A Travellerspoint blog

California Part 2/3 – South going on North

Pacific Highway all the way to San Francisco, Berkley and Burning Man prep time in Sacramento (LONG POST)

sunny 26 °C
View America 48 States Attempt on eharpham's travel map.

Pacific Highway and Big Sur via Santa Cruz

The route up to San Francisco was always going to be a tough one to decide. We had the option of driving up the coast to see the amazing Big Sur or going more east and hitting Yosemite. Unfortunately we were unable to do both so we opted for Pacific Highway and Big Sur. The long drive had to however be broken over few days so the first night was spent in Santa Cruz. I remembered Santa Cruz after the soap opera from the late 80s that was a big hit in Croatia and that I kinda grew up with. We didn’t spend enough time there for me to spot any similarities from the show besides big, fancy houses.

Hearst Castle

Day 2 stop was going to be in San Simeon which is also a home to Hearst Castle. The most incredible estate on the hill which belonged to Mr Hearst, a publishing mogul from the start of 20th century that had a vision of building the most opulent home for his family and his famous Hollywood and New York friends. To do a tour there you had to pay $30 and there were at least 5 if not 6 different tours. We got the main castle and garden tour. You could also get a kitchen tour or a cottage tour but this one was definitely the most popular one so we went with the crowds and didn’t regret it. To get to the Castle we had to take a 15 minute drive on a narrow hilly roads. You couldn’t really see the Castle from the visitor centre at the bottom but as soon as we started to ascend the view of the castle expanded. It looked like something from a Great Gatsby novel, most notably the estate had the most impressive pool I have ever seen. Reminded me of what I imagine Roman Baths would look like. The main castle house was very impressive both outside and inside, surrounded with incredible fountains that were modelled after an Italian piazza, to impressive reception room, dining hall and cinema. Visit to the second floor where all of Mr Hearst’s private quarters were was not included in the tour but I am sure they would have been equally impressive. It was an excellent tour so if you ever get a chance to do it don’t hesitate it is definitely worth it. The night in San Simeon was also lush. We watched the sunset by the sea and fire and enjoyed a delicious steak to celebrate the sale of Edd’s business. It was a perfect last dinner we would have as a group of 3.
267eb960-5eee-11ed-8f49-9f83b1dd07fa.jpg27ec5320-5eee-11ed-8f49-9f83b1dd07fa.jpg283ae850-5eee-11ed-8f49-9f83b1dd07fa.jpg2bb56910-5eee-11ed-85f2-5b4d9dc7b5df.jpg34a2df30-5eee-11ed-85f2-5b4d9dc7b5df.jpg36293110-5eee-11ed-8f49-9f83b1dd07fa.jpg37627460-5eee-11ed-85f2-5b4d9dc7b5df.jpg37426940-5eee-11ed-8f49-9f83b1dd07fa.jpg388aeed0-5eee-11ed-8f49-9f83b1dd07fa.jpg4a4a8ae0-5eee-11ed-8f49-9f83b1dd07fa.jpg4bc17370-5eee-11ed-8f49-9f83b1dd07fa.jpg

Big Sur and crazy car show in Carmel by the Sea

Day 2 of our drive to San Fran was looking more promising in terms of weather so we were optimistic we would see more of the dramatic cliffs, and we weren’t disappointed. There was plenty of amazing viewpoints and little walks that allowed us to see the beauty of the Pacific. We even managed to get a parking fine for parking in the opposite direction of traffic despite it being the only parking lot in the area. The best bit was yet to come as we visited Carmel on the sea. A little quaint but super rich town hour and a half drive from San Fran. There we were surprised to learn was a Monterrey Car Week was taking place. It is hard to describe the ridiculousness of the level of wealth all on display in the form of hyper and super cars just casually driving around the streets of Carmel. There were so many super cars that I can’t even begin to list them all – from Porsches, Lambos, Rollers, McLarens, Ferraris etc. I don’t think there was a single car there that was worth less than £200k. Absolute insanity and definitely explained why the single room in a below average motel was something like $400. Simply not enough accommodation for everyone who was attending this once a year event. My personal favourite was a purple Ferrari that I am now determined to own one day. Besides the attraction of super cars we also saw a “famous” house that looked like a ship and something from Hansel and Gretel.
4c7c5f00-5eee-11ed-8f49-9f83b1dd07fa.jpg4dee6590-5eee-11ed-8f49-9f83b1dd07fa.jpg
629283f0-5eee-11ed-8f49-9f83b1dd07fa.jpg612f2360-5eee-11ed-8f49-9f83b1dd07fa.jpg646e48d0-5eee-11ed-8f49-9f83b1dd07fa.jpg

