Greetings, Turkeys. Thanksgiving 2017.

Hello. Hope you had a wonderful Thanksgiving. We spent ours in Indianapolis at our very favorite extended stay hotel because it’s a work week. This is our second Thanksgiving in a row at this hotel. Not that we’re counting. It’s actually kind of awesome being here around the holidays. Everything is pre-decorated. We roll in from wherever and, BAM, it’s a winter wonderland in the lobby.

As an added bonus, my birthday was just a few days ago and my mother sent me a holiday package which included a big Happy Birthday balloon. This tipped off the staff and they created a birthday surprise for me.  At 7 am.

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It really pays to be a regular.

We spent the weeks leading up to Thanksgiving tooling around Florida.  Spent some quality time in Gulfport and hit up a truly stunning mid-century modern architecture tour in Sarasota. For people without a house, we love a good house tour.

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Jennifer trying to imagine the sunken living room as a hurricane bunker. We’re still wearing the booties. They’re very comfortable.

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That amazing bar was shipped piece by piece from…Stockholm, maybe? In case you’re still bar shopping, Wills. And, yes, we are frequently the youngest people in the room. By decades.

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Our plan was to work our way back to Indianapolis via Tallahassee so we could visit Jennifer’s dad.  We ended up stopping along Florida’s Forgotten Coast. It’s a stretch of Florida between the Gulf of Mexico and something called the Apalachee Bay. We only went there because we read about a chill campground on a barrier island. It was crazy amazing. White sand beaches. Beautiful campsites. Pet friendly. Not freezing. We ended up staying for a few days.

 

 

Also, we love food but we’ve decided we can’t eat at one more restaurant with artisanal ice cubes. Not for a while, at least. Because of this, we’ve been hitting up some more out-of-the-way spots. This part of Florida is very well known for it’s oysters but a little research (an article titled “Deadly Harvest) revealed that eating those oysters can result in death if they’re not properly handled. After tons of discussion, we decided we’d only eat the cooked oysters. Then we came to our senses.

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Seriously some of the best oysters ever. At a place without a hand-crafted cocktail menu, but WITH an honor system beer cooler. We’re moving in the right direction.

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This is another solid establishment. FYI: smoked fish is staple in Florida. Lots of these places had smokers outside and super delicious smoked fish spread on the menu.

We also entertained our first dinner guest. In the van. Jennifer’s dad is a trooper. Plus, he’s a flight instructor and we got to spend the night basically on the runway. Our Travato fit right in.

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That’s about it. Right now we’re packing up to get back on the road. We’ve got about two weeks to amuse ourselves. We’re going to point the van south until the temperatures become acceptable and figure it out from there. We may go back for more oysters and we might end up in New Orleans. We’ll let you know.

 

Happy Holidays. All of Them.

Hello!!! Sorry we’ve been out of touch for so long. Living in a hotel can be (among other things) uneventful. We had to wait to accumulate enough stuff to post about. Also, up until about a week ago, we couldn’t find the charger for our camera. So here goes:

We’re still living in the hotel in Indy.  Jennifer signed up to work through January so that we can fill the coffers enough to stay in St. John as long as possible. Also…Coachese is ready!!! We picked him up from the mechanic and drove him here from St. Louis last month. He’s currently a main attraction in the parking lot behind the hotel. He’s running well but has no heat so a winter camping trip is not in the cards. Plus, let’s be honest. The election kind of  knocked the wind out our urge to tour more of the USA right now. And we’re not sure how well Coachese would do in long-term storage so, wait for it, we’re thinking about selling him. I know. You’re shocked. I don’t really want to talk about it. Nothing is final.

