Category Archives: bucket list

An Updated Travel (and Coffee) Bucket List

It’s been over four years since I made my first travel bucket list. Boy does time fly. Alaskan Cruise done. Small-town holiday carriage ride check. Driving all of the Great Lakes Circle tours to completion, off to a great start. Besides that though I have not had the chance to do anything else on the list.

That isn’t to say I haven’t done anything. The last four years have been great. Lots of travel yes, but I have also gotten married, purchased a home and recently our first child was welcomed into the world. More on that wonderful addition in an upcoming post. 🙂 I have also become obsessed in a good way with a thing called coffee and I now look at the coffee shop as second home.

Keeping all that in mind my priorities have changed. While the things at the top of my original travel bucket list will stay, this edition will feature more items close to the homestead, a lot involving coffee and also ones related to family and kid travel. As with any list like this it is always a work in progress.

Travel bucket list, coffee bucket list, Michigan bucket list

Well as I like to say, without further ado:

  1. Visit places significant to my family history, local and far.
  2. Take my boy on our first father-son coffee outing. That will be the first item that gets crossed off. Down the road, have our first father-son day road trip.
  3. Experience every new independent coffee shop that opens, soon after opening within an hours drive from home. Sorry no chains.
  4. Visit coffee hotbeds in the states that I have yet to dive into specifically Seattle and Portland. Northwest coffee trip anyone? Could throw Vancouver in there too.
  5. Really dive into Ann Arbor and Detroit, exploring the hidden, unknown gems outside of the tourist trap type places.
  6. Hawaii and the North Shore. Watched the short-lived FOX show North Shore a while back and have been clamouring for a visit there ever since.
  7. Complete all the Great Lakes circle tours and checkout every lighthouse along the way.
  8. Drive from Miami through the Florida Keys to Key West.
  9. Consume a bowl of New England Clam Chowder from as many locales in Cape Cod as possible as an adult. A favorite childhood memory with my dad. One I hope to share with my son one day. It would be just us two, my wife is not a fan of the chowder haha.
  10. Kayak to Turnip Rock in the thumb of Michigan.
  11. Hang out along and explore the Pictured Rocks National Lakeshore in Michigan’s Upper Peninsula.
  12. Explore the coffee scene internationally, specifically London and Wellington.
  13. Attend a Denver Broncos home game with my son (my favorite professional sports team). I’ve been to a lot of Bronco road games but never set foot in Mile High Stadium, now Sports Authority Field at Mile High. This is bucket list item #1.
  14. Go winery hopping with the wifey on the west side of Michigan or up by Traverse City.
  15. Have an Irish coffee in a small-town in Ireland on a cool morning day.
  16. Take a hot air balloon ride in San Francisco, Napa Valley and Sonoma with my wife. Winery hop.
  17. Have gained on this some. Capture pictures of all 50 welcome-to United States state signs. Rats, would be a lot further along on this if I took pictures as a kid haha.
  18. Visit a coffee plantation, where the magic all begins.
  19. Watch a barista competition up close.
  20. Walk the Santa Cruz boardwalk in California holding my wife’s hand on one side and my sons on the other.
  21. Spend a weekend at Mackinac Island in Michigan. Can’t believe I have never been there.
  22. Complete or at least attempt a food challenge seen on Man v. Food Nation.
  23. Drive the Tunnel of Trees in northern Michigan in Autumn.
  24. Enjoy a family, fun-filled weekend on the Lake Michigan beaches in Michigan.
  25. Spend a day at an independent coffee shop, side-by-side with a barista(s) learning the ins-and-outs of coffee-making.
  26. Return to Disneyland, Disney World and other theme parks this time with my wife and the little one in hand.
  27. Experience a lot more of what New Zealand has to offer, starting with Wellington.
  28. A general item, go up-top the tallest buildings in as many big cities as possible to capture the views from above.

