Sunday, October 4, 2015

Chicago to Miami Roadtrip Day 4 and 5

This was the second last day of our road trip, but our last day was pretty much a straight drive in Florida from Brooksville (on the west side) to Miami. We definitely didn't take the most efficient route and focused a lot of the trip on the places that were interesting to us or seemed like there were fun places to stay. It was kind of interesting driving through the center of Florida as there were several road-side "attractions" that were pretty hilarious, like Hick Daddy's Barbeque... spent some time reading reviews of that place.

Day 4
Stops: Gainesville, FL (for food!)
End point: Brooksville, FL

We woke up and got a chance to hang out at our Airbnb for a bit. We were really excited to introduce Bandit to swimming since our place in Charleston had this amazing backyard next to a marsh that was entirely fenced in AND a swimming pool. On their Airbnb page, our hosts posted that dogs weren't allowed in the swimming pool, so I had packed my swimsuit away somewhere in the depths of my luggage, but they ended up inviting us to let Bandit go in the pool. We tried, but he was absolutely not having it. He was like, no drowning for me today, thanks!

So it ended up being him running in circles around the pool a lot and just playing on the deck and in the backyard.

Their yard was a dream yard... gorgeous. And I believe they had a guest house that they also rent out to Airbnb guests, although I may be confusing that with one of the other places I was researching. Bandit ran to the edges of the fence and sprinted around the entire yard. Alex and I were so happy to see him being carefree on a stressful trip. He definitely started out stressed and continued to be stressed throughout, but it decreased a lot as the trip went on. We were lucky in that we never had to do anything that required us to leave him anywhere on his own.

We drove back into Charleston to get some food to eat. We ended up deciding we should just go somewhere quick and be on our way since we were getting in the habit of getting to our destinations later than we were hoping. We went to Persimmon Cafe, which ended up being a cafe in a laundromat. The food was simple, but really good--we got sandwiches. I got a curry one that was awesome. The sandwiches ended up taking much longer than expected, and we were sitting out on the curb waiting with Bandit, whom we were only successful in feeding with lots of wet food mixed into his dry food; however, I remember liking the manager. Bandit got to say hi to fellow curb-dwellers who thought he was cute, which was nice since the there is no general consensus on him and you never know if people are going to think he's totally adorable vs scary and dangerous.

I decided that we would need some caffeine to get us through and we stopped by Black Tap for to-go coffee. I was a big fan of this place's light and airy feel and delicious coffee. Kind of kicking myself for not buying a bag of their beans.

We had an exciting moment of crossing the state line and being in Florida, a feeling of accomplishment that was quickly diminished by the fact that we would have to find somewhere to eat and being unfamiliar with, well, all of Florida north of Miami (maybe Ft. Lauderdale). Looks like some photographer cut off the sign... and some dog got tired posing.

We basically went back and forth deciding where to go and ended up in Gainesville. The food was so meh, and maybe even awful, that I can't even remember the name of the place.

It started storming again on our way to the place in Brooksville, so we were delayed again and got in around 9 or 10, ate dinner, and tried walking around to get Bandit to pee outside. It was super dark with no street lights so it was kind of creepy to be getting in at night (generally not a good practice, and yet something that kept happening to us on this trip). This place ended up seeming to be Bandit's favorite place, for some reason. All three of us had different favorites.

All the storms we had to drive through ended up being worth it for getting to fall asleep to rain, which is one of my favorite things; the awesome experience was amplified by this place being a tin A-frame. We woke up like this:

We explored the grounds a little bit. I chose it because it seemed kind of interesting that it was an A-frame building in an olive oil grove. 

The Florida heat quickly convinced us it was time to go. We stopped by The Coffee Barn for our caffeination which was actually extremely delicious. I did buy beans this time because it was called Mountaineer Coffee, which is a terrible reason to buy beans. Fortunately the coffee ended up being great. I respect a town that has a good coffeeshop, and find myself being surprised when it's a small town. I need to learn to suspend my small town judgment; I've been proven wrong too many times. Our air conditioning broke for the last 2 hours of our trip home and we stopped by a gas station to buy ice, paranoid Bandit was going to experience a heat stroke when exposed to the Florida heat.

