Thursday, June 30, 2011

The Great 2011 Road Trip, AKA my trip from NY to Nebraska and back

Here is a long overdue post about my roadtrip.  I am sorry it took me so long but life has been a bit stressful and this requires a lot of focus.  Hopefully I will remember as much as I can and do it all justice.

As I mentioned previously, I was on vacation during the end of May and start of June.  My BF and I took a roadtrip to my cousin's wedding in Nebraska.  We could not afford plane tickets, hotel costs and a rental car on top of taking our annual summer vacation so we decided to combine it with our vacation for the year.  We ended up taking 12 days and stopped in Cleveland, Chicago, Lincoln/Omaha, Kansas City and Indianapolis.  We had a great trip, got to visit some family and friends, ate great food and of course, I did a little beauty shopping.

Stop 1 - Cleveland, Ohio:

En route to Cleveland, we took a break and stopped at Dunkirk NY, very close to Fredonia.  We had lunch at a little place called Lakeshore Grillworks, as suggested by the list of local businesses on my GPS.  The food was quite good.  I had a burger & sweet potato fries and the BF had a grilled chicken sandwich and curly fries.  After that, we made a quick restroom and donut stop at a Coldstone Creamy combined with Tim Hortons and were on our way.

In Cleveland, we stayed at the Glidden House which is in the cultural district.  I loved the neighborhood.  Very artsy and calm.  There was a street fair going on 2 blocks from our hotel.  The hotel was really nice and the concierge was one of the nicest I have ever met. The festival was the Hessler Street Festival. The concierge recommended it to us so we opted to walk there. He said it has gone on annually for years.  I got some great milk-free chocolates from No Whey! Chocolates. She was so nice, she gave me a white chocolate rose to welcome me as a first time customer.  I got some funky dichroic glass earrings from Prosperity Jewlery.  You know I can't go anywhere without coming home with artsy jewelry! It was really hot and crowded, not my BF's cup of tea so we headed back to the Glidden House and made dinner plans.

We drove to Geraci's Restaurant which we had seen on Diners, Drive-ins and Dives on the Food Network.  The people were extremely nice and the food was great.  I had chicken francaise and the BF had spaghetti and meatballs. I highly recommend them.  The pizza looked amazing but I was saving myself for Chicago Deep dish, darn lactose intolerance limiting my pizza intake! After that we went back to the hotel to rest and plan our next day.

On day 2 in Cleveland, we made plans to go to Coventry Village for some shops, then to West Side Market, Rock & Roll Hall of Fame and to have dinner with my cousin who lives in the area.  Our first stop was Coventry Village.  We mainly went for Coventry Cats so we could buy Mr. Kitty a present to bring home.  With a bag full of treats, giant tinsel balls and catnip toys, we walked down to Big Fun.  It is a huge shop full of all sorts of toys, retro toys, video games, gift stuff, gag stuff and more.  A never ending feast for your eyes.

After that, we drove to West Side Market.   We browsed the food stuff, sadly a lot of it was not open at that time.  We ate lunch there and picked up some treats.  Our favorites were these buckeye ball penguins and some pretzel rolls. I am going to have to attempt to bake some pretzel rolls at home.  Normally I would feel guilty eating a cute penguin but these were too delicious.

After that, we drove to the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame.  I had bought tickets ahead of time through AAA so we got a discount, yay! We walked for ages and saw so much stuff.  It is hard to take it all in and remember it.  Never ending memorabilia, costumes, instruments, stories and more.  We were truly exhausted after we went through the whole place.  Sadly you can't take pictures inside but I did snap a few in the lobby area.

We went back to the hotel to relax and wait for my cousin to pick us up.  He brought a friend since his wife was working on a big presentation for the next day so it was me and 3 guys.  Nothing I am not used to, mostly just funny.  They asked us if we came to Cleveland because of the tourism video.  We had not seen it so they showed it to us.  I figured I should share it here with you.  I am going to give a little language warning for a couple naught words in case that makes you uncomfortable.

