Karaoke and Hooters To-Go

Originally I had intended to avoid posting this evening, but here we are – seven drinks later and all of the sudden my opinions seem worth sharing again.

My plan was to stay in my room and keep to myself this evening, but one quick look at Google maps and what was nearby to my Red Roof Inn (the power was out when I woke up this morning, by the way), and I found a karaoke sports bar and a Hooters within a three-minute walk. So duh, that’s what I went for.

As it turns out, the bar was hosting a boggle tournament, a glow-in-the-dark volleyball tournament on an indoor, sand-filled court, and karaoke. What a lovely little slice of heaven. I only sang once, but let me tell you, Pedro really disgraced a Disney song in a way that I didn’t think was possible, and for that – I commend him.

Given my proximity to a Hooters and my feeling that I could reasonably gain ten pounds without any of the locals noticing, I decided to stop there on my way back to my room. The staff of the Hooters in LA is different from the one here – not better or worse, just different. Clearly there’s a delineation in focus during the hiring process – “hooters” take a back seat to a lady’s back seat in LA, but not here.

Anyway, I chose to get the wings to go. I don’t feel a strong need to stare at women who are upset with me for staring at them while I eat my junk food. I choose to experience my shame one way at a time, so I powered down my beer and dragged my fried hunks of chicken bits back to my hotel room to eat them in pantsless contentment.

Tomorrow will be better than this. I promise.

Warren Buffet’s Empty Seat

11631.jpegI arrived in Omaha last night with just enough time to get myself in an Uber to the closest (best rated on Yelp) steakhouse before it closed. My Uber driver – an older Filipino gentleman with a wife and four kids – was aware of the place and was excited for me. He informed me that my destination was one of Warren Buffet’s favorite places to eat, so clearly I was making a good choice.

When I got there I chose to sit at the bar. I ordered a dirty martini and started talking with the delightfully drunk woman sitting nearby. I found out that she was a waitress there, and when I told her what my Uber driver said, her response was, “Bullshit! I’ve been working here 15 years and I’ve never seen him here. Not once.” I could tell we were going to get along. I ordered my food and a beer, and chatted with her and her companion, another off-work waitress there who had a degree in theoretical math. Both agreed that had they the money, they would eat at this restaurant every day, which is a high compliment from waitstaff.

The steak finally came, and I ordered a whiskey to accompany it. I ordered a T-bone that they marinated in whiskey for 15 minutes prior to cooking it. It was medium raw (the only way quality steak should be ordered), and the first half was so tender it felt like I was eating the meat equivalent of butter. The second half demanded to be accompanied by a glass of red wine, selected and poured by the mathematician. I could not have asked for a better experience at a steak house.

At the recommendation of the ladies, I went to their favorite bar that was fairly close by. It started with an I, and I couldn’t remember the name then, and I don’t remember the name now, but it was a fun spot. I drunkenly demanded that a group of people read my blog right then and there, and they were nice enough to oblige, but only after I beatboxed with one of them. So of course I did. Then as they were getting up to leave, I forced them to listen to a reading of one the posts, which they said they preferred, as my voice “lends something to it.” Anyway, that may mean I have to do a podcast or something at some point. The bar closed down, and after a failed attempt to find an after hours club, I turned in for the night.

The photo accompanying this post happens to be relevant in that it shows the end results of my meal from last night, but also in that it says “DROVE” – which is the past tense for drive, in case you weren’t already aware. I am in Chicago. Or at least a suburb just outside of it. I got here a little early and will be apartment hunting tomorrow. I have decided to continue writing because I enjoy this process, and because people seem to find it some degree of entertaining, so you can look forward to more of this.

Uneventful Nudity and Farmland

I always expect my time with nudists to be a little crazier than it ends up being. Largely, it’s a group of retirees who either live on the ranch, or have been there for the past couple months. Many are wearing crosses around their necks, and I had to describe what polyamory was to the young naked woman next to me in the hot tub this morning.

I woke up to silence around 8am, used their workout space, baked cinnamon rolls in the communal kitchen (the extras went to the ranch staff), and made an ass of myself to a nice gentleman who was on his way to the dentist. he introduced himself, I went to shake his hand, then he lifted up the sleeve of his robe to show that he was paralyzed on the right side. I don’t know if it was that or the fact that his robe was open, but I was thrown, reached out, and shook the limp hand. He said, “I’m still working on that one – try this one,” as he extended his left hand for a proper handshake. I said it was nice to meet him, and I made some lame excuse to walk away from my embarrassment.