Which is what made everything sweeter to get to our new place to this surprise and Alex's family greeting us:

Saturday, October 3, 2015

poem to a physician

I cannot contain you: nor you contain the world,
I cannot cup your wisdom and your heart's desire
For service to mankind in one brief poem alone:
In spirit you are Hercules, your service is the fire
That licks the creeping vines of dark disease.
In nervous moments your smile and easy charm
Are as the music-lyre that drowns a patient's
Desperation and make him warmly wish and throb
For life again. You know the aching bone or the
Rheumatic heart is not of flesh alone:
Far beyond man's eager comprehension is the Power

Hail to you: the Sweet Physician of Hippocrates
Disease falters and death trembles where you tread.
In our too eager world that saturates with gain,
Be a tempered apostle for all mankind!

I sing of him who loves both common man and king,
On this dark earth of men on ivory towers:
Physician, arise, let not complacency destroy
Your age-worn creed, reset your goals, not for
The gold alone:

There still is love where once hate was,
A precious ruby sleeps within a dark, dark stone!

-P.C. Deza, M.D.

Sunday, September 27, 2015

Chicago to Miami Roadtrip (Day 3)

 Day 3
Destination: Charleston, South Carolina (Hanahan)
Stops: Asheville, NC

The sound of the creek and rain into the morning was incredible. I loved waking up outside. We had arrived at the tipi shortly before it got dark out, so we used this morning to try to explore the area a little more. We also tried to start a fire in the wood stove; as much as I would like to blame our failure on the dampness of the firewood, that probably isn't completely adequate to explain it... incompetence is probably more like it. Although I really do think we did everything correctly, our fire-starting competence can probably best be described as "I can start a fire if all conditions are perfect... probably." 

I'd give us an A+ for effort. Bandit would give us an F... for everything.

At least we were able to feed you, buddy.
Rosie provides homemade bread, butter, eggs, and most exciting of all, goat's milk. Alex has always wanted to try super fresh milk, which I guess is when you can taste what the goat just ate (grass and dandelions?).

Hmm, looks like someone got something passed under the table. This is Bandit's pretend-like-I'm-not-chewing-when-I'm-chewing face, which he has perfected.
And for the goat's milk experience:
Not sure what that face is about, but we actually really loved the milk. As usual, Bandit is heavily involved in all activities. Here is the area right next to the tipi. 
Bandit is like, I'm SURE you don't expect me to do anything with this stuff. He's a city dog.

And here's where we took a bath the previous evening and the outhouse on the right. These photos are the inside of both, which I took from their Airbnb page.

Next, we were off to Charleston, South Carolina with a pitstop in Asheville, NC. Asheville was pretty close to Cosby, I want to say about 1.5 hours away so it wasn't a huge necessity to stop here, but I had wanted to see the city. We didn't stay for very long, but stopped by a coffeeshop so I could charge my phone, which had died the night before in the tipi. 

We ended up choosing Waking Life Espresso for its dog friendly patio and we each had a delicious latte. I really liked the interior too, which was simple and wood-filled. They had individual tables as well as a larger bar table. 

We ate at White Duck Taco Shop, which was a choice I commended myself on. Based on the recommendation of the woman working there, Alex ordered 4 tacos. We were satisfied but not exactly full. We were kind of like, is this how full normal people try to get? I would probably order 5 tacos or even 6 to be shared between two people, but we apparently have gotten used to needing to feel more full than the average person, so.... Alex thought I'd like to see the interior, so took this picture. Meanwhile, Bandit farted in the car while we were waiting for him.

We did stop in Charleston at a pizza place that got high reviews to bring back to our Airbnb which was located outside the city. The pizza was just fine, nothing to write home about. Charleston is definitely somewhere I'd want to spend more time, but we had been before; although I felt like a lot had changed since we visited three years ago. Asheville and Charleston were both very charming cities with too many food options... we'll be back.