After driving around trying to get to a good area to eat, we ended up at Flannery's Pub. I got the fish & chips and a house made root beer.  Delicious!  The guys discovered a mutual love of video games so that is where conversation went and stayed for a large part of the night.  I didn't mind, it was kind of nice to have a break.  It had been raining off and on and we ended up seeing a rainbow at dinner, ooohhh ahhhhh.  We walked to the Chocolate Bar for dessert. I had a molten lava cake.  You can never beat one of those.

On our last morning, we decided to run to Target which conveniently was next to a Macy's so we were able to find a short sleeve dress shirt for the BF to wear to the wedding.  We were entertained by the Target being a multi-level store with a parking garage.  Not really a familiar sight to us upstaters.  We had breakfast at Eat at Joe's which was quite good. In my opinion, you can't beat a place that has maple syrup in a large squeeze bottle!   The waitress even conversed with the BF about his zombie t-shirt and it was pleasant, not what he is used to.  In Cape Cod he kept feeling like ladies were glaring at him for his skull tshirt LOL  
Mmm syrup!

We got in the car and headed towards Chicago!

Stop 2- Chicago, IL:

View from our room
Another view from our room
Let me just start by saying that the BF is not a city kind of guy.  We got there just as rush hour was starting so we got stuck in very slow moving traffic and to make matters worse, we had to pee! LOL We finally found the parking garage and then of course, the attendant had no idea what or where our hotel was so he sent us upstairs to the lobby.  They also had no idea and had not even heard of our hotel.  I broke out my map and city navigation skills and finally found our way to our hotel. This walk took a while, we were frustrated and still had to pee. I was tired because I was coming down with a cold or sinus bug and the BF was getting one too.  They should explain the parking garage location in comparison to the hotel a bit better on the hotel website but oh well, we made it.  We stayed at the Comfort Suites on North Michigan Ave.  The neighborhood wasn't bad at all.  We could see the river from our room. It was hot and we were exhausted from the long drive.  Though I wanted to go see Chicago since it was my first time there, I promised the BF I would be more relaxed about this stop. We decided to order our Chicago Deep Dish pizza and some breadsticks from Lou Malnatti's.  We wanted to take it easy, rest and keep cool.  Once I finally got through on the phone, we waited and finally I got a call on my cell.  I ran downstairs to meet the delivery guy to be told that they sent the wrong pizza and he had to go back and get it but he gave us the breadsticks.  Oy vey! Could anything else on this 1st Chicago day go wrong?  This made my BF even more miserable but our pizza finally showed up.  I had kinda hoped for some sort of compensation but no, mostly just a sorry, it is because of the Bulls game and he was on his way. The food was good and I survived eating large quantities of cheese so I was happy.

The next day, we went to the Field Museum.  It was rainy and yucky out and not the kind of weather for my original plans and I knew my BF would love this.  We went to the special whales exhibit, looked at dinosaurs and native american artifacts.  We ate at the Corner Bakery in the museum and continued on.  It was a long day of history and science.  My BF loves to read every detail.  By the time we left, I  had hoped to catch a bus tour because the rain had stopped but they were done for the day.  We grabbed a taxi and went to Millenium Park.  This was the main thing I wanted to see on our short visit so I was happy to  just get a quick walk through.  I saw Crown Fountain, Cloud Gate and Wrigley Square & Millenium Memorial.  We walked back to the hotel from there with a quick stop at Arts & Artisans, a cool little shop across from our hotel. Of course, I left with a pair of earrings.  The BF said he was done.  I could tell he was exhausted so we got our comfy clothes on and ordered a feast from Al's Beef.  Thank God so many places deliver in the city.  We were far too hungry to be able to place an online order.  Our table was full of food when it arrived.  We had an italian beef sandwich (for which Al's is famous), a meatball sandwich, a hot dog, fries, fries with meatsauce and sodas.

