In our buildup to the big "see ya later", we've had some help from a number of people in providing visual representations of our plotted destinations. Many diligent people at regional tourism boards were kind enough to provide us with a wide array of stellar images, and most recently, we took in a stockpile of photos from our "featured" photographer, Joe Jansen. We have these photos featured all over our WWG sections, as well as one here on the right for good measure.
Problem is, these people have better resources than we do. Joe Jansen just went out and bought himself a 21-megapixel camera, which is appropriate for blowing up a photo to the size of an entire wall and still maintaining excellent quality. I, on the other hand, am using a 6-megapixel Nikon Coolpix camera, which fits in my pocket and takes decent photos, but not the epic shots that Joe is famous for.
We're making steps forward, though. Sarah got a hold of a miniature video camera for the real guerilla-style filming we'll inevitably need. Joey got a dashboard camera for the car to shoot during our driving time. And my roommate Ian was kind enough to gift me with a pocket-sized tripod for my Nikon, which will give me a slightly better chance at some good night shots.
That's what's on my mind. We're in the middle of a planning meeting, our bellies full of pulled pork and potato salad. If we have any breakthroughs, I'll keep you posted.
Some challenges and goals are born out of necessity, logic, or desire. This is not one of those. I am not in need of a free meal, there is no real benefit of eating a 72 ounce steak. I could feel better skipping a meal and that would be just as free. So I say to you, Tom:
We've known each other for many years but this is the first time you've ever come to me to force-feed myself large quantities of beef. You were afraid to be in my debt. I understand. You found paradise in America. You had a good trade, made a good living, the police protected you and there were courts of law and you didn't need a friend like me to eat large quantities of beef. But, now you come to me and you say "Joey, entertain me by eating large quantities of beef." But you don't ask with respect. You don't offer friendship. You don't even think to call me Godfather. Instead, you come into our website and you ask me to do cow murder for a little entertainment.
Someday, and that day may never come, I'll call upon you to do something totally ridiculous for me. But, until that day, accept this justice as a gift.
Joey is a man of great appetites. Regardless of company, occasion or time of day, Joey will methodically consume every bite of pretty much anything you put in front of him. He's a tremendous asset in times of great hunger, as the raging fire in his belly has been the inspiration for many a mammoth meal in his company.
To him, I pose a challenge.
This, my friends, is The Big Texan Restaurant, in Amarillo, Texas. It's a Route 66 mainstay, open since 1960 and notorious as the "Home of the free 72 ounce steak". The idea behind this moniker, which was plastered across billboards galore along the fabled highway, comes from the restaurant's signature eating challenge. If you order the restaurant's 72 oz. steak and consume every morsel of it within an hour of your first bite, it's on the house. Truly a testament to Texas pride.
Earlier, my girlfriend Bernadette and I were watching a bit on the Travel Channel about the best places to pig out. And what came across the screen but this gem of a steakhouse. To us, this sounds like a proper challenge for my friend Joey and his sizable appetite. We're coming here to Amarillo on August 6, and as long as we're going to be in town, we'd be remiss not to have Joey make an attempt at this gargantuan slab of beef.
Only about one of six people are successful in their bids for sirloin supremacy here. If Joey is any kind of man, he'll do it with a smile on his face.
Joey, when you read this, please respond in blog post form.
Photo by Joe Jansen
I got an email from a reader the other day, with some frank advice about our time in the South. She asked:
"I have to ask, why two nights in Pensacola? Don't get me wrong, they do have a nice beach... [but] it is mainly a military town with lots of urban sprawl. I'm not saying you should skip it entirely, however I would suggest just 1 night in Pensacola, then your next night in the Orange Beach or Gulf Shores area of Alabama. The beaches there are pristine, and there are a ton of fun things to do. Then your next night would be in Mobile! On your way from the beach to Mobile, I would suggest a stop at Alligator Alley. Wes is awesome! Just my 2 cents."
This is soooooooo good. This is exactly the kind of feedback we've been trying to elicit from people. And we've received some pretty fantastic comments, just like this one, which are fairly straightforward in their advice but bring a shade of familiarity and comfort to the topic that can't be faked.
At the restaurant where I work, a nearby hotel brings in a fair share of visitors who have plenty to tell me about where they're from. Last night I waited on a guy from Chicago, who came to town with his wife who needs surgery and can't get it anywhere else but here in Philly. He told me that first and foremost, if I want to have a great time in Chicago, I gotta go to Wrigley Field. Which, of course, we were already planning on doing, but having heard that guest say it out loud makes me so much more excited to be there.
Our next meeting is Sunday, and you can bet we'll be acting swiftly on the email I received about Pensacola. The more feedback we get, the better this trip will be for us, and in turn for all the people who are coming along for the ride. So keep 'em coming.
No, no, I'm not talking about what routes we're taking from one city to the next, or about who's driving the bulk of the trip, or anything like that. Your ability to navigate just got a lot better here at America in 100 Days, or at least marginally better, depending on which parts of the site you like to read.
I know I've been pushing the WWG section like it's fish that's hours away from spoiling. Believe you me, it is quite the opposite of that, my friend. If it were a fish, it'd be that marlin that the Old Man caught in Hemingway's book, but before it got all mangled and torn up on his way back. I mean like freshly caught marlin.
That marlin just got a little fresher. If you look at any of the writeups for our destinations this summer, they each now include a clever device at the bottom that allows you to navigate to the previous stop or the next stop on our route, eliminating any need to use the back button. God, I hate that back button.
Check out Philly's entry for an example. And join me in my boycott of the back button, by feasting on the freshest marlin you'll ever encounter.
I'm making what I consider to be a welcome change this morning. Our old page design was getting a tad stale, so I began scouring through our options for something new, something fresh.
Not only does this new design add a little more brightness to a screen that was once a little too brown, but it also allows for smaller borders on either side. This is fantastic, because I had been a little unhappy about the size of the pictures we've put up recently. Now we've got more room for them and whatever else we throw onto the page.
What do you think? Let us know on our new Comments page.
Have something to say, but not in a reply to any particular post? See any unforgivable omissions in our itinerary? Want to offer travel tips, be helpful in some other capacity, or just say hello? Comment on this post will be, as the name implies, available and easily accessible through a link on the right of the home page below the logo… perpetually. -Joey