Friday, January 27, 2012

Carpool Lane

While driving across the country, I kept a notepad with ideas for future blog posts.  In my head, I've entitled it "Thoughts from Route 66".  I considered a segment just like DIETY. 

I did this for a while at the beginning of my blog, before I got in the habit of just ranting every day.  Now that my blog posts have been sporadic, I figured it would help me get my opinions back on track.

But now I can't find it.  And I can only think of one big question.

Do you think a cop has ever pulled over a car full of midgets in the carpool lane?  (Ya know, assuming that the tallest little person, or whatever is the appropriate term, was driving and the rest couldn't be seen from his car.)
Just when you thought the internet had everything, you struggle to find a visual image for 'midgets carpooling'.

I made myself laugh at this idea when I Googled "Car Full of Midgets".  Apparently, it's a ska band in Wisconsin.  I'm immediately interested.

Maybe put them in booster seats so the silhouettes of their heads can be seen... to avoid confusion,

Thursday, January 26, 2012

Men are Even Better at Being Housewives

Thanks to my Sugar Momma, I'm still jobless, stuck at home all day.  So, I'm a housewife.  Except I can fix things.  Men win again.

Our shower faucet was weird immediately.  Apparently, rust was coming through the pipes and blocking our low-flow shower head.  I found a plumber's wrench, pulled it off, cleaned it out, soaked it in CLR, and reattached it in pristine condition (not forgetting the fancy latex tape).  It worked for a few days, but then it got all funky again.

So, I ran to Holmes Depot.  I found a screen that you can put in your hose before placing it on your outside spigot to stop whatever the hell might be living inside from clogging up your hose.  I brought it home, trimmed it down with my Cutco knife (yeah, I interviewed with 'em, too), and shoved that shit in the shower head.  Now it works perfectly.  You see any housewives with vaginas performing plumbing feats?

Then we came home to a leak one evening.  A new section of a pipe had been recently added above this section of the ceiling, and it wasn't quite tight enough.  It was fixed with a torque wrench, but it left some very noticeable damage.  So, my pimpmones started raging.

 Patched it.  Sanded it.  Even added that weird popcorn shit for the acoustic ceiling.
And painted it FTW!

If you're reading this blog, and you're a lady, and you can patch drywall and fix plumbing and Drano a drain (like I had to do yesterday), then you're a man.  Congrats.  Go eat a Cinnabon.

And seriously, Cinnabon tastes like trash every time, no matter how amazing it smells,

Wednesday, January 25, 2012

Things I'm Learning in Lexington

1. Driving.  People stay behind the line until they are fully prepared to make a left turn.  I'm one of those people that creep out into the intersection waiting for a gap in traffic.  One of those people that always turns left on yellow.  They don't really do that here.  Don't they have anywhere to go?

2. Vernacular.  "Y'all" can be used to refer to a single person.  I'm the only left at the dog park, because you are leaving.  It's perfectly acceptable to say, "Y'all have a good day."  Well, I guess, 'we all' will.

3. Interwebz.  People just don't really use the internet.  When we tell some local Mom-and-Pop shop that we found their store online, they're always blown away.  Expect to get funny looks if you say anything like "Urbanspoon" or "Yelp".  No room for that kind of funny talking here.

4. Horses.  One of the main roads surrounding the cooler parts of Lexington is called Man O' War.  Dedication to some war vet?  Nope, a famous racing horse.  Horses are fucking everywhere.  Ok.  Not really having sex, but everywhere, nonetheless.  Horse capital of the world, I've heard.

5. History.  I was walking along a road parallel to Main St. downtown.  There are a few things over there, like the Opera House, but nothing that spectacular.  Bam!  I find a historical marker that says "In this house, Mary Todd Lincoln (Abraham's wife) was born in 1818 and spent her childhood."  Random.  (All states around here take some major claim to Lincoln, but we all know which state puts him on the license plate.)

This is apparently inside along the $18 tour.
6. Driving.  These people have to be some of the worst drivers I've seen.  Keep in mind that I've lived in Los Angeles, New Jersey, and near the Ohio border.  On several occasions I've thought, "Is that a student driver without a sign?"  The fire trucks are always pulling out of their nearby station to go rescue people from car accidents.  There isn't a very big population here, and there's plenty of room to drive.  Stop running into each other!  (And that old lady needs to turn off her damn blinker, turn on her damn lights, and turn off her damn wipers.)

