I’ve got my fancy new teeth!

That’s the most important thing to tell you!  I went by my home away from home (Beaumont Family Dentistry) and my new teeth were in!  YIPPPPEEEE!  Crowns are in place and they are real pretty.

Enough.

Big times around here.  I got Cabin Fever in a bad, bad way last week and started hitching to Ohio.  Actually, my Mom has been kind enough to lend her Town and Country van to the cause and I took off for Cincinnati on Wednesday past.  I got to hang out with Nicole and her kids for the night.  Nicole made some a-m-a-z-i-n-g ceviche, we had a bottle of wine, and we plopped on the couch for the evening watching Top Chef and whatever else was on the DVR.  Add a couple of Skinny Cows into the mix and it was pure Heaven.  After that lovely evening, I got in the car Thursday morning, stopped at the Echo, grabbed my Graeter’s to go and made way to Chicago.

I made it to Chicago in record time (thanks time change!) and finally got to meet the Famous McCoy sisters!  Delightful.  Brian and I went to dinner in the neighborhood (Reuben Eggrolls?  They exist.), had a drink, and called it a day.  Friday, the McCoy’s were working around the house and I mostly daydreamed about dinner.  Then, FINALLY, Brian S. and Emily arrived from their cross country journey!!

We all had a quick pasta dinner outside and made our way back to the neighborhood strip and found an amazing place to hang out.  The Mecca Supper Club is probably the coolest thing in Edison Park.  The ladies and fellas that came in were pretty fantastic.  Gentlemen with their shirts unbuttoned, all that puberty gave them out for the world to see.  WOW.  And the ladies.  Such tight skirts, so, so short.  And heels.  High ones.  And the permanent waves in those long locks.  Awesome.  And, it was karaoke night.  Sweet ass.  I’ll be back.  I failed to mention that the waitress might have been auditioning for a “Hot for Teacher” remake.  She started the evening off in a button up with a bow-tie and her hair in a bun.  At 9p, she came back to check on us with her hair down (permed), skinny jeans on, and a tank top.  Look for the video.

We went out to do some sight seeing on Saturday after Brian S. and Emily headed to Geneva, IL.  And, honestly, I don’t remember what we did.  It doesn’t matter.  I think we drove around to Wicker Park.  Oh yeah!  We had Cuban food and it was super yummy.  I didn’t remember initially because we walked around Wicker Park on our own little pub crawl.  It was short but good.

I’m looking into doing one or two of the Frank Lloyd Wright tours when I go back to Chicago in about 10 days.  They are a little pricey but I think it would be super fun and well, I’ve got the time.  It would be a shame to not do it.  I am also hoping to get back to the Art Institute. I’m going to have to muster up some adventure.  I’m determined to get Chicago.   Any and all suggestions are welcome!

I came back to Lexington yesterday with Brian S. and mostly we’ve just been hanging out with LuLu, our brother Dannie, and the nieces.  This weekend, we head to Indianapolis for our family reunion!  That should be super fun.  Brian Mc is meeting me there and then we are off to Ohio for the week.  OHIO I say!  Columbus, Cleveland, and Amish Country.  Why not?

Still…in KY (and Chicago).

Big weekend here in LexVegas!  Brian and I went to a couple of wineries on Thursday.  We went to Equus Run in Midway and Wildside in Versailles.  Both were pretty good but more it was fun to get out of the house and do some mid-day drinking and hanging out!  Then, we topped of the evening with a beer sampling at Pazzo’s.  Pazzo’s is a campus pizza spot that is largely unremarkable.  Until you see the beer list and their sampling option.   Nice spot to end the day!

Friday night, we went to the Bluegrass Fair with my niece Shelby and her boyfriend Alex.  So fun! There were so many fantastic sights to see.  There was Fearless Flores and the Flying Motorcycles and a piglet race.  I rode the Ferris Wheel and emptied Brian’s pockets and my wallet of quarters.  There was one of those “Win a Million” quarter games there and I couldn’t stop.  I somehow did not eat a Funnel Cake.  Not sure how I passed that up but it probably has something to do with my insane consumption of Graeter’s ice cream.  It’s just so good.

If you didn't know already, I'm afraid of heights.

