It’s hard to believe it’s been 5 years since we’ve touched this site. I wrote the last post a long time ago, but saw it still sitting in the Drafts bin. So I decided to publish it even though it was never completed just to give some closure to the great SS Road Trip.
So what now for the I’m With Sam website? Well, as I think was the original intention, the SS Road Trip part of the site will be archived. The primary part of the website will likely become a web development playground for me to test some things out (maybe some Drupal) and to blab about some of my interests and ongoing adventures.
So for any of you old fans who randomly decided to check back on this website, thanks for checking and I hope to have some interesting material on here again soon!
It’s been about a month since the end of the road trip. Part of me misses the road…all of the adventures & misadventures, exploring new places, meeting new people, seeing old faces… But another part of me appreciates being in my own bed again, not having to worry about what we’re doing, where we’re eating, where we’re staying, finding a WiFi spot, taking photos & video, trying to upload said photos & video, etc. The road trip was much more Go, Go, Go than I expected it to be. I even packed workout clothes and books. Such wishful thinking… I look back and think how naive I was before the trip.
Amazingly, despite our different personalities and agendas, Shanghai & I managed to not kill one another on the trip. A large part of my agenda was to explore places I might like to live. Before the trip, I compiled a long list of possible cities and towns by researching many different publications and websites. Since I’m looking for a place with a lot of nature & recreation, the most influential sources ended up being the last several years of Best Cities & Towns lists from Outside Magazine and Men’s Journal Magazine. Basically, I decided I need an ocean and/or mountains and lots of sunny days to enjoy them. The question I’ve been asked the most over the past month is, “so, where do you want to live?” Below is a list of some of my favorite things from the trip. And that’s where you’ll find the answer, I think.
A Few of My Favorite Things
Favorite Region: Pacific Northwest
Portland, Seattle and Vancouver were some of my favorite cities. I’d been to Portland a couple of times before but saw it in a whole new light during the road trip. Downtown Portland had more of a big city seedy feel to it than I remember it having. (That’s a good thing.) Seattle was just an all-around cool city, though it seems to have gotten a little crowded there. I’d passed through Vancouver before on my way to Whistler/Blackcomb, but this time I got to spend a decent amount time in the city. Can’t-miss Chinese food and close proximity to the world’s best ski resort…what’s not to like? Well, the weather for one thing. It’s generally overcast throughout the Pacific Northwest nine months out of the year. My friends who live there say it’s not that bad, but I really love my sunny days.
Favorite State: Oregon
Far Northern California and Oregon were some of the lushest areas I’ve ever seen. All kinds of plants thrived there and the trees were verdant and ginormous. Oregon is of course home to Portland, but also has Mount Hood (the States’ only year-round ski resort), Crater Lake, Bend (see below), and other interesting cities and towns such as Ashland.
Favorite Metro Area: Denver
It took a trip around the country to confirm this: Denver is the only big city near the mountains that gets good weather the majority of the year. I feel like Denver is still a bit of a hidden gem, maybe because people mistakenly believe it’s cold and snowy there. I guess that’s a good thing. Otherwise, it would be too crowded and the cost-of-living would skyrocket. Denver gets about as many sunny days as San Diego (another one of my favorite cities) and the air stays nice and dry so the cold doesn’t feel so cold and the hot (yes, it can get hot there) doesn’t feel so hot. The city is big enough to offer most anything a city person could want. (As much as I love the outdoors now, I did basically grow up in Dallas.) There are some super tasty Japanese restaurants, cool bars & clubs, a large self-contained performing arts complex, and all the major sports teams. Most everything is concentrated within the bustling Lower Downtown (LoDo) area. Traffic isn’t too bad. The city has made huge strides over the last several years in smart growth, something I followed heavily while in commercial real estate. They’ve implemented a good mass transit system and transit-oriented developments (communities centered around mass transit stations) have flourished. There are many interesting pocket neighborhoods in Denver. Denver is also surrounded by smaller cities, each with their own personality, all within a half hour to hour of downtown. You have Golden and the majestic Rockies to the west, the Great Sand Dunes to the east, Boulder and Rocky Mountain National Park to the northwest, Fort Collins to the north, and Pike’s Peak, Garden of the Gods, and Colorado Springs to the south. Haha…I think I should work for the Denver Chamber of Commerce.
Favorite Smaller City: Bend, Oregon
Friendliest City: Spokane, Washington
Favorite Radio Station: 101.5 FM – Martini on the Rockies
When you’re on the road for over 10 weeks across the entire country, you end up listening to a lot of different radio stations. Funny that my favorite radio station would be in my favorite city. I’m pretty sure this station didn’t exist when I used to live in Denver. They play an eclectic mix of [mostly] traditional jazz with a nice helping of Ol’ Blue Eyes and the rest of the Rat Pack. Sure their tag line is a little cheesy (personally, I’m all for cheese) but we were truly sad to lose the station as we left the Denver area. Luckily, I can listen to the station again now through their website.
