Tuesday, May 20, 2008

Back Home

It's good to be back but at the same time, it kinda sucks that it's over. Here are some stats from the road:
  • Total distance driven: 4,365 miles.
  • Number of states driven through: 17, not including the District of Columbia (MN, IA, MO, IL, KY, TN, GA, FL, SC, NC, VA, MD, PA, NJ, OH, IN and WI).
  • State capitols driven through: 7, once again not including D.C. (Des Moines, IA; Nashville, TN; Atlanta, GA; Richmond, VA; Harrisburg, PA; Madison, WI and St. Paul, MN).
  • Most expensive gas seen: $4.19 somewhere in PA.
  • Number of Wal-Mart trucks seen: 51.
  • State with most dangerously conservative drivers: Iowa.
  • State with most dangerously insane drivers: Florida.
  • Money spent on tolls: somewhere in the $30-40 range... stupid northeast.
  • Philly cheesesteaks consumed by yours truly: 2.
  • Number of viscious sea gull attacks resulting in loss of pizza: 1.

Our full approximate route can be seen here.

Pictures can be seen here.

Sunday, May 18, 2008

Honeymoon: Day 14

We had a blast at Six Flags Great America today! Although Denise hated the very first ride we went on, the Superman Ultimate Flight ride. Don't get me wrong, Denise is no wuss when it comes to rides, she pretty much goes on them all. But she hates the ones where it's only the harness that lowers when you get on that's keeping you from a painful, messy death. And the Superman ride is the epitome of that.

Similar to the Batman ride (which we rode on twice and loved), where you're hanging from the track, the Superman ride throws in an extra twist. Just before it starts, the chairs spin you forward 90 degrees so you're facing the ground which, as the name would indicate, gives the illusion that you're flying like Superman. I thought it was a blast but Denise, not so much.

And as long as I'm apparently reviewing rides, the Raging Bull has to be the freakiest roller coaster I've been on so far! The only disappointment of the day is that the new Dark Knight coaster was just days from opening! We'll have to come back for that one. ;)

Anyway, we left around 5:30pm and drove a few hours up to Baraboo, WI, near the Wisconsin Dells.

Day 14 Route

Saturday, May 17, 2008

Honeymoon: Day 13

Today was a travelling day. We drove from Cleveland to just past Chicago in Gurnee, IL, so we can go to Six Flags Great America tomorrow!

The big highlight of the day is that I got to cross another fast food joint off my list of chains that I had never been to, Fatburger. All in all, quite tasty.

Day 13 Route

Friday, May 16, 2008

Honeymoon: Day 12

We spent the afternoon today touring the Gettysburg battle site. The overcast, rainy weather matched the eerie feeling I got. The entire battlefield area seems virtually untouched since 1865 except for the monuments littered everywhere. It looks exactly like every picture/painting/movie I've ever seen of it. It sounds very corny and cliché but walking around out there you can almost see everything happening before your eyes and imagine what it must've sounded like.

After spending a few hours there, we headed west on a very picturesque drive through the mountains of western Pennsylvania. A few hundred miles later and we're in Cleveland, OH.

Day 12 Route

Thursday, May 15, 2008

Honeymoon: Day 11

We spent the day and afternoon hanging around Atlantic City. Among the highlights, Denise getting attacked by seagulls! Turns out the seagulls on the Boardwalk are fairly aggressive, to say the least. This is mostly because the little old ladies (which AC is FULL of!) insist on feeding them, despite the signs posted everywhere that explicitly instruct you not to!

Anyway, I unfortunately missed this whole episode but here's how it was described to me. She was bringing her slice of pizza down the Boardwalk to meet up with me for lunch when she felt a tapping on her shoulder. She thought it was either somebody or something bumping into her shoulder but she turned only to find a very gutsy seagull sitting on her shoulder! Before she could react he had made a grab for, and got, a pepperoni off her slice. When she got to where I was, she was almost in tears. Don't worry, she and I can laugh about it now. Well, I do anyway... :)

When we'd had enough of AC, we took a long leisurely drive (partly to avoid tolls) up to Philadelphia and across half of Pennsylvania to Gettysburg.

