Wednesday, May 18, 2016

30 Day Blog Challenge. Day 17: My Favorite Trip

There are so many great trips and memories that I can think of from going to Brazil back in 1987 to New York City 2 times and many, many roadtrips.  But the one that stands out is the one I went earlier this year.

I had just quit my job and needed to get away and clear my mind.  There were so many negatives going on so a nice roadtrip was needed. 

The trip started early on a Monday morning with the plan to drive to Surprise Arizona to see a Rangers Spring game.  Weather was great.  Not too hot and it was clear the whole way.  The freedom of being on the road is that you can do what you want, when you want and take all the time you want.  I have seen just about everything in Texas so it is usually just a straight drive as far as I can get before I need to stop to sleep.  I normally end up in Phoenix at about 3am Phoenix time but I was good on time.  Outside of El Paso rush hour, traffic was non-existent.  I ended up in Phoenix at about 9:30 pm.  They were 2 hours behind Texas time since AZ does not use Daylight Savings Time.  My problem at the time was that I did not have a Hotel.  I was thinking that, since I normally got there at 3am, that I would stop at the Casino there for a bit then sleep in my car, wake up and go get a hotel, then get out to the game, then back to sleep the night away.  Well that was not going to work since I made such good time.  I got on a Hotel website and searched hotels.  Surprise has 2 that are close to the ballpark.  The first was a Holiday Inn Express and the rooms were almost $300 a night.  No way in hell I am paying that for a Holiday Inn Express. There better be a happy ending that comes with that price.  The other was a Days Inn hotel that was about 6 miles from the Stadium.  That was about $36 a night.  So I set up 2 nights and went to it. 

The Days Inn. This was not the cream of the crop by no means.  I got there about 10:30.  The bar was closed and it was mostly industrial so there was nowhere to eat. I checked in.  Walked to my room with my bags and it smelled old.  Needless to say though, the room was big and comfy and clean.  I crashed out. I woke up around 10am and showered and drove right to the Ballpark. 

So parking was free and I parked right next to the Stadium.  It was full on Major League but with a high school sized feel to it.  I went and bought the closest seat I could get.  Cost $30 bucks.  I was behind homeplate, dead center and like 8 rows up.  I was on the last row in that section with a high cement wall behind me.  It was awesome.  I went and got me a $9 beer and a pretzel.  I was on the aisle seat and there was no one on my row when I got there.  Eventually a retired couple came and sat next to me. They asked me where I was from and of course I said “Irving, Texas”.  Turns out they were from Hurst and retired to Phoenix.  They were lifelong Rangers fans so they go to every Spring Training game.  They were so nice.  We cheered and laughed at people.  It was a great time.  I took great pictures and it was an amazing time.

So I go back to the Hotel and the bar was open.  I walk through the doors and enter into the classic Sports Bar.  It was actually amazing.  I sat at the bar and ordered a Blue Moon.  The bartender asked if I wanted a pint, a large or a pitcher.  I was like, “in Texas 1 person cannot get a pitcher, has to be 2”.  He looks at me and says “I bet you are glad you are not in Texas right now!”  So He brings me a pitcher of Blue Moon and a large beer with the glass full.  Once I poured my first beer from the pitcher he came and put a bad of ice in it the way Hooters does.  It was a good time.  I ended up ordering food and crawling back to my room since I was driving to LA the next morning. So I wake up and go to the Continental Breakfast.  It was toast and oatmeal.  Bonus was that the hotel was mostly all baseball fans so that was cool. Breakfast not so much.

So I pack up the car and start the trip from AZ to Los Angeles.  The drive to LA on I-10 is amazing.  There is no greater view than coming down the mountain into Coachella.  IT is beautiful on a clear day.  You see the valley of green farm land.  Amazing.

I made good time.  I ended up getting a room in a hotel in Calabasas.  I normally stay at the Best Western in Sherman Oaks but the room price there was double due to Spring Break.  Calabasas is about 12 to 15 miles west of there.  I booked at the Goodnite Inn.  I was concerned due to the price.  The room was like $40 bucks a night.  In Southern California. Close to Malibu.  Close to LA. This is a major concern.  So I am driving on the 101 to the hotel and it is up and down hills, green and beautiful.  I get to the hotel and it is right in between 2 office buildings.  The area was incredible. Outside my window was nothing but hills.  On the other side of the office building was a shopping center with a Starbucks, a Chipotle style place, a sushi bar and an extremely high end Albertsons.  The hotel was mostly business travelers for the offices nearby and road workers.  It was clear, quiet and safe.  The area was beyond words to the awesomeness. 

