Sunday, August 5, 2007

Facts and Figures

Number of states visited: 16
Miles driven: roughly 6,200
Tanks of gas: 21


Best breakfast: Columbian Cafe, Astoria, OR
Best lunch: Cancun Tacqueria, San Francisco, CA
Best dinner: Ad Hoc, Yountville, CA
Best burger: Dick's, Seattle, WA
Best sandwich: (split vote) Baguette Box and Salumi, both Seattle, WA
Best donut: Voodoo Donut, Portland, OR
Best pizza: Apizza Scholls, Portland, OR
Best taco: Santa Monica, CA
Best "scone": Mom's, Salina, UT
Best farmer's market: (split vote) Santa Monica, CA, and Portland, OR
Best dessert: Blueberry pie at the Lincoln, NE farmer's market
Best hotel: The Jupiter Hotel, Portland, OR
Best chain hotel: Holiday Inn Express, Denver, CO


Best vintage store: Montana Vintage Clothing, Billings, MT
Best record store: Jackpot, Portland, OR
Best book store: (split vote) The Tattered Cover, Denver, CO, and Elliott Bay Books, Seattle, WA
Best yoga: 8 Limbs Capital Hill, Seattle, WA
Best cultural activity: (split vote) Against Me! at the Capitol Hill Block Party, Seattle, WA, and fancy fancy party, Los Feliz, CA
Best reason to put on your bathing suit: (tie) Glenwood Hot Springs, CO, and Lake Mcconaughy, NE
Best reason to take off your bathing suit: Golden Haven Spa, Calistoga, CA


Best city park: Stanley Park, Vancouver, BC
Best national park: Badlands, SD
Best neighborhood: (split vote) Los Feliz, Los Angeles, and Fremont, Seattle
Best state: Oregon
Best city: (split vote) Seattle, WA, and Los Angeles, CA
Best beach: Cannon Beach, OR
Best college town: Madison, WI
Best tourist trap: Carhenge, NE


Best brother: Ben Straub
Best kid: Hazel Beaman
Best person with four legs: Irving Merritt
Best stranger: Chef at Columbian Cafe
Best waiter: Ross at Ad Hoc
Best mom: Mom's
Best celebrity: MK Olsen
Best crowd: Capitol Hill Block Party
Best salesperson: Montana Vintage Clothing
Best blog commentators: Peter and Susan Straub
Best special guest star: All of them-- that means you, Mike, Jenny, Heather, Ben, Gina, Edan, Patrick, Omar, Stephin, Ethan, Irving, Charles, Sarita, Andrew, Alex, Lydia, Kristina, John, Hazel, Tyler, and Against Me!
Best source: (tie) Anthony Bourdain and the Sterns


Best gadget: Sirius Radio, in a surprise victory over the iPhone
Best programming on Sirius Radio: Bon Jovi's performance at Live Earth
Best foreign city: Vancouver, BC
Best place name: What Cheer, IA
Best car: Chunky Monkey
Best reason to come home: (tie) Killer and Gravy

Wednesday, August 1, 2007

WY, SD, MN: We'll keep pushin' till it's understood

Well, we did it. 25 days. Over 6000 miles. We're home with our kitties, tired and happy as clams. This'll be our last picture post, but sometime this weekend we'll post stats and best ofs. Until then, thanks for reading.

Now, Emma with the captions one last time.

Big, yes. I'm not sure we saw enough to validate the second claim. Our atlas told us that Wyoming is the least populated state in the union. How about that.

Here's what we did in Wyoming: drive.
We had a good feeling about South Dakota. Above, Mike looks as presidential as possible.

Just because we had high hopes does not mean that we weren't also a little bit terrified.

Yes, we really went to Mount Rushmore. Further proof below.
Proof that we were there at the same time.
Proof that I looked at it.
Proof that Mike looked at it, too.
The best part of the visit, at least for Mike, was the cool water-spritzing tent. There were hundreds of people with camcorders attached to their faces, however, and they might disagree.