7.  Food.  I expected fried chicken.  I didn't expect Ethiopian or Sushi.  Turns out they don't have Ethiopian, but they have some successful sushi restaurants.  Every roll is either partially or completely cooked, but it's a start.  I've already had some of the best biscuits and gravy of my life.  Oh, and the Kentucky Fried Chickens in Kentucky have all-you-can-eat buffets.  Hellz yeah!  I'll have everything in one bowl smothered in cheese, please.  Thanks.  Now I'll have another.

As Annie likes to say, "Colonial Buffet".

8. Accents.  Until proven otherwise, I will continue to subtract IQ points from anyone with a southern accent.  Look at a map.  You're in the Midwest.  I don't know why that accent starts in the middle of Ohio.  Not that there aren't smart people here, just none that drawl.

9. Fast Food.  It's king.  I'm flabbergasted at the amount of fast food everywhere, and how much everyone eats it.  People line up for each meal of the day.  It makes a normal person queasy.

10. Walking.  Nobody does it.  I feel like people are peeking through the windows thinking "Who is that weirdo" as I'm walking by.  A cop drove by as I was walking a mile to a bakery, and I seriously thought he was going to pull over and say something.  He was giving me the stink eye.

11. Thunderstorms.  Angel's never been in one, and we've already had some crazy weather.  He is not happy.

But oh how I missed being surrounded by fat people!

One of the buffalo herd again,

Tuesday, January 24, 2012

XCD Day 7: The Arrival

On Sunday, January 8th, we arrived at our new home in Lexington, KY.  We're renting it for a year, and it's the first time that I've lived outside of an apartment since graduating high school.

Day #7, the last day.
Here's a photo slideshow of our new house.  (This came from the owners, so it's decorated differently.)

And this is the whole path that we traveled and that has been described up until now:

The full cross-country drive in our move from California to Kentucky.
If you ever have the opportunity to drive across this great country of ours, I'd recommend doing it slowly.  It's really not that expensive if you don't mind packing some food and staying in seedy motels.  It's scary with the whole bed bug epidemic, but doesn't that make life more interesting?

Seriously, it's hard to understand the vastness of the country.  I've done flights from Detroit to Los Angeles and from San Francisco to Albany, NY.  You really start to feel like everything is so close and connected.  Once you drive for a few days, you can really feel those miles.

And now I shall return to the blog as it was envisioned.  This was an experiment at appealing to more people without telling them to go fuck themselves.  Alienating readers with my slightly racist and sexist thoughts that I really shouldn't publish online is all that I'm really good at, though.   It all resumes tomorrow.  And by tomorrow, I mean sometime this week.  It's harder to post when I'm not getting paid to.  Sugar momma gets frustrated if I'm not productive while she's at work.

Another 30 by 30 bites the dust,

Monday, January 23, 2012

XCD Day 6: Gateway to the Midwest

Our second-to-last day took us through St. Louis, MO.  Annie has a close friend there, so we were excited to meet up with someone who'd be in 'our part of the country'.

Day #6
We started by taking Angel to a large park in the middle of St. Louis, since he'd been itching for some outdoor time.  We immediately liked the city.  It felt so much like Ann Arbor that I was extremely jealous.  I know it has a bad rep for a city, but let's be real, we were moving from Oakland.  How much worse can anything be than Oakland?

We met up with her friend, and it was actually really fun.  It made me happy that we were just a quick drive away from each other.  I foresee some crazy, commuting weekends.  Or maybe we'll meet in Indianapolis for some debauchery.  Who knows!  The one complaint that I have about St. Louis:  the arch is a joke.  When Annie and I first talked of taking the southern route across the country, I had two landmarks that I wanted to see:  the Grand Canyon and the Arch.  The Gateway to the West.  Well, it turns out that it's not that big.  It stole all of the underwhelming feelings that I had reserved for the Grand Canyon.  I wanted it to be looming in the skyline as soon as we were within city limits.  Annie didn't even notice it until we were on top of it driving into Illinois.  We were going to stop there and ride the elevator, but once I saw it, I said we should just continue on.  Who wants to ride a choad monument?