The next day was my Hollywood day.  I spend the day there taking pictures, eating at Mel’s and buying gifts for family and friends.  It was a nice day.  One of the best things about LA are my friends there.  My friend Meriam is there and she knows all the cool and trendy places to go.  We went to LA Live which is the must see place to go.  We went to the Americana, which is the Grove on steroids.  We ate amazing food and had great conversations. 

My single best friend in the world is Dianna.  We have not actually seen each other in a few years.  She is there, I am here.  She is busy 454543% of the day.  It just never works out.  This trip she was able to give me a day.  We went to Santa Monica pier, at a Bubba Gumps and drove through Malibu and through an amazing valley.  Later that night we went to the Target there in Sherman Oaks to buy some Easter stuff.  You have no idea what these adventures are like.  We are just plain goofballs in a store.  We had to have been there for over an hour.  It was hilarious.

My original plan was the drive the Pacific Coast Highway from LA to San Francisco. The next day I got to see my friend Dave.  Dave went to LA to get some help for some issues he was having and is now working there.  We ended up driving up the PCH for a bit and had sushi at a sushi bar on the coast.  It was good to see him doing well. 

The next day I decided to take a little drive up the PCH.  I got to Santa Barbara and decided that was as far as I wanted to go.  I ended up going back to the Hotel. 

The next day was my last in LA.  Dianna and I went to dinner at Casa Vega and just got to hang out. Those are the good moments.

So the next day was the trip to Las Vegas!  The drive was quick.  I was in Vegas last year with a friend and we stayed on Fremont Street.  When we were there I came across the band called Spandex Nation.  They did all hairband music from the 80’s.  I swore I was going to find them again on this trip.  Bonus about going last year was registering for a player’s card.  Once I did that, I started getting free room offers.  4 nights, 4 days of free meals and $75 bucks in free slot play.  So I decided to try it on this trip.  I checked in and got 4 free nights and a book of free meal tickets that were good at 4 casinos! I spent nothing on the room and food the whole time.

I was tired the first night and just decided to hang in the room.  Well my window faced Fremont Street and all I could hear was music.  Well I decided to go down and check it out.  It was SPANDEX NATIONNNNNN.  I got a beer and rocked out until 1am.  The next day I cruised Fremont and bought gifts and chilled.  That night I went and watched another band on Fremont.  The next night was Friday and Spandex Nation was playing the big stage from 8 to 1am.  I went back out and was at the front of the stage.  I met a local named Rob.  He saw that I was buying the $15 beers from the outdoor bar and asked why.  I said that was the only option I knew.  He was like noooo go to the souvenir store and they sell beer.  2 24 ounce beers for $5 bucks.  So I went and bought 2 beers.  Well they staple the bag closed with a warning label that says you cannot drink these beers on Fremont.  I go back and show Rob and he takes the bag, rips it open, pulled out the beers and tossed the bag in the trash.  He tells me to put one beer in my pocket and he pours the other into my empty glass.  Boom! This was the M.O. for the rest of my time. 

We planned to meet that next night for the Nation since they were playing again.  Same deal. Go to the store, get 2 beers, boom.  This was when we met Lisa Marie and her daughter Kimmy who were from Washington.  We were like the 4 horsemen of 80’s partying… it was so fun! My plan was to leave that next day, which was after my last free night but I drank a lot of beer… so I went back to the hotel and asked the cost to stay 1 more night. The cost was $30.  Bingo… booked.  So the next night I went back for Spandex Nation and there was Rob!  We texted Lisa Marie and Kimmy and they came out.  We would trade off getting beers.  We got drunk, again.  The show ended at midnight since it was Sunday night so we all went to a bar called Hogs and Heifers, which was the place they apparently modeled Coyote Ugly after.  We shut it down at 4am.  Rob took off earlier in the night and it was just me, Lisa Marie and Kimmy.  We decided to meet for brunch before I drove out. 

Not smart to plan a 20 hour drive early in the morning after drinking until 4am.  My checkout was at 11am and I woke up at 10:20… still drunk.  I took a shower and thankfully was already packed so I loaded the car and then went and checked out.  I called and texted Lisa Marie but she was out for the count.  I ended up sleeping in my car for like 3 hours before I decided to head home.  IT was rough.

I drove all day and only stopped for gas and bathroom breaks.  I made it to Amarillo at about 1am Texas time.  I was still on Vegas time so I thought I could make it.  The part of the roadtrip that sucks is the driver from Amarillo to Dallas.  It is not an interstate from there to here.  It is like a Farm to Market road and as soon as you speed up, you have to slow to 30 mph when you hit some small town.  I made it to just outside Wichita Falls and ended up sleeping at a rest stop.  The next morning I finished my trip and got home about 1pm.

Great memories, great new friends made.  Reconnected with other great friends.  It was all I wanted and needed in a trip!

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