Day 11 Route

Wednesday, May 14, 2008

Honeymoon: Day 10

After walking what had to have been at least 5 miles yesterday, we got kind of a late start today. Once we got going, we headed towards Independence Hall. Since we were in Philadelphia and in need of sustenance, I just had to have a real authentic Philly cheesesteak. And there just happened to be a famous place right across from the parking meter we found called Sonny's Famous Steaks. I ordered up a "Classic"... a cheesesteak with Cheez Whiz and fried onions. It was absolutely delicious!

After lunch we walked a few blocks to check out Independence Hall and the Liberty Bell. This kind of stuff has been especially interesting to me since I finished watching (and really enjoyed) the HBO John Adams mini-series right before the wedding. Before heading out of Philly, we just had to check out the Rocky statue. Ok, that was totally my idea but I dragged Denise along. We got our pictures with it too but I can't really upload it yet since we're once again without highspeed internet access. What is this? The 90s?! :)

Tonight we're once again looking out on the ocean from a top-floor room. This time we're at the Showboat Resort & Casino in Atlantic City, NJ.

Day 10 Route

Tuesday, May 13, 2008

Honeymoon: Day 9

We had an exhausting day today. After grabbing some food, we took the Metro down to the Mall. Our first stop was the Museum of Natural History. But we were very disappointed to find out that the Museum of American History was closed. I had been telling Denise about it--and had gotten her plenty excited about it--since it's the museum that has a whole bunch of pop culture artifacts. But fortunately the site told us that some select exhibits were currently on display at the Air and Space Museum, which we were planning on going to anyway. However, our hopes were once again crushed when we found out that, in preparation for the Museum of American History's reopening this fall, they had taken back all of their exhibits so we were completely out of luck. Oh well, we'll have to come back.

Afterwards, we walked to the U.S. Holocaust Museum, we walked past the Washington Monument to the new World War II Memorial, alongside the reflecting pool to the Lincoln Memorial and then past the White House (we also walked past the Treasury building and Ford's Theatre).

After having a free drink and appetizer (thanks to horrible service at the hotel sports bar), we embarked on what proved to be the longest, most annoying 120-mile drive before we FINALLY arrived at our hotel in Philadelphia at close to 1am. We got stuck in what had to have been the worst traffic jam either of us has ever been in thanks to some construction in Maryland. And that includes the traffic we had to deal with back home when the 35W bridge fell!! It had to have taken close to two hours to finally get through! Not only that, we hit another one (although not as bad) in Delaware. Does the northeast not know how to do road construction without completely shutting down interstates?! Between that and $4-5 tolls, driving up here is proving to be a pain in the a**!!

Day 9 Route

Monday, May 12, 2008

Honeymoon: Day 8

We started off the day in Myrtle Beach with a leisurely game of mini-golf at one of the more ridiculous courses I've played at called Mt. Atlanticus. Then we had some breakfast/lunch at a local greasy diner, did a little souvenir shopping and we were on our way north.

7 hours or so later, we were pulling into the Grand Hyatt Washington in the Capitol Hill area of Washington, D.C. I gotta say, this is the second night in a row that we've lucked out in the hotel room department. Last night, we somehow managed to get an awesome 10th floor suite with a balcony with a private ocean view at the Caribbean Resort & Villas. Tonight, we ended up with a very nice penthouse room at a 4-star hotel with direct, underground access to the Metro and located a mere 5 blocks from The Mall!

Day 8 Route

Good way to start the day

Not to rub it in or anything, but here's what I woke up to this morning...

Sunday, May 11, 2008

Honeymoon: Day 4-7

Just a quick update since the internet access has been unpredictable down here. We spent day 4 relaxing in Orlando. I finally got to play some mini-golf! :)

On day 5 we checked into our room at the Caribbean Beach Resort at Walt Disney World. That night we went to Mickey's Pirate and Princess Party (Denise is forcing me to put all of that) at the Magic Kingdom. It actually worked out really well. We got our passes for like half off and we got there at about 5pm and stayed until close at midnight. That meant we spent most of the time there after the sun had gone down so we avoided the oppressive mid-90s and 90% humidity. Plus the park was less crowded so we got to ride whatever we wanted whenever we wanted (we rode Space Mountain three times!).

On day 6, we spent the morning at Disney's Animal Kingdom. It was really fun and the Expedition Everest ride was awesome! But it got really hot and our feet were tired (and blistered in Denise's case) so we were headed out by like 2 or 3.

