It is going to take me a bit to get back into blogging as I figure out my new world here in SoCal and get back up on my feet, so I hope you'll stay with me throughout the next month or so, I'll be posting, but not as often as before till I get a hold of things out here. But I'm so excited to share some pics from our road trip so let's get on with it shall we!
Goodness....where do I start...
Well it really began when I was a little girl, but you can read more about the back story to my desire to live in California here. As far a the road trip..well, I'm about to relive some great memories in some really exciting cities. (I'm going to post some of my favorite photos and excuse them for being all over the place, don't currently have photoshop, or a computer, but the rest I'll get up to facebook very soon and you can view them all!)
So, after a wonderful family dinner out at Orta in Pembroke the Friday before I left, I went to bed feeling like it was any other night. Even waking up the next morning was like "hmm..I think I'll just go to California today". I said some tearful goodbyes to my parents and jumped in my now weighted down blue betty corolla to start my journey. First stop, Brooklyn NY to pick up my traveling buddy...my brother Jonathan. It took a lot of patience and traffic with this stop, but once we were through the $20 in tolls (doh!) and through the Staten Island traffic, it was pretty smooth sailing to from there.
We arrived at our destination around 6:30 and checked in to the Sheraton Hotel in downtown Inner Harbor. The place was packed and it was only when we heard the growling sounds of racing cars outside and talked with the doorman that we realized we were indeed right on the route of the Grand Prix! Thankfully, they were doing trial runs and that the race was not until the following day, otherwise, the streets were being closed down left and right and we would have never made it to our next stop! Would have been great, had we known, to arrive the next day and watch, but it was fun to see everyone excited about it. We knew at each stop we wouldn't have much time, so we began our walk along the inner harbor to a crab spot my brothers friend suggested. I had no idea about the inner harbor of Baltimore, been down there for a red sox game once, but we didn't venture to this part. There were tons of shops, sculptures, and restaurants all along the water and it was beautiful!
We eventually go to our dinner spot at Bo Brooks, where pails for shucks and wine were awaiting. I had never done soft shell crabs before, so I was a little hesitant when it was the major thing on the menu and my brother insisted it was the must thing to do while we were here. So I gave it a go. When in Rome! If nothing else, it would be a way to blow off driving/traffic steam by using a hammer to get our dinner. Well, it turned out pretty good! I don't know if I ever want to work that hard for my food again, but it def was tasty and the sea salt seasoning gave it real kick!
After dinner, we were pretty conked out, so we decided to just walk the harbor back to the hotel to burn off our bulging bellies. The marina was really pretty until we saw a huge pile of sewage in the water, buttttt I'm gonna pretend like I didn't see that so I don't ruin my image of the harbor...just get cleaning please!
Unfortunately, I don't have a whole lot to report on Nashville. Sadly, we go there so late that we needed to rush to dinner at Charley's and had been driving through tropical storm Lee all day that my eyes were burning and I was entering major Scrooge mode. Our waitress was very nice though and her accent was infectious. It's dangerous when you talk in accents a lot and then you find yourself surrounded by people who actually talk that way daily, I almost slipped a few times! So we ate and then decided to head back to the Hyatt Place in Brentwood where we were residing for the night. (btw, the rooms are innnncredible! living room, double beds, bar, huge tv, THE WORKS!). The next morning, it was still pouring out. So we decided we needed to weigh our options. Either we head into Nashville for a few hours in the pouring rain or do we just jump on the road and head to New Orleans so we could be there a few hours sooner and we knew it wasn't raining down there. Obviously, we chose to get on the road. But not before hitting up the WAFFLE HOUSE! yeahhh buddy!!
Nashville, I've always wanted to visit, but I'll be back for a long weekend with plenty of time!
New OrleansOh New 'Awlins, how you made my head hurt! As in we had a lot of fun! Since entering New Orleans I'll admit I let the horror stories get to me a little and was a little worried about my car. It was heartbreaking seeing homes still in wreckage and lots of neighborhoods run down. I could only imagine what New Orleans was like before Katrina and I wish I had visited then as well. It's one beautiful city with amazing architecture and culture and I hope it getting full restored back on it's feet very soon.
Once we put the car into the garage at our hotel, we were upstairs in our room getting ready, it was time to shake up the town! Jonathan got another suggestion to a local place that was free of tourists and served genuine new 'awlins food. We stopped at a dive bar along the way to get ourselves a walking beverages to hype us up after another day in the car. I decided to try the cherry bombs......i think i just got sick in my mouth just thinking of it. So after chewing up one of those and having to run across the street to beg the bartender to make me a mixed drink to wash it down, I was good....turns out they are cherries soaked in absinthe. Whaaa..It was dark inside, visibility was low! I didnt know, sounded good to me! The bartender gave us a few local places to go, but we decided to hit those up after dinner.