It’s good that I did though, because it started to drizzle, so I needed to take my tent down quickly. I got it down and into the car just before it started raining heavily. Luckily though, my clothes didn’t soak through because I wasn’t wearing any. I hung out in the hot tub until the rain stopped, then got on the road.

Presently I’m in the middle of a very long stretch of farmland, using voice to text to write to you from my driver seat – where I have been for the last four hours, and where I will be for the next four. Woe be unto Omaha, whose bars will bear the brunt of my restlessness.

Let Your Mind (and other parts) Run Free

I went into last night not sure what to do about the rest of my trip. Las Vegas had strippered me out of the vast majority of what I had intended to spend while traveling, but I still wanted to make the trip memorable, and entertaining. Do I just go straight to Chicago? I’ve got plenty of experience being poor in just one city. Do I soldier on through each planned waypoint in the face of my poverty? I couldn’t decide.

With all that on my mind, I had forgotten (on purpose) to write down which campsite I was occupying on my registration card. Honestly, I didn’t think anyone would check, but I’m glad the attendant did, because in our overly-long-you-clearly-don’t-have-many-people-to-talk-to-and-neither-do-I conversation, he mentioned that there was a hot spring not too far off. He warned me that it could be fairly “hippie-dippy,” I pointed out the “The Dude Abides,” shirt I was wearing, and assured him I’d be fine.

This morning, I started walking more or less right when I woke up, having learned a heat-related lesson from the Grand Canyon. Audiobook of choice for today: Theft By Finding by David Sedaris. After walking for two hours and some change, I was about to turn around when I saw a hat bobbing in the distance. I yelled out, “Hey, do you know where the hot springs are?”

After a moment of confusion, she finally spotted me and told me they were right below us. After convincing their dog, Dixie, that I was not a danger to her family, the male of the younger couple pointed out exactly where I could climb down, and which hot spring was the warmest. Ya know, my initial assumption was that they were a parents/children grouping, but they just as easily could have been swingers with a large age gap.

I made my way down the hill, then made sure that Dixie and the swingers had left, then cracked open a beer and disrobed (pictures upon request). While standing there in the glory of nature I thought, you know what’s cheap? Nudist resorts are cheap! With a new sense of purpose, I put my clothes back on, and headed for my vehicle. I caught up with and passed the swingers, but having confused and startled the older woman for a second time, I chose not to ask any clarifying questions as to the nature of their relationship.

I write to you from a resort just south of Denver, my tent set up, and my clothes in my car. Next stop: another spot recommended to me by the older couple (they’re all older couples) near Kansas City. More to come!

Which Hole Was Deeper?

After typing out my tale of debauchery surrounded by the wholesome folks in the North Rim Lodge there for a breakfast buffet, I headed to the rim itself and began what ended up being a much longer hike than I anticipated.

I set off a little before 9am with my water bottles filled and my spirits high. I distinctly remember feeling chipper, but noticing the sharply contrasting looks on the faces of people who had started much earlier, and were on their way back up. But I was listening to Anthony Bourdain’s audio book, and couldn’t be bothered with their negativity.

I kept up a decent pace, and felt like I was making good time. I asked multiple small groups along the way how much farther it was to ever-shifting goal locations, as my confidence in my ability grew with the discovery that I could refill my water bottles at the midpoint – Manzanita. I got there barely winded at all, slightly warm, and only marginally concerned about the trip back up. Good news: I had reached the bottom by 11am! Not so good news: the sign at the rangers station strongly advised against hiking between the hours of 10am and 4pm.

“How long did it take you to get to the top?” I asked the European backpacker who had arrived shortly after me. “About three hours,” he said, which is about what I was expecting. I sat around in the shade drinking water for 30 minutes or so, wet my face, my hat, and my shirt in the creek, then started my climb back to the top.

Right away I could tell that the heat and the elevation were not going to make this easy on me. I debated hanging out at Manzanita and waiting out the sun, but I decided I wanted to get on the road sooner than that, so I powered on, taking breaks in whatever shade I could find. At some point I realized that pants had been the wrong choice, so I lost those to my backpack. Then I couldn’t handle Tony’s voice in my ears anymore, as all of my attention needed to be on my misery for me to keep going.

