Flight departs Boston at 130am the morning of the day after Thanksgiving. Duration 16 hours.
Phil dropped us off at the airport and we made our way into the terminal, ready to start our adventure. We boarded the plane but all the overhead compartments were full. I had to store my bag at the front of the plane, which at least was better than if I had to place at the back of the plane since then I would have had to wait for everyone to get off the plane before I could get my bag! After a 16 hour flight that would not be ideal or enjoyable at all. I was crapping my pants though because I thought I would have to check the bag and we planned to go out in Hong Kong during our 11 hour long layover.
The flight wasn’t so bad. We sat in the middle section, I had the middle seat and Evyn had the aisle, but it was set up with 4 seats in the middle section, so we didn’t feel trapped and if I needed to get out I just needed to get passed Evyn. It was not bad. We were surprised by the meal options and the fact that we even had options was amazing. Before the trip we had selected special meals thinking we had to choose, but turns out there was a menu with lots of different options, so thankfully the flight attendants let us waive our selection of fruit platter and whatever vegan option we picked hoping to be safe with our food choice and we ended up having spinach and cheese cannelloni. It was decent as far as airplane food is concerned. Also we got yummy Hagen Daaz mini portion ice creams for dessert!
About an hour into the flight we were watching TV and I managed to fall asleep for several hours. Got half way through the flight then watched more TV and fell asleep again. I cannot NOT sleep on airplanes, which is good for taking such a long flight as this one. Woke up again and had a nice breakfast of spinach frittata, yogurt with some granola that I brought, coffee, coffee and more coffee. It was 4am Hong Kong time.
We arrived at the airport and went through customs without a hitch. I had been worried about bringing my electronic cigarette as I heard Hong Kong it is highly illegal to use e-cigs; even though we noticed everyone smokes regular cigarettes. There were crazy smoking vestibules all over the airport, but e-cig NOPE.
We got our luggage stored for a few hours and bought round trip train tickets to downtown Hong Kong. We saw the sights including taking a Star Ferry to Kowloon. We walked for a few hours and through THE most gigantic mall. We just about got lost! All the stores were American and European luxury brands. Endless levels and paths.
We headed back to Hong Kong via the Star Ferry and then hopped the train back to the airport. With 7 more hours to kill before our next flight we ate some authentic Chinese food and ordered a bottle of white wine.
Once we were done eating, we took our remaining wine and sat outside to try and facetime with a few people. We tried a couple of our friends, but the only one to answer was Sonia. We chatted for a little bit then finished our wine and headed to the security check. Sonia was certainly good for a few giggles. Evyn and I were so jetlagged it was hard to focus. She and I were making fun of each other and thinking why winking and blinking are two different things and why winking is only one I and blinking is two eyes… very serious discussions. We went through security and continued walking around lugging our bags.
Finally at 440pm we were off to Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam. Lisa and Nic picked us up at the airport. Customs was a breeze (no bribes necessary) and we took an Uber to their wonderful home. We set up shop, unpacked and chatted. Nic had gotten us some yummy chocolate chip wondercookies to help us relax and feel at home. They were amazing!
We showered and were off for our first dinner in Vietnam. We had a great meal, good conversation and lots of alcohol (probably more than was necessary given the jetlag). We didn’t end up in bed until 3am. Evyn then proceeded to wake me up the next morning at 730am! She wasn’t even feeling the least bit jetlagged, she barely sleeps to begin with so her brain must be more capable of handling the change in timezones… lucky her. Not so much for me. I was feeling pretty rotten.
First day in HCMC
Woke up not feeling great… Head throbbing, feeling nauseous, the works. Tried to go back to sleep but it was unsuccessful. I forced myself to eat and took some Ibuprofen that Evyn gave me (after feeling bad for waking me I suppose hehe).
When we finally got out of bed we went to get traditional breakfast of “Banh Cuon” which are rolled rice rolls with pork and crispy onions on top. We also had some homemade Vietnamese sausages with fish sauce. We then went to pagoda prayer “Jay” it was very moving to see Buddhist people in their element.
We got back to the apartment and hit the pool for a few hours. We got silly and played some Taboo too whilst eating passionfruit and drinking out of coconuts.
Before dark we went to get a massage. It was the most incredible 2 hour massage experience of my life. We were all 4 in a room with these adorable country boys. They massaged us with their hands and feet (and in one case balls) rubbing us up and down, using every massage skill and massage type possible. Half way through we were lifted up and given coconuts to drink for hydration. They walked on our backs, stretched us out and it was like a scene out of Magic Mike. Once we were finished we were given some ginger tea and candied ginger to refresh.
After the massage we went out to grab a bite to eat. We headed back to the apartment to finalize plans for our trip to Thailand. Unfortunately, we lost the Airbnb we had thought we secured, but that turned out to not be the case. We were up until 230 a.m. trying to figure out where to go and how to reconcile this negative into a positive. Unfortunately, we only ended up booking a one way flight to Bangkok before I had a massive panic attack about getting to sleep and having a good night’s rest.
Woke up and spent all morning and early afternoon planning (or attempting to plan) the next leg of our trip. Got delicious smoothies from a place that Nic and Lisa go to all the time, they deliver! We sat at the pool for a while then went to eat traditional beef and sausage soup. While out and about in town, we learned to cross the street properly. Due to all the people on the road being on bikes for the most part (cars are taxed at 100% so most cannot afford cars) it was like a river flowing and the bikes just flow gracefully down the road. Bikes with babies and entire families riding together on one bike… absolutely ludicrous!
I was starving but was still not feeling so great, so it was hard to take down any food. I still tried some new things as much as I could muster. We went to get our hair washed, which I had no idea what that would be like. Lisa insisted on it that it was a very unique thing done in Vietnam. Basically they wash your hair like at the salon, but along with the hair was they massage your head, neck and shoulders as well as your feet! It was quite an incredible experience. After the wash they blow dry your hair too. Felt so refreshing!
We got back to the apartment to freshen up and change, then went to Chill Bar to drink. The bar was at the top of a very tall building and we could see incredible views of the entire city. Nic and Evyn scored some greens which was great because that certainly made everything better. We rolled in the bathroom and took some selfies before making our way out to the street.
On our way to the next bar we stopped for Nic to dance some bachata in the gazebo on the little garden area. Super cute they were all locals having a nice time. We then made our way to the Saigon brewery where we had some comfort food and a beer sampler. The beer was really good and I was glad to have Italian garlic knots, veggies and hummus and homemade potato chips… definitely happy to fill my gut with familiar foods so that I could feel better.
We took a smoke break outside and hung out with a gigantic cockroach and took some great pictures. After we left the brewery we stopped so Nic could help an injured bike driving who had gotten knocked off his bike and run over by another bike. He was bleeding pretty badly, so Nic calmed him down and went to get him some water to drink. She was very helpful and the man appreciated it very much.
Then, we made our way to the night market where there were lots of shops and cool things to buy. We got a few cool items, scarves, earrings, elephant pants. Nic and Lisa, who were on Amazing Race: Asia, bumped into a super fan and she was legit geeking out over them. It was cute. We ate sweet rice and shared a coconut, then when we left we stopped to get a late night pork chop at Nic and Lisa’s favorite drunk spot. Got back to the apartment and devoured it.
We woke up and brought our laundry upstairs to be cleaned (so nice). We got more smoothies and made an omelet with the leftover pork from the night before. Evyn and I got ourselves situated at the pool for a couple hours while waiting for Nic and Lisa to be done with work.
When Lisa got home she called for Uber which turned out this time to be UberBikes. Evyn and I hopped on the back of the bikes with our helmets on and off we went. It was so much fun, but obviously a little scary and crazy to be in the river flowing. We finally went to get traditional Pho, and it was such a pleasure to eat. We watched everything being made from scratch and you could taste the love. After lunch Lisa brought us to the War Remnants Museum. She didn’t want to go in as she is Vietnamese and couldn’t bring herself to go in. I completely understood why after being in there… Evyn and I walked through somberly. There was an entire room dedicated to Agent Orange. So terrifying to think about how many people were ultimately impacted by that chemical. Still to this day… We walked through every inch of the museum and took it all in. It was a very well done museum and took into account all sides of the story. I had read some reviews about the museum that it was very Anti-American, but I didn’t feel that way at all; though, to be fair it was a really horrible thing that America did in that war that can never been forgotten.
