: Went to Oklahoma to swap cars and see a show. Road trip pics



Jesda
08-22-10, 05:40 AM
The theme is "fish out of water."


Realizing that Brooks and Dunn were breaking up and doing their farewell tour, I decided to buy tickets. Closest show was in Oklahoma City as I'd missed the one here in St Louis just two weeks earlier.

I paid $240 for all three tickets and the three of us (me, Ian, my brother) embarked on a journey, leaving town at 8:30p.

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Construction on I-44 in MO brought traffic to a crawl, wasting at least 45 minutes. This Prius is... unusual. The stickers read "Environmentalism is the new McCarthyism" and "Bring back capitalism"

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Stopped at a McD's in some tiny little town. I wanted to eat at Wendy's but Ian got confused by a roundabout like a typical American and took us on a detour down a dark state road. I yelled at him, he finally turned around, and he then decided that instead of going to Wendys, he was going to get back on the highway.

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Their angus burger is terribly mediocre.

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We got stuck again in Tulsa, waiting for a slow-moving train after leaving a gas station. It went forward, then back, then forward, then back, before finally settling on a spot 15 minutes later when we could cross the tracks.

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Stopped at Whataburger on Meridian Street. Not bad.

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Through Travelocity, I booked a nice Wyndham Garden in Oklahoma City for $60 including tax. Added $40 for a 6pm checkout since we arrived at 6:30am.

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Well, the extra $40 was a f***ing waste because housekeeping kept knocking on my door and even came in and turned on the lights once. Kenneth at the front desk had the nerve to call me at 1pm...

*RING RING RING* (hotel phones ring in the most obnoxious way)

Me: 'WHAT DO YOU WANT!'
Kenneth: "Uhh, its 1pm."
Me: So?'
Kenneth: "Checkout is at 11am."
Me: 'Listen, I got here late last night and paid extra so I could sleep in and be left alone.'
Kenneth: "Did they charge your card?"
Me: 'YES THEY DID THEY CHARGED ME FORTY BUCKS'
Kenneth: "Hold on let me look here... [typing sounds] okay I see the charge."
[silence... and no apology... so I interjected]
Me: 'LISTEN KENNETH, I PAID EXTRA SO I COULD HAVE SOME PEACE AND QUIET. YOU PEOPLE KEEP KNOCKING AND COMING INTO MY ROOM AND TURNING ON MY LIGHTS AND CALLING ME WHEN ALL I WANT TO DO IS GET SOME F***ING SLEEP. LEAVE ME THE F*** ALONE.'

I then hung up. I don't know how I avoided making threats of violence. I'm extremely unpleasant when disturbed from sleep.

I hung up and tried to go back to bed, but all the anger made it impossible for me to doze off again. I was stuck in this zombie-like state where my mind was too active to doze off but I was still physically dead tired.

When I get only a few hours of sleep, my nose runs all day, my left knee hurts (car accident a couple years back) and I'm cranky as hell. I wanted to march down to the front desk and punch someone in the face, but they lucked out because I was in too much pain to march.

The room was really nice though. When I checked out after cooling down a bit and taking a shower, they apologized and gave me a refund.


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I dont think Ive seen a real cordless phone since high school.

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We loaded into the Jeep and went to Walgreens where I purchased ibuprofen, gatorade, and a knee bandage. Its $20 I could have avoided spending had I been able to just get some sleep.

The Wrangler is reasonably comfy, though quite thirsty on fuel at 70mph. The seats are soft but supportive and I felt great. My brother, unfortunately, was stuck with the little bench seat in the back. Fortunately, he was able to just lay down and sleep. Lots of wind noise, but whatever. I'm used to driving with the top down 99% of the time anyway.

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Headed 4 miles down I-40 to the Ford Center. Parking was dirt cheap, only $6 to be right next to the stadium AND right next to the highway on-ramp for an easy escape.

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OKC is a decent town. Friendly but lots of poverty. Pleasant enough though.

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This building on 1100 South Robinson says "This is it... 1100 South Robinson". It gives no further explanation as to what the hell its purpose is.

Jesda
08-22-10, 05:40 AM
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A section of downtown called "Automobile Alley" has some vintage dealerships and a Hudson-Essex building still in tact.

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Beer time.

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30 minutes to showtime. The crowd was a mix of smoking hot Oklahoma girls and some farmer types.

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I told my brother I'd give him $5 if he could find a black person. He found two... shining shoes. It made me slightly uncomfortable, but its honest work.

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Tyler Dickerson opened with 3 or 4 songs, then Miranda Lambert came on stage.

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She closed with "Kerosene" and exited. Time to get more beer.

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Kix and Ronnie appeared and the energy went up to 11.

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This was going to be their final tour.

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lol

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My brother and I were terribly out of place. I think they just assumed we were Mexicans.

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Ronnie is starting to age. Still has an amazing voice.

Jesda
08-22-10, 05:40 AM
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Four members of the US military marched on stage during "Only In America". The crowd (self included) went ape-shit with excitement.

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Red, white, and blue streamers were released into the audience.

