Saturday, December 25, 2010

Happy Holiday Of Your Choosing!

Hey Folks..

Just a quick hello on this happiest of gift giving and getting days. I wanted to share with you my favorite commercial of this holiday season.

So freaking awesome.

Saturday, December 11, 2010

We Can't Have Anything Nice

One year ago this past Sunday, the Tofu Muchacha and I brought home our boys. The kittens known as Walt and Roy.

They are exceptional cats, and I just wanted to dedicate a blog to the anniversary of their homecoming.

Here's what they looked like the day we got them...Yep... Pretty effin' cute, right? They were definitely cute. They also were complete demons, and they commenced in ruining everything we owned. We got Walt and Roy (Named for the famous, Disney brothers) from a farm lady we found on Craigslist. They were free. At least at the time. Of course, having been born in an uncontrolled environment, they were chock-full-o-diseases. And worms. And parasites. And everything else that could be wrong with a kitten that wasn't fatal. I'm pretty sure we spent about 700 dollars for each kitten over the course of the first 2 months we had them. SO... free? Not so much.

They started messing things up as soon as we had them. As we drove them home, they were "free-range" in the car. And then Walter decided to start pooping right on the TM's lap. Good thing we had a plastic bag handy. I'll never be able to erase the sight and smell of the TM holding a pooping Walter over a plastic bag as I had my head hanging out the window on North Bend Rd. What horrors. Little did I know that the sight and stink of wet cat poop would become so prevalent in our lives.
Right after we got the kittens, we had our new couch delivered. I put the couch together, and 3 days later, we'd already had the cushion peed on twice. We tried everything. Cayenne pepper. Aluminum foil. Citrus peel. That fucking couch looked like some sort of Mediterranean stir fry. It was ridiculous. Did it make a difference? No. Cat pee became a large part of our day. Then they pooped on the couch and we sent the cushions off to the dry cleaners. Even the pros weren't able to make it right.

The nightmares didn't end there. Starting in the early Spring, we started letting the kittens sleep with us. That is, until little Roy started peeing on the bed. It happened fairly regularly, and that, my friends, wasn't fun. One time we caught him and he just kept on peeing in the TMs hands as she quickly carried him downstairs. We are pretty sure he was troubled.

Of course, the only trouble was that we were now being forced to sleep on rubber sheets. Like WE were the bed wetters. I'm still convinced Roy (Nicknamed "Sir Pees-A-Lot" by the TM) did it just to see the steps we'd take to stop him.

I admit, though, that through all of it, I've grown to love these little guys. They are very smart. Roy plays fetch like a dog. You throw a little mousie toy, and he chases it and brings it back. Walter runs into the kitchen, flops on the floor, and waits for pats every time we come home. Walter is an absolute whore for the pats.

Roy doesn't give his love quite so quickly, but he's super sweet (on his terms). They both completely love the two older cats, and their presence has made the older cats stay lively. I believe that Zoro, especially, secretly enjoys the kittens, especially Roy who is a little runty, but tough as nails. He LOVES playing with toys... Oh... and he absolutely adores the TM. He follows her around constantly.

My favorite thing about them is how different they are, even though they're brothers from the same litter. Walter is a big, rugged boy. He's handsome and muscled and snuggly. He has "sad eyes". I like to compare him to Mufasa from the Lion King. He's the brother who would be the king (if Zoro wasn't already). Roy is smaller and thinner. He's got a sleekness to him. I think he's also smarter, and has the ability to plan, like one of those velociraptors from Jurassic Park. He's more like Scar.

I can be cranky sometimes, but spending some time with my kittens (who are definitely not so kittenlike anymore) always puts a smile on my face.

Some more kitten pictures:

Roy in a shoebox

The boys share the S. Walt loves to be under and inside of things. He's on the left.

Kitten picking a fight with Sammie. I'm pretty sure this is Roy, but It's hard to tell. And yes... The kitten started it.

My all-time favorite kitten picture. Walt passed out asleep on top of the scratching post.

Sunday, December 5, 2010

A Triumphant Return!

I know I've been a very bad blogger, but that's what happens when work is so busy that it monopolizes everything. I have very little of interest to say, and let's be honest... even on my good days what I have to say is only debatably of interest.

I do have some fun news, though!