See if you can even find the arch in this picture. I feel like most Google Images of StL are fake. It's really not that big.

This day's driving ended in Evansville, IN.  We knew a girl that had went to school here, so we again took it as a sign.  Getting a hotel was uneventful, except the prices seemed to have gone up while the quality has gone down dramatically since leaving the Southwest.  We were interested in finding another local eatery, and we were feeling adventurous after a bunch of success in Missouri.  We found a Thai place that was highly rated on Urbanspoon and Google (granted, with very few reviewers).  So, we decided to try it.  How bad could it be?

Driving there felt like the opening scenes of a horror movie.  We pulled off the main road.  Off a side road.  Over some railroad tracks, and to the end of a tiny road.  Handmade signs were posted for Thai Chow Oriental Foods, but it pretty much just looked like a barn.  Fuck it, we went in.  Sure enough, an old Thai lady was in the back whipping up something that smelled delicious, and a bunch of rednecks swarmed around her helping in the kitchen and ringing up food up front.

Most people ordered to go.  We saw a half-dozen orders get picked up while we were there.  For the few patrons that had to wait around a minute or two, great conversations were had.  We were told how everyone loves this place, even though it's practically an underground, hole-in-the wall.  Everyone was super nice, and the food was actually pretty good.  Like, I'll probably eat there next time I'm driving through Indiana.  It was super strange, but had the greatest small-town feel.  We were starting to get excited about the people in the Midwest again.  (Some people think KY is the South.  Glance at a map.)

Almost Home!

Unexpected Food #3, if you're counting,

Saturday, January 21, 2012

XCD Day 5: Missouri Hick

The 5th day was another planned long day.  We didn't have any visits along the way, so we were trying to get through Oklahoma and as far into Missouri as possible.  We were trying to meet a friend in St. Louis before our final stretch to Kentucky.  I don't really expect any of you (especially you Californians, and except for FoXxXy) to know this geography off the top of your heads, which is why I keep including maps.

Day #5
By this point in the trip, we had eaten all of the food we had packed in coolers for lunches and snacks.  So, we had to stop for lunch.  I Urbanspoon'd while we drove and found some fun-looking, local, gourmet hot dog place in Joplin, MO, just over the state line from OK.  We were driving down the main strip from the freeway to downtown Joplin when I saw a Taco Bell that looked like a bomb went off inside.  All I thought was "Where the fuck did we get off the freeway?"

The Taco Bell still looks exactly like this, except without the cars or people.  Some of the trash has been picked up, too.
It wasn't until we were eating and Annie said something like 'it looks like a tornado went through here' that the headline popped into my head.  A tornado tore through Joplin, MO, in May, 2011.  Having been there more than 6 months later, it still looks like somebody with a giant Pink Pearl eraser cleaned 1/3 of the town off the map.  You can see the path of devastation carved into the land still.  There are a few houses being rebuilt, but for the most part, it still looks beat to hell.  It made me happy that we stopped there and spent money.  It wasn't much, but they could use all the help they can get.  It also made me feel a little like Forrest Gump.  We had been present at a lot of the best and worst of the country in such a short time span.

Unlike the day before, this day ended pretty much where we had planned:  Cuba, Missouri.  Again, Cuba seemed like a sign, since it was such a random-ass name of a town in the Ozarks.  (Everywhere down there claims to be in the middle of the Ozarks.  Okay.  Whatever.)  It led to the gastronomical highlight of the trip for me.  Maybe because my stomach was done with Bdubs, or the brilliant Whole Foods curry chicken salad clone that we had stocked the cooler with, or maybe because I just had really low expectations at this point.

We decided to try another local restaurant, but this one was called Missouri Hick Bar B Que.  It was recommended to us by the fat lady behind the counter at the seedy motel we decided to stay in.  (Well, that or the nearby Huddle House, whatever that is.)  If we're being real, I was a little nervous to go inside.  It really sounds like it's a place where pretty, little, white, city boys like yours truly get their asses kicked by, well, Missouri hicks.  However, it turned out to be a swinging family joint.