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The tour is appropriately called "The Last Rodeo". Their set list went in reverse chronological order, ending with their 1991 hit, "Brand New Man". I knew every word to every song.

Left Oklahoma and headed for Wichita where Ian swapped the Jeep with his brother for an LS430. I hoped to get to St Louis the same night but Ian was tired and unable to drive further, so we three ended up in a Motel 6.

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It was clean. Unfortunately, the extra night away from home meant I was paying not only for the cost of the Motel 6 but also an additional night for my dog who was in a doggy hotel back home.

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Upon arriving, we went for some authentic late-night Mexican food. IT WAS EPIC.

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Had an afternoon breakfast and swapped cars.

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Well, its a Lexus. Unfortunately, the interior quality declined a bit since the LS400.

Let me sum up this 2004 LS430 briefly: Its like sitting in a waiting room. You aren't driving, you're just sitting there hanging out, waiting for time to pass until you reach your destination. The suspension is firmer than the LS400, but the intake and exhaust make absolutely NO sound. It really is the pinnacle of Lexus's philosophy, so if you're into that, nothing compares. For the rest of us, blech. Its a car designed for people who think driving is a chore, not a privilege. I work from home and go out at night to drive around for pleasure, and I intentionally choose classes at satellite campuses far from home so I can drive MORE. So no, I don't want to block out the motoring experience. The seats in the LS430 were also less comfortable than the LS400. The old LS400 had soft spring-supported seat bottoms and pillow soft head rests you could easily sleep on. The LS430 tried to be more German, but didn't do it as well. Its an EXCELLENT car, no question, but I just don't give a sh*t.


While in Wichita I got a phone call from a leasing agent at my complex telling me that the music in my place was too loud. I thought she was referring to Ian's obnoxious late-night listening sessions where he will sometimes turn James Blunt and Coldplay up to annoying volumes. Nope, she was talking about the Optimus receiver/amplifier in my living room that has a habit of switching to 98.1 FM and playing at a VERY LOUD volume when there's a power outage or power surge. Its like the car from the movie Christine. The damn thing is haunted.

It apparently happened at 1am the night before and had carried on for 16 solid hours. My neighbors thought I was having a crazy party. They banged on the door several times but since no one was home, no one answered, figuring I was just being a dick and ignoring them. I cost them valuable sleep and felt terrible about it, especially considering how much I myself need a good night's rest to function. Realizing it was my phantom stereo, I called back the leasing office and told them I was out of town and asked them to unlock the door, go in, and turn it off.

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I went here to pick up three gift baskets totaling $140.

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On the plus side, I got to meet the very friendly and understanding neighbors. One was a hot mom.

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The guy with the wall adjacent to the speakers got the biggest basket.

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Some doughnuts.

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Some saturated fat.

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HOLY CRAP SOMEONE ACTUALLY BOUGHT A LINCOLN BLACKWOOD



And that concludes my trip.

Costs:
Tickets: $240
Lodging: $125
Gas: $180
Food: Probably $70
Dog hotel: $150
Overpriced Stadium Beer: $60
Brooks and Dunn t-shirts: $90
Being the brown man at a cowboy music show: Priceless

greencadillacmatt
08-22-10, 06:01 AM
Whenever there is a power-outage at my house the ceiling-fan light turns itself on. Very confusing at 4 am when all of the sudden it's bright in my room.




And a Lincoln Blackwood?!? Did you drive through some alternate dimension where somebody actually bought one?

Night Wolf
08-22-10, 08:37 AM
LOL, the three of ya packed in the Jeep for a roadtrip.... I'm surprised.

So has Ian given up on it yet?

Rolex
08-22-10, 09:20 AM
Great thread as usual Jesda. I LOL'd @ your tirade after being awakened by the front desk clerk. Glad I'm not the only one that goes postal when awakened from my peaceful slumber. :rant:

hueterm
08-22-10, 10:32 AM
I bet your bro wasn't bitching about the LS on the way back after being stuck in that torture chamber back seat for 10 hours on the way down...

Submariner409
08-22-10, 10:33 AM
Great trip, great thread, great pix. Thanks. Entertaining as always.

(My b/r ceiling fan light does the same thing - it's the remote control. Got in the habit of manually turning off the light if it has been operated by remote.)

I~LUV~Caddys8792
08-22-10, 10:36 AM
Haha Jesda, your classic road trip threads back at their finest.

drewsdeville
08-22-10, 10:55 AM
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LOL @ cassette tape adapters

I~LUV~Caddys8792
08-22-10, 11:50 AM
It's a great, cheap way to run your MP3 through your stereo without having to rip it all apart and hook in an MP3 input to your existing stereo or replace the entire headunit.

ga_etc
08-22-10, 01:54 PM
Great thread. I am surprised that you were so unimpressed with the LS430.

93DevilleUSMC
08-22-10, 02:02 PM
Is this their actual farewell, or is it going to be one of a series of "farewell" tours. Seems like you enjoyed it!

I~LUV~Caddys8792
08-22-10, 02:03 PM
Well yeah, Jesda hates Lexus. I've never been that impressed with them as well. They don't have the sharp, lean styling of the 98-00 LS400, they're not as well built and they're not as fun to drive either.

