Thursday, July 21, 2011

The Real Chicago

Burger and Bone - you guys are really slipping, it's going to be tough figuring out who gets this beef jerky...

We left Minnesota tired and hungover as usual, driving about 7 hours to get to Chicago. We can tell that we're getting closer to home because when we rolled into Chicago, it took us about 30 minutes to go through 4 miles of traffic. We got to the Cubs game by the third inning and Jimmy’s Yankee shirt was already starting trouble. Some girl in line yelled at him for wearing it and not surprisingly she happened to be from New Jersey. The stadium was pretty much filled to capacity, but the only issue was that the crowd had nearly more Philly fans than Cubs fans… Philly fans will find a way to ruin anything. We got seated in front of some diehard Indians fans on vacation, it was really interesting to see how optimistic fan bases of shitty teams can be. The way they were talking, you’d think they’d won the World Series already. Naturally, the Cubs had a 2-0 lead until the 8th inning and then blew the game, sending the Philly fans into their usual asshole selves for the rest of the evening so we knew we needed to get out of the area fast.


Jimmy had another buddy from his online gaming adventures, so we met up with his friend Danny in Posen, IL which is pretty much like the Newark of the Chicago area. We went to a local Irish pub for a few beers to shoot the shit until they turned the lights on and we had to call it a night. Chicago will need to be explored further on Roadtrip 2.0 this winter because one Tuesday night was hardly enough time.

Wednesday, July 20, 2011

Chicago

We got to Chicago and let me tell you, it was AHHH-Mazing. On the way there, we drove through these adorable little farms in Wisconsin that put us in a good mood from the start. The skyline of Chicago was breathtaking as we pulled up to this wonderful city. First, we took a stroll through the Northside to take in some of the sights, most notably the Sears tower - WOW that thing is tall! Then we popped into a museum to get a feel for the local flavor and it didn’t disappoint, the murals they had on display were outstanding!

After the museum, we walked down the quaint paths of Grant Park and spent some time in the botanical gardens which are unlike any gardens I’ve ever seen. Jimmy’s favorite flower was the ‘wild tiger lilac’ but I was more a fan of the ‘hybrid lavender tulips’… We’re going to need a tiebreaker on this one! Tired from our park excursion, we decided to get tickets for a small boat trip on Lake Michigan for an evening dinner to watch the sunset. The violin player they had on board sounded a little flat, but the view was so beautiful you could hardly notice. We finished the night with a few glasses of red wine at a local Asian fusion restaurant and called it a night. Although we were sad to leave Chicago, we had to keep it moving back east, but we will always keep the memories close to our hearts. (Pics coming soon!)

Tuesday, July 19, 2011

Minnesota Don’t Ya Know

So after a long 12 hour drive we pulled up to Franco’s house around 2 am. His girlfriend Barb let us in since Franco was still at work. We got to meet our first Minnesotian and right away we noticed the awesome accent. Barb told us she was nervous we’d show up and be like the guys from the Jersey Shore (This was probably only our 3rd Jersey Shore reference all trip). Anyway Franco eventually showed up and since it was late and we drove for many hours, we called it an early night. I got some sleep and Dennis went to town on the blog I think he was up till like 5 am.

So our first official day in Minnesota we decided the first place we were gonna go was to the Twins game. The new stadium was awesome and it’s the first time Minnesota fans can actually enjoy an outdoor baseball game. If you are ever in the area I’d say go check out a Twins game it’s an awesome stadium and it’s a good time.

After the game we headed down town and hit up one of the newer bars in the area called the Cafeteria. We took an elevator up to the roof and hung out there for a bit. It was at the Cafeteria that Franco introduced us to one of his favorite shots the “Water Moccasin” (Crown Royal, Peach Schanpps, Pineapple). So after a round of drinks we made our way to the bar Franco currently works at - Stella’s Fish CafĂ©. It was an awesome bar we went up to the patio on the roof and chilled out until they forced everyone downstairs to one of the many bars downstairs. The “Water Moccasin” shots kept coming and we kept drinking em because Jersey can party with the best of em. We were in rare form but we were still standing. We helped clean up and close up the bar and it was back to Franco’s house for some pizza and cookies. Of course we had a sober driver take us home because safety is always number one. Our sober driver was actually driving stick for the first time and he nailed it. Either I’m a shitty driver or Dennis is a shitty teacher, you decide.

So as the first night came to a close we realized that we had agreed to go white water rafting in Duluth which was a few hours away from Franco’s house. After a night on the town white water rafting is not something you want to be doing with a hangover. Anyway we woke up to Franco blasting “Forever Young” by Jay Z and got ready for white water rafting. White water rafting was pretty cool but the rapids weren’t as tough as we thought it might be. It ended up being a lot of rowing with tiny bits of action mixed in. We might have been some of the shittiest rafters and couldn’t manage to park the boat properly at any of the stops down the river. We also managed to be the last boat to make it to the shore. Some the tour guides were a little goofy and one of em told us we had “Total H2O Dominance” down the river (whatever that means).

