Beach Day!

*This post was written on Thursday, but because I had no WiFi so I posted it early Friday morning.

I returned the bike rental and jumped on a bus to take me to Santa Monica Beach. It took a while because traffic is bad in Los Angeles, but after almost an hour we made it. 

The beach was great. I walked on the pier real quick, saw some groovy musicians like this one below (I would not be surprised if he pulls in $100K+ a year the way people constantly flocked to him).

I walked the beach, found a spot in the sand, and plopped myself down. I laid around for around three and a half hours. I put some sunscreen on, but I still got burnt in places I failed to cover.

I headed south towards Venice Beach. When I got to the boardwalk I regretted not going there earlier and spending more time there. There was a ton of activity. Skaters in the skate park, volleyball on the beach, merchants everywhere selling art, shirts and whatever else. My favorite was the street performers below. They put on a good show, but then they also spent a lot of time asking for money. 

I thought it was so cool that I was on Ocean Avenue from the song.

After the show I was in a rush because I had purchased tickets to the Comedy Store again and the show was at 8:30. I took a quick on the beach and got an Uber which took some time.

The comedy show was funny. About the same as the show I saw the night prior. What caused me to go back was that David Spade and Joe Rogan were in this show. Joe Rogan was pretty good, but I expected David Spade to be funnier than he was.

As the show was wrapping up I got really tired again so I headed out to a nearby IHOP. I hadn’t eaten since 10a that morning so I was hungry. I checked my Greyhound app to learn that my 12:35a bus was an hour late. Blah.

I took another Uber to the Greyhound station and got lectured on proper Uber etiquette and how not to get robbed. When I walked into the Greyhound station I was shocked at how normal the people were. I was kind of expecting it to be the worse yet, but there were very few sketchy-looking people.

The bus ride to Fresno was fine. The problem is I missed my connection to head towards Yosemite so I had to pick up another bus that was later. 

Feeling the Heat

I know, I know, I’m getting slower in making these posts. I should have done this over the bus, but was too tired to. 

So yesterday morning I left Denny’s in an Uber and was taken to the Sandia Peak Tramway. My driver was a very lively and charismatic 76-year old woman whom I liked a lot. She drove fast. In fact, she said she used to drive Nascar back in the day before she had her kid. I tried to verify these stories via Google, but I have not had any luck as of yet.

Back to the Tramway. The tram hangs by steel cords and is pulled up the mountain. It’s over a 4,000 foot difference in elevation between the starting point of the tramway and the top of the peak. It was awesome just dangling over the mountain and a surprisingly smooth ride.

The best though was once we got to the top. I actually liked the view better than Rocky Mountain National Park. They had numerous hiking paths and I opted for the shortest 3-mile option and walked to the cabin and the house (gift shop) they have up there, which took me a lot longer than it should have. 

From the Tramway I went to the Anderson-Abruzzo International Balloon Museum. I spent over two hours looking at and reading all the exhibits, again a lot longer than I thought I would be, but I ended up having a better time than I thought I would. 
Next I decided to check out the Indian Pueblo Cultural Center. I didn’t know what to expect, but I was disappointed and I could not get too interested in what the museum offered.

I went to McDonald’s for quick bite and got a ride down Old Town Albuquerque. I had seen online that this place was listed as a must-go-to. It had lots of small fun shops and restaurants. I waited for a short time and then a band came and played in the courtyard area.

My bus left at 12:40am and being that I did not want to stay at the bus station for any kind of extended time I decided to head downtown early and saw an improv comedy show at the Performance Box. It was hilarious and I enjoyed myself a lot. From there the movie theater was less than a five-minute walk so I went and saw the House starting Will Ferrell and Amy Poehler. It was a lot funnier than I thought it was going to be.
The movie ended and I had about 25 minutes until my bus started boarding therefore I decided to make my way over to the station. 

The best thing about Albuquerque’s downtown area was that the Performance Box, movie theater, and bus station were all fractions of a mile away from each other, making them a nice easy walk.

