Friday, January 11, 2013

Altima, Maxima and 300

Since my last post, I've been out on three trips.

Tooele, Utah.
Las Vegas, Nevada.
San Francisco, California.

Tooele is in the general Salt Lake City area, and it was beautiful.
The landscape was incredible.
The mormon temple was all lit up.
There was a thousand lights on every tree, which was truly stunning.
It's amazing what you can accomplish when you start your own cult.

Las Vegas sucks.
Don't ever go there.

San Francisco and the surrounding bay area is truly gorgeous.
The town in funky and hip.
The northern bays (not sure if that is accurate but since I'm not a local I can call it that) are stunning and diverse in landscape.

Now that we've covered that we'll get on to the more important things -- rental cars.

In Utah, I rented a new Altima.
It got great gas mileage but it was really boring.
Nissan's devotion to the CVT transmission is absurd.
You step on the throttle and you just wait for something to happen.
A Car and Driver article reffered to the transmission response like a rubber band.
They're right.
The driver's seat had no lumbar support.
It served it's function when I needed it but it was super boring in the process.

In Las Vegas I rented a white Maxima.
I still love those things.
They rip, they growl and they look mean.
'Nuff said.

In San Francisco I rented a Chrylser 300.
One of my co-workers said they were really nice.
It was an OK car.
The driver's seat had good lumbar support but lack any side bolsters.
It also had tremendous stroke of adjustment in every direction.
I could slam the seat way down so that I could barely see over the steering wheel.
The leather was supple but really slippery, which amplified the lack of side bolsters.
The stereo was only adequate. I was expecting more out of a car of that caliber.

So far the Ford Taurus Limited has set the bar really high.
Now, I don't know a lot about car audio but the Taurus could make the mirrors rattle.
I know that when you crank your shit up really high and a rental car stereo rattles the mirrors, that rocks. Usually they have crummy, low-end sound systems.
The Taurus' sound system wasn't.
The 300's sound system got loud but didn't thump.

Next week is a trip to Ohio.
Maybe I'll get a tiny little thing and see how a micro-spec car and see how it stacks up.

Thursday, December 6, 2012

BBQ in three states

Since the end of October I've eated bar-b-que in three states.

Houston, Texas
Greenville and Anderson, South Carolina
Salt Lake City and Grantsville, Utah

You might be surprised when I tell you that Utah has the best BBQ of the three locations.
I would call you a liar if you told me that, but, please believe me that Utah knows a thing or two about BBQ.

Richard's Round Up in Grantsville, Utah, has a killer pulled pork sandwich.
I went there with John (gentleman that I was training int Tooele) for lunch on Wednesday and their pulled pork was firm and juicy, not mushy or stringy. Simple potato bun allowed the pork to speak for itself.
I had their ribs on Monday or Tuesday night and they were perfectly tasty, but, and this might sound ridiculous, the meat just fell off the bone. Personally, I like to work for my ribs; ribs that make you gnaw and tear at them so you feel as though you earned it.

Pat's Bar-B-Que in Salt Lake City, Utah, has the best ribs I've ever had!
Pat's ribs were so incredibly smoky and spectacular.
They were thick and had plenty of cartalidge that you have to work around, nibble at and spit back onto your plate. They were terrificly meaty.
Holy crap! If you ever find yourself in Salt Lake City, you WILL go to Pat's BBQ!
Prepare accordingly though - they only make a certain amount of meat each day and when it's gone, tough luck.
Additonally, Pat's BBQ has the best corn bread I've had at a commercial establishment.

Moreover, the Red Iguana is a fantastic Mexican restaurant in SLC.
Check it out, get there early, order anything smothered in mole sauce.

I won't bore you with a recap of Texas and South Carolina BBQ.
It was good. Probably good like you could find in any city.

What else?
Impressions on where I've traveled recently?