After rafting we decided to drive a few more hours to Nick’s lake houses up in Northern Minnesota (Franco’s roommate who would fit in perfectly down the Jersey shore). The party continued as you saw in the video blog with Dennis and the other Minnesotians who were cooking in the backyard. We had some food and drinks and hung out by the fire, it was a pretty chill night. We woke up the next morning and grabbed breakfast at some dinner in the middle of nowhere and we did some antique shopping since it was right next door to the diner. We eventually made it back to the house and just chilled out by the community pool and BBQ’d some burgers and brats. Then we rested up and got ready to continue our cross country casino tour at Mystic Casino.

We left Barb back at the house and the fellas went out for some gambling. Mystic Casino has alcohol throughout the entire place and all they have is black jack for table games. It has to be the most black jack ever in a casino. We played some black jack and got beat up and ended up donating some money. Franco played a few hands of black jack as well but he was smart he stopped after he was up 10 bucks.

After the casino Franco took us to Rick's Cabaret in downtown Minnesota. It was amateur night so some of the local girls danced on stage. They had four contestants and the top 3 would be awarded prize money. We stayed for the amateur contest and left shortly after. All and all in a was good chill night.

We hit the road and head for Chicago probably one of our last stops before we come back to Jersey.

Monday, July 18, 2011

Minnesota - in pics/video

Here are some pics and video from Minnesota with recap from Jimmy coming tomorrow...

3 Jersey boys drinking manly shots















Whitewater rafting on St. Louis River














Cabin Backyard on one of the 10,000 lakes














Middle of Nowhere, Northwest Minnesota














One water moccasin too many...
video

video

Real World - Brainerd, MN
video

Saturday, July 16, 2011

Cody and Eastward... (Friday)

We drove from Cody, WY to Plymouth, Minnesota. It took 13 hours total. There is NOTHING in Montana or North Dakota. Going to a Twins game tomorrow and possibly a lake or two.

Wyoming and more...

Jimmy - Yellowstone Day 1










Dennis is exhausted from driving through the night so I take over driving the last 200 miles or so to Yellowstone. This drive really tested my manual driving skills, as I had to go through a few stop signs and change gears more than before.So I guess I’m getting a little better at this driving stuff.While Dennis was sleeping, this shady navigation system decided to play a trick on us and lead us to this dirt road that was suppose to bring us to Yellowstone. So we drove down this dirt road for a good half hour or so and then we decided that that wasn’t the way to Yellowstone so we turned it back around.

We stopped in a local gas station and got correct directions to Yellowstone. So Dennis takes back over driving and we decided to stop at the Mesa Falls. It was two waterfalls - one was the lower falls and the other was the upper falls. The lower falls kinda sucked but the upper falls were real cool. Here are some photos.

Crappy Lower Falls...











Awesome Upper Falls









After the Mesa Falls, we get to the gates of Yellowstone and just like the Grand Canyon it cost 25 bucks for a seven day pass. First stop in Yellowstone we hit up Old Faithful. For those who don’t know Old Faithful is this massive geyser that goes off ever hour or so. So we waited around for an hour for this thing to explode and it was pretty cool I guess (We believe that there’s just some guy that hits a button and makes it go off but whatever that’s our little conspiracy). If you ask me it was kind of like the water show at the Bellagio.

Since we are terrible tourist and don’t plan ahead we found ourselves homeless and you can’t get a camp ground in Yellowstone because they sell out by 9am. Luckily for us we found a camp ground just outside of Yellowstone but it happen to be in bear country. So it was a peaceful night and no bears came out to harass us. We got some rest and decided to explore Yellowstone some more the next day.

Jimmy - Yellowstone Day 2 and Cody, Wyoming

The second day at Yellowstone we went to check out Canyon Village. On our way to Canyon Village we saw Yellowstone Lake, Mud Volcano and Sulfur Cauldron. I wasn’t that thrilled about the Sulfur Cauldron because it smelled so bad over there but the mud volcano was pretty cool.

Canyon Village had these two awesome waterfalls, they are like the Brock Lesnar of Waterfalls. We hiked down 8,000 feet to get a good look at the second waterfall. It was a hell of a walk and had around 400 stairs or so. We got some nice videos and photos of the area for you guys to check out.

video

Dennis - Yellowstone

Yo, first off I’m never falling asleep again while Jimmy is driving. I wake up and we’re almost at the park, so I start getting excited. I was skeptical since I expected more traffic on the way to Yellowstone but whatever. We get on this gravel road and decide to keep going – bad move. The GPS tells us the closest gas stations are over 30 miles away and is telling us to go all kind of crazy directions. We said screw that and backtracked, but our detour turned out to be worth it because if not, we never would have came across Mesa falls, which is one of my favorite spots of the trip so far.

Old Faithful is a bunch of hot garbage but at least it does something. There were tons of other geyser-like attractions that are supposedly awesome, but basically it’s like watching a tea pot that’s almost done and never whistles. Oh and they stink like rotten trash, which apparently doesn’t bother some people who park their asses right there to sit and take in the aroma.

