Friday, July 1, 2011

On the End of the Road

Which, admittedly, happened ages ago, but I've been lazy busy.

 Day 13 (Dallas, Little Rock, Memphis (technically Southaven, MS)):

We got up around 11:00, drove to Little Rock, Arkansas, where we some more of my traveling companion's relatives.

Afterward, we pushed on to Memphis, then dipped a bit into Mississippi to South Haven, where we promptly checked into our hotel and did nothing else of interest except catch up on Game of Thrones and Wakfu.  Now we get to wait for new episodes.  Hooray?
Day 14 (Memphis):   

We visited the Stax Museum in Memphis, the old home of Stax Records and a huge landmark in the history of American music.  However, as we hit the museum, I got an important email, and raced through the museum to deal with it.  For about two hours, I made frantic calls, sent emails, and generally creeped around in the lobby of the Stax Museum while my comrade in road-tripping perused the collection.

At 4:00pm, my traveling companion walked out of the museum I had finished in 10 minutes.  I was playing Angry Birds, having exhausted all productive things to do.

Went back to the hotel, rested for a bit.

We visited a friend of my traveling companion, with whom we talked shop (40k, WoW, D&D, etc) and visited a BBQ place where they served Barbecue Chicken Nachos (which are about as delicious as they sound).

We left his house for the famous Beale St around 9:30, hoping to see some live music.  There was some kind of motorcycle convention going on, and Beale St was hopping.  We saw some great live music, including a bit by “The Plantation All-Stars.”  We also saw a guy playing electric guitar with his tongue.  That was pretty impressive.
Day 15 (Memphis, St. Louis, Joliet):   

It's pretty obvious given the scale of the map, but this was a BIG driving day for us (and not much else).  We got up around 10:00, out of the room and on the road to St Louis by 11(ish).  Okay, probably more like 12:00ish.

We stopped in St. Louis around 4 to see the Gateway Arch, which is one of the more interesting features of the city.  It was rather huge, even by the standards of things we’ve seen on this trip.

We checked out the (free) museum underneath, but decided not to ride to the top, since it would take too long to get up and back.

We then departed for Chicago, stopping in Joliet (about an hour outside of the city) because we figured that it would be cheaper.  After being recommended a local motel by a Best Western attendant (to her credit, she was happy to suggest places that actually fell within our traveling budget).

Day 16 (Chicago):  

Woke up early-ish, but kept hitting snooze.

We got to the Chicago Art Institute at around 12:00pm, and then accidentally and promptly split up.
I lingered for ages in the Ancient Art wing, which had a lot of amazing stuff from European and Asian countries.

Items of interest:

Some badass Katars.

One of many awesome Tomb Guardian statues:

An awesome lock.

An interesting exhibit on cross-cultural comparisons of Woodblock printing (Japanese and European religious works).

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The massive Impressionist wing, mostly (for me) to see that one Seurat painting.  You know the one.  With the dots.  And the people.
(It's this one)

 A “Medieval Art/Arms and Armor” exhibit, which was good, but I was a bit let down by the size of the exhibit, especially as compared to the rooms upon rooms upon rooms of French Impressionism.

Some interesting modern and less interesting post-modern stuff.

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Headed over to the giant bean, also called the Cloud Gate, in Millenium Park.  During our failed efforts to find the giant, reflective metal bean, we found a giant fountain,

Some cool gardens, and some other cool crap, before finally Googling the massive chrome legume:

It made for some weird photos.

We also discovered that there is a thriving beach in Chicago, at least when the weather is nice, which we got a great view of while plowing through traffic to visit Wrigley Field for exactly long enough to snap this photo from the road.

After the long day of sightseeing, we stopped by our hotel to check in and relax a bit, then headed in to Second City, an improve club.

The show was quite good.  They did an excellent job getting some seeds from the audience at the beginning (faking technical difficulties to converse with a few audience members, planting a cast member in the audience at the start, googling people mid-show), and then did perhaps an even better job working those tidbits in later.  Running themes in the show included fate, Barack Obama, and bestiality.

We got back to the hotel around 2:00pm, went to sleep.

