You know your vacation is going to start off great when the mother seated in the row behind you on the plane says to her toddler son, "if you don't quiet down the other people on this plane are just going to open the door and toss you out. Right into the sky. Do you want that?".
It took all I could to not turn around and offer to hold the door open.
A few months back Sister asked a room of her closest friends and family if anyone was interested in a road trip this Summer. Now I don't know why but nobody raised their hands. So being one for adventure and assuming it would probably never happen I volunteered.
A few weeks after that I found myself with a plane ticket to San Diego...
We landed in San Diego, which I believe is Spanish for border town. Checked into the hotel and quickly met up with an old friend (let's call her SoCare) from back in my skinny days. SoCare was just as cute as she was the day we parted in Minneapolis years ago. In fact I'm pretty sure she hasn't aged. Which made me feel real old.After binge eating on margarita's and carne asada fries Sister and I nestled in for a quick sleep before hitting the California freeway.
In preparation we made our first food pit stop at Starbucks and Albertson's Grocery. We stocked up on protein bars, La Croix canned water (holy water really), and our traveling houseplant. Every road trip needs a succulent to keep you company.
First Stop - The Cabazon Dinosaurs
I'll wait for you to get up off the floor in shock and awe.
The Cabazon Dinosaurs are friggin' famous. You may recall them from such great films as Pee Wee's Big Adventure or The Wizard starring an Oscar snubbed Fred Savage. Sister got hit on by some tiny blond Aussie Actress who was probably working there to keep her visa up to date but didn't realize Cabazon is NOT a close suburb to LA.
We learned all about...nothing. It was so damn hot that we basically ran through the museumparking lot with a fence. We did get to climb up the T-Rex though! How many of you can say you have done that?
Second Stop - After our prehistoric misadventure we sped on our way to LA. LA is Spanish for 1 hour commute.
In LA we got to see the Griffith Observatory which offered wonderful views of the Hollywood sign, West Hollywood, and the abs of two shirtless men who I am pretty sure don't work there but kept our attention for a solid 30 mins.
We accidentally parked right under the Capitol Records building which naturally convinced me that the End Times were going to start while we were there. Every apocalyptic movie set in LA has that damn Capitol Records building blowing up at some point.
Quick walk around some blocks. Cooled off in a Trader Joe's (like all TJ's this one was in Hurricane Katrina mode) and loitered in a Grilled Cheese Restaurant just to cool down again.
It was at this point that made our way to Long Beach for a nights stay at the famed Queen Mary. It's a ship and it's haunted.
We met up with my lovely friend, P-Cubed, for some cocktails on the Poop Deck. Being that the boat was older than God the menu of the bar reflected that. Sister and I got all warm and fuzzy with some Moscow Mules (maybe one or five) and P-Cubed was classic with a beer and cheese tray. We all three made besties with a man on shore leave who was living on the boat for a month and waxed poetic about life before the blog. And then watched as Sister attempted to compete in Dance Dance Revolution. Because every haunted ship from the 1930's needs an arcade.
The next day we left the boat free of spiritual self possession and made our way up the historic Highway 1 along the coast.
We were making our way through Oxnard California when we stumbled upon our one and regretfully only In and Out Burger. I had been told by many a friend that I needed to try one. We all know I have a thing for meat and buns of all varieties.Thankfully the tank topped and follicly unchallenged man in front of me ordered his burger "Animal Style" reminding me to do the same.
THE BURGER WAS WONDERFUL! But not so much that we stopped again on our trip. We had other places to hit up. Like Target for some Peanut Butter and Jelly Trail Mix. Buy some now and thank me later.
And we kept going North...
As we wound our way through the drop dead gorgeous Big Sur on our way to Monterey we indulged in the listening pleasure of CBS Radio Mystery Theatre. What's that you ask? Are we geriatrics? No, but we love a good suspense story that runs anywhere from 26-45 minutes. You can bet the car was dead silent as we learned why Helena wanted her best friend Jane dead.
Seriously check out CBS Radio Mystery on iTunes or the website above. You will not be sorry and if you are we are not friends.
Find the gay sea lion - hint: I am not in the photo
Third Stop - Monterey
Monterey California is just okay. No offense Monterey but you kinda look like every Lake Superior city we've ever stopped in for smoked fish or cheese curds.
However we did indulge in a donut and La Croix breakfast on the beach. If for some sad reason you find yourself in Monterey California stop at Red's Donuts on Alvarado St. Google it. You will be happy.
Fourth Stop -
We left Monterey and headed East through what basically is pure farmland. Thankfully we stumbled upon Biglieri Farms . Sister had to remind me that we were not going anyplace I could cook the homemade raviolis and made me put them back. So I just bought Horseradish Jelly and some Balsamic Onion Jam.
The Horseradish Jelly I recently slathered on a white cheese quesadilla with some caramelized onions. So delicious I made two.
