called to make my reservation and they knocked a big chunk off the nightly cost (enough that staying four nights was the same as what I would have paid staying three if I had booked online). Plus, you can’t see the big Peabody sign from your window if you’re staying there.

Mississippi river: too thick to drink, too thin to plow
Mississippi river: too thick to drink, too thin to plow

Yesterday I took a 90 minute riverboat trip aboard the Island Queen. We sailed down and back up a small section of the Mississippi river. The tour guide was funny and shared lots of interesting information about the river, Memphis and Mark Twain. There wasn’t much to see – you don’t go very far, and the Arkansas side is pretty much all trees, but it was a welcome break from the heat (the inside had A/C) and the tour guide made it worth it. I know there are longer cruises you can go on and I’ve now set my sights on one day sailing from St. Louis to New Orleans on an 8 day cruise. It’s pretty pricey ($4000+), but I imagine it would be a great time.

 

I guess it’s time to close down, finish packing and head to the airport.

Memphis… until next time.

 

 

 

Mark Harmon in OKC

(looking for the tornado post? click here)

(looking for the OKC Energy FC post? click here)

Ah yes, the main reason for my year trek to Oklahoma…

It’s funny, because the newness and excitement of ohmygodmarkharmon has worn off, but the trip seems to be 2getting better and better. I (of course) missed road tripping down (and my road trip buddy – Cait), but this was probably one of the best times yet. I had a great time with a couple different groups of people – some of them not even from the event, we just started chatting at the hotel. It was a little crowded at the event, but other than that – no complaints. I think I most look forward to seeing my friends who otherwise live across the country, and meeting new ones (hi skid).

Ok, it is cool though to be having a drink at Flint and have ‘Gibbs’ walk in and sit just behind your table. A little surreal, but… we’re bff‘s now, remember?

I did get to have a few words, which was nice. I’m much more interested in a legit conversation than going through the autograph line three times to have everything I own signed (yes, I saw people do that – ugh, the riff-raff).

The baseball game was called off due to rain, but as I am not a baseball fan, I can’t say I was super disappointed. I was more concerned about the weather myself, and made friends with a cop – Officer Cunningham. She was very helpful and when the lightning started, she was quick to assure me that the conditions weren’t right for anything more than some lightning and maybe thunder. I half believed her at the time, but saw her again at the soccer game and she had been right.

1I do want to say how impressed I was with Mr. Harmon, signing right through the downpour. Several times, people offered him an umbrella, but since they weren’t allowed in the stands, he didn’t want one either. If the fans stood in the rain, he was going to stand in the rain too. It didn’t rain the whole time, but with a professional game scheduled for right after, they just didn’t have time.

I did get the chance to chat about the new Jurassic Park movie with Frank Marshall. He said it’s coming along nicely – apparently he just came from the filming location.

That said, people only come to this post for the photos. This year I put my website address on them. I don’t mind them being sharedbut they should be linked back to my blog. Last time they were snagged, cropped, edited and not linked, so… I’ll probably post a few on FB for those that are FB friends as well.