Friday, December 28, 2012

Best of 2012 - Tourist Attraction


Mike would probably blow three times the limit if he were to be pulled over. Staggering, bleary eyed, pint of beer in his hand, somehow he gets it out...

"You know who has the best job in the WORLD? YEAST!! All they do is eat, poop, and have sex..over and over and over and over..." - all done with tons of body language.




Yes, it's not for the kids but it is the funnest tour you'll soon take. It's the great, funny, educational, and fun brewery tour at Milwaukee's Lakefront Brewery.

At the north end of the Milwaukee Riverwalk, the modest brick building awaits. It's $7 for the tour, which includes tokens for 4 beers.

After paying, you'll be told to go to the adjacent beer hall (or garden, depending on the day and weather), and cash in your first token on your choice of brews.

Lightly lubed, your tour guide will come and collect you and have you top off your glass before you start. Your filled pint will be your constant companion.




As the tour progresses, you'll learn the process of beer making from your inebriated guide.  You'll soon be in the same state, so gloss over that point.  The history of this small brewery will be explained. Answer a trivia question or help the guide with a task and you'll earn another token.



A bar halfway through the tour makes sure your glass stays full and you'll recreate the opening scene of "Laverne and Shirley" at the bottling line.

You'll laugh until you cry...then you'll stumble over to the bar to cash in the rest of your trips. 

Don't drive...walk, take a taxi, or public transportation...but make sure you take the Lakefront Brewery tour.  You will thank me, trust me.

Darryl
Copyright 2012 - Darryl Musick
All Rights Reserved

Wednesday, December 26, 2012

Best of 2012 - Food


Since Los Tacos de Huicho in Bakersfield is still the best place we know of, we're going to make them ineligible for the "Best of" honors here at The World on Wheels and let them become the first member of our Hall of Fame.  Yes. They are that good. Make it a point to stop there whenever you're in Bakersfield.



Moving on, we had plenty of other food highlights this year.  Best overall restaurant we went to would have to be the wonderful restaurant my friend Peter Francis Battaglia recommended to me, Cafe Benelux in the great city of Milwaukee, Wisconsin.



Anchoring the Third Ward, across the street from the Milwaukee Public Market, this meshing of European low-country inspired dishes, served with a literal bible of great beers, made us want to come back again and again.  Just not enough time in this world to fully explore their menus and deli but we'll certainly try. Favorite dish...the Pannenkoeken.



I love a good burger and the best burger I've ever had is right here at home. It's not cheap at $16, with $1 extra for bacon or cheese, but it is supremely delicious and comes with multi-million dollar views.



The Nelson's Burger, named after the restaurant that serves it, is a big 1/3 pound patty topped with arugula, red onions, black bean mayo, and sweet pickle chips. It's all served with fries.  I also like to add bacon and bleu cheese, which brings the price up to $18 but it's such a good burger and I'm eating it outdoors, next to a warm firepit, on top of a cliff looking out over the Pacific Ocean. Doesn't get any better than this.



Almost as good but at just a little over half the price are the burgers at Eureka! with around a half dozen locations around California. Our local location is in Claremont and the burgers are nothing short of fantastic. My favorite is the one pictured above, the Cowboy Burger served with onion straws, bacon, and an in-house made beer barbecue sauce - priced at $10.95. They also have an extensive selection of locally sourced microbrews on tap.



The best pizza continues to be Joey's Red Devil in La Verne, California. It's so good, we put it on the cover of our book, Golden State Eating: Nine Tales of California Food Destinations. Come on by and let the Monaco family show you how good it can be...don't forget to ask for the secret Roland's Sauce too.



Let's finish up with dessert...also in Claremont is Crepes de Paris, next door to the previously mentioned Eureka!, which makes the best crepes I've had. My favorite is the Dulce de Leche beauty, pictured above, soaked with warm caramel with some Chantilly cream on the side.

Darryl
Copyright 2012 - Darryl Musick
All Rights Reserved

Friday, December 21, 2012

Best of 2012 - Hotel


Hilton, Marriott, Drury, Microtel, Radisson...so many chains out there, and most will be ok for wheelchair users but we must give our props again to the Drury Inn chain for consistency and so much value for travelers of all stripes.

Accessible rooms are easy to book online and trained desk agents are eager to put your mind at ease if you have any concerns.  Call before arrival and they'll make sure you are in the room you want to be in.




Freebies are plentiful. Breakfast, dinner, popcorn, soft drinks, cocktail hour, phone calls, Internet...the list goes on and on. You will definitely get your money's worth here at this Midwest based chain.

We particularly like their flagship destination near the Gateway Arch in St. Louis for impeccable rooms, beautiful lobby, and prime downtown location.


Image by DruryIT used with permission
under CC Y-SA 3.0 license

Drury Inns is our hotel chain of the year.

Our independent hotel is much harder to choose. We stayed at two magnificent hotels this year. Both had great, accessible rooms...bookable online, beautiful facilities, outstanding dining and drinking, good locations, and top notch staff members.



It is just impossible to choose between the two so this year we have co-winners. First, The Ambassador Hotel in Milwaukee is an art deco masterpiece at Marquette University. The large, accessible room featured a big, very comfortable king size bed with a queen size sofabed. Large bathroom, foyer equipped with wet bar and fridge, large flat screen TV, good wifi, with large windows and great views. The only knocks I have are the manually operated, historic elevator doors (tough on those with weak hand strength) and a shuttle that would take you anywhere, anytime, but not wheelchair accessible.



