A place to blog about my adventures. My biggest bucket list item is to visit all 50 states! All photos were taken by me unless stated otherwise.
I can post this now since I won’t be traveling through any “new” states between here and getting back home. ( I used http://www.ammap.com/visited_states/index.php to make these up.)
My map as of now 25/50:
Grendel’s map as of now (Grendel is my car) 21/50:
If anyone has any suggestions of parks, activities, museums, places to eat, or any of the above for any of the grey areas leave a message! I don’t know when or where my next adventure will be but I’ll get to the rest of them eventually!
So every day this trip something unfortunate has happened. From Chuck losing his glasses to me getting a speeding ticket (total BS, I’ll save you all the rant) and other less significant incidents in between. Starting the drive from Austin to Memphis (where I was pulled over) Chuck and I didn’t feel well. We were hot, tired, pissed, I was nauseous, and we just wanted a bed. Unfortunately this meant we didn’t see much - or really anything - of Memphis. Today, the drive from Memphis to Dayton, was going smooth until Cincinnati (about 1 hour away from Dayton). I was literally stopped in traffic due to an accident, AC on full blast, and I noticed my car was overheating. As we drove off the nearest exit my car, Grendel, started cooling off. This led us to assume that it’s a fan issue and as long as I kept moving my car would be okay until I got it checked out. Note: I know nothing about cars. Conclusions were based on Chuck and my dad’s opinions.
The last hour driving with no AC, windows down, dreading any kind of stop (which happened anyway) was brutal. I’m safe in Dayton now though. My car pulled through and seems to be okay for the time being. Until I get it checked out though I will bum around Ohio then eventually make it back to Long Island.
Overall: I loved the trip, even the unfortunate events, and I would move to Austin, Texas in a heartbeat. I wonder what state(s) I’ll blog about next?
This one will also be short and sweet. For lunch we ate at the Salt Lick. It was recommended by multiple people, in guidebooks, and online. The drive out was beautiful, and the food was one of our favorites. The sauce is probably my favorite BBQ sauce I’ve had being here. Looking back on the trip, I would recommend the Salt Lick and Stubb’s the most to anyone looking for Austin BBQ. The two places were phenomenal. After we ate we kept driving around Driftwood, past the ranches and farms to take in some non-city Texas views.
Later on we had our rescheduled Capital Cruises tour. Tip - if you have a choice between covered or uncovered boat, do the covered. It protected us from bat guano and allowed us to do loops under the bridge. First the boat took us down the river for the actual sunset, then turned around back to the Congress Bridge.
I was expecting waves of bats to come out and fly away for food like photos and videos online. Instead, TONS of them came out and buzzed around the bridge. People lined up on both sides of the river and on the bridge to check out the bats as well. It was difficult to get photos of the dark bats on the dark sky, but I managed to get a couple.
It was an amazing experience. It was a great way to spend the final night of our Austin trip. After, Chuck and I agreed that we were BBQ-ed out and wanted a meal without so much meat. We found a 24 hour cafe on South Congress called the Magnolia Cafe. The menu had the most variety I have ever seen a place have. Everything was fresh and the food was delicious. It instantly became one of my favorite places we have eaten at during this trip.
I’m sad we have to leave Austin early tomorrow morning. We’re passing through Memphis, Tennessee tomorrow night and will be back in Dayton by Thursday evening.
Last post for the night! Then I’m all caught up. Today, Monday, was Day 3 and it started out with checking out an apartment in South Austin. I made the appointment for fun, but after being here the past few days I could really see myself living here. Seeing a tour of the place was exciting and who knows, maybe I’ll end up being a resident there.
Afterwards Chuck and I headed back towards Congress and hit up more food trucks! This time we ate at Short Bus Subs - a lot of them were closed, and while we chose this from lack of options, the food was delicious. We crossed the street to check out Uncommon Objects and Lucy in Disguise with Diamonds (a quirky antique-vintage store and a massive costume shop). Before we moved on to another part of the city we grabbed a cupcake from the Hey Cupcake! truck.