The Tofu Muchacha and I have made our Disney World reservations for our next visit. It's still a long way away.... in fact, so long from now that I'm kind of embarrassed to even tell you that I'm excited. It would be like an 8 year old being excited for their wedding. Well... not nearly that extreme, but you get the idea.

I've promised myself to be a little staid in regards to my Disney Trip blogs until the trip gets closer, but in honor of our wonderful, upcoming travels to The Happiest Place on Earth (and in honor of Walt Disney's birthday!), I've decided to a list of my top 5 favorite restaurants at Disney World (a topic requested by The Tofu Muchacha, who is WAY more excited about the trip than she is letting on.)

So, here we go... Instead of ranking them, I'm going to give you my winner in different categories.

The Beefy Muchacho's Favorite Disney World Restaurants:

Favorite Resort Restaurant:

Boma at The Animal Kingdom Lodge. I first tried this place kind of on a whim when I was in Orlando for work, and I turned my 1 day work thing into a 4 day trip to Disney. I was by myself, and didn't have a time-table, so I drove my rental car over to the newly opened Animal Kingdom Lodge. After wandering around for a while, I made my way down the stairs where the two restaurants, Jiko and Boma are located. I looked at the prices at Jiko, and headed right in to Boma. Boma is an African-cuisine inspired buffet, and it is really freakin' incredible. The food quality is comparable to a high-end buffet you'd find at The Bellagio or The Wynn in Vegas, and the food itself is really unique and really delicious. In fact, I've requested 3 recipes at Disney World ever, and 2 of them came from Boma. This delicious soup called Mulligatawny (which isn't just a joke on The Soup Nazi episode of Seinfeld), and this peanut butter rice dish. Crazy good. It's good enough that I plan on enticing The TM to get over her anti-Buffet sentiments (if only for a night) and try it out. I haven't been there in a couple of visits.

Favorite Restaurant Theming (non-chain)

Sci-Fi Dine-in at Disney's Hollywood Studios. Let be honest... the food at the Sci-Fi Dine-in is mediocre. The burgers are good, but not great. The fries are good, but not great. The seating is odd, and the wait-times are legendarily bad. BUT... that doesn't take away from one of the coolest restaurant themes anywhere. You walk through the doors, and you're transported back into the 1950s Drive-in Culture. Your dinner tables are all situated inside of 1950s era cars. All of the seats face the movie screen, and the screen shows a long and amusing loop of the old, terrible sci-fi movie trailers of the time. The seats aren't particularly comfortable, but man, is that place fun to sit in for an hour, of the hot air, and sipping on truly average milkshake. I can tell you that I've visited it several times over my visits and not once has it been for the food. But it IS worth a visit. By the way, I had to make this a "non-chain" category, because The Rainforest Cafe wins every day.

Favorite Restaurant View

The Coral Reef at Epcot. It's kind of hard to put into words until you're right there looking at it, but when you walk into the main dining room at The Coral Reef, and you see the huge, crystal clear aquarium wall that stands in for what would otherwise be a wall... that's just an incredible sight to see. It's certainly not for the weak stomached people among us, but if you don't get seasick, it's a really beautiful view. Sure, maybe it's a little morbid to chow down on some salmon as a school of salmon swim right past you, but you know... you get over it pretty quick when your breath is taken away by the amazing sea life on display. Oh, and the food there is really good too. Someone asked me once what my favorite dessert at Disney World is, and it was right here. The creme brule at the Coral Reef is very tasty.

Favorite Outdoor Seating

The Rose and Crown in The United Kingdom at Epcot's World Showcase. Maybe I'm just a little nostalgic for my first Disney experiences, but I remember my dad getting this guidebook for Disney World before one of our visits in the late 90s. I'm thinking it was the August of 1998 visit. The guidebook was full of all kinds of useful information about these newfangled "Fast Passes" and had all kinds of tips about how to get good seats for rides, and where to have the best viewing spots for different parades and shows. For some reason we made a point of testing out the tip for seeing Illuminations (Epcot's end-of-the-night show). The book suggested that you get a reservation around 8 pm for The Rose and Crown, and request a seat outside. The predict that by the time it's time for your dessert, it'll also be time for Illuminations, and you'll have the best, least crowded seat in the house. And they were totally right. It was incredible. I'm not a big fan of the parades and shows, because I hate being crowded. It's the greatest paradox of my Disney World fandom. Sitting on the patio of The Rose and Crown is the best solution to that problem. You get to see the show while enjoying a nice spot of tay (that's British for Tea). I like the food here, and I've gone there in the day time, but the treat is at night on the patio.

