Final Rodeo – A Critique on Places Visited

I wanted to put together a list of places where I ate, stayed or visited, with nano-critiques and links to websites for your further perusal. Here goes:

1/ Trumansburg, NY:
See: Taughannock Falls – lovely high, narrow falls created by glaciers (
Treman Falls – slate bottomed, stair-like falls leading to a larger fall (
Eat: Little Venice Ristorante – succulent and flavorful chicken marsala in a cozy traditional setting (
Gimme Coffee – a cozy nook with wooden plank tables to drink coffee while your bedding dries at the laundromat across the street! (

2/ Ithaca, NY:
Eat:  Ithaca Bakery – crowded, busy, noisy, yet still a great place to grab a hot beverage and some goodies or a sandwich and get reacquainted with an old college friend! The t-shirts looked nice, but got distracted and left without any! (
Shop: Sparrow’s Fine Wines – the owner alone is worth visiting this place – very wry/dry sense of humor and much knowledge of wines. (
Greenstar Natural Foods Market – shop for natural and organic foods! Friend and I got delicious little cakes and a chat with a former art professor – he remembered my friend after all these years! The wonder of Wells! (
See: Ecovillage – a community where green building and sustainable organic farming and cooperation are valued. Three different “neighborhoods” – I liked the rustic one with a Scandinavian feel. (

3/ Wells College, Aurora, NY – my alma mater (or where I went to college), situated on enchanting Cayuga Lake, a gem of a little college, once all women’s, since 2005 coed. Not happy about that and indeed saw more men than women while I was roaming around campus. Grrr! Still, a gorgeous campus! (

4/ Toledo, OH
Eat: Rosie’s Italian Grille – relaxing outdoor dining (in warmer weather) with fountain and koi pond under umbrellas. Recommend the Grilled Baby Lamp Chops on a stick and the Limoncello Martinis, although all the martinis on the menu look delish! (
Schmucker’s –  the pies come highly recommended. I had pancakes, turkey sausage, and home fries – the home fries were some of the best I’ve ever had! Ambience was humming and friendly- diner style. ( See: Toledo Museum of Art – free except for the parking lot, which is $5 but ingenious, with solar panels on the roofs of the lot that help cut costs. The art and the internal environs are beautiful and the guards are super friendly! (

5/ St. Charles, MO
Eat: Bike Stop Café – a cool bike rental/café where you can get specialty coffees and salads/sandwiches/wraps. I believe I got the Greensfelder (sounds so German and had yummy veggies in it). Roomy with tall ceilings and brick walls. Had an outstanding conversation with two former classmates. (

6/ St. Louis, MO
See: St. Louis Art Museum – went with the family I was staying with to the free featured exhibits on Friday. We sped through Impressionists, Contemporary, and Armor and Weaponry from the European Middle Ages before the 9pm closing. (
Eat: Gelateria Del Leone – translated as lion’s ice cream -a variety of interesting flavors made from scratch to satisfy the six of us, especially when you could choose two each! Think I had the Aranciok (Chocolate Orange). (

7/ Madison, WI
Eat: Milios – my favorite subs anywhere! Is it the bread or the spicy sauce? Mmmm! I consumed two Godfathers or were they Italian Clubs? Love them both! One as soon as I go into town, the other one on my way out! Check them out at:
The Mediterranean Café – LOVE this place! It’s a bustling hole-in-the-wall Middle Eastern place. The food is cheap and so good and the owner fosters an air of good will and sense of community with his friendly student helpers. Professors, coeds, professionals of all cultural backgrounds jam into the blanketed booths and tables. Somehow, you can always get a seat, as someone is always just about to leave. I almost always get the shawarma wrap and the mint tea. Although everything is great! Don’t miss this place if you are ever in Madison! (

8/ Badlands, SD
Stay: Badlands/White River KOA – a friend in Madison recommended this place. I had to drive from Route 90 THROUGH the Badlands National Park to get there. Luckily I didn’t have to pay and enjoyed the evening view, butting bighorn rams and all, before checking in. The weather was chilly and rainy and the front desk clerk offered me a tent site close to the bathrooms. It was more expensive, because it had an electric hook-up, but wasn’t a lot of campers and she was sympathetic about the wet. I appreciated the heated rec room where I ate crackers and blogged using the free WiFi. Definitely recommend this place if you are touring the Badlands! (