After the museum we met back up with Lisa and she took us to the Ban Than market, a very famous market in HCMC. We walked through and saw all the madness and it wasn’t even night yet. At night it turns into a spectacular night market. As we walked through the market, Evyn’s flip flop broke. We ended up talking to a guy outside the market at a flower stand. We originally asked to just use his scissors, but he saw the issue and fixed her flip flop! We tried to tip him but he would not accept any money.
The traffic getting home was crazy!! Even with no cars on the road the traffic during rush hour was insane. It took us 30 minutes to get back to the apartment, but once we got back we needed to pack up our bags. Nic finally got home from work after having a crazy bad Uber experience where the driver took her out to the country instead of into the city and she ended up being in the car for like 2 hours or something crazy like that. Nic still needed to pack and she took so long we ended up not going to the fabric store to look for material for my bridesmaid dresses. I was a bit disappointed but didn’t feel like it was a big deal when we still had so much to look forward to on our vacation.
Lisa, Evyn and me had our bags and headed to dinner. Nic had to go to a dress fitting for Amazing Race: Asia reunion, so she met us at the restaurant. We were really cutting it close, so the first place we went we ended up leaving and went to another place where Lisa knew it would not take long to order. We had one plate of food come to the table but had the rest wrapped up. We took the food to go so we could get to the airport on time. We made it in time for our flight no problem. And we were off to Bangkok.
When we arrived we hopped in a cab to get to our transitional hotel by the airport. The cab was an absolute moron and took us all over the place running the meter. He did not speak a word of English and we did not speak any Thai, so we tried to give the driver the number to the hotel so he could ask for directions. He finally got us there, but ultimately WAY over charged us.
The hotel was perfect with a bunk bed and queen bed with a couch, TV, closet and a little balcony and bathroom. I slept on the top bunk like at camp!
We got a little sleep and woke up ready to head back to the airport. We took the free hotel shuttle back to the airport. We went to grab a bite of food and I had my first Masaman Curry!! So good, even airports in Thailand have better Masaman Curry than back home… but then realized we were running late and had to book it through airport security and through the terminal. We made it just in time, we were the last ones on the plane.
Evyn’s bag wouldn’t fit on the plane so we had to check it. Thank goodness it came out on the other end once we made it to Krabi. The shuttle to Krabi town was very confusing. We were brought from the airport to this other location where we ended up sitting around for over an hour. Then once the shuttle came they squeezed us and all our bags along with several other people into this small van. We were like sardines! It was hot, the AC barely worked and the driver was a complete fucking asshole. We definitely got taken by this company. They forced us into paying round trip, so that sucked. We should have known better. We were supposed to be taken to the Krabi pier and from there take the ferry, but instead we were taken to krabi town and then the driver drove us super scary and fast down to some other pier where we were only on a ferry for 10 minutes. It was so scary I literally thought we were going to die. The driver also stopped to buy himself snacks and cigarettes then proceeded to take a piss on a tree and smoke a cigarette after we were already 2 hours late and everyone was squished in the car staring at him and yelling at him. He was such a prick. We had no clue where we were being taken and the guy was so pissed off he drive like a fucking psycho. I was so scared for my life that I took a lorazepam and a sip of wine to chill.
We got to the ferry and I went to pee when I hear Evyn screaming the ferry is leaving hurry! So I run for my life. The driver was still being psycho dropping each person at hotels on Ko Lanta. We ended up being at a really amazing place, but the electricity was not working, there was no toilet paper or toiletries and the door doesn’t really shut all the way so we had bugs in the room. Small price to pay for the amazing view though.
Evyn and I went to take a dip in the water and thought we got stung by jellyfish… so weird. We went back to shower then took a walk to 7/11 (yes I said it) to get Evyn an SIM card for her cell phone and then we came back.
Evyn and I went to dinner at the Why Not Bar while Nic took a nap. Great atmosphere, hippy chill. Good food and drink. Live music and a fire thrower! The musician played rock hits from the 70s/80s and even said “kid is JUST my son” when singing Billie Jean. HAHAHA lost in translation song performance by Thai guy.
Slept in a bit, but woke up with my first liquid poo. We went up to have our free full American breakfast of eggs, toast sausage and fruit with coffee and juice. It was decent, but not great. After breakfast we walked around the area to look for diving for Evyn. We went to three places, got good information. When we got back to the room Nic was still sleeping. Once Nic woke up we went to hang while she ate.
Oh liquid poo number 2. Got mango but Nic ate the one I was saving, so went to get a banana for my belly instead. We checked out the wine and alcohol situation at 7/11 but it was so expensive! We decided that our money would be better spent on massages, so we walked to the place we had seen on the each that had a good deal for hour massage. We saw monkeys playing in the trees there. We ended up getting an hour Thai massage for 300 Baht which is basically $10. The entire time throughout the massage, though, I thought I was going to shit my pants. Funny enough though my period came instead. Woohoo. The Thai massage was so good with contortions they wrung my period out LOLOL.
We went back to shower up then went to Drunken Sailor for dinner, funny enough a place that Nicole Bowen had recommended. Nic and Evyn smuggled in their own wine. Good food for sure. I had pasta for the first time in Asia, it was decent. Many of the restaurants had Italian food options, which is good if I were to bring Phil next time. The restaurant had hammocks and bean bags for chairs and actually funny enough this was a restaurant that Nicole had recommended in Ko Lanta (for good coffee actually).
After dinner we went back to the hotel and were gonna go to the beach to watch the fire dancer but we stopped to listen to some live music instead. The band was so cute and good. The singer was covering so many good songs. The kid had a really good voice for sure. We even managed to get some greens from the bartender, though it was pretty dirty. It was a family affair at the resort as Ben Ben our host also was getting for us and the bartender was his son. Ben Ben ultimately got us more and gave it to us for free which was super nice. Shit was legit brown not green, but it did the job and turned out 5 biggies (plus we had another from BenBen)
We went back to the room and got ready for bed. Smoked a bit then Evyn and Nic were sitting in front of the fridge with it wide open chowing on food. I put on my headphones to watch TV. Ben Ben texted Nic and it was so cute. He offered to show us a party and good time.
Woke up at 6am and Evyn and Nic showered and I slept a bit more. We wanted free breakfast but no one was awake for us. We waited for transport to pick us up from the hotel to go to the pier as we were headed to Phi Phi for the day.
The shuttle was running late, so Nic went to grab some food from a meat stand. Since we were late, the shuttle sped like fucking madness down windy roads. We were in the back of this vehicle, sort of like a pickup truck with seats in the back bed. Quite a ride, like a rollercoaster.
We arrived at the pier, got coffee and a croissant and bananas, then boarded the boat. The ride was nice, we could see the sun rise over the islands from afar. Unfortunately, about half way out the boat motor died; however, there was thankfully a backup motor functioning. It was a slow ride for sure, but certainly scenic distractions abounded.
It was still raining when we got to the island, but you could immediately see the stunning deep turquoise waters as we got to the pier. We were shocked when we arrived that we were required to pay an environmental fee, because ignorant and disrespectful tourists can’t clean up after themselves. Due to the Phi Phi Islands being famous from the Leonardo DiCaprio movie, The Beach, tourists from all over the world sought to see where the film was made. No doubt this place is stunning, but it is devastating to know that the environment is being destroyed.
We stepped into the little village on Phi Phi Don and tried to stay dry. There were some shops that had ponchos for sale, so we bought them as well as converted some dollars to baht. We walked along the paths and came upon a dive shop where this cute, dreaded thai guy was sitting watching the people walk by. Evyn asked him if he could cut her ring off her infected finger… she had been worried about it for a few days and it was at the point she was in a panic. He was able to get the ring off and when he did she offered to get him high, but he clearly already was with his glazed-over eyes. But, he was so hot I would ride his tiny Asian dick to Chinatown.
He told us where we could smoke, no problem... Banana Bar. He gave us directions on a map and we tried to follow, but the map kept getting wet. We wandered through the narrow paths between markets and street vendors and finally found the Banana Bar. It was a really cool spot, but there was no one else there. There was a roof top deck and as soon as we walked up the sun decided to come out, peeking out of a gray sky behind a giant limestone rock formation. Nic got coffee and I ate my banana and croissant. We ended up leaving without eating at the restaurant because Evyn wasn’t into the Mexican menu food options, but as soon as we left she complained about being hungry. Before we could sit down and eat at another place, we negotiated 500thb each for round trip to Phi Phi Leh by longtail boat. The deal came with a snorkel! We finally got some food and then picked up some snacks to bring with us on the boat.
