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GG: The US Tour – Tulsa, the 4th, and the Mall of America

July 15, 2009

No, I’m not dead.  It’s just that this leg of the trip has been pretty crazy and I have had zero time to try to catch up on my posts, let alone get in-game and say hi to people.  This post will be my first of three Tour posts over the next few days that will attempt to catch everything up to date.  I could try to fit it all in one mega-post, but quite frankly, the last two are very deserving of their own posts as they were both very amazing, unique experiences.  Is that enough of a teaser?  hehe.  So anyway, herein lies the course my Tour took from the time I hit Tulsa through the end of my stay at the Mall of America.  Enjoy!

~Gaar

So, if you remember, I rolled into Tulsa at around 4.30 am and then slept for-e-verrrr….hehe.  As the 4th of July was approaching, I figured I’d be there until after the holiday weekend.  Most of the time was split between just spending time with my Mom and relatives since I hadn’t been there in a while, catching up on my blogging and exploring the Land of the Dead now that it was on Live.  I did get out to do a couple things though.

First, I was still looking for a tonneau cover or something for the back of my truck so I could put my luggage and stuff back there and free up space inside as well as not have to remove everything at each place I stopped.  While I couldn’t find something like that, I did end up getting one of those big locking toolboxes for the back installed.  It works great so far as it locks and is sealed to the weather.  The only drawback is it’s shiny diamond-plate.  I would have preferred it in black diamond-plate but they didn’t have it in stock.  Oh well.  It’s a good thing I got this installed though as I needed my passenger seat free as I’ll explain in one of the other posts this week.

Second, I took my Mom to see Transformers 2 as movies have always been something my family does together.  She loved it.  She hadn’t seen the first one but thought 2 was the best thing she’d seen in a long time.  We saw it in IMax and had to sit in the second row too. lol.  Man, talk about being in the movie.  I enjoyed it as well.  I’m a huge movie fan and love the big blockbusters if even only to see where they go wrong at time.  I’m a bit on withdrawals though as I usually see 2-3 movies a week in the summer and lately I’m lucky to get 2-3 a month while on Tour.  Speaking of…the new Harry Potter is something I’m going to have to find time to see as well. hehe

WEBERS

Finally, I had to go somewhere cool to eat at least once during my stay since I was still technically on Tour.  As it was the 4th of July weekend, it seemed fitting to go have a hamburger at the place that was started by the person credited with inventing the hamburger on July 4th, 1891:  Weber’s Superior Root Beer.  The burgers were good, but the root beer was epic.  Man, I’ve had some good root beer and consider Weinhard’s to be the best available for public consumption almost everywhere, but Weber’s goes above and beyond even that.  They serve it in frozen mugs, the way root beer should be served and you can even order root beer floats.  mmmmm…..   They do bottle it for local sale, but good luck finding it anywhere else.

Of course, while doing things like those, I also was spending time in Land of the Dead.  I’d done a lot of testing on it and the Tomb of the Vulture Lord, but hadn’t got to spend much time in it on Live which is always different than test.  I really had a lot of fun both doing the four Tombs of the Necropolis, participating in random PvP in and amongst the dunes and finally getting to go into the Tomb of the Vulture Lord and attempt to reach the end.  While we didn’t quite make it, we did reach the 5th boss on my first lockout timer and I ended up with both my Tyrant Shoulders and one of my accessory pieces from loot which made me very happy.  :p  Hopefully I’ll get more of a chance to get back in there soon, I just have to find somewhere I’ll be for at least three nights so we can really knock stuff out consistently.  But anyway, back to the Tour.  🙂

So I put up a rough agenda for the second leg of my Tour and contacted all the people that I was going to be meeting to see if everyone was able to make it when I was going to be rolling through their area.  Right away, plans started changing.  A friend I was going to visit in Iowa on the way up to Minnesota was going to be gone and PhoenixRed had to work the evening I’d be hitting Chicago.  Since this whole thing was supposed to be flexible, I rolled with the punches and decided to skip stopping in Iowa if at all possible and PhoenixRed had given me some great ideas for places to eat and see in Chicago on my own.  So with the adjustments made, I loaded up the new storage box and headed out on Tuesday the 6th.