Stop 3 - Lincoln, NE:
I can't wait to go back to Chicago someday, hopefully while feeling better and with better weather.  I don't think the BF will miss it but I want to go back.  After we finally got out of Chicago, we drove and drove.  It felt like the longest drive ever, I assume my being sick didn't help.  We stopped in Iowa to shop at Target and get lunch at Steak & Shake.  I was quite happy with Steak & Shake, wish we had them back home.  We also made a stop in Des Moines to shop at a Brass Armadillo. I found a vintage glass Strawberry Shortcake Pitcher and was a happy girl. My BF declared that he liked Iowa! LOL

After those stops, we were running really late.  The BF was getting hungry but I was getting exhausted and cranky and just wanted to get to the hotel.  This was the hotel where my family was staying for my cousin's wedding so I figured they were wondering how we were and I just could not stand driving any longer.  I apologized to him and said I could not stop for food yet.  We made it to the Holiday Inn, which was quite nice, checked in, dropped our stuff off and went to Sonic for some late drive-in dinner. After that, I alerted the family that we had arrived and took cold medicine and got some rest.
Filet mignon at Misty's
I don't think I like any of my friends this much

The next day, we ate at Misty's in Lincoln.  Mmmmm beef!  More house brewed root beer, blackened prime rib, bacon wrapped filet mignon and a french dip for the BF.  We drove to Omaha next.  Our first stop was Hollywood Candy where we browsed the vintage antique area and I witnessed the most unusual bathroom ever.  You really have to be close to your friend to use it together (see pic). We bought some candy and soda and then went to another Brass Armadillo.  This time I got a little glass Strawberry Shortcake jar.  After all of that, we headed back to Lincoln to go meet up with the family at the pre-wedding BBQ.  My cousin who was getting married got me a special present for driving all that way...cupcakes!  They were from Jones Bros Cupcakes in Omaha.

Saturday was the day of the wedding but it started late so we had time to venture out in Lincoln.  We went to Stauffer's Cafe & Pie Shoppe for breakfast.  Soooo yummy.  I had to get a cinnamon roll to take back for later and the BF did the same with a slice of pie.  From there we went to Lamar's Doughnuts and got a box of them.  More sweets for later.

From there, we drove down to go to the Farmer's Market and the From Nebraska gift shop.  I loved the Farmer's market.  All sorts of local stuff but also some handcrafted artsy stuff.  I got a cute headband and some jewelry, shocking I know.  I also got some earrings in the From Nebraska gift shop.  The BF got his traditional mini snow globe and magnet.  We drove past the capital building, if only because it has a monument with an interesting nickname, "penis of the prairies." I saw it called this on multiple websites so NO I did not make it up.  After all of that, we drove back towards the hotel and went to Rocket Fizz for more candy and soda.  Finally, it was time to get ready for the wedding.

The wedding was really nice.  They had it at Sesostris Shrine Center in Lincoln, NE.  They had a pink & green theme, not too fancy but very special.  The dinner was BBQ, yumm! The cake was made of different flavors all in one, also yumm! Congrats to my cousin Tom and his new wife Kim. Welcome to the family! 

On the last morning in Nebraska, I got together with some family for breakfast at the Village Inn, very close to our hotel.  The BF stayed behind to rest and pack since his cold was worse and mine was getting better.  We all said our goodbyes and the BF and I headed to our next stop.  Thankfully, a much shorter drive than the last one.

Stop 4- Kansas City, MO/Overland Park,KS:

We got to our hotel in Overland Park pretty easily.  It was a Hyatt located away from the main drag. They let us check in early so we got to rest and grab some lunch quickly at Sonic.