San Jose and San Francisco

Instead of staying in Monterey which was too expensive we opted for a nice hotel in Santa Clara called Aloft before heading to San Francisco the next day. I had mixed expectations for San Fran as we’ve heard a lot of bad things about homelessness and drug abuse (worse than LA) on the streets, specifically bad is the area called Tenderloin but on the other hand there are so many things that we have been looking forward to doing there that it had to be good! It turned out to meet my expectations pretty much. Coming into city we saw not one but 3 people taking drugs openly on the street and the whole street covered in tents. Very disturbing sights! But surprisingly it was very contained to a particular area only, once we were on the street where our old school San Fran hotel called Golden Gate was. The hotel was the only property that wasn’t a hostel that we could find in San Fran under $200. Insanely expensive city. The reality is that we did leave booking until the very last minute and then on top of it it was a weekend which meant that prices were higher than usual anyway. Would definitely recommend booking things much more in advance if travelling to Bay area. Nevertheless the hotel although quite old and dated was clean and had everything we needed, including delicious breakfast pastries so couldn’t really complain.
IMG_8614.JPEG
San Francisco exploration was super fun we visited Chinatown, went down to the piers and them met up with my great friend Nora who used to be my housemate when I lived in Australia many years ago and who lives in Berkley now. She made a trip to San Francisco to show us around and meet us for dinner. We went for dinner at a place called Blackwood San Francisco at Marina District. It was delicious Thai food, would definitely recommend!
IMG_8636.JPEGIMG_8625.JPEG
We also went for rooftop cocktails at the place called Dirty Habit, surprisingly the prices weren’t even that bad!
IMG_8624.JPEGIMG_8621.JPEG
The next day in the morning we went to a famous old bookshop aka museum about the Beat generation where we found lots of info on John Kerouac and I even got a 50 cent book.
IMG_8630.JPEG
The guy at the shop recommended we go check out the café next door which was opened by a guy from a small town of Rovinj in Croatia.
IMG_8633.JPEGIMG_8634.JPEG
The queue was unbelievably long but the double espresso I had was great so I did forgive them, though I committed a cardinal American sin and didn’t tip. Service was absolutely awful!
Next stop for the day was a visit to Alcatraz prison which involved a great little boat trip from the Pier. The boat was absolutely rammed which foreshadowed the tour – super busy. Because there were so many people the audio tour didn’t really work as you couldn’t get to designated spot when the audio guide instructed you to go. It would have been much better if they actually had timed entry into the prison. Alcatraz did some quite harsh but nothing like East State Penitentiary which we visited earlier on the trip in Philadelphia. Tried to get a good photo with Golden Gate bridge but unfortunately the fog named Carl that regularly ascends and descends in San Francisco was so thick that we could barely see it! Got some good photos of San Fran skyline though.
7b5dddd0-5eee-11ed-8f49-9f83b1dd07fa.jpg7bf45170-5eee-11ed-8f49-9f83b1dd07fa.jpg7fcc3470-5eee-11ed-aa75-9b342e14aa8f.jpg81e85db0-5eee-11ed-aa75-9b342e14aa8f.jpgc8163780-5eee-11ed-aa75-9b342e14aa8f.jpg
Close to where we got dropped off after Alcatraz was a famous Pier 39 where you can see copious amounts of sea lions just laying around doing absolutely nothing. Strange sight but very popular tourist stop. One more thing that was on our list was a big old school penny arcade called Musée Mécanique which had a great variety of games we haven’t seen before including one where you had to lift some sand and drop it off in a shipping container with the aim of the game being filling as much of container as possible. It was definitely more fun than it sounds haha. It was also a place where we met our friend Sam who we met earlier this year at Afrikaburn in South Africa. We went for couple of pints in the nearby pub before we decided it is time to give Hackett a big send off by going to a Drum’n bass night in the only club in San Fran that had it on. The place was quite small, we didn’t know any of the djs but hey it was a Wednesday night and it was the first drum n bass we heard in America so we fully embraced it and danced the night away. Great send off to Hackett and amazing catch up with our friend Sam.
c98aaf10-5eee-11ed-aa75-9b342e14aa8f.jpg