Day 17 (Chicago, Cleveland):

I got up “early” (9:00am) to do a load of laundry, because I was about out of socks.

We left the hotel around noon to visit Oak Park, which contains Frank Lloyd Wright’s house and studio. This was also of particular interest to me, because my dad grew up in this area, and so I was able to see the street he lived on as a kid, as well as his high school. The local wrestling team was doing a shirtless car wash.  Good thinking, actually.  I’m surprised you don’t see more of those.  We didn't get any pictures, though.

Afterwards, we left Chicago for Cleveland (not Cleaveland, apparently, which is what happens when you let fighters with greataxes take greatcleave).

Also, a sign.

We decided not to f*ck with the "fines and penalties orc."  At least not without a bigger party.

We found a Motel 6 about an hour outside of the city, and that's where we stayed.  That strategy worked pretty well for us in general, actually, come to think.
Day 18 (Cleveland, Scenic Lakeside Driving, Niagra Falls):

We woke up a bit later than planned (10:00ish), cleaned up, and headed to the only particularly interesting thing in Cleveland: the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame.

The Hall of Fame is broken down into three sections.  The first a museum, containing innumerable historical artifacts from the roots of rock and roll to modern pieces, including a metric asston of guitars and (most interesting to me, at least) a lot of original manuscripts of song lyrics, often with edits left in.  It’s really cool to see the writer’s thought processes, and while the costumes and such are neat, these tiny little scraps of what was going on in the writer’s head as it went on are fascinating to the English major in me.

The museum is immense.  We were in there from 12:00pm (right after scarfing down some hotdogs from a street vendor) until about 4:30pm.

In contrast, the Hall of Fame itself is actually quite small.  A theatre looping a montage of performances, plus a small hallway with the names engraved in glass and backlit.  Eric Clapton is in there three times, and interestingly, they do not use the same signature for each separate entry.  Then they have a small exhibit on all of the inductees from the most recent year (including Alice Cooper, Neil Diamond, and some other people with whom I was vaguely familiar and a few I wasn’t).

The last part is a rotating exhibit, currently on the Women of Rock, which goes from Aretha Franklin to Taylor Swift and Lady Gaga.  So yes, I got to see Swift’s first guitar and Gaga’s outfit from Poker Face (or one of them, anyway).  I guess my sisters will be jealous or something.

After finishing up the museum (and another hotdog – absorbing culture makes me hungry, I guess), we hit the road, hopping on good old I-90, but then cutting over to Ohio 5 to drive alongside Lake Eyrie(sp) for a while. 

Eventually, we got sick of looking at lakeside houses (there were a few nice views, too) cut back to 90 to complete the drive to Niagra (passing through Buffalo on the way).

We got in to Niagra Falls around 10, just in time to see the Falls (which are lit up at night) and a Fireworks show they have every Sunday and Tuesday.

After the fireworks, we grabbed some cheap and slightly overcooked Chinese food from the “Gateway to the Falls” food court, and then went motel-shopping (read: driving around lost until we found a cheap place to stay).

We lucked out, though, and found a place pretty quickly.

Day 19 (Niagra Falls, Boston):   
We started our day fairly early (for us), and drove down to a casino with free parking before heading on to see to the falls, first looking from the American side, then the Canadian side, then the under-side (the tour beneath the falls).  We passed on the boat tour, Maid of the Mists – the view from right next to the falls on the ground was good enough.

The falls are really pretty spectacular.  For me, at least, they're not as awe-inspiring as the Grand Canyon or as disorientingly beautiful as Monument Valley, but they're still very impressive.  Especially the view from below, which is hard to capture on film without a waterproof camera (and even then, much of the experience is lost because it is wrapped up in the sound and touch).

When we finished up at the falls, we got on the road back to Boston.  

A few hours and some caffeine later, after almost three weeks on the road, we finally got home!


*Sensing a pattern?

P.S.: Non-"Boring Real Life" posts coming at some point in the future.  Probably.

1 comment:

  1. Barbeque chicken nachoes sound incredibly delicious. I want some.

    I also saw a Second City production while I was in Vegas one time, and also enjoyed it. Definitely was a small step below things like SNL and Who's Line, but you could see that a lot of them were en route to become such performers.