The boat ride was amazing, the water crystal cclear. First, we stopped at Maya beach, which is THE beach where The Beach was filmed. It is much different than you’d expect, but they included some digital enhancements of rock formations for the movie that don’t exist in reality. The beach is also very small and required an additional environmental fee to arrive on land, so we decided to keep the longtail boat out in the water and we just hung out for a bit. We were able to enjoy the views and take a little dip in the water, but moved on to make our way around the island to the other side, to Philey bay, so fucking stunningly gorgeous. Did some snorkeling and fish were coming up to me in the water. We smoked a joint and enjoyed a snack. Then, we headed back to Phi Phi don, had some more food on tonsai beach and boarded the main boat back to Koh Lanta.
The ride back was much worse as waves were super high and choppy. The boat was swaying so much that the luggage almost flew off and people kept coming up to the deck looking pale as ghosts. Ev and I stayed up top the deck to watch the waves and we were still rocking out ponchos, while Nic took a nap below deck.
As we got back to Koh Lanta the rain still had not subsided. We searched endlessly for our ride back to the hotel and finally found it, not before Nic and Ev paid 5tbh to use the bathroom to pee. Once we got back to the hotel we were zonked and ended up having dinner at Drunken Soldiers again. Had the pasta again, couldn’t resist the taste of home. After dinner we spoked a joint and went to the room to chill and pass out.
The next morning the weather was even worse. We considered whether we should leave to go back to Bangkok early. The three of us talked about it over breakfast and decided to pursue seriously given the weather outlook was very poor. The Thai guy at the front desk made a call for us to Thai airlines and for no fee was able to change our flight from Wednesday up to Sunday. The rest of the day we planned out where to stay in Bangkok since Nicole wasn’t really expecting 3 people to stay with her plus evyn and nic wanted a sick pool which they found at an Airbnb close to Nicole.
We sat for coffee at drunken sailors then got some paid thai at pad thai rock n roll, so yummy and the atmosphere was amazing they had Kurt Cobain pic up on the wall amongst others. We took home our leftovers, went back to the room, smoked a bit, then Nic got ready to go to cooking class and evyn went to go get another massage. I opted to stay in the room and chilled out watching some TV on my phone on the deck, then went back into the room since it was really rainy and cold.
When evyn came back she had her food reheated at the front desk and the boy gave her a sampe of some bbq smoked chicken that he had made fresh. We shared it on the floor of the room, but afterwards we were still hungry. We walked down to drunken sailors AGAIN, but they were CLOSED! Boooo. We ended up at bbq blues at our hotel but the menu sucked. I ordered Tom Yum soup and evyn had more pad thai, but right before our food came out the power went off. Evyn freaked out and when the food came she ditched me, leaving me all alone while she sat at the bar with a fucking disgusting man who was actually the father of one of the guys who got us pot. I was kind of pissed she left me alone, especially because some strange cat had climbed way up high to the restaurant! It scared me so much, because he was a black cat and came out of nowhere… he was legit stalking me. I tried to give it some chicken but he was having none of that.
Nic made it back okay. The power had gone out there as well while she was at her cooking class. Too bad she wasn’t able to bring us back anything that she’d made, they’d eaten it all up. The boy from the front desk brought us candles and so we got him high and fed him American candy like Twizzlers and Baby Ruth’s, which he loved. After he left the power finally came back on. We could charge our phones and pack for leaving the next morning.
We woke up early and Nic got to packing, finally. Evyn and I went upstairs for breakfast and met a nice couple from Cincinatti (Brad & Anne). They have been traveling since June with a baby on the way and were looking to go HCMC, so of course Ev and I set them up with Nic.
Got our shit together, smoked our last joint and were off in the van to the airport. This time the driver was MUCH better. It took 2 hours and 20 minutes to get to the airport and we left plenty of time before our flight to relax at the airport. We got coffee and ate at Subway, which actually the food was the best I’ve ever had at Subway and all the way here in Thailand.
We boarded the flight and it was quick and easy to Bangkok. Hopped a cab to the Airbnb at Sukhumvit 43 condo, it was incredibly nice. Evyn and Nic got settled then we hopped a cab to Nicole and Alex for dinner. Alex made chicken shish kabobs and baked potato, super delish. Evyn had a belly ache so they went back to their condo early. Nicole and I stayed up to catch up then went to bed pretty early.
The next morning I woke up and Alex made delicious coffee and we watched the Kansas City Chiefs game, which was on in the morning because of the time difference. Nicole made French toast then I showered and was off to meet the girls.
I put 100tbh on a rabbit card Nicole gave me and took the BTS skytrain one stop from Asoke to Phrom Phong. Then, walked about 10 minutes to the condo. I had to wait about 20 minutes in the lobby because everyone was out to lunch or something. Finally I got the wifi password and was able to call for Evyn to come down and get me.
The pool area on the roof deck was amazing and the sun was so scorching hot I had color on my skin in 20 minutes. The pool water was freezing but refreshing in the heat. We ordered in lunch from a Thai restaurant and the super spicy green curry soup was so spicy my lips were flaming hot.
After lunch we went to the room so Nic and Evyn could shower, then got our stuff together and went to Nicole’s for me to freshen up. We were headed out to a fancy ladyboy show, so we got our directions and were on our way. It was a very strange area, along with an outside night market and merry-go-round, there were mechanical dinosaurs moving and ones that kids could ride around, plus an obscene amount of rude, obnoxious Chinese tourists and cockroaches. We made our way to the show and got our 30-minute foot massage that was included with the ticket. Such a relaxing way to get ready for the show. Once the show started it was none stop laughing and ear to ear grins. So outrageous like a Vegas show. It was newly opened, so not overly crowded with tourists and we were able to get front seats. The ladyboys were absolutely fantastic.
After the show, we were almost out of money but had just enough to get us back to Asoke. Once there, I gave the last of my money to Evyn and Nic for the to get back to Phrom Phong.
Next morning woke up refreshed. Nicole and I went to get brunch at Roast where they had great food and coffee. I got an iced espresso latte with espresso ice cubes, so cool! I got huevos rancheros for my meal and it was actually so massive I had plenty of leftovers.
Once brunch was over I went to meet Evyn and Nic again at the pool. It was cloudy so sun tanning was a wash. Instead, we went to meet John Nutt from Marblehead back in the day. He lives in Thailand now with his Thai wife, he is a Muay Thai fighter and promoter. We went to his apartment and he got us high. We then went over to this cool outdoor café and ordered a coffee that came with rock candy. It was actually really fun to dip the rock candy in the coffee and it acted as the coffee sweetener. We sat and drank our coffee under a mango tree with tiny white lights illuminating the branches.
When we left John, we left with a recommendation to a phenominal massage place and phenominal it was! The place was called At Ease, but the sign looked like A Tease HAHA. My experience was almost spiritual, it was as if I was transported out of my body and was watching myself at peace.
After my spiritual experience, we got some ramen at a Japanese restaurant. I began to get very weak in the knees from the massage and from the insane amount of walking we had done, it all kind of hit me at once. But, alas, we had to go on. I was intent on seeing the real ladyboys in the red light district (one of) in Bangkok, Soi Cowboy. When we walked down and into this tiny little street we were overwhelmed by the bright lights and half naked girls. Prostitutes everywhere. So interesting watching the people interact, especially the men going in the rooms and also the tourists walking with their wives/girlfriends and seeing how uncomfortable they were. Akward.
We got a drink and did some serious people watching. Tried to go into some of the joints but got denied because we were women. Nic is even a lesbian and they wouldn’t let her in. So, we decided to head over to the ladyboy bar and we went in and sat down for about 15-20 minutes observing these strange specimens. We were kicked out when we wouldn’t buy drinks, but at least we had a chance to see the creepy men fondling chicks with dicks.
We had enough and decided to head home, shower and hit the sheets.
Woke up and got a good start headed over to Nic and Evyn for some pool time. I was able to eat my leftover huevos rancheros and it was just as good reaheated! With some coffee and water I was set to get some good sun, but unfortunately the sun had other plans and the cloudiness ensued. Still, though, Nic and Evyn didn’t want to leave, so I went and met Nicole for lunch to get some pizza. The cab took me to Soi 31 and then I had to find my way to the alley where the restaurant was based on a small map that Nicole sent. I admit the panic set in when I got there and it looked closed. Was starting to feel a bit dizzy and lightheaded but thought maybe it was just the aftermath from my spiritual massage the night prior.
Ate lunch, the pizza was actually bomb. Nicole and I chatted about politics, but were able to remain neutral. Alex is Republican but insists he did not vote for Trump. I said nothing other than I was pleased about the legalization of Marijuana in Massachusetts.