And Saturday night, we hit the drive in with Shelby and Alex and my other niece Kelsey.  We got to see Salt and Inception.  It was a great night – not too much humidity and a full moon.  Inception was amazeballs and Salt was entertaining. OH!  We also went to the Farmer’s Market.  Trying to be better and buy local, wherever local may be.  It was hard not laughing my face off at the guy selling fish from frozen Florida.  I got tomatoes instead! And peaches! It was nice to have such an easy weekend before Brian headed off to Chicago for a few weeks.

I’m going to try and get up to Chicago in a couple of weeks, once Molar Drama ’10 is over and, more importantly, Brother Brian and Emily are there!  I can’t wait to see them!!

And finally, I know I promised that I’d work on the editing and such and I have been.  It just hasn’t been successful.  I’m sure you can piece together the photos with the information!

A Cincinnati 5-way is not nearly as dirty as it sounds.

As Jenn mentioned, after a week in Lexington, we drove the hour and half or so up to Cincinnati to visit with her friend Nicole. Nicole and her crew were awesome and showed us a fun time, thanks y’all! (2 weeks in Kentucky and I’m already using words like “y’all.”) The city itself is vibrant and diverse, filled with interesting areas, great old buildings, nice houses and little neighborhood squares. There’s a Cincinnati set on flickr.

We got in late on Friday night, enough time to meet Nicole and have drink on the hot and humid back deck of a neighborhood Irish pub. The next morning brought breakfast at a nice place called the Echo restaurant and a surprise food lesson. I had my first taste of goetta, a hash brown-like patty containing pork and steel cut oats. It wasn’t until a little bit later that I learned about Cincinnati’s strong German heritage. I found out that goetta is a German dish, and the word “goetta” is actually German for “goetta”. Who knew?

Cincinnati
The goetta is at bottom right of the pic above. I liked it.

Findlay market was our next stop and it did not disappoint. It was one of the larger farmer’s markets I’ve seen, a nice mix of the what you’d expect at a market, local organic produce, jams and jellies, seafood counter, crepes and waffles, etc., but Findlay’s trademark was that it has a bit more of a German flair. Pretzels, German deli meats, pickles and the like were thrown in the mix. It’s not as big as Pike Place Market in Seattle, but it does span a couple blocks in size and has permanent buildings and structures to house the shops and shelter the vendors.

Cincinnati

Cincinnati

Cincinnati

In keeping with my curiosity about local heart attack food, I learned about Cincinnati chili and their version of the Coney dog.

I’d venture that Cincinnati’s chili shares roots with Detroit’s Coney Sauce and both can probably be traced back to Coney Island, New York. I’m sure that there’s far more to the history than that, but in all cases, the chili itself is thin and doesn’t have beans in it. But that’s just the starting point, because Cincinnati chili takes off from there and becomes something unique.

For starters, as a dish, the chili is served on spaghetti, and those two ingredients form what is known as 2-way. Each additional ingredient of beans, cheese, onions increases that number by 1.

  • two-way: spaghetti and chili
  • three-way: spaghetti, chili, and shredded cheese
  • four-way: spaghetti, chili, shredded cheese, and either diced onions or beans
  • five-way: spaghetti, chili, shredded cheese, diced onions, and beans

For all you set theorists out there: {n-way | 2 <= n >= 5}

While we technically were not in Cincinnati at the time, Gold Star Chili is a chain that Jenn said did a good job of capturing the Cincinnati chili experience, so we stopped there on the way back down to Lexington.

Cincinnati 5-way chili and cheese Coneys
Cincinnati 5-way chili and cheese Coneys

I can now say I participated in a Cincinnati 5-way. Jenn said she wanted to take me to Cleveland next to sample what the locals there call a “steamer”. I’m not sure what that is, exactly, but I hope it tastes as good as Cincinnati chili.

Kimball, SD

You may have seen a couple of these pics already in Jenn’s posts, but I uploaded the entire collection to flickr.

