If you know my friend Captain Amurica, you know he loves countdowns. Here’s his special countdown of the top 5 moments from our cross-country roadtrip.
And with the journey completed as I write this, I’d like to offer up my top 5 things/experiences/events from our tour of America the beautiful, purple mountain’s majesty and endless fields of amber waves of grain:
5. Eating Rocky Mountain Oysters while in the Rocky Mountains. Go figure.
4. Tie: Both playing and winning slots for the first time in Vegas and a special midnight tour of the Jefferson City Capitol Building (based off our very own here in DC.) Thanks to my buddy Jimmy for being a phenomenal tour guide and an even better host. Word up brosef.
3. Arthur Bryants BBQ in Kansas City. The sweet, smokey, molasses sauce they use probably has just a little bit of crack sprinkled in there. Tantalizing. Also, their sides are absolutely bomb.
2. Hearing Crosby, Stills, Nash, and Young’s song “Ohio” for the first time while driving through Ohio for the first time. An amazing song about a terrible tragedy.
1. Completing this journey of endurance and moral fortitude through sheer force of will and copious amounts caffeine alongside the Star Spangled Girl. Couldn’t ask for a better partner in crime. Period.
Part two in a three part guest blog series from the amazing Captain Amurica. Did you miss part one? Check it out here.
Arriving into Denver via dark mountain tunnels and passes, with the occasional bighorn sheep apparently just chillin on the side of the mountain. Insert mandatory Will Ferrell/Robert Goulet reference here. Starting with an early morning in the Mile High City compliments of a college friend, Biker Jim’s exotic sausages made for the perfect fuel for the day. A pheasant – rattlesnake and Alaskan Reindeer duo of sausages happily consumed, a tour of Denver was to be had. With a great food scene and even better beer scene, Denver was frankly, awesome. Rocky mountain oysters (which are apparently not actual oysters haha but with the flavor of great veal) and a hand crafted mint julip to start, followed by pizza and a good conversation with the waitress of Lucky Pie Pizza about the greater merits of the prosciutto and fig combination. Any of my close friends will tell you that prosciutto and fig is not only one of my all time favorite combinations, but also extremely funny to shout out randomly in Italian at any given time. Talk about my kind of place. I was sad to see Denver and its Rocky Mountain Back drop fade into wide open sky and endless prairies of Kansas towards Jefferson City, MO and Morgantown, WV, the final leg of our trip.
Jefferson City, Missouri
Jeff City, MO is a small town about two hours from St. Louis ( affectionately known as Da Lou) that is also the capital city of Missouri. With so many billboards promoting “adult shops for both singles and couples” I could only imagine what awaited us there. Driving at night we apparently missed the opportunity to view a multitude meth houses per capita for which Missouri leads the US and possibly the world, Jefferson City was a quiet, clean, and quaint town that has that Main Street vibe of old time Americana without ever having to try. A few Busch Lights (in honor of Missouri, of course) and we were walking the steps of the Capitol Building, gazing towards the Governor’s Mansion, and touched by the law enforcement officers memorial. The Mighty Missouri River lay in front of it, and had it not been for the enormous swarms of bugs that often surround large bodies of water on hot and humid summer days, I could have spent all night there. Alas free time was not something we had the luxury of truly enjoying, so instead packed up the next morning for Morgantown, with a stop in Da Lou on the way.
St. Louis, Missouri
Having been to St. Louis before and having enjoyed it, this stopover was for two things: the Gateway Arch, and frozen custard. Ted Drewes to be exact. And while i’ve never met the dude, gotta give mad respect to him cause the guy knows how to make a bowl of ice cream. Rich, creamy, flavorful and smooth, this was definitely not your low fat treat. Calories be damned, that shit was money. And a perfect sugar rush to get us on our way. As for the Arch? It’s big. And when I say big, I mean it. The Washington Monument ain’t got shit on the Arch. You have to strain your neck just to take in the full purview, and the fact that there are windows across the top presumably for tour taking would’ve the kind of shit your pants awesome that one can only get from sky diving or bungee jumping.
Leaving St. Louis was also the first time that I’ve ever in my life stopped at a Jack in the Box, but the mere fact that you can get cheeseburgers, curly fries, mozzarella sticks, AND tacos all at the same counter left me befuddled and giddy at the same time.
Morgantown, West Virginia
Heading into Morgantown,WV reminded me of the trips I used to take to see my grandparents in Pittsburgh. Same landscape, same tyoe of people, same blue collar feeling. Other than that I was able to glean one other aspect of life in the Mountaineer state and the accompanying West Virginia University – those kids party. And party hard. And love football. And when those two things mix together you have one of lifes greatest events – college football tailgates on Saturdays. Props to those cats at WVU for doing it big. Gotta get back up there in the fall.
Although not nearly as cool as Middle Earth, exploring Middle America has been an experience. Turns out there’s a Washington, Jefferson, Madison, and/or Franklin just about everywhere in this country. There’s also a Kansas City, Kansas; Kansas City, Missouri; Kansas, Illinois. You think Americans could be a bit more creative. After 9 hours of staring out at endless plains and fields, Anthony and I took reprieve at Arthur Bryant’s BBQ in Kansas City, Missouri before stopping for the night in Jefferson City.
On the border between Kansas and Missouri, Kansas City is known for many things, but perhaps most of all, it’s known for BBQ. Travel Channel’s Man v Food showcased two of Kansas City’s finest: Gates and Arthur Bryant’s. We chose to stop at the latter and we weren’t disappointed.
For just $12.20 you could choose a pound of any combination of their mouthwatering smoked, pulled, juicy, delicious meats. (If you’re reading this, Nick, you’d be in HEAVEN) For my poor pork-hating body, Anthony and I split a half pound of burnt ends and a half pound of beef brisket. On the side we had baked beans and coleslaw. Magnificent would be an understatement. The sides were even so good that Anthony went back up to order another one of each. Meanwhile, I sneakily slopped up the saucey, greasy, fatty remnants of our beef feast from the plate with a slice of white bread.
Properly protein’d up, we returned to the road…ready for Missouri’s capital, Jefferson City, to meet the future President of the United States.
Today, I embark upon a journey. From the muggy swampland of Northern Virginia, I’ll venture to the mystic and plastic land I once called home: Los Angeles. Then, in my golden chariot, I will ride across this majestic country, through 13 states, to return to my Capitol City-adjacent home in Arlington, VA.
Along the way, my trusty sidekick and I will face perilous obstacles that make us ask ourselves questions we’ve never explored before, like “How much is too much BBQ?” and “How long can I hold it so I don’t have to stop at that nasty rest stop?” Our path will take us through
With stopovers in Las Vegas (Nevada), Denver (Colorado), Jefferson City (Missouri), and Morgantown (West Virginia), it promises to be a thoroughly blog-worthy adventure. Stay tuned to the Star-Spangled Girl and the “Everywhere in Between” tab for more on the sights and sounds from across the U.S. of A.