2017’s September Road Trip: Part Two

So, initially, when I started this story (on the trip itself), I figured I’d have three posts – the previous one, one on Santa Cruz/Monterey, and then one on Las Vegas. However, I didn’t take nearly as many pictures in Las Vegas as I thought I would … so we’re wrapping this up in one longer tale. Good? Good.

Friday, September 8:

Friday morning, we woke up, ate breakfast at our hotel, and then drove the few hours from Sacramento to Santa Cruz. We didn’t stop driving until we hit San Jose, when I needed to fill up my tank. I don’t know where we stopped, exactly, but it was not the nicest area and the people driving around seemed batshit crazy … so we snagged a less-than-ideal lunch in Wienerschnitzel (mmm, corn dogs) and got back on the road.

We checked into our hotel, the Ocean Pacific Lodge, which we thought was maybe a few blocks from the race? Well, it was a few blocks from the race start, but literally across the street from transition. Like I could see the bike area from our room window. We wanted to check in for the race right away, so we went ahead and did that, as well as bought a few race items.

9-8hotel
Hotel. Transition would be to the left.

After a short ride to test out the bikes and a shower, we headed out for some dinner. Since lunch was so greasy, we decided on some nice sushi for dinner at I Love Sushi, which hit the spot.

i_love_sushi_friends_roll
The Friends Roll, one of the ones we got.

Bellies full of delicious sushi, we walked around a bit to explore.

9-8santa_cruz
Because a.) why not; and b.) he calls me his siren.

9-8santa_cruz2
Rides wouldn’t be going until the weekend.

Saturday, September 9:

We woke up fairly early Saturday morning as we had to drive back into San Jose to find a Chick-fil-a so as to get sandwiches for bike food (we eat pickle juice-soaked chicken patties on the bike. don’t ask …) as well as a few extra chicken egg and cheese biscuit sandwiches so as to eat something for breakfast the next day. We also hit up a Target for some bottled water to prep our race bottles with.

Back in Santa Cruz, we dropped our bikes off and went for a short run to shake out our legs, stopping by the Monterey Bay National Marine Sanctuary Exploration Center, because why not.

9-9santa_cruz
Inside.

It was super simple. Not sure if I’d recommend it.

Post-run, we showered and then went off to drive a bit more of the bike course, grabbing lunch along the way in Davenport, Calif.

9-9santa_cruz2
Whale City, our stop.

whale_city_north_coast_chicken_sandwich
I had the North Coast Chicken Sandwich – grilled chicken breast topped with sauteed leeks and mushrooms on a fresh bakery roll. It wasn’t too shabby.

Drove back to the hotel to prep everything for the next day and to just relax. We left around 5ish to get our nails done at The Nail Club (no website; not the best mani/pedi I’ve had, but totally not the worst) before grabbing our typical breakfast-for-dinner at the Santa Cruz Diner. Fantastic meal except for the bacon. Mediocre bacon. Sad, sad day.

Sunday, September 10:

… was race day, so the vast, vast majority of the day was spent doing that.

We did grab dinner at the Seabright Brewery, which was a letdown. I think we just need to realize that neither of us particularly like the food at brewpubs. I might have had the worst fish and chips I’ve ever had in my life. Pretty terrible.

Monday, September 11:

We woke up, packed up the car, checked out, and headed toward Monterey so we could hit up the Aquarium.

9-11drive
Roadside fruit/vegetable stand we stopped at. You can sorta see B inside. Some of the best strawberries I’ve ever had in my life.

9-11monterey
Monterey.

We hadn’t been to the Aquarium since our engagement trip back in 2009, so it was nice to revisit.

9-11mba4
Super friendly bat ray we were petting.

9-11mba8
Cuddling up in a giant clam. We have a similar picture from ’09.

9-11mba10
Jellyfish.

9-11mba17
Gorgeous sign in the cafe area.

9-11mba18
Cute little crab.

9-11mba19
B outside.

We ate lunch at the restaurant inside the aquarium, which was actually really tasty. I had mussels while B had a much better fish and chips.