I drove all around Austin. I’ve been surprised at how easy it is to drive through the actual city and took advantage of it. As much as we saw, and as much as I drove, we gravitated back towards 6th Street. We stumbled into a little cigar shop called Bobalu just to poke our heads in and ended up staying in there for about an hour. Unlike most … well, pretty much all… places, you can smoke inside this venue. Everything is made on the premises and there is a small coffee bar in the back. We sat down and enjoyed a cigar and some of the best goddamn coffee I have ever had. Even if you’re not into the cigar business, I would probably still recommend poking in to get a latte or something. Seriously. One of the guys working there talked to us the entire time about living in Texas, living in Austin, traveling, cigars, and a little bit of everything while he packaged some cigars.
Sorry for all of the long posts all at once. I fell behind on my trip and am catching up tonight! This one will be short and sweet though. We didn’t do too much Day 2 (Sunday). Saturday night, as mentioned a few posts back, the hotel lost Chuck’s glasses. Sunday was spent getting him an eye exam and a new pair. It took a large chunk of time, but we still had fun with it. The doctor even sent Chuck pictures of his eye afterwards. This is the right eye:
We went to Peter Pan Mini Golf afterwards. It was in the Austin guide as recommended and Chuck for some reason really wanted to play mini golf. It was very, very, hot out but it was still fun!
We had a reservation for a Capital Cruise bat-watching tour to go out on the River under the South Congress bridge and see the bats come out at sunset to find food. Unfortunately, starting about an hour before our reservation it started down-pouring. The tour was cancelled and we were switched to Tuesday’s tour (hopefully it won’t rain!). Instead, we drove through the city in a thunderstorm and ran to a place called Stubb’s from the car. Soaked, we had some of the best BBQ and both agree that it is one of, if not THE, best food we’ve had on the trip. Stubb’s also has indoor and outdoor shows and you can tell a lot of great bands come through there in addition to the fantastic BBQ.
About 3 years ago Texas became a destination I knew I wanted to travel to “next”. It’s been on my radar. My new back-of-the-mind obsession will probably be Colorado, but may be any of the other 25 states I haven’t visited yet. When I started looking up things to check out I learned about the Cathedral of Junk in Austin and immediately fell in love. For the past three years it’s been on my bucket list and one of the many reasons I narrowed down my Texas exploration to Austin instead of Houston or San Antonio.
When I first called the owner/creator, Vince Hannemann, I was star-struck. He told me to give him a call when I got into town and he’d tell me when he was around to check it out. For those who don’t know, the Cathedral is in Vince’s backyard. He is an artist and started building it for fun, out of junk, and it eventually grew into a 2-story cathedral “built to withstand Texas storms”. The city tried to find a reason for him to tear it down, sending over multiple engineers to inspect it and found no violations. So now, anyone can call his personal phone, set up an appointment , and go to his house to check it out (and once you get on the block, you KNOW which house is his). He does zero advertising. He does not run the Facebook page someone made and the post on Roadside America was not from him either. Everything is word of mouth which makes it even more fascinating. When I called him he asked “Well, what are you doing today?” He told me to come to the back gate anytime before 7 and he’d show me around.
When we got there he was already outside saying goodbye to another group of people. He welcomed us, put on a helmet, and started riding his bike in circles around the cathedral building up the courage to go off a ramp he built. His dog chased him on his bike, barking, while Chuck and I explored inside the Cathedral.
It was amazing. Your eyes drift to a million things at once. I expected to have to squeeze through little corridors but he built large archways and it was unbelievable to think this building was constructed out of things. Some parts were even color coordinated. Any smooth surfaces were graffiti-ed with notes and signitures from visitors. By the “yellow” section there was a tire staircase up to the second floor. At the top people stuck school IDs and other cards (I even saw a NY Metro Card!) in bicycle wheels and there were seats built into the walls.
I was amazed at how large the Cathedral of Junk was. There is a place to donate money or junk in the front, or you can just write on the walls like we did to make a small contribution to this incredible structure. Vince is a funny guy, very laid back, and will talk to you about or answer anything. He let me get this shot of him before we left:
I could have stayed for hours with my camera, wandering in awe. Anyone who appreciates the city slogan, “Keep Austin Weird”, or just appreciates art in general, I highly, HIGHLY recommend checking this out.
One thing I read about and specifically wanted to check out was the Museum of the Weird. The storefront is a gift shop, but in the back they have collected random creepy and weird things and put on display. For a cheap fee you can enter the museum and read the stories behind each item.