Right away, I knew this leg was going to be interesting.  As the sun started rising and it started warming up, I rolled up the windows and turned on the AC…  or tried to.  Bah.  It apparently broke again while I was in Tulsa despite having had it rebuilt in San Diego before I started my trip.  Oh well, I didn’t really have time to stop and get it fixed, so I just had to deal with it.  Now, I actually used to live in northeastern Oklahoma on Grand Lake o’ the Cherokees so I decided to take a short detour and do a drive-by of my old schools and neighborhoods.  Right as I was nearing my exit to head that way, I passed under something I had almost forgotten about…

vinitamcd

When I was a kid, McDonald’s purchased this and it instantly became the largest McDonald’s in the world.  Shortly after that, one opened in Russia that started arguing about that title, but still.  This place is big, but while it does house a decently-sized McD’s, it isn’t one big restaurant but instead has all kinds of stuff in it.  If you’re ever driving the turnpike near Vinita, OK, stop by and check it out just to say you did.

So I veered off the turnpike and headed to where I went to elementary school.  It’s still alive and kicking apparently.  At the time, it was K-8th and had only about 100 students which was an interesting experience.  hehe.  I’m not sure what it is now as it was closed for the summer so I couldn’t go in and look around.  I also went to check out the neighborhood I lived in back then and I almost didn’t recognize it.  Despite being out in the middle of nowhere, lots of new houses had been built and there was almost zero empty land like there had been when I was a kid.  Almost nothing looked the same at all and if I hadn’t spent so much time there as a kid, I wouldn’t have known what I was looking at.  I then headed to the house I lived in during high school, which again, looked a lot different as did the area around it.  Everything in that area seems to have grown quite a bit despite being off the beaten track.  It even looked like the high school I had gone to was converted into the middle school which means they must have built a new high school.  I didn’t bother going to look for it as it held no meaning.  Not sure I’ll bother heading up to that area again now as it just is so far detached from what it was when I grew up that it holds no draw anymore.

So I pulled out of there, cranked up the AC rolled down the windows (grrr) and hit the highway heading north.  I had picked up an MJ CD for the road as I only had Thriller on my iPod so I pretty much had that on repeat all the way up and into Iowa.  I have to say, when my ex-roommate sent me a text telling me MJ was dead, I thought he was messing with me.  While I may not have agreed with some of the choices he made in his life, his music, videos and style changed the world forever and it sucks knowing that influence is gone now.

mjotw

This was the first MJ album I owned and I wish it hadn’t got stolen in college.  Bah!  I really have to go back and fill out my MJ library again.  I expect we’ll see some compilations coming out soon enough, but what I’m really hoping to see is a tribute album done by some modern artists.  I think there’s some really great groups/artists out there that could make a truly great tribute album.  I hope they do so.

Nice tangent huh?  Well, to be quite honest, the drive to Des Moines was pretty boring so that was pretty much all I was thinking about.  I did stop in Des Moines at the Hooter, I hadn’t been to one in at least a decade.  I immediately noticed they had free wi-fi, so I jetted back out to the truck and brought the laptop in.  hehe.  While I was there, I found out the person I was supposed to originally see in Iowa was actually going to be in the Twin Cities area as well, so I made quick plans to see them while I was there along with Kaidin and Kerowyn from Iron Rock.  I had planned to have lunch with my friend and then spend the afternoon and grab dinner possibly with the Iron Rockers.  Now, plans haven’t done me a ton of good overall the last month or so, so I’m not sure why I didn’t see it coming, but I so didn’t.

I drove late into the night straight to the Mall of America and grabbed a hotel room right across the street so I could get up and meet my friend for lunch.  The next morning as I’m getting ready, I get a text telling me they can’t make it because they have to go to the hospital with a kid in the group they were chaperoning and won’t be able to leave until late that night.  That also meant they’d be stuck in Minnesota as the rest of the group was leaving that afternoon, so I arranged to keep my room another night and they’d just crash at my room and I’d drive them back to Iowa the next day and then on to Chicago.  With that new plan set up (yeah, I’m sure you see this coming), I rearranged my other plans and met up with Kaidin for lunch at MoA.

