Rating our Friends

Traveling throughout the USA is pretty awesome. However, having friends who let you stay at their houses along the way is AMAZING! It’s a nice break from living in Rhonda. We get a real bed (most of the time), clean towels (most of the time), and now that everyone we know is procreating we get to meet their great kids.

So, without further adieu, here is how we rate each and every place we have stayed.

The Assas: Maplewood, NJ
Adults: David and Lizzie Assa
Kids: Nate, Ruby, and Sloane
Pets: Duncan (dog)

Reasons Rhonda’s Returning:
Homemade waffles and eggs
Great arts and craft projects
Multi colored tapes
Duncan
Ruby and Nate’s excitement to spend every waking moment in Rhonda
Solid laundry machine
Great juicing
Free granola mix
Sloane’s hair

Areas for Improvement:
Raccoons may or may not be hiding in the garage ready to claw your face off!
Cannot exit the house without shoes bc the deck feels like surface of the sun
Low bridges Everywhere!!!
Quiet neighborhood and strict parking rules makes it difficult to boondock.

An extremely pleasant experience. The kids are well-behaved and filled with an abundance of entertainment. The adult conversation is stimulating even if it mostly consists of mock fantasy football drafts between Brett and Dave. Highly recommend the Assa’s to fellow travelers.

Ruby, Sloane, and Lizzie
Ruby, Sloane, and Lizzie
Ruby, David, Brett, Nate
Ruby, David, Brett, Nate

The Wain Manor: Rumson, NJ
Adults: Chad and Stacey Wain
Kids: Jordyn (Dan and Joe were at summer camp)

Reasons Rhonda’s Returning:
The Pool
Cable in the bedroom
Lighthearted bickering between Chad and Stacey is always entertaining
Cute Jordyn singing and well-behaved
Able to watch all time favorite movie No Holds Barred bc of their umpteen cable channels
Great shampoo
Amazing pizza rolls

Areas for Improvement:
Unable to call out to someone because they may be in the east wing while you are in the west
No bagels in the house
Constant hang over from the unlimited supply of booze
Chad always has food on his face making him hard to look at
Super high tech dryer too difficult for our feeble minds

The Wain Manor never fails to amaze! In addition to ego inflating games of pool basketball for Vanessa as she always dominates Chad, the company is great. This is a must stop on any road trip through the burbs of New Jersey.

Jordan

The Iaconellis: Pittsgrove, NJ
Adults: Becky and Mike Iaconelli
Kids: Vegas and Stelly

Reasons Rhonda’s Returning:
The collection of animal bones under the bone tree is so cool. (See also negatives)
Dinners and food never ceased to amaze
Entertaining, well-behaved and energetic little ones
MVB: Most valuable bed
Basement bedroom was dark and well air conditioned
Fish Pond built by the hands of Becky
Had a friend for Rhonda

Areas for Improvement:
The bone tree. At times felt like they were watching me too closely in the hopes of adding human bones to their collection.
Rabid, children-biting ants
Constant fear of children walking out of the corn fields
Weight gained from all the incredible meals served

Exploring the Iaconelli’s backyard digs was an adventure itself. With a basement bedroom so dark you could sleep the entire day and not feel bad about it, we will definitely be back…closer to the time when their amazing bar will be complete 🙂

Rhonda found a friend
Rhonda found a friend
The Bone Tree
The Bone Tree

The Kronmans: Brooklyn, NY
Adults: David and Becky Kronman
Kids: TBD

Reasons Rhonda’s Returning:
They have a house in the Hamptons…’nuff said
Best Yemeni food I’ve ever had
Becky Love’s impassioned help of those less fortunate (us included)
David’s witty banter
Comfy ass couch
2 blocks from NYC bagels!!!!
Free copies of the Economist

Areas for Improvement:
Lack of towels (ha!)
Hole in the air mattress
Solar power not hooked up in Brooklyn

The Kronmans are always a good time because they are so well cultured and damn funny. In a span of one night in Brooklyn we ate Yemeni food, discussed NY politics, and checked out the new park in Brooklyn. Their house in the Hamptons is a must see. If you plan to visit their estate in Brooklyn, make sure to bring your own towels. A very good time.