Post-food, we spent a bit of time wandering Cannery Row.

9-11monterey2
Pier.

9-11monterey3
Kidlets looking out over the water.

We also got a bit of a treat at Ghiradelli.

ghiradelli_brownie_sundae
Brownie Sundae. *drool*

9-11monterey4
B with his hot fudge sundae.

9-11monterey6
Spotted this on the way back to the car. Oh Monterey and John Steinbeck …

We took ourselves and our stuffed bellies back on the road. Our original plan was to drive to L.A. to stay at B’s crash pad for the night … but he forgot the keys back at home. So, we decided to give ourselves an easier drive to Las Vegas the next day and made Bakersfield our stop. It was better than Wendover, let’s just say that. It had a Hooters near our hotel, though, and wings and salad made for a great dinner.

Tuesday, September 12:

We took a somewhat leisurely morning in Bakersfield, hopping on the hotel treadmills for a tiny bit and eating breakfast before getting back on the road. The drive from Bakersfield to Las Vegas wasn’t one of the more exciting ones I’ve ever experienced, but it wasn’t Utah, so there’s that.

We got to Las Vegas, I dropped B off to check in to the Bellagio while I parked the car (and got the greatest garage parking spot ever so we just decided to stay in it for the entire stint). I met him inside and then we went to get the rest of our stuff and get settled. As soon as the bags were in the room, we went right back out to snag the In-N-Out burger we’d been wanting since the moment the race ended for lunch. It was delicious and totally hit the spot.

9-12vegas
View from the room.

The rest of the evening (since we ate lunch pretty late) was spent mostly relaxing with a little bit of gambling. I had a pretty good night at the slots, actually winning for a change. We did eventually wander back out for a bit more food, which we got at PBR Rockbar. We got a spinach/artichoke dip (meh) and some of the best potato skins I’ve had in a really long time.

pbr_skins

Food consumed, back to the Bellagio for a bit more gambling and watching the fountains from the privacy of our own room.

9-12vegas3
Dinosaurs watching out the window.

Wednesday, September 13:

We had maybe thought about waking up early to go ride our bikes in Red Rock Canyon on this day … but that didn’t happen. Instead, the day went a bit more like this:
– Starbucks for coffee.
– Room to change.
– Bellagio Pool Cafe for brunch.
– Bellagio Pool for a few hours, sitting out and playing some cards.
– Room to change and … other things.
– Out and about toward the south end of the Strip, grabbing snacks and booze along the way.
– MGM Grand to play the Sigma Derby horses for a couple hours (and drink).
– Back to the room, grabbing a few more snacks in the process.
– Room for … things.
– Eventually back out to Mon Ami Gabi for a loose dinner, more hooch, and profiteroles.
– Room for the night.

Thursday, September 14:

We weren’t in as rough of shape as we might have feared the next morning – luckily we spaced out the drinking enough. Woo! (we don’t drink much usually. the previous day was abnormal for us.) We were, however, thankful that we had our free breakfast buffet that we were using that day. Oh beautiful delicious salad. I may have been on vacation but I can’t go that long without you anymore.

Post-breakfast, we wandered the other way up the Strip, stopping in the Venetian for coffee at the Coffee Bean and Tea Leaf. Post-coffee, it was window shopping time! The Venetian shops are great for that, clearly, as well as they are for loose food (the Lobster Me lobster roll isn’t doing it for me anymore, though, so sad day). We did the same thing over at the Forum Shops over at Caesars, and eventually ended up back at the Bellagio. Where I got myself a crepe at Jean-Philippe Patisserie.

jpp_crepe2
Nutella crepe, obvs.

A little more gambling was also done before we got ourselves our second In-N-Out of the trip, because it sounded delicious and we were on vacation, damnit!.

9-14vegas

We also decided to do something new in the Sprinkles Cupcake ATM.

9-14vegas2
No, seriously.

sprinkles_cupcake
Ain’t technology grand?