That is my updated travel (and coffee) bucket list. Hope to see you all “Out on the open road”. 🙂

What are some new additions to your travel bucket list that were not on the first edition?

My Manly Bucket List: Supporting #Movember & #ManlyMoments

November. It’s a time in my neck of woods when summer is in the rear view mirror and cold weather, snow and ice are right around the corner. Also, football is front and center, Thanksgiving is approaching, you can run through corn mazes and pumpkin themed food and drinks are aplenty.

More recently it’s a time when you’ll see many guys growing out their facial hair, more specifically growing a mustache, some in very unique ways. It’s Movember. Movember spans the month of November and helps to raise awareness of prostate cancer and other men’s health issues.

I was nominated by Leah of Leah Travels to create a Manly Bucket List and help the Movember cause. Well without further ado:

Wet Zorbing

Driving through Rotorua in New Zealand and on I-75 in Knoxville, Tennessee, I’ve passed by the most common places to zorb. I’ve missed the chance to roll down a hill in a transparent ball filled with water. Hopefully not on the next drive by.

Get Out on the Open Road in Oceania

I’ve done some road tripping on the North and South Island’s of New Zealand, becoming addicted almost immediately, never putting the camera down. I hope to expand on that in New Zealand by going for a ride on the Forgotten World Highway and moving over to Australia to experience the Great Ocean Road and more.

South Island, New Zealand, road trip

Climb the Sydney Harbour Bridge in Sydney

Not long ago I was in Sydney for a short time, getting my first taste of Australia. I only had time to walk onto the well-known Harbour Bridge. I was in amazement. My eyes would be open even wider if I could do the Harbour Bridge climb.

Sydney Harbour Bridge, Cove, Australia

Attend a Denver Broncos Home Game

I’ve been a hard-core Broncos fan since the 1980’s and John Elway days. Watching The Drive and The Fumble got me hooked on the Bronco Orange. I’ve seen Bronco games in person since I was a kid in Cleveland, Buffalo and Pittsburgh countless times, but never in the Mile High City. One day I want to hop on that plane towards the Rocky Mountains and experience the thin air and Denver football. 🙂

Denver Broncos football gear

An Irish Coffee In Ireland

Probably my most specific bucket list item. I picture myself having an Irish coffee in a small-town in Ireland on a cool morning with lots of green grass, hills and trees around. The closest thing I’ve come to that is enjoying an Irish coffee or two during happy hour at Buena Vista in San Francisco. I’m waiting for my ticket to be punched for the whiskey train to Dublin.

Irish Coffee, San Francisco, Buena Vista

What a great exercise it was creating a Manly bucket list, but what an even greater cause. To learn about and help the Movember movement fellow bloggers:

  • Choose five things you’d like to do this month or in your lifetime, forming your own Manly Bucket List. Open to all.
  • Nominate five other bloggers to create their own list.
  • Include a link to Movember to encourage people to register and/or donate.
  • Tweet and share your posts with the hashtags #Movember and #ManlyMoments.

Not a Blogger? No problem! You can still help:

Make sure to tweet, Vine, Instagram or post to Facebook with your own manly photo or text using the hashtag #ManlyMoments. One dollar will be donated to Movember by Made Man. As a bonus you’ll be entered to win a trip for two to Las Vegas to experience your very own Mancation.

It’s that time. Time to nominate five bloggers to come up with their own Manly Bucket List:

Karla of Traveller soul
Francesca of The Working Mom’s Travels
Sam of Sam Travelled
Mike of Nomadic Texan
Arnette of Round The World Girl

Thanks again Leah for the nomination. To helping this great cause!

In-N-Out Burger: Yay or Nay to Animal Style?

I’m in San Francisco. I’m in California. I’m on the West Coast. One of the first things many people will ask to any of those responses is “Are you going to go to an In-N-Out Burger?”. Duh!

It only took me a few hours into my tooling around San Francisco to stop in the one along Fisherman’s Wharf on Jefferson Street.