Quick stop at Berkley

After 2 days in San Francisco we were ready to explore some more of Bay area and luckily my friend Nora generously took us in for a night. It was so wonderful to have a wholesome afternoon with her. We caught up on 10 years of friendship, she made us an amazingly delicious dinner and we watched new episodes of Indian matchmaking.
c8ece870-5eee-11ed-aa75-9b342e14aa8f.jpg


Prepping for Burning Man in Sacramento

Sacramento was always going to be a stop out of necessity rather than out of a particular desire to visit it. The main reason why we needed to stay there was because our Burning Man trailer was to be rented from there. In the end it actually turned out to be a great little spot. The weather was great, people were nice the food was good and most importantly it is close to Burning Man! We didn’t really do much besides numerous trips to Walmart, getting my hair and nails done and just getting mentally and physically ready for what was to come in the Black Rock City. I think I even mentioned moving there but Edd was not too keen. I will remember it as a great place and one that I would choose over LA or San Fran.
PXL_20220827_011036864.jpg
Close proximity to Black Rock City and the amount of projects you could run from there definitely ways in heavily in favour of it but whether this will ever become reality only time will tell. Next stop Burning Man!
IMG_8676.JPEG

Posted by eharpham 22:18 Archived in USA Tagged castles california carmel roadtrip bigsur Comments (0)

New York, New York (again) – State 1 - Part 2

Uptown, I mean upstate!

sunny 16 °C

When someone tells you they are going to New York you rarely think of upstate New York. First thought is of course New York city. Well I think that is unfair. After spending a week in upstate New York I am definitely more likely to return to other parts of New York rather than New York city. The nature is absolutely breath taking and the whole state just has a very feel good atmosphere around it, the appeal is real.
But first things first, coming from Ohio we had to pass through Pennsylvania, which turned out to be a great opportunity to get that Welcome to PA sign that we missed the first time round. Technically that makes Pennsylvania a repeat state though the only stop we made on the way back east was at the Welcome Centre, welcomed back enough!
On the border with NY there was no welcome sign but that didn’t bother us too much as we already had one from many months ago. We therefore proceeded straight to Buffalo the home of Buffalo sauce! We promptly found the home of Buffalo sauce in Anchor Bar. The wings were probably the best Buffalo wings we had on the entire trip – unsurprising.
594c6880-59f6-11ed-890e-ed50321573ce.jpg