The bus left late and I slept half the way there. I woke up to spectacular view of Arizona, with mountains and desert surrounding us. When I got to Phoenix, my friend picked me up and we went to breakfast. 

He then took me back to his house where I took a much needed shower and washed my cloths/shoes. After wearing my shoes for such an extended time, they had a rank smell anytime I took them off. They smell better now.

I caught a much needed nap and now I’m ready for whatever. However, it’s currently 107 degrees so I don’t know much I can tolerate to do in this heat.

Long bus rides and a big truck

So I will pick up where I left off in my last post.. at the Milwaukee bus station. 

There were around 20 of us waiting in line to get on the bus. The driver counted us up numerous times, meaning… 

1) he was not expecting this many people. 2) he wasn’t sure if he had enough seats. 

I personally was feeling okay about the situation being that I was at the front of the line, but it was still a little nerve-racking being that he took so long to start collecting our tickets (remember this, it comes up again later).
Finally he took the tickets and we loaded on. It was a full bus, and we left 20 minutes late at 12:20am. I just wanted to get a move-on and hopefully fall asleep for a bit, which I am thankful to say that I did. Hurray for sleep!

A few hours in we stopped at a 24-hour McDonald’s, my kind of place. I was going to order my usual of two McDoubles, a McChicken, and a large fry, but I quickly learned that the overnight menu did not include McDoubles, so I got three chicken sandwiches and a fry. Just for the record, I had not eaten since lunch in Milwaukee. That was my own fault, but the point is that by this time I was hungry. 

After Mickey D’s we got back on the bus and started moving again. I had some small talk with the guy sitting next to me. He was coming home for two weeks from being in the military to see his family, which stinks because he ended wasting a day of that time taking a bus instead of flying, which he regretted. Sometime after our conversation I fell asleep again and when I woke up we were in St. Paul, which is only 30 minutes from Minneapolis, where my connection bus was.

When we got to Minneapolis station I learned a few things. 

First, it was not very bright printing my tickets double-sided. 

Two, Greyhound is still living in archaic times. 

Three, people are still nice. Let me explain.

From Milwaukee to Rapid City, SD I needed to take three buses and each had their own ticket. The tickets had a barcode so when I printed the tickets I didn’t think much of printing them double-sided. I figured that they would just scan the ticket and I keep it because that’s how it normally works these days. Nope, not at Greyhound. The drivers take every ticket and turn them in after the bus ride which just seems outdated. So basically I needed my ticket back to get on the second bus. 

When I explained this to the driver he said to go and have them print me another ticket at the ticket desk. When I got there the attendant there told me that because I already printed my ticket he could not print another (?), but that I should get the ticket from the driver and he could make a photocopy of it. Again, I still think just scanning the barcode would make things easier, but if I wasn’t so naive I wouldn’t have been in this mess. Lesson learned for next time (hopefully).

I was starting to get nervous because the other bus was boarding and for a minute I legitimately thought I was going to get stuck. However, after telling the driver what the desk attendant said, he reluctantly started looking through the tickets he collected, seeming slightly irritated by my incompetence to just print each ticket on its own sheet of paper. He gave me the ticket back and just said to keep it and don’t worry about getting it copied. I thanked him and jumped in line to go to Sioux Falls, SD.

I was on this same bus for 11 hours, even after we switched drivers in Sioux Falls. It was an uneventful trip and unfortunately there was no WiFi, so I ended reading, listening to my iPod, and trying to sleep the whole time. Thankfully, this bus was not crowded at all so just about everyone got two seats to themselves and it wasn’t uncomfortable.

As we entered the Rapid City area and I neared the end of my 17-hour bus ride we were greeted with huge hills just covered in trees. It was a nice switch in scenery from the grass fields and rocks that we had been staring at for the last 10 hours.

Boring!