9/ Black Hills, SD
Visit: Mount Rushmore – I was curious to learn how this monument came to be and after perusing copious literature, discovered that the then Governor was looking for a way to encourage tourists to South Dakota. The story is complex and there are many characters. It is a rather stunning stone sculpture but did it really need to be done in that particular location? Lots of tourists, a parking garage, and large gift shop (
Crazy Horse Memorial – From the point of entry on, there is great mention about how this operation does NOT accept governmental funding. It is a work in progress and a labor of love for the Ziolkowski family and has a threefold mission – to build a gigantic sculpture of Crazy Horse, to be a Native American Cultural Center and to operate Indian University of North America. Some very lofty goals indeed! Even the introduction video is truly inspirational! (

10/ Moorcroft, WY
Eat: Donna’s Diner – the snow was coming down in piles since the Black Hills and my neck was so stiff and sore from peering through the fog on Route 90. I got off in Moorcroft and decided Donna’s Diner was as good a place as any to eat. I got a huge serving of roast beef loaded with gravy with a avalanche of mashed potatoes and some rather unedible veggies. Luckily I partook of the salad bar, although there were more mayo based salads than veggie offerings. Oh, I got a dinner roll as well. I was grateful for the simple yet ample fare and the waitress, who was not Donna, did try to help me with my travel questions. The best answer was “yes” to the question, “is there WiFi?”! (

11/ Sheridan, WY
Stay: Motel 6 – I had wanted to overnight at a campsite in Buffalo, WY, near Bighorn National Park. The owner kept updating me by email about the snow status, with the basic recommendation to stay away. So I drove on to Sheridan and decided I would be treating myself to a hotel room after the terrible road and weather conditions. My neck was highly appreciative! And an expensive treat at that! Cost for one night WITHOUT breakfast was $79.99! But it was nice to soak in a tub for a while, even though the shape was odd and not comfortable to lie in! (

12/ Idaho Falls, ID
Eat: Café Rio – I had long coveted the shrimp tacos my cousin in Idaho Falls would often show on Facebook. She was happy to take me there when I asked (and even paid!). It was then that I found out there were actually TWO shrimp taco possibilities! One, a sweet variety (coconut shrimp) and the other one, spicy (cancun shrimp). I generally like sweet, but not when it is up against spicy!  They usually came with rice, beans and pico de gallo, but I just wanted two solo cancun shrimp tacos. And they were indeed delish! My mouth is watering at the thought of them! (

13/ Missoula, MT Stay: Missoula KOA – I was excited to camp in Montana. That was until I realized the camping facility was in back of a strip mall! Not exactly the wilds I expected, but what you get when you want to be close to Route 90, so you can get a quick jump onto the highway in the morning! My camp spot was actually fairly big. The WiFi was quite spotty, however and it took several hours huddled on the floor in the corner of the gift shop/reservation, before I got my blog entry for the day uploaded! But after that, I grabbed my swimsuit and headed for the hot tub just as night fell. I had the place to myself, just me and the stars above! (
Eat: Taco del Sol – in the plaza diagonally in front of the KOA. My mind was still on tacos and this place had very friendly young staff who talked to me about their love for the area. I should have quit while I was ahead, because nothing could live up to those yummy Idaho shrimp tacos, but they were not awful either. (
Loose Caboose – this was such a cute little hut and the staff was super nice (trend here in Missoula!). I got a coffee and a baked good, a scone, I believe, which  seemed to be from the day before. Great coffee anyway! (

14/ Sprague, WA Eat (& Gas): Templin’s Country Corner – my home away from home. Roomy open floor plan, sit where you want. I had some comfort food – fried shrimp basket, probably with coleslaw. It is a great space just to relax and take a break. But I wouldn’t recommend the milkshakes, especially if you are from New York State! (