Beautiful Niagara Falls

Our stay in Buffalo was close to Niagara Falls (US side), that I had big expectations for! Edd previously visited and wasn’t that impressed but I knew it was going to be mega. One the way to our motel we saw numerous signs for Canada which seriously tempted us to hop over to activate our Working Holiday Visas that we got before we commenced our travels. We decided against it, primarily out of unjustified fear that we would be not let back in therefore putting in danger our attempt to complete 48 states. On the way to a motel we did see a massive welcome center so starved for some welcoming we of course stopped to take some compulsory “Welcome to” photos.
55397850-59f6-11ed-890e-ed50321573ce.jpg
b3e51120-5a0a-11ed-be21-5928467ee3ce.jpeg
The day of our visit to Niagara Falls was absolutely gorgeous albeit crisp. We even managed to find 2 hour parking spot just next to the visitor info centre which saved us $25! If you are visiting definitely look for free parking in the area. It exists! The tour of the Goat Island from where you can see all the falls lasted for about an hour during which we saw Bridal Veil Falls and Horseshoe Falls. Both were spectacular and exceeded my expectations in terms of size and power. We also learned that it is apparently a top honeymoon destination in the world. I do understand the appeal to an extent but not sure I would want to spend the entirety of my honeymoon there. Either way we got some great photos and the only regret we had was not taking a boat tour which contrary to advertisements we saw prior to our arrival was only $25 not $50+. There wasn’t much more to do in the area so we proceeded straight to our next destination on the way to Vermont – Adirondacks and Lake Placid. The drive from Buffalo to Old Forge where we were staying will have probably been the last 4+ hour drive in one day as New England’s 6 states take less time to drive through back and forth than getting through a whole lot of New York.
IMG_9320.JPEGIMG_9317.JPEGIMG_9322.JPEGIMG_9323.JPEG
8daee670-59f6-11ed-890e-ed50321573ce.jpg8dfcdf60-59f6-11ed-890e-ed50321573ce.jpg8d0252c0-59f6-11ed-890e-ed50321573ce.jpg750a7580-59f6-11ed-890e-ed50321573ce.jpg7439b800-59f6-11ed-890e-ed50321573ce.jpg5a9a4540-59f6-11ed-890e-ed50321573ce.jpg58965ef0-59f6-11ed-890e-ed50321573ce.jpg

Begin peak foliage

Our accommodation for the night was a cool Airbnb where they warned us some bears might be on the hunt so we had to remove all the food from the car. We didn’t see any bears in the end. The next day and another beautiful peak foliage landscape was a perfect opportunity for few hikes. We opted for a relatively easy hike up the Bald Mountain which presented incredible views of yet another enchanting American nature. Besides Vermont probably the best foliage we’ve seen! We proceeded to Lake Placid which to my surprise is actually the Winter Olympic host city of 1980. The lake itself was nothing special but we did see a good ski jump training session at the Olympic training centre.
IMG_9339.JPEG
I’ve never seen ski jumping in real life so it was really great to see it, even though it wasn’t on snow they had special mats and a little cable car that transported them to the top of the jump. It actually looked scarier than I thought it does on TV, not sure if I would ever want to (or could) try this sport. We ended the day with a drive through Lake Champlain region. We were in pursuit of some New York wine but unfortunately didn’t find any. That had to wait until couple of days later when we returned to New York out of necessity rather than particular desire as there was no available accommodation in Vermont.
PXL_20221012_210520086.MP

PXL_20221012_210520086.MP

d5256ce0-59f6-11ed-890e-ed50321573ce.jpgd595bae0-59f6-11ed-890e-ed50321573ce.jpg


Back to New York – this time good wine and great cheese (from Vermont)

Fast forward couple of days (see about our time in Vermont in the following blog) and we were back in New York state, specifically beautiful Lake George. There wasn’t much to do in the area except look at beautiful sunset and sip on delicious New York cabernet franc that we snatched at a great (and only) bottle shop in the village, so that is exactly what we did. Truly beautiful part of the New York state. As with most of America the bits that we knew the least about surprised us the most!

Posted by eharpham 14:34 Archived in USA Tagged roadtrip upstatenewyork peakfoliage Comments (0)

Vermont - State 43

Peak Foliage

12 °C
View America 48 States Attempt on eharpham's travel map.

Vermont - the green mountain state. Or in our case not much green at all but the most incredible autumn foliage. Had to get a sign on the way out...

large_90ad5330-5531-11ed-8677-bddc5a66b5b4.jpg

The accommodation for this trip has been almost exclusively Airbnbs and Motels. My last trip i knew that it was the end of what had been a very long period of travelling in hostels. This trip has certainly been both the beginning and the end of our motel life. Airbnb though has been great opposed to motels which have been essential for cost.

What used to be great about airbnb was staying in someones house who would be interesting and maybe youd go out for a beer with them or theyd give you some good recommendations. I think covid has really changed airbnb as basically all places weve stayed at are self check in. You never see anyone anymore and when you do stay in someones house we have got a fair streak of weird people recently. Anyway i digress.