In-N-Out Burger in San Francisco

I walked in and of course there was a wait to order… and then to get the goods.

In-N-Out Burger in San Francisco

Thus no matter what location you’re in, seats are usually hard to come by.

In-N-Out Burger in San Francisco

So excited at being at one again I wasn’t thinking and I ordered a Double-Double Cheeseburger off the menu.

In-N-Out Burger in San Francisco

You see they have an iconic status on the West Coast, tourists and locals alike flock into the restaurants and many of them will order things that are not displayed. They’re ordering off of the “Secret Menu”. In-N-Out Burger acknowledges on their own website that it is not much of a secret anymore. Checkout the Not-So-Secret Menu.

Just do a search online and you’ll find infinite listings. A couple to check out:

The Ultimate In-N-Out Secret Menu (and Super Secret Menu!) Survival Guide

In-N-Out Secret Menu

The ordering possibilities are endless… 🙂

Believe me the burger was outstanding, but I was shooting myself for not ordering something “off menu”. So another day after tooling around in San Francisco I hit up the In-N-Out Burger in Daly City, a suburb just south of the city limits. Thinking about it more carefully this time, I ordered a Double-Double Cheeseburger again, but this time I got it Animal Style!

I got the burger with among other things a mustard cooked beef patty, extra spread and grilled onions. I wasn’t going to go anywhere near the 4×4.

In-N-Out Burger in San Francisco

The Double-Double Cheeseburger by itself was out-of-this-world but by making it Animal Style, while eating all I could say was “Yay”!!!

Double the In-N-Out Burger fun on this trip! If you’ve been there before, no matter how many times, get there again. You won’t regret it. Yay to Animal Style.

What In-N-Out Burger locations have you been to? What have you ordered off of the secret menu?

Ten Travel Tips for a Day Road Trip.

It’s the night before your going to hit the open road on another day road trip.

Day Road Trip - Ohio, Michigan state line in the country

Have you done any planning? Though I believe the best trips are spontaneous and unplanned, there are some things that should be considered before and during your day on the road. Some tips of things I have found helpful:

1. Check the weather. The days leading up to or the night before your thinking of traveling, go to a website like The Weather Channel and check the forecast. Hmmm let’s see… if I decide to drive to Philly tomorrow a lunchtime arrival seems ideal.

Day Road Trip - Checking the weather

Also, while you’re traveling if it’s looking dicey outside follow the weather on your smart phone. You’ll increase the chances of not running into a blizzard, high winds or getting caught up in a deluge of rain. You might alter your plans accordingly. Well than again, that might add to the adventure haha!

2. Speaking of the night before, try to get a good night sleep. A day road trip could sometimes last a full day or more. 24 hours? I look at it this way. The longer you make the day, the further you can travel away from home and get back and the more you can see. You gotta love the longer days in the warmer months. If the sleep thing doesn’t work out then your going to need…

3. …fuel, I mean coffee is what you need! Whether it be from home, at a travel center or truck stop or Starbucks (if they open early), there’s nothing like starting off with a great cup of java. As the day goes on make sure to refuel at unique, mom and pop coffeehouses along the way. At least that’s my philosophy.

Grabbed a peanut butter mocha from The Wormhole Coffee in the Wicker Park neighborhood of Chicago. The fuel needed after a drive before starting to explore the city.

Day Road Trip - The Wormhole Coffee, Wicker Park neighborhood of Chicago

4. Charge, charge, charge. It’s not just you that needs to be fully charged. Make sure your smart phone, camera, tripod, etc. is ready to go. You’ll wanna have enough juice to take those pictures, Foursquare check-in, Tweet, post to Facebook, etc. Have spare batteries and bring your chargers so you can recharge whenever you have a chance. Gotta get that cigarette lighter fixed in the vehicle!

5. While getting all your gizmos and gadgets charged you should also check the inventory in your vehicle. Make sure you have a blanket, bottled water, wind-shield washer fluid, flashlight, jumper cables, spare tire, snack food, etc. Also consider getting an oil change and all your fluids checked.