We parted ways and I hoofed it back to Soi 43 condo to meet Evyn and Nic. The two of them were drinking and chatting and they caught me up with the topic of relationships of friends. It aws good to talk to Nic as her and I have really had a chance to bond and she is wonderful.
Nic went to shower and pack as she was headed home to HCMC and Ev and I followed down our usual way which was to walk down stairs to the 16th floor and have Nic let us in haha dripping wet in nothing but a towel. I waited as both girls packed. Nic left first and was on a mission to the airport. Ev and I left shortly after and made our way to Nicole’s.
I was still feeling very weird and was becoming nauseous; probably my head getting the best of me. I shouldn’t have had the last bit of Evyn’s wine, but oh well. We got to Nicole’s and she gave me tums and Alex gave me some delicious schwepps lime soda. I crawled into bed and watched TV on my phone. Meanwhile, Evyn gets a call from Nic… bad news.
The cab driver had taken Nic to MBK mall instead of DMK airport. He was clearly confused but needless to say she missed her flight. She scrambled to get a sim card reloaded and people were being rude and trying to take advantage of her. We got her directions back to Nicole’s and she unloaded her bags then her and Evyn went to get dinner and massage. They were back by 12 quietly came through. I was still awake, couldn’t get to sleep for some reason. I finally decided to take a lorazapan and the three of us cuddled up in the bed. I watched one last show and fell asleep.
When we woke up Nic showered got ready and we saw her head off for her new flight. Nicole made us some eggs and she had gotten some great bakery sourdough bread. Got our coffee and dressed for the day. Evyn and I were out the door to go and see some temples.
We took a longtail boat from Saphon Taxin for 100tbh. The water in the canal was so dirty but at least it didn’t wreak of death like the sewage channel by Nicole’s house.
We took the boat and got splashed in the choppy water. Evyn was not having it and squished in back with the others to take cover. She had her scarf pressed against her face. We took tons of pictures along the way and had a good ride up the canal.
Once we arrived we were overwhelmed by the number of people, the crowds were enormous. Mind you, the King had recently died and the whole country was in mourning. There were little markets on the pier but we didn’t shop yet, temples first.
We wandered and then decided to ask for directions to What Po. We bumped into an Israeli couple who insisted the entrance was the other way, so while they were chatting us up we decided to follow. Turned out they were right, buit it was actually the entrance to the Grand Palace.
Nicole warned us that we needed to be dressed appropriately, but Evyn insisted she would be fine. When we walked up to the Grand Palace, what do you know? Evyn wasn’t dressed appropriately. Her scarf was not enough despite my insisting; Evyn doesn’t listen much to others, stubburn as a bull. There was a place where you could borrow clothing to cover up, but Evyn didn’t want to borrow. She hadn’t been interested in seeing the temples much anyways, her loss.
I went in alone which was fine by me. The fee was 500tbh or $15, but well worth the price of entry. I took so many amazing pictures and it was such a great experience wandering through and gazing along at all the magnificent architecture and religious symbolism. I spent about an hour, saw all the mourners in line to grieve the falling King.
Evyn met me out front and we walked over to What Po to see Reclining Buddha. The fee was only 100tbh, so much less than the Palace. Evyn was able to come in to this one and they gave her a nice robe to cover her shoulders. We snapped some great pics together than bought some souveneirs and walked around looking at the cool buddhas.
After the temples we sat at a restaurant in a small alley for a great cheap lunch. We then proceeded back to the pier shopping the whole way back. We hopped the boat back to Taxin for 14thb, then got back on the BTS.
We got back to Nicole’s and relaxed for a bit, showered and then Evyn and I went out to get a bite to eat for dinner. We attempted to eat at a shopping mall food court as we’d been told that it’s cheap and amazing. Unfortunately, we were so hangry we couldn’t handle the weird food options and Evyn and I ended up getting in an argument about where to eat. We settled on two separate places and then ate on a bench in the mall.
After dinner we went for a foot massage at Lotus Massage. LOTUS! I miss my girl so much. The massage was cheap and good. We went back to Nicole’s and had some yummy ice cream, then watched TV and fell asleep.
The next morning our last full day we woke up and met with Nicole to go take a walk in a park for a few hours. We got a nice organic Thai lunch then headed back to her house to relax a bit before dinner. We went to a burger joint for some eats then Evyn and I got another massage. After we packed our bags one last time I was surprised everything fit! I layed in bed watched some TV and went to bed.
Up at 8am to head to airport. Nicole and Alex made us eggs and lattes and scheduled us a cab to the airport. We said our goodbyes and we were off. Evyn and I ate our last special cookies in the cab.
We got to the airport only to find out our flight was CANCELED! WTF. Thankfully, we were able to get another flight, but it would be cutting it close in Hong Kong to get our connection. The flight out sat on the tarmac for 20 minutes putting us in Hong Kong later and later. Panic had set in.
We managed to arrive at Hong Kong at 5pm and needed to be at the next gate no later than 555pm. We were all sorts of confused by where we needed to go and tried to ask so many different people who gave us so many different answers. It was infuriating. I finally spoke with someone who appeared to be a Cathay Pacific flight attendant and she graciously led us where we needed to go. We got through security, though Evyn wasted 5 minutes digging for her toiletries bag which she wasn’t even required to take out. Oops!
We got up to the terminals and noted we were relatively close. Evyn found her Marlboros which she couldn’t find in Bangkok and we hoofed it to the gate. The boarding had already started, so no time for a cig even though Evyn was almost willing to run back 20 gates to the smoke room just to puff one down and risk missing the final boarding… NOT WORTH IT.
The flight was comfortable and had good meals. I slept a bunch but not too much that I would be wide awake at landing. I watched several movies and a couple episodes of The X-Files, which I’d never really watched before.
When we arrived in Boston it was like sweet sorrow. I was happy to be home and all that, but it was the end of an amazing trip. We got picked up by Carolyn and her friend Michael and we drove into Marblehead to drop in to a friends Holiday party. Evyn and I were quite jet lagged and didn’t make it very long, but we got to say our hellos and then our goodbyes and just like that the trip was complete.
Cross Country 2011
Friday May 27th 2011
Day 1 of the trip is about to begin!! Check back tomorrow for a recap of today's events (or late tonight if you are so inclined)
It was an interesting start to the trip. Car packed, ready to go, hit the road and are making great time. The temperature reached 95 degrees, so we had the AC on full blast 4 hours straight as we made our way to my parents’ house in Niskayuna, NY. Just about 10 minutes away I noticed that it was getting quite warm in the car despite the AC being on… Turned down the radio to hear if there was any sound coming from the vents, but what I heard was not a good sound at all. It was as if there was something blocking the vent! WTF? The AC was working 5 minutes ago, what happened? I just had this mother f*in hunk-a-junk serviced and now the AC isn’t going to work when we’ll be driving through the desert! G-damn luck; great way to start the trip I thought.
Well we arrived at my parents’ house ready to eat and stuffed our faces with yummy deliciousness from Home-style…mmmm…After dinner my father showed me his kick-ass garden and honestly I don’t know how I got such a black thumb (must be from mom?) :P
As we were about to head out again for the next part of our journey I noticed there was leakage from the car. My dad came out to save the day and told me it was just the condensation from the AC being on, which was completely normal. Then when I got in the car and turned on the AC it worked! I’m a bit skeptical about what happened… Hopefully the days are not too hot until we get into Nevada and Phoenix; gotta save up whatever strength that AC’s got left for that part of the country.
We arrived in Amherst, NY, outside Buffalo, about 11pm; tired as hell. I had gone into work early that morning to get a head start on my work that I needed to finish up. After all, I’m on this trip for over 2 weeks which means someone else at the office is dealing with my day-to-day BS and I couldn’t just leave them hangin’ (thank the lord hallelujah I need a vacation).
To top off the evening, since I bitched earlier to Choice Hotels about not allowing me to use my Privileges Points, the hotel manager at the Rodeway Inn gave me $15 off my stay. I love saving a buck! I also get 4,000 additional points, which is half of what I need for a free night stay hooray!
Anyway, it is time for this one to hit the sheets so to start the day refreshed and ready to see Niagara Falls for the first time up close. Can’t wait!
Saturday May 28th 2011
The alarm buzzed at 8am this morning. I wanted to get an early start to the day so that we could fit in a good amount of time at Niagara Falls without making it to Chicago too late to get a nice dinner. Got a great night sleep on the cozy king size bed and it was difficult to make a move, but made it to the shower, washed up, got dressed, then packed everything back up into the car and checked out ; of course, not without grabbing some free mini muffins and some fruit loops cereal for breakfast!