Favorite World Showcase Restaurant

San Angel Inn at Mexico. This was a really hard category (which is sad since I'm making up the categories as I go). If you'd have asked me 4 years ago, I would have said Alfredo's was my favorite World Showcase restaurant. It was really tasty, and it was a tradition that my step-mom, Dee Anne, and I would go there together. Sadly, Alfredo's is no more, only to be replaced by a restaurant I haven't tried yet. Anyway... My new favorite is The San Angel Inn at Mexico. I love the atmosphere. It's situated inside the Mexico pavilion, and designed to look like an outdoor street bistro on a river. I'm developing a fondness of Mexican food and this place has a flair for authentic (I mean... I should hope so.) I have a hard time talking about Mexican food, because the line between good and bad is really not that big, but trust me... it's good. Very good.

Favorite Eat-At-the Bar Restaurant

Rain Forest Cafe. Much of my love of the Rain Forest Cafe stems from my need to have something to do when I went to a restaurant alone on my solo Disney trips. I love the food, in fact, if I could have a "free-day" from my stomach limitations, the China Island Chicken Salad would definitely be among the candidates for a meal. The thing I like best, though, about The Rain Forest Cafe is the bar. First off, there is usually a long, long wait for dinner in the dining room, but if you go eat at the bar, you rarely have to wait more than a couple. Also, you never really appreciate the mix of people that visit Walt Disney World, until you sit at a bar and make idle conversation with them. I've watched the Patriots beat the Steelers in the playoffs at the Rain Forest Cafe Bar. I've talked to interesting people. And I've sat under a giant mushroom while it rained inside. What more can you ask for?

Sunday, November 21, 2010

Day 9 & 10 Manhattan to St. Louis to Home: Grinding to the finish.

Two weeks again. I should be ashamed of myself. I mean.. I'm not, but I should be.

People... There's a reason I've been dragging my feet to finish the final 2 days of the piano trip. As exciting as so much of the first 8 days were, and they really were, the last 2 days were pretty much all about driving and driving. Not many funny things happened. Not a whole lot of exciting moments along the drive occurred. Still... A task is a task, so here we go... the great finale.

We left Manhattan, Kansas and headed East (yet again) with designs of lunch in Kansas City.

The only thing that really stands out on this particular section of the drive is that to avoid the toll roads, our trusty Tom-Tom took us on the world's most round-about way around Topeka.

I'd thought that the whole thing about Kansas Fatigue was a bit overblown prior to this trip, but the more we drive through it, the more I realized that it was kind of true. It's not that it's so horrible, or anything like that. It's more that it's not that visually interesting, geographically, and what else is there really to do on a long road trip, but look out the window? When we drove through Colorado or Southern Utah or Eastern California the scenery is ever-changing, and awe-inspiring. There are only so many fields you can see before you start getting bored.

So we drove for a while, and ended up in Kansas City, Missouri right around lunch time, which was fortunate since we'd planned on hitting another Triple D restaurant.

A quick note about how I'd chosen the restaurant locations. After I planned the route, I went searching for websites about where old Guy Fieri had visited on his show, and the best site I found was an interactive map of the US. This was perfect, because I could just zoom in on the highways we were riding, and I tried to select interesting spots. I'm incredibly pleased with how it turned out, overall. Triple D is known for basically 2 different kinds of places. The greasy-spoons that have really indulgent food in large portions, and also the really unique places that sort of do their own thing, and play to the beat of a different drum... Those are the places that I tried to gravitate toward.

The trip to Kansas City brought us to Grinders.

What to say about Grinders...

Grinders is mostly a pizza place with some other good stuff. We came for the pizza, though, so to read about the rest check out their website.

The place itself was really fun. It wasn't particularly crowded that day. It was a Sunday... we got there right around Noon, and the Chiefs game was on TV. Because of that, we were able to sort of check out the place and take pictures and be weird without being self conscious about it. Not that we typically are, but still...

We ordered our meal, and checked out the sites and stuck our fingers in more holes.The decor at Grinders was eclectic. If you've seen the episode, you'll remember the owner is also a metal sculptor. A lot of his work is around the restaurant, and generally there was just a ton of cool, sort of off-beat, art around. It was awesome. Sort of like a mix of really aware art, and graffiti. It was sometimes hard to differentiate.