Then my friend Amy came to pick me up so I could get some girl time and the BF could have some alone time.  Amy and her daughter Jaslyn took me to the mall for the Bare Escentuals boutique.  We had appointments.  Jaslyn got a cool eye look from the latest lookbook that you can find in boutiques on display.  I told them to do whatever they wanted so I ended up with a sort of sultry eye and bright red lips.  Amy's look was a bit more neutral in comparison, though most looks would be. We had fun shopping and Jaslyn took me to Sephora where I bought some OPI for Sephora  nail polish and a Tarte collection.  Then Jensen, my new best friend and Bare Escentuals mascot, came to meet up with us along with her dad.  She took me to Lush to show me fer favorite soaps.  The 4 girls went out for a driving tour of Kansas City and had dinner at Garozzo's.  They are known for their chicken Spiedini so we all got that aside from Jensen who got spaghetti and one of the biggest meatballs I have ever seen. I had the Spiedini alla Giovanni - Lemon butter sauce, mushrooms, capers, black olives. Jensen was super silly, telling jokes via me by whispering them to me and having me announce them to the table.  It was a lot of fun and such a needed break from the trip and constant time with the BF.  We went back to my hotel, which had a lobby full of people.  Amy found a table in the corner and we all got random supplies.  I got water, someone else found forks and then someone else grabbed plates.  We had a cupcake taste off! We had a total of 8 cupcakes, 4 from Smallcakes in Kansas City and the ones from Jones Bros in Omaha.  They were soooo yummy.  I was insanely full.  What a great day/night with Amy, Jaslyn & Jensen.  Thanks you guys!

The next day, the BF and I went to Eggtc. for breakfast.  This may be my favorite breakfast of the trip.  Delicious! Some of the best french toast and I am a sucker for good french toast. We went on a long drive to the Harley Davidson Factory but they were closed. Oops, it was Memorial Day. So we headed back to Kansas City to shop at Crown Center.  We went to Chip's Chocolate Factory, Gatos Cat Boutique, Gifted Hands Gift Shop and Gallery, and Sage & Daisy.  At Chip's we bought some fudge & chocolate.  At Gatos, we picked up more presents for Mr. Kitty.  Gifted Hands is a charity for domestic violence education so I was happy to purchase a necklace there for a good cause.  We also really liked some of the artwork in the gallery.  At Sage & Daisy, I got some fun handmade bath stuff. From there we went to Country Club Plaza which is the prettiest place.  So European styled and such a great atmosphere.After that we headed to 63rd Street for a quick browse of Stuff, such an amazing store. I could have spent the whole day but I had a hungry grumpy BF with me. We also went to Brookside Toy & Science and I got some presents for my nephew Oliver.

It was time to eat.  We went to Gates BBQ in Leawood Kansas.  It wasn't bad but not what I had hoped.  The BF was really upset because they were out of pulled pork so he had to get a beef brisket sandwich instead.  I took him to Mely's Frozen Yogurt to make up for it and he seemed happier.  I got a cherry limeade and he got a vanilla cone.  We went back to the hotel for a swim and rested in the hotel for the rest of the night.  We decided that because of storm warnings in the St. Louis area, we should stay in Overland Park another night and change our next reservations to just one night.  Luckily it worked out and we avoided any stormy weather driving.

Another day in Overland Park/Kansas City.  We were really liking it there.  First we had breakfast at Le Peep.  It wasn't bad. I had my usual french toast. We stopped at another Target, seemed to be a daily thing.  The BF wanted to get his collector's edition True Blood blu-ray which came out that day. I managed to go to Ulta to get the brand spanking new Bare Escentuals Bright & Beautiful collection and some butter LONDON nail polish, woohoo! We went back to Harley Davidson which was open and bought a present for the BF's uncle who rides.  I wanted to go on a factory tour but it required closed toe shoes which I did not pack.  Oh well.

Oklahoma Joe's

We went to Oklahoma Joe's BBQ and I have to say, the best BBQ is indeed in a gas station! Now this is barbeque.  I had the most delicious pulled pork and ribs.  Heavenly! We stopped at the City Market after that. It was late so there wasn't much going on.  We found some Lebanese treats to bring back for my dad and some sweet treats at Bloom Baking Co. We wandered through the shops across the way and headed back to the car. Then we drove out of town to go to Powell Gardens.  It had an unusual display going on, the Jurassic Garden with dinosaurs amongst the flowers.  It was such a pretty place.  I wanted to jump in the fountains because it was so hot though LOL After that we went to yet another Brass Armadillo.  This time I got an awesome deal on a vintage pyrex bowl set, yay! The seller was there and decided to get rid of her kitchen themed stuff and gave me a great deal.  I was super psyched.