Playdrv4me
08-22-10, 04:34 PM
LOL @ cassette tape adapters

Philips (and only Philips at this point) makes a cassette tape adapter that on most average car stereos is nearly indistinguishable from an Aux input. There are ways to aux into this radio through the SAT input but it just isn't worth the trouble when the cassette sounds as good as it does. The only other cassette adapter I ever used that was as good or better was a Japanese made Sony one that came with a Discman in the '90s. Also, for satellite talk radio it doesn't matter at all.

Playdrv4me
08-22-10, 04:36 PM
Is this their actual farewell, or is it going to be one of a series of "farewell" tours. Seems like you enjoyed it!

This is their actual farewell, but they have several stops left.

Playdrv4me
08-22-10, 04:44 PM
Well yeah, Jesda hates Lexus. I've never been that impressed with them as well. They don't have the sharp, lean styling of the 98-00 LS400, they're not as well built and they're not as fun to drive either.

They both have their good and bad points. The LS430 is a huge car and quite cavernous inside thanks to that higher roofline, it also has a transmission that is 100x better than the one in the LS400. Whereas the LS400 would hunt around for gears and "wait" when you mashed the throttle, the 2004 and up 430 with its 6 speed auto actually moves relatively quickly. Its still a Lexus, but the hesitation seems to be gone.

As far as build quality, the good thing about the LS400 was that there was really only one primary trim level, and then options like Xenon headlights, Wood and leather steering and shifter, and hard disk based navigation. However other than that all the cars were built the same, so they all had the same top grade leathers (there may have been a higher leather option but they all felt great to me) and interior treatments. Unfortunately Toyota figured out that the other big players in this segment like to break up their flagship models into a million different configurations that add substantially more details and options as you go up the options list. So in the 430 you have to go the Ultra Luxury level (and I think optionally on Custom and Modern Luxury levels) to get the leather trimmed dashpad and door pulls, suede headliner etc. It may still not be quite to the level of the 400, but in those trims its pretty damn near impossible to tell the difference.

orconn
08-22-10, 05:26 PM
You would think that Lexus could have done something to the center stack to elevate it above the mundane style of an ordinary contemporary car. But them Lexus is known for the catering to the "Appliance" sector of the "Executive" market. Thank God we still have, just barely, Jaguar to supply some luxury (although cutrate) to the upper middle class. If it weren't for the Brits demanding some warm wood veneers in the cars we would be enveloped in sterility as we sat in traffic!

Jesda
08-22-10, 05:27 PM
It's a great, cheap way to run your MP3 through your stereo without having to rip it all apart and hook in an MP3 input to your existing stereo or replace the entire headunit.

Indeed. Most tape adapters suck but the Philips is unusually awesome. Low hiss, wide range of sound. Nice way to enjoy the Pod while keeping things stock. The only negative is in some cars, that tape adapter can be mechanically noisy, or if the head is misaligned it might be unbalanced.
Fortunately, that awesome Lexus sound system (not Nakamichi in this one) has a very quiet cassette player.

Ronnie and Kix are ending their partnership and retiring after 20 years, so this is it.

I secretly miss that '98 LS400. Except for the shit transmission, it was an outstanding long distance car with unsurpassed comfort among modern mass market automobiles. If the price was right, I'd buy another (and keep it a secret lol).
This LS430 took away some of that American-inspired cushy goodness that went into the LS400 and tried to be more German, and in doing so became a bit pointless since it doesnt offer the intensity and mechanical joy of a German luxury car and lost the ultracomfort feel of an American car.

Late LS400 > LS430

Playdrv4me
08-22-10, 06:13 PM
Ronnie and Kix are ending their partnership and retiring after 20 years, so this is it.


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93DevilleUSMC
08-22-10, 10:16 PM
If I'd had the money, I'd have gone to see them. I grew up on Brooks and Dunn. How did they do on "Maria"?

Jesda
08-22-10, 10:21 PM
If I'd had the money, I'd have gone to see them. I grew up on Brooks and Dunn. How did they do on "Maria"?

They teased with it by playing 10 seconds of it at the beginning of the show, then they stopped and Kix was like "Not yet!" I think it was the third or second to last song of the set. The acoustics at the Ford Center took some time to adjust to, exacerbated probably by my seat in front of the ceiling-hung loudspeakers.

93DevilleUSMC
08-22-10, 10:27 PM
They teased with it by playing 10 seconds of it at the beginning of the show, then they stopped and Kix was like "Not yet!" I think it was the third or second to last song of the set. The acoustics at the Ford Center took some time to adjust to, exacerbated probably by my seat in front of the ceiling-hung loudspeakers.

Yeaahhh I imagine you got a LOT of bass blasting in your ears. Still, the show sounds like it was pretty epic. AND you got to see Miranda Lambert :drool:

Eric Kahn
08-23-10, 01:03 AM
I bought a 96 FWB to drive in splendid isolation, are you saying I should have bought a Lexus 430 instead?

orconn
08-23-10, 01:11 AM
Eric, the only way to improve on your '96 FWB's "splendid isolation" would be to buy a hearse and ride in the back! Just kidding!