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Moving on, other bright spots of the past couple of months include a roadtrip we took last week which we nicknamed, in advance, “vaycaca”, a loving mashup of vacation and poop. Basically, Jennifer took a week off so that we could drive a rental car from Indianapolis to Philadelphia for her sister’s daughter’s first birthday (Happy Birthday V!), then on to Delaware to finally close out our storage unit (Never get a storage unit. It’s like a reverse pawnshop. You give them money and your stuff and then you pay and pay and end up donating all your shit anyway), then back to Pennsylvania for one night, then on to DC to spend Hanukkah and Christmas with my family, then back to Indianapolis. All in a week. You can probably see how this seemed like a heaping pile of mandatory crap disguised as a vacation, no? Here’s the thing: It was great!!!

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Wembley, captured on film on the streets of Philadelphia.

We had a good time seeing Jennifer’s family (especially V), and we got to kick it at our favorite hotel in Philly. Rittenhouse Square was all decked out and really got us into the holiday spirit. Going back to Lewes, DE was actually one of the highlights of our trip, even though we were dreading dealing with our stored stuff . Not only did we successfully cut ties with the storage Nazis, we got to see a bunch of amazing people and get our asses handed to us working out at CrossFit Lewes. Turns out we were a lot more fit when we lived there. The big bummer was we really didn’t have enough time to visit with everyone, an oversight we are hoping to overcome by encouraging everyone to visit us in STJ! And, finally, we ended the week at my brother’s place in DC.

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Check out Santa.

It was a super-happy coincidence that the first night of Hanukkah was on Christmas Eve this year, since my brother and I both married Chosen People. Also, for the past several years, we have kept Christmas interesting by picking a different theme every year. These themes are more celebratory than authentic. Think grade school book report, not senior thesis. We’ve done French, Caribbean, Russian, Chinese, Italian, you get the picture. Everything from french fries and berets to the Feast of the Seven Fishes. Some years have been really successful and some have been a little half-assed. I am happy to report that this year’s theme was Mexico and my brother and his wife KNOCKED IT OUT OF THE PARK.

 

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Tablescapes just don’t get better than this.

It was a crazy Hanukkah-Meximas smash. We had festive decor. We made tamales. We had brisket, latkes, and jelly doughnuts. We had ponchos. And beer ponchos. We had chicken enchiladas, lamb tacos, and multiple tablescapes. We had an incredible playlist. We also had a traditional roast turkey, stuffing, homemade rolls, and  a custom-made holiday movie trivia game involving dreidels.  Thanks, Mom! And congratulations on the win, Will and Olivia. We’re going to kick your ass next year. We even had a custom-made prank gift. Did you know that if you wrap a couple of rectangular ceramic tiles in duct tape, put an Apple sticker on it, and wrap it in bubble-wrap it looks a lot like a MacBook Pro?  Well, we do. Thanks, Dad.

Never a dull moment.

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Game on.

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Hola. Me llamo Bernie. Feliz Navidad.

And now we’re back in The Suites with a month more to go. I have to say, we were pretty down and out in the weeks before Hanukkah/Christmas. We were crushed by the election. Obviously. And, in general, 2016 has been pretty fucking crappy all around. But that trip (and literally watching about 35 Hallmark Holiday movies in our hotel home) saved our holiday season. So, in the final hours of this year, barring further tragedy, Happy New Year, guys. Cheers. Oh, and if you’re in the market for a vintage RV we can make that happen…

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Happy Hanukkah.

Home Suite Home

House burn down? Messy divorce? Shitty sales route? Immigration problems? Welcome to the world of the extended stay hotel. Welcome home.

Actually, I love it here. We’re camped out in a Marriott extended stay hotel in Indianapolis and it’s kicking Airbnb’s ass. Here’s why:

  • There’s maid service.
  • There’s a very useful guy we’ve been calling Alan at the Front Desk.
  • Everything works. And if it doesn’t, just go see Alan.
  • There’s always free coffee, cookies, newspapers, and fresh fruit in the lobby.
  • There’s a workout room.
  • There’s a “business center.” I’ve never printed so many pages!
  • There’s free breakfast every day.
  • There’s an outdoor grilling pavilion next to the parking lot. Shockingly popular.

