Thursday, April 20, 2017

I Went To Phoenix To Watch Some Basketball

For the first time in program history, the University of South Carolina's Men's Basketball team made it to the Four Final Basketball Teams Playing Each Other Portion Of The College Basketball Bracket (I don't think I can "legally" call it the Final Four, so we'll just call it that). Luckily, I have an amazing wife and she didn't put up much of a fight when I asked/told her that my dad and I were going. Honestly, she probably just wanted wanted a weekend alone with Rhett.

The Four Final Basketball Teams Playing Each Other Portion Of The College Basketball Bracket, FFBTPEOPOTCBB for short, was hosted in Phoenix, Arizona, so we had to scramble to find hotels and flights. Unfortunate for us, Other Carolina also advanced to the Four Final Basketball Teams Playing Each Other Portion Of The College Basketball Bracket, so we were having to work with them to fly out of the same airports.

We finally found a flight that would get us to Phoenix in time, but that required us to get up at 4:30a.m. and drive up to Charlotte. It was really neat walking through the airport and seeing their video boards proudly supporting Other Carolina's success, along with BOTH of our team's successes.


From Charlotte we flew to Minneapolis, and from there it was on to Phoenix. Luckily, that was a much larger plane, so we had our own in flight screens with very recently released movies. If you haven't seen Hacksaw Ridge, I would recommend it. Just know, it's a bit of a tear jerker.


From the time we landed in Phoenix we still had just over 2 hours till tip off ... plenty of time.

On our way out, we picked up our rental car, made it to the hotel, and then called an Uber to the stadium. At this point, time is winding down, but we still have about an hour to go.



We still needed to go through security before we could even get to Will Call to pick up our tickets. We walk up and the security line is an absolute cluster. It took no less than 30 minutes to make it through a line of just "take everything out of your pockets and walk through." Oh, and don't forget if you have a camera case, you have to return it to your vehicle or throw it away, because you can take in a small pocketbook, but a camera case may ... ?

Ok, so threw the camera case on the ground and stormed off (game was more important than standing there and telling those idiots exactly what I thought about them). We get to Will Call and the following takes place.

Ticket Guy: What's the name?
Me: Give gentleman name (went with first name since my dad and I have the same name it wouldn't have mattered who grabbed the tickets)
Ticket Guy: *searches through tickets* I don't see anything. Where did you get them from?
Me: (Thinking I know we didn't just fly across the nation for nothing) Umm the club itself?
Ticket Guy: I don't see anything, could it be under another name or company?
Me: Oh yeah, it could be under (insert company name) (not telling all you yahoos my hook ups ;-) )
Ticket Guy: Nope, don't see it.
Me: (Pee starts to run down my pants (not really))
Ticket Guy 2: Wait, who did he say?
Me: Repeat company name
Ticket Guy 2: I think it's ... *grabs envelope and hands it through the window*
Me: *Looks down to see what's on envelope ... owner of the company's name*

Ok, so obstacle #2 has been conquered now. We head to the entrance gates ... slam on the brakes ... they're just as lined up as the security lines were. I'm usually a get in line and be orderly person, but I may or may not have cut in line.

We make it in the arena and they're announcing the players. Yes, if you've been keeping up, it took us nearly an hour to make it through security, walk up to Will Call (no line at all), and then even cut in line to get in.

We run around to the other side of the arena and get to our seats just in time for tip off.



The face you make when you're about to watch your team play in the Four Final Basketball Teams Playing Each Other Portion Of The College Basketball Bracket. 


We hung around for some of the Oregon versus Other Carolina game, but then the sandwich we had in Minneapolis was gone, and we had to find something to eat. We walked the entire arena and every line was at least another 20-30 minute wait, so we decided to leave and find one of the places I had found in my searching.

We got back to the hotel and hopped in our rental and headed over to Short Leash Hotdogs. We walked in and there was a line of 5 people or so in front of us. That line took 20 minutes of my life. Once I got to the counter I ordered and my bank thought that that would be a great time to shut my card down since I was traveling and didn't notify them. Well that took another 5 minutes waiting on someone to come over and show her how to back out so I could pay with cash. See what I didn't mention was, the cashier stated that it was her 3rd day working there, and although the Four Final Basketball Teams Playing Each Other Portion Of The College Basketball Bracket and the music festival was taking place right behind the building, they apparently felt she was ready for the task at hand. Nothing against her, she did the best she could, because in reality, there wasn't anything about them that was fast. Once I placed my order it took over 30 minutes to get our order ... oh, and it was wrong.

While I was waiting, I did at least get to check out all of the cute dogs on the wall.



