Columbus to Gary and Back.

Four String Brewery
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Columbus has had a recent explosion in breweries like most decent sized cites have in the past five years. One of the newer breweries that we stopped by was Four String Brewing which is one of two breweries in Grandview.** Four String is clearly focusing on producing beer instead of building out their space. They are located in a small industrial building which has a couple high-top tables and a small bar. There was a food truck outside for most of the evening (this is a thing at almost all of the Columbus breweries). They had a wide selection of beers and sold growlers as well as canned beer to go. I tried the Big Star White IPA and the Brass Knuckle which was a pale ale. I must say the Wheat based IPA’s are growing on me. We were also able to get some sliders and homemade chips from the OH! Burger food truck which were great. They are working on a plan to eventually distribute their chips.

Fishing the Mad River
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Saturday morning my dad and I headed up to the Mad River near Urbana, Ohio for some trout fishing. At this point I’m pretty sure I’ve never caught a fish on the Mad River but then again I haven’t really caught a lot of fish anywhere in my life.  This year I didn’t step more than three inches into the river before I noticed my left waiter was taking on water.  After about 20 minutes it was just about full.  Later my dad inquired about which foot had the leak and mentioned that he had a spare left foot waiter at home because of a leak that pairs right foot. After further research I do recall the right foot leaking a couple years back.

Wolf’s Ridge Brewery
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Before heading home (and to Gary) we stopped at Wolf’s Ridge Brewing for brunch Sunday morning. We made a reservation ahead of time and got a table for 10:30am right before the post church crowd rolled in. The food was really good; the Ridge Trail pale ale I had was one of the better beers I had all weekend. The picture above is the maple bacon french toast that Julie ordered. The brewery is located right in downtown Columbus which is pretty much a dead zone for any kind of food/night life for as long as I can remember. I was really impressed with the place.

Gary, Indiana
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This past Spring I had read about 18th Street Brewery opening up in Gary and I wanted to make a stop this summer. The brewery is located in the Miller Beach neighborhood of Gary and is within walking distance of the South Shore Line Miller stop. We stopped by on our way back from Ohio but just as easily could have taken the train. When we arrived there was a couple of bands playing in the lot behind the building and the place was packed. They ended up running out of food and the bar was swamped most of the afternoon. I tried the Villain which is an IPA and Candi Crushable their Pale Ale, both were really good. The rest of their list seemed to be heavy on the wheat/session beers. They also had some guest taps from 3Floyds as well as a bottles from Mikkeller.

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When in Rome. We took the five minute drive over to see Michael Jackson‘s childhood home. It’s a small house by any stretch. There was a tour bus idling behind the house and about eight other people checking out the building from the street. The neighborhood has seen better days.

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On the way out of town we passed the Palace Theater which has been boarded up since the early 1970′s.

Side Notes:

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* We were able to pick up Yuengling’s Ice Cream while in town.  The ice cream company was started by David Yuengling, a cousin of brewery owner Dick Yuengling and great-grandson of Frank D. Yuengling who started the original ice cream company 94 years ago.
** We stopped by Zauber Brewing and they were out of their beer. I guess this is typical for them.
*** Last time I was on the Mad River I didn’t catch anything either.

Las Vegas 2014

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In the beginning of June I headed out to Las Vegas with Julie for a wedding at the Platinum Hotel which just so happens to be at the intersection where Tupac was gun downed.  We stayed at the Paris Hotel & Casino for three nights and then moved to the wedding location for our final night.

Stratosphere
View from the Stratosphere Level 107 LoungeView from the Stratosphere Level 107 Lounge
For a unique view of the city we stopped at the Stratosphere bar before heading to dinner. From the bar you get a 360 degree view of the city and you can get an appreciation for the scale of all the buildings in relation to one another.  Definitely worth a stop.

Golden Steer
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One of the things I really wanted to do on this trip was make it out to Golden Steer Steakhouse. It’s a little out of the way but was worth it, a completely different vibe than any other place we were at the whole trip. The Golden Steer has been around since 1958 which I assume for Las Vegas rates up there as one of the older establishments in the entire city. It’s an old school steakhouse, the place is dark, the food is great. We made reservations on Open Table but they weren’t really needed, the dining room we were in was half empty.