Becky, David, Vanessa
Becky, David, Vanessa

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The Gotz’s: Burlington, VT
Adults: Dr. Stu Weber Gotz
Kids: TBD

Reasons Rhonda’s Returning:Home made chicken soup
Mexican style cucumber appetizer
Apple TV (so many documentaries to watch)
Dr. Gotz diagnosing Brett with PTSD
Allowing us to over stay our welcome because of Brett’s immune system deficiencies
Our new favorite drink, The StuGotz…1/4 oj, 3/4 seltzer water, and lots of ice. (Can add vodka)

Areas for Improvement:
Finding neighbors who don’t make snide remarks about Rhonda
The lack of diagnosing Brett’s sickness and prescribing him meds
Stu needs to worry a little less about becoming a doctor and more time talking to us (ha!)
Follow up home cooked meals with some sort of exercise regiment so your guests don’t get out of shape

Staying with Dr. Gotz is a joy for your palate and your brain. You will get delicious home cooked meals, answers to random questions you didn’t think anyone could know except Google, and some of the finest air mattresses east of the Mississippi. If he acts like he wants you gone after 48 hours he doesn’t. Stay as long as you want and get smarter and fatter all in one. Dr. Gotz is a must see.

You need towels?
You need towels?
Work, work, work.
Work, work, work.

The Firsels: Northbrook, IL
Adults: Adam and Karen Firsel
Kids: Emma and Eli

Reasons Rhonda’s Returning:Emma and Eli are pure entertainment
You can park your RV in front of their house for 5 straight nights!!!
Invites to all the Jewish Holidays
Amazing basement bedroom
Great water pressure in the basement shower
Karen will make sure you have photos of yourself you never had before
Family sing-alongs

Areas For Improvement:
Not enough gluten
No cable in the basement bedroom (ouch)
Eli will make you delete your apps (hahaha)
Difficulty entering and exiting car bc of kids car seats

The Firsels are a must stop as you travel through the Midwest. Only a 40 minute train ride from downtown they will treat you to home cooked meals, take you to family functions where you experience more home cooked meals, and amazing family entertainment. Their kids are awesome, and if you have time we highly recommend checking out the video Karen made for their Rehearsal Dinner. It’s truly amazing.

Firsel Kids

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Making Friends On The Road

Traveling Rhonda’s first post was about my friend Ray Chen. He passed away this year way before he should have. The post was simply how amazed I was by Ray’s ability to make friends after turning 30 years old. It honestly seems like an impossible feet.
Well, I am not sure if I made a life-long friend last week, but I definitely had a friend for the day.
I present to you Rich.

My new friend Rich
My new friend Rich

Vanessa was in Santa Fe, NM for a week so I was on my own in Madison. One of the every day tasks while living in an RV in a city is to find a place to park and sleep at night. I pulled onto Mifflin St, and found a spot right away. As soon as I opened the door, there was Rich sitting on a front stoop, and bellowing out hello. I made a sandwich in Rhonda while he started telling stories ranging from all the girl’s bikes he fixes in Madison to hitch hiking cross country to being Bart Starr’s paper boy when he was a kid (Bart Starr led the Packers to the first two Super Bowls in NFL history). Rich was probably in his 60’s, and he was a lifelong Wisconsin resident.

I joined him on his porch for a beer, told him I needed my bike fixed, and two seconds later he’s got his tools out and he’s showing me how to fix the brakes. After working together for about an hour or so he said he was out of beer. I gave him $20 to get us some, and we sat drinking and talking and working on the bikes for another hour or so. He was telling me about this girl who brought him cookies last year because he fixed her bike, and two seconds later that same girl showed up to say hi. Unbelievable!