Jesda
08-23-10, 02:10 AM
I bought a 96 FWB to drive in splendid isolation, are you saying I should have bought a Lexus 430 instead?

Its a different kind of isolation. Rather than being suspended on a hammock like a Fleetwood, you're in a completely neutral space. Its a peaceful, quiet Japanese zen garden.

With the FWB, you get the throaty sound of a V8 and youre reminded at all times by the interior design and the seating position that youre piloting a traditional piece of American history. The engine in the 430 is a very distant, light hum. The ride is neutral. The steering is neutral. Theres no slop, no sharpness, nothing. Imagine the settings on your equalizer set right in the middle while the stereo played a steady hum.

I think a lot of people on this forum would enjoy an LS430. I drove it 40 miles today and felt frustrated, like I was trapped in an isolation box, doing time and waiting for minutes to go by so I could get to my destination and get out. I wasnt driving, I was riding.

Its clearly not for me, but there's probably a billion people in this world who would enjoy it. I need a little drama, a heritage, a story, a little bit of spice. If I didnt, I'd listen to Coldplay and buy a Camry.

The LS400 is a much more enjoyable car.

Playdrv4me
08-23-10, 06:18 AM
I think a lot of people on this forum would enjoy an LS430.

It is funny you mention that, because there are quite a few current and former Cadillac owners over at our Lexus forum and Club Lexus, including C5 RV and a guy looking into 430s who just totaled his beloved '98 Deville.

Ralph
08-23-10, 06:20 AM
damn I gotta learn how to post pics like you :P

Playdrv4me
08-23-10, 06:23 AM
damn I gotta learn how to post pics like you :P

One of the "treats" you will learn to enjoy now that you're back are Jesda's very thorough, and very pictorial trademark travel threads.

Night Wolf
08-23-10, 11:15 AM
Ian, have you got tired of the Jeep yet? I just don't see it sticking around too long...

hueterm
08-23-10, 12:35 PM
I think that was the point of the trip, wasn't it?

Maybe not tired of it, but swapping it, at least...

I~LUV~Caddys8792
08-23-10, 06:58 PM
I think a lot of people on this forum would enjoy an LS430. I drove it 40 miles today and felt frustrated, like I was trapped in an isolation box, doing time and waiting for minutes to go by so I could get to my destination and get out. I wasnt driving, I was riding.

"There is no pain you are receding
A distant ship's smoke on the horizon
You are the only coming through in waves
Your lips move but I can't hear what you're saying"

That's what it reminds me of, being "Comfortably Numb"

Playdrv4me
08-23-10, 09:02 PM
Ian, have you got tired of the Jeep yet? I just don't see it sticking around too long...

I can't really get rid of it, I paid for a year and I am the keeper and maintainer of it until my friend returns from his overseas jaunt or that year is up. It actually would be signifcantly better with a simple hard top addition, but with the LS around I probably won't spend the 5 or 600 bucks for the hard top and just enjoy it as is.

Night Wolf
08-24-10, 05:40 AM
Granted we have different likes when it comes to the way we enjoy our vehicles....

I don't think the hardtop would make as big of a difference as you think. My Jeep came with one, it came off within a week of buying it, I put it on last "winter" just cause I had it, then it was taking up space... finally sold it for $825.

It does make the Jeep more secure, now it is about equal to any other car, but windows can still break.

As far as the benefits? It dosen't do a darn thing for keeping hot/cold air in/out over the soft top. Quieter? Honestly the Sail-Cloth material that 2001+ Jeep tops are made out of is very quiet as is. I noticed the hardtop being only slightly quieter. It's a Jeep, so you still hear wind/road/engine noise with the hard top. Of course I would keep the music turned up enough that I wouldn't hear any of that noise either way.

Then if you open the windows on the highway, the top of the hardtop has a "drumming" effect that becomes rather annoying.

Keep in mind it is a non-insulated plastic/fiberglass top. It dosen't become a normal enclosed car.

The only benefits I actually see from it would be if I lived in a climate that actually had long winters - months of snow/ice. The hardtop is more durable in those conditions, the windows can be scraped, they wont crack easily and in freezing temp it is alot easier to open the rear glass window then mess with frozen zippers.

Thats it though, and for me, simply finding a place to store the darn thing, and needing two people to remove/install it was enough to get rid of it. I have a factory soft top and the safari top setup that covers all my top needs.

Also, since your Jeep came new with a soft top only, you don't have the switches/wiring for the rear defogger and wiper/washer. There is a ~$150 kit you can buy, all factory stuff to install it though, it's easy.

I would keep the soft top and enjoy the fact that in several minutes, you can have the top down anytime/place and don't need to store a large bulky item.

Jesda
08-24-10, 05:44 AM
I would keep the soft top and enjoy the fact that in several minutes, you can have the top down anytime/place and don't need to store a large bulky item.

LOL, Lexus guys named Ian don't put tops down.

"Ewww! Ick! There's wind everywhere! Oh my god my Rolex is going to get scratched by flying debris! I want soup at Olive Garden!"