After a quite depressing evening in an airbnb we headed for Vermont. We had a lot to do but most of the day hinged around trying to get on the day tickets for the Ben & Jerrys factory which went live at 11am.

First new experience of the day was taking the car on a car ferry accross the border. We could have just driven round the lake but was quite a novelty if not a pricey one. Shame it was a bit grey but still very enjoyable.

812cd1b0-5531-11ed-8677-bddc5a66b5b4.jpg

Once we got off the ferry i managed to bag us 2 tickets to Ben & Jerry so we headed towards there. We had a few other things on the list but they were all secondary but did pass the Vermont Teddy Bear Factory so pulled in for a quick look. We ended up doing a factory tour and our tour guide was probably one of the most nice and happy people ive ever seen. Giving tours at a Teddy Bear factory I mean what a life.

Leticija was VERY keen to purchase matching Xmas pyjamas from the shop there and at $15 a set I couldnt really say no. She got Santa and i got snowman. The teddies were pretty old school but on the tour they did say if you ever brought any stuffed toys from them, if they were damaged in any way for their entire life you could send them back and they would fix them at the toy hospital or replace them. Pretty great.

They also had some mittens and a famous picture of Bernie Sanders who I assume is from Vermont.

90869150-5531-11ed-9c8f-d70e6a6cb598.jpg

Our ticket slot was not until later in the day but luckily there was lots to do in Vermont. Shelbourne Farms was a place we were looking at staying and looks a bit like Chatsworth although I guess thats more unusual in America but by the time we knew we were going to be there it was booked up but you could still visit the farm shop which has some of the most stupidly expensive products ive seen. You even had to pay to go on a walk around so we just had a look from the distance.

9245f490-5531-11ed-8677-bddc5a66b5b4.jpg

Our Airbnb host did provide us with some good recommendations and Vermont is famous for apples so we headed to a place which had both cider tasting and cider donuts. One thing we have learnt about cider is that when you see cider advertisied. Most of the time it is non-alcoholic and then "hard cider" is with booze. Luckily leticija was driving and they had a tasting room so we went for a flight and a cider donut. The queue for these donuts was one of the most ridiculous things ive seen in a while and we saved it for later as knew we would be eating a lot at Ben & Jerrys. Cider tasting was great though they had a couple of winter ones which were like cold mulled cider but carbonated. Very delicious.

PXL_20221013_191812811.jpg

Ben & Jerrys was amazing. Was absolutly rammed and lots of people hadnt managed to get tickets and were trying to get in. The tour itself was great. We watched a video about the history of Ben & Jerrys which was quite good although they came accross that they were big hippies in the 60s they ended up selling to Unilever so im not really sure they are not just a massive corporate machine. After that we got to see some of the factory which was just like the greg wallace show inside the factory. They make all of the ice cream for most of the world in this one factory and it was pumping out tubs on a big conveyer belt. We wernt allowed to take any pictures unfortunatly but hundreds of pots were going into a bin which were apparently recycled. They should have given them to customers. Even saw a bit of a factory malfunction where the pots clogged up on the line and a guy had to run across to sort it all out before there was a massive pile up. Very extertaining. Tasting was great we got plenty of cookie dough and there were so many flavours to try at the shop.

8f22bb90-5531-11ed-9c8f-d70e6a6cb598.jpg8db65a50-5531-11ed-8677-bddc5a66b5b4.jpg

As we were leaving there was what we thought was a ben & Jerrys car but turned out it was just some people visiting in their car that looked like a shoe. Next to the parking lot was the "Flavour Graveyard" which had grave stones for all of the discontinued flavours. Big tourist attraction for Vermont.

90cd1030-5531-11ed-9c8f-d70e6a6cb598.jpg
928bfe40-5531-11ed-9c8f-d70e6a6cb598.jpg92a308b0-5531-11ed-8677-bddc5a66b5b4.jpg

The next day we travelled more out of nessecity that desire as accommodation in Vermont was easily the most stupid we have seen anywhere. Basically everywhere was sold out anyway even though we went past many many different kinds of accommodation. Peak foliage was clearly as very big thing. We had a foliage map which was supposed to tell you the different areas that the trees were changing and at what time and it looked better more south so we drove most of the day all the way down to Massachusetts.