Fixing my bike
Fixing my bike

I was planning on going to the student union that night to watch a movie at a place called the Terrace. When I asked Rich to come with me his eyes lit up. He hadn’t been to the Terrace in 13 years! We snuck some tall boys into our backpacks and biked over to watch Total Recall. He had this shit eating grin on his face the entire time we were there. Afterwards, when my bike got a flat tire, he was there to fix it up.

Rich was an awesome friend for the day, and I am hopeful we can stay in touch even though he has never used the internet in his life (or so he says).

Posted by Brett

Take Your Twinkie and Shove It…

There is nothing like heckling and straight out yelling at grown adults to try some bacon dipped in chocolate.

Chocolate and Bacon

Ahhhh Bluephies. The restaurant kind enough (or dumb enough depending on your perspective) to give us our first odd job on the road. We helped slang at their food tent set up during the Taste of Madison, although the stuff they were dishing didn’t need much of a sell. Homemade kit kat bars? Deep fried Twinkies?

Uhhhh, I’ll have both please.

Not only did we prove to ourselves that we could actually make some money while traveling, we got to meet some awesome coworkers…

Awesome CoWorkers

…and we definitely got to refine some great one liners. Bluephies management said they are known for being the loudest and sassiest food tent during the Taste of Madison.

Alright, they asked for it. Here is a list of the best one-liners SCREAMED AT THE TOP OF OUR LUNGS in no particular order:

IT’S HAPPY HOUR; COME GET BOMBED WITH YOUR KIDS (translation: You look like a drinker so come share the joy with your two year old and buy a deep fried Twinkie Bomb for them.)

YOU WON’T NEED A LITTER BOX TO ENJOY WHAT WE GOT HERE (translation: You probably live with ten cats and only ten cats so come buy a homemade kit kat bar and love yourself!)

TAKE YOUR TWINKIE AND SHOVE IT….long pause….IN A DEEP FRYER (translation: Take the fried food already in your mouth and shove one of our fried Twinkies in your face instead.)

COME GET WEIRD AND MESSY MADISON (translation: Get some excitement in your life! If you don’t come and shell out two damn bucks for some bacon dipped in chocolate, you are a disappointment to the human race!)

But really, food in Madison ROCKS and the people of Madison ROCK EVEN HARDER:

Beer On Head

Doggie

Customers

After hearing Brett rave about Madtown for over two years now, I’m glad I was able to see the craziness for myself. And I definitely agree. Madison, you are a pretty cool town. Cool enough to live in? You never know!

Posted by Vanessa

Niagara Falls…Where the World Comes Together

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Ever wondered what the world would be like if one family from every nation came and hung out in the same spot?  Welcome to Niagara Falls!

Maybe it’s the sheer power of Niagara Falls.  The force of all that water is mesmerizing and maybe it pulls people from all corners of the globe.  It forces us to all come together and get along.  We all have to wait in lines together, sit patiently while three other families take a picture of the falls before you can.  You must navigate through crowds of people, all different from you, yet in the end, all so much alike. 
Black, Brown, White.  Dressed in t-shirts, Burkas, and turbans.  Short, tall, skinny, fat.
They are all at Niagara Falls to spend time with what is likely the most important thing to 99% of the world, their families. 

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We must have heard kids running around speaking 30 different languages, yet we could all infer what they were feeling from their childish giggles.  The man in the turban held his wife’s hand and the woman in the burka laughed at what I suspect was her father’s off-color joke.  The world was on display and at it’s finest at Niagara Falls. 

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Despite the waters rushing violently in the background, it was as peaceful a day as I can remember.  It made for one of the best birthdays I have ever had.

And it was all topped off when we got back to the parking lot in which Rhonda was resting.  We had not eaten dinner, and we noticed several tents with what must have been 70 people celebrating Caribbean Fest, a huge party in Toronto.  The smell of jerked chicken was unmistakable and I wandered over to see what they were doing.  Two seconds later Vanessa and I had two platefuls of chicken, beef, corn, and whatever else they offered.  It was amazing. 

