After Tiki Oasis we hightailed it to Las Vegas to shoot an episode (already online here) at Frankie's Tiki Room! We'd never been there before, but had only heard great things, so we were very excited. However, I was also anxious about the drive, since the northbound traffic on I-15 had been pretty much stopped a few days before, when we were headed to San Diego. I was afraid our supposedly five hour drive would take about 24! Happily, I guess Mondays the traffic heads in the opposite direction, because it was smooth sailing for us the entire way. We got to Las Vegas in plenty of time for our pre-arranged shoot and were not disappointed. Frankie's is fabulous!
The staff was wonderful to us, owner Chris made two cocktails on camera, and we managed to try eight of their cocktails, between the ones we ordered and the ones our friends ordered when we went back with them later that night. We also fit in dinner at the Peppermill, one of our favorite Las Vegas spots. We stayed at the Golden Nugget, home of the World's Largest Gold Nugget and this ATM, which dispenses gold bars (no, I didn't get one!). I love Las Vegas. I want to go back when we have more time to spend!
Days 9 & 10:
Day nine was mostly driving, driving, driving, but we did manage to find a great little Mexican restaurant in Mesquite called Los Lupes, where we had lunch. We drove on through a little of Arizona, a lot of Utah, which turned out to be really cool - rugged grandeur, to borrow a phrase from Mr. Belvedere - and part of Colorado, ending our evening in Silt, where we did some desperately needed laundry.
Day ten took us through the Rocky Mountains, which was as gorgeous as Utah, but VERY high (over 11,000 feet at one point according to signs). Our poor four cylinder car was practically gasping as we pulled into Denver. Paul had located a lunch stop called Steuben's through Google, so we headed there. It turned out to be another great lunch! They've only been there since 2006, but their retro, mid-century style was right up our alley and the locals obviously agree, because it was packed!
Highlights after Steuben's included a rock hitting our windshield, which resulted in a pockmark, but, thank heavens, not a fracture. We also got these two annoying flies in the car that vexed us for about 200 miles. And we drove pretty much the length of Nebraska, which, luckily for our car, is very flat! We ended the night in Gretna.
Day eleven was one of those marathon days you reflect upon later and aren't sure how you managed to get through it all. We were scheduled to be in the Chicago suburbs about 4:00, to begin shooting our episode at Hala Kahiki (click here to watch!), but it quickly became obvious that we were going to need to push that back. Happily, the owner, James, was incredibly accommodating, as were our friends who'd paved the way for us to also shoot at nearby Chef Shangri-la. We were incredibly lucky to have such great people on our schedule that day.
We stopped for lunch in Des Moines, at a place I'd wanted to hit ever since I'd seen it on a food show, Fong's Pizza. It was originally a Chinese restaurant, but the people who bought it wanted to serve pizza, so now they feature Chinese food ON pizzas! We got the Crab Rangoon Pizza AND I got their signature mug! Des Moines seems like a very hip little city.
We got to Hala Kahiki about 6:00 and were greeted by a very nice hostess and bartender, who took care of us while we were preparing to shoot. I wished we had more time there, but we were also expected at Chef Shangri-la, which has really upped their tiki game since we were there about two years ago. I want to go back to Chicago and spend more time at both places, because they're great!
Even though it was after 9:00 at this point and we still had shooting to do at Chef Shangri-la, we REALLY wanted to hit Three Dots and a Dash, the new craft/tiki bar in Chicago that we'd heard amazing things about. Being from New York, we figured we'd just take the L, since we take the subway all the time. Our friends Dave and Coalbe didn't think that was such a great idea at that time of night, but offered to take us there. We were thrilled! We hadn't checked in yet at our hotel, so we all drove to the hotel and Paul and I jumped in their car after we'd parked ours. By this time it was well after 10:00 and raining, Have I mentioned how thrilled I was to have a sherpa to guide us? We got there 11:00ish and it was very crowded. I hadn't realized it was a velvet rope type of place, but we were all decked out very festively, in our aloha wear, and the hostess escorted us to a great table! It was a great night! By the time our Dave and Coalbe dropped us back at our hotel we were so tired we crashed immediately.
We were a little slow-moving the next morning, but managed to get out of the hotel before checkout time. We didn't have any plans for the day, other than getting to Youngstown, Ohio, chosen for its proximity to the highway and the fact that we'd have a short driving day the next day. However, again, we managed to find a great place for lunch - off the beaten path by about 20 miles, but well worth the detour, South Side Soda Shop, in Goshen, IN. Is this place up our alley or what? And the food was great and cheap!
Lucky Day 13:
Home. Here's the odometer, with the complete story of our adventure:
I'd be wistful, but we plan to do it again. We had a great time and learned a lot about what we'd do differently on future trips of this sort (like leaving plenty of breathing room on shooting days). We want to get that vintage trailer and carry our home away from home with us at some point in the future. In the meantime, I think we'll be staying put for a little while!