It didn’t take long to get to Niagara Falls from the hotel. When we got there we parked in a lot and it only cost 5 dollars, which was great. Plus, we got a free map and souvenir, Woo hoo a magnet! There was a casino in up the street which looked so inviting we couldn’t refuse to go take a look. We walked up the long road to the entrance-way and as we stepped foot through the front doors we were welcomed with fine fresh oxygen pumping into our lungs.
Slots, blackjack and poker oh my! We managed to resist the urge to gamble and made our way back towards the falls. It was one of the more spectacular acts of nature that I have ever seen. When you see Niagara Falls on TV or in pictures and it really does not do justice. Watching the water as it travels up the river, rapids crashing, then over the edge the water tumbles to the base of the river below. It was hypnotic. I honestly could have stayed there staring at the falls for hours, but alas we had to make our way back to the car to continue on.
We had planned to stop in Cleveland, but decided it was too ghetto when we slowed down on the highway after an apparent car chase occurred; ending in a massive crash and the young black male who was driving the getaway car was in handcuffs sitting on the side of the highway. Um yeah, do you blame us for continuing on? Plus, the Rock and Roll hall of Fame is just about the only thing to see in Cleveland (besides Bone Thugs in Harmony’s old neighborhood, but I’ve already seen that) and it is like $40 dollars or some BS to get in.
We ended up driving past Toledo before stopping at a random exit right before the Indiana border. What a long, boring ass drive. I have never seen so many farms on one stretch of road. I had Subway for the first time in like 4 years and it was actually pretty good! It was also great to finally get up and stretch my legs after driving for 7 hours straight at that point; only stopping to pee and get gas once. The entire drive from Niagara Falls to Chicago took 9 ½ hours, but since we drove into central time zone we gained back an hour, nice!
Our hotel is about 15 minutes outside Chicago so we decided to come to the hotel and check in. The initial plan was to drive into the city to get dinner, but there ended up being a place near the hotel that seemed equally as good as what we’d get in the city, but cheaper and much closer. We’ll be going into the city tomorrow anyways.
Sunday May 28th 2011
We got to sleep in a bit this morning which was nice. The weather outside was not so inviting, so we really were in no rush to go walk outside in the rain. When we did begin our adventure for the day we got stuck in traffic headed into Chicago. The rain was coming down extremely hard and the roads were flooding. I have to give props to the Chicago area drivers who had the common sense to not weave in and out of traffic during a rain storm. In Boston, there’d be assholes in their BMWs driving without abandon as everyone else with a brain was driving at a slow pace; as to not get in an accident.
Once we got into the city, the GPS started to mess up and kept changing on us; even though we hadn’t changed the path, nor did any roads seem to have changed due to constructions. Regardless, we were still able to make our way in the right direction. We got to see the Navy Pier and waterfront and had no trouble at all finding a parking spot, which was fantastic!
Our first destination was for lunch at an unassuming restaurant that we saw featured on The Food Network, Chicago Pizza and Oven Grinder Co. Never before have I seen what they are famous for, the Pizza Pot Pie!! Holy cheestastic! We were a bit early and the restaurant had not opened yet, so we decided to walk over to the entrance to the Lincoln Park Zoo to see if we could go in for free to much success. I love cheap tourism. There were lots of animals to see, but unfortunately the rain was quite a deterrent and most of them were hiding inside. The tiger came out to hang and was quite a ham, posing for the cameras, walking the cat walk :) We got to see bearded titi monkeys, which as you have just read is pretty damn funny.
As we were finishing up at the zoo the rain was coming down even harder than before and our umbrella was taking us for a ride. We got pretty wet as we made our way to the restaurant, but boy was it worth it. We walked in to a front room where people could store bikes and there was even valet parking. It didn’t seem like the type of place that would need valet parking as it was on a street with little traffic and the restaurant itself was very unassuming.
There were a series of rooms you needed to go through in order to get into the restaurant. The main room had a bunch of very private seating areas with the wooden chair backs so high you could barely see your neighbor. We sat down and right away tried to spy on other people’s food, because it smelled so good. We ordered a pizza pot pie along with an appetizer of seasoned flat bread, Mediterranean
Let me just say the food did not disappoint. I could not have been happier with my experience. The waiter comes over with a bowl and bread covering the top, turns it over, then carves the bread away from the bowl to release the cheese and sauce filled center.
After lunch we got in the car and headed to Minnesota, but not before having to drive through the torrential rains and flooded roads. We were driving 20 miles per hour on the highway with absolutely no visibility in front of us and it was pretty scary. We lucked out shortly after we got out of the city and the rain died down. The ride took us about 7 hours, which was nothing compared to the last two days.
We met up with my cousin Rachel who is letting us stay for the night and went out to a burger joint for some grub. I got a ninja burger with jalapenos and jack cheese and TATER TOTS on the side!! Fucking tots!! They were crispy and utterly irresistible.
Now, as expected I’m tired and my neck is sore and it’s nice and relaxing to just sit and watch Minute to Win It episodes on TiVo while I’m writing this entry. I could really use a massage about now.
Monday May 30th 2011
I’m ALIVE!!! We made it through South Eastern South Dakota despite a tornado right on our tails. Left Minnesota this morning after having a nice breakfast and drove effortlessly for about 5 hours. At about 6pm we saw in front of us an ominous looking cloud and thought it was probably time for us to check the weather station for any tornado warnings.
As soon as the radio came on we were tuned in to a channel stating there was a tornado warning in effect and that a tornado had touched down; however, the worst part was we had no idea what county we were driving through! We ended up stopping at the Corn Castle, which is this pretty awesome place that is a building decorated with all kinds of corn (my description here is not giving it justice). We went into the castle to take shelter for a bit and watched a little video and got a tour. Right before the tour the guide stated there was some severe weather coming, but then went right on with his tour speech seeming to not worry at all about the approaching tornado. Guess when you live someplace like this you are no longer shocked at a tornado warning.
We stayed indoors for a bit, but then walked back to the car to listen to the radio again; maybe this wasn’t as serious as I was making it out to be. Wrong! It was definitely bad and it was actually headed right towards where we were! I had a complete breakdown and made Phil go inside a gas station to ask what county we were in and if the tornado was coming in this direction. Apparently, as confirmed, we were right in the path of the storm… I was a total emotional wreck at this point; mostly, because I didn’t want to continue driving and have to abandon my car to jump in a ditch nor did I want my car to be swept up into the storm and leave us without transportation in the middle of nowhere.
It’s a twista, it’s a twista!! As we hauled ass out of that town, west towards Rapid City (where the woman from the gas station said to head towards), we continued to listen to the radio to make sure we were truly out of the way of the tornado. This is not a test; a tornado warning is in effect. I hope I never have to hear that again in my entire life, though I doubt I’ll be so lucky considering we’re driving back through tornado alley on the way home… son-of-a-b*tch!!
Phil took control, because I was in panic mode. We decided to outrun the tornado. The radio station we
were listening to was non-stop tornado tracking and the tornado was headed straight towards where we were driving from! Holyyyy Shit!!!! Get the hell out of here nowwwww! The lightning was absolutely insane as it shot multiple times horizontally across the sky; lighting up in an incredible purple color. We drove and drove through the storm and once we felt clear of the tornado path I took back control of the wheel.
As we continued on there seemed to be a light at the end of it all, which turned out to be the most magnificent sunset. We crossed into Mountain Time Zone and the time went from 9pm to 8pm and so we were still seeing some daylight. Just as we pulled into the hotel parking lot did the sun go down completely and set into the west.
Tuesday May 31st 2011
The day started off intensely windy as we drove towards our first destination of the day, the Badlands. It cost us $15 to get into the National Park, but it was more than worth it. The rock formations were incredible and we saw fossils along the man made paths along the way. It was about an hour drive through the park and once we got to the end we headed to Wall Drug, which is this place we saw advertising for all along I-90 in South Dakota. It seemed pretty random, so we thought we’d check it out.
Wall Drug turned out to be one of many hilariously awesome stores in Wall, SD. It was definitely one of the funnier moments of the trip so far. The stores had hats and leather goods as well as chotchkie souvenirs. Wall Drug itself was like a theme park without the rides… oh wait there were rides (but they were just for kids). There were taxidermy animals in clothing having tea in the window and ceramic people sitting on benches.
Got a few souvenirs and headed back on the road towards Mount Rushmore. It was another hour drive from where we were and along the way we saw lots more advertisements for things to do in the area. There were signs for jewel caves, wonderland caves, dinosaur caves, and more! Too bad we didn’t have enough time to see everything, but I guess that is why we’ll have to come back again.