Solo
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A good portion of this trip I was on my own as Julie had wedding/bachelorette party obligations. Friday night I headed over to Blondies in the Planet Hollywood Casino to catch the Blackhawks – Kings game. It’s one of the few full-on sports bars that I came across. A ton of TVs, pitchers of beer, beer pong etc. They had the audio on for the game and there were probably an equal amount of Kings and Blackhawks fans.

After the game I wanted to make my way over to CraftSteak at the MGM Grand with as little outside walking as possible. I attempted to cut through the Miracle Mile Shops when I came across one of the Sin City Beer popup bars. I had the Sin City Light as I plotted how the hell to get out of this mall. After my beer I continued on walking for about 30 minutes before I came across the Sin City Beer popup again. I just walked in a complete circle. By this point I was getting worried that I wouldn’t make it to CraftSteak before they stopped serving. I managed to get out of the mall and then began the outside trek to the MGM Grand. The pedestrian walkways along the Strip become a nightmare as the sun goes down so it was a hot mess working my way down to the MGM Grand. When I finally got in I had to make my way through concert ticket lines and through the casino before getting to CraftSteak. I had an arugula salad and a ribeye that made the hassle worth it. The place was winding down but there were still a handful of people at the bar.
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On Sunday, the day of the wedding, I had my morning and afternoon to make my own way to the wedding hotel. On recommendation, I stopped by O’Sheas Casino at around 10:30am and took at seat at the bar. About 10 minutes later I notice the security guard and the bartender discussing bags vs. purses. Next thing I know the security guard is asking me to leave the casino because they have a ‘no bag policy’. I’m allowed to finish my beer but then I had to go. For the record there were about 4 other people in the casino at this point, all of which were employees. I’ve carried my messenger bag with me throughout the entire time in Las Vegas passing through at least six other casinos and never had a problem.

I move along and head over to the Venetian to check out the Public House which was a highly recommended craft beer bar. Public House has around twenty taps and more than two hundred bottles. Their list was all on an iPad which allowed you to check off beers or curate a list to order. For someone looking to kill an afternoon, like myself, this was great. The selection was West Coast heavy and a good amount of European stuff that I hadn’t heard of before and nearly all of the decent beer bars in town were familiar with Untappd.  As I tried to make my way out of the Venetian, I suddenly found myself in a hallway full of people in Domino’s uniforms (blue polos).

Las Vegas 51s
Las Vegas 51sDizzy Reed first pitchView from my seat
Saturday night we had made a point to check out the Mets minor league affiliate, the Las Vegas 51s, who play at Cashman Field. We rented a car for a couple of the days we were in town just to make getting around and moving hotels a little easier. This helped out a lot when going to the game as it was about a 25 minute ride from our hotel and I’m not sure we would have easily gotten a cab after the game. There was a decent crowd for the game and the temperature cooled down once the sun set. Dizzy Reed from Guns N’ Roses threw out the first pitch.

Side Notes:
New York-New York Hotel & Casino
* In summary:  Times Square + Mall of America = Las Vegas.

Port Washington, WI

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During Memorial Day weekend Julie and I and a couple of friends went up to Port Washington, Wisconsin for a night. We were looking for a place to go that was under a two hour drive and we’ve spent a good deal of time on the Michigan side of the lake so we decided to head to Wisconsin.

1860 Light Station
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At the top of Port Washington is the 1860 Port Washington Light Station which was in operation from 1860 until 1903. Oddly enough the Lighthouse Museum was closed on Memorial Day Weekend. So after walking up the hill we were only able to walk around the property. I’m sure the view from atop the lighthouse is grand, but I wouldn’t know.

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Port Washington has a decent amount of shops, restaurants and bars. After our hike up to the Lighthouse we stopped by Vines to Cellar Winery for a tasting. There is also a Duluth Trading Company store in the historic Smith Bros. Fish Shanty building at the center of town. There are two quality bars on Franklin Street: Sir James Pub which has a great beer selection and Schooner Pub which has a patio overlooking Port Washington’s harbor.

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Before dinner we stopped by Bernie’s Fine Meats for a mix and match of New Glarus beer and then headed over to Rotary Park which sits right across from the harbor.  No one seemed to be bothered that we were drinking beer in the park but then again it’s Wisconsin.  It seemed that we were there the week before everything gets busy.  The port was beginning to fill with boats but there were really no large crowds of people anywhere.