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Archive for February, 2007

3,000 Miles and Counting

So we spent the past two days in Salt Lake City…pretty decent city though the diversity there seemed to be a bit lacking, and I don’t think that’s by pure chance. The city isn’t obviously overrun with Mormons though it is obvious the church has significant influence over the city and the state, with their many large buildings interspersed with government buildings. It’s a big city with a small town feel. Most everything in the city is within easy driving distance of downtown and many places have spectacular views of the surrounding mountains and the state capitol area. One of the highlights was a burger joint called Hires Big H. I had one of their tasty, signature Big H burgers with onion rings and their own specially brewed rootbeer float. Mmm, mmm, mmm… Highly recommended if you’re ever in the area!

It snowed pretty hard on our drive into town. Big, fat flakes seem to be the norm in Utah…perfect for skiing but not so much for driving, as Shanghai described. The first day we spent in SLC turned out to be really nice. We thought it would snow again that night and clear up during the day so we stayed another night and planned to hit Park Springs yesterday. I was pretty pumped to test out my new gear for the first time but it wasn’t meant to be. A nasty winter storm blew in from the west and never let up. While I was removing several inches of snow from my car yesterday morning, a guy drove up, saw me in my snowboarding clothes, and told me the highway to Park City was closed. C’est la vie…

We decided to cut our losses and escape to Arizona. But the drive was a harrowing one to say the least. It was almost total white-out conditions during most of the drive through Utah. One minivan driver in particular nearly ran me off the road twice with his/her crazy driving. And there was one steep downhill grade where my car started sliding even though I was moving at a snail’s pace. But we somehow made it down to Arizona unscathed and even opted to drive through the alternate scenic route near the Grand Canyon. Unfortunately, the northern road to Grand Canyon National Park was closed for the winter so we made our way to Flagstaff. We checked out the Historic Downtown section last night…well, the bars at least. The bars were very collegey — lots of random, poorly mixed party songs, bad karaoke, and sex-on-the-floor style dancing. We’ll check out the daytime stuff today and hit the southern access to the Grand Canyon. Tonight we’ll hit Phoenix where we are eating dinner and staying with Shanghai’s friend, Jessica.

For those of you tracking where we’ll be, we’ll probably hit an Indian reservation and Lake Havasu after Phoenix. Then it’s off to San Diego and Tijuana before working our way up the Pacific Coast. Looking forward to seeing all of our Cali friends next week! BTW, I update the Flickr photos on a fairly regular basis so check em out. More updates later…


Flagstaff, Arizona and don’t forget Winona…and Phoenix, Mesa, Tucson…

The Sam boys are moving too fast through Arizona so I thought we should do a poll for the whole state instead of one city. The Sams will be going to San Diego eventually so help think of some interesting things for them to do.


Hazzards and the Sam Boys….

Before I get into the hazards we encountered yesterday driving into Salt Lake City, I just want to do a quick overview of Denver….

SammyB did a great job with the restaurants in Denver…hats off to him for his two Japanese picks:

Domo – Traditional Japanese Country Cookin’ at it’s best…I had a big bowl of chicken, beef, and pork cooked together in a savory, spicy soyu broth with vegetables and glass noodles…amazing with rice! Thin slices of beef and pork, meltingly tender and juicy and larger pieces of chicken all just a little bit spicy and delicious on rice.


The main course came with 8 different little appetizer dishes including marinated and pickled vegetables, slow cooked meatballs, stewed beef with potatoes, sauteed peppers…etc…


The restaurant is also a fully functioning dojo for aikido with a museum and a beautiful rock garden. Definitely a must-eat if you’re ever in Denver.

Oshima Ramen – a Hole-in-the-Wall Japanese ramen restaurant…Amazing yet so simple! The restaurant is just a narrow bar with counter seating and a few small tables. The menu really only has 5 choices and then variations on those (more meat, different soup base, with our without a side of pan-fried gyoza). The best seller is probably their main ramen: perfectly cooked ramen noodles with Japanese char-shu (bbq) pork, a whole egg, and veggies in a light soyu broth with bits of slow cooked ground pork and onions. The side of pan-fried gyoza is a must. 5 gyoza lightly pan-fried and served with a mustard-vinegar sauce. Deee-licious!


*e-mail us for directions to these wonderfully delicious restaurants

okay…so them two Sam boys got themselves into some fun on the drive from Denver to Salt Lake City…

We were heading out of Fruita (right on the CO/UT border) and got some advice from a local boy to head down local highway 6 instead of Interstate 70 to get to the state border….so I’m driving down this little two lane highway (and by two-lane I mean one lane in each direction) and it’s starting to get dark…kinda that dusky light where you can’t really see that well and your headlights are still kinda useless…when suddenly there’s a brown cow staring at me down the road!

It took me a second to realize that there was a COW on the road before I hollered at SammyB and slammed on the brakes! For the next few minutes we did about 5 mph through a herd of cows in the middle of nowhere Colorado…mind you, there are no other cars on this road and by now it’s barely even paved…so really, we can only do about 40mph without shaking the car apart.