I named this runoff Dennis' Falls. There's no sign for it but I can draw you a map if you want to visit.









Being from Jersey, the drivers in Yellowstone were awful to me. Everyone drove like a bitch and even Bison were messing with us, walking down the street at 0.2 mph. At least the Bison had the decency to show their faces in public while the little bitch bears hid all day and night, slaughtering not even one stupid tourist.

















The waterfalls at Uncle Tom’s Trail were pretty badass. I still like the Upper Mesa Falls better because you can practically go in it you’re so close. The hike was a bitch and half but was good exercise to battle all the Coors Light, beef jerky, and gummi bears that were constituting our diet at the time.

I don’t get it, Yellowstone is pretty much the size of jersey and they had NO camping spots available. There was one campground at Lewis Lake that still had vacancies when we arrived, but it was 72 MILES AWAY and STILL IN THE PARK! Naturally, it was filled up by the time we got there. How do they not have a couple extra acres of campground is beyond me…

Leaving Yellowstone, we drove through middle of nowhere and stopped at Cody, WY to grab some food. It was barely 100 miles from the park, but it takes long to get out and we were beat, especially after the hike. We ate at someplace called the Irma, and our waitress had a pin that said “Ask me about the Rodeo!” So all summer long they have a rodeo every night at 8pm and the waitress tells us “It’s real rodeo, they go for points!” We get excited, thinking we are going to see a real sporting event, so we buy 2 tickets and decide to get a hotel for the night. A few minutes later, Jimmy goes “What do they do at a rodeo?” I had no idea but we were going to find out.

The Rodeo was definitely interesting but not exactly what we expected. It was pretty much a redneck circus, with flashes of real bull riding sprinkled in between. There was a clown in the middle telling god awful jokes. Families everywhere, tons of kids. More than half the show was kid’s events, mostly teenagers. Then they had and ‘under 7’ group of barrel riders, which stung deep because these 7 year olds have jobs and I don’t. Some 12 year old got stepped on by a small bull and was on the ground for awhile, but no blood or anything and he turned out to be ok, I guess he was just a wuss.

7-years old... doing gymnastics... on a horse...









After leaving the rodeo we stopped at a placed named “Silver Dollar Bar” despite our misfortunes at “Club Silver Dollar” in Elko. It was local scene, but we were exhausted from the day. The hiking, bad jokes, and shame from seeing throngs of ‘tweeners with jobs being more cowboy than I’ll ever be had gotten to me. We left after about 30 minute to get a good night sleep for our trek to Minnesota the next day.

Calf Roping and Bull Riding

video video

Reno Nevada / Elko Nevada / Idaho

Lunch on the beach...














After our bro-lunch down on the lake, we hopped in the car and drove around to check out Tahoe. It’s an amazing, beautiful area with lots of life and crazy scenery. We left from there and went to Reno just to check it out. Since Harrah’s owed me from all the gambling, we stopped at Harrah’s Reno to grab a free lunch. The place was called ‘Hash House a Go Go’… I have never heard of the place before stumbling upon it, but the food was crazy good. It was considered ‘twisted farm food’. Someone please open one of these places in jersey.









We decided to rough it from there and head straight to Yellowstone. After a few hours of driving through the dessert we stopped at a town called Elko, NV just to take a break and check out the local scene. The small towns off the map have been the most interesting and this was no exception. The place was called ‘Club Silver Dollar’ and we could hear awful karaoke from outside, so the place seemed right up our alley. Walking in, we stuck out immediately. Partially because it was a local hang out and partially because I was wearing a white button down, gym shorts and flip flops. Two guys said “Hi” to us and proceed to tell us how wasted they were. Then, some ‘thing’ started walking toward us. I did not know if this was a male or a female, but it came over and tried inconspicuously to molest my hand while looking in another direction as if it weren’t happening.

The ‘thing’ says “Oh Hi! Where are you from?” as if we bunked into it. It happened to be female and its name was Book (rhymes with Duke). Despite being so wasted it could barely stand, Book explained to us how we stuck out and asked what we were looking for – girls, drugs, etc. After telling her we were just looking to hang out and take a break, she asked us if we were married, to which we both said no. Then she asked if we were together, and was under the impression that me and Jimmy might be dating. After clearing things up, she introduces us to two of her friends, which I’ll name Big and Bigger. Big was nice and shook our hands, Bigger wouldn’t even turn from her bar stool to look at us. Among the other shady looks we were receiving from other patrons, we decided that we needed to get out of the Silver Dollar before something bad happened. Book asked us to stay longer and have a few drinks, but nothing we were looking for would have come from the situation. We told her we were going to the casino next door and would come back, then booked it for the door. We did go to the casino for 5 minutes (just to look) and then hit the road to Yellowstone.

We drove straight through the night, stopping only to take a 2 hour nap somewhere in Idaho at around 8am. Then Jimmy took over driving and brought it home to Yellowstone... kinda...