For Lunch, we ordered some deep fried mushrooms:As you can see by my thumb, I greatly enjoyed these mushrooms. I mean... I know that these aren't exactly the most exciting food items in the world, but sometimes just the fact that it's a REALLY good version of an item is good enough, and these were some really strong mushrooms. Good stuff.

Oh yeah... and we ordered one of the single most strange food items I've ever eaten.
The Grinders Bengal Tiger Pizza.

This pizza is a thin crust, oven baked pie with the following: Pesto, cheese, tandoori chicken (!), hearts of palm (!!), and wait for it... crab. (!!!).

I can't say that it was the best pizza I ever ate. The crust was delicious and perfectly thin and crispy and bubbly. Each item was well prepared, and the pizza itself was well prepared and the flavors definitely worked together. But... I don't love a slightly fishy pizza. I just don't. It was by far the most interesting pizza I've ever eaten, and I liked it well enough that the next time I'm in Kansas City I'll definitely stop at Grinders to try one of the other pies on the menu. At least 3 of them were calling my name. We ordered this one because it's the one featured on the show, and it was tasty... Just well... I've had it and now I don't need to again for a while.

One of the coolest experiences of being there was that it was the one place we visited that had actual regulars! Like a real dive. This couple came in and the servers all greeted them by name. It was awesome.

The Tofu Muchacha gave Grinders a 7.5. I gave it an 8.

The rest of the day (Day 9) was pretty uneventful aside from a stop off at an antique mall where we got some good stuff, but nothing particularly Earth-shattering. My primary goal was to get to St. Louis in time to check in at the hotel and find a sports bar to watch the Reds game. We'd planned to try Iron Barley restaurant in St. Louis, but they were closed on Sunday. We ended up just going to a B-Dubs and watching the Reds season end while in St. Louis, which... yeah. I have nothing to say.

We also had to get up super, super early on Day 10 in order to make it home to Cincy in time to meet the piano movers. We ended up leaving St. Louis at like... 4:30 in the morning, which was good (because we missed the AM Traffic) but sad, because I didn't get a chance to see the Arch during the day.

The rest of the drive was pretty run-of-the-mill, aside from a stop for breakfast at Hell. Also known as Denny's.Please note that this was the sunrise, and that we'd been driving for 2 hours prior to this.

A quick word about Denny's... My dad has often talked about how he hates Denny's based on one particularly bad experience with a "Skillet" or something, and he's a little bit of a food-alarmist sometimes, always calling things goopy or greasy or whatever. I usually don't let his opinions on restaurants sway me, especially when they're negative.

If only I'd listened to him.

Denny's is disgusting. I'm sorry to people who love it, but god damn... that place made me sick as a fucking dog. One reason we have so few pictures of Indiana is because I was barely able to keep my breakfast down the whole time.

I can only provide this one example of the travesty that is Denny's:
Folks... Just so you know you're not going crazy... That is a grilled cheese sandwich with whole fried mozzarella sticks stuck in the middle. I... I just... God damnit.

After we left Denny's and climbed our way out of the food coma we'd fallen into, we made the final push toward home.

It was a bittersweet feeling, because the trip was such a wonderful adventure, and something I'll remember forever, but I admit that seeing that Welcome to Ohio gave me the chills.We finally made it home. We still had to get that piano off the truck and into the house.The movers arrived, and in not so much time, we finally had our piano into our house. And I must say that even though it's been over a month since we got home, and over a month that the piano has been with us here, I still can't look at it without thinking about our amazing road trip.

It was a long journey full of incredible scenery, incredible food, Family reunions, terrifying drives, and so many other things. We spent time in 9 different states. We drove over 3000 miles. We made a weird little home out of a giant moving truck. We sang, we laughed, we drove and drove and drove. I enjoyed every minute of spending time with my true love, Kasmira (aka the Tofu Muchacha). For me, she turned this insane drive across the country into one of the most treasured memories of my life.

Sunday, November 7, 2010

Day 8 Denver to Manhattan: Not as Boring as Advertised.

Sorry for the brief hiatus. I've found that blogging about the trip, much like the trip itself, after Denver a little fatigue set in.