92433570-5531-11ed-9c8f-d70e6a6cb598.jpg

Plymouth Cheese was in a small historic village which had kind of been recreated. The place they made the cheese was the oldest in American I think and used to be run by one of the presidents. We brought some smoked cheese and some truffle cheese for later. Tagged on to the tour for a little bit but wasnt super interesting. Stopped off at a beautiful lake on the way south.

large_91f0a8a0-5531-11ed-9c8f-d70e6a6cb598.jpg

Really great start to New England I can see why this is big tourist destination. Whole place is kind of like the Cotswolds.

Posted by eharpham 13:11 Archived in USA Comments (0)

Ohio (Part 2)

Birthday State!

overcast 8 °C
View America 48 States Attempt on eharpham's travel map.

Ok so Ohio was a repeat state and not just passing through it and we had lots to do! Most importantly we had timed Ohio to be where we would be for one of the most important days of the trip.....MY BIRTHDAY!

We had got a nice airbnb instead of what has become the standard accommodation on the trip - a hit and miss motel, in a place called Sandusky. We though that Sandusky was only famous for one thing which I'll get to shortly but driving in we saw a sign that we had seen many times on this trip but with a difference - Margaritaville.

large_f09da490-50b1-11ed-9e38-232ea054518c.jpg

The first Margaritaville we saw was all the way in state 2 (New Jersey) and they have been a regular occurrence as a chain. There are hundreds of chains here in the states but Margaritaville was founded by the American singer/song writer Jimmy Buffet who has a song by the same name.

So this was the original Margaritaville. We sat at the bar outside which was tikibar themed. I had a margarita which was actually really good but tasted different to a normal Margarita. We also had some ribs. Could imagine being there for quite a few hours and things getting pretty loose but we were driving so had some ribs and left. The tipping situation is absolutely out of control in America I think the bill was like $21 and I gave her $30 in cash and she didn't give me any change as thought it was a tip!

There was a bit of planning involved on birthday dates but it mainly just had to fall into place and luckily Yellowstone did for Leticija. We planned mine a bit more as there wasn't a lot of bucket list things around there that were high on my list but Cedar Point had been one of the things I wanted to do most in America.

large_ee503220-50b1-11ed-89fe-35007a6211b8.jpg

Cedar Point is a theme park and will appear on most of the lists you'll find as the top theme park in the world. This would be our 5th theme park in America - Busch Gardens, Disney Epcot, Universal Islands of Adventure, Six Flags and now Cedar Point. Pretty good going for one of the most American things to do.

The best thing about Cedar Point before we even arrived was that they have a Halloween event on so the park is open 11am - 11pm and after 6pm the park opens haunted houses and has people jumping out to scare you.

First thing to say is...this has to be the best theme park in the world. It was absolutely amazing. Six Flags did have better rides overall but going to Six Flags was like being on an abandoned air base. Concrete and more concrete with just rides and nothing else. Cedar Point was a bit more like Alton Towers in the day as the park was next to the lake and actually a nice place to be.

f1aca390-50b1-11ed-9e38-232ea054518c.jpg

Unfortunately a few of the main rides had been decommissioned including the best one due to an accident last year. There were supposed to be 17 rollercoasters. We went on all the ones that were open which was 13. Some of these were small ones but most of them were very big. The ones that were best were actually the ones that didn't go upside down that much. Most of the rides felt super smooth and the queues weren't too bad. I think we were waiting like 20-30mins max for the big rides.

f003fca0-50b1-11ed-89fe-35007a6211b8.jpg

We had done all of the rides by 4 so exited the park and went to a bar just a few mins walk away for some drinks and to warm up as my birthday was probably one of the first days of the trip of it being cold. When we went back into the park it was dark and different areas have been transformed with smoke and lights.

