Tuesday, December 5, 2017

Best Of (mostly) 2017

I didn't do a Best Of 2016, and since NYC fell at the very end of 2016, I thought I'd combine both and see where it takes me.

The past calendar year has been a non-stop whirlwind. I've changed careers from being in I.T. Sales to now being a Mortgage Lender. I've traveled to NYC for only the 2nd time ever (the first was so short I'm not sure it even counts), and first time to Washington D.C., Boston, Phoenix, Kansas City, and St. Louis. I went to "The Four Final Basketball Teams Playing Each Other Portion Of The College Basketball Bracket", saw a game in Madison Square Garden, home opener for the Arizona Diamondbacks where Madison Bumgarner made MLB history by being the first pitcher to hit 2 home runs on opening day, the final game at Turner Field (ok stretching the year a good bit here) and the first game at Suntrust Park, Kauffman Stadium, and my long awaited first trip to Busch Stadium. It's easy to say that this past year, and then some, has seen a lot of really cool things, so now it's time to rank them.

Best Food Event

We only went to 2, and it's really not fair to compare, so the best of this past year is easily ...

Best Sporting Venue

Faurot Field

The stadium was nice, and the foot traffic moved very well through the stadium and outside area. I just can't ever get used to tailgating in parking garages.

Suntrust Park

It may be the newest stadium in the majors, and the Battery is going to be really cool when it gets finished outside, but the stadium itself is missing a lot. There's certain areas that are really cool. The memorial area behind home plate is awesome, but the corridor is extremely tight with weird turns and curves in places that make it extremely hard to get through. That on top of the lack of food options really make this new ballpark miss.

University of Phoenix Stadium

Similar to SunTrust Park, there's ZERO space to move throughout this arena. It could be that it's made for football games, and the addition of the extra seats down to the court added however many thousands of fans ... but doesn't change the fact that it took forever to get around that place.

Madison Square Garden

We were only here for the second half of the game, and didn't get time to tour the arena, but it's Madison Square Garden.

Chase Field

Admittedly, I really didn't get to "enjoy" the stadium and game as much as I would have liked since we were rushed to get to watch the Women's NCAA Championship game. From what I was able to see, I really liked. It was an easy ballpark to move around in and seemed to have concessions and merchandise stands everywhere you looked.

Kauffman Stadium

The game didn't turn out as well for the home team as we could have hoped, but that was the only bad part of the game. Kauffman by far had the best food selections and you had beyond plenty of room to move around the stadium. Then throw in the fountains and it's an absolute beautiful ballpark to catch a game at.

Busch Stadium

I'll admit, I'm probably biased with this pick. The 2nd newest stadium on the list, and like the first, the food options were very subpar. They have their own version of the Battery in the Ballpark Village, but we didn't have time to make it to it. The food we did get was delicious and they had a Jack Daniels bar. That alone gets the #1 spot.

Best Thing To Do/Attraction/Museum

Honorable Mention - Kansas City Zoo

I'll admit, this is only making it here so you'll go back and see that post about my wife being attacked by the yellow giddon if you haven't seen it before. I'm going to get hit for this.

Anheuser-Busch - St. Louis, MO

If you've been to one brewery, you've pretty much been to the all. Anheuser-Busch in St. Louis is more than a brewery, and the Clydesdales and the barn are beyond worth the trip alone.

Samuel Adams - Boston, MA

I know what I just said, but this is one of the few exceptions ... and their beer is great ... and you get a lot of it.

American Museum of Natural History - New York City, NY

Take a day, and some pain killers for your knees.

Boston Tea Party Ships & Museum - Boston, MA

It's arguably the greatest "up yours" the American people have ever done in our history. What's not like about that? This is a small tour and museum, but it's worth an hour.

Ford's Theatre - Washington, DC

This is really one of the coolest/best museums I've been to. Not just the history, but the information we now know about what all took place ... and they have the gun, so that's pretty awesome.

U.S. Capitol Building - The National Mall - Washington, DC

Reach out to your representative and request a tour/tickets. I mean, we paid for the thing, we should get to see it. You can't go to the Capitol Building and not also go see the memorials of the National Mall.

The Freedom Trail - Boston, MA

If you do this, I highly recommend you doing the tour like we did. A stop for the original Boston Creme Pie, and a stop or two at some of the historic bars for a drink. It helps break the walk up which is only 2 miles in total distance, but mix in the brief tours and the legs will thank you.

National World War I Monument and Museum - Kansas City, MO

I have never been to a museum with more to see. Everywhere you look there's a relic.

Arlington National Cemetery - Arlington, VA

You just don't understand the magnitude until you see it.

9/11 Museum - New York City, NY

No words can really do this justice. This is a place everyone should experience, and that's what it is, an experience.

Best Trip

Phoenix, Arizona

This could have been a drastically different trip if the Gamecocks could have pulled out a miracle.