The second co-winner is the fantastically beautiful Mission Inn in Riverside, California. The name's appropriate at this circa 1870 hotel because it looks like a huge mission, maybe more like a castle. There are hidden passageways, nook, crannies, deep round rotundas, fountained courtyards, and rooms as big as a small house.

Our junior suite had two separate rooms with a king size bed and large sofabed, two flat screen tvs, a walk-in closet, robes, and a semi private patio.Several restaurants and watering holes are on the premises, along with an award-winning cupcake bakery. Spa and a large pool with handicapped lift.

It's not cheap but it is worth every penny.

While you're here, you should take a look at our Year in Review - 2012.

Darryl
Copyright 2012 - Darryl Musick
All Rights Reserved.

Wednesday, December 19, 2012

Best of 2012 - Airline


To tell the truth, air travel gets tougher everyday. Luggage fees, premium seat location fees, security nightmares at the airport, underpaid cranky staff on the plane, and on and on.

We find ourselves flying less and less. It's not hard to see why, especially traveling with a wheelchair when you're a complete afterthought.



Fortunately, there are a few carriers out there who still do a good job and for the fourth year in a row (talk about consistency) Southwest Airlines wins our airline of the year cudos.

Consistency, on-time performance, no hidden fees, friendly and helpful staff, comfort, good prices, and good equipment handling are longtime hallmarks of this year's Airline of the Year - Southwest Airlines.



Southwest is also a good friend of wheelchair travelers. Very good with preboarding, identifying needs, and helping out whenever they can. 

Southwest has clean planes, friendly cabin staff, the best baggage handlers when it came to loading our chair, free checked luggage, free snacks - on the longer flights even approaching a light meal, free use of pillows and blankets, no delays, and low prices.

The only knock I can think of is that there is no assigned seating on Southwest and it can be a free-for-all to find a seat. Get there early if you don't qualify for pre-boarding to get one of the first boarding passed - Southwest has three tiers, A, B, and C, and are handed out first-come, first-served. A boards first, B second, and C last.

I know we sound like a broken record, but we really haven't flow anyone else that even approaches how nice it is to fly Southwest and, yes, we have flown plenty of other carriers.  Just wish they'd fly to more places I want to go.

You might also want to check our our Year in Review - 2012 while you're here.

Darryl
Copyright 2012 - Darryl Musick
All Rights Reserved

Monday, December 17, 2012

2012...The Year in Review.



It didn’t seem as busy here in 2012 as it was in 2011 but we actually hit more destinations this year than last, though most found us staying with our state’s borders. Be sure to click the links in each paragraph to see the stories.


The beginning of the year found us experimenting with some speedy videos. First, a high-speed bike ride along the San Gabriel Riverbed near Azusa. Bike Ride Along the San Gabriel River.


Next, while on the road near the Central Coast, we found the perfect California driving road. Thrill Ride on Highway 41.


That drive over highway 41 put is in our next destination, the heart and soul of the Central Coast, San Luis Obispo.


Just a few miles away, it was Bug Bunny’s favorite destination and one of ours too. Pismo and Avila Beach.


Next it was the start of a long, long road trip up the backside of California. Highway 395 Road Trip.


One of my favorite parts of the state is our historic Gold Rush Country. We started off with a trip to see some old friends at the fantastic Restful Nest Inn in Mariposa. California Gold Rush Towns: Mariposa.


You know what very popular and exciting destination is close to Mariposa? Yosemite National Park.


While we’re in the area, we would be remiss if we didn’t visit the fading gold mining town just over those hills. California Ghost Town:Hornitos.


People still can’t get over what I consider to be the great, undiscovered, and budget friendly weekend getaway town just over the mountains from L.A.  Here are some more great finds there…The Great Bakersfield Food Tour.


This year’s baseball trip took us to the funnest destination we would encounter this year, unexpectedly too. Milwaukee, Wisconsin.


After Milwaukee, it’s a day’s drive to our next baseball stop which also includes great scenery and a river cruise. Minneapolis,Minnesota.


Our next few adventures don’t take us very far at all from our home base near Los Angeles. In fact, a half hour train ride will put you in the heart of the West Coast Ivy League…Claremont.


The last trip we took was just a few minutes farther away, the historic citrus farming city where we got to see a great concert, climb a mountain, and fend off zombies. Riverside, California.


We also published our first guide in the fall, an e-book available at Amazon.com, highlighting some of the best food and drink destinations in California. It’s called Golden State Eating: Nine Tales ofCalifornia Food Destinations. You can download a copy at that link, have a great California travel guide, and help support this blog’s mission…all in one fell swoop!


Each year, we also produce a big foodie video. This year, it was more of a drink video where we found our favorite margaritas and convinced their creators to come on camera and give away their secrets. It was incorporated into the first chapter of our book but I’ll let you watch it here too. It’s Southern California’s Top Three Margaritas.


Back on the baseball front, we added 3 new stadiums…2 Major League venues and our first college park…which brings up our total to 23 out of 30.  We also updated all of our stadium reviews to incorporate changes made from the previous season. Remember, no one has more wheelchair accessible baseball stadium information than The World on Wheels. Check out these new additions…




We’ve also shared with you 52 Cocktail Hours (our weekly Happy Hour videos, aired each Sunday), several useful Travel Tips columns, and some new Transit Reports. 

We already have two trips planned for 2013 but beyond that, who knows what or where the new year will bring us. Wherever that may be, we hope you stick around to see what adventures await around the next corner.
Darryl
Copyright 2012 – Darryl Musick
All Rights Reserved