Playdrv4me
08-24-10, 07:57 AM
LOL, Lexus guys named Ian don't put tops down.

"Ewww! Ick! There's wind everywhere! Oh my god my Rolex is going to get scratched by flying debris! I want soup at Olive Garden!"

Says the guy who claims the soft top removal and re-installation procedure is "too hard". :suspect:









:suspect:

Playdrv4me
08-24-10, 07:59 AM
Granted we have different likes when it comes to the way we enjoy our vehicles....

I don't think the hardtop would make as big of a difference as you think. My Jeep came with one, it came off within a week of buying it, I put it on last "winter" just cause I had it, then it was taking up space... finally sold it for $825.

It does make the Jeep more secure, now it is about equal to any other car, but windows can still break.

As far as the benefits? It dosen't do a darn thing for keeping hot/cold air in/out over the soft top. Quieter? Honestly the Sail-Cloth material that 2001+ Jeep tops are made out of is very quiet as is. I noticed the hardtop being only slightly quieter. It's a Jeep, so you still hear wind/road/engine noise with the hard top. Of course I would keep the music turned up enough that I wouldn't hear any of that noise either way.

Then if you open the windows on the highway, the top of the hardtop has a "drumming" effect that becomes rather annoying.

Keep in mind it is a non-insulated plastic/fiberglass top. It dosen't become a normal enclosed car.

The only benefits I actually see from it would be if I lived in a climate that actually had long winters - months of snow/ice. The hardtop is more durable in those conditions, the windows can be scraped, they wont crack easily and in freezing temp it is alot easier to open the rear glass window then mess with frozen zippers.

Thats it though, and for me, simply finding a place to store the darn thing, and needing two people to remove/install it was enough to get rid of it. I have a factory soft top and the safari top setup that covers all my top needs.

Also, since your Jeep came new with a soft top only, you don't have the switches/wiring for the rear defogger and wiper/washer. There is a ~$150 kit you can buy, all factory stuff to install it though, it's easy.

I would keep the soft top and enjoy the fact that in several minutes, you can have the top down anytime/place and don't need to store a large bulky item.

I think the number one improvement of the hard top would be just the wind buffeting issue (and the nice clear glass on all sides). I do agree however that because it is not insulated, the advantages are otherwise minimal. It is definitely nice to be able to rip the windows out whenever you want, which you can't do at all with that hard top.

I~LUV~Caddys8792
08-24-10, 08:57 AM
Hahaha, Olive Garden. What a waste of money.

Night Wolf
08-24-10, 03:06 PM
Hahaha, Olive Garden. What a waste of money.

It's real Italian! :suspect:

Jesda
08-24-10, 03:21 PM
Says the guy who claims the soft top removal and re-installation procedure is "too hard". :suspect:

PRO-TIP: Man up and leave it open.

gdwriter
08-24-10, 03:27 PM
Hahaha, Olive Garden. What a waste of money.Red Lobster gets my vote for bland, overpriced food. The breadsticks save Olive Garden.

Playdrv4me
08-24-10, 07:30 PM
Red Lobster gets my vote for bland, overpriced food. The breadsticks save Olive Garden.

Really? I find the Cheddar Bay Biscuits at RL to be better than the breadsticks at OG. Plus OG never gets the baking time right anymore.

Fortunately the half-wits at Darden haven't managed to destroy their recently acquired Longhorn franchise... yet.

Jesda
08-24-10, 07:43 PM
Sometimes I have to wait months to get a table at Olive Garden, and that's only if I grease the host for a crappy table. Its annoying when I get my Lambo waxed and my tux pressed just to show up and find out my reservation was bumped for a celebrity.

orconn
08-24-10, 08:18 PM
Yeah, Jesda, I know the feeling! But it sure beats waiting on at Burgher King with the Corvette folks!

I~LUV~Caddys8792
08-24-10, 10:36 PM
LOL at the Burger King pun!

I really really hate Olive Garden. I went there only one time, a few months back, with a group of friends, and after reading the menu through and through, I didn't find anything particularly appealing, so I went for the standard Spaghetti & Meatballs for $12.95. What a pile of overpriced, bland food. I could have made it better at home for $3, and I really left unsatisfied, even if I could have endless quantities of their breadsticks, which were in fact quite good.

Stingroo
08-24-10, 10:43 PM
Tour of Italy is where it's at.

I like Olive Garden. :hide:

drewsdeville
08-24-10, 11:01 PM
Funny this was brought up, I just changed my mind about OG recently.

First off, I go out for the luxury of being waited on. As stated by Chad, we can all make good food at home on our own. So for me, service can make all the difference. I don't care how good the food is - If the service sucks, it doesn't matter. I don't want to sound like a snob, but if I'm paying for the waiter/waitresses wage, gratuity and/or tip when I can do it at home for free, I expect nothing but the best effort.

That said, the service was absolutely spectacular. It was an incredibly busy night and my girlfriend and I walked in without reservations. Despite the crowd, we were seated in a timely fashion that matched their projection for us. +1

The waiter was great, Neither intruding nor neglecting. The meal was three courses and they were brought out just a minute or two after being finished with the previous. Nothing annoys me more than courses being brought out one right after another in an effort to push customers through to clear tables, nor do I want to sit and starve for 30 minutes between courses. Excellent timing.

