Saturday, July 18, 2015

Where to go this summer vacation

We are well into the summer.  Still don’t know where to go yet on your vacation? Allow me to help while shamelessly pushing my book, WHERE THE HELL AM I? TRIPS I HAVE SURVIVED (only $3.99 in all ebook formats and $6.99 paperback.  Order yours here.

WTHAI?TISH (as most people refer to it) is a ten year collection of my humorous travelogues. Here are a few excerpts to help you decide where to go this summer.

DALLAS – (most people’s first choice for August travel) On every corner there’s either a steakhouse or a church. One place called “Holy Cow” could be either or both.

LAS VEGAS -- We hit the beach. Yes, Mandalay Bay has its own beach. Unfortunately, the ocean was turned off. No waves. But Debby (my wife) and I took a long walk along the grid that serves as the shore and gazed out at the horizon to see the Lance Burton Magician billboard on Las Vegas Blvd.

MAUI – Did not see the sunrise at Haleakala. But did get a report from someone who did. A bus picks you up 2:30 in the morning. You drive an hour and a half to the top of this massive shield volcano. By top I mean 10,023 feet. You get out in your shorts, flip flops, and aloha shirt -- it’s pitch black, and 22 degrees (literally). When the sun comes up (two hours later) it will rise to 37. Finally the dawn. It’s breathtaking, awesome, and your teeth are chattering like castanets. You don’t want to even think about the possibility that there’s a YouTube video of this. You get on the bus and either go home or into shock.

For more fun you can bike down the outside of the volcano… like a rocket on a two-lane winding road that hugs a cliff that’s steeper than those in Road Runner cartoons. Bikers must also negotiate tour buses, vans, and tourists in unfamiliar rental cars. In 2007 there were three biker fatalities. Bike tours (when they’re not suspended) are $100 - $150 dollars. Bring a parachute.

But we did visit quaint Lahaina. Strolled past the charming Crazy-T-Shirt and souvenir soap stores. This bawdy whaling port has not changed in a hundred years.

For all the hoopla of Lahaina, we found quite a few other smaller, lesser-known little towns that were far more charming and KFC-free. Paia, for one. It’s advertised as a throwback “hippie” village. And I must say it took me right back to the ‘60s when hippies supported their drug habits by selling gelato.

Makawao is another quaint attraction. Up country, it’s a little cowboy town, specializing in glass blowing – just like Wyatt Earp and Billy the Kid used to do. I kept looking for the jail and saloon but alas they’ve given way to art galleries and a market that makes fresh donuts. But get there early. They go fast. There’s usually a shoot-out in the town square for the last cruller.

PHOENIX -- This is a sprawling city of giant shopping malls broken up by sports complexes. Oh, and numerous aircraft bone yards. From rusted out WWII planes to 747s that haven’t flown since Braniff went under, they’re all here. Was hoping to swing by and pick up an L1011 fuselage but time got away.

To get anywhere in Phoenix – to work, a restaurant, the rental car outpost from the airport – you just get on the freeway and go 13.2 miles. Everything is 13.2 miles away. Except Circle K’s. There are two on every corner. How much beef jerky can this town chew?

DENVER -- Denver is the most sexually active city in America. Contraceptive sales are 189% higher within the city limits than the national average (sales of female contraceptives are a whopping 278% higher). Coincidentally, Denver also has the world’s largest brewery (Coors).

Things not to miss: The Butterfly Pavilion insect zoo, the “Mind Eraser” rollercoaster at Elitch Gardens, the giant cement slide at Bear Valley Park that looks like a vagina, the Buckhorn Exchange restaurant with 500 stuffed animals (it’s how I imagine Elizabeth Hasselbeck’s bedroom), the stone marker that claims to be the birthplace of the cheeseburger, and any CVS pharmacy for contraceptives.

ST. LOUIS -- St. Loo is famous of course for the Anheuser-Busch brewery. Although, locals insist it’s not the same now that the Busch family has sold it to Germans. They claim the beer tastes different. I couldn’t tell, but I did notice the Clydesdales goose-stepping in a recent parade.