Houston, Texas = sucks. Don't go there. Not worth it. Sprawling, concrete depression.
Anderson, South Carolina = Stop by on your way to Greenville.
Greenville, South Carolina = Go there, tomorrow! Great downtown, tons of restaurants, wide sidewalks. I've never seen so many people running in any city I've visited. Apparently there are tons of parks and one huge one that runs about 20 miles up a river.
Gainesville, Georgia = Skip it. Tiny downtown and sprawling strip mall paradise thereafter.
Utica, New York = Holy shit! Don't ever go to Utica. Utica should be paved over so they can start over.
Salt Lake City, Utah = Go there. Quite lovely. Temple square lit up for Christmas, wow! Stunning display of lights and presentation and what you can accomplish when you create a cult.

Tuesday, November 13, 2012

Revival of the travel blog--rental cars and too much food

This blog as a travel log back in 2008 with m trip to Italy.
Since, perhaps, a year ago she has lain dormant and neglected.

However, now that I have been travelling a lot lately with my job I have decided to resurrect this girl and chronicle my travels, which will most likely be rental cars I beat on and the food I eat too much of.

So far this year my destinations were:
-Boulder, Colorado (Ford Focus)
-Detroit, Michigan (utterly forgettable car)
-Chicago (Chevy Malibu)
-Hamilton, Ontario (utterly forgettable car)
-Grafton, Wisconson (Nissan Maxima)
-Cudahy, Wisconson (Nissan Maxima)
-Houston, Texas (Dogde Charger)
-Deerfeild Beach, Florida (Toyota Camry)
-Seal Beach, California (Chevy Malibu)
-Newport, New Hampshire (my car)
-Smithfeild, Rhode Island (my car)
-Anderson, South Carolina (Ford Taurus Limited)

I'll hit the highlights on what I remember in list form.
-Beachwood BBQ in Seal Beach.
-Back Country Pizza in Boulder.
-Little Piggies BBQ in Anderson.

Since most of these trips are rather distant memories I won't try to rehash all the details of each trip.

So far the Nissans of Wisconson were the funnest cars I've rented.
Those cars can move! They have lots of balls. Sometimes that's all that matters, just throttling the hell out of a rental car can make any week out on the road fun.

Second place goes to the Taurus. Great stereo, great driver adjustability (even the pedals can be moved!), however, lacks lumbar support.

Sunday, September 19, 2010

Tid bits of advice

I have been thinking carefully about what to write about Baba since she is a rather private lady, and she would probably not appreciate if I blabbed all about her all over the internet.

But, I can give you some bits of advice that seemed to have served her well over the years.

Always support the little guy. They have had the same trash pick-up guy for the last 40 years. We drive past his house when we go food shopping or go to the deli. BFI and All-Waste, or something like that, are here, but we're sticking with the little guy.
This goes for doughnut shops too. Yum-Yum is around here, and they totally beat out Dunkin Donuts.

Never say die. Baba is not in the greatest shape, but she still gets her chores done- it just takes a little longer. As long as you don't let grass grow under your feet, you'll be fine.

"Don't buy a motorcycle." 'nuff said Baba. I hear you loud and clear.

There is nothing good on TV. There are so many channels and nothing good on them. So you should just go outside and watch nature.

Be accepting. Accept the things you cannot change. If you don't they'll just grind you down. Then where will you be?

Talk to the cats like they're people. [If you're a cat person, you already know this to be true.]

Give hugs and kisses as much as you can. You can take them with you, unlike your money and house and toys and pool and cars.

Saturday, August 7, 2010

Your grandmother is so old...

Your grandmother is so old, that her 26-year-old grandson moved in with her so she could keep living in her house.

Wait... That's a terribly joke.

Why would you say that, Phil? You're a really crappy comedian.

Ah, you're right; I am a terrible comedian, but I am a great grandson and I have two really great grandmothers.

I moved in with Baba (mother's mother; remember that name, she'll be a recurring character) and I live less than 10 miles from my Dad's mother, Grandma, here in the greater Philadelphia area.

I haven't done a piece here in three months, and in that time a lot has happened.

I finished my time in Boulder, at VeloNews. In that last month I really soured toward Boulder. I rode a ton (30 hours in about seven days, averaging 10,000 feet of climbing five of those days). I was fried from riding and unimpressed with Boulder, as a possible place to put down roots.