15/ Tacoma, WA
See: Chihuly Bridge of Glass – I was surprised that the glass was above my head and not under my feet. Beautiful swirly, curly, shell-like, colorful works of glass – lots of it! Decided not to go inside the Glass Museum, since there was plenty of Chihuly’s work in the nearby Tacoma Art Museum. (
Tacoma Art Museum – several unique exhibits, one involving a 3-D copier and an artist on the Pacific Crest Trail, another video interviews with many Native Americans from different tribes, in addition to lots of Chihuly and other glass artists’ work. (
Tinkertopia – the coolest store EVER! What a crazy trip down grade school memory lane – many different kinds of doodads and thingamajigs including ancient technology and science lab artifacts to be used for art and craft activities! You could grab a paper lunch bag and fill it up for $5. Some craft ideas were display and after a while, my mind got in the flow as well. The store also offers parties where kids can learn how to make a marionette or other fun play thing. All in the spirit of fun, creativity, and recycling! Definitely check out this website:
Locations for the movie Ten Things I Hate About You – A friend took me to see the house and Stadium High School, both really cool places. If you are a fan, this link shows you even more:
Eat: Anthem Beverage & Bistro – a bare air ducts kinda place with high ceilings. You order your coffee at the register and then pick it up around the corner at the bar. The pastry I ordered they heated up for me and the seating area was somehow comfy despite the industrial ambience. (
The Spar – proudly boasts its oldest saloon in town status. It is nicely situated with a view to the bay. I had the Mushroom Swiss Burger, which was big and tasty. (

16/ Vancouver, BC
See: Granville Island – You have to cross a rather long bridge and walk quite a while to get to Granville Island from Downtown Vancouver. I suppose the misting weather the whole time was part of the charm! I did find one particular wool store that enchanted me amongst the many tourist shops and the attention I was paid was worth the money I paid for some black roving for felt toys I would make in the future. ( The Public Market was also rather tantalizing and I bought 3 peaches (bought with American dollars), one beet salad (bought from a young German on a special work permit) and a jug of maple syrup that was actually made in Ontario – needn’t have traveled so far! (
Stay: Samesun Backpackers – stay wasn’t dirt cheap ($48 CAN) but safe and clean and I loved the saloon style doors and décor for the bathrooms. A nice communal area to watch international guys play it cool and shoot pool. Apologies to my roommates in the wee hours of the morning as I tried to get my stuff together and leave without too much racket! (
Eat: Umi Sushi Express and Unknown Sushi Place close to Samesun – The best place to get sushi in North America is generally on the West Coast, so in one day, I had sushi from two different places. The first (Umi) was in a food court but was still tasty. The second one was a medium sized restaurant where they were cleaning floors but still serving food. The two rolls I got were dirt cheap – $4 for both! And good! (

17/ Seattle, WA
See: Pike Place Market – Of course, when in Seattle, you must see the fish thrown at the Pike Place Market! There are beautiful and very cheap flower bouquets ($5) , expensive fruit ($3 for one albeit big and juicy peach), and arts and crafts galore. (
Eat: Pike Place Chowder – both at the market and at the Pacific Palace, a multi-level shopping mall. I ate at the latter. Nice cuppa fairly hot clam chowder with a chunk of bread – yum! (
Sand Point Grille – a special shout out here, as a former collegemate co-owns this place with her husband. My party of three all ordered fish. I am not a huge fish fan, but every dish (I tasted each) was extremely good! Fine apple dessert made by my friend, Kris. The ambience is both bustling and cozy (
Rabbit Hole – a Belltown establishment where I grabbed a drink with my cousin outside. The sign was very cool and the place, unique. (
Sushi Maru – a kaiten, or convey belt buffet-style sushi place. Huge wide open space. A lot of the same items going around and around though those I partook of were mostly quite good. This place is in Northgate Mall, which is in Bellevue, outside of Seattle. (