PHILADELPHIA -- Meant to get out to the Mutter Museum, founded originally to educate doctors of the 19th Century and current HMO’s. Big attractions include conjoined twins and a catalog of foreign objects removed from bodies. Bring the kids!

This is the birthplace of two major revolutions – the American and shopping. It is in nearby Westchester that QVC is located, which is why I thought I saw Marie Osmond at baggage claim waiting at the carousel for 42,000 dolls to come down the chute.

WASHINGTON D.C. -- So much to see: the monuments, Gennifer Flowers’ apartment, Capitol Hill, Paula Jones’ apartment, the White House, Monica Lewinsky’s apartment, the Smithsonian, the DC Madam’s place, the Mint, Elizabeth Ray’s apartment, Arlington Cemetery, Donna Rice’s apartment, and the Watergate hotel.

SAN FRANCISCO -- Fisherman's Wharf is filled with colorful street performers: mimes and jugglers, etc. Most unique was the “Shrub Guy.” He hides behind a shrub in camouflage and when unsuspecting tourists stroll by he leaps out scaring the shit out of them. Meanwhile, other people observe nearby, laugh, and give him money. On a grander scale this is how Liza Minnelli now makes her living.

BOSTON -- Swung by the Quincy Market. There we ran across the new second Cheers bar. This one, they claim, is set up exactly like the one on TV. Maybe if you've never seen the show. The bar is square and two or three of the pictures on the back wall are the same. Otherwise, the bar on Star Trek: Deep Space Nine looks more like the real Cheers.

MILWAUKEE – (on the road with the Dodgers) stayed at the historic Pfister. The Pfister is pfirst class. It’s an old regal downtown hotel that just happens to be haunted. Some ballplayers are so freaked they stay elsewhere, or sleep holding a bat for protection. Carlos Gomez of the Twins was getting out of the shower and his iPod suddenly went haywire, so instead of calling AppleCare (or Ghostbusters?), he raced out to the lobby without his pants. I shared a room with the Ghost of Christmas Future. He told me that “UFC Undisputed” will sell out quick this season so shop early.

One thing I’ve discovered about Milwaukee – it’s in a time warp. The buildings, the cars, the people – it’s 1956. Friday night’s postgame concert featured newcomers Buddy Holly and the Crickets. In an attempt to blend in I wore an “Adlai Stevenson for President” button.

FLORIDA – (business trip with my writing partner, David) If a studio was paying for this trip we would have stayed in Naples. But since it was our own dime, Bonita Beach was our Gateway to the Gulf home. In the ‘20s there was this cult, the Koreshans, who believed that Bonita Beach was the center of the world. It was a celibate tribe so unfortunately it no longer exists. (Darwin works!) There’s just a state park in their honor. And if I’m not mistaken, the Hampton Inn we were staying at is at the center of Bonita Beach, and room 229, just to our left, is the absolute DEAD center of the world.

No wonder the Holiday Inn across the street is proud. Their marquee proclaims “Number one guest rated shower heads.”

Favorite store name (maybe ever): “Master Bait & Tackle Shop” on Bonita Beach Road. Yes, I purchased t-shirts.

Now isn't this a book you NEED to get?  Now?!  Here's how you can. 


ODJennings said...

I spent a week at the Pfister once, and it is a grand old hotel. In fact, when I win Powerball I plan to live there. Maybe I won't live there in the sense that I'll actually occupy a room (It's in Milwaukee after all), but it will be my address.

I was watching Key Largo the other day, and when the cop asks Edward G. Robinson and his gang for their addresses they respond with "Hotel Central, Chicago," and that was good enough for the cop, case closed no need to further bother men who are obviously solid citizens. "Hotel Pfister, Milwaukee" will work in that situation, "Days Inn, Kenosha" never will.

MikeK.Pa. said...

"PHILADELPHIA -- Meant to get out to the Mutter Museum, founded originally to educate doctors of the 19th Century and current HMO’s. Big attractions include conjoined twins and a catalog of foreign objects removed from bodies. Bring the kids!

This is the birthplace of two major revolutions – the American and shopping. It is in nearby Westchester that QVC is located, which is why I thought I saw Marie Osmond at baggage claim waiting at the carousel for 42,000 dolls to come down the chute."

