105. The Church Brew Works, Pittsburgh Pennsylvania

14 11 2014


I have never really considered Pittsburgh. I kind of thought I’d been around Pennsylvania, and I guess the northeast in general, but I had no real preconceptions about Pittsburgh. We stopped there for lunch and my only real experience was the drive through, but I would like to return. First, there’s a permanence about it. American Steel. Built To Last. It feels very American and every building, road, bridge, looks like it was built to be there forever. Nice gritty east coast city, but with a little bit of midwest charm. I’m not going to write a poem or anything, but I dig that city. The bar was good too. Old church turned brewery. Good experience, food was alright, company was great. It’s fun to travel with my dad – that’s him in the picture.


87. Deschutes Brewery & Publick House, Bend, OR

19 05 2014

photo 2photo 3

Next stop was Deschutes Brewery in Bend Oregon, just 18 miles away. We took the tour, tried the beers, bought things in the gift shop, and headed to the Deschutes Pub for food. Deschutes is the second largest consumer of full hops in the world, and they aren’t very big, so you’ve got some really flavorful beers. Well worth the stop and a much needed leg stretch. Good times for sure, and we got back on the road for Klamath Falls Oregon 137 miles south on 97.

Did I mention that I dumped my bike in the skatepark parking lot? If you know Scott, I probably don’t have to mention it because he probably already mentioned it for me, but it happened. Gravel ground and turned a little sharp at about 1 mile an hour. The front tire just slid out on the rocks and I fell over in slow motion. It’s moments like those, when some 1,000 pound obnoxiously oversized icon of American tough-guyness is falling over on top of you and you’re yelling for help, that you realize who your true friends are. I’m not naming names, but one of my companions laughed like a cackling wicked witch and the other helped me. Like I said, I’m not naming names, but on an unrelated note: thank you Adam for always being there for me, you’re my best friend.

Klamath Falls has no falls. There’s a lake on the outskirts that is pretty impressive, but otherwise it felt a little like a Texas border town, desolate and desperate. The hotel has taxidermy. I’m sure that my experience is slightly colored by the fact that I also lost my motorcycle keys somewhere here. I can still start it (so can anyone) but all my belongings are locked in the saddle bags. I currently own: cell phone (no charger), $100 sunglasses I bought in Bend (no case), one pair of pants, helmet, and a shirt, and things I bought at Rite Aid: socks, a shirt that doesn’t fit, deodorant, and a toothbrush. These items are being transported everywhere I go in a plastic bag. You would be shocked at how many #riteaidswag posts there are on insta. Also, I would never say “swag.” Scott repeated to me what I always say to him “it’s not an adventure until something goes wrong.” He’s right, but losing your keys and falling off a motorcycle in a parking lot isn’t exactly as cool as say, being kidnapped by gypsies.

Moving on regardless, today we head south to Chico California to Sierra Nevada Brewery, and hopefully a locksmith.

photo 4

36. McMenamins Kennedy School Hotel, Portland, OR

19 05 2014

photo 2

Day One
We spent the night at McMmenamins Kennedy School hotel in the Recess Room. McMenamins is an old school converted into a hotel, with seven bars and restaurants and a movie theater. It was perfect for us because the bikes were getting dropped off Thursday morning and we could just stay at the hotel and still have a good time. The halls are filled with really eclectic art, and the staff was super friendly. We enjoyed whiskey and cigars in one bar, Cajun tater tots and beer in another, and a cocktail at a third. In the morning we had breakfast in another restaurant and waited for the bikes to arrive.

Bikes got dropped off and we settled on who was driving what. Plenty of saddle bag space on these things. I think my first car had a smaller engine, and if you tipped one over you’d never be able to pick it up by yourself (more on that later). Leaving Portland Oregon our first stop was Redmond Oregon 143 miles away. The bikes are a little cumbersome in town, like driving one of those little kid battery powered cars that don’t corner very well on steroids, but they were awesome once we hit the highway. If you’d told me cruise control on a motorcycle was something I’d want I would have laughed, but I used it for sure. We drove over Mount Hood, and the forest air was an experience.  One cool thing about being on a bike is you can really feel where you are. Great views of snow capped mountains and rugged countryside kept the ride enjoyable as we settled into our new rides.

We skated a skatepark in Redmond, which was pretty fun and the warm weather was great. Adam and I fell around like old men and Scott fell around like a dentist who doesn’t skate. Fun little snake run and lots of little gems scattered all over the place. You’d definitely have more fun after a few trips there, but we’ve got places to go.

photo 1

60. Sierra Nevada Brewing, Chico, CA

19 05 2014

photo 1

Day Two
Woke up to a breakfast of yellowed eggs and home fries. The lobby of the hotel was part hunting lodge and part half way house for wayward travelers. There was some noise about inadequate seating for the elderly, and we chummed with Harley folk because you have to if you’re on one. Hit the road for Redding, and hopefully a locksmith around 8:30. 70 miles in we stopped for coffee in the worlds most annoyingly named town Weed, California. In the shadow of intense and due-to-erupt Mount Shasta, the place embarrassingly sells “I Love Weed” keychains, shot glasses, and t shirts, hats, and whatever else they can think of. A few lost stoner types were seen wandering around, undoubtedly disappointed in the Pacific Northwest badlands vibe and the clearly missing cult of stoners vibe. Onward to Redding where we found King Locksmith, who solved yesterday’s problem for $76.25. Like it never happened. We headed 142 miles for Chico and found Sierra Nevada Brewery. It was awesome. Had a salad and a beer at the restaurant and then took the tour. People in the Pacific Northwest celebrate sustainability like rappers celebrate money, and though I like both, they are equally annoying about it. They make beer with grain then fees it to the cows then eat the cows. Full circle bro. Ok, it’s less annoying than rappers. Sierra Nevada makes a lot more beer than the two we get on the east coast, and honestly it was kind of cool to see people so juiced on what they’re doing, making beer and recycling stuff. Cheers on you!