Right, so its really hard to overstate how into Halloween they are in America. We have been seeing decorations and I mean like 20 inflatables in front of peoples houses for over a month now but this is easily the best place I've ever been for any kind of celebration. You could ride all of the rollercoasters in the dark although we didn't need fast pass in the day I wish I'd have brought one for night as the queues started to get crazy.

PXL_20221008_020415890.jpgPXL_20221008_020330213.jpg

Areas between the rides had a lot of staff dressed up creeping up on people and although it was busy they were really good at it. There were 5 haunted houses and it puts any other haunted house I've ever been to to shame. The first one we went in was meat factory themed and they were huge! You walk though and people are hidden jumping out at you every few mins. It was decorated to the standard of a movie set.

The second one we went in was themed like a nightclub that had been taken over by vampires. There was a DJ and different areas then in the back people in cages who the vampires were feeding on. We ran out of time for the last 3 houses but will definitely be back with a fast pass sometime in the future for Halloween. Need to try and find a really great Halloween party now for real Halloween. Great birthday.

large_f160cd80-50b1-11ed-89fe-35007a6211b8.jpg

The rest of the birthday weekend was spent in Cleveland. Really nice city we went to a market in the day and has some Lebanese food. Main event though was Cleveland Browns vs LA Chargers for our first NFL game. In the morning we went for some American breakfast at "Marthas on the fly" which ended up being a very posh mcmuffin and even posher hash brown. It was complete filth but set us up for the day.

f0f2c970-50b1-11ed-9e38-232ea054518c.jpgf15d4b10-50b1-11ed-9e38-232ea054518c.jpg

Not sure where to start with this to describe it best. I am not a sports fan but I've been to a fair few sporting events in different places but this was really something else. We got a taxi into town and outside of the stadium there was an official street party. We were probably in 1% of people that were not in team colors and there was music blazing and it was a full on party at 11am.

Had probably the most expensive beer I've had possibly in my life at $15 for a can and roamed around a bit before decided to head towards the stadium. To put it in context this street party for a single game of the season was bigger and more lively than any event I'd seen other than England playing at Wembley and this was just one street.

We headed towards the stadium and there were parking lots with what are called "Tailgates". So this was probably one of my favourite parts about it. Basically you pay $30 for parking then have a party out the back (tailgate) of your truck. There were probably 100 cars across two parking lots and each one had food, music, games, and their own bar. We didn't really understand how it worked, like were things for sale?! We ended up asked some people and they said people just get together before the game to drink and eat before they go in. They gave us some booze as people weren't selling anything and we were chatting to them for a while before heading inside. If doing another NFL game I'd just go for the tailgate early, it reminded me a bit of Notting Hill carnival but far far far more american.

Going inside we saw the Goodyear blimp which is surely a big tick on anyone's american bucket list.

large_efa86f20-50b1-11ed-89fe-35007a6211b8.jpg

Getting from inside the stadium to our seats took about 30-40 mins and was absolute chaos plus we were in basically the cheapest (£100+) seats in the rafters. View was decent though and the stadium was packed. Booze was horribly expensive but being able to drink and watch the game at the same time was definitely a novelty and they had some great IPAs. We had learnt the rules a few months previously so basically knew what was going on and it was just like what you see in the movies. The jumbotron, chanting, the jocks, full works.

f1d0f470-50b1-11ed-89fe-35007a6211b8.jpg

Game was super close but we lost by a few points although could have won on the final kick in the final few moments, so very exciting stuff. Need to decide now if our team is Greenbay Packers (first game we saw and understood the rules) or Cleveland Browns (first game we saw in person).

Tickets were expensive but I assume a lot cheaper if you have a season ticket? I can certainly see the attraction although it helped that the weather was amazing as well!

So last thing on the list for Ohio was to see some Amish. We had a few places where they lived, the main one being a place called Berlin but after we met a guy in a bar he recommended we go to a place called Middlefield which was more on our way.