After Mount Rushmore, we drove straight to Wall Drug. If you've ever been to South of the Border, it's very similar, but Wall Drug kicks SotB's ass.
What, are you surprised?

You must be faking. I mean, you should understand us by now.
So big they need a map.
Afterwards, we classed ourselves up by hitting Badlands National Park. Now, loyal readers will perhaps remember me saying that I was not a National Park sort of girl, but I take it back. Badlands was astonishing. And I'm not just saying that because I like Bruce Springsteen, Martin Sheen, and Sissy Spacek, although of course they don't hurt the cause.
This felt very Fleetwood Mac.
Mike leapt out of the car and scrambled up this hill. Only later did we read about the abundance of rattlesnakes.

Dinosaur gas, we'll miss you.
The Corn Palace, in Mitchell, SD. The building itself is made of standard materials. Only the pictures and the marquee are made of corn. Don't be less impressed.

Okay, now you can be less impressed. Inside, the Corn Palace was a high school gym.

We hit Minnesota pretty late. No, I was not drinking. Cars make me sleepy. Should I have told Mike that before we left?

The Mississippi River, entering Wisconsin.

And there you have it, folks. We are back in gorgeous, lovely Madison, curled up with our gorgeous, lovely kitties. Or at least we would be if it wasn't 95 degrees. Still, we are home and happy. Thanks so much for coming with us.

In a day or two, we're going to post some stats (miles driven, states visited) and highlights (best burger, worst city). Check back soon.

much love, and thanks again---
E + M

Maybe It should have been Against Me!, Donuts, Desert

Not only are we almost home, but the last day on the road we show up on It's quite a nice little victory lap.

Thanks, James.

Tuesday, July 31, 2007

Montana: As big and scary as you'd expect

We're currently sitting in a parking lot in Wall, SD, stealing a wifi signal from a Super 8 because the horrific hotel we stayed in last night left us unable to update. Undeterred, we made it out of Wyoming and are trucking along hoping to reach Madison sometime tonight. Only 10 hours to go.

In the meantime, here's Emma with some captions.

In Eastern Washington, they had real horses as well as ones made out of iron.

I know I look tired, but we didn't walk up that hill. Pathetic, isn't it.
Here's where things started to go awry. Jane and Michael Stern sent us to Frank's Diner in Spokane. The diner is housed in a former railway car, and the food is exactly as good as that implies. Jane and Michael, ouch. My stomach is still mad at you. I don't know why there is a giant knife sticking out of my hamburger, by the way.
Mike danced a little when we made it to Idaho. I think it's because he knew we were only going to be there for fifty miles.
Which brings us to Montana. The problem started when the state sign was mounted over the highway, which meant that we couldn't stop to take a picture. The next time we stopped to pee, I decided to be cute and make little Montana gang-signs for you. Of course, I made the gang-sign for Missouri instead. You know, life gets hectic on the road. Must I really be responsible for remembering all those godforsaken abbreviations? It's as much Mike's fault as it is mine. Moving right along.

Contrary to popular belief, there is a speed limit in Montana. It is 75mph.

Since Montana had such a lackluster sign, we would like to suggest that it adopt this one.

In Missoula, we stayed at the Thunder Bird.
We were not the only laptop-happy road-trip bloggers there. I assumed that 'topless' referred to the driver's predilection for flashing her boobs, but then I realized it was because she was driving a convertible. Oh.
We were so excited to go to another Road Food stop in Butte. Sadly, it was closed, as was everything else. We ate lunch at a Subway-- the first chain restaurant thus far. It was salt in the wound that the Subway also sold scary, scary dolls, and had carpeting. Oh, Montana. You have done us wrong.
However, Montana did see the return of Dinosaur Gas. Here, I make like a T-Rex.
Billings announced its arrival with a statue of a skateboarder. Hmm.