I’m not confident that all items are real but it’s still an interesting walk through. At the end we met 4 reptiles 3 of which were iguanas (the museum is also a reptile rescue). We also got to see a performance reflecting the old school sideshow acts. The guy hammered a nail into his face, put a fork in his skull - both through his nose, put a balloon in his nose and coughed it out, set off a mouse trap on his tongue and a small bear trap (used for foxes and such) on his hand. He was funny, enthusiastic, and it was a lot of fun watching and talking to him about his act afterwards.
When he was done he brought us back to one of the display items in the museum. It was the skeleton of a 14 year old girl in a coffin. He said she haunted the museum and pranks the employees often. When they first got her the power went out - but only their property - and items went missing from the gift shop. The owner thought it was just shoplifters but then the items started coming back in random places. Now, they keep a little pedastal by her remains incase she wants to put something there. She is also known to make the lights flicker when she is talked about (which happened) and grab people’s elbows. Apparently, a psychic of some kind was brought in and said everything is done for fun, with no intention to hurt or scare anyone…. and her name starts with an E.
It was a fun experience and I would definitely recommend it if you’re looking for something quirky and interesting to appreciate.
When we arrived Friday night the first thing we learned was that it’s cricket migration season. Crickets are EVERYWHERE. And they’re BIG. The ground looks like it’s moving, they were in the lobby and elevator of our hotel, Chuck caught one in his shirt (absolutely hilarious), I even saw one in the toilet this morning, and our first night caught this guy on my windshield:
But our first full day the first thing Chuck and I did was head towards 6th Street in Austin. We drove past the Capitol building and through the city a little bit before parking and walking around. I had looked up and wanted to check out the Museum of the Weird (Right on 6th), but as I wrote this out I thought it was worthy of it’s own post (look for it right after this!).
Afterwards we walked some more, drove around, and found a couple of food trucks to eat from. We ended up getting amazing BBQ from a David’s Lockhart BBQ. At this time I also called the owner and creator of the Cathedral of Junk to make an appointment. He just said, “… What are you doing today?” and so that was our next stop. Again, another experience worthy of it’s own post. Absolutely incredible.
At this point it was still early but we were sweating up a storm and went back to the hotel to take advantage of their indoor pool. After the swim, housekeeping had some to our room and took Chuck’s prescription glasses. We tore the room apart, talked to the front desk who “checked the towels” in case they were accidentally scooped up, but no luck. Nearly blind, we went to get some tacos and called it a night.
I knew ahead of time that Little Rock and Memphis were just passing through and I would not have the opportunity to see much of it. The long drives take a lot out of you and by the end of the night you just want a bed and to not be in a car moving 70mph.
But we made it to Little Rock and wanted something local for dinner before we crashed. Our hotel was right on the river overlooking the city. Driving over the bridge was absolutely gorgeous since the sun was setting. Someone recommended that I ate at ZaZa Fine Salad and Wood Oven Pizza, so we decided that would be it. The pizzas and salad they had on their menu were incredible. You can also make your own with a wide variety of ingredients. The place was crowded even close to their closing time on a Thursday and was clearly the hot spot for the hipsters of Arkansas. Wasn’t really expecting that, but the food was great.
The next morning, it was off to Austin! More later, and I don’t have many photos but today that will be changing hopefully.
So Sunday my sister and I drove to her apartment in Washington, DC from Long Island. I only stayed a night, and met up with my cousin in Morgantown, West Virginia. That trip was also short. We spent most of Monday on my cousin Kevin’s friend’s boat on Cheat Lake relaxing on a beautiful day. Tuesday, I drove out to Dayton.
WELL there isn’t too much to tell. My last day in Maine was mostly about Acadia National Park. I went up Cadillac Mountain - not during sunrise to be one of the first to see the sun’s rays, but beautiful views all the same. There were a bunch of stops on the way up for great photo-ops. I ended up recognizing other people from the different stops and talked to them and helped make sure they had a picture of everyone in their party.
I spent a few hours driving around and walking on different paths in Acadia both up and around Cadillac. It was gorgeous and a beautiful day out (although up at the top was cold and very, very, windy!). Afterwards I drove from Bar Harbor back to Portsmouth, New Hampshire. I stopped back in Freeport for lunch/dinner and some last minute shopping. I spent the night at the motel and headed back to Long Island in the morning.
… Then I neglected to finish writing about my trip for a couple of weeks. And another week will go by without much, if any, adventure. July 8th I start my journey to Austin, Texas!