The drive on Day 8 started late, but for a very good reason. The T.M's family resides in Denver, and we couldn't pass through without at least saying hello. We did more than that, and had breakfast with a whole mess of them at a place called Benedicts. The trip coincided perfectly with the birthday of one of the T.M.'s sisters, so it was a doubly pleasant occasion. It's always very interesting to see the T.M. with her fam. I like meeting people who knew her before she was her. When she was, you know... turning into her.

The birthday girl, Carissa is in white. The other sisters are Cynda (the dark hair and black shirt) and Ping (The red hair and glasses). The TM's mom is on the far right, and Carissa's boyfriend Nate is on the end. As always, I am behind the camera. (you can tell, because people who gaze upon me always smile like that.)

And then we drove. And drove. And drove. A long fucking way. We had almost 500 miles to drive that day, and we got on the road around 10:30 am.

Oh... and as you can see by the sign above... most of it was through Kansas. The dreaded Kansas. My mother told me that Kansas was the greatest test of a relationship. When I posted on my Facebook wall a request for suggestions for things to do, I received things like: "Nothing". "Get through it as fast as possible." "Count the trees." Not exactly a glowing endorsement.

I even went on Kansas' tourism website to get suggestions for things to see along I-70. I gathered several ideas and off we went.

First thing I'll say about Kansas is that the welcome center was freaking sweet. It was huge, and full of brochures, and had fancy cement patterns outside the building.

In fact... you know what? I should have taken the Welcome Center as a sign that Kansas is a little self-conscious of their reputation. I mean... those fuckers are trying HARD to convince people that their state is awesome. I decided to reserve judgment until I'd spent more than 10 minutes there.

One of the goals for our time in Kansas was to find some cool antiques to fill the back of the giant truck we were driving. We kinda felt silly driving around in an empty truck, and according to the Kansas Tourism website, and our pre-conceived notions of what people in Kansas do... we thought there'd be a lot of antiques. The first place that was recommended on the website was in a town called Goodland, and it was closed. Not just closed like... for the day, but closed as in "boarded up".

Not a great start for the state of Kansas.

On the other hand, we did happen across another oddity... One of 3 current (of 7 planned) giant Van Gogh paintings in the world. Read about it here.

I mean... yeah. It was huge, and in the middle of Goodland, Kansas. Who'da thought?

We kept driving after taking pictures of the giant picture. We kept going and going, and eventually we DID find an antique "mall". I don't really remember where it was, exactly, but that's for the best, as it was mostly just creepy as hell...

It DID have a giant selection of racist collectibles. Lovely, isn't it? I mean... I don't believe that any particular item holds some sort of evil power, but man... a whole wall of whimsically racist salt shakers and piggy banks. It gives one pause. If anything, the casual way it was presented was troubling.

Kansas actually wasn't all that bad. It was a long, flat drive. Full of wind and grass and a bunch of cows (but not as many as you'd assume, you judgmental bastards...sheesh). But there was plenty of stuff to see and talk about. The thing I most looked forward to seeing was outside the town of Oakley, named after Annie Oakley herself.

It was a giant statue of Buffalo Bill Cody. I've been interested in Wild-West culture for a long time, and Buffalo Bill was a huge part of the glamourization of the Wild West. The town of Oakley is home to this amazing statue:

I've included this photo that featured the TM to show the scale of the thing. It was really, really cool. I'd probably rank this statue among the five coolest things we saw on the trip.

It also marked the start of a trend of us sticking our fingers in things and taking pictures. You'll see it continued on Day 9.

After the Buffalo Bill statue, we really didn't stop again. Even for gas. We drove into the night and ended up in Manhattan, Kansas. Home of Kansas State University. It was a pretty cool little town from what small part of it I saw, but I will say this...

It took me a single visit of about 12 hours to determine that something was definitely going on when Bob Huggins managed to convince 3 of the biggest college basketball recruits in the country to play in that place. Not exactly South Beach.

We're heading into the home stretch. Only 2 more days and 2 more blogs.

Tuesday, October 26, 2010

Day 7: Not a Road Trip Without Snow

After the abject terror of the drive down Highway 6 in the pouring rain the day before, Day 7 of the trip greeted us in Green River with beautiful, clear skies. We set out bright and early and started the long journey East on the legendary Interstate 70. According to Wikipedia, I-70 was the first interstate highway project, and is considered an engineering marvel based on the mountain passes and tunnels in Colorado. I can honestly say that while there were some pretty scary, stressful portions (more on that later), if I had to point to the 5 most stunning views of our trip, at least 3 were laid out before us on Day 7 in Utah and Colorado.