Favorite Restaurant: The Old Fashioned
As you could probably tell from all the food pictures, we spent quite a bit of time exploring the best local places to eat across our great nation. There were many memorable gastronomical experiences, yet somehow one place that we almost missed in Madison, Wisconsin, stood out above the rest. Microbrewed draft root beer in frosty glass mugs, fresh cheese curds with a variety of dipping sauces, the best gourmet grilled cheese sandwiches ever known to mankind, and even some pretty damn good salad made this place serving “traditional Wisconsin fare” my favorite of the entire trip.
Thanks to everyone who came to Karma to welcome us back! It was good to see our DFW friends again after 2 1/2 months on the road.
I uploaded the last batch of road trip photos to Flickr and am working on filling in the rest of the captions. And I’ll post a summary of my thoughts on the trip here sometime this week or next.
The questions I’ve been asked most since the end of the trip (other than “what’s up with the red top?”) are “what’s next?” and “what’s going to happen with this website?” I’ll touch on some of that in my next post. This road trip was just the first of many adventures for Shanghai and me, and this website will likely transform into three sections: an archive section (where this site will go), a site for Shanghai’s adventures across America and China, and a site for my own ongoing adventures. So until next time…
For the 1 or 2 people still reading this blog site, the Sams are currently in New Orleans munching on beignets and scoping out Bourbon Street. They should be back home in Dallas some time late tonight.
And for all the Dallasites, we’re hosting the welcome home party at Karma. Here’s the evite link: KARMA
So here we are in A-town…home of the the dirrrrty-south! We should be home in couple of days so I’m trying to soak up as much of the trip as I can before the dream ends…..It’s been an amazing 2 1/2 months on the road with SammyB! I can’t wait to get home and have the real computing power I need to edit videos and really get you guys some great video of our entire wacky trip…so be sure to keep checking back for updates (I’ll be back on the couch in Dallas, posting as much as I can, promise, cross-my-heart)
I don’t think the enormity of the trip or the video project has hit me completely but it’s already pretty overwhelming…definitely once-in-a-lifetime and possibly life/mind-altering (not in an LSD-bad way, but in an affirming, good way).
Probably won’t wanna see SammyB for at least two weeks after we get back home (24/7 for almost 3 months is a lot!)…but we’ll both be there on Friday night for the Welcome Home party!!! So e-mail us for the info (unless you’re already on the list)…everyone is welcome to come out and buy us drinks…we’ll have a few remaining T-shirts to give away (you’ll have to earn them) and we’ll be filming, so be ready for a rollicking-good time!
just a few highlights of a trip that was a 3-month highlight reel (que ESPN music da-na-na….da-na-na):
Yes, the rumors are true. Over 10 weeks and 16,000 miles later, the SS Road Trip is coming to a quick close. We’ve been on a fast track through the East Coast and Southeast, spending time in all the major cities. Special thanks to our hosts in Camden, Maine (Elaine & Chance), NYC (Jae-Ling & Ed), Philly (Sandra, aka Pure Evil), DC (Austin), and Miami/Keys (Ngan)!! We also had the unexpected pleasure of running into our old college friends, Seurien & Kathy, who just moved to Providence. While I don’t plan on moving to the East Coast, we had a blast along the way as you may be able to tell from some of the Flickr photos…
For those of you who are in or planning to be in the Dallas area on Friday, May 4th, our InterWeb Master, Justin, is organizing a little “welcome home” get-together (see previous post). Keep checking this site over the next week for details.
We’re in Tampa/Clearwater, Florida right now and will be heading up to check out the world’s largest aquarium, the Georgia Aquarium in HOTlanta tomorrow. Can’t wait! After that comes a visit to post-Katrina N’awlins, then back to Big D! Sorry we haven’t been able to update as much as we originally hoped but try doing one of these and hopefully you’ll understand why. But we’ll be working on more video edits including a huge post-trip edit. No telling how long that will take with all the footage we have… Speaking of video editing, check out our producer friend, Tammy’s, inspiring work-in-progress, Operation Babylift: The Lost Children of Vietnam, at http://www.thebabylift.com/
I want to get at least one more post in before we get back to Dallas. This is related to some of the stuff I may be doing for a career down the road and is part of the bigger picture that spawned the SS Road Trip.
While we were in Seattle hanging with Shanghai’s old high school friend, Erik, our old college buddy, Winston (aka Winyo) and post-college friend, Adam, I made a day trip up to Bellingham, Washington to visit the American Alpine Institute (AAI). AAI is widely regarded as the top mountaineering school in the nation and I’m signed up to do their new 30-day mountaineering course that develops & certifies outdoor instructors in both technical & non-technical skills across the diverse terrain of the Northern Cascades (Glacier Peak to Mount Baker). One of the new careers I’m considering is full-time mountain guiding or seasonal mountain guiding paired with something like ski patrolling or working as a SCUBA Divemaster. So I’m obviously pumped about doing this course. The problem is only three people have officially signed up for the course so far and a minimum of six is needed by April 30th for the course to happen. So if you know anyone (friends, coworkers, etc.) who might be interested in this kind of thing please let them know aboot it! More info at: http://www.aai.cc/ProgramDetail.asp?program=93
SammyB & Big John, one of the guys at AAI
Well, I’ve spent way too much time at Panera trying to get caught up and not enough time enjoying Clearwater/Tampa so see you cats later!