We got our order to go, so I didn't notice it was wrong until I made it back to the hotel. I ordered 2 for me and 2 for my dad. He ended up not eating his because I ordered him chilly dogs and he was afraid it was too late in the night. Well, they got his order perfect, and I only got 1 of my dogs. No picture, but just imagine a hot dog with bacon and cheese on a tortilla shell. Yep, instead of a bun, they use tortillas. The dog, singular, was actually pretty good, but I don't know that it could make up for the delays at every turn and missing one off my order after all of that.

Ok, it's a new day. I had found Matt's Big Breakfast, so we headed over to Tempe to check it out.


We both ordered The Five Spot that comes with 2 eggs, 2 slices of thick cut bacon, American cheese, and grilled onions. I had mine with no onions and my dad had his with no cheese.

These sandwiches definitely made up for the night before's fiascoes, and the rolls were absolutely delicious. If I'm in Phoenix again, Matt's will be on the agenda for this sandwich alone.


After breakfast we rode out to Mesa so I could go to Harley-Davidson and get my shot glass for the trip. On the way I looked over and saw ... 



Yep, that's the Chicago Cubs' Spring Training facility. We went on to the Harley-Davidson shop, but came back by and took a few pictures.



  

Reordered the pictures to make it a little easier to look at.

I've been to my fair share of Harley-Davidson shops and I have to say, this is probably my favorite. I don't know why I didn't, but I didn't take pictures of the bike "garage" they have to the left, but it was sweet.



After that we headed over to Chase Field for Opening Day for the Arizona Diamondbacks.


We stepped into one of the opening for the National Anthem, and caught the fly over.




For the first time, team USA won the World Baseball Classic. I'm guessing since the Giants and Diamondbacks had a number of players on that team they decided to have the trophy at the game.



We had to leave the game a little early so we could get somewhere to watch the women's team play for the National Championship. Some restaurant along the way had a Jack Daniels statue painted like the Day of the Dead.


A quick stop into Hard Rock so I could get my glass from there as well.



Since our boys didn't make it to the Championship game, we decided to basically give our tickets away and bump our flight home up a day. The same trip back (even had to get up at 4:30a.m. again), so this go around I enjoyed a little "almost Harry Potter".


We would have liked it if our guys could have made it to the Championship game, but they fought back and made it a great game, and we had a great time. I would have liked to have been able to spend a little more time in the area, but I didn't have my usual trip companion so it just wasn't the same.


Short Leash Hotdogs

Matt's Big Breakfast 

Phoenix area




Thursday, February 2, 2017

We The People - Went To Washington D.C.

Dawn is a big fan of The Five on Fox News, so for Christmas I surprised her with tickets to see Dana Perino and Greg Gutfeld's Short Stories (by Short People) at Warner Theatre in Washington D.C..

Since we just went to NYC, we didn't want to be gone too long, so we planned a Thursday through Saturday trip to our nation's capital.

The flight there was absolutely beautiful.



We landed in D.C. (technically Arlington, VA), and had a full day ahead of us. From our hotel in Crystal City, we caught the Metro (not Subway as it's referred to in NYC) over to Georgetown. Strolled the streets filled of gorgeous old architecture on our way to Goorin Bros. Which made it shop number 9 for us. Unfortunately, I didn't get to walk away with a new hat, so we went over to Good Stuff Eatery, that we found on Burgers, Brew, and Que, just down the street for lunch.





The burgers you could taste were really fresh, but there really wasn't anything special about them. Don't get me wrong, it was good, but to almost be claimed "Best Burger in Washington D.C." by Michael Symon ... it was a bit of a let down (but again, still good). The fries were just pure grease. I know some people like that, so if you do, you'd really enjoy these. I prefer crunchy fries.

Back on the streets, and just a taste of the scenery.


As we walked down the street I noticed a girl with a "Greenpeace" sticker on her back, but thought nothing of it. Just past the girl was a guy that had the same sticker on the front of his shirt and also a clipboard in hand. He glanced at me and just looked back away. Next thing you know, he approaches the guy behind us and starts pitching him. Apparently we don't look very "greenpeace" haha.

After we got snubbed we stopped in at Baked and Wired and Sprinkles and loaded up on cupcakes for the trip. We didn't eat them in the shops, so you'll see them later on down when they were actually consumed.

With the backpack loaded up, we then made our way to Arlington National Cemetery.









Changing of the guard.













Lincoln Memorial, Washington Monument, and the U.S. Capitol Building.





The most humbling experience of my life.



After Arlington National Cemetery, we went to the next station at the Pentagon for the National 9/11 Pentagon Memorial.





Each bench represents a person lost on that day.