We'd barely gone 50 miles when nature called, and we made our way to a rest area. On a completely separate note, I wish I had tracked exactly how often we stopped due to "nature". I'll just say that the TM drinks a TON of water.

Anyway, I digress...

This rest area was easily the coolest one of our trip. The one near Mt. Shasta was pretty sweet because the river was right there (and the skunk), but for sheer impressiveness there's not even a close second to this rest area in Utah.

Facing North:

Facing North again:

Facing South:

Facing South again:

I mean... I don't want to go all hyperbolic about things, but I could seriously just set up a tent and live at this place. I loved it. I could have spent all day there.

I used to think about the kinds of places I'd love to go if I didn't have to worry about money and could just live somewhere and write and think and do art and whatnot, and I always imagined my back yard as looking a lot like this place. Not just the rest area, but this particular brand of Rocky Mountains. I absolutely love it.

After we left the rest area, we made our way into Colorado, and decided to stop in Grand Junction for gas and Starbucks. Grand Junction is just about the last flat(ish) area on I-70 before entering into the intense moutainy area, and we felt like having a full tank of gas might be a good decision.

It was in Grand Junction that we had the only real Piano-Related scare of the drive. I'd gone into the gas station to buy a shot glass, and the TM was going to drive over to Starbucks to meet me. As she circled past some parked cars, and waved at me, we heard a big bang. Keep in mind... I am not in the truck, but rather 25 feet away. She hits the brakes, and the dude whose truck she passed nearly had a heart attack checking the condition of his ride. All was fine, we found a good out-of-the-way spot to park, and opened the back of the truck. Terrified. Turns out it was just the board that goes between your knees and the strings that fell off... So we strapped that down and continued on our way.

It doesn't sound scary, but it was pretty effing traumatic at the time.

Our next stop was in Rifle (another "Nature" stop) and it wasn't particularly eventful, but we did see some really, really dirty hitchers get picked up. These people were true hippy hitchhikers. Down to their lack of shoes and their surplus of hair.

We continued on, through Western Colorado, enjoying the scenery. It was really beautiful. I mean, I know this isn't the most interesting post when all I talk about is how pretty it all was, but there it is.

We eventually stopped again, but this time for lunch. I'd really been interested to see Eagle, Colorado, because it plays such a big part in my job on a day to day basis, so we stopped there. Eagle was nice enough, but I don't really get the fuss. I guess it's because Eagle is close to Vail, and that's where all the good skiing is, but still...Eagle just seemed kind of blah to me. Except for the downtown area, which I loved. It was full of personality. We had lunch at a place called The Red Canyon Cafe, and then we stopped into this antique store, where the TM picked up some owl book-ends.

You'll note that starting this day, I'll talk about us stopping at antique stores a lot. We decided that it would be a waste of this giant-ass truck we were driving around mostly empty if we didn't at least LOOK at the antique stores for things that we normally wouldn't be able to get on a vacation.

After lunch, we made the final push toward Denver for the day. We were only about 100 miles away, but we had the scariest portion of the mountains left to drive. I was pretty stunned at the majesty of the mountains we drove toward. It sounds so cheesy, but it's true.

As we drove toward the fabled Eisenhower Tunnel (the highest point in the Interstate Highway system at over 11,000 feet), the mountains grew taller and more snow-topped.

We made another stop at the rest area at Vail Pass. Partly to answer "Nature's Call" but also to enjoy the amazing scenery. The weather wasn't really cooperating with us. When we left the hotel that morning it was 70 degrees. When we ate lunch in Eagle, it was 70 degrees. I'd be amazed if it was higher than 40 degrees at Vail Pass. Oh... and below is a picture of Vail Pass when we got there:

And here is a picture from the exact same spot 5 minutes later. This has not been doctored in any way. Obviously, this didn't fill my soul with quiet since we were driving straight that direction.
I don't have any more photos of the drive into Denver. The reason? Because right after we left Vail Pass we were plunged into a winter storm. That's right.. It was October 8th and we found ourselves in a driving rain/sleet/hail/snow storm as we climbed to the very top of the mountain. Needless to say I was fucking petrified again, and needless to say I was too busy gripping anything I could to take a lot of pictures. It wouldn't have done any good anyway. Here's a re-enactment photo:
Yeah... The TM even had be bust out the video camera again. Clearly I'm like a penguin with a flashlight. I just get distracted enough to ignore my pending doom. In the end, we did survive, and the snow stopped and dried as we descended into the Denver area.