We finally get past the cows and drive right past the connecting road that will take us back to the interstate….I pull a u-turn in front of a lone farmhouse and the car is suddenly attacked by two dogs (one mottled white and one black as night)…they’re barking their heads off and running alongside and in front of the car…i’m doing 2 mph trying not to hit these dogs or run over their feet….the big black monster is barking right at my window as it runs alongside my left front tire…I’m freakin’ out and laughing at the same time and trying not to hurt these dogs….SammyB is screaming at me to watch out for the white dog as I’m trying not to kill the black dog…we were so freaked out we forgot to film (probably too dark anyways)…HOLY COW!!!

Finally, we’re getting close to Salt Lake City when the snowstorm hits…I’ve never driven a car in a snowstorm…the snows flying at the windshield like we’re in Warp or something….all this on curvey mountain roads….awesome! When we finally get to SLC, the roads are all covered in ice and snow and I’m hydro-planing all over the place! I don’t respond well to the brakes not working when I step on them…really trippy….you step on the brakes and the car keeps going and then you kinda steer the glide away from other cars….scary fun..but we arrived in one piece and everything….guess you can’t keep those Sam boys down!

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Rocky Mountain High

We’re on the road again making our way through some big fat Utah snowflakes and will be in Salt Lake City by the time you read this. This past weekend in Denver was a blast. It reminded me how much I liked living there. I took Shanghai to two of my favorite Japanese restaurants, Domo and Oshima Ramen. We met up with several friends including locals Joy, Tony, Christina, Noah and crew. And by some strange stroke of luck, our friends from Chicago, Iris and Brian, just happened to be in town that weekend. We also made an excursion to Fort Collins, home to Colorado State University and many breweries. I don’t know how the college students there get anything done. We hit the New Belgium Brewing Co, makers of the Colorado favorite, Fat Tire. It’s like Shiner is to Texas. But the highlight of my weekend was a stop at the Singletrack Factory, a small mountain biking and snowboarding shop in Denver, where I bought my first snowboard package! Here’s my setup:

> GNU Rider’s Choice snowboard w/ Magne-Traction
> Burton P1 Wingtip bindings
> Thirty-Two Lashed boots w/ heat molded liners

Those of you who know me, know that I research anything and everything to death before I buy it. I seriously considered going all Burton (Custom X board, CO2 bindings and Ion boots) but think I will be really happy with the GNU. It has won many awards and people who have ridden it swear by the Magne-Traction cuts along the side that allow it to handle ice and other poor surfaces well. Thirty-two is a lesser known brand (outside the snowboarding and skating communities) but their boots feel almost like a regular shoe, at least on my feet. I also bought the store’s only remaining snowboard bag, an orangish-red plaid (Burton calls it “Industrial Average Distressed Plaid”) Burton Gig Bag. It definitely stands out but I kinda like it. Burton also makes matching clothes but I think the bag’s enough for me. I can’t wait to put the new gear to use!! We didn’t go up while we were in Denver but there are several opportunites ahead. Park City, Tahoe, Mount Hood, Whistler, Jackson Hole, Big Sky, Stowe, etc.

After leaving the Denver area we stopped in Fruita, Colorado, home to some world-class singletrack mountain bike trails. It was an interesting small town. As I explore more and more places, I see myself leaning toward a medium-sized town or a large city next to a ski mountain and/or ocean (snowboarding and/or surfing). I don’t think I want to live in a pure resort town though because I appreciate the diversity of people in places that subsist on more than just one industry. But we’ll see…I’m still keeping my mind open to anything.


SammyB’s New Snowboard
Justin (my salesperson) and I installing my new bindings!

LIVE from Peet’s Coffee in North Cherry Creek (Denver)

So I’m pre-writing this as we’re heading up Hwy 285 from Salida, Colorado to Denver. We just finished a power trip through the Colorado mountains from Pagosa Springs to Durango to Telluride to Crested Butte. We’re surrounded by fourteeners (14,000+ foot mountains) full of lush evergreens powdered by snow. There are some crazy-go-nuts bicyclers headed down the highway as well. We should be in Denver by the late afternoon where we’ll grab dinner at Domo, one of the top-rated Japanese restaurants in the nation. For those of you who don’t know, I used to live in Denver and Domo was always a “must visit” whenever visitors came into town. Another place I’m looking forward to eating at is Oshima Ramen. But I’ll save the details for our videos.

Durango is my favorite place relocation-wise so far. It’s the hub for the entire southwest region of Colorado and part of the “four corners” region spanning Colorado, Utah, Arizona and New Mexico. Durango’s a livable town with just about every outdoor activity you can think of within easy driving distance. There are some great hot springs nearby (we soaked in the one in Pagosa Springs…awesome!) along with “epic” skiing at Wolf Creek and Telluride, according to one of the locals. There’s even ice climbing in Ouray. We’ll that’s it for now. Keep checking back for the latest posts, photos, videos and polls.


