Saturday, June 30, 2012

List of States

Hey Folks!  This is a complete list of the states that we hit on the road trip, in the order that we drove through them.  There are 31 states total and 2 countries.  A huge thank you to everybody that helped make this happen: The Captain's parents for trusting 4 recent college grads with their car, Ocho's family for being dispersed across the entire west coast, everyone that gave us a place to stay or helped us find one, national park rangers, everyone that suggested somewhere to go or something to do, and all of our friends that we met up with along the way.   It has been an amazing adventure.  We couldn't have asked for a better way to celebrate graduation. 

1. Massachusetts
2. New Hampshire
3. Vermont
4. New York
5. New Jersey
6. Pennsylvania
7. Maryland
8. West Virginia
9. Virginia
10. Tennessee
11. North Carolina
12. Georgia
13. Alabama

Wednesday, June 27, 2012

Day 29: The Most Pleasant of all the Villes

The three Amigos awoke in pleasant beds, in a pleasant house, to pleasant weather and great coffee. Waking up in a new place most every day for the past 30 can get rather disorienting, but the Amigos knew exactly where they were this time: Pleasantville. There was something missing, though. "WHERE'S OUR FOURTH AMIGO?!?!?" each of us woke up screaming. We had to find him at once. LT2's father, The King, generously drove us to the train station. We were determined to find our Whiskers in the big ol' city.

On our trek to locate him, we first met up with our awesome friend Bryan who was being a big-time working man down in the Financial District. He graciously fit us in to his very busy work day, and we all had the best time with him. Bryan ran into Whiskers a day or two earlier, so we thought he might have a lead on where we could catch up with the mysterious amigo. We were having so much fun catching up and eating burgers at the Shake Shack that we almost forgot our mission. Reluctantly leaving our fellow Eliotite buddy to get back to work, we headed north to scan the city for Whiskers.

With the help of a smart phone or two, we lured Whiskers to a highly-rated beer bar called The Ginger Man, which boasts 66 beers on tap. We got him! He was also wily enough to finagle a break in his work day to come meet up with us for our last official road trip event. We clinked our glasses to Four Amigo reunions in the future, and said farewell. We were all very reluctant to say goodbye to such a phenomenal trip.

Whiskers had to whisk off back to work, so the remaining three walked north again towards Grand Central where we would catch the train back to Pleasantville (not that NYC hadn't been overwhelmingly pleasant). But Oh ho, dear readers! We walked straight into a brilliant surprise! Our friend who you read about in our Dallas adventures, Warren, was working in the MetLife building and shot downstairs for a few minutes to see us off. Three friends in three different places in about three hours! The amigos did some good work in the short time they spent in the city (per usual!).

The next item on the agenda took us to the local Pleasantville brewery, Captain Lawrence. For $2 you can taste all the beer you want from a CL tasting glass that doubles as a souvenir of your visit. Tasting is from 4-7pm. We arrived after 6, but rest assured, dear readers, that the tasting we did in less than an hour was more than most mortals could probably do in three. We left happy and well-cultured in the intricate brewing style of Westchester County.

Relaxing back at LT2's castle, we feasted upon the famous Lime Cilantro Shrimp that we had prepared earlier and LT2 cooked up for us. What a pleasant end to a great day! We then snuggled in for a screening of A Knight's Tale before nodding off into pleasant dreams...

Day 28: Empire State Of Mind

Today was a great day indeed as for the first time we got a real continental breakfast in a hotel.  We enjoyed non-expired toast, waffles, cereal, and eggs galore! After feasting like kings, we packed up and drove to Niagara about 30min away.

After finding a parking spot, our first stop was Maid of the Mist.  This boat tour took us closer to Horseshoe Falls than any of us expected.  We chose to stand at the front of the boat, ensuring that we would get extra drenched.  We quickly figured out that there was no need for us to shower this morning because we would be taking a few more throughout the day.  Unable to bring a camera and take photos on the boat, The Captain decided to keep his stylish blue poncho as a souvenir instead.

Not impressed by the amount of mist we encountered, we next headed to the Cave of the Winds.  As we bought our tickets we noticed a sign that clearly read “There is no Cave.”  We weren’t sure if this was some sort of reference to “The Matrix” or if they just didn’t want to mislead us.  Cave or no cave we wanted the sweet souvenir sandals and poncho that comes with the Cave of the Winds tour so we went for it!

We rode an elevator 175ft down into the Niagara Gorge until we reached the base of Bridal Veil Falls.  At the base, we were greeted by a red wooden walkway that designated our path.  Our first thought was “it would suck to have to build this.”  (Fun fact: Every winter the park staff have to take down the walkway before it freezes and then they rebuild it each spring.)  The last stop of the tour was the aptly named “hurricane deck” where the falls literally fall on you.  Those who dare to brave it find that the poncho is less effective than thought and is more of a fashionable accessory.  We were all left with soggy trousers.