We were met by the nicest people in Hanahan, South Carolina. Our hosts had two dogs themselves and were very accommodating of Bandit, played with him, brought him new toys (his favorite toy is any new toy), and even encouraging him to play with their dog to get him some exercise after he had a leg amputated due to cancer. We were surprised that the HUGE backyard was fenced in so it was great to be able to let him off leash while we ate our pizza. This whole place was SO comfortable and clean; it was Alex's favorite of all the places we stayed. The shower was heavenly after a long, hot day. Here are a few pictures from their Airbnb page. I posted a picture of the bathroom because the shower felt that good.

Saturday, September 26, 2015

Chicago to Miami- Day 2 (part 2)

On the second day of our big move, we drove from Louisville/La Grange, KY to Cosby, TN. Although the drive wasn't particularly long, we actually stopped twice on this day, partly because in Tennessee, we would be pretty much as close to the middle of nowhere as one could get. And partially because we thought it might be fun to stop by both Lexington and Knoxville, two cities that we had never been.

In Lexington, the place that we originally had planned to eat wasn't open yet, so I did a quick Yelp search and found Stella's Kentucky Deli on the same street, which had a ton of people standing outside. They have an outdoor patio which is dog-friendly, but a little crowded for Bandit's abilities at the time so we ordered takeout and found a table off the sidewalk a little bit down the street.

We grabbed some coffee from A Cup of Commonwealth (really, really good iced latte and iced chai... as in, maybe one of the best) and walked around Thoroughbred Park across the street from the coffeeshop. Bandit was a little nervous of the horses statues at first, but still 100% curious.

And it was really cute how he approached the foal statue that looked he had fallen down while learning how to walk. Bandit was like, "Are you real?"

This picture actually perfectly encapsulates Bandit: incredibly sweet, curious, and lacking any acknowledgment of personal space.

Before this trip, Bandit had probably only been in the car for 1.5-2 hours at a time as we took small trips with him, mostly to visit my parents, or to hike at Starved Rock. He had always been awesome in the car but was definitely more stressed out this time, understandably so: our time in the car was longer, he had less space (since we packed literally everything into my small car), and he had already been stressed out from watching us pack everything. He was honestly really great, even when a pile of clothes fell near him. We aren't experts at traveling with a dog, but we tried to make things easier on him by taking frequent stops. We also packed bully sticks and other random chews for him when we got places (he doesn't chew or play in the car), which he didn't enjoy as much as he normally would. When we got places, he would chew a little and stop, which was also a manifestation of his stress. He was a trooper and did his best to make himself comfortable (although he ignored the easiest way, which would've been to just lay down since we extended his seat). It was sweet the few times we caught him sleeping, although it was few and far between.

I don't have many pictures of Knoxville because it was raining and we mainly wanted to just be able to walk Bandit around and grab some food for dinner at The Tomato Head.

We did, however, get to take him into Urban Outfitters and got some photobooth shots with him. My dream has come true. His dream come true is whenever he is allowed into a store, so he was in heaven too. Until the photobooth thing, at which point he was like WTF. He was too short for the camera unless we helped him keep his head up, which is why it looks like he is being strangled.

After Knoxville, we headed for Cosby, TN. During this part of the drive, my phone lost GPS signal, but luckily Alex's phone has never failed us (and we have been to several places that we would expect to lose signal). Our Airbnb for the night was quite a drive. I remember turning off the main road of a small town, then driving through a small residential area (that did have a gas station, convenience store, and Baptist church), and then driving about ten miles beyond that. But it was so cool to be driving along a really nice paved road and see a tipi that was barely visible behind a lining of trees along the road.
On the other side of the road, we followed signs and pulled in. Our hostess was super sweet and showed us all the amenities, including a Norwegian wood stove.
 We used two oil lamps to light the tipi. 
Our hosts lit a wood fire underneath a claw-foot bathtub, which warmed the rain water after about 45 minutes. It was dark by the time the water was hot and Alex and Bandit had already taken a quick nap. I was so nervous Bandit would have a hard time sleeping here, but he seemed to go with the flow beautifully; he slept with us on the cot as well as on the futon.

He wasn't the only sleepy one.
Alex and I took turns bathing. It was amazing to sit in the tub in the dark and look up at the stars. I think that was one of the most unique experiences I've had. 
 Nights like these, I always wonder if city living is all it's cracked up to be.