Two things. It's West Chester (two words; the other one is in NY) and did you run up the Art Museum steps or eat at the Reading Terminal?

Oat Willie said...

Maybe when you wrote this you were at the male aging stage where you notice look for, or invent sexual features of tourist spots. You might have been dreaming of a Thai vacation without the wife.

bryan said...

I'm vacationing in beautiful Pullman, WA. Walla Walla without the prison. At least I'll get to pick the music on the way home without the kid. Go Cougs.

Anonymous said...

The Mutter Museum. Fun place. American Horror Story Freakshow based some of the story on the museum and their collection. And the kids do love it so bring them if you have them.Janice B.

Wendy M. Grossman said...

I remember two things from the Mutter Museum: the world's largest human colon and a two-headed troll doll (like the ones we had as kids in the 1960s). I found one of the latter on eBay and promptly snapped it up.


jcs said...

Ken, I think you're wrong about Anheuser-Busch. The St. Louis company has strong German roots: Anheuser and Busch were both German born. The 2008 sale, however, resulted in InBev, a Belgian-Brazilian company, taking over A-B.

Jake Mabe said...

If I ever somehow can figure out how to do it, my plan is to move to Paia and live a nice, quiet life while dodging tourists and avoiding the tasty but expensive temptations of nearby Mama's Fish House. The only thing that ain't there I need is baseball, and I can get that on a satellite dish.

Igor said...

You skipped the Marion Barry "the bitch set me up" Westin (nee Vista International) Hotel?!

Igor said...

@ MikeK.Pa. - And don't even ask a left-coaster how to pronounce "Lancaster". Nor expect them not to giggle when they hear that "King of Prussia" is a place.

Gray & Vogt said...

The "shrub guy" in San Francisco sadly passed away last year.

Locals knew him as "Bush-Man." Although he's not the original, he was the most well known. I worked at Fisherman's Wharf for 3 summers in a row (2008-10), and he was such a nice guy.

I never saw him in a fight but I heard that tourist who didn't understand Bush-Man's performance would pick fights with him. Bush-Man got me so many times that I had to train myself to look for bushes on Jefferson St. (There are no bushes on Jefferson St.)

Anonymous said...

Same thing happened to me at Mandalay Bay. Surf beach closed due to injury law suites by drunken guests. Being a surfer, had made the reservations there to specify to try it. Could have helped you with "Big Wave Dave". Spent some time at Halaeiwa in my surfing days....

Cap'n Bob said...

There was no Bushman when I was a San Francisco street artist in 1975, but the Human Jukebox was famous.

I was going to say that Budweiser is now owned by Belgians but the other poster beat me to it and added Brazilians.

Corey said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
MikeK.Pa. said...

Forget about Lancaster. How about the Schuylkill?

Igor said...

@ MikeK.Pa. - Yeh, but at least there they know that they don't know. (Is that to Don Rumsfeldy?)

Frankly, I knew how to say that since I was a little kid, yet my brain still goes "Huh?" when I see it written out.

To the others here, to me it sounds somewhere between skoo-kill and skoo-kull.

Igor said...

... And it's the river that flows through Philly. It's where the boathouses are for crew. And it goes right past Rocky's Art Museum.

Pat Reeder said...

You can have plenty of fun here in Dallas in August. Just remember to bring your sweater because you're going to be indoors most of the time, and the air conditioning everywhere will be set on 50 degrees.

Stephen Bates said...

I'm in the middle of the book, and got a great kick from the movie rental bit in Hawaii:
"And finally… Kenny. My namesake is a guy who cleans toilets. The tagline: “He’s Number One with Your Number Two.” Oh well. At least one reviewer called it “The Citizen Kane of Romantic Comedies About Sewage.”

Give Kenny a try, next time you find yourself in a Maui Blockbuster. I've got to cop to being biased, as it was directed by an old pal of mine, but it's right up there in the most successful Australian comedies of recent years. It did nothing in the US. The distributor felt that the Australian accent required subtitles (Takes you back to Mad Max being dubbed.), which would have utterly destroyed it,

Surreally, it got a great review from another namesake, Ken Russell, in a London paper. (Not sure if that's a good thing!).