Upon our return to the top of the falls, we decided to dry out by getting some ice cream and walking in the sun back to the car.  Back at the car, suitcases full of clean?, dry! clothes greeted us and we changed before continuing our adventures in the town of Niagara.  We were getting kind of bored of America after driving around it for the last 4 weeks (naht!), so we decided to walk across Rainbow Bridge to Canada.  We were pleased to find that there weren’t any warrants out for our arrest as we were allowed to cross the border without any hassle.

We were not even a half mile into Canada when we began to feel a yearning for the good ol’ USofA.  So we headed to Dave and Busters, an American restaurant chain, for some drinks, snacks, and games.  We ordered some poutine.  We learned how to say poutine.  It was all very educational.  After watching some kids play the arcade games we thought we had figured out the tricks of the trade.  We played $10 worth of games.  In the end, we were able to cash in our tickets for 4 pirate tattoos.  A fair trade indeed!

Niagara was fun and all, but LT2 felt a calling from home.  After snapping a few pics of "that waterfall over there" we got in the car and headed home.  The drive was a test of endurance for The Captain and LT2, as The Captain drove all 7 hours and LT2 did not have to pee once!  We arrived at the castle around 10pm after stopping to pick up some victory beers.  Awaiting our arrival were the King and Queen as well as pizza from one of LT2’s favorite haunts.  The rest of the night was spent relaxing and watching TV until the remaining amigos slowly drifted off to sleep.

Day 27: Back to Where It All Began

Ocho awoke early this morning, fetching coffee and bagels before the rest of us could even get out of bed.  We were soon caffeinated, carb-loaded, and ready for one of our last treks on the roads.  Tres sent us on our way from outside her apartment, ending her stint as one of our greatest hosts.

The drive took us from Illinois, to Indiana, a brief detour into Michigan in order to add that state to the list, Ohio, a brief piece of Pennsylvania, and then New York, where the Amigos first rendezvoused.  Although we were now missing one of the four, he had made the trip with us in spirit.

We stopped in Buffalo for the night, wanting to save the sights and sounds of Niagara Falls for the morning.

Tuesday, June 26, 2012

Newest Pictures

Here is the end of Chicago and the drive to Niagara, hopefully the rest will be up soon:


Monday, June 25, 2012

Day 26: Shenannigans in Chi City

Whiskers departed at the break of dawn for the airport, given a generous lift there by Tres at 5am.  The remaining amigos slowly awoke much later in the morning, having completed recoveries from the night before (bad food, not drinking related).  They soon realized that while Whiskers might be gone physically his memory would live on through the piles of crap (I mean priceless belongings) he left behind for us to transport home.  Best of which was a passport-sized photo of himself which we all quickly decided would be affixed to the windshield for the rest of the trip so Whiskers could continue to guide our way like a mermaid on the helm of a ship.

Eggs, coffee, and cold showers (Tres assured us this had never happened before in her apartment, hopefully this wasn't somehow connected to our arrival) had everyone wide awake for our departure to Summerfest in the early afternoon.  There we met up with LT2's cousin, Kyra and some her friends.  We found a couple glasses of sangria, but not much else that held our attention.  So we headed over to Oldtown to tour some of Tres' favorite haunts.

Sunday, June 24, 2012

Day 25: The Amigos Dip Their Toes in Chicago

After waking up for sunrise and driving 14 hours in the car the day before, The Amigos took the morning easy and slept in to rest up for some exciting days in Chi City.

We took off walking towards Navy Pier around 1pm and took a scenic route through the free zoo (the lions and apes were probably our favorite) and by the lake. To The Ocho's chagrin, some people refer to this as "the beach", which she has a hard time wrapping her head around. There was quite a scene there on this perfect, sunny, 75 degree day. There were a ton of people playing volleyball, frisbee, football, jumping in the lake, and just soaking up the sun. 

Before reaching Navy Pier, we took a detour towards Millennium Park because we more time than we expected taking in the sights to our destination. LT2 and The Captain were invested in seeing the Germany vs. Greece EuroCup game, so we hit up Sweetwater Tavern and Grille, by suggestion of The Ocho's sister (Tres). Surprisingly, we ran into our fellow Eliotite friend, Janet, who was eating lunch with her dad! Janet is a Chicago local who we were already planning on meeting for dinner. We got in a bonus impromptu catch-up session before she took off to do some errands. 

Tres arrived just as Janet left and we took off adventuring to The Bean, where we got some great Amigo pictures (check the Picasa album!). We trekked back to Navy Pier to do the tourist-y thing and rode the Ferris Wheel. This marks the first time The Ocho and Tres had ever ridden one, which the others decided was a childhood necessity. Wow!