We really were looking for a popcorn ball company. As we passed an sign announcing the town of Kimball, South Dakota, Jenn said she had seen signs for a popcorn ball from the town of Kimball, SD, so we took the exit in hopes of finding the place where they were made. We didn’t get more than a half mile when we drove past a house so amazing that we had to pull over and take a look. The home itself was hard to see, a tiny house behind a small front yard filled with row after row of amazing antiques and ‘junk’. Next to the house was a larger garage filled with even more stuff. A wooden fence connected the two buildings, and a small gate in that fence led to a back area with tools and table saws and construction horses and other things strewn about. It took a while to even get a sense of the property layout because of the rows and rows of stuff.

Kimball, SD

We walked through the rows, taking turns with the camera for at least 15 minutes with no sign of anyone around. Busy curtains covering halfway opened wooden windows of the house flapped in the breeze. I stared into the windows for a few seconds listening for any sound or sign of life inside, but I heard and saw nothing.

Things were arranged in a semi-categorical fashion. Rusted out tongs and hand-tools lay together on a rolling table, looking like something out of a scene from Hostel. Hub-cabs from long extinct cars shared a table. Two shelves carried those little glass covers that go on electric wires of telephone poles. Much of the stuff was rusty. Giant wagon wheels lined the front fence of along the entire span of the property.

Kimball, SD

Walking a little deeper into the maze, through a wooden arch adorned with a cow skull was a pile of bones on a circular pedestal. Next to that sat what looked like a sculpture made out of auto parts, a mechanical skeletal counterpart to the bone pile – a gas tank and other rusted metal forming a spine.

Kimball, SD

This arranger, whoever it was, had an artistic eye. Things were painstakingly organized and often times arranged to resemble other things. Cogs and rusty saw blades adorned the garage walls like tribal murals. Someone had been collecting, sorting and designing for a long time. This was a collector, an artist and an archivist of Americana. No one could accuse this person of being a hoarder.

Kimball, SD

Finally the owner came out of the house. He had a white hair and beard and wore a faded denim shirt and blue jeans. He would not have looked out of place prospecting for Gold in Californy or waving a shotgun at us and screaming ‘Get off my land!’. But his sweet disposition was instantaneously apparent. He apologized for taking so long to come outside, he had been on the phone. We talked for a while about his ‘collection’, when we found out we were looking at the remaining 10%. He claimed that he sold the rest of it off, truck loads at a time, at less than ideal prices because of the economy and because he was getting tired of taking care of it after so many years (30,40,600, I forget). We talked about travelling the country and the places in the south and west where he found much of his stuff.

Bars, restaurants, antique shops in cities, homeowners looking for interesting pieces all paid him well for the rusty stuff. He said he discovered his house and his stuff had been blogged about quite a bit and he was hoping one of his relatives would show him how to use the Internet to buy and sell stuff. He was super nice, if not a bit disappointed that we had no room in our own junk collection to store anything we might have bought. My biggest mistake after this whole interaction was that I failed to get his name or take his picture.

Kimball, SD

Mr Collector Guy, if you ever find this blog, thanks for the inspiration. Best of luck in getting online. I hope your place stays the same for as long as possible. It was a beautiful thing to find by mistake.

We never found the factory but we did find the Kimball, SD popcorn ball at a gas station. It taste like ass.

Lucky in Kentucky?

Not so much.  After a full 4 hours in the chair with the dentist, the work cannot be completed and my root canal is going to a specialist for a 3rd attempt.  Unfortunately, my wallet will follow.  The good news is that…well, it will eventually be done.   Boresville.

Brian and I haven’t done much in Lexington besides drink.  And we’ve hardly managed any of that.  We went out one night to Mia’s and thought we’d really go crazy so we headed over to the Rosebud.  It was still pretty early in the evening when 2 girls came out of the bar.  One of them was that girl.  She needed a chair and a long stare at the ground.  We left, it just wasn’t gonna be that kinda night for us.

The view from our table at Mia's.

Over this past weekend, we headed up to Cincinnati to visit with my longest time friend Nicole.  We had a great time!  Brian got to see a city he hadn’t been to and we were welcomed in style by Nicole’s awesome friends!  We went to Findlay Market and the Cincinnati Art Museum.  And that was after a great breakfast at the Echo.  Breakfast at the Echo was so good that we went back again before we left on Sunday.

It's the flower on the Pitcher plant!

Mostly, the weekend in Cincinnati was all things German(ish) – gorgeous pretzels, goetta, and Italianate architecture.  And big, big drinks.  I guess the stein got thrown out the window but most places we went served my whiskey in a pint glass.  Seriously, a pint glass.