18/ Portland, OR
See/Stay: Caravan – a wagon circle of tiny houses as a hotel. Each tiny house has its own style and décor, all are cute as a button. (
Mount Tabor – a hilly arbor park in the middle of Portland. Great for a nice little nature hike! (
Eat: Cupcake Jones – some of the best cupcakes I have ever tasted! I had the Lemoncello and the What’s Up Doc (Carrot Cake) – each had custard or cream inside, which I now believe ever cupcake should have! Hard to choose from all the delectable possibilities! Staff super duper friendly! (
Kenny & Zuke’s Deli – staff was very friendly here as well; it was starting to get creepy! Ha ha! Big windows, lots of light, glass carafes of water on each table. Yummy Rueben! (
Caffe Umbria – Italian coffee shop. Lots of seating. Small square of chocolate came with the cappuccino – both I savored as I listened in to conversations. (
Cha Cha Cha Taqueria – fairly big burritos that didn’t really wow me.  (
Dwaraka Indian – a decent Indian lunch buffet. Lady was nice to us, her husband kicked us out before we were ready! (
The Fresh Pot – cute little café on Hawthorne inside a Powell’s bookstore. A little cramped and little privacy. (
Jade Teahouse & Patisserie – had both a yummy Thai green curry and piece of carrot cake. This place rocks! (
Zenbu – sushi cart in Sellwood area. Very good and the owner gave me a free appetizer while I waited for the super fresh sushi. And let me take his picture. (
Shop: New Seasons Market – so many mouthwatering organic and fresh products!! (

19/ Oregon Coast Eat: South Beach Fish Market – wanted to try some crab on the coast. The potato bread crab sandwich was part yummy part fishy. No condiments except mayo, which probably wouldn’t have been my choice. (

20/ North Bend, OR Eat: Liberty Pub – this place has great pizza and a huge separate bar space. My favorite detail were the bend spoons as coat hanger in the bathrooms. Extremely welcoming staff! (

21/ Weed, CA Stay: Stewart Mineral Springs Retreat – if I hadn’t tried to follow my google directions, I probably would have found it easily! Baths were in individual rooms and were basic white ceramic bathtubs. Sauna and outdoor cold spring (clothing optional) were a nice contrast between dips in the tub or while waiting for your bath to be drawn. Showers afterwards were not easily acquired. (

22/ Mount Shasta, CA Stay: McBride Springs Campground – the price is right ($10) for this minimalist campsite with vault toilets – the wind gusts up from underneath – chilly! It is honor based, so you pay at the entrance by sticking your money in an envelope and posting a tag with the date at your campsite. (

23/ San Francisco, CA
See: Golden Gate Park – a huge recreational park with many gardens and spaces to play – this visit I was at the kid’s soccer field and after at the kid’s playground – aquatic themed. (

24/ Monterey, CA
See: Monterey Aquarium – very expensive to get in ($40 for adults). Cute otters on display both inside the aquarium and in the bay. Other aquatic life on view (
Eat: Austino’s Patisserie – expensive veggie sandwich that was not even warmed up. It tasted good though. (
Pinkberry – flavored frozen yoghurt with lots of toppings, candy and fruit. Admittedly very yummy! (

25/ Bakersfield, CA Stay: Bakersfield RV Travel Park – Okay, only two tent spaces by the highway and dog walking area. No real place to park your car right next to it. And the toilets are at the opposite end of the park. But for $15 total you have WiFi and pool access! (

26/ Flagstaff, AZ
Stay: Flagstaff KOA – very helpful staff and extensive printed information. Tent site not very private but not far from bathroom and recreation room. (
See: Grand Canyon, South Rim – surprises were $25 charge and that you really couldn’t see the canyon unless you were right at the overlook as there are many shrubs and inclines. View itself was no different than expected. (

27/ Santa Fe
Shop: beautiful, already made products and unique beads to make your own items. Personnel friendly and graciously appreciative of the hawk feather pouch my sister made. (
Eat: Plaza Café – pleasant, sunny, open seating. Chose the Frito Pie because it sounded different and was cheap. Turned out to be a salad with spicy salsa and actual Fritos Corn Chips. Loved the music, especially a tango song that came on. (
Stay: Rancheros de Sante Fe Campground – camping spot a bit secluded with covered picnic bench to protect from sun. Closest bathrooms difficult to find. Nice desert hiking trail onsite. (