We continued walking on through the french quarter and about 2 miles later, arrived at our destination..starving and happy to have found it. Problem: "We will be closed September 5th due to the holiday. Thank you".
"Jonathan, we're taking a cab back......on you...*ding*" I said with a smile. He was happy to oblige for the mess up. Nice effort though and I got to walk off my cherry bomb.
Back to the drawing board, but we did remember a few places the bartender told us, so we decided on Coops and it turned out to be a great choice. No tourists here except for us few and the place was small and quaint. We quickly found seats at the bar and took to the menu. We were told to try the lamb skewers so we went with those, along with duck quesidillas, and a cup of gumbo. Mmmm mmm mmmm..."oh it looks GOOD!" I would def suggest for anyone visiting New Orleans if you want true southern comfort food and great gumbo.
After stuffing ourselves silly, it was then back off to Bourbon street, where we saw jazz players at Fertzers, got shark bites at Pat O'Briens and even found Pee Wee's bike! totally saved the man some trouble...
AustinAustin was one of my top places to visit on the trip and I immediately fell in love with it coming in from the outskirts of town. Texas was really beautiful rolling into this area. The sunset was breathtaking as the magenta sun fell into a purple haze just above the horizon. The sad part about this was that purple haze was the result of the wildfires that were affecting the area. We were hitting natural disasters left and right, and while they took us on a detour around Austin to get there, and late, we made it and was ready to mess with Texas! There was no way I wasn't having my time in this city!
My brothers friend Ragnar "Rags" was the best host. Rags knows how to have a good time and his own Pedicab business (that I apparently keep spelling wrong, oops!) is BOOMING in Austin right now. The kid is KING! He took us all around the city from bar to bar, cycling his way up hill many a times. I was starting to feel super guilty for eating those beignets that morning. But Rags has rode cross country twice with nothing but a stove, sleeping bag and water with him, so we knew...he's got this...
We first stopped at Magnolias for dinner, an amazing diner open 24-7 serving lots of yummy food, beer and wine. We had a quick dinner and was on our way off to get the pedicab to begin our city adventure. Ragtime Pedicabs are not only a fun way to get around town, but they pump the jams! Will get the videos up soon!
Let me just say, the nightlife in Austin is awesome. I loved the environment of Lustre Pearle with its outdoor beach backyard and how they converted a house into a bar inside. It was pretty chill too, people doing their "combos" of bud and jack and conversing under the mason jar lighting. Felt like a backyard barbeque! We stayed there for a bit enjoying the atmosphere before rolling into our next stop. Here, people actually parked their horses outside....yep you read that right, horses. Excuse my language on my blog I try to leave my potty mouth out of, but how friggin badass is that. Cowboys..their crazy! This place too had a great outdoor dirt patio where on the weekends have bands play to a crowded house. I cannot wait to come back here for SXSW and soak up these music venues.
We ended our night over on "dirty sixth" as they call it in Austin before heading back in the pedicab blaring the "thong song" at the wee hours of the morning. Bringin it back! Then it was lights out for us, the day was long, the night was long and we were ready for some sleep.
The next morning we made a quick stop at Mi Madres for some yummy California burritos. The thing was huge, so we made the mutual decision this was a splitter. Another breakfast yummy enough to carry me through the day. We had a seven hour road ahead of us to Marfa, Texas...probably the unknown agenda on our trip, but we were excited to get there to see what this little community of 2,000 artists and musicians was all about.
Coolest little town, everrr...and we finally got there after a long road of desert heat and a whole lotta nuthin, as well as a few gas scares (towns aren't for 40 miles, so keep your gas tank filled whenever you can!).
The history behind Marfa can be found here (I feel like this blog post is already long enough, so I'll leave you to do your research!) but most of you might recognize the area as the place where Giant was filmed and the Coen Brothers "There will be Blood" and "No Country for Old Men". The place is minimalist, but that's just how they like it. Everyone knows everyone and there are only a handful of eateries in the area, I think we hit all of them in one night!
First off, we nestled our stuff into our airstream trailer, which was just downright fun to pull up to at El Cosmico. What an amazing place and we were lucky enough to snag the Royal Mansion for a night out in the desert. Fun Fact I shared on the trip, but Daniel Day Lewis stayed here during his filming! Makes sense! They had everything from a teepee to yertz's with heated mattresses for those cold desert nights. But the two beds of the Royal Mansion was my primary since we are brother and sister! We got settled, took a look around and asked our sweet hostess where we should eat. She pointed us to the Miniature Rooster, a small boutique cafe with a very artistic atmosphere. And small world for us, our waitress was from Boston! The food was delicious and I really wish I ordered the cauliflower dish my brother got, so yummy! I will def learn how to make it and post it.