Thanks Germans!
This is the Italianate style that the Germans brought.

Brian and I both like Cincinnati more than we expected!  I knew I would have a great time visiting with Nicole and was surprised at how fun the city and company were even though I had been there countless times before.  Fresh eyes I suppose.

Nicole and me, Findlay Market.

Sounds of South Dakota

This is for the audiophiles, some ambient sounds. I brought along a little audio recorder, the M-Audio Multitrack II, to capture some of the sounds of our trip.

It was amazing how open the entire area was for miles at the Spur Campground, near Sturgis. You could hear a car coming down the road from about a mile away. I was impressed with the various bird sounds, so I grabbed the recorder and started walking around the campground.

Motorcycle culture in the entire state is prevalent all year round, not just during the Sturgis rally. As I recorded, a couple Harleys rolled casually through the campground.

The sounds of Wall Drug were just what you would expect, hundreds of tourists strolling through a bunch of shops selling a bunch of junk that makes people feel like they’re in the West. I was never really all that impressed with the place. As we made our way to the car to leave, a slow moving freight train rolled past Wall Drug.

KENTUCKY!

We made it on Saturday night.  I goofed around on Sunday with Brian.  He and I went to breakfast with my Mom Sunday morning and then we picked up the Girls and Alex to watch the yellow card match that was the World Cup.  BW3’s  was our spot as we had minors.  Then, a cookout at Dannie’s.  Great way to spend a Sunday and the first day in town.

Not quite sure what to do with myself, I go to Speedway and get my special blend of 44 oz of mostly iced tea with just a little sweet tea to top it off.  This isn’t the only thing I do here but my go to when in doubt.  Or hot.  Basically what I’m telling you is that within a few days of being in KY, I’m at the Speedway at least once a day getting my fix.  There.  It’s out.  Kelsey said she was going to make me some today so that I didn’t have to go to the gas station…we’ll see.

LuLu is loving it here.  She gets to run around in the car a lot and play with Georgia and Abby.  And, she is getting a myriad of spa services while we are in town.  She too is going to the dentist and has a pedicure scheduled for next week.

OH!  Thank you for the well wishes on my tooth. My Advil and Amoxi regimen has served me well and there hasn’t been another breakdown since the Badlands.  I am going to the dentist tomorrow.  YIpppeeee!

Sometimes it’s not an emergency but does require a detour.

Detour began yesterday (Thursday).  Brian and I had awesome plans to leave South Dakota after the Badlands on Thursday morning and head across Wyoming to Jackson.  After 2 days in Jackson and Yellowstone, we were headed to Salt Lake City.   Unfortunately, I woke up Wednesday morning in serious pain.  I had been on a regiment of Advil for a few weeks with jaw pain that I associated with stress (I’m one of those neurotic sleep grinders.).  Stress doesn’t make your tooth throb.  So, now we are headed to Kentucky to see my dentist and hang with my family. This was already on the books but I was hoping to see the aforementioned first.  Oh well.

And that’s how we ended up in Kansas City, MO.   Driving from Sioux Falls, SD to Kansas City, I was listening to a horrible book (on AUDIO from the Crack) and they kept talking about BBQ.  Which I love.  So, diversion not desired has proved awesome as I had the best BBQ of my life tonight.   I love all the BBQ’s except for whoever does the mustard sauce.  The BBQ here was amazing, better than North Carolina and it sure gives Memphis a run for their smoker.

We did a double fill!

Did I mention that this particular BBQ came from a gas station?  Yes, it did.  And the place was packed.  Jam packed.  So, we called in our order and took it down to the park to eat.  Then, we went back to buy the sauce.  Brian asked them if they were always so busy.  Yes they are.  And, Michelle Obama had just been in town.  And they catered a meal for her.  That made the news the night before.  It also probably helped that Bourdain said it was a must-stop.  He was right.  Michelle and Bourdain?  Yes please.From the state I said I'd never return to.

Before and as I got super whiny, we drove across Montana and South Dakota.  We hit Glacier, Missoula, Butte, Bozeman, Piedmont (where we stayed for two days at the Spur Campground), Sturgis, Devils Tower (did you know that’s just a big rock?), Wall Drug, and the Badlands!