While I don't consider the food to be quite as important as the service, I do also appreciate the food. I love good seafood/pasta dishes and that night I went for the shrimp scampi. You can't really mess up alfredo pasta but the shrimp...it was excellent. And it's hard to find good shrimp in Milwaukee. It wasn't undercooked nor was it nuked to the point that it was nothing but mush. Firm, large, and very flavorful (the shrimp, pervs :D ).

Anyway, considering the busy conditions, I thought everything was great for being a chain restaurant. I take back my years of avoiding OG.

Playdrv4me
08-24-10, 11:14 PM
Funny this was brought up, I just changed my mind about OG recently.

First off, I go out for the luxury of being waited on. As stated by Chad, we can all make good food at home on our own. So for me, service can make all the difference. I don't care how good the food is - If the service sucks, it doesn't matter. I don't want to sound like a snob, but if I'm paying for the waiter/waitresses wage, gratuity and/or tip when I can do it at home for free, I expect nothing but the best effort.

That said, the service was absolutely spectacular. It was an incredibly busy night and my girlfriend and I walked in without reservations. Despite the crowd, we were seated in a timely fashion that matched their projection for us. +1

The waiter was great, Neither intruding nor neglecting. The meal was three courses and they were brought out just a minute or two after being finished with the previous. Nothing annoys me more than courses being brought out one right after another in an effort to push customers through to clear tables, nor do I want to sit and starve for 30 minutes between courses. Excellent timing.

While I don't consider the food to be quite as important as the service, I do also appreciate the food. I love good seafood/pasta dishes and that night I went for the shrimp scampi. You can't really mess up alfredo pasta but the shrimp...it was excellent. And it's hard to find good shrimp in Milwaukee. It wasn't undercooked nor was it nuked to the point that it was nothing but mush. Firm, large, and very flavorful (the shrimp, pervs :D ).

Anyway, considering the busy conditions, I thought everything was great for being a chain restaurant. I take back my years of avoiding OG.

Olive Garden to me is much like McDonald's. Every once in a while I get a craving for that specific type of "generic" Italian food, and OG always fits the bill. A lot of times I just go in there and have the endless soup and salad. I like their Pasta ***ioli a lot.

However, on the balance Macaroni Grill has the edge on more flavorful dishes.

EDIT: LMFAO F.a.gioli got sensored! Hahahaha.

Jesda
08-25-10, 12:08 AM
Oh, I bet you like the Pasta ***ioli. I bet.

I once got up and left OG because it smelled like feces. I think an old person or baby must have crapped itself nearby.

I~LUV~Caddys8792
08-25-10, 12:15 AM
See, I've never really been big into Italian restaurants. I dunno why, I never really liked them. Maybe it's because so much Italian food consists of seafood, clams, oysters and stuff like that, which disgusts me.

Night Wolf
08-25-10, 12:42 AM
Red Lobster gets my vote for bland, overpriced food. The breadsticks save Olive Garden.

I don't like sea food, but everytime I go there, they have a rather good chicken alfredo pasta dish that is surprisingly good. The bread/biscuits are good too.

Night Wolf
08-25-10, 12:51 AM
The ONLY franchise Italian place that is worth a darn to me is Maggianos. Other then that, the good Italian places are small mom n pop shops that are actually owned by - Italians, with Italians doing the cooking. A couple years ago an Olive Garden was built here and the locals went crazy for finally getting a "real" Italian place, it was rather pathetic.... Good pizza here is hard to come by also as most argue over pizza hut vs papa johns, it's all horrible.

Being 100% Italian raises the bar a bit though. It's gotten to the point that if I want real Italian now, I visit my mom, otherwise I've been inclined to finally start cooking - I've got the family recipe book.

Jesda
08-25-10, 12:58 AM
Maggianos has good martinis.

Playdrv4me
08-25-10, 01:13 AM
The ONLY franchise Italian place that is worth a darn to me is Maggianos. Other then that, the good Italian places are small mom n pop shops that are actually owned by - Italians, with Italians doing the cooking. A couple years ago an Olive Garden was built here and the locals went crazy for finally getting a "real" Italian place, it was rather pathetic.... Good pizza here is hard to come by also as most argue over pizza hut vs papa johns, it's all horrible.

Being 100% Italian raises the bar a bit though. It's gotten to the point that if I want real Italian now, I visit my mom, otherwise I've been inclined to finally start cooking - I've got the family recipe book.

Maggianos is actually owned by Brinker International, which also owns Macaroni Grill and well... Chili's. LOL. Maggianos is definitely more traditional "old world" Italian though.

Night Wolf
08-25-10, 03:44 AM
Maggianos is actually owned by Brinker International, which also owns Macaroni Grill and well... Chili's. LOL. Maggianos is definitely more traditional "old world" Italian though.