Vehicle supplies from a Day Road Trip

6. Have navigation help. Lot’s of people have Gladys (GPS) directing them now days. Others use their smartphones to guide. At times they’re helpful, but using them constantly takes all the fun and mystery out of a trip. When I do seek help I’m still a little old-fashioned, carrying around my atlas and travel maps. I guess it traces back to being the navigator with all my maps on family trips. In general some form of navigation can be helpful in case you get lost.

Day Road Trip - Atlas, Travel Guides and State Maps

7. Bring cash including change. You never know when you’ll need it for tolls, parking meters, to buy a local newspaper (yeah I still do that too). When you call for help to fix a flat tire or for road-side assistance, a lot of the time cash is the only payment option.

8. Hit the road on an empty stomach. You can snack and have your coffee, but be hungry and ready to eat so you can try some local cuisine. It’s not a day for fast food stops. A Primanti Brothers sandwich in Pittsburgh, now we’re talking!

Day Road Trip - Primanti Brothers sandwich, Pittsburgh

9. Wear comfortable clothes and walking shoes. Hopefully there will be lots of getting out of the vehicle to explore. Some jogging and photo-running could also be in order. I traveled fifteen miles on foot on my last day trip to Chicago. With the cost of parking in the big city it’s better to centrally park and get to everything on foot.

Day Road Trip - Maumee Bay State Park, Ohio

10. Even with planning as described in the tips above make sure to have semi-plans. In other words be out there on the open road with an open mind. Things will never go as planned. Be willing to get sidetracked with new discoveries. The unexpected can be the most thrilling.

Going on a day’s worth of travel and discovery is unbelievable. Who knows what you’ll start seeing and discovering as soon as you leave your local area. I hope I’ve given some tips that will help make your next day road trip fun and a success.

Day Road Trip - New Zealand, South Island near Lake Tekapo

What other tips and advice do you have for those looking to go on a day road trip? For any kind of road trip? I hope to see you out on the open road.

Lake Tekapo in New Zealand.

Driving along State Highway 8 in the middle of the South Island of New Zealand you’ll come across the southern end of Lake Tekapo and the village of the same name. The lake and village are a popular tourist destination with several resort hotel options.

Just off the highway and along the shoreline you’ll see a lot of people out of their cars. That means you’ll probably around the Church of the Good Shepherd.

Lake Tekapo - Church of the Good Shepherd - New Zealand

The small church was built-in 1935 and is made of stone and wood. It’s one of the most photographed buildings in New Zealand.

Lake Tekapo - Church of the Good Shepherd - New Zealand

Lake Tekapo - Church of the Good Shepherd - New Zealand

People will come here from around the globe to get married because of the romantic setting. Inside the church there is an altar window that gives off great views of the lake, the mountains (some snow-capped), the greenery along the shoreline and the turquoise waters and blue sky.

Walking behind the church, you’ll see the aforementioned romantic setting that is Lake Tekapo. You’ll see the Southern Alps and Mt. Cook range off in the distance.

Lake Tekapo - New Zealand

The turquoise waters of Lake Tekapo come from the rivers that flow into the lake from the north, coming in from the valleys of the Southern Alps fed by large melting glaciers.

Lake Tekapo - New Zealand

Lake Tekapo - New Zealand

Near the church there is a bronze statue of a New Zealand collie sheepdog which is looking out towards the lake. It’s a memorial to the hard-working collie dogs in the area. The farming, which dates back to the nineteenth century, of the countryside would have been unsuccessful without them.

Lake Tekapo - Bronze collie sheep dog - New Zealand

Lake Tekapo was definitely worth the stop. Another lake in New Zealand with an amazing backdrop. Whenever on the open road going between Christchurch and Queenstown or Mt. Cook make sure to stop here. What is your favorite lake back drop? What churches have you seen with beautiful, romantic outdoor settings around them?