Kansas City - Columbia - St. Louis, Missouri

The only thing that would have made this trip any better is more time at each destination.

Washington D.C.

To visit the place that runs our nation, and to do so the following weekend (accidentally) of an inauguration was truly amazing. The history and importance is around every corner.

Boston, Massachusetts

It's been referred to as a "small big city", and that's exactly what it is. If you enjoy the history of Savannah, GA and Charleston, SC, then you have to visit Boston.

New York City, New York

In the moment, we were exhausted. We averaged walking 10 miles a day over a 7 day stretch. It was non-stop site seeing, shopping, eating, and shows. Looking back, the things we saw and experiences we were able to make in the week make this boy from the South miss "The Big Apple" (but only in short doses).

Best Dessert

Cinnamon Roll Pancakes - The Big Biscuit, Kansas City, MO

This may have been for breakfast, but this belongs nowhere other than a dessert list.

Pecan Sticky Bun - Flour Bakery, Boston, MA

Another one that's probably not really a "dessert", but I make the rules, so here it is.

Westport Ice Cream Bakery - Westport, MO

This could have been so much higher on the list if only they made their own waffle cones.

S'more Concoction - Max Brenner, New York City, NY

Boston Creme Pie - Omni Parker Hotel, Boston, MA

If you're going, you have to get the original.

The Nutella Cookie S'mores - Dylan's Candy Bar, New York City, NY

One of the best desserts I've ever had.

Pupcake - Sprinkles Cupcakes, Multiple Locations

Everything is better when we get to share it with Rhett.

Best Bar

Bar Bacon - New York City, NY

It's a bar, and they serve bacon. Do I really need to go any further?

Wink & Nod - Boston, MA

Jack Rose Dining Saloon - Washington, DC

Although this is a great restaurant too, they have over 2,000 bottles of whiskey on the wall so it's going here.

Fraunces Tavern - New York City, NY

I've had an adult beverage in a bar that George Washington drank in, and that's pretty awesome.

Green Dragon Tavern - Boston, MA

Similar to Fraunces Tavern, the Green Dragon was a regular watering hole of our founding fathers.

Samuel Adams Brewery - Boston, MA

There's nothing better than a Sam Adams Summer Ale ... at Sam Adams.

Best Food (Non BBQ)

Macaroni and Cheese - Root & Bone, New York City, NY

The rest of the food was a little disappointing, but this mac and cheese was off the chain.

Bacon Mac And Cheese Burger - Big Daddy's, New York City, NY

I love mac and cheese, I love bacon, I love cheeseburgers, and I love tots.

Kauffman Stadium - Kansas City, MO

The best baseball game hotdog I've ever had.

Burger and Barrel - New York City, NY

McCoy's Public House - Kansas City, MO

Ninja Restaurant - New York City, NY

The atmosphere is the best part, but the food and drinks do not disappoint. 

Bogie's Place - Boston, MA

It's an adults only restaurant with amazing drinks and food. What more could you ask for?

Porterhouse for 2 - Keen's Steakhouse, New York City, NY

One of the longest running steakhouses in America, and there's a reason for that.

Babbo - New York City, NY

Amazing drinks, amazing appetizers, amazing entrees, and amazing dessert.

Mastro's Steakhouse - Washington, DC

This is just a poor excuse of a picture, and I'm ashamed of it every time I look at it.

Best BBQ

Not getting mentioned anywhere remotely close to this list is a place in New York that we wasted a meal and a whole lot of money at.

Hill Country BBQ - Washington, DC

Seriously some of the best all around BBQ out there. There wasn't anything on this butcher paper that wasn't amazing.

Burnt Ends on a Bun - Gates BBQ, Kansas City, MO

Sausage - Arthur Bryants, Kansas City, MO

You can't say you've lived until you've had this sausage.

Flat Rock Wood Room - Hendersonville, NC

I'm questioning why we haven't been back yet. I have no answer to that question, and I'm a little upset at myself for it.

Fox Bros. Bar-B-Q - Atlanta, GA

I guess this is claiming Fox Bros as the best (new) BBQ I had this year. I don't disagree with that ... which if I did, I guess I could change it since I'm typing it.

Best Experience

It may have been a crazy year bouncing all over the place, but I wouldn't have traded a single second for the memories I made (ok, maybe walking in windy 6 degree weather in NY I could have done without).

Thanks to one of the greatest runs in NCAA Basketball history, my dad (that I have reffed Basketball for 18 years with) and I took a spur of the moment trip to Phoenix to see an event that I don't think either of us ever thought we'd visit, and definitely not with our Gamecocks playing in it. 

The rest of the bouncing around was with my favorite person in the whole world. The one that has reaped the benefits of my crazy vacation planning that allows us to show up, see everything we possibly could see, have reservations all set, tickets to any events already in hand, and stops along the way for shopping, snacks, and drinks.