Still today, I can't get over the American influence to the name of an Italian restaruant - Macaroni Grill. Dunno the exact reason why, but it just bugs the heck out of me. I'm sure they have great mair-in-air-a sauce and rik-otta cheese too.

wvcG--n7Ng0

^ proper way to pronouce "marinara".

299nSwxWYBc

^ proper way to pronouce "ricotta"

I don't hold the general American public to any standard, but at an Italian restaruant? Which is why such an American influence on what is marketed as an actual Italian restaruant bugs me.

Playdrv4me
08-25-10, 04:55 AM
The irony is that Macaroni Grill does not have, and to my knowledge has NEVER had a single item on their menu that even has Macaroni in it. If I am not mistaken, Romano's Macaroni Grill started in TX and back in the 1980s had a significantly different menu than it does today. Also, I just found out Eva Angelina used to work there and that kind of kicks ass.

Carrabba's is actually far better than either OG or Mac Grill and to me is equally as good as Maggianos with its own slightly different spin on traditional Italian dishes.

In any case, unless you live in the Northeast, or the New York of the South (FL), good family owned Italian is actually somewhat difficult to find.

hueterm
08-25-10, 11:30 AM
There is a local chain in the S. Florida area that was REALLY good -- Sal might know the name -- I'd have to look back at old expense reports to find the receipts... They were small places in strip malls and there were several around, and had the best calzones..... I'd probably recognize the name if someone said it....now it's going to drive me crazy if I don't look it up....

(Later...)

OK, ROFL Sal might be aware of it...as that was the name of the chain..."Sal's"....

Aron9000
08-25-10, 05:26 PM
Magginao's is actually decent.

As far as local little Italian places go, I know of only one in Nashville that is just freaking amazing, and I drive 30 minutes to the other side of town to go there. Its a little hole in the wall place on the outside, but looks really nice on the inside, perfect place to go on a date. Its right next door to my other favorite ethnic cuisine, Back to Cuba, only Cuban restraunt in town.

slk230mb
08-25-10, 07:49 PM
I went to an Olive Garden once in college against my will. I told the people I went with I could cook them an Italian feast for a third of what we spent there and taste a thousand times better. I then proceeded to cook Sunday dinner for 6 people the next two years. ;)

There's no Italian like my mothers, but every Italian says that. There are half a dozen places within 15 minutes of my house that will blow OG out of the water with every item on their menu. For mediocre Italian restaurants, there are probably 8-12 in the same vicinity as my house.

orconn
08-25-10, 08:22 PM
For really good Italian food, the cities of the upper Mid-Atlantic states have the best Mom and Pop Italian restaurants. It's the same as when Sandy and i were discussing Hoagies (Heros, Submarine sandwishes, etc) awhile back, the farther you get from New Yirk City the worse the Italian food gets. Until you get to Richmond, VA and Olive Garden seems pretty good! It is a shame that the small Mom and Pop restaurants of all ethnic types are dying off everywhere but the major cities. The chains are OK if you don't won't surprises, good or bad, and if you want deep pockets in case you get food poisining .... but other than a mediocre experience at moderate cost there isn't alot to be said for them. The thing I miss most about not living in Los Angeles is the lack of a wide variety of good Mom and Pop ethnic restaurants.

I had always heard "Southern Cooking" was to really great, but if Central Virginia is any indication, it is highly over rated!

Playdrv4me
08-25-10, 08:49 PM
I went to an Olive Garden once in college against my will. I told the people I went with I could cook them an Italian feast for a third of what we spent there and taste a thousand times better. I then proceeded to cook Sunday dinner for 6 people the next two years. ;)

There's no Italian like my mothers, but every Italian says that. There are half a dozen places within 15 minutes of my house that will blow OG out of the water with every item on their menu. For mediocre Italian restaurants, there are probably 8-12 in the same vicinity as my house.

When did you get an STS-V?!

gdwriter
08-25-10, 08:51 PM
I tend to avoid chain restaurants entirely. In my little town of 8,700 people, we have an excellent Chinese restaurant from whom I get takeout so often I have them on speed dial. We also have a good Mexican place, and there's a higher-end Italian (http://www.statesmanjournal.com/article/20081231/ENT03/901010309) restaurant that. I've only been there once, but it was very good. I also took advantage of a prime rib special at a local steakhouse, which I also enjoyed, but I usually prefer to grill a steak myself.

Playdrv4me
08-25-10, 08:59 PM
San Antonio has a lot of good non-chain ethnic restaurants, but Saint Louis sucks in that department. Tampa wasn't very good either unless all you wanted to eat was Cuban this or Cuban that.

hueterm
08-25-10, 09:13 PM
St. Louis has a lot of good Italian and some decent Chinese. TERRIBLE Mexican..... I want to try Pho Grand sometime... Sushi is good for a medium size metro area.

Playdrv4me
08-25-10, 09:33 PM
St. Louis has a lot of good Italian and some decent Chinese. TERRIBLE Mexican..... I want to try Pho Grand sometime... Sushi is good for a medium size metro area.

Which Italian? I haven't found anything but chains and joints that weren't that great.

