Florida Roadtrip Writeup

With my recent graduation, the first course of action was to travel, of course! I have had this trip planned out for several months now, for as much as traveling has become easier through experience, planning is still crucial to a good trip. This trip was different other trips due to the fact that I am now graduated. I am now traveling with a freedom that my other trips have been lacking. This is my life now, not just some weekend adventure, but part of my real life, without anyone else telling me what I should be doing. Becoming graduated has given me a clarity of thought that I hadn’t thought possible. I am hopeful that I will use this freedom and clarity to redouble my efforts toward personal projects and finding a job, but time will tell. I might not be constrained by time, but my bank account isn’t infinite!


  • About 2500 miles driven
  • About $200 in gas

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The Outward Journey

I left Monday afternoon, Nov 23rd, heading toward Charlotte, NC. Marissa, my friend from highschool, is attending college there and let me spend a few nights with her. 7 hour drive from Pittsburgh to Charlotte. The hills of West Virginia are quite windy. I spend Monday and Tuesday night with her. I checkout the UNC-Charlotte campus and get some fast food from a place named “Cook Out.” You can get corn dogs as a side with your meal. I pickup some local Muscadine wine for our Thanksgiving dinner. Muscadine grapes are local to the South and have a very sweet, but kind of musky taste to them, a very unique flavor.

Marissa's guinea pig!Cook OutMuscadine + Beaujolais Nouveau

Wednesday, the 25th, I took off toward Sarasota, FL to spend Thanksgiving day with my grandparents. 11 hours of driving in the rain and holiday traffic. Florida has the most amount of: accidents, terrible “driving too fast” drivers, cops pulling people over, and people driving too slow. A terrible state to drive in, but a beautiful balmy state. It was great to see my grandparents after a few years and spend Thanksgiving with them. My grandmother is 84 years old and a great cook. She can barely walk, but somehow still has her driver’s license and is still allowed to drive. That amazes me.


The Return

Saturday, the 28th, I headed across the state to have my third thanksgiving with some other friends, Lauren and Phil. Driving East/West in Florida is terrible and the roads are not built to facilitate such travel. Florida looks exactly the same no matter where you go. Good food was eaten, Lauren is an excellent cook, and some pool was shot. The next day, I headed off toward Melbourne, an hour North, to visit my friend Haris who had just moved down there and also just graduated last year. I crashed on his couch Sunday night.

Florida BBQBojangles Biscuits + Sweet Tea

Monday morning, at a bright and early 8AM, I took off toward home. My trip had been a progression toward longer and longer drives, so this was my longest drive yet. It’s about 16 hours of driving from FL to PA, so I decided to straight shot it. I stopped off in SC for Bojangles, this awesome biscuit fast food place, similar to Popeyes. Such great food in the South! I managed about 12 hours of solid driving before crashing around 10PM to sleep for 2 hours. I woke up at midnight and then kept driving. I got home around 4AM, so 20 hours of traveling for 16 hours of driving. I was quite impressed with myself! Not something I want to do all the time, but sometimes you have to push it to the limit.

It was a great experience to see old friends and family! I am already packing for my next trip though…

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Reflections Of A College Graduate

After five years and some change, I am now a college graduate with a BS in Software Engineering! To clarify, that is four years of schooling and one year of internship… My life has changed dramatically over this time span: academically, in terms of how I think about my career, emotionally, in how I view my relationships with other people, and internally, in how I think about myself and my goals for life. I’ve made some great friendships, traveled around a bit of the world, and learned enough to hopefully get me a job being useful to the world. This is the first time in my short life that I haven’t had a path laid out in front of me to follow, which I find to strange to think about how free I am currently.

Reflecting back on college, my first two years were a bit of a wash. I was not very serious about my degree and was all over the place. It was good to sample, to make many friends, to really get the college experience of random activities and a carefree lifestyle. One of the best decisions I made was to join CSH, a special dorm floor for people interested in computers. I’m still heavily involved with CSH and the relationships that I formed from that place have heavily impacted my life in a positive way.

Third year, I did a study abroad in Osnabrueck, Germany for six months and really had a blast. This was my first time returning to Germany since I had lived there as a child. It was a great experience to travel around as an adult and experience Europe in my own unique way. This was also great life experience, in terms of meeting new and random people from different countries and experiencing how they think and feel. I returned back to the US, for a six month internship in NYC, which again, great life experience and a verification that my career path was a good idea. It was my first “real” programming job and I loved it. NYC wasn’t that bad either!

Fourth and fifth year, after traveling and working around the world, I really started to see the big picture and settle down. My degree and reason for taking classes gained a tangible benefit, along with the end of the race being in sight. I really began to enjoy programming as it made more sense to me and I was able to accomplish more. Another internship and a senior project really helped solidify my skills.

I am moving out of my college apartment for the last time tomorrow. I’m not sure what I’ll be doing a week or a month from now, but I sure am looking forward to finding out.

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Bourbon Roadtrip Writeup

After a month of recovery, I’ve managed to write up the experiences from my bourbon roadtrip over the summer. My plans for this trip are here. Overall, it was a great time to drive across America and meet some very unique people. I enjoyed the different perspectives that I gained and the connections that I made. Also the food and drink that I sampled was fantastic.

Some quick stats:

  • About 4500 miles driven on my car
  • About $1800 total spent on the trip
    • $600 on