A father and son duo from Amsterdam that I had seen on the way down caught up with me, and again gave me wonderful news of a nearby water station. Also, I was happy to find an outhouse, as the Valhalla Steak and Eggs from breakfast were waging war on my innards.

Brief aside: horse piss on the trail after hours in the sun is more difficult to deal with while you’re gasping for air during an ascent at elevation.

The water and shade and continuous rest breaks got me to the top around 3:30pm. “How far is Manzanita from here?” I asked the ranger at the top between breaths.

“5.4 miles and about 3600ft down, but I’d advise against it in this heat,” she said.

“Good to know,” I said. Normally, those numbers wouldn’t phase me, but with no training to speak of, 96° weather, and on the heels of an impressive hangover, the ranger may have had a point.

I made it to a campground in Utah last night, stopped at Four Corners this morning for the novelty of it, and decided I couldn’t spend another minute in the desert, so I headed north to the much greener portions of Colorado, where I sit happily with a cold local beer. Tonight sleep. Tomorrow Denver.

Strip Clubs and Nature

This is where I woke up today. Presently, I’m sitting in the dining room of the lodge at the North Rim of the Grand Canyon, realizing that I’ve been in the same clothes since Thursday and I haven’t eaten anything since Friday night. So far, I’d say the trip is going well.

I arrived in Vegas Friday night around 12am, with the intention of grabbing a couple drinks across the street then getting some sleep, and as anyone who’s been out with me knows, that is not what happened. I got an Uber to wherever the Uber driver thought I should go – downtown in this instance. After meandering around for a bit, and a few more drinks, a strip club sounded fun. “I haven’t been to a strip club in forever,” I thought, so I went to a place called Cheetah.

While there, I spent the vast majority of my time learning about the life and aspirations of “Erica,” who grew up in Ghana and has dreams of opening her own restaurant someday. At some point, I got a phonecall from my dad warning me about a place he had a particularly bad experience with – Cheetah. I pshawed, and continued pouring money out of my bank account. Pro-tip: don’t show the group of strippers you’re hanging out with your bank account balance as justification for your shock at a declined card – it just gives them a goal. Anyway, about $1100 later my uncle rescued me from their clutches around 11am, and I promptly passed out on his couch until 8pm. Not feeling like I could survive another night in that fine city, I made the four hour drive to the Grand Canyon.

Apparently when you arrive at 2am, and are packed up again by 6am, the “Campground Full” signs aren’t as important. The Taylors – the group the my space was reserved for – certainly didn’t seem to mind. Today will involve a challenging hike to purge myself of toxins, and a much-needed shower to purge myself of the stripper smell. Happy Sunday!

Peace and Love, SoCal*

From Facebook:

It is with a flurry of mixed emotion that I mark today as my last day at Malibu Coast Animal Hospital. Over the last year-and-a-half, I’ve spent more waking hours here than at my actual place of residence, so it was my home in a very real sense. I have come to know each and every one of the people here – all of the staff and many clients alike – as members of my family, and they have done everything in their power to make me feel like a member of theirs, even in the face of my general jackassery. I am grateful for the time I’ve gotten here, and beyond excited to begin the next leg of my life’s journey in Chicago, but I am sad to turn the page on what has been an incredibly emotionally and spiritually satisfying chapter of my life. Thank you to all of you that have contributed so much – I love and will miss you all.

Malibu Coast Animal Hospital

Update: I opted out of saying goodbye to everyone in person. I made it all the way to clocking out, then a long-time client asked if I would check her out, and I choked back tears as I ran out the door to cry in my car on the way to a baseball game like a man. A big thank you to Dr. Heather Napolitano for providing me the perfect excuse for a hasty exit in the form of a Dodgers game – it was both fun and convenient for my purposes. Do I regret not hugging each person who made such a difference in my perspective on the world? Sure. Yes. But I will see them (you) all again, and ideally under less cry-y circumstances.

My car’s oil is changed, the interior is cleaned, and it’s being packed at a rate consistent with my level of hungover. If you know of any good brothels in southern Nevada, hook a brutha up with a number!

*I do not say “peace and love” – the title is an homage to Dr. Dean Graulich.