And the food was amazing!  They have an array of sauces at your table for you to try on all kinds of spectacular barbecue.  I can't even remember if I got a sampler, or if I made Annie.  All I remember is shoveling in spoonfuls after forkfuls of great bbq.  Seriously, it made me so happy to be back in this part of the country.  I bought a shirt that says "Every Butt Needs A Good Rub" with a picture of a pig's butt on the back.  I haven't taken it off yet.

Seriously, eat at MO Hick BBQ if you're ever traveling through,

Friday, January 20, 2012

XCD Day 4: FNL & Busy OK

I've never watched Friday Night Lights, but Annie swears that we drove through the non-fictional town it was based off.  No, not Odessa, TX.  Panhandle, TX.  One of my closest high school friends now lives there with his wife, his two-year-old, and a baby on the way.  (If you read yesterday's post, you may notice a trend.)  I went to school with only 2 Hispanic families, all of them were close friends, and I just visited them both in the Southwest in consecutive days.  During high school, I had no clue I was 25% Mexican, but it's interesting to think about now.  Apparently I should move to Albuquerque and quickly pop out a toddler and get another one in the oven.

This close friend has two great stories that immediately come to mind:  1) the time that we were hopped up on No-Doz for most of a weekend until I crashed in his car in the driveway of some good friend's clutched furiously to a water dildo, and 2) rolling his drunken ass out of the back of his van and down to the beach at some god-awful hour so that he could continue throwing up, and then leaving him there when it started to rain, convincing myself that I'd be back in an hour or so.  I woke up about 4 hours later and drove down to see if he was alive still.  He was missing.  So I drove to his house where he had apparently ended up.  Some neighbors called the cops thinking that we murdered someone and left the body to float away in Lake Erie.  Turns out that his mother would have been much happier with a drunken mess of a son, as opposed to one brought back by the cops half-dead from being drunk and soaked in rain and left outside.  Not my brightest moment.  (Btw, you still owe me like $70 for all those football tix you ditched on.  And where are my band CDs?)

Day #4
The town of Panhandle, TX, was both comically small and desolate.  There were streamers hanging from store windows celebrating the local high school football team.  It was almost spooky, in a ghost town kind of way.  As far as I can tell, this is the only road aside from the surrounding neighborhood:

Brick road is kind of cool, but that is literally all there is to this town.
When I picture Texas, I picture oil, steer, and San Antonio.  I do not picture cotton agriculture, which is apparently what this region survives on.  Craziness.  It had almost an air of New Mexico to it, but I still felt like some tall, shadowy figure was about to bound around the corner with a giant belt buckle and an even larger cowboy hat.

The rest of that day's drive was uneventful, until we decided to stop.  We typically have an idea in our head where we are going to stop that day.  You have to have some idea in the southwest, or you'll end up driving sleepily in one large span of highway between two 'cities'.  We had decided we would stop in Weatherford, OK.  Not quite to OK City, but close enough.  Plus, I have a good friend from Michigan whose last name is Weatherford.  It seemed like a sign.  Well, Weatherford had one hotel that took dogs, they had only one room left, and it was kind of expensive.  So we pushed on.

But then the next city didn't have anything either.  So we started making phone calls.  Nothing in Bridgeport, Hinton, or Geary.  So we pushed on to El Reno, OK.  As we were driving there, I thought about how I would be able to update my Facebook status with something witty like "Driving for 4 days, still in Reno!".  (There's a Reno, NV, where we started.)  I didn't get the chance to, though, because El Reno was also booked up.  Annie started to freak a little, but I told her that we could just stay in OK City, since I heard it was kind of cool.  I made it up, but it helped a little.

We finally found a place in Yukon, OK.  It is just on the outskirts of Oklahoma City, and we couldn't believe how much further we had traveled than we originally intended.  Just because no rooms were available.  This leads to the biggest question of the whole trip:  why the fuck was Oklahoma so busy?  There's nothing there.  Nothing.  Maybe OK sucks worse than NM.  Fucking Oklahoma.  (Your saving grace is that you have a musical named after you.  Count your blessings.)

And Bdubs (#3 if you're counting) for dinner in Oklahoma City to watch Michigan Basketball,

Thursday, January 19, 2012

XCD Day 3: NM is Not Spectacular

Seriously, don't take your kids to New Mexico.  We rushed out of Flagstaff, sad to leave such a gem of a city behind.  It's like that city Twinkled or something.

