Road Trippin' 2011

A week ago I returned from a long adventure with Mr. James Murray. Together we logged 2,553 miles in just under 46 hours. I had the iPod on shuffle the top most played artists were, in order: The Legendary Pink Dots, Depeche Mode, Nick Cave & the Bad Seeds, Stereolab and The Flaming Lips.

Our trip took us from Trenton to overnight stays in Syracuse, NY; Cleveland, OH; Chicago, IL; Louisville, KY and Pittsburgh, PA before returning home. In our travels we made stops in Buffalo, NY; South Bend, IN; Munster, IN; Indianapolis, IN and Columbus, OH.

For those who already have seen my Facebook photo album then you have an idea of what we did. This blog entry will give you a more detailed rundown of our journey.

The highlight of the trip (other than spending time with the truly adorable Ashley) was the after game fireworks and concert at PNC Park in Pittsburgh. When we arrived in Pittsburgh we had seen that the Pirates were in town. As it turned out the game had been sold out for months ahead of time. As luck had it they released some tickets just as we got there and were lucky enough to score a pair. The reason it was sold out was their “skyblast” post game fireworks and concert. 4 games a year are given the concert and fireworks treatment. Earlier concerts this year featured Huey Lewis & the News and 38 Special. The concert we saw was by Train and they were excellent. The fireworks were even better. Fireworks were shot from the field, the scoreboard, the banks of the river behind us, the bridge crossing the river, even buildings on the other side of the river! Here’s some video I took, it only shows a small portion of what went down:

Another hi-light included the St. Anthony’s Chapel in Pittsburgh. The chapel is home to over 5,000 religious relics. I’m not a religious person but I was overwhelmed by the beauty of the church as well as the collection. It is the largest public display of relics in the world and second largest collection of relics next to the Vatican. The history of the church is incredible and a long time parishioner gave the tour. No photography was allowed inside the chapel but I did purchase the book about the chapel in the gift shop.

Other hi-lights include the Skydeck at Willis Tower (formerly Sears Tower), hanging out with Matt, Gina and Max in Syracuse, the Art Institute of Chicago‘s art museum, Wrigley Field, Yankees vs. White Sox at US Cellular (even though it rained), Indianapolis Motor Speedway, Churchill Downs, Maker’s Mark distillery, Three Floyd’s Brewery, Heinz Field (they were shooting a scene to the new Batman movie) and the Andy Warhol Museum (the photo to the right is from the photo booth in the basement).

We went to some excellent eateries as well. I used the TV Food Maps app and all of the places we dined at had been on either the Travel Channel or Food Network or both! A bunch of the places have been on many different shows. We had a ton of great meals. We can’t decide which place is a favorite so we have a 2 way tie for first. Dinosaur BBQ in Syracuse, NY and Schmidt’s Sausage Haus in Columbus, OH are our clear winners. They are both quite different from each other and are both spectacular. Both places had a long wait to be seated. Dinosaur BBQ had more of a biker crowd. The moment the doors opened you are greeted with this spectacular smoky BBQ smell, so instantly your mouth waters. The best ribs i’ve ever had. Great beer menu too. If you ever find yourself in Syracuse then you must go there. Schmidt’s Sausage Haus had a more family friendly environment. A live music duo of a man with an accordion and a man with a tuba play German music and them and the staff are all dressed in Bavarian garb. The sausages are out of this world and the cream puff is monstrous. Great service, great prices too. Well worth the hour wait.

Other restaurants that we really liked, in order, are Heid’s of Liverpool (Syracuse), Kuma’s Corner (Chicago), The Greenhouse Tavern (Cleveland) and Superdawg (Chicago). I enjoyed Primanti Bros. in Pittsburgh and have to mention it even though I preferred these other places more.

I definitely will be visiting Chicago as much as I can (to see the sweet Ashes) so I will report with all the other awesome adventures that I plan on having.

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