Oh... I should also mention that I am now 2 for 2 in experiencing driving snow on a non-winter cross country road trip. Seems crazy. The last time was May in Wyoming.

We'd planned to meet up with my Aunt Barb, Uncle Lane, and my cousin (and reader) Abbey for dinner the night we arrived into Denver, and because there was no Triple D Restaurant in Denver, we left the location up to Abbey.

She recommended a crazy burger restaurant called the Cherry Cricket which, as it turns out, was featured on 2 other TV shows. Aaron Sanchez recommended it on "Best Thing I Ever Ate" and they also had it on "Man vs. Food", so the place does have some TV credits. Let me tell you... While the Squeeze Inn had all the build-up and anticipation, the Cherry Cricket served the best burger I've ever eaten. It was delicious. The gimmick is that you get a burger, and then choose the toppings a la carte. I had herbed cream cheese, bacon, and green chiles on my burger, and it was fucking delicious.

The TM had some super good, super spicy green chili. Both of our meals are pictures below, along with an order of "Frings" (Fries and Rings):

The bowl of chili really was that size. The TM ended up saving it in a quart container, and finishing it at home a few days later. I can tell you that this was a completely un-anticipated meal, because we didn't even know where we were going until that day, but it was awesome. I'd go there again in a heart beat.

In the end, Day 7 was a pretty great day. We had took a spectacular drive through some of the most beautiful land in America. We saw the best rest area, drove the highest point, and ate the tastiest burger. We saw family, we revisited Denver (one of my 2 favorite cities), and started the longest stretch our our journey along America's first interstate.

It was, indeed, a pretty great day.

Monday, October 25, 2010

Pumpkin Shortage

The Tofu Muchacha is tough. She has a really good memory (when she chooses) and she really especially enjoys making fun of me when I do something silly.

Last year I heard somewhere that there would be a pumpkin shortage heading into the holidays, so I bought up a couple of extra cans of pumpkin. Not pumpkin pie filling, but pumpkin

A couple of things I should note.

1) There did not appear to be a pumpkin shortage at any point during the holidays last year.

2) Despite the extra pumpkin that was purchased, I did not actually USE the excess pumpkin.

I believe that the TM is of the opinion that my knee-jerk, pumpkin hysteria was ridiculous, and had I really, really needed to make a pumpkin pie, that I would have likely been able to locate a can or two somewhere out there.

So... now whenever possible, she likes to work in the notion that there's a pumpkin shortage. She just thinks it's soooo hilarious.

So anyway, that's just a little story for you.

Oh... here's proof, by the way.

This past Sunday, we got together with our friend Colette and bought some pumpkins and carving kits and we fucking went to town.

The TM had little-to-no experience with the pumpkin carving, because the Halloween holiday wasn't exactly emphasized during her upbringing. We mulled some cider, had some Thai food, and baked some delicious pumpkin seeds. Oh... and we carved some bad-ass pumpkins.

Check them out:First we have the full vista. Each of our pumpkins, completed and sitting in the dining room. Painstakingly photographed by your boy, the Beefy Muchacho. Are they not awesome? Can't tell? Let's take a closer look.

Here's Colette's pumpkin. It's supposed to be a snarling wolf, and while I see that, I also sort of see a snarling bear. Either way, it's pretty effing sweet.

Here's mine. The Headless Horseman in all his terrifying, noggin'-free glory. This is by far the best pumpkin I've ever carved. I am pleased.

Lastly, we have the TM's pumpkin. I'm sure we all could have guessed that she'd carve herself a cat. I think she did an absolutely ass-kicking job for her first try (that she can recall). I'm of the opinion that there's always a place for a cute pumpkin amidst the terrors that typically reign.

That's all... Just needed a brief intermission from the Great Piano Trip blogs, and also wanted to brag a little.

Yes... We used forms to guide our designs. No, that doesn't make me less proud.