Sufi Nawaz

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Road trip across the United States: Part I

Posted by in Travel

On July 2nd, 2016, two of my friends and I set out on a journey from Vienna, VA to take on a bucket list item that I’d long waited for – to do a cross-country road trip across this fine country. We were soon accompanied by a 4th compadre who flew in from SFO to meet us in Chicago. This blog entry is aimed at documenting this road trip and hopefully accurately depicting the chain of events that made this journey an awesome experience for all of us. Our tentative plan was to visit the following list of places. Of course, we made changes to our plans as we collectively saw fit, but this was a good initial summary of places we had on our radar to start off with.

  • Pittsburgh, PA
  • Chicago, IL
  • Denver, CO
  • National Parks in UT
  • Salt Lake City, UT
  • Yellowstone National Park, WY
  • Crater Lake, OR
  • Portland, OR
AirBnB near Wicker Park, Chicago, IL

Group photo in front of the AirBnB place we’d stayed at near Wicker Park, Chicago, IL (July 5, 2016)

The first stop for the three of us was at Pittsburg, PA, where a bunch of my friends had suggested we don’t make an effort to stop by because of lack of things to see/do there. Having little expectation of what we would discover actually led us to a very pleasant surprise at Pittsburg with the sight of the harbor – a well developed pier with a good number of restaurants and bars aligned within a close proximity of the pleasantry of the harbor. We decided to indulge ourselves with good food and our pick was the Meat and Potatoes restaurant where we gobbled down a 34 oz ribeye in a joint effort. The steak was as filling for our stomachs as it was for our eyes. Shortly after this, we decided to take a walk down Carson st where we walked into a rooftop kitchen+bar place called Local Bar + Kitchen. We sat around in the bar area and just as we got busy praising the scenery around and the 20 feet high ceiling of the bar, we witnessed a miracle unfold right before us. A 16x12x2 thick wooden panel just fell out of nowhere within inches of a server. What could’ve caused an instant death, instead (thankfully) resulted in a shocking encounter for most of the people sitting in the bar and a server who gets to live his young life with the thought of having a second chance in life.

Cloud Gate, Chicago, IL

Group photo near Cloud Gate, Chicago, IL (July 3, 2016)

The next stop for us was Chicago, IL, where we met up with the fourth member of our awesome crew, Doug. Doug flew in from San Francisco, where we had met couple years ago. We stayed in Bucktown at an AirBnB and practically ubered around everywhere. Our first stop was the Cloud Gate where we spent about an hour and found  our way to an amazing Italian restaurant called Sapori Trattoria. The menu was short and precise and a particular “Cappellacci all’Aragosta” chose me. We have had a lot of great meals throughout the trip but this was my favorite of all the places I’d eaten at. Next day was followed up with brunch at The Bongo Room in Bucktown where we met up with a few of my old friends who had moved from Northern Virginia to Chicago a couple years ago. We were also impressed by the coffee we had around Chicago – my favorite being coffee from Buzz Killer Espresso in Wicker Park. We aligned our trip to enjoy July 4th weekend from Chicago and that turned out to be a great success as we watched some great fireworks from atop the ferris wheel in the Navy Piers. The skies were as clear as the ground was packed. After having a great experience at the pier, our night was topped off by running into Johnny Galecki – well, I saw him walking past us anyway, while my friends got to see his face and exchange gestures. The next day we took a walk down Bloomingdale Trail – which is somewhat of a resemblance of High Line in New York City. We treated ourselves one last time before we hit the road. This time at Pequod’s Pizzeria to enjoy some fine deep dish pizzas.

Now, listen to my short list of songs on spotify on repeat, laugh at silly jokes, and skip stopping by at Nebraska and Iowa during 15 hours of driving, you’ll end up where we did in Denver, CO – a city filled with nice people and more craft breweries than bars (or so it seemed anyway). Admittedly, by the time we had reached Denver, we were exhausted and just wanted to relax and indulge ourselves in afternoon naps, early dinner at Osteria Marco followed by a late dinner at Linger just because we felt it was necessary to treat ourselves in a fine way.

The next day, it was time to head to Utah. We took I70W to go from Denver, CO and Moab, UT. Filled with creeks, gorges, mountains, waterfalls, greeneries, this was easily the prettiest drive I have ever done on an interstate in the US and I’m sure it was the same case for the fine group of people I was driving/riding with. Of course having amazing weather and daytime driving helped with the realization of this beauty. I will cover things in details in the next part of this Road Trip blog entry series, but for now, imagine us being in a state of wonder of what we will run into in Utah and rest of the trip. I will leave you with the same state of curious mind :).

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