9-14vegas3
Actual cupcake? Frosting was better than the cake; cake was a bit dry, actually; and too many sprinkles. I know, I know. I wish I had known about the seasonal pumpkin cupcake on the ATM, as I totally would have gotten that instead.

Friday, September 15:

The greatest thing about driving to and from Las Vegas is that you don’t have to wake up at the ass-crack of dawn to try to catch a flight out so you can actually have a leisurely breakfast. Whaaaa?

So since we weren’t originally planning on driving straight through back home, we had a nice meal at the Cafe Bellagio and were able to see them putting together the Conservatory (which was actually closed for the duration of our stay. womp womp.).

9-15vegas
Peacock!

We checked out and hit the road. We were thinking of hitting up some national parks in Utah on the way … but we couldn’t figure out which park and how to make the timing work and a place to stay … so we just decided to press on through the whole way. Which was mostly fine, except for the lightning that either hit the car or right next to it just outside of Rifle, Colo. Eek.

All in all, though, it was another great road trip adventure!

Advertisements

2017’s September Road Trip: Part One

So clearly it seems like I’m doing a September road trip every year now … which I guess makes sense, given that our anniversary is in September and we often find a trip to do this time of year. This year, we knew we needed to be in California to race Ironman 70.3 Santa Cruz, so we decided to drive on out and then hit Las Vegas on the way back.

Wednesday, September 6:

We left fairly early Wednesday morning, with Salt Lake City, Utah, as our final destination. We had a few options – through the mountains on I-70, adding some extra time to go through Dinosaur, or up I-25 and cut across Wyoming on I-80. Ultimately, we decided on the latter, which was an awesome decision. Wyoming went by super quickly. Utah? Well, Utah is weird.

We rolled into Salt Lake City … and, more to the point, the suburb of Layton, so we could see the house that B lived in for a few years when he was younger.

9-6layton
It was about as he remembered, with slightly different landscape.

After some deliberation, we decided to keep pressing on to the border, choosing to stop in Wendover, Utah. Which ended up being awesome, because we were able to stop at the Bonneville Salt Flats.

9-6bonneville2
Kidlet perspective.

9-6bonneville3
On the salt flats.

9-6bonneville4
I in theory could have driven Fiona on them, but chose not to.

In Wendover … we stayed at possibly the sketchiest Quality Inn we’ve ever encountered. Seriously. I didn’t feel safe leaving our (thousand dollars worth of) tri bikes in the car, so we unpacked those even though we hadn’t planned on it until Santa Cruz. I’m also pretty sure I slept like crap thinking I was going to die. We had to close the security door because it had been propped open for who knows how long.

FUTURE NOTE TO SELF: ALWAYS READ THE REVIEWS. ALWAYS.

9-6wendover
We stayed on the Utah side of things.

Thursday, September 7:

After the worst night of sleep in a really long time, we woke up at least a good hour earlier than planned, packed the hell up, ate breakfast at one of the random casinos on the Nevada side of things, and got the fuck out of Dodge.

9-7wendover2
Peace out, Wendover Will.

Most of the day was spent driving across Nevada. So exciting, in general.

9-7drive
Nevada.

We did make a tiny detour in Reno, just for a picture and to pop into the Circus Circus where I do actually remember visiting when I was a wee child.

9-7reno
I’m a tourist.

9-7reno2

After Reno, it was just pressing on to Sacramento to see where I lived for a few years when I was a kid. (I’m a Colorado native, but we did spend a few years in the Sacto ‘burbs thanks to a job shift of my dad’s.)

9-7sacramento
I don’t miss you, house. However, you’re missing your lilac (honeysuckle?) bush in front.

9-7sacramento2
Church we used to attend. The school we went to is to the left and down the hill.

For dinner, we went to a burger place we used to go back in the day, Jasper’s Giant Hamburgers.

9-7sacramento3
It totally still looks the same.

jaspers_cheeseburger

As for the taste? Welllll, let’s just say good ol’ Jasper’s can stay on Memory Lane. Beef was very mediocre, and the fries are now normal as opposed to the fried potato rounds (think the buffalo chips from Buffalo Wild Wings) they used to have, which were the bomb.