Day #3
We were told by Twinkly Eyes that we might want to stop by the Petrified Forest on our way into NM.  I'd do anything he told me to, so I was alright with it when Annie pulled off to check out another national park.  The Petrified Forest National Park has within it some terrain that I may have found more appealing than the Grand Canyon.  It's the Painted Desert.  It was really cool to see, and I'd recommend not skipping this portion of any Southwest trip.  The actual petrified forest wasn't spectacular; it almost looked suspicious.  As if someone placed all of that stuff there.  Cool colors and crystals and everything, but the drive around the north end of the park to see a bunch of views of the Painted Desert won out for me.  Oh, and that lazy-ass searches upon leaving makes me want to go back and steal something.

Painted Desert.  I even took pictures (not these, but my own).  I hate pictures.  That's saying a lot.
Another day, another friend to visit.  I found out that an old high school friend, who is currently a Staff Sergeant in the Army, was along the way.  He's currently recruiting in the southwest, and he's based out of Gallup, NM.  It was on our way that afternoon, so I told him I'd stop by his office in the mall.  Plus, we both have some pretty good friends from Michigan that happened to be from Gallup, NM.  We were excited to see the city from which they hailed.

Turns out, Gallup is a shithole.  Maybe it's just that we happened to be in the mall in the middle of a weekday, during one of the traditionally slowest shopping times of the year.  Everyone looked so depressed and defeated.  Staff Sergeant didn't have much good to say about it either.  On the other hand, he was overjoyed about his marriage, his daughter, and his new baby on the way.  It was actually really nice getting to see him.  He graduated 2 years before me, but he was one of the most brilliant jazz saxophonists to probably ever go through my program.  Plus, the fact that had a happy life, even though he has a decade in the Army under his belt, made it even better.  He loaded us up with tons of Army swag, which I plan to help get me some street cred here in the Bluegrass State.

As we were pulling out of the mall, I checked the price of gas.  I figured if this place was as economically depressed as I was told, then gas would be cheap.  But it wasn't.  $3.95 a gallon.  Then I realized that it was actually a dollar less than that ($2.95/gal) and I had read it wrong.  I busted a U-turn on our way out to get gas real quick.

As we continued on through New Mexico, the terrain was very interesting and debateably (word?) beautiful, but desolate.  We all know how bad Albuquerque is from Breaking Bad.  Plus, Smelly at my last job told us stories about that town during every lunch break.  So we pushed our way through to Santa Rosa, NM.  I was already sick of seeing signs for Historic Route 66, and we had only been on it for a full day.  If that wasn't bad enough, we went to the cheesiest local New Mexican cuisine diner that sold tons of Route 66 merch.  The food and the establishment combined to hurt my stomach.  At least the conversation between the creepy, old white dude and his mail-order bride behind me were interesting.  Literally.

I have a relative that grew up in NM.  So, I'll give her the benefit of the doubt and say that I was told that there are beautiful places in New Mexico.  Apparently the freeway runs through the shittiest part of the state.

We skipped Bdubs that day, but not for good.

Wednesday, January 18, 2012

XCD Day 2: Grand Canyon & Twinkly Eyes

We didn't make a ton of progress on the 2nd day, but we had planned not to.  I had never seen the Grand Canyon, and our Boys in Blue were playing in the Sugar Bowl, which would have to be viewed at a Bdubs with one of my favorite humans, Twinkly Eyes.

Day #2 (there's a loop through the Grand Canyon behind the 'B' bubble)
We started the day by driving from Henderson, NV, to Flagstaff, AZ.  We checked into our hotel and left one of our cars there.  We combined into Annie's SUV, and we drove off to the Grand Canyon National Park.  We really liked Flagstaff.  It felt a lot like Lake Tahoe, and that's the quickest way to Annie's heart.  We drove by the Flagstaff Nordic Ski Center, and it made me wish there was more snow so that we could ski there.  We certainly didn't get any skiing in at Tahoe this Winter.