Sunset at Spur in Piedmont

The Spur Campground was beautiful and perfect.  Excepting some bizarre and fun interactions with the staff and the one other group staying there.  We are pretty sure they shot some sort of porn the first night we were there in their “bar” where they often host fundraiser poker tournaments.  We were urged not to go to the bar as it was closed for a “photoshoot”.  The music sure was loud.

What we saw before we heard the ugly noises.

Also, Thursday morning, once we had decided not to go to Yellowstone straight away I met another nice couple coming from Yellowstone. LuLu had gone over to introduce herself and beg a doughnut.  Their pop up had done just that on the highway to Yellowstone and they had just gotten back from camping there.  I said that we were thinking of going but not 100% sure yet – what did she think of it?

“Well, it’s a big tourist trap.  And, it’s full of foreigners.   It is real pretty if you drive in on 16.”

Huh.

Through South Dakota I kept noticing these huge popcorn balls for sale.  They were in gas stations all over the state.  They are called Kimballs and are made in Kimball, SD.  I guess I only noticed them because my Grandpa used to make us popcorn balls when we were kids.   Anyway, while inspecting these inferior popcorn balls, I noted that they were made in Kimball.  Fast forward 120 miles to a sign announcing Kimball next exit.  I requested a stop to see if we could find the factory.

We didn’t.  Instead we found something way more rad :

I finally got reacquainted with the sun and a little heat in the last few days…good goddamn is in beautiful through there.  The sky. Seattle, you made me forget that it got that clear and blue.

Tomorrow is Kansas City to Lexington.  We’re gonna hang for a few weeks and see the sights.  Hopefully we can put in a few side trips.

AND!  I nearly forgot to document my short lived but serious obsession with Prairie Dogs.  It was more serious than my situation with the Moccasin.   I took a picture of nearly every one that I found. Judging by the holes in the ground, I see why people hate them.  Still, cute.


7 full days on the road and 2500 miles driven.

And, of course, LuMei says hello.

I didn't buy it.
Someone has to drive.

P.S.  Reenie, Wendi sent me an email photo, I believe this is my trade for that gem:

 I didn't buy it.
pps. I'll try to report more often so that the info is more cohesive. And I'll work on the editing skills. I know who you are. Reading this probably made a few of you nauseous.

Candidates for the Amazing Race we are not

The last 48 hours in Seattle were hectic to say the least. After scrambling to get everything packed up and moved out of the apartment along with a handful of other moving related details, we finally got on the road in the afternoon of the 1st. We had dinner in Ellensburg, WA and made it to Spokane that evening, with a cool little stop near Vantage, WA to check out the Wild Horse Monument – giant metal sculptures of horses overlooking the Columbia River.

We didn’t do much in Spokane, other than wake up late, eat at the amazing Waffles Plus, re-organize the car and pick up some camping supplies. With a reservation at the Glacier campground the next day, we decided to skip the suction goat and get back on the road.

We were so late getting into Glacier, that the ranger stations were all closed. Luckily, there was plenty of daylight left to set up camp and find some firewood, even though it was after 10:0pm. Jenn made a delicious dinner of chicken sausage, spinach and fried rice. Of course, we slept well into the morning, getting up sometime around 10:00 am. Lulu handled the entire camping experience very well, a good sign because we have 4 more days of camping this week – 2 days near Sturgis and 2 at Yellowstone.

Glacier was amazing. We only had one day there, so we drove Going to the Sun Road. This is a narrow road that dissects the park, winds up the mountain through Logan Pass and then back down into a town called St Mary. It was hairy at times as it skirted the mountainside. You could look down the cliffs from the passenger side window. The road was well-maintained and very crowded with 4th of July vacationers. The pass was still in the throngs of winter with a few feet of snow still on the ground. Stunt driver Jenn drove the road like a champ and was a very good sport about being in snow-capped mountain peaks when she really wanted summer sun.

We’re currently in Wyoming, enjoying some downtime and some breakfast before we head to the Sturgis area to set up camp and do some more exploring. I’m hoping to actually do some worky work today once we set up camp. The weather has been rainy and cooler pretty much since we left. It seems to be following us around.