After dinner, we went to our (happily researched, safe area) Springhill Suites in Roseville, another Sacramento suburb.

When we pick back up … our second installment will be Santa Cruz!

Minnesota State Fair, 2017

I’ve written about the Minnesota State Fair a few times (most notably last year, when it got its own post), but as we like to go most years … you get another one!

We snuck in for the day – left Denver at 6am and left Minneapolis about 12 hours later. A car was rented, street parking was found, and enough fair food was consumed to make me realize that this is getting harder and harder for my stomach to handle as the years go by. Urp.

fair
Pre-fair shot. Yay, excitement!

french_meadow_croissant_sandwich
We were starving, and Brandon still wanted something breakfast-y, so we headed over to the French Meadow booth. They sadly got rid of their doughsants (*tear*), so none of that for me, but we did try their breakfast croissant sandwich. It was okay. It tasted good until it didn’t … probably because of the (we think chive) in the eggs.

We headed into the DNR building to look at fishies after that, but it was hard to do as it was super crowded in there. Oh well.

Still hungry, we decided to try one of the foods we discussed last year: a Pronto Pup.

pronto_pup
With stands all over the fair, these are some of the most popular corn dogs at the fair, and apparently the ones preferred by adults. Neither of us was impressed (at all), and it prompted us to get better food.

fair_fries_shake2
I waited in line to get the Fresh French Fries while B went and got a chocolate milkshake from the Gopher Dairy Bar. This year, both were delicious, but only when combined together for that perfect salty/sweet combination. When each thing was consumed on its own, it didn’t do it.

With that many calories consumed in that short of time … it was time to walk the food off. We looked at a lot of the animals, petting a gorgeous horse (that apparently was a world champion) and laughing at the chickens. And watching a cock fight try to break out (as best as it could despite the fact that all combatants were in separate cages).

fair2
Really enjoyed the Libertarian Party booth and their commitment to the “on a stick” theme that the MN State Fair is known for.

After meandering through the agriculture building and the international bazaar, we decided to try a bit more food.

mt_cheese_curds3
Cheese curds are still the best, though maybe I should avoid the mutant curds that are like three-in-one. I think my heart still hurts from that one.

We sat for a little while after the curds, resting our feet and enjoying the shade. We did eventually get back up and stroll over to the Machinery Hill area of things. I heard that Giggles Campfire Grill had a fish (walleye) sandwich so I sort of wanted to check that out (for the next visit), but the pictures made it look like a thing that I would not be interested in.

fair3
New Ferris wheel on grounds.

We thought some vegetables would be good to possibly settle things, so our next stop was the corn roast.

fair4
We were planning on splitting an ear of corn like we had split everything else thus far that day, but the guy asked B if he wanted a two-for-one …

The corn weirdly enough worked to settle our stomachs enough (oh, beautiful vitamins) to be able to squash down our last bit of fair food, the Minneapple Pie.

minneapple_pie2
Mmm, delicious deep-fried apple pie.

On our way out, we encountered the parade, so we sat and watched it (because we never really do). I snapped only a few photos.

fair5
Princess Kay of the Milky Way float (basically a “Miss (teen?) Dairy Farmer” award specifically for the fair. Not sure what her duties are, but she gets her head carved out of butter.).

fair6
Vike-Bike. This was just too awesome to NOT get a picture of.

Parade done, we left and headed back to our car. With perfect timing, too, as it started raining as we drove off.

A stop at Starbucks for some iced tea and to change, and then back to the airport (where I bought a teensy tiny salad which tasted so dang delicious) to catch a flight back home.

If you’re interested, the fair runs for another few days, through Labor Day.

On Tucson in August

I went to Tucson at the beginning of the month so I could go to tri camp.

I drove down a day early, on August 2nd, so I didn’t have to rush getting to the first swim session on time.

tucson8-2drive
Driving.

tucson8-2drive2
This really doesn’t do the clouds justice.