The SS Road Trip is coming home! I just got word that the Sams are planning to be back in Dallas by mid-next week. 2 months on the road with each other is soon to end. If you haven’t gotten your official IMWITHSAM t-shirts, you better get moving fast before the trip ends!
And in other news, we’ll be planning a big ol’homecoming party for the SS Road Trip. If you’re in Dallas, plan to be there! Stay tuned for more info once we hammer out a time and location.
So the Sams were up in New England during the last Nor’easter storm that basically blasted through the area to screw up our trip.
We blew through Vermont to make it to Camden, Maine where we were staying with my old high-school friend Elaine and her boy, Chance…made it just in time to watch them finish the butchering of a Bambi deer that Elaine had hit with her car the night before….mmmm, venison!
We’re posting from Camden, Maine. After several days in Canada (Toronto & Montreal) we made our way to Burlington, Vermont followed by Portland, Maine. I’d been to Toronto before but actually found it cooler this time around. We had the luxury of staying in the city with a local, Despina, living in the trendy Queen West area. We hit a lot of cool places including the Bovine Sex Club. I know what you’re thinking…but the name was TOTALLY misleading. No cows to be seen, anywhere! We also went to Niagara Falls and to a good Shanghainese restaurant, Skyland de Shanghai, recommended by our friend in San Fran, Maddy. Montreal was simply awesome! However, I personally don’t remember too much aboot it because I made the amateur mistake of having only one meal (an excellent Quebeqoi lunch at Maamm Bolduc) the entire day before starting a non-stop hard & fast happy hour way too early in the evening. Not only did I not remember half of the night the next morning…I lost my favorite “Hofbrauhaus Munchen 1999” pull-over hoodie. Can’t really replace that. Burlington wasn’t as cool as I was expecting. I was looking forward to it more than any other eastern town/city. It was nice but somewhat unremarkable. Even the Burton headquarters & flagship store was a bit of a letdown. A snow storm was blowing in so we escaped to Portland, Maine. Portland was more along of the lines of what I was expecting Burlington to be. It was a decent-sized town with a bustling nightlife in the Old Port area. Out of the smaller towns/cities, I’d actually place Portland in my Top 3. Camden is about an hour north of Portland and is a popular New England summer retreat. We’re staying with Shanghai’s friend, Elaine, and her boyfriend, Chance. A couple of highlights here…Elaine hit a deer with her van the day before we got to Camden. They spent most of the day yesterday butchering it and we’ve been eating venison. We even had some deer tongue. (WARNING: The Camden Flickr photos may be a bit graphic.) The perfect storm also caught up with us here and we checked out some crazy rain & winds at three different harbors in the area before they were shut down. I feel sorry for the guys who ran the Boston Marathon this year. They had to run head-on into that storm. Speaking of Bean Town, we’re heading down there tomorrow morning. Should be a good time! In the meantime, here’s the third and final segment on the SoCal catchup:
We made all too many trips back and forth between LA and OC. In LA, we met up with Dave, Ken, Steve, Postaer, Jen, Melissa and Pei Ming. We saw the movie “300” at The Grove, a very cool mall as far as malls go, on opening night with Dave & Ken. One of the reasons I don’t think I could ever live in LA/OC is the overcrowding. Everyone knows the traffic sucks but you also feel it just going out to the movies or to the gym. We tried watching “300” on an IMAX screen but all of the theaters were sold out way in advance. And one afternoon while we were gridlocked in Santa Monica, I decided to give up trying to get back to OC and just hit the nearest 24 Hour Fitness. There was a line of cars backed up just to get in and out of the gym parking lot and it was by far the busiest 24 Hour Fitness I’ve ever been in. On the other hand, many of the cool places there wouldn’t be possible without the high concentration of people. I guess you take the bad with the good if you choose to live in SoCal. Speaking of cool places, Dave and the Sams met up with Jen at a popular Cuban restaurant called Versailles. Dave & Shanghai love the place but Jen & I found it meh. I thought Pinkberrys, a popular yogurt & fruit dessert place we went to afterwards, was better. That’s not the cool place though. Later that night, we all met up with Melissa and Pei Ming at a new lounge in Downtown called Edison. I wasn’t expecting much but it was possibly the coolest bar/club I’ve ever been in. It was an old power station converted into a swanky lounge, retaining much of the old power station look. Black & white movies flickered on the distressed brick walls as jazz music wafted throughout the space. Every half hour or so the music would pause for an entertaining burlesque show. Highly recommended if you’re ever in LA! Most of my other memories of LA involve food. Actually, most of my memories of everywhere involve food. But in LA we also hit up a good Korean restaurant, Calbee?, courtesy of Dave, and an oishii Japanese restaurant, Furaibo, courtesy of Steve. Our last stop before making our way up to Monterey and San Fran was Curry House, a great Japanese curry chain, where Melissa brought us some Beard Papas cream puffs. Oh, and I think some people karaoked in there somewhere.
It was a long time spent in LA & OC. We were there so long because we were killing time to meet up with friends at Lake Tahoe, as I mentioned in a previous post.