Model Pharmacy + Green Chile Stew = Happy Sam

We rolled into Alburquerque around lunch time on Tuesday and our RoadFood guidebook suggested a soda fountain diner in the back of a pharmacy….why the heck not??!!!

Turned out to be a really great hole-in-the-wall place with nice people and great food.

New Mexico is known for its Green Chile Stew…We had it at least once a day (sometimes twice a day) for the 3 days we spent in New Mexico…every place has it’s own recipe, but it’s based on on stewed green chiles, pork, potatoes and veg…..spicy!!!

Missy, our server, was great and suggested some great places to grab a drink in ABQ too!

New Mexico City?

So….for all you guys out there faithfully keeping up with our (mis)adventures…..we’ve completed another poll-apalooza! Sorry for the sound quality…we had to film this one out in the dusty winds of Old Santa Fe….the English girl was kinda cute….

Keep sending in your ideas for polls and our Great and Mighty Web Administrator will keep puttin’ ’em up online….

btw…I’m wearing that ridiculous ski hat because my hair is completely out of control now…even the heavy duty gel won’t hold it in shape anymore…any suggestions on what to do? e-mail me and lemme know…better yet…treat me to a haircut with your barber/stylist when I’m in your ‘hood….

Dem Sam Boys are Headed for Trouble

After a great time in New Mexico, the Sams are off to Colorado and some Rocky Mountain fun. We’ve got a new poll to the right for the Sams to do once they get to Denver. Take a look and cast your vote!

Writing in this blog and commenting on the Sams’ progress makes me feel like Waylon Jennings as the voiceover narrator in the Dukes of Hazzard. You know, when he says something like this before it cuts to commercial: “Well, looks like dem Duke boys are headed for a heap trouble. Ya’ll don’t go too far now, ya hear?”

-Justin, Interweb Master

Musta took the wrong turn at Albuquerque…

We’re here at the Holiday Inn in Santa Fe and I finally have a moment to catch my breath and do some updating. We Pricelined this 3-star hotel for about the same price as the hostel we stayed at in Albuquerque. The Holiday Inn has everything we need including a 4th floor view of the mountains. (None of the buildings in Santa Fe are over 4 stories.) Gotta love Priceline!

After Amarillo, Shanghai and I made our way to Roswell then Albuquerque then Santa Fe. If I’ve learned anything from this trip so far, it’s how to spell Albuquerque. Even the locals tend to abbreviate it as just ABQ. Check out our updated Flickr photos. We have some video footage as well but it may take some time to get it edited and uploaded.

Albuquerque and Santa Fe are the first places we’ve been to that are actually on my “to visit” list. The clear blue skies, snow dusted mountains and green trees were a sight for sore eyes after the seemingly endless plains of Texas and eastern New Mexico. Albuquerque is a medium-sized city (about 500,000 people) that looks old but is going through the early stages of revitalization. There’s a long stretch along Route 66 featuring renovated buildings with many eclectic shops, bars, restaurants, etc. and the University of New Mexico. Santa Fe is just an hour north of Albuquerque and has a smaller community feel to it. The city has done a great job of preserving its adobe architecture. Even the McDonald’s resembles an adobe-style house. There’s also a town square called The Plaza where we will be heading tonight for dinner and drinkie drinks. The best thing about both cities is the mountains towering in the background. But I prefer the tighter community feel and uniqueness of Santa Fe to Albuquerque. Plus I’m looking forward to checking out Aspen Vista in Santa Fe’s Sangre de Cristo mountains tomorrow morning on our way to Durango, Colorado.

I don’t think I could live in Santa Fe. The population is older in general and the nightlife is a little too sedate for me right now. There was a Mardi Gras band hopping from bar to bar that was pretty cool. We happened upon a decent bar called El Paseo where the Jagermeister girls were. But the coolest thing was, out of the handful of people we met in Albuquerque, we ran into two of them in Santa Fe. What are the chances??

Here’s our planned route as we make our way from New Mexico to Colorado to Utah. We’re going to try to make it to Denver by Friday or Saturday in case any of you want to meet us out.

New Mexico to Colorado Map
Roswell -> Albuquerque -> Santa Fe -> Durango -> Telluride -> Crested Butte -> Salida -> Denver/Boulder/Fort Collins -> Fruita

-Sammy B

U.S. hostels make me hostile

What a friggin’ dump!

So last night we stayed in the Route 66 Hostel in Albuquerque, NM….35 bucks for a double room….

– T.V. had one channel (NBC)
– Bathroom had one light (the other bulb blew out)
– exactly 2 plugs in the entire room (we need 6 just for our personal electronics)
– bed leaned towards the right…turning in sleep was an uphill battle

my words don’t do it justice…it was so much worse…

anyhow, that’s the end of staying in hostels…we wanted to do it to experience hostel life in the U.S. (Result: sucks, nothing like Europe or even Asia…no cool people hanging out or anything)

*plus, we can stay in Motel 6’s and such for similar if not cheaper prices…and we also have friends that are willing to host us…

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