We hit up Tony Roma’s in the mall and sat down for some food and drinks.  I have to say, the prime rib sandwich special they had was fabulous.  I haven’t had one of those quite that good in a long time.  After that, we headed out to cruise the mall as I’d never been there before.  I have to say, overall I wasn’t very impressed.  While it is four levels, has a huge indoor kiddie-themepark and has tons of stores, it’s just not that big of a deal.  Frankly, while the malls we have in SoCal aren’t four stories, they’re much cooler and cover almost the same amount of space it felt like.  Oh well, it was still worth seeing once.  While cruising around, we ran into a really random store (I love random stores) and I bought a couple things and snapped a pic of a welcome mat they had that I am going to use whenever someone new announces their arrival on our server forums.  hehe, I’m horrible.  😉

welcome

Around the time Kaidin had to go, Kerowyn showed up and I met them at the games store.  Kaidin and I had cruised about half the mall up to that point, so Kerowyn and I worked on the rest.  We even spent a bit of time in one of the game stores that had Warhammer tabletop stuff and browsed their selection.  I haven’t played the tabletop game, but I have been reading up on the main rule book as well as the Tomb Kings book.  I still need to pick up the Dwarf one and possibly the Dwarf Pirate set if I can find it.   :p  I doubt I’ll ever get around to painting it, but you never know.

After I had seen the whole mall and said goodbye to Kerowyn, I headed back to the hotel to await the call from my friend to go pick them up.  I ended up falling asleep as I was beat from the long drive the day before and the walk thru the whole mall.  I woke up to a text from them saying they should be able to leave by around 11pm, which was later than they originally thought so I just hung out in the hotel room and waited.  Around midnight, I get a text that says that not only are the parents still not there, but they’re going to have to go back to Iowa that night and someone came up to drive them back.  /facepalm  The whole thing was a fiasco.  Needless to say, not making plans around this person again, ever.  I was so mad, I almost up and drove out of town that night just so I could be closer to Chicago and have more time there the next day to make up for the BS of that evening.  In the end, I decided I needed sleep more and just decided to catch up on that and leave later in the morning.

One thing I did like about being this far north: it was a ton cooler.  Tulsa had been hovering around 100 the whole time I was there while Minnesota was in the low 80s.  Man that was nice and it stayed that way pretty much all the way to Chicago the next day.  I really enjoyed the landscape crossing thru Minnesota, Wisconsin and into Illinois.  Know what I didn’t enjoy?  The freakin’ traffic as I entered Chicago around 6pm.  Seriously, why didn’t I leave MoA sooner to avoid this?  Not only was traffic bad, but once I got into the buildings near where my hotel was, my GPS just did not want to cooperate and I spent a good 30 minutes driving in circles trying to find my hotel and then find a parking garage.  I should have just valet parked it, but oh well.  It was around 8pm by the time I had parked the car and walked into the hotel.  I had booked a room at the Hard Rock Chicago as I’d never stayed at one and it was pretty central to where I wanted to eat and some things I wanted to see the next morning. 

hardrock

However, Chicago is a story very deserving of its own post instead of just becoming an addendum to this one.

So, stay tuned for the next installment of my US Tour updates which should all be posted over the next couple days as I’m currently in Fredericksburg enjoying a comfy hotel room with good internet access.  hehe

~Gaar

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2 Comments leave one →
  1. July 15, 2009 3:00 pm

    Sorry about that – I totally forgot to tell you that since Downtown Chicago is technically the center of the city, that GPS’s freak the hell out going through it. They think you’re on the river, on the street two blocks over, whatever. It’s rough stuff.

    I’m glad to hear Chicago deserves its own post. I mean, c’mon – it’s Chicago!

    • gaarawarr permalink
      July 15, 2009 3:09 pm

      Not your fault man. I actually found it quite humorous that I passed a Garmin store while trying to find my way to my hotel. lol

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