Oh, Montana. I was so mad at you. Then you showed me your good side. Above, me with my giant bag of goodies from Montana Vintage Clothing.
Of course, the day did not end there. The reason we stopped in Billings was that Mike could spend some more time shoulder to shoulder with his brethren. Above, the crowd waiting outside the decrepit brewery where Against Me! was playing.
To say that I had reservations would perhaps not be adequate. Even Mike was a little scared.

And he was right to be scared. Unlike the civilized crowd in Seattle, this one fainted, bloodied its gums and punched hard.

Phew. He needed to change his shirt again, but no bruises or broken bones. Please note that despite the red Corvette in the background, this photo was not taken in 1987.

When we pulled over to take this photo of the Wyoming sign, there was an 18-wheeler mysteriously stopped, with no driver in sight. We were pretty sure that someone was about to murder us and take Chunky Monkey, but we still got out of the car. Why? Because we love you.

Next stop, Mount Rushmore, Wall Drug, and sweet sweet home.

E + M

Sunday, July 29, 2007

"And held hands in the streets of Seattle": Seattle #2

As our trip rounds its final corner, we spent our final days keeping busy in Seattle and trying to imagine ourselves living in various neighborhoods. We'll see what happens.

Now Emma with the comments, though I might pop in though for some "guest comments" in the Against Me! section...

Two-thirds of the Beaman family were in town for a visit. Tyler led us to the Baguette Box.

Behold, the Crispy Drunken Chicken Sandwich. We liked the place so much that we went back the next day.

After lunch, we went to the park. Some of Hazel's key words of the day: swing, slide, cool.

She was having so much fun on the swing that the boys wanted in on the action.
Hazel is also proficient in the art of the high five.
That night, John got us tickets to the play he's working on, Craig Lucas' 'A Prayer for my Enemy.' It was the very first preview, and so things weren't perfect, but an evening at the theater is always nice.

To thank him for his hospitality, we took John out to breakfast the next morning. As he put it, whenever he's borrowing a mansion, we are welcome to stay. Cheers. Jane and Micheal Stern told us that the 14 Carrot Cafe in Eastlake was the best breakfast in town, and as usual, they were right.

After breakfast, Mike and I went to Ballard for the Viking Seafood Festival.
Some large men in overalls were using these metal boxes as fish-y barbeques.
After another trip to the Baguette Box, it was time for the Capital Hill Block Party. Above, John Vanderslice in the sunshine. Looking at him, one gets the idea that he doesn't spend a whole lot of time outdoors.

While we were waiting for the other bands of interest to play, we headed to the park for a little friendly competition.
We each won a game, isn't that nice? I would have won a second, but Mike was losing so badly that he forfeited. Poor thing.

Just before Against Me! takes the stage, Emma starts to look nervous. All the boys with black shirts make her take a step back as I take a step forward.

As always Against Me! were perfect. What sets them apart from other punk bands is their complete professionalism on stage. They play everything perfectly while still bouncing around and smiling like it's the best show they've ever played before. Right now, I am a happy boy.

Oddly, there were a handful of people who gave the band the finger and the "thumbs down" every time they played a song off their newly released, magnificent album "New Wave". It seems a little weird to me to come to a show, scream and dance during the songs you like, then boo at the ones you don't.

After one of my faves, "Sink. Florida. Sink," the guy next to me said, "That was religious." I agreed.

My post-show happiness. I also partially lost my voice. Emma will explain how happy I was.

Let me put it this way-- Mike was so happy that he was drenched in sweat. We walked to the car so he could change. Above, back in time for Spoon.

Also, it got dark.
Our backs hurt. It was a long day. We went over to the side for a little Britt close-up. Mike, still panting a bit, said, "If they play 'Small Stakes,' then we can go." They did. We went.

The crowd in Seattle was remarkably well-behaved. You couldn't pay me to go to the Siren Festival, but this one wasn't so bad. Really, though, much like the pasty John Vanderslice, I enjoy being inside. Also, chairs. Chairs are fantastic.

The moon over Seattle.

Ok, people. We are now turning right and heading East. It's only a twenty-six hour drive back to Madison. Wish us luck, and stay tuned.

E + M