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Canada You Stink…..Oh Wait, It’s Us :(

Man, Canada freaking stinks we’d say as we drove all around the country with a slight smell of poop in the air.

As we were leaving Montreal and even while driving through the farmlands outside of Quebec City, the smell lingered but seemed to disappear when we would enter a city or if we were parked. But leaving Toronto, the smell was 1,000 times worse.

We couldn’t figure out why Canada wreaked. Then it hit us…Canada didn’t stink, we did!

Turns out that we were driving around in a sewermobile and we needed to desperately add a deodorizing treatment to our black water tank. If you don’t know what a black water tank is, just think about it for a second…it ain’t pretty!

And how could we even think otherwise?? Just look at this place…..

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Well, we did what we had to do and Rhonda is fresh, clean, and smiling again.

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And from the bottom of our hearts, sorry Canada.

The Towels Are About To Turn

Any Walking Dead fans out there? If not, it’s ok. A quick synopsis. When humans die they don’t really die. They actually turn into flesh eating zombies. There’s always a dilemma when a loved one dies or gets bitten by a zombie because they too will turn and want to eat you.

So what happens in real life when your towels are about to turn. You know the feeling. You get out of the shower, reach for the rack and as soon as the towel hits your body you realize something is a little off. First you think, “Wait, did I miss a spot?” Then the inevitable truth sinks in. You knew this day was coming but you didn’t want to admit it. Two days before you knew something was not right and then yesterday it got worse. Now you get out of the shower and you know it.

Your towel has turned.

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There’s nothing you can do about it. No matter how much you shake it the towel has turned and it wreaks. Your whole shower will have been for naught if you keep drying off with it.

Well, imagine you live in an RV and you only have four total towels and three have all have turned???? And the remaining living towel has that familiar nearly turned stench. You think, I can salvage you. Just one more shower, and we will get you to a laundry where you can get healthy again. But in the back of your mind you know. That towel you used to know is but a faint memory. This next shower may be it. You may get out and the towel will have turned.

And you just spent 7 hours sweating at a basketball camp. What the hell do you do? Do you just let fate play its course and assume there’s nothing you can do? Or do you fight back and say, “I will choose my own destiny! I will not let these towels control me. No, I will grab fresh dishrags and t-shirts and I will stay clean. The towels may have turned, but I will not be turned myself!”

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Sent from my ipad

Amazing Handy’s in Burlington

There were a lot of things in Burlington that were so ‘Burlington’.

Like this nice girl with a tie-dye shirt on a skateboard.
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Or ‘Champ’ the mythical, and as you can see, clearly lovable prehistoric monster that reportedly lurks in Lake Champlain.
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But the best thing about Burlington had to be the Handy’s! It seemed everywhere you went you could get a Handy to service you. It was amazing!!!

We were dumbfounded. I never associated that word with Burlington but we were definitely seeing Handy’s everywhere. From the lunch counter to the automotive repair shop to the apartment suites. Handy’s for everyone!

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Apparently the Handy family did well in the 1900’s and established a number of small businesses in the area (what did you think we were talking about you sick bastards?)

Aside from great street performers, Handy’s is what Burlington is all about. So come to Burlington and get a Handy yourself!

Keep Calm and Eat Poutines

I come from the USA.  And while there are many words to describe the people of this great country, it always seems easiest to describe Americans when you are outside of America.  Americans exude an unparalleled enthusiasm I have not seen anywhere else I have traveled.  Of course, this does not apply to everyone, but there is general excitement that Americans bring to the table.  We aren’t ashamed to show our emotions when we see something cool like fireworks, a great performance from a musician, or even just a movie.  Americans also do not have a problem showing their enthusiasm in other, more annoying ways like being the loudest drunks at the bar, or simply being nosy.  So when we headed to French-Canada, I was interested to see what type of enthusiasm we would encounter.  

