After a month of recovery, I’ve managed to write up the experiences from my bourbon roadtrip over the summer. My plans for this trip are here. Overall, it was a great time to drive across America and meet some very unique people. I enjoyed the different perspectives that I gained and the connections that I made. Also the food and drink that I sampled was fantastic.
Some quick stats:
- About 4500 miles driven on my car
- About $1800 total spent on the trip
- $600 on gas + oil change
- $350 on 6 days in hotels
- $800 on food and drinks
I left Rochester with my roommate Luke to drop him off in Cincinnati, so he could buy a truck from his uncle. We stopped off in Pittsburgh overnight, to grab some sleep and see my mom.
We left early Monday morning and wound up in Cincinnati sometime around noon. Ohio is a boring state to drive through, cornfields and flat everywhere. His uncle is a priest at a convent, so I had lunch with a bunch of priests that day! I left Luke there and headed off toward Kentucky to try and visit some distilleries. I made it down to Frankfort, KY by around 4PM and started driving the Bourbon Trail http://www.kybourbontrail.com/ I found the Buffalo Trace distillery after a bit, but since their last tour was at 3PM, I was too late and just took some pictures and enjoyed the smell of bourbon in the air. It was the best smell in the world, you could practically taste it on your tongue. I kept driving south into the Daniel Boone National Forest, which is where I planned to camp that night. I drove into the Bee Rock campground before the sun set and checked out the area. I was immediately surprised by the amount of bugs in the air, bugs so large that they sounded like birds when they flew by me. The bugs really kept me from exploring and being relaxed that night. I setup a small fire, baked some beans, and had a few drinks to calm my nerves from the bugs.
It was a short and restless night for me, again, due to the bugs and random things that kept bumping around. I was up at 6AM to drive 3 hours to the other side of Kentucky, to go spelunking at Mammoth Caves! There was a great fiery sunrise that morning, I was glad to be awake for that. I showed up Mammoth Caves around 8 because I completely forgot about crossing the EST/CST time barrier, so I slept in my car for another hour, before my first tour at 9AM. I signed up for 2 tours that day, a walking lantern tour of the caves and a get down and dirty spelunking tour. The lantern tour was pretty laid back, the tour guide was a very interesting and eccentric old man who knew the caves well. The spelunking tour started around 2PM and was an amazing time. I had to wear ankle rise boots, long pants, and I was given a helmet with a mounted light. I was with about 15 people wandering around underground for 3 hours and loved every minute of it. Definitely something I want to try again! I got out the caves by 6PM and didn’t have any other plans, so I headed off toward Dallas! I drove until I was dead, sometime past midnight. I checked into the closest motel and slept for 8 hours.
I woke up on Wednesday, took a shower, and then hit the road again. I kept driving for the rest of the day. I stopped off to eat at random southern restaurants that I didn’t have up north when I could. I stopped off at Hope, Arkansas, the birthplace of Bill Clinton, on a friend’s suggestion and it was a terrible town. I couldn’t find a single non-chain restaurant! I had a deadline that day, I was supposed to pickup up a friend in the Dallas airport at 7PM and I was going to meet that deadline. I showed up at maybe 7:30PM after driving past the airport 3 times because Dallas has terrible traffic patterns. Quakecon had begun!
The next few days, from Thursday through Sunday were pretty much a blur. Playing games, checking out exhibits, finding stuff todo in Dallas, and a bit of drinking. It was a great time to meet many of my friends from the internet, that I have only known online. I went to John Carmack’s keynote speech and was amazed by everything that was going on in his head. It was a great event!
Sunday morning, Quakecon was over and I hung around helping clean up tables and chairs from the event. Later in the afternoon, I met up with some friends and we went to grab Ethiopian food somewhere. It was really tasty, more people should try Ethiopian food! After this, I took off toward Austin with my buddy Josh, who was coming along with me for the next week! He had arranged some time off from work and was traveling with me to split gas/hotel costs. We had another mutual friend, Shane, in Austin who was letting us stay at his house for the next 2 nights. We arrived in Austin and then headed out! Grabbed some pizza and hit up 6th St. for the rest of the night. Austin nightlife is quite crazy!
