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Cedar Rock: Closed Mondays

When driving through Iowa, I wanted to visit Cedar Rock, a house designed by Frank Lloyd Wright.
  I went on a Monday.

So… don’t do that.  ‘Cause they’re closed.

04
Oct 2012
POSTED BY travelbugrobert
DISCUSSION 2 Comments
Articles

Travel Tales: Solvang, or The Sassy Bartender

Have you ever seen the movie Sideways?  If you haven’t, you should.  And if you don’t believe me, Rotten Tomatoes has it at 96% fresh, so… yeah.  I forgive you if you thought I was lying.  On paper, I don’t think I would like the movie.  It follows two unlikeable, middle aged men on a road trip to Central California wine country as they celebrate the last week of bachelorhood before one of them gets married.  Despite the unrelatable subject matter to me given that I’m not middle aged or about to get married, I still loved the film.  First, it’s hilarious.  I still remember watching it in a packed theater and laughing along with all the middle-aged wine aficionados surrounding me (according to some, the movie even had an effect on wine sales).  But aside from the comedy, it’s shot beautifully and really showcases Central California in a golden-hued, magical light.  Like any good travelogue-y movie, it made me want to visit.

I’ve watched a lot of movies where I wanted to visit the locations.  The Sound of Music’s Austria, Lord of the Ring’s New Zealand, Vicky Cristina Barcelona’s Spain.  I have yet to visit any of these places, but as far as Sideways went, it was just two hours north from Los Angeles.  A little easier than a twelve hour flight.  And two of my good friends who also loved the movie also wanted to visit.  So we took our own Sideways road trip, minus the mid-life crises.

We thought we were so cool.  No one could possibly have done this before.  So what if there’s a map online listing all of the Sideways locations?  This was an original road trip idea.

We stayed in Solvang at Hotel Corque.  Went on a wine tour.  It was great.  We were the only people there younger than 35-years-old, but that’s what made us trailblazers.  Then we ate at the Hitching Post, a restaurant integral to the plot of the movie.

We get seated, and who should be sitting next to us but another friend of mine from Los Angeles!  He explains he goes up here pretty often, always making sure to hit the big Sideways locations.  Great.  We’re just another group doing the same thing as everyone else.  Our feeling of lameness continued when we visited a wine bar later that night.  The female bartender gave us one look and said, “Let me guess.  You’re all from LA and came up here because of Sideways?”  Of course we lied and said that wasn’t the reason, but she knew.

We still had a good time, though.  And really, how was our Sideways road trip any different than taking a picture of the Eiffel Tower or the Sydney Opera House?  It’s what people do.  In some small way, doing the same thing as everyone else connects us together.  And what better way to feel closer to your fellow man than to get drunk in Wine Country?

01
Oct 2012
POSTED BY travelbugrobert
DISCUSSION No Comments
Articles

Enchanted World Doll Museum

(Mitchell, South Dakota)

Is that a doll museum or a fortress?  When I think of dolls, I don’t usually think “castle.”

Unless…

Oh no.  They’re enchanted dolls.  The museum curators are doing the best they can to prevent these tiny sorcerers from breaking free.  It all makes sense.   And “World” is right there in the name—they want to take over the world!  Who knows how many dolls are in there, just waiting for an uprising?  It’s near impossible to gauge the size of their army, what with those Russian nesting dolls.  Let’s just hope that castle can hold them.  As long as it stands firm, we should be safe.  Only humans can open doors.  Then again, if velociraptors can learn how to open doors, it’s only a matter of time before humanoid dolls will catch on.  We’re all doomed!

24
Sep 2012
POSTED BY travelbugrobert
DISCUSSION 1 Comment
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Can’t you read?

Can’t you read?

Don’t even think about it, duck.

20
Sep 2012
POSTED BY travelbugrobert
DISCUSSION No Comments
Articles

Travel Tales: My Rochester Connection, or Gym Class Flashbacks

A friend of mine was getting married in Rochester, New York.  I live in Los Angeles, California.  Luckily for me, there are these flying machines called airplanes that can take you to other parts of the world relatively quickly.  Only thing is, there are no direct flights from LA to Rochester.  I guess there aren’t enough Angelenos traveling to this northern New York city to justify direct flights.  No matter.  I book a flight to Chicago with a two hour layover, giving me plenty of time to make my connection to Rochester.  I’d arrive in Rochester in time for all of the wedding festivities.  You see where this is going.

My LA to Chicago flight gets delayed.  By two hours.  We finally arrive in Chicago, and I almost give up hope at making my connection.  And if I miss the flight, I miss all the fun activities leading up to the actual wedding (and really, that’s why people go to a wedding, am I right?).  But then I remember I have a little app on my phone that lets me check flight updates.  Sure enough, the Rochester plane was also delayed!  It still hadn’t taken off, but it was about to.  So I man up.  It’s go time.

I become “That Guy” on the plane who explains to skeptical passengers I have a connecting flight that is about to leave and I have to cut in front of them.  After many glares in the aisle, I get off the plane and run into the terminal with my rollaway carry-on and backpack.  I yell at a gate employee, like someone out of a disaster movie, “Which way to Gate 4G?!”  The woman points to the connecting terminal, probably half a mile away.  Then I start to run.  I don’t jog—I run.  I take off like I’m being tested in gym class, but now I have the added weight of my backpack, a carry-on to roll, and I’m wearing unacceptable running shoes.  If I were training for a race by adding extra weight during practice runs, this would be great.  But this isn’t practice.  This is the race.  All those gym class feelings come back.  Huffing, puffing, having to stop.  You got it, I tell myself, just a little further.

I finally make it to the gate… and the plane hasn’t departed yet!  I’m thrilled, but I’m also so winded I can’t breath.  I start coughing.  Horrible, wheezing coughing—that dry cough that hurts.  Oh man, was it bad.  And I didn’t even have the pleasure of knowing how fast I ran, like in gym.  As I walk on the plane, I try to play it cool, but the flight attendant knows something’s wrong.  Maybe it’s my beet red face and lung hacking that gives it away.  As I manage to ask for a glass of water without coughing, she hands me the entire bottle.  Score!, the frugal traveler in me thinks, That’s, like, a four dollar value!  As we take off, my wheezing and coughing continues.  I was not feeling better.  I was feeling worse.

Have you ever used a barf bag on an airplane?  I’ve never seen someone use one before, but a few Rochester passengers got to see one in action that day.  Funny, it wasn’t air sickness that did me in, it was my years of never engaging in any physical activity.  As I leaned over in my seat, taking aim in a little paper bag, I finally understood why America needs to get in shape.  It’s not to prevent diabetes or obesity.  It’s so they can make a quick flight connection without vomiting.

The Promised Land of Rochester.

17
Sep 2012
POSTED BY travelbugrobert
POSTED IN

Airports, Travel Tales, USA

DISCUSSION No Comments