I realized the relative importance of competitive cycling reporting in the overall hierarchy of journalism; we'll put it that way...

I realized how much I love the East Coast (that's right, both capitalized!), family and manufacturing. Boulder seemed to have very few things grounding it to a way of life that I find important. There's no industry there, beyond computer programming and other service-sector jobs. Had I desired to be a professional waiter, or dedicate ANOTHER four years to law school Boulder would be a great place to live.

When I describe my time out there I always make sure to say that I would go back to Boulder, or another place in Colorado, to vacation. A cycling or hiking vacation would be fantastic, when I have enough money to fly there, stay in a nice hotel, eat in nice restaurants, and fly back to civilization (East Coast).

But, to make a living out there for a liberal arts major in the manufacturing field, Boulder was not the place.

So, Southeastern Pennsylvania here I came. (That's what I said at the time, but now it's in the past, so you'll have to forgive the butchered verb tense.)

Baba needed and needs help to stay in her house. It's as much home for me as my childhood home in Newmarket is since we spent months at a stretch here in the summer.

It's also something of Baba's ancestral homeland. The four or so acres she has left, after selling about 35 acres to a developer with great apprehension, was a her and my grandfather's wedding present in 1952 (Fact Check). She has lived all but six years of her live on this land, and I think the last thing she would want would be to leave this land and house for an apartment in assisted living home.

As I was leaving Colorado, I spoke with a friend of a friend about my plans to live with Baba. He said he was the primary caregiver to two elderly relatives and it gave him a wonderful new perspective about life, aging and caring for others.

Therefore, as I started this blog to chronicle my adventures in Italy, I shall now try to convey the nuggets of wisdom and insight that I have gained and will gain from living with my grandmother, Baba.

That brings you up to speed.
Now buckle up and enjoy the motorized shopping cart ride through the next phase of my life.

Wednesday, April 14, 2010

"You should work three days a week and ride more."

That was the wise advice given to me by former VeloNews intern-turned-writer Robbie Stout, two days ago.

And, damn it, that's what I did today. I went for a two and a half hour lunch ride today.

It felt great. It was a beautiful day. I first went out for an hour with the advertising staff and then for another hour and a half on my own up Flagstaff Road.

Flagstaff takes you up - as far as I went - about 1200 feet above Boulder. It is still odd to me to see, what seems like, the whole world stretching out in front of you as you climb into the Rockies.

Going back to the East Coast after spending time on the front range is a trip.
Out here, you can see for miles and miles, even on cloudy day, which are few and far between.
However, back east, everything has a pulse. There is trash in alleys and deciduous trees. Not in Colorado; it's wide open and still brown.

It's amazing to see two totally different worlds that are on the same continent.

Today was pretty sweet, and complimented nicely by sunburnt stripes at the top of my tricep, where there was a gap between my arm warmers and my jersey sleeve.

Wednesday, February 3, 2010

An untimely report from Colorado.

It's been a bit over a week since I rolled into Boulder.
The drive was fairly miserable, and it went a little something like this;

Day 1 = 3:00 p.m. -- 10:00 p.m.
= nap at New York ThruWay rest stop
= 12:00 a.m. -- 2:00 a.m.
= nap at New York ThruWay rest stop; 14 degrees outside when I woke up.
Day 2 = 5:00 a.m. -- 7:30 p.m.
= maybe two 1-hour naps in Ohio
Day 3 = 8:00 a.m. -- 9:00 a.m.
= breakfast at Grandma's Kitchen on I-80 near Davenport, Illinios
= 10:00 a.m. -- 11:30 p.m.
= rolled into Bolder shortly before midnight.

Never drive across the country. It's so boring.
If anyone every says that you should drive across the country, tell them you'll book a flight instead. And that they can pick you up at the airport after they do the drive alone.
Trust me.

However, Boulder is cool.
I think it's too early to give an official or formal critique, so I'll keep my fool mouth shut for now.

The last two Tuesdays have seen the VeloNews staff go to the Boulder Indoor Cycling Center during lunch time. Riding track, while a bit boring while you're going slow, becomes quite fun at higher speeds.

Roger Dogder. Over and out.