28/ Austin, TX
See: Barton Springs Pool – the pool itself was closed but dipped my legs into the fresh water just on the other side of the fence. (
Baylor Street Art Wall – some beautiful art graffiti style (
Eat: Hey Cupcake – had the Michael Jackson – a chocolate cake with cream cheese frosting. Tasty but racist overtones in the name! (
Rudy’s – Texas style BBQ, very peppery, they yell out what you order, give you slabs on wax paper to taste, huge hangar of a room! (
Home Slice Pizza – attempt at New York style pizza almost successful! Can order outside by the slice. Takes a while to receive your order but service is very friendly. (
Shop: Crystal Works – received free small baggy of lavender, wide selection of gems and crystals. Ended up buying a ring! (

29/ Mandeville, LA
Eat: Liz’s Where Yat Diner – this place is an establishment! Lots of funny painted signs made by one of the employees about the attributes of drinking and the downfalls of men and yummy New Orlean style food. Had a Big Easy Benedict with crab cakes, fried green tomatoes and Cajun Hollandaise sauce – mmm, mmm, mmm! (
Waffle House – whenever I’m in the South, I always wanna get me some Waffle House – the waffles and hash browns are great and the ambience cozy diner-like. (

30/ Memphis, TN
Stay: Pilgrim House Hostel – very community minded hostel with chores. Shared bunkroom was extremely quiet with only one other female bunkmate. Several different lounge rooms and a large kitchen/dining area. Only bad taste – that I did not get my $10 deposit back after doing my chore because there was no staff around when I left at 8:45 am! (
See: Beale Street – a bit kitschy and touristy but amazing blues music wafting on air! (
Riverfront – breathtaking view of river delta with play area and café with live music. (
Graceland – had to check out what it looked like – a mansion pleasantly situated some distance from the road with musical note gate at end of drive. I was able to pull over and take some pics without anybody yelling at me. (
Eat: Yolo, Gelato, & Cake Bakery – yes, it is lame that this is the only food I had in Memphis! Another frozen yoghurt with toppings place. Good, but slightly down in quality from Pinkberry. (

31/ Ashville, NC
Stay: Sweet Peas Hostel – very clean, loft-style hostel with free earplugs. Because it is LOUD! Loud TV, loud snorer, loud music from the bar downstairs, loud bunkmates returning late. Cute name and logo. (
Eat: Heiwa Shokudo – Japanese restaurant with authentic menu – needed help deciphering the different kind of sushi. Small but cozy environs. Helpful and eccentric waitstaff. Good food. (

32/ Fairfield, VA Eat: Frank’s Pizza – off I-81, on a hill at a plaza, friendly, attentive staff (except for the owner), large pieces of pizza! (

33/ College Park, MD
Shop: Mom’s Organic Market – fun checking this smaller sized organic market  (
See: Greenbelt Park – nice park to hike through, though watch out for one-eyed rabid raccoons! (

34/ Baltimore, MD
See & Shop: Little Italy – Vaccaro’s Italian Pastries – yummy tiramisu and pizelles! (
Isabella’s Brick Oven – oh what heavenly subs!!! (
Baltimore Harbor – Barnes & Noble – refurbished power plant – fabulous architecture and atmosphere! Made me wanna buy something! (
Eat: Blue Bambu – Asian food with Asian staff knowing little English. We were able to figure out that you choose a meat, than veggies and they stir fry them for you. One plate was a satisfying meal for two people! (

34/ Middletown, DE
See/Stay: St. Andrew’s School – home of the Dead Poet Society film locations and a gorgeous Tudor-style campus (
The Everett – theater where a scene from Dead Poet Society takes place (
Eat: Immediatos – Italian bistro, good pasta, male lounge singer who sang my personal Italian favorite – That’s Amore! (

35/ Hamilton, ONT
Eat: My Thai – Pad Thai not so good as I remember, curry not bad, one worker kept walking back and forth through restaurant, which was kinda a buzzkill. ( Okay, that’s a wrap. Hope you found some new places to try on your own journeys cross-country or near to home. As I heard many times along the way, Happy Trails!

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