All of that sounds pretty fancy, right? But this is not a fancy place. We call it The Suites, but it’s really like a block of student-housing apartments disguised as townhouses, right behind a stripmall next to the highway. Not even a good stripmall. The one directly next to us is anchored by a Kohl’s. If you’re familiar with Motel 6, imagine Motel 9. That’s where we are.

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Breakfast at The Suites

 

I always look forward to seeing what the neighbors got up to last night. You can’t hide from the trashcan.

But it’s not just about the amenities here at The Suites. It’s the community. People here keep their heads down. No one is trying to tell you about some farmer’s market. Everyone is trying to scam the breakfast bar. I’m not judging, I’m doing it too. Did I sneak my own homemade yeasted waffle batter downstairs and cook  it in the communal waffle iron instead of using the gross Golden Malted batter they supply? Yes ma’am, I did. I live here. Did I try to use hotel fruit in virtually every meal for the first week? Yep, did that too. Apple slaw. Apple crumble. Orange crepes. Banana cookies (sounds gross but SO amazing). It’s kind of turning into a game. I’d actually love to compare notes with the guy I’ve seen packing up like 6 hard-boiled eggs, 8 pieces of bread, two yogurts, seven catsup packets and a coffee cup full of pancake syrup. I want to know what magic he’s going to work with that stuff. But I’m pretty sure talking about it is against the rules.

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Flaming crepes with oranges fresh picked from the lobby. Disabled the smoke detector long ago.

I could live here forever.

Back At Square One

Okay, okay. We learned our lesson about blog procrastination. While our last post made it seem like we’re still in Florida, that is not actually the case. We left Florida almost two weeks ago. It just took us forever to do the post on Gulfport. Whoops. Here’s what happened (approximately in order):

  • We got word from the mechanic that Coachese was STILL NOT READY.
  • Jennifer accepted an offer to work another month back in Indianapolis which is pretty close to St. Louis where we eventually (hopefully) will have to pick up the Winnebago.
  • We packed up the Chevy Cruze and raced (through the Hurricane Matthew evacuation zone) up the East Coast to Washington, DC. Why? To attend the All Things Go Fall Classic. It’s a music festival. It was amazing. Totally worth it. Sadly, I was worried about drunkenly losing my camera so we don’t have any photos. But they do. As an added bonus, we got to kick it with family/friends in DC for a couple of days. Killer.
  • From there, we drove onward to Indy. We got a flat tire somewhere in Ohio but eventually made it to the fabulous extended stay hotel we’ll be calling home for the next few weeks. So glamorous!

 

  • Got another call from the mechanic. Three miles into the post-repair test drive, a totally different part of Coachese almost caught on fire and he had to be towed back to the garage.* Stellar.
  • Saw a terrible movie called American Honey. It was so bad, I had to mention it. Don’t ever see it. (See Hell or High Water instead. Now.)

Looks like you’re all caught up.

 

 

 

*For those of you who are interested: we are now in the market for a new rear differential after the un-lubricated wheel bearings “burnt up” and caused all kinds of automotive chaos.

 

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Indianapolis. Indy. Naptown.

It turns out our corporate housing outside of Indianapolis is, well, way outside of Indianapolis; but it’s been surprisingly pleasant. There’s nothing to do but take advantage of our lux accommodations (full kitchen, large bathtub, two TVs!) and all that strip malls can offer- especially a multiplex movie theater and a self-serve dogwash. The pressure is off. There’s no great art show we need to see, no wilderness to explore. Instead of unplugging and finding a deeper connection in the natural world we are loving our high-speed internet connection, Lifetime Movie Network, and Law and Order marathons. Also, we discovered the Viceland Channel. Life could be worse.

 

So while we’re enjoying this vacation from, um, our vacation I figured I’d write a little about the things we liked during our five month stint in Indianapolis.