Our pre-dinner snack for our first day was the cupcakes from Sprinkles. Of all of the times we've been to a Sprinkles, this is the first time they've actually had German Chocolate in stock (my all-time #1 cake in the world). Not pictured, but don't worry Rhett got his pupcakes too.


Thursday night's dinner was at Jack Rose Dining Saloon whose website claims to have 2,687 bottles of whiskey on the wall. If you don't believe them, just count ...


They brought out complimentary miniature sweet potato pie something anothers.



Her drink came out with a burning stick in it. Neat, but I kind of question how you're supposed to drink something and not burn your eye at the same time ...?


She had the Pork Chop that she really enjoyed, but was a little over on temp. Said it tasted really good, but was just almost to the dry point.


I had the Roseda Ribeye with "magic molly potatoes, royal trumpet mushrooms, pomegranate worcestershire". The Ribeye was delicious and pretty much spot on with the temperature. Now, for these "magic molly potatoes" ... they were really good, but if you're going to call them magic, I want to find a quarter behind my dang ear. Didn't happen.


For dessert we had one of their sampling flights. The Belle Meade was by far the best to each of us. It was also neat since we've been to Belle Meade Plantation on our Nashville trip.


Breakfast Friday morning was at Lincoln Waffle Shop. It's a very cosy, classic style diner spot.



There wasn't a bad bite on either of our plates, and the waffle had a perfect light crunch to it.

Our first tour of the day was to the infamous ... Ford's Theatre.


The tour begins with a trip through the basement museum loaded with history and artifacts from Lincoln and his assassination. Including, potentially the most iconic single shot weapon in the history of the world.


From the museum, you walk up into the actual theatre.


As we wanted for the presentation to begin, a group of High School girls came walking in behind us, and the following happened.

Girl 1: "Oh there's the box that he was in when Booth shot him, and then the drape that he caught his spur on while jumping down to the stage to escape."
Girl 2: "Oh my gah, like how do you know all of that?"
Girl 3: "So who jumped down on the stage?"

These girls will vote in a few years, smh.


The typical box set up.


A replica of the decoration for the first ever "Presidential Box".


The door to the hallway to the box.








Pieces of rope from the nooses used to hang the conspirators. See, back then, we actually took care of business.





The coolest donations "bucket" ever.


From Ford's we made the walk down to Hill Country BBQ for lunch.





I know that it is starting to turn into a bit of a chain, but this was one of the best BBQ restaurants I've been to. The brisket, hot links, jalapeno cheddar sausage, ribs, chicken, sides, cornbread, and the banana pudding were all delicious. The chicken though, was the best BBQ chicken I've ever had. Hands down.

Needing to burn off some of that lunch, it was back on our feet and down to Pennsylvania Ave.

National Archives building that we will end up touring on Saturday.


J. Edgar Hoover FBI Building


I wish they made buildings like this still. Politics aside (since Trump had nothing to do with the architecture of the building itself), this is one of the more gorgeous buildings there is.







After the old Post Office building, we made our first trip to the National Mall on our way to our Capitol Building tour.






The U.S. Capitol Building from across the pond.


Before the tour we had to go to our representative's office to pick up passes to the House and the Senate galleries ... we just wouldn't be able to go in them since the Capitol was closing by the time our tour ended.

Rayburn House Office Building where our representatives' offices are located.




The U.S. Capitol Building.




The original chamber for the Supreme Court.





If you've ever watched any inauguration, these are the steps that the soon to be President walks down before they appear to the people outside.


It you look real close, just below the base of the statue and above the foundation (light grey part) you'll see about a half inch to an inch of a speckled layer. That's a piece from the Berlin wall.


The newly renovated dome.


Speaker of the House's office.


The former meeting area for the House of Representatives.




Library of Congress



The Supreme Court, where I can proudly say that a late friend won 2 cases ...


Union Station


We attempted to go to a bar near Union Station, but apparently our bad bar luck carried over from NYC and the place was shoulder to shoulder packed ... and I don't do large crowds.

We decided instead to go back to the hotel and enjoy our German Chocolate cupcake and Carrot cupcake from Baked and Wired.


German Chocolate cakes/cupcakes is the only thing I can eat unlimited icing on, so I have to give the nod to Sprinkles for having the most icing. Both were delicious, so it was a win win for me. She actually preferred the Carrot cupcake over the Cinnamon from Sprinkles ... I'm not sure there was a real loser here either.

For diner we went to El Centro D.F.. I was a little worried that we may end up being late, because our metro was stopped once due to the metro in front of us having issues at the station, and then a second time due to a "police incident".

I have to have queso for my fajitas, so I went ahead and ordered it a little early so we munch on it some before the real food came. It came out on a bubbling, extremely hot skillet with 3 side dips. I was just expecting a bowl with cheese dripping over the side ...