The Amish are a type of Christian who shun modern ways of life particularly technology and cars and instead ride around in little wagons. As we got into the area there were warning signs for their wagons similar to ones you'd see for deer warning you to slow down. Wasn't long until we saw what appears to be their two main modes of transport, horse and cart and bikes which you can't peddle and instead are more like scooters.

f01b2e20-50b1-11ed-9e38-232ea054518c.jpgf1c22760-50b1-11ed-9dad-f55e778423ff.jpg

We were headed to Mary Yoders Amish Kitchen in Middlefield (http://www.maryyodersamishkitchen.com) which when we got there was very busy!

They were open from 5:30am and had an all you can eat lunch buffet of traditional Amish food served mainly by Amish people. One of the best meals we'd had in a while mainly due to being able to get a massive array of salad and vegetables. Meat balls were some of the best I've had and closest gravy to British gravy in America. Some more dubious things included pink eggs which they said were pickled but tasted nothing like pickled eggs I've had in London (these were loads better) and jello salad which was a bit like trifle.

f0b2da40-50b1-11ed-89fe-35007a6211b8.jpgf10e67c0-50b1-11ed-89fe-35007a6211b8.jpg

Ohio has certainly been one of the most surprising states as I don't think we thought that we were going to have as many great experiences here. Next stop New England!

Posted by eharpham 19:54 Archived in USA Tagged america weekend birthday ohio nfl themepark cedarpoint celevelandbrown Comments (0)

Michigan - State 42

Henry Ford

sunny 16 °C
View America 48 States Attempt on eharpham's travel map.

This part of America certainly seemed to be the factory area of America. We had planned to go to Detroit but once again were a bit tired of cities so decided this would be a short trip while its probably not the right weather to be going up to lake Michigan for the natural beauty. "Pure Michigan" was the state motto!

large_bc601ba0-4a8e-11ed-9a9b-9fbbed031efd.jpg

It has been quite a long drive up so we decided to hit up roadside America again for some weird recommendations. "Petes Garage" came in strong for the ratings where you could dine inside a classic American car. I think it was a Wednesday so they had an all day happy hour of $2.50 (flat) pints and $0.50c boneless chicken wings. These were the best boneless wings we have had. Shame about the flat beer but at least it was cheap.
68886e00-4f21-11ed-8489-7bda469e7380.jpeg

Our airbnb was a hunters lodge in the middle of nowhere. Pictures say it all really. There was a gun safe in the room and although I don't support hunting, its clearly a massive part of American life for a lot of people. The taxidermy was done very well but not sure I would stay in a place like that again!

bc574200-4a8e-11ed-8978-11c0903fa151.jpgPXL_20221005_224858106.jpg

So after binning off Detroit we had to go to the Henry Ford Center of Innovation. I only wanted to see a Model T to be honest and there was a factory tour but as we'd been in a factory the day before we opted for just the museum. Got the snap I wanted with a deconstructed model T but it was event one of the highlights on the museum map.

I could write a very long post about the museum as there were so many sections that were super interesting. We were in here most of the day. They had everything from innovations like a metal circular house and early farm machinery to historical items like the car that JFK was shot in, a chair that Abraham Lincoln was assassinated in to the bus that Rosa Parks refused to move on.
IMG_9262.JPEGIMG_9272.JPEGIMG_9263.JPEGIMG_9273.JPEGIMG_9270.JPEGIMG_9266.JPEGIMG_9269.JPEG
There was a special Disney side exhibition of costumes which although I didn't know a lot of them as they were the filmed movies, it did have the original Mary Poppins costume and many more.
a62a52a0-4f21-11ed-8489-7bda469e7380.jpeg685aa740-4f21-11ed-8ad0-bf9c509f6910.jpeg685f8940-4f21-11ed-af6f-d3d914b5c53b.jpeg685ca310-4f21-11ed-9ddb-753d66d51af4.jpeg5f1266f0-4f21-11ed-8ad0-bf9c509f6910.jpeg
Car section was of course full of gems. They had Ken Blocks car from Gymkhana (look for it on youtube if you haven't seen it its like figure skating for motorsport) and the Weiner mobile was probably the star of the show.

Posted by eharpham 14:01 Archived in USA Tagged travel america roadtrip michigan henryford Comments (0)

(Entries 1 - 5 of 52) Page [1] 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 .. »