Tucson was still in monsoon season – or at least the tail end – and I experienced rain on my drive in. I don’t believe I have ever seen the desert that green – or, at the very least, have ever experienced it humid, which it was. Completely crazy. I texted my dad about it, and he said the best thing about the desert post-rain is the smell, and it did smell amazing, even by my hotel.

I didn’t take a lot of pictures during camp – my main focus was to get through it, and I did that. I did get to experience a new part of the region, though, in Sonoita and Parker Canyon Lake. The latter, about two hours southeast of Tucson, was like being in a whole other state. The saguaro? Didn’t exist down there. I felt like I saw more trees than cacti.

Post-camp, B came down so we got to spend a day together. Before I picked him up from the airport, I stopped for breakfast at Bisbee Breakfast Club.

tucson8-8
Menu. I had the Daredevil.

bisbee_breakfast_club_breakfast
Food.

I wanted pretty standard, so I went with pretty standard, but it was good. I’d go again to try something a bit more fancy for sure.

After I picked up B, we mostly just drove around. Neither of us wanted a crazy day (plus it was hot … that summer in the desert thing …), so it worked out. I showed him a lot of what I did in camp, which included driving where we rode at Gates Pass.

tucson8-8c

tucson8-8d
You get a sense of how green everything is here. We even saw some blooms still on the saguaro, which is RIDICULOUS.

Besides driving around, I also wanted to bring home some green corn tamales for the family. I found a different place to try – La Mesa Tortillas – which was the smart move. Their tamales are so much better than Tucson Tamale Company (in my opinion), and their tortillas are to die for. Seriously. We bought some on a whim and it was the best decision.

We decided on a nicer dinner, so chose El Corral. I’m pretty sure I’d been there before, but it was probably somewhere back in the early 1990s, so I didn’t remember too much about it.

tucson8-8e

tucson8-8f

We started off with their spinach artichoke dip, which had too much spinach in it to be good. Would not recommend (unless you like more of a spinach dip) or get again. For dinner, so many things looked good. Ultimately, B got their prime rib (delicious), and his baked potato was one of the best I’ve had. I got a combo, with mesquite grilled chicken (just a tad too heavy on the pepper; otherwise perfect) and their baby back ribs (cooked well; just didn’t like their BBQ sauce).

The main reason we chose them over another steakhouse we were looking at was solely for dessert. They had a mud pie on the menu, and a good, proper mud pie is hard to find.

el_corral_mud_pie
Not bad. Too much chocolate mousse, not enough cookie crust.

We were going to split it, but then B realized that the seasonal fruit cobbler was peach, so he ended up with that instead.

We met up with our TriSports friends Seton and Debbie after dinner at a local pub for a drink (well, B drank) as a great way to close out the trip.

The next day, a nice long drive back home with a killer sunrise.

tucson8-9drive

Vegas, Spring 2017

Because I go to Las Vegas so much, it’s almost easier to do these posts just by when I go.

As it usually goes with us, we were originally only planning one Las Vegas trip this year – in September, post-IM Santa Cruz 70.3 as we drive back home. However, we know we need to try to stay Pearl (MLife reward level) and since B needed to drive his car out to L.A. anyway … why don’t we just turn it into a mini Vegas trip?

We left town on Tuesday, May 23, and drove straight through to Las Vegas. We took a bit of a circuitous route as I needed to drop my car off at the airport so I could find a way home. As we were taking B’s car … I didn’t actually drive at all, which is a rarity for me on road trips, but I don’t particularly like driving his car, so that’s why. We stopped for lunch at Jimmy John’s in Utah and then, because we were too tired to care otherwise, dinner was at Scooter’s Pub in the parking lot of our hotel.

The next morning, we got up, ate hotel breakfast, and headed off to Red Rock Canyon to get in a trail run.

rrcanyon3

Afterward, we grabbed some coffee, showered, packed up, and then headed to a nail salon for mani/pedis. We got word our hotel room was ready soon after, so we drove over to the MGM Grand and got checked in. We dumped off our bags and then headed across the street to America in New York New York for lunch.

americas_chicken_sandwich

We both had a lunch special chicken sandwich. It was pretty good. The fries? Were not.

vegas
They had a giant 3D map of the country inside. This is Colorado.