There were like 20 Asians riding Harleys in Tahoe at one Vista Point. The best part was the 20 white people on Kawasakis that showed up 2 minutes later.
Our resting stop for the night was Tahoe.
When planning the trip we had talked about going to Tahoe but it was up in the air. Then The Family Matriarch kindly reminded us that our Grandfather (whom we had never met) was buried there. And once The Family Matriarch made the proclamation we knew we were stopping in Tahoe. Glad we did. After some grave hunting we took in some sights and ended up on a great little food tour.
This Hawaiian themed joint was in what was probably once a really cute strip mall. And now just home to a bookstore, Freshies and some Thai joint. Sister and I had our beers and ordered the "Magical Potato Balls". Freshie...you had me at balls. Magical balls at that. They were pretty damn good. But we had to move on. There were two more scheduled eating spots on the tour.
Second on our food tour was at the 11th Frame Diner inside the Tahoe Bowl. South Lake Tahoe's #1 Favorite Family Fun Center. As advertised on the brochure at the hotel across the parking lot, Tahoe Bowl was home to some delicious gourmet hot dogs.
Nothing like a nice thick wiener smothered in avocado, crumbled bacon and cheese. We followed it up with what boiled down to an enormous wiener covered in cheese wrapped in a bun.
I highly recommend a stop at the Tahoe Bowl - South Lake Tahoe's #1 Favorite Family Fun Center. I'm not sure how many family fun centers there are in South Lake Tahoe but I'm certain this is #1.
Third and final stop on our food tour of the hotel parking lot was MacDuff's Pub. This joint was super cute and the food was pretty damn good. The only part I didn't like was when they tried to seat us at a little lovers nook where the Q-Tip at the next table decided to rest her neck brace on the our table. We moved to the bar.
I tried the pizza (enjoyable). And Sister tried the Truffle Mac and Cheese. The Mac and Cheese was pretty damn good. Make a stop and try to become friends with the super cute blond girl at the bar. I want to know her on Facebook but didn't have the lady balls to beg her to be my friend.
The rest of the time in Tahoe was spent on the phone with Just Joni as she describe what Tahoe was like when she lived there. Nothing has changed in 40 years.Nothing.
Fifth Stop - San Francisco
The next day we ventured West to the city on a big ass friggin' hill...San Francisco. Now I was told that The Ancient Gays settled there eons ago. I'm pretty sure they all left and were replaced by European male tourists. After a quick refresh at our hotel we ventured out into the night to find sustenance.
We ended up at Uncle Vito's. This joint was busy at 10 at night and well worth the wait to snuggle next to some locals. Order the Mountain Pizza and the larger than life carafe of house wine. The walk home up the hill was so much easier after the wine.We loved Uncle Vito's so much (and not because of the hot waiters) we went back the next night.
On our first full day in San Francisco we covered about 9 miles. Hit up some classic tourist sites but fell in love with two places.
1. Cordon Bleu is the true definition of hole in the wall. Located in Nob Hill this place couldn't cost any less and couldn't be any more adorable. It was recommended to me by my friend Max (which is a kick ass name for a girl so she gets no anonymity on the blog - sorry Max.)
The two ladies running Cordon Bleu cook almost everything up right in front of you. Like I watched them sear half a chicken and pull it for my Five Spice Chicken entree. And I know I say a lot of food I eat is crack like but this shit was. There was some sauce in the bottom of the bowl that I nearly tipped back like it was the milk in the bottom of the Cocoa Pebbles breakfast I had as a kid (hello young health issues).Between Sister's noodle salad and the egg roll that came with her meal AND the spring rolls we ordered as appetizers we were calorie loaded for days.
Which is why we stopped to have a beer one block up the hill.
Those hills are so damn steep...
2. The Hyde-Out. After three hours at this bar I will say this was the best part of the San Francisco pit stop.This place has been around since the The Ancient Gays moved in and everyone that settled there, fags and hags alike are still there. The barmaid knew every ones name that walked in the door and after a few drinks she knew our whole story. We chatted with the regulars, scoffed at the not so regulars who couldn't handle the place and eventually got a round on the house.Oddly The Hyde-Out is on Instagram. Which Sister is addicted to.Find them on Instagram. I am not sure how the whole instantly gramming thing works. But Sister says you can find them by looking for "thehydeout".
And as you read earlier we found ourselves back at Uncle Vito's for dinner again the second night. Don't judge. They do good pizza. And it's across the street from a theatre that advertises that you can "touch our junk".
All in all it was a great trip. It only took two days in to forget that I had to eventually go back to a cubicle and earn a living. But for a few days I was on vacation.
Now it's time for Fall. I'm already thinking about what to cook for Thanksgiving.
p.s. most of the photos were taken by Sister - I was lazy and I knew she needed to keep her fans happy on Instagram
p.p.s. SoCare, I nixed the picture of us because I looked like a bloated picnic table. That is possible.I was shocked myself.