And you are right, Mexican here is absolutely abysmal and these people have been trained to like it. Casa Gallardo and El Maguey are the worst Mexican shitholes I have ever eaten at yet they are extremely popular and people here really believe that is GOOD Mexican. Wichita and San Antonio (duh) have the best Mexican I've had anywhere. Tampa is almost completely devoid of Mexican because of the other more powerful hispanic influences there.

Saint Louis does have ONE shining ethnic restaurant, and that is House of India over on Delmar. That is far and away the best Indian cuisine I've ever had.

Stingroo
08-25-10, 09:43 PM
I struggle to find good Chinese food here in Jacksonville, FL. Someone local should chime in and help me out. It's depressing.

hueterm
08-25-10, 09:59 PM
Which Italian? I haven't found anything but chains and joints that weren't that great.

And you are right, Mexican here is absolutely abysmal and these people have been trained to like it. Casa Gallardo and El Maguey are the worst Mexican shitholes I have ever eaten at yet they are extremely popular and people here really believe that is GOOD Mexican. Wichita and San Antonio (duh) have the best Mexican I've had anywhere. Tampa is almost completely devoid of Mexican because of the other more powerful hispanic influences there.

Saint Louis does have ONE shining ethnic restaurant, and that is House of India over on Delmar. That is far and away the best Indian cuisine I've ever had.


I've never gone to the Hill much, but several of those are supposed to be great. I liked Mama Campisi's but it closed. (I think Mama died...)

Massa's Kirkwood is my favorite non-pizza Italian, although their pizza is very good. Amici's which is where Massa's used to be on Kirkwood Road is also very good for non-pizza Italian.

My favorite pizza is Frank & Helen's on Olive in UCity, followed by Meglio's on 270 and the Rock Road and probably Massa's in Kirkwood is #3.

For Chinese, Mandarin House at Page/170 is my favorite, followed by House of Wong (either Clayton or Creve Coeur).

For sushi, Oishi at Ballas/Olive is my fave.

I've never had Indian or Vietnamese. I've never had Thai in STL, but we have a very good Thai place (several actually) here in Bentonville.

I always liked Spiro's (Greek) when I went to UMSL, but that's been many moons ago.

I used to like Ruiz' Mexican when I was a kid (way up in Florissant) but my tastes have changed since then. I went a few years ago and didn't like it. We actually have a TON of very good hole in the wall Mexican places here in NW Arkansas. Nothing like it in STL.

Is that Ethiopian place (Red Sea, I think) still open down in the Loop?

hueterm
08-25-10, 10:09 PM
Oh, and La Bonne Bouchee is good French...

Playdrv4me
08-25-10, 10:22 PM
Oh, and La Bonne Bouchee is good French...

YES, that place is AMAZING. I think the Ethiopian joint is still there.

I've seen that Ruiz Castillo thing on I-70 but never stopped there. Maybe I'll give it a shot. I'll admit I've seen the sign for Massa's and forgot all about it, I'll have to try that also.

hueterm
08-25-10, 10:30 PM
YES, that place is AMAZING. I think the Ethiopian joint is still there.

I've seen that Ruiz Castillo thing on I-70 but never stopped there. Maybe I'll give it a shot. I'll admit I've seen the sign for Massa's and forgot all about it, I'll have to try that also.


The Ruiz I'm talking about is on Lindbergh WAY up in Florissant -- not along I-70. It's worth a try if you've never been as it's different -- but I'm not really a fan anymore.

If you go to Massa's, make sure it's the one in Kirkwood. I've heard it's better than the other locations, and it's the only one I've ever been to.

When I'm there next on vacation -- I'm going to have to try some of the newer French places I just Googled.....I LOVE me a Croque Monsieur and French Onion Soup....

slk230mb
08-26-10, 10:02 AM
When did you get an STS-V?!

3 weeks ago. :)

I need to take some good pictures of it and update my signature pic, but the weather here as been extremely crappy and uncooperative of late.

Rolex
08-26-10, 11:14 AM
You guys are making me hungry. :drool:

I agree about Olive Garden = :ack:

Italian is one of my favorites to go out to eat. We have a little hole in the wall place in Bentonville called Bella Napoli that blows OG out of the water.

hueterm
08-26-10, 04:42 PM
Agreed. How is Bordino's -- it's probably been 10 years since I was there....

There's also a little hole in the wall out in Centerton that is pretty good too....can't remember the name of it. They have a great antipasto salad...and the best garlic bread knots....

gdwriter
08-26-10, 05:24 PM
I love hole-in-the-wall places with great food. It's like discovering hidden gems.

I~LUV~Caddys8792
08-26-10, 07:52 PM
^ Agreed. There's a great italian joint nearby that does awesome calzones, pizzas, pasta, etc etc. It's owned and ran by an Italian immigrant, who's so new to this country, his accent is still very thick! I only found it maybe six months ago. Why you ask... Because it's hidden in the dingy side of town, in a tiny little strip mall next to a gas station.

Playdrv4me
08-26-10, 07:56 PM
The best Mexican places in Wichita are places you probably go wouldn't touch with a 10 foot pole unless someone specifically took you there. 24 hour holes in the wall that are just to die for.