Hmmm. Okay.

Indianapolis. Literally city of Indiana. Not too many capital cities are named after their state. If they were it’d be easier to remember them. Imagine Montanapolis,  Alabamapolis, or New Hampshirepolis, instead of Helena, Montgomery, or Concord (yes, I had to look all those up). It’s logical but also a little self-aggrandizing. A state must think very highly of itself to have its capital named after it.

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Many statements like this to be found in the Indiana State Museum, folks.

Spend a little time in the Indiana State Museum  and you start to get the sense maybe Indiana is the center of the universe. Their natural history exhibit traces the origin of our planet from the big bang to modern day in a series illustrations with Indiana identified by a bright yellow dot. When our planet was just molten liquid there’s Indiana, right in the middle. As land starts to form there’s Indiana, right in the middle. Pangea, dead center again. Land masses shift, continents form-wait a second, how’s it possible? Indianapolis-more like Centrocosmos.

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And in the middle of Indiana-Indianapolis.

But I digress. A lot. This post is about what we like in Indianapolis, not how much it loves itself. And although we’re not totally on board the Indianapolis train here’s some things we’d recommend:

Milktooth– This might be our favorite restaurant in the world (okay, maybe we are on board). It’s only open for breakfast and lunch which makes it a very reasonable dining experience. The atmosphere is casual and the food is fantastic. It’s the best of all possible world’s- an unbelievably creative high-end restaurant disguised as your favorite neighborhood coffeeshop. I can’t say enough good things about this place. Go eat there.

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Milktooth, absolutely our favorite thing in Indianapolis.

Indianapolis Museum of Art-I really liked their contemporary art and contemporary design exhibitions. There’s a lot to see but I’d recommend taking the time to check out the Lilly House and Gardens. Also, they have Indiana themed mini-golf in the summer. It’s fabulous. Check out hole number one-Shadow Tailed Scourge:

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According to the description “This hole highlights the ‘Great Squirrel Invasion’ of 1822, when a westward migration of squirrels across Indiana decimated crops and damaged farmland.” More on the squirrels here.

Fountain Square-We got a chance to live here for a month and it was probably our favorite neighborhood in Indy. Lots of bars, breweries and places to eat.

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Wildwood Market

Because we were here for so long we ended up cooking most of our own meals. Luckily for us, Indianapolis has a few local markets that are real standouts. Wildwood Market in Fountain Square is a fantastic local market to pick up groceries or a sandwich for lunch. Kind of like the world’s nicest bodega. Goose the Market is an absolutely amazing butcher shop. High quality and thoughtfully sourced. They also have produce, bread, sandwiches. If you’re in Indy for a while definitely check it out. Locally Grown Gardens is a hard to define space in Broad Ripple. It’s kind of like a BBQ spot with gorgeous kitchenware, specialty ingredients, and a select menu of pies and entrees available when, well, they’re available. If that unpredictability sounds frustrating it can be-but its worth it. Keep going back.

Benjamin Harrison Presidential Site-Okay, so I’m a huge history nerd and I love tours of old homes. Especially old Presidential Homes. And I have to say, this is one of the best I’ve seen. The house is beautifully maintained with a ton of original furnishings and decorations. There’s even an original document signed by Abraham Lincoln. It turns out Harrison did some amazing things in his one term. He started the National Forest system and opened Yosemite and Sequoia National Parks. He established relations with Central America and fought monopolies. He was like an earlier Teddy Roosevelt without the megalomania. I knew nothing about him before our tour and now he’s one of my faves.

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President Harrison, not just a great mini-golf hole.

 

This is not our usual list of wall-to-wall activities. Keep in mind we came here for work, it was winter, and we spent a significant amount of time in movie theaters. And even though Indianapolis may not be the center of our universe, we definitely had some good experiences here. Thanks, Hoosiers.

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Sunset over corporate housing. So beautiful.