We knew the nighttime hours of Marfa were probably limited and we really wanted to enjoy our short trailer life, so we finished up our meals, and decided to stop at Padres for a quick drink per our hostesses suggestion as the hot spot in town. The place was...well...dead. I guess that's what you can expect on a Wednesday night, but it was just me, Jonathan, two locals and a guy that looked like he just got off a long shift and needed a stiff drink. As far as we could see this place was def the place to see bands with a stage prominently taking up most of the room, but this was not the night to cause a ruckus, so we decided to check out one last stop before heading back - a new place downtown, name is escaping me, but welcomed us to come in for a drink as they closed down. Seemed like this was the hotspot in town! There was crew of locals at the bar and we chatted with the bartender and our bar-mate Melissa about music and their non profit organization agency Ballroom. The agency seemed really cool and was responsible for the music and art brought in all around town. The bartender was extremely nice and was very excited when Jonathan requested an Old Fashioned, his favorite drink to make!
After a nice chat, it was time to head back. It was amazing what a little town this was in the middle of nowhere Texas and to hear of all the culture it brings to the community and how well known it is by so many people.
We were awake pretty early due to the lack of curtains in the trailer, so we pack up to get on the road to Tuscon. Before leaving town, we stopped for breakfast at Cochineal where I hands down had the best coffee (and best waffle!) ever in my life. It was probably Folgers but heck it was good! As we left, our bartender was rolling in for his morning meal. See, small town! We thanked him again and he wished us well on our travels. Good people in Marfa and I like it! Jonathan plans to go back for a vacation and Its easy to see its a great location to slow down and really relax. I hope to be back again soon myself for some of the music festivals they put on, um like when I learned Bon Iver and Explosions in the Sky were just there the week after us. DOH!
TusconAhh..Tuscon. So while this wasn't exactly Jonathan's favorite stop on the trip, or my car's with the 109 degree weather, it certainly was a good one for me. We did however almost blow right through the immigration stop in New Mexico where I got a nice little finger point about reading signs. I SWEAR there were no signs! :D just pretty blinking red lights! Btw, we didn't look suspicious AT ALL with scarves hanging down covering my stuff in the back, but thankfully he believed I was moving and let us pass through.
Movvvvving on :) I have never seen a more beautiful landscape than we did entering Arizona. The weather to the left was a lightening storm with cloud as dark as night, as a blue sky fluttered with white clouds hovered to our right. It was incredible! After reaching our residence for the night at Loews Canyon Resort (again, thank you Hotwire), we were off, to my friend Colin's suggestions, to dinner at the Hotel Congress. This place was very chic, not in that kind of fancy way, but had a beautiful outdoor patio where we sat at the Cup Cafe for dinner under neon lights with a band playing in the distance. The Hotel Congress is where John Dillinger and his gang hung out, if you've ever seen Public Enemy! But, If it weren't for my brother, I'd say this was a very romantic spot! haha
The Cup Cafe had veryyy yummy food, starting off with the buffalo egg rolls that had me hurling over stuffed before my dinner even arrived. I had the duck taco's that put me straight into a food coma, must learn to make these as well, and a cucumber mojito, which surprisingly did not taste like cucumber, but was very delicious indeed! We unfortunately were pretty sluggish there, not used to the heat, so we soaked up the music before getting on our way. We went back to the resort to enjoy the view from our room and the amenities of the hotel. We were only here for one night and I was planning of taking full advantage of this place! The rooms were great, complete with a Keuirg machine - woop!, a nature trail in the back that lead to a gorgeous waterfall, and a pool I wish we could have enjoyed longer if they weren't cutting down trees that morning causing quite a commotion. If you golf, definitely check this place out. The views alone from this resort had me mesmerized by the dark hues of blue and orange as the sun went down and the lights lit up the city. To me, this was such a beautiful place...now if they would just turn up the AC!
As we left Arizona for our final destination of San Diego, it was pretty much just flat desert sand past Yuma. We did see some amazing sand tunnels, which you can faintly see in the picture above, but they lasted all about 2 minutes where we were, though we could see some serious funnels in the distance where the sand was abundant. As we passed through the last immigration stop by the border entering California, you'd think we were in the Sahara. It's where I immediately also thought of 2pacs "California" video...which was on repeat on my VCR back in the day watching they four-wheel through the "desert". Now I really know the truth!
Around 7pm, we had arrived to San Diego! We made it in one piece, car intact and dinner reservation for Timmy Rolls at Sushi Zen in the making! We could not wait to get out of the car and settle in one place.
I have a whole lot to talk about with San Diego and the adventures already in the last week (but my head hurts reliving all this!) and I'm sure this has been enough reading for the day. I can't wait to share with you more pictures and adventures as they come back into mind.
I'd do this road trip again in a heartbeat, but would def explore staying in certain cities for more than a day. I can't wait to head back to Austin for sure and will look into finally attending SXSW early next year. It was a great adventure and thank my brother for accommpaning me on this trip, providing his DJ services and witty remarks to keep me going after a long day of driving.
I hope you enjoyed all the scenes and stories, and there will probably be a part 2 in the near future :)