photo 3

We thought we’d try to make 90 miles Sacramento, and did. Skated a 45,000 square foot skatepark, which would have been more fun if we hadn’t spent nine hours in the saddle. Maybe we’ll go back tomorrow. Checked in at a horrible hotel and had dinner at a place called Stingers. If you are ever in Sacramento, don’t bother going to Stingers. Bought a Chosen One cd for $5 from the Chosen One while in line at the liquor store and called it at night.


29. Toronado, San Francisco, CA

19 05 2014

photo 1 copy

Day Three
No one was killed in their sleep so Adam and I got up and went over to the Granite Skatepark for a little wake and shred. Stopped at Starbucks and had the park pretty much to ourselves for an hour or so. Not bad. We took the worst drive of all time into SF, or as some people say, “Frisco.” 75 miles per hour on a five lane freeway in traffic and wind is even less exciting than it sounds. Good news is the main plan for the day was the epic climax of the trip: crossing into SF over the Golden Gate Bridge on motorcycles. It was a main selling point when I was talking the boys into coming with me, and it was to mark the mid point of the trip with a high point. I can remember telling Scott, “just think of how your friends back in Ohio will look at you when you post a photo of yourself driving across the GGB, head held high, on a Harley.” I was as surprised as anyone when we found ourselves driving across the Bay Bridge instead, with the Golden Gate in our peripheral vision to the right. So much for the climax… We found our way to Toronado, and enjoyed some Pliny The Elder, and then on to Maven, and a couple other places. I wish I had more to say about SF, but I don’t. We went to bed early and that was fine with everyone. Half way  through and half way done, we’ve all done “The City” thing a few times already. Tomorrow is the redwoods.

photo 2 copy

23. Henry’s 12th Street Tavern, Portland, OR

19 05 2014

photo 4 copy

Day Four
At 6:30am I opened my eyes. I looked over at Scott, he looked back at me. I looked at Adam, his eyes were open. I said “let’s bounce,” and 15 minutes later we were on our bikes, headed for… Wait for it… The Golden Gate Bridge. Navigating through an unfamiliar place without gps, directions, or any real sense can be difficult, but we manage.

We crossed the bridge at first daylight, and it did not disappoint. Luckily Adam can drive a motorcycle with no hands so there are photos. I know a lot of people probably drive motorcycles across the Golden Gate Bridge every day, but it’s more about the act in context with the life than the other way around. In my mind it’s about the overall life experience, not just the specific achievements. It was a good moment and I’ll remember it for a long time.

What came next was probably the best possible day of motorcycling anyone could have. We took a left on the 1 and headed up the windy coast. The view was amazing, the roads were smooth, and we had loads of fun. We continued onto the 101 and into the redwoods. We drove through a tree, Scott said “I thought they’d be bigger.” Kids these days. A 350 foot tall tree doesn’t even impress them. It got better from the cheesy tourist trap though, and Scott was soon doing age appropriate things like taking selfies and texting about the trees.

photo 5

The trees are insane. It’s hard to explain the scale, and photos don’t do them justice. I don’t mean to break into song or anything, but they’re like driving through a fairy tale. Best thing ever. I’m not the most well travelled person in the world, but I’ve seen a few things, and the Pacific Northwest is pretty high on the list. Worth the trip.

We drove 300 or so miles and ended in Eureka, hitting the 1,000 mile mark for the trip in the redwoods. Lost Coast Brewing impressed me but not the boys, but everyone slept well. Also, Scott dumped his bike in the parking lot and Adam rescued him. Also again, we saw two people pushing empty baby carriages on skateboards. If I believed in anything, I would believe that meant something.

photo 1 copy 2

Day five
Rain in the morning, rain scheduled for the day. It wasn’t rainy when we left, so I skipped the rain gear. Scott and Adam wore theirs. I gambled, and for 100 miles I won. We stopped for gas, Scott took off what was left of his rain gear – the parts that weren’t melted into his pipes. Having gotten nothing from the rain gear, we for rained on for the next 200 miles. Ok, not continuously, but mostly. Basically we would get rained on, then it would stop, we’d air dry, and it would rain again. For hours. We did cross what I imagine must have been a beautiful mountain pass, but I was blinded by hale so I could only see 5 feet in front of my face. Stopped again and pounded out the next 150 miles without too much rain. This day was the mission day, and we arrived at the Hilton Portland around 6:30, having completed 450 miles for the day. We went to Henrys 12th Street 5 Tavern for dinner, which was great, and called it a night. Mission accomplished!

Day Six

Whiskey and Burnside.

photo 2 copy 2photo 3 copy

115. John Barleycorn, Chicago, IL

13 03 2014

photo 1

photo 2

photo 4I have no idea why this place is on the list. I feel like it might be like the Anchor Bar, that I was just there at the wrong time. The place was pretty empty, the food was ok, the beer list was uninspired. And we were in Chicago, so it was snowing.