I was expecting to be underwhelmed by the Grand Canyon.  Let's be honest, I'm not the biggest outdoors person.  Plus, anything that is so highly regarded by everyone has to be viewed with some semblance of an unimpressed eye.  However, it was honestly pretty cool.  We were allowed to walk Angel along the rim with us.  People were climbing everywhere, which was kind of surprising.  I thought there would be rails and viewing platforms everywhere.  There weren't many, and Annie was playing protective mom in not letting me play around.

Ok, there were some rails, but they weren't very restrictive.
We also got to go see some Native American ruins.  I almost tripped over them.  They were the lamest thing I've ever traveled to see.  Some stones left in the ground that make the formation of a foundation.  Wow.  So interesting.  Except not at all.  Moving on.

We drove around the south rim until sunset, then we rushed back to the Bdubs in Flagstaff for the Sugar Bowl.  Yes, Bdubs #2 for dinner.  Worth it, just to see Twinkly Eyes.  For those unfamiliar with Twinkly Eyes, picture wholesome perfection in a tall, blond, blue-eyed male.  His name would be Twinkly Eyes.  He had the unfortunate circumstance of standing next to me in band for an entire year, and I think I hit on him daily.  He's too nice to say anything about it.  And he is exactly the same now, 5 years since the last time I saw him.  Oh yeah, Michigan won, too, but it wasn't the most spectacular of football games during that 24-hour span.   It felt pretty damn good to win a BCS game, though!  ("Sparty tears taste like Sugar!")

Bdubs is a primary source of nutrition at this point,

Tuesday, January 17, 2012

Cross Country Drive Day 1: Nevada

Annie and I drove from Tahoe City, CA, to Lexington, KY, convoy-style in two separate cars over the course of 7 days.  We departed her parents' house at about 7:30am on January 2nd, drove around the north half of Lake Tahoe, and headed down through Nevada toward Las Vegas.  I have never been all the way around Lake Tahoe, but the first part of our drive was spectacular.

Day #1

Once we were in Carson City, and the rest of Nevada stretched out in front of us.  We planned the first day to be the longest, since we were well-rested after 2 weeks of celebrating the holidays at snow-less (but Zumba-full) Tahoe.  Before that, we had packed our cars full of stuff in Oakland and sent the rest of it with movers.

Nevada kind of gets a bad rep for being awful to drive across.  Honestly, I've seen worse.  The drive from L.A. to Vegas is awful.  Nothing I've seen yet compares to the god-forsaken drive across South Dakota (which I did as part of my previous cross-country trip from Michigan to California in 2008).  Throughout the whole drive, you have mountains in the distance on both sides, so it makes for an interesting terrain to drive through.  Plus, I got to drive by Yucca Mountain, which holds a special place in the hearts of nuclear engineers throughout the country.  I also went by Area 51.  How many people can say that?

It wasn't perfect, though.  We weren't really on a freeway.  I mean, why would they have a freeway running between the 3 most important cities in NV?!  So, if at any point we were stuck behind someone going 20 mph below the speed limit.  We were stuck behind them for good.  Annie refuses to pass people.  Let's also point out that you have to stop and go 25 mph through the 4-5 random towns along the drive.  Towns filled with nothing but modular homes.  After this trek, I'm forced to wonder what percentage of the population of NV resides in a modular home.

Finally, we finished our drive just past Las Vegas.  I begged Annie to let me go to the Forum Shops at Caesar's Palace.  It holds my favorite chocolate place ever, Max Brenner's, and she didn't let me.  I'm so deprived.  We ate at Bdubs for dinner, since we wanted to catch the last of the BCS Bowl Games.  They didn't have anything good left to cook, but we survived.

That's Day 1 of the XCD,

Thursday, January 12, 2012

The Big, Bad Word

I may or may not have called Annie one of the premiere cuss words in our precious language during our last weekend in Oakland.  To be fair, she was losing her shit.  She doesn't do as well with moving as I do.  I was all 'everything will work out so calm your shit.'  And she was all 'why didn't you do anything while I was gone you lazy, fat piece of shit.'  So I dropped one on her.

"Stop being such a cunt face."

She almost cried.  She might have actually cried a little.  I tried to defend myself by saying it was a word used in her most favorite movie ever, The Sound of Music.  Because it is.

Everything did indeed work out, so I think I might have totally been in the right had I not gone that far.

Here's to an entire year of blogging,