As we approached Mount Rushmore it was an immaculate site. Up and up we went into the black hills and then out of nowhere you see George Washington’s face starting out at you. We pulled up to the visitor area and you had to pay $11 for parking, so we said screw that and just parked on the side of the road to take some pictures. I mean who really needs to see the museum when all that really matters is the sculpture itself, right?
We got the pictures we needed and then headed towards Wyoming, but before we could even get out of the park we had to drive through tons of annoying road work. I mean you’d think they’d wait to do construction until after the park was closed at night, so to not disrupt traffic. Regardless, we made it out to see the Crazy Horse monument, but again it cost money so we just drove by instead.
As we got into Wyoming the scenery changed and it was literally vast nothingness, but nothingness with charm. There were quaint little towns along the road with 10 and 50 people populations and very little cell phone service, which got incredibly scary as we approached the mountains. We had to weave up the roads and ended up in an area in the mountains full of snow and absolutely NO people. If we’d broken down here it’d been bad news.
Finally we descended the mountains and arrived in another quaint town and made our way to the final leg of the drive. Cody, WY a nice town with General Stores and Dairy Queens with a drive through! We arrived at our little cabin to find bunk beds and cable TV (so much for roughing it LOL).
Wednesday June 1st 2011
I had been disappointed at first when we found out we were not going to be able to stay in a teepee due to the previous day’s bad weather, but I am glad we got a cabin instead; it ended up being freezing cold! I didn’t realize how cold until I woke up 4am and needed to go to the bathroom. I didn’t feel so hot; maybe it was because the bathroom was so far away and I did not feel like walking in the cold in my pajamas all the way over there by myself. I whined for a minute and Phil woke up, less than enthused. He graciously walked me to the bathroom, such a sweetheart!
When we got up the second time around it was 9am and we were ready to start our day, headed towards Yellowstone. I went to check out and asked the lady about Yellowstone as I was grabbing a few brochures. She told me some most unfortunate news; the East Entrance was closed due to an avalanche and we would be unable to get into the park. Whaaat!!!
The lady kindly provided me with instructions to get into Montana, which was the next leg of our trip. I thought we may be able to backtrack a bit and get to the Northeast Entrance; however, that entrance would not get us into the park either, since both routes were closed off once you get into the park due to landslides. Hooray for nature!
We took the route provided by the woman at the campsite; however, she was not joking when she said there was construction going on! About as soon as we got into Montana, we were swept away with the beauty up until the point where we were at a dead stop in traffic. For some reason my foot slipped off the brake when I wasn’t paying attention and I bumped into the car in front of me. Oh SH*T!! I panicked and immediately was like what happened? Had I really not realized my foot came off the gas? Wow. I’m an asshole.
I went to get out of the car to talk to the guy, but he didn’t even make any gesture like was going to get out. He basically just shrugged it off like it was no big deal and we sat for 30 more minutes there at that traffic light waiting to move, while I was a shaken up mess. How could I have done something so careless? Thank goodness for laid back Montana folks who give a shit less about being bumped from behind. That would NOT have flown with an East coaster.
Once we got moving it wasn’t good… the road had been COMPLETELY ripped up and we were expected to drive over sharp rocks and dirt? I thought to myself, oh great now we’re going to blow a tire! Well we didn’t, but that does not change the fact of how f-ing ridiculous that construction was!
As we approached I-90 again I thought maybe we could figure out a way to get back to Yellowstone through either the West or North Entrances… I tried and tried to find a route on the GPS that would get us there within a decent amount of time, but sigh nothing. We would not have gotten to our next campsite until 10-11pm and it was just not worth it at that point.
It was quite a disappointment, but I will say that it turned out just fine. The trip on I-90 through Montana was extremely beautiful. I think I fell in love with Montana. We got to the Jellystone Park early enough to get food for dinner and settle in nicely in the cabin. OOoo memory foam mattresses… no joke. It will be nice to get a long good night sleep.
Thursday June 2nd 2011
The sound of rain falling on the cabin roof woke me up at 4am… 4am again, what is this a theme? I took the flashlight and walked the path to the restrooms. It wasn’t as dark as the campsite the night before, so I braved it by myself; though I did hear really strange noises when I was walking back and I was kind of freaking out.
Got up to my alarm at 8am, but snoozed a few times. Checked the weather again because there was a flood watch the night before and I just wanted to see of any updates before we headed out. There were no changes to flood warning, so I thought we’d be good. We hung out for a bit in the cabin on the amazing foam mattress and then headed out for Seattle, WA.
The drive through Montana was amazing. I think what made it even more charming was the fact that the cloudy weather and rain provided for very interesting scenery. The low flying clouds made the mountains look like they were on fire and the smoke was billowing off of them. I honestly will miss Montana, it was sad to see her go… oh mountainous wonder.
Idaho scenery was similar, but it was interesting the immediate change in the mountain ranges. The best part about a trip like this is that we get to see so many different landscapes; all that the USA has to offer. It’s been absolutely amazing so far. I can’t believe it’s been almost a week already.
Washington started out pretty boring. The land was not mountainous but it was hilly. There were farms, but they were nothing like the farms in the Midwest. The grass was amazingly green and the air was crisp. Our first stop of the day was at a famous amphitheater in George, WA, called The Gorge. It was way off the beaten path, deep into what is actually referred to as the gorge; hence the name of the venue. Once we arrived we could not enter the amphitheater, but were able to see it from a distance and snap a few pics. It was breathtaking! I’d really love to come back and see a concert there.
After The Gorge all the scenery around us changed. The rolling hills turned into the Cascade Mountains, the snow capped mountains mixed with the breaks in the clouds opened up to the bright blue sky. Once again we were surrounded by extreme beauty. I think there’s a recurring theme building here too.
It’s nice to be staying in a hotel again tonight, though it f*cking stiiiinks!!! Ew! Going to sleep in a bit tomorrow, then get up and enjoy all that Seattle has to offer.
Friday June 3rd 2011
Had an amazing day today. We slept in a bit and when we got up the sun was shining outside. We packed up the car and headed towards Seattle. The GPS got a bit messed up in the city, but that seems to happen quite a bit on this trip. We were getting lost it seemed, but we just kept going and out of nowhere ended up right where we wanted to be… the Space Needle.
Seattle is definitely a beautiful city and there is so much to see. I’m glad we got to see it in the sunshine, because I was definitely sick of the rain. We got parking on the street instead of having to park in a lot and pay a fortune and best of all it was literally right next to the sites we wanted to see. We walked around the Space Needle but decided we didn’t want to pay the $15 EACH to go up!! Holy cow!
Instead we spent the $30 to go into the Experience Music Museum, because they had a featured exhibit on Nirvana! It was a combined music and science fiction museum and they had an entire area dedicated to playing real instruments and they even had rooms where you could go in and record. We didn’t’ have enough time to spend in there, because our parking meter was going to run out, but we really could have spent all day there playing the instruments.
We headed out of Seattle towards Portland to stop by an old friends’ house for a quick bit to say hello and also of course to see the city, which by the way is a bit shady and rundown. At least where my friend lives is very nice part of the city. She lives in a very cute house in a very cute neighborhood where everyone’s grass is green.
We only stayed for a bit in Portland and then headed the rest of the way down to Coos Bay, on the coast of Oregon. The ride down was amazing and we got a chance to see a beautiful sunset over the Pacific Ocean. As we neared the hotel the darkness came over us, but we checked in, got a bite to eat at the local supermarket and hung out in the hotel.
Saturday June 4th 2011
Oh yeah baby! King sized pillow top mattress ooooooo! Slept like a baby, but woke up actually remembering my dream for a chance. Ever since watching the series Lost I’ve been dreaming up my own version over and over again and I had one of those last night. It was a good dream for a change as usually the only time I remember dreams is when I have nightmares.
So we just made the 11am checkout time; wanted to stay in the bed as long as possible without paying for another day’s stay. Best way to start the morning is we finally were able to stop at a Bank of America so I could deposit a check and take out money (without having to pay those dreadful fees!) YAY cash!
As we headed out the weather was beautiful and we could see the dunes surrounding the ocean and boardwalks. We were on our way, just getting started when behind me I noticed a car tailing and then noticed what looked like a badge on the man’s arm; then before I knew it we were getting pulled over.