We got to Quebec City and found a parking lot downtown. Although we were really worried that the parking attendant wouldn’t want the likes of Rhonda in their lot, he gladly said we could stay for 24 hours–for a small fee of course.  After an awesome pancake breakfast that Vanessa made we ventured out to see the city on bike.  We needed the internet so we headed to a little cafe/restaurant.  We probably spent 3 hours at that restaurant and the family that owned the place never once seemed annoyed that we only ordered coffee.  They just stuck to what they were doing and let us be.

Montmorency Falls in Quebec City.
Montmorency Falls in Quebec City.

 

The next day we headed south towards Montreal, driving along the St. Lawrence River.  It was a straight shot, and so at some point we just decided to turn left.  The street we ended up on was right next to a park, about 100 feet from the water.  We parked and checked out the park.  Nobody batted an eye as we exited Rhonda with some beers and headed to a grassy area near the water.  After drinking some beers I went and shot hoops while Vanessa watched a local soccer game.  It was heaven. We ended up making dinner as a men’s league baseball game was played on the field next to where we were parked.  Nobody minded as we took our lawn chairs out and ate our stir-fry while watching the game.  There were no weird looks, and nobody asked us what the hell we were doing.  The next morning we spent two hours with the generator on so we could vacuum Rhonda and get cleaned up.  Again, everyone there let you be.  And the people we did meet had such a calm, pleasant demeanor.  

Catching a game somewhere in Canada
Catching a game somewhere in Canada

Montreal was where you really got a feel for how placid the French-Canadiens were.  We parked one mile from downtown and there was an International Fireworks show happening right where we parked.  Vanessa, my friend Stu Gotz, and myself were in awe of the fireworks display.  We were cheering and being enthusiastic and I swear, we were the only ones making any noise.  The show ended and we are sitting there talking about our favorite fireworks and everybody else just turned and left.  It was amazing!  The French-Canadiens just went on about their merry way.  Even as we sat outside Rhonda jamming out with my guitar, and families strolled by, nobody seemed to mind. (The other great part of Montreal is poutines. Basically perfectly cooked french fries smothered in gravy and cheese. We had about 5 pounds worth in 24 hours)

Montreal Fireworks
Montreal Fireworks

Vanessa jamming on the streets of Montreal
Vanessa jamming on the streets of Montreal

French-Canadiens never seemed to get too up or too down.  As Jim Zorn once said, “They stayed medium.”  Although I would never want to lose our enthusiastic approach to life there might be something to learn from these nice, placid French-Canadiens. As we were leaving Old Montreal to head back to Rhonda for the next leg of our trip we noticed a shirt hanging in the window of a store. Although we were too dumb to take a picture, the inscription aptly described French-Canada…”Keep calm and eat poutines.”

C’est vrai!  

How To Cause a Traffic Jam In Maine

Maine!! Awesome for so many reasons.

One: it’s where I decided to get my nose pierced again.

 
Nose<

Reliving my younger days? Probably. And why not?

Two: we got to explore Portland, a magical place filled with pubs and live music next to water…to say we were in heaven would be an understatement.

Not only did we successfully boon dock right next to a beautiful spot in Camden….

Camden

….we met a bartender who just one week ago bought an RV named Lucille and is going on her own year long road trip this October. I mean I knew we would definitely find  other crazies,  I just didn’t know we would meet them so soon.

The weather is freaking heavenly and good old Rhonda is actually letting a breeze come through.

Despite the fact that we spotted only one whale for approximately two seconds on our four hour whale watching tour, we did get to see some random girl vomit.

 

vomit

And also despite the fact that all we saw was fog when we trekked up Cadillac Mountain at 3 am to watch the sunrise, views on a clear day were unreal. Hiking in Acadia National Park was siiiick.

Acadia Hike

Views

But the craziest thing we saw was a bald eagle taking flight (warning: this picture is crap, but any one we post would not do it justice).

Eagle

Trust me, it was so damn cool it caused a full on traffic jam….

Traffic Jam

How could you not love Maine!?