It was time to eat and I wanted to try Stroud's which we had seen on Man vs Food.  Pan fried chicken sounded so good, especially after eating nothing but beef for days.  I am so glad I convinced my BF that we could share because this was a FEAST! We got the 3 breast meal which came with homemade chicken noodle soup, choice of potato, green beans and homemade cinnamon rolls. We were stuffed and so happy for our last night, sad to go the next day.

We had breakfast at the Cook Shack Cafe before leaving town. From there, we headed towards Indianapolis.

Stop 5- Indianapolis, IN: 

We sadly only had 1 night in Indianapolis.  I actually really liked it there.  We stayed at the Staybridge Suites in Carmel, IN which is one of the nicest more affordable places of our whole trip.  I highly recommend this place if you visit the area.  We pretty much got into town, checked into our hotel and ate leftovers before going to sleep.  The next morning we packed and got ready to go.  I insisted on spending a little time in town before our very long drive back to upstate NY.

Bub Holes

We had breakfast at Bub's Cafe.  I adored this place.  I want to eat there everyday.  I want to decorate my kitchen or dining room like it.  I was in heaven there.  The BF had a cinnamon french toast croissant and I had Texas Style french toast with fresh bub holes (aka doughnuts holes) made to order. 

We drove through the arts district of Carmel which was so cute.  From there we stopped at Nordstrom for the Bare Escentuals counter.  I asked if I could get Flirty & Fabulous and she said they sold out at the event they had.  She did however offer to have it shipped to me for free so I ordered it.  I highly recommend this BE counter.  She was awesome and really into the product!

We headed down to Mass Ave for some shopping.  I loved this area of town.  I wish I had more time there.  The street is full of shops and restaurants and has lots of funky sculptures around.  I went to the Flying Cupcake which I have to say, were the best cupcakes of my whole trip.  I also got a cute tshirt there.  We also shopped at Mass Ave Toys where I bought a Buddha Board. We also browsed at Arts A Poppin and Silver In The City/At Home In The City.

After that, I sadly had to say goodbye to Indianapolis.  I drove for many hours.  We took a break in Easton at Easton Town Center. We discovered it by finding a listing for Joe's Crabshack on the GPS which apparently did not exist, at least not anymore.  We had lunch at Northstar Cafe and shopped at Barnes & Noble. 

Such a long yet amazing trip.  I have never taken so much time off from work in my life but I have also never seen or done so much in one trip.  I have to say that though it was exhausting, I would totally do it again if money and work allowed for it!

I am not affiliated with any of the companies, shops or establishments listed in this blog entry.
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  1. aaa Heather!! you drove through st. louis and didn't tell me???? I would have loved to meet you!!!

    Next time! =))

  2. Sorry Gosia! We didn't stop until we got to Indianapolis. Very long drive and we were exhausted. Next time!

  3. The two toilets is hilarious!! We took a road trip from Rhode Island to Arkansas this year. I loved the 1st day, liked the 2nd day and was over it by the 3rd day. But then, we weren't doing fun things at each stop. Just taking care of business and driving on. I'd love to do fun stuff along the way.

  4. Wow, I felt like I was on vacation with you and eating foods I can't normally eat, that was fun. :)

  5. The food looks awesome. I love road trips with my husband.

  6. If you're ever in St Louis again you'll have to try Smoky O's... AWESOME barbecue, and snout chips!! (I'm not affiliated with them at all... just happened to enjoy eating there on one of my road trips and have been recommending them ever since). Great post, thanks for sharing!

  7. Over here visiting from SITS Girls! -- What a fantastic road trip and you really did a lot - great memories! I've been to the farmers market in LIncoln, NE... I so enjoyed all the crafty things - so much talent. Thanks for sharing!


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