F*cking Oregon cops!! We got stopped for not wearing a f*ucking seatbelt OMG! What a f*ucking crock of sh*t ass turds! I was pissed. I mean the cop was “nice” or what I would say was more being a dick, but being nice about it… whatever pig! The ticket was a whopping $142, seriously? That is the minimum fine too. Total and complete ass… I guess, though, we will figure out a way to avoid having to pay. I mean there were no signs anywhere in Oregon and we’d been seeing them in other states posted every 2 mile marker on the highways. I mean we had just left the hotel and it was like he followed us. How else could he have known that someone wasn’t wearing a seatbelt? Oh well.
We got on with the drive down “the 101” along the coast of Oregon for a bit, then met up with “the 5” headed into California. Once again the scenery made a drastic change. We began to see mountains change from green and lush, to brown and desert-like.
As we approached the San Jose/San Francisco area the rain was coming down, but in the break in the clouds was the most magnificent rainbow. You could see the entire arch and there was also a duplicate rainbow in its shadow. I did my best to get a good shot of it, but it was tough. I did managed to capture most of it amongst the dark clouds.
The longest drive so-far by has been today. It started out as a 10 ½ hour drive, but we made up time and it ended up only taking 9 ½ hours. I’m f*cking starving and I haven’t eaten a full meal in a few days, so I’m cranky.
Just got to Phil’s friend Nick’s apartment and are kickin’ it waiting for a pizza to be delivered. I’ve heard nothing but bad things about the pizza in California, so I’m not really sure what to expect; especially since we had such an amazing pizza pot pie in Chicago. I’ll give you the down-low on the za experience tomorrow.
June 5th 2011
First and foremost I cannot begin this post without providing a recap on the pizza experience had in California the other night. I have to admit it wasn’t nearly as bad as I had expected; however, I was also starving after having not eaten for the majority of the day. It’s been like that for the last few days… we sometimes go the entire day without eating, but it’s easy to forget to eat when you are going, going, going on the road.
Anyways, I know it’s been a few days since my last entry, but I disappeared into Las Vegas how could you blame me? I was totally overwhelmed by the strip. It was an adult theme park, filled with the bright lights, casinos and prostitutes everywhere, and who can forget walking around with alcoholic drinks in the street!
I got a day off from driving, which was a pleasant change from the norm. We made amazing time to Las Vegas and were there by 4pm; just enough time to check-in, get in our suits on and hit the pool! Ahhhh poolside cocktails… charged to the room please! We spent an hour or so there and then headed back to the room to shower and change for dinner.
We went over to Harrah’s casino to meet friends for dinner and drinks, and then we took a stroll down the strip to take in the sights at night. The lights were absolutely astounding and all the excitement from the casinos was bubbling out onto the street. We stopped into Bill’s casino and sat at a $5 blackjack table. The dealer was a b*itch and totally ignored my request for a “hit” just because everyone at the table was saying not to do it. I don’t remember the hand, but I do know that I like to go on instincts, on top of the basics of the game. Lost $50 here…
We got to see the Pirate Show at Treasure Island, which was really exciting. Scantily clad pole-dancing wenches and acrobatic spandex-clad scoundrels abundant. We wound up at the Mirage at the end of the night, which thankfully was the hotel where I’d be sleeping on the most luscious, comfortable bed.
Sat down at a blackjack table and once I won back the $50s I was down earlier, I figured I would end while I was even. I wanted to be able to play more tomorrow seeing that we have another FULL day to spend in Las Vegas! Woo hoo!
Monday June 6th 2011
Wow. The bed is unreal. I mean I just do NOT want to get up. Besides, we have an entire day ahead so we needed our rest. We got up around noon and headed down to the casino. I was huuuungry, so of course after having seen a Johnny Rockets the night before I insisted we go there. I had a craving for a burger and a vanilla shake ooo my! It was definitely a great way to start the day
After eating we got in the car and drove to downtown Las Vegas. It was much more laid back downtown and the scene was a bit more artsy (and a bit rundown). There was one big outdoor plaza and all of the casinos had their doors wide open, so you could maneuver in and out as you pleased.
One of the places we spent some time, specifically for the quick free drink service, was a casino with slots that you play with nickels. You literally put $5 in the machine and then when you cash out your dollar bill turns into a pile of nickels! So basically, you pretty much go there to get the drinks and then waste a bunch of money on the nickel video poker/blackjack. It was a good time though!
We walked around the area and it was getting HOT! There were people flying overhead on a zip line running above the plaza; $50 unlimited riding all day. The things they do to market to people to get them to visit downtown versus going to the strip. I mean the strip is pretty difficult to compete with, but I really liked downtown’s charm and old-school casino style.
After an hour or two we headed back to the strip and I went down to the pool to take a dip in the jacuzzi. My friggin knee is killing me! After getting all jet massaged I went up to the room to shower and get ready for dinner; we were going to Rao’s at Ceasar’s Palace. Seriously, how crazy is it that the marinara sauce I’ve been obsessing over for the last few months actually originated from a restaurant in Harlem and then was replicated in Las Vegas. Not just coincidence.
We walked through the Cesear Palace shops, omg it is HUMOUNGOUS! The ceiling looked like the daytime sky and there were fountains galor. I felt like I was actually IN Rome. Dinner, as expected, was fantastic. I got the Linguine Bolognese and it was absolutely perfect. The service was great and although it took forever to get to, it fully lived up to the expectations.
I can’t really talk much more about the rest of the evening, but let’s just say it involved lots of drinking, gambling and you can use your imagination to fill in the rest.
Tuesday June 7th2011
I’m so sad to have left Las Vegas. As much as I’ve talked shit about slutsville USA in the past, and yes it does live up to that reputation, I still found it more appealing than I did a disgusting and unbearable moral wasteland.
As we left the city I felt a great pit in my stomach. I wanted so badly to continue to play blackjack and make even more money! I had broke even one night and was up $100 the second night, which fully paid for the night’s dinner, but the gambler in me wanted more. Good thing I have a strong willpower.
We saw the Hoover Dam, which was pretty amazing. It was hard for me to look over the edge because it’s SO high and I’m horribly scared of heights. I could feel my legs shaking each time I looked over, but I had to get good pictures!
It was hot as hell so we did not stay long. We drove the rest of the 6 hours down to Phoenix, AZ to stay with my uncle Gerry. He took us to a really nice dinner and then we came back to his place to have some wine and watch a slide show of his amazing photography. I was impressed and at the same time extremely jealous that he has such a nice camera… so sad my old camera stopped working!
Anyways, it’s been a long few days and I’ve got a few glasses of wine. Time for me to hit the sheets… tomorrow bright and early we head to the Grand Canyon. Cheers!
Wednesday June 8th 2011
It was hot as hell in the room while I slept, but it was tolerable because it was that wonderful Arizona dry heat. We were up early so we got our things together and headed out. I wanted to stop and get an oil change before we drove more through the desert. Luckily we pulled right up to a place that would do the oil change and check for other issues in under 30 minutes for under $20; what a deal!
I felt much better about the condition of my vehicle as we continued on to the Grand Canyon. It was already a cool dry 86 degrees at 9am, my skin taking the brunt of the conditions; it’s like I’ve aged 20 years with all the wrinkles from dry skin. Yuck! I bet people who live out here go through lotion by the gallons.
The drive to the Grand Canyon was about 4 ½ hours and once we got there we drove the entire south and east rim. There were all sorts of places to pull off the road to take pictures and there were also a bunch of idiots, not pulled over on the side of the road mind you, but completely stopped IN traffic trying to take a picture of two giant moose grazing close by. I mean I managed to get a fantastic picture, while not having to stop and backup traffic…
It really is so much bigger to see it in person, I can’t explain it. My knees were shaking and my heart racing as I approached the edge of the canyon. It was hard to bring myself close, but I had to get the best pictures I could, so I sucked it up and held on to the railing. Some of the stops, though, did not even have railings and you could go as far up as you wanted; there aint no way in f*cking hell you’d see me going up there.
The rest of the drive through Arizona was stunning; we’d occasionally pass by shops owned by Navajo Indians selling jewelry and all sorts of interesting things and you could still see the canyon in the distance. Part of me wishes we drove all the way around the canyon, but that would have taken way too long and being that we continued to see such fantastic scenery as we continued towards Utah was well worth continuing on.
Along the border of Utah is an area called Monument Valley. Again I cannot begin to explain the extreme awesomeness that is what I have seen here… You are in the desert, completely flat, but then there are these giant protrutions from the ground; these monuments reaching thousands of feet in the air and in all different shapes. Each monument looks like something; there was budda, a hand giving a piece sign, etc. They do have actual names, but I have no idea what they are.