We woke Monday morning up around 10am and played XBOX 360 for a bit. Shane had to work, so Josh and I headed to the Alamo Drafthouse to see District 9. The drafthouse is a movie theater that serves food and beer while you watch the movie. Amazing experience hands down, great food, great beer, and great movie! We went back to Shane’s house and then met up with some of his friends and to go hangout at another house for awhile. We spent the rest of the grilling outside, playing more XBOX, and hanging out.
Tuesday morning, we slept in again. I had been taking Vitamin C pills by this point to try and stay healthy, the long days and nights driving were wearing me down. We went to Freebirds World Burritos for lunch with Shane and it was pretty good. Similar to Chipotle but different. Josh and I left for Houston around 4PM, to another friend’s house, Keith. Keith and his wife made awesome potstickers for dinner! Some more friends showed up for dinner and then we left to hit up the Houston nightlife afterwards. Houston is a very different place from what I am used to., but not that bad.
We woke up around noon on Wednesday and took off to New Orleans. It was a boring drive, but it was a new drive and not that bad overall. It took like 7 hours with traffic. We checked into the hotel and then headed to Bourbon St. for dinner. We had some gumbo, jambalaya, catfish, bbq shrimp, and rice for dinner and it was fantastic! I definitely fell in love with the cooking on New Orleans at that point. We were back by 11PM and went to sleep.
Thursday was a wandering day. We went to Cafe du Monde for excellent coffee and donuts. Went to random shops and looked at antiques. Got lost and stuff. We got headed to Snug Harbor around 7PM for dinner and some live jazz afterward. Seeing jazz in New Orleans was definitely one of the more memorable experiences of the trip. After that, Josh and I had a wild night out on the town that I won’t soon forget.
Friday was a bit of a wash, waking up around noon and heading out with Josh to go meet some girl that he wanted to take photographs of. Josh is a fashion photographer and knew a model in the area that he wanted to shoot with. I just tagged along for the ride and passed out most of the day. By 7-8PM, we headed across Lake Pontchartrain to grab dinner with some friends and hangout. We took it pretty easy Friday night and were grateful to be able to do that!
I was up early on Saturday to drop Josh off at the airport, for his flight home. After that, I checked out of the hotel, and started driving toward Memphis, TN! I arrived later that night, just in time for dinner plans with some friends in the area at Rendezvous, a famous ribhouse in Memphis that I had never heard of! They serve dry ribs, which are very different from what I am used to. I had to put sauce on them, made them “muddy” ribs. After that, plenty of drinking and good times on the town in Memphis. Quite a vibrant and interesting city!
I woke up Sunday morning on my friend’s couch and took off pretty early. 6 hour drive to Hardon, IL, a quiet farming town an hour outside of St. Louis where my father was born, raised, and now buried. My aunt still lives there as a teacher and mayor of a neighboring town. I grabbed diner with her and another aunt and then got some much needed sleep.
Monday morning, I took off to Palatine, Chicago to visit more relatives. Most of this week was spent lounging around and not drinking. The previous 2 weeks had been heavy drinking every night for 14 days in a row, it was taking its toll on me. I met up with a bunch of cousins I hadn’t seen like 4-5 years. My aunt took me out to lunch at Gene and Georgetti’s steakhouse, that was a fantastic meal. I saw the big shiny bean in Grant Park and I went to the new walkout sky outlook thing at the SEARS tower. That was pretty awesome. Chicago is a cool town.
After a week of downtime, Saturday morning I took off to Cleveland, OH to meetup with a good friend, Disco, who I knew from my time in Pittsburgh. He’s been finishing up his law degree there and Cleveland is a good mid-way stopping point going back to Rochester. We went down the warehouse district, grabbed dinner, a few drinks, and had a good time catching up.
Sunday morning, I took off toward Rochester and home, very glad to get home after 3 weeks away. Always good to come home after a long trip away!