Today's day 7 and we've stopped at a little Mexican restaurant in Savannah, GA, called Carlito's Mexican Grill. On the way here we went through St. Augustine, FL, the oldest permanent settlement in North America. It was pretty awesome! After this, we'll heading north and spending the night in Myrtle Beach, SC.

Day 4-7 Route

Update: Lucky us. We just happened to arrive in Myrtle Beach in time for bike week! I can't tell you how thrilled we are!

Oh well, it's hard to complain. We once again played the honeymoon card and got an awesome 10th floor suite with a balcony overlooking the ocean! Pictures to follow...

Wednesday, May 7, 2008

Honeymoon: Day 3

Today was mainly spent driving so we could get to Florida easily tomorrow. That being said, we drove through some gorgeous terrain in Kentucky and Tennessee.

Other than that, it was all about Denise. We woke up to a free continental breakfast in the hotel, a favorite vacation activity for her. For lunch, we stopped for a quick bite at a Sonic drive-in, a place which I've been promising to take her for a year and a half now but it's fairly difficult to follow through on since there aren't any in Minnesota... for now. For dinner, she'd always wanted to try Cici's Pizza, which we see commercials for but have never actually seen back home. They seem to be way more common in the southeastern US. Although now that I look at their site, their appears to be one a mere 15 miles from where we live. Go figure.

While passing through Atlanta, we tried to check out the Georgia Aquarium but unfortunately they were closed. We stopped for the night in Valdosta, GA.

Day 3 Route

Honeymoon: Day 2

We've decided that Iowa drivers are by far the worst we've seen so far at observing highway etiquette. After proceeding across Iowa, which was about as exciting as it sounds, we headed south to Missouri. Highlights included driving through Hannibal, MO, birthplace of Samuel Clemens (aka Mark Twain) where Denise got her picture taken with a gigantic statue of him. It's also the hometown of Colonel Sherman T. Potter.

The plan was to continue on US-61 along the western edge of the Mississippi but thanks to a flooded roadway, we were diverted into western Illinois for about 40 miles. After that, we crossed back over into Missouri so we could see St. Louis, which neither Denise or I had ever seen before.

First, we ate at a delicious little hole-in-the-wall Mexican restaurant called El Paisano where Denise discovered how delicious Sangria is and got a little... incapacitated. After that, we went to a little ice cream place called Ted Drewes that we read about in a book that Adam and Mandy got us called Roadfood (thanks guys!). It was totally worth it from a cultural standpoint. It was just a tiny little shack but despite being a Tuesday night, there were literally hundreds of people gathered around outside it. A security guard we made friends with told us it's like that every night.

After that, we cut through southern Illinois where we stayed for the night right on the Kentucky border in Metropolis, the hometown of Superman! What entitles them to call it that (other than the gigantic statue of Superman), I have no idea.

Day 2 Route

Monday, May 5, 2008

Honeymoon: Day 1

As Denise and I kept saying, it's a good thing we weren't flying anywhere. What with packing, returning pianos, bringing unopened booze back to the liquor store and dropping my parents off at the airport, today was busy enough without having to worry about departure times and airport security. Not surprisingly, we didn't end up officially leaving until about 4:30 so we had to deal with a little rush hour heading out of the Twin Cities.

We were very excited to officially receive our first "honeymoon upgrade" at Avis. We had a full-size reserved but the dude at the counter upgraded us to a "premium"... namely a black Dodge Charger.

For those not familiar with our plans, we're trying not to plan out more than a day or two in advance. And since we had absolutely no time between the wedding and this afternoon to think anything over, we just jumped on 35 and headed south. So we spent the afternoon taking a very uneventful drive through Iowa to West Des Moines.

Day 1 Route

Sunday, May 4, 2008

The Wedding

Well after like 10 months of planning and preparing, the wedding is finally over. Denise and I really want to thank everyone who helped us pull it off! I'm sure there are a few people that we never got a chance to talk to or that we wanted to talk to more but there was just so much going on. But we really appreciate everyone who came more than we could possibly say!

I've already uploaded the pictures from my camera here. We have to wait (very impatiently) about 3-4 weeks before we get our pictures back from our photographer. If anyone has some good pictures they took, please shoot me an email!