We got to bus station where I scheduled to have Enterprise pick me up so I could rent a car for three days to get to Denver, CO… Or so I thought. I expected to be taken back to the Enterprise lot to fill out the paperwork. I was surprised when the rep got out of a huge red Ford F250 and told me that they did not have anymore of the “economy” cars that I had requested and that this would be the vehicle for me take if I so chose to… And they took off the $250 one-way drop fee for the “inconvenience”! God is good!

I eagerly accepted the truck, but was very nervous at the same time because I never even dreamed of driving something that large. After we finished the business stuff. I set Google Maps for Mt. Rushmore and I was off.

Driving the truck was not too bad, but I was glad that Mt. Rushmore is only roughly 35 minutes away so I could ease-in to driving such a monstrosity. I was giddy the whole time though and then seeing glimpses of Black Hill National Forest along the way just left me awe-struck.

Mt. Rushmore was amazing! I was thrilled the whole time I was there, which ended up being over three hours because I stayed for the lighting ceremony. It still seems so surreal that I’m actually doing this.

Lighting ceremony

I booked a hotel in Keystone while waiting for the ceremony to start and that is where I writing this post from now. In a matter of being here five minutes I managed to lock myself out of my room and took the walk of shame back to the front desk for another key. After getting back into my room and settled, I did manage to do a load of laundry and watch The Waterboy. It’s 2:45am now and I need to go to bed. Another exciting day tomorrow!

Milwaukee and the case of boredom

I got into Milwaukee, WI this morning at about 11:30a. I took my first Uber ride to the downtown area which was sort of exciting. It’s not that it was a bad experience, but the driver just seemed confused, like she didn’t know the area as well as you would expect for someone who has lived here their whole life and drives for Uber. We almost missed an exit and then when she dropped me off she literally did a donut in the middle of the street. I felt weird rating her less than 5-stars while still being in her car though.

Now in my itinerary preparation I knew that I was stretched thin on things to do in Milwaukee. (I’m not a huge museum fan and I don’t see the point in necessarily going other places for their museums when we have nice ones in Cleveland I don’t go to much.) I had listed to go to Brady Street and Old World 3rd Street. Both of these are supposed to be more historical areas so I figured there would be some cool buildings, but i was disappointed to find nothing too interesting.

After grabbing some tacos for lunch I trekked my way to the Urban Ecology Center. This was a bust as well aside from this turtle that followed me in his tank wherever I moved. He was a cool dude.

From there I went to North Point Lighthouse. It was cheap ($8) and I figured I haven’t been in too many lighthouses s o I might as well try it. Wasn’t much to do, the museum portion was only a handful of pictures and write-ups and once I got to the top I took some pictures, stared for a few minutes and went back down.

From the lighthouse my original plan was to go to Veteran’s Park, but I decided to go to Bradford Beach instead and it was by far the most enjoyable part of my stay in Milwaukee. I should have stayed there longer than the two hours I did, but it’s okay. It was a beautiful day, about 80 degrees and sunny and as a result there were a lot of people. I didn’t count, but I would guess there were 15 different volleyball courts that all appeared to be used. I plopped myself right next to the water so when I went in I would be able to keep an eye on my stuff. The beach itself looked great, sand was clean and water was clear. I mainly tanned and read my Kindle, but when I went in the water, it was freezing! It felt like an ice bath so I give props to those went in and stayed longer than 30 seconds.

From there I walked to Veteran’s Park, grabbed some ice cream and then headed to the Riverwalk, which I had missed earlier. Well I didn’t miss anything because it’s just a path next to the Milwaukee River. There’s no historical facts, there were a few art sculptures, but they didn’t have write-ups and it was starting to rain so I didn’t give them much consideration. 

I just spent the last two and a half hours in a Hilton Hotel lobby while I wait for my bus. I got to the Greyhound station and I have to say that I was pleasantly surprised at how nice it was. A note to self, sit near other people, because otherwise you will be asked for money. Just a few more minutes now.