Since we just filled up on chips and salsa and queso, we split the single serving of chicken fajitas. Disclaimer, this is NOT enough for 2 people to share, but she eats more of the veggies, so it works for us.


Saturday was more or less a wide open day until show time later that night.

We began the day at Smoked and Stacked for some meat biscuits.



The sausage was some of the best sausage I've ever had, the bacon was very smokey, but oh so delicious, but the stare of the show was the scrambled egg on top. I'm not sure what it is, but I could have those scrambled eggs every single day.

From breakfast we caught the metro back down to the National Archives building for a tour. If you've never been, it is a must. To see the original Declaration of Independence, Constitution, and Bill of Rights is just amazing. It's a very surreal moment. Clearly you're not allowed any photography, thus no pictures.

From the Archives we make our way back up Pennsylvania Ave to the White House.





The White House



The "best" picture of the White House that I could get.


Apparently they're building a new security station in front of the White House? I don't know.




A roller Hockey game in a section of Pennsylvania Ave that's blocked off from traffic.


Lunch was at GCDC a grilled cheese bar.


She had the Chicken Parmesan with tomato soup. I'm not sure she said a word other than "oh my gah this is so good."


I had the Carolina BBQ with tater tots.



The menu says pulled pork, which it is not. It's more cubed or something. It also didn't state the raw jalapenos, which were not good at all. Beyond the jalapenos, it was very, very good. I just wish I had known so I could have asked for them not to be on it.

We let lunch settle a little as we made our way to one of the shops and by some of the other historical buildings.



The Blair House that the President stays at the night before the inauguration, and any other time he's not able to stay at the White House.


Next up was day 3's dessert. For that we went to Astro Doughnuts & Fried Chicken. I saw someone with the fried chicken, and it looked very good, but I was on a mission.

We took the doughnuts down to the National Mall, and had them beneath the Washington Monument.









Each star represents 100 men and women killed ...





I found out that my grandfather, that passed away when I was very young, was in the Army and served in the Korean War. That made this a little more neat and personable.





Reflection of the Washington Monument in the Vietnam Memorial.



I understand that I haven't always been as appreciative of our country as I should have been. I understand that when I was younger I wasn't always the most mature during times that I should have. However, if you're reading this post and you know a young person that's planning on going to Washington D.C. would you do me one favor? Would you please explain to them that these monuments aren't in place to play on, position like it's your junk sticking up, and definitely not to pose like you're sticking your finger up Lincoln's nose. These monuments are of people that founded and helped form this country into what it is today. These monuments are of men and women that paid the ultimate sacrifice for the very freedoms that you're mocking and taking advantage of. Show some damn respect!

Ok, rant over.

If you've ever been to D.C. then you know that there is no close metro to this side of the National Mall, so we got to walk 20 minutes across the river back to the Arlington station. It'd been a nice walk if we hadn't already walked 10 miles that day by 3 o'clock. Well not only did we have to walk that far, but once we got there they announced that there was a power outage and the trains would be delayed blah blah blah. We decided to get an uber since we had to get back and changed for dinner and the show. Of course as soon as I booked the ride, here comes the train.

Another long story short, that train seemed to be fine at this point, and we needed it again for dinner. Well, it stopped 4 stops before ours due to that massive power outage and we were put on shuttles ... traffic was a mess ... we got off 2 stops early and power walked 17 minutes to our restaurant ... it was that kind of a day.

So we fiiiinally get to dinner at Mastro's Steakhouse.

The sides come family style so we had the garlic mashed potatoes and the macaronis and cheese with bacon. She chose the Petite Filet, while I did the New York Strip (duh).



She wanted to go swimming in the potatoes, seriously those words came out of her mouth, the macaroni was phenomenal, and the steaks were absolutely perfectly nailed on temperature with possibly the best sear I've ever had on a steak.

After dinner we waddled the half a block to the Warner Theatre.

There was a building across the street that has apparently looked like this for a few months now. With all of the great buildings around it was just strange.





Frank Sinatra's star and signature outside of the theatre.


Just showing a little patriotism in our nation's capital.


Our short trip to Washington D.C. over, we board the plane and set sails back to SC. Once we got up in the air I looked over and caught one last glimpse of the most powerful capital in the world.



Good Stuff Eatery


Baked and Wired


Sprinkles


Arlington National Cemetery


Jack Rose


Lincoln's Waffle Shop


Ford's Theatre


Hill Country BBQ


U.S. Capitol Building


El Centro D.F.


Smoked and Stacked


National Archives


GCDC


Astro Doughnuts


Mastro's Steakhouse


Short Stories with Short People