We hadn’t eaten all day because there was absolutely NOTHING along the road, so when we got close to our destination we were desperate to find food. I ate a burger at A&W but it was dry and yucky then 20 minutes later ordered a pizza and devoured that too. We got to the hotel and the wireless internet sucked ass, so I could not post this entry, but they do have a sweet pool, NOT!
Thursday June 9th 2011
Got up and headed out bright and early, so we could get the hell out of Mormon country ASAP. Just kidding! It was not nearly as warm as I had expected, so I was a bit underdressed, but given the fact that it gets hot in the car it’s OK.
Utah scenery continued to amaze me throughout our drive and as we entered Colorado we began our ascent up the mountains. We passed Aspen and then as we got towards Vail we were up at about 10,400 feet above sea-level or so. My car was struggling to get into 4th gear and was putting along up the gigantic mountain. Slow and steady wins the race!
We made great time and even had a chance for me to stop and get a delicious burrito at Qdoba, which I never seem to go to in Boston for some reason, but now I’m definitely going to go again. YUM! That thing was a beast of tasty goodness; it made Boloco’s burrito look like a midget dick.
Our only stop along today’s route was Red Rocks park, where Red Rocks Amphitheater is located. Even though there was no show playing (again like the Gorge we really got shitty luck), we still wanted to enjoy the park. It was incredible. We parked and walked up as if we were tailgating and heading in to the show. I had not been prepared for the extensive walking involved. You have to climb these incredibly steep stairs up to the amphitheater and then once you are up those stairs you have to walk equally as much up to the top, where the views are amazing.
The funniest thing was that people were there to exercise. About 40 people running, jumping, doing push-ups along the benches. It was completely ridiculous… I mean it’s great that people get out and exercise, but I mean it was a bit crazy seeing all these people while I’m trying to take in the beautiful views. Either way, it was still a great experience to be at Red Rocks. I cannot wait t come back and enjoy a concert there.
The hotel in Denver is majorly sketchy. I checked in and then immediately headed downtown to get some grub. We hit up Maggianos because well its extremely good food and we were pleased to find out we were at the 16th Street Mall, which is this really cool outdoor strip mall type area. There was a good variety of restaurants and retail stores; they even had HOT TOPIC hooray!
Also, in the middle of the mall area they had these piano’s set up for people to play “keys to the city” it was a really cute idea. The entire area was a really pleasant surprise and totally sold me on coming back to Denver for a long weekend some time; of course will have to coincide with a concert at Red Rocks.
Once again the internet SUCKS so I will not be posting this entry tonight.
Friday June 10th 2011
I wanted to get out of that shady motel as soon as possible, so we packed the car and set route to great old Omaha Nebraska. I wasn’t quite sure what to expect, but checked the GPS for points of interest near our destination and turns out there were a bunch of casinos. How lucky we thought.
We planned out what steakhouse I was going to get my delicious Omaha steak and it ended up being a pizza place called Pizza King. The reviews were good so we decided early in the day and were set on the idea.
The drive through Nebraska was utterly boring, and really most of Colorado as well. Not in a South Dakota or Wyoming boring where at least there is beautiful scenery and hilarious billboards advertising Corn Palaces, but a complete void. At least it was a short trip in comparison to the drives we’d been doing the last few days.
We arrived at the hotel early and when I checked-in we were automatically upgraded to a King Suite, sweet! The room is absolutely fantastic and FINALLY there is an excellent wireless signal. About damn time…
No sooner than we arrived did we make our way towards the exit to get on to Pizza King and our scrumptious meal that awaited us. We didn’t realize it but we were actually headed into Iowa for dinner. We crossed a bridge and ended up in another state. LOL I came to Omaha to eat an Omaha steak in Iowa at a pizza place!
Well what a pizza place it was! King indeed. I got the prime rib special that’s only Friday and Saturday nights and OMG was it the absolute best prime rib I have ever had in my entire life. It was cooked medium rare and though very red was the absolute most tender, melt-in-your-mouth cut of meat. I asked for A1 sauce, but it certainly did not require a drop!
The meal also came with a baked potato and pasta with meat sauce, huh? The pizza was very European tasting, with the extremely thin cracker like crust and heavily seasoned with Oregano; took me back to my days living in France.
After dinner we headed over to the Horseshoe casino where I ended up losing the $100 I was up in Las Vegas on a few hands of blackjack. Son-of-a-bitch I hate losing. I played every hand correctly, but just ended up getting crappy hands that didn’t produce wins, not even pushes! Cocktickle!
The night ended up OK though, as it was an unexpected good time. Best of all, the internet is going to allow me to post the last three entries for your reading pleasure. Tomorrow begins the final leg of the journey home. There really isn’t much more to see the next few days, so it’ll be a lot of boring driving. Snooze.
Saturday June 11th 2011
Exactly what I said last night, there is absolutely nothing left to offer as far as scenery in Nebraska and Iowa. And of course we have already been to Illinois and Indiana, so nothing different. We are thinking about skipping the hotel stay tomorrow and just heading back in one 16 hour drive. Not sure if it’s going to happen. We’re playing it by ear, but at this point I’m ready to get home a day early.
Sunday June 12th 2011
So this is it… the last day is upon us. We decided that it made the most sense to pack up and skip our stay in PA to get home as soon as possible. Got everything together and was on the road by 1045am. The GPS said 17 hours and 15 minutes to get home oy vey! Before shoving off completely we stopped at the Bruegger’s Bagel shop up the road and actually I gotta say the bagel was pretty good. I haven’t seen these bagels in the North Shore, MA area for a long time; basically since Bagel World opened!!
Once we were on the road everything seemed so dull in comparison to the sights we’d seen along the trip. I mean I’m sure had we come through this area, one later in the season when the corn was actually grown, or two if we’d come this way on the way out versus the way back; we’d probably appreciate the scenery a great deal more. Unfortunately that is not the way it worked out and frankly I was completely bored and unenthused.
We passed through Indianapolis, which actually had tall buildings and was city-like, but after that it was all downhill. We drove straight through Ohio from Dayton to Cleveland then on into Pennsylvania. Oh my holy lord of bullcrap we got stuck in the most horrific traffic, which of course was caused by some stupid f*cking assturd. I thought, as I was sitting at a stand-still with 12 hours or so left of the trip, that oh man if this is an accident the people better have f*cking died to make me have to sit here for 45 minutes with no movement and make my trip home that much more difficult!
Well, I have to admit I felt pretty bad after we drove by what was more definitely a fatal accident. Seemed a Mack-Truck had hit the guardrail and dragged the entire thing down as the truck went crashing over the side of the mountains we were driving through. Whoops! Bad Karma!!
We continued on I-80E through PA despite the ridiculously horrible way they handled traffic during an accident; hoped maybe we’d be in the clear now? NOPE! It started to rain like crazy and visibility was very minimal after the sun went down. We pushed on, not wanting to give in and stop at a hotel… we were going to make it!!
As we got closer to the Connecticut border, after passing through New York, there was another major accident, more people definitely dead or severely hurt. A Mack-Truck was involved, but it appeared that a Prius had hydroplaned, spun out, hit another car and then both cars spun out into the truck. Looked like the jaws of life had to get the people out of their cars. YIKES!
After seeing that accident I began to panic and was holding the wheel so tightly that my hands started to hurt. It wasn’t long until we saw our third major accident in a 2 hour stretch. This time an SUV had driven over the guard rail into the woods and there were firemen trying to lift it out. Craziness.
I don’t quite remember the rest of the drive. I admittedly was pretty much only awake to drive, my mind was 90% asleep and I literally don’t remember pulling up to my driveway. LOL not dangerous at all hah… Don’t worry though; I was definitely not falling asleep at the wheel. I had enough nerds, starburst, soda and snacks to keep it going.
Thank goodness we made it home early that morning, because of course the roofers began working on the roof at about 7am and had we not gotten home until Monday evening as we initially planned, we’d have been locked out of the house, because we’d left keys with friends and on the back porch, which was inaccessible by Monday afternoon.
Oh yay, it’s so great to be back home with a bunch of f*cking idiots. I mean seriously? We get warning that they’ll be starting to work the day before? That doesn’t give much time for planning… not to mention the fact that the roofers are using my electrical outlet for their tools. Not happy. Guess it means I’m back home and no longer enjoying vacation… back to road rage and anxiety. Back to weekly routines and desperately awaiting weekends. Le Sigh.
Thank you all for tuning in to my daily rants. I appreciate all the traffic to my website and hope you were all able to enjoy Check in periodically for more updates to poetry and music as I intend to be more dedicated to website upkeep in the future. It has been fun. Thanks again! xo