We headed back across the street to actually get settled in a bit in our dungeon room with Swiss cheese on the walls.

vegas2
See?

Word of advice: if you’re going to stay at the MGM, DO NOT STAY IN THE WEST WING. Ground floor, low ceilings … it was one of the worst hotel experiences we’ve had in Vegas. I put it only above the Pyramid at the Luxor, and that’s only because those diagonal elevators make me nauseous. Blah.

Later that afternoon, after gambling some at the MGM, we headed up to Fremont Street since we hadn’t checked out that part of the city in several years and B wanted to check out the Sigma Derby game at the D. He played the horsies for a little bit while I wasted some money in a slot machine. I also grabbed a lobster roll at the Cousins Maine Lobster food truck. I was going to get one while in town (either there or at Lobster Me in the Venetian) and since the truck was there, I took the opportunity. I think it ended up being cheaper, too, which is always nice.

Dinner was back at America since B really didn’t eat a solid breakfast that morning and he wanted breakfast food. I’d been having a really weird potato skin craving, so that’s what I had.

americas_potato_skins
They were okay. The sour cream drizzle was a bit odd.

We woke up fairly early the next morning in order to get to the pool as it opened, but also with enough time so we could eat breakfast first, too. We had some free buffets due to playing myVEGAS slots on Facebook, so the MGM buffet was our stop. Not the best buffet, not the worst.

vegas4
Pool time.

After hanging out at the pool for about 90 minutes, we went back to the room to get dressed to wander around. We walked up the Strip as far as the Venetian, snagging some drinks at Margaritaville in the process.

vegas6
Sign in the Park Las Vegas (what the Monte Carlo is being rebranded to).

vegas8
New In-N-Out Burger on the Strip on the Linq Promenade. We did not go in.

vegas9
B doing his thing and riding the moving sidewalk.

While we didn’t stop at In-N-Out, we did stop at Wahlburgers in the Grand Bazaar Shops outside of Bally’s. I almost tried them when I was in Boston at the beginning of the month, but didn’t due to … reasons.

wahlburgers_burger

wahlburgers_food

It was pretty delicious, actually. Not comparable to In-N-Out or, say, a Five Guys, but good in its own way. We also tried the frappes (coffee and chocolate) and they were the best I’ve had since Boston.

(NOTE: a TRUE frappe is 100% TOTALLY DIFFERENT than a Frappuccino. Not even close. And so much more delicious.)

A little more gambling and chilling out back at the hotel before venturing back out for dessert (profiteroles!) and some mussels (slightly spur of the moment decision) and drinks at Mon Ami Gabi in Paris. Perfect way to end the trip.

Of course, the next day was an adventure and a half for me getting home … B dropped me off at McCarran before continuing on to Los Angeles. I was able to get out of Las Vegas just fine, but getting back to Denver? I’m just thankful we had some miles so that I could book myself a ticket home out of Salt Lake City. Needless to say, I got back to my car about five hours later than we had planned. Silly non-rev travel …

Dining in Tucson: Spring 2017 Edition

I’m pretty sure I’ve done a “Tucson dining post” but I may have just thrown in my food in past Tucson posts. Not sure.

Tuesday, April 4:

Leaving town, we snagged standard breakfast – Waffle House and Starbucks.

For lunch, though, we decided to try something a bit more … local … in New Mexico fast food chain Blake’s Lotaburger.

4-4drive2

We stopped here in Socorro, N.M., and weren’t that impressed. Slow (even for cooked-to-order), scatter-brained … and truthfully, really pretty mediocre.

lotaburger_burger

We will probably not be eating there again. Mostly because we don’t like eating much fast food, but yeah. No.

Dinner was our standard round-up of an eegee’s, fries from Wienerschnitzel, and fried shrimp for me and steak fingers for B from Tucson institution, Lucky Wishbone.

Wednesday, April 5:

We originally thought we’d get some sort of breakfast at the hotel, but apparently we weren’t fancy enough for it. So, quick google search later, and we found Oink right down the street from our hotel on Broadway.

4-5food

4-5food2
(I think he wanted to die.)

Oink was FABULOUS. Plus our server, Michelle, knew her shit. Great server in that she got us to buy more than we probably wanted. This place does flights of bacon (they have eight different flavors of bacon), and we were iffy about it, but finally did a half-flight, getting Applewood Smoked, Chef’s Choice, Honey Cured, and Sugar Cured. The latter two were the best by far.

oink_breakfast
(Bacon flight, my food with a side of tomatoes, B’s omelet).

I love eggs Benedict but I rarely get it because really, it’s not good for you, and it’s super hard to find a good one. For some reason, I decided to try theirs (traditional), and it was DELICIOUS. B couldn’t decide what he wanted to do, so Michelle asked him if he trusted her and ordered for him. The amount of food that poor guy got …

He got the above omelet, the Oink Omelet (“A massive FIVE egg omelet, with bacon, sausage, ham and cheddar cheese.”), and a side of pancake. But not just your regular old buttermilk pancake. Oh no. Strawberry Cheesecake pancakes.

oink_pancake
“Our delicious pancakes drizzled with homemade strawberry sauce and cheesecake sauce.” They were way too sugary for me.

After that INSANE(ly delicious) breakfast, we did a later, light lunch at Choice Greens on Speedway.

4-5food3

Choice is basically your standard choose-your-own chopped salad type of place (nothing all that special), but for us? It was just what we needed.

choice_greens_salad
B’s salad.

choice_greens_salad2
My salad.

Dinner was at Casa Molina Del Norte on Campbell, pretty much only for the cheese crisp.

4-5food4
Mmmm, cheesy.

casa_molina_tamales
And the green corn tamales, my favorite. I also had a bean burrito while B got a chicken burrito. Delish.

Thursday, April 6:

Breakfast was purposefully early on Thursday so we could hit up the early bird special at Franks, on Pima just off of Alvernon.

4-6food

franks_breakfast
Franks is awesome because of ‘Don’t Worry, Be Happy,’ the “If you are here before 9am, Monday-Friday Special” (holidays excluded). For $1.75, you get two eggs, home fries or hash browns, and a biscuit, slice of toast, or tortilla. We each got the special and then added on drinks and a side of bacon, because bacon.

Lunch was the all-you-can-eat sushi at Sushi Garden on Broadway. I had greatly enjoyed it when I was doing Tucson solo back in November, so decided to bring B there. As is fairly standard with all-you-can-eat sushi (with all-you-can-eat lunch buffet added) … we pretty much rolled out of there.

As a result … dinner … wasn’t much of a thing. We did stumble on a brand new gem on the U of A campus (Campbell and Speedway) in Desert Dream Ice Cream.

desert_dream_ice_cream

In that day’s edition of “it’s a small world,” the owners used to (well, still technically; in the process of selling) own an ice cream shop in the small town of Boothbay Harbor, Maine. My family and I vacationed there way the heck back in the day and, when shown the picture of the ice cream shop, I’m pretty sure I ate there, too. Because our family always ate ice cream on (summer) vacations.

They’d apparently just been open for a few weeks and are still trying to grow the business. For their sake, I hope they do well, because that Mud Pie ice cream I got? On point. I’ve mentioned here several times how we prefer more “traditional” ice cream places, and this place hit that. So good.

Since the ice cream kind of settled our stomachs from the sushi disaster, we also grabbed a quick snack at Wienerschnitzel just for some protein. Mmm, corn dogs.

Friday, April 7:

While we weren’t able to manage climbing Mt. Lemmon on this trip, we hit the Lemmon climber’s coffee shop for breakfast in Le Buzz Caffe off Tanque Verde.

4-7food

le_buzz_breakfast

Brandon got a bit more of your standard breakfast in the Two by Two by Two (two buttermilk pancakes, two eggs, two strips of bacon).

le_buzz_oj

le_buzz_quiche

I got orange juice (because most places in Tucson have fresh-squeezed and it is SO good) as well as the ham and cheddar quiche. The coffee was great – I’ll mention that first off – and so was the OJ, but the food? B thought his was mediocre and I felt there were too many herbs in my quiche. We’re not sure we’d come back for an actual meal. For some caffeine and a sugary snack (they had some divine looking pastries)? Absolutely.

We couldn’t be in In-N-Out territory without stopping at least once, so that was lunch.

Dinner that night was at Pinnacle Peak, part of Trail Dust Town off Tanque Verde and Kolb.

4-7food2

We sort of felt like steak (mmm, mesquite) and wanted to avoid whatever place we went to down near the airport a few visits ago, so decided to hit up Pinnacle Peak. B had one of their regular steaks (mediocre) and I had their ribs (pretty tasty, actually). It was what it was – slightly kitschy, not fancy … it worked. I also grabbed a scoop of ice cream from one of the other shops in Trail Dust Town afterward.

Saturday, April 8:

We were planning on hitting up Omar’s Hi-Way Chef Restaurant for breakfast at the Triple T truck stop since we knew it was good … but apparently they are no longer 24 hours. Since we had no other options for breakfast on that side of town … we decided to go try and find a place in Benson. And we did.

4-8drive

We stumbled upon the Farm House Restaurant (no web site) off the main drag (4th Street) in Benson, Ariz. Technically they weren’t even open when we showed up, but the guy (from Pueblo, Colo., originally, in that day’s edition of “it’s a small world”) says that if he’s up early, he just goes in and opens up early. Ahh, small towns.

It was a fairly standard breakfast – eggs and bacon and hashbrowns. Neither of us was impressed with the carb side – B did not like his biscuits and gravy and my banana nut muffin was super dry – but it did the trick.

Lunch we took a huge gamble and stopped at a Furr’s in Albuquerque. I hadn’t eaten at a Furr’s in … 25?ish? years? … back when they were still a cafeteria. Apparently they’re a buffet now … and they’re terrible. The two redeeming parts of my meal? The fact that the “servers” asked you if you wanted lemon for your water (yes please!) … so the water, and the cottage cheese. That was tasty. The rest of it? Never going again. Don’t go there. Urp.

Dinner was at our house … but no way was I cooking after being in the car that long (and we didn’t really have food in the house), so pizza it was. Hooray for Domino’s.

On La Merise

Denver recently wrapped up this year’s edition of Denver Restaurant Week and B and I chose to participate with some place completely new this year – La Merise.

La Merise is located in Cherry Creek North. We both enjoy French cuisine – which is typically fairly pricey – and it wasn’t too far away from home, so we figured we’d give it a try.

We both had basically the same thing, save for appetizer.

B had Mussels a la Mariniere (fresh mussels steamed in a garlic cream white wine sauce). I snagged one – it wasn’t bad, but I’ve definitely had better (particularly at the no-longer-around Le Central).

I had the Escargots de Bourgogne (imported French snails baked in a homemade garlic-herb butter).

la_merise_escargot

They were some of the better snails I’ve had, but the butter was a bit too herb-y, almost like a pesto, which was a bit overwhelming.

For the entree, we both had Beef Bourguignon (all natural beef braised in red wine and veal demi glace with vegetables, mushrooms, bacon lardons, and herbs; served with mashed potatoes).

la_merise_boeuf_bourgignon

This … was delicious. Our only complaint was that there wasn’t more of it. B wasn’t the biggest fan of the pearl onions in it, but that problem was easily solved as I snarfed them down.

For dessert, we both chose the Chocolate Mousse (French style chocolate mousse).

la_merise_mousse_chocolat

Completely chocolate-y, completely delicious. Again, we wish there would have been more of it. Perfect way to end the meal.

We’d walked past La Merise several times before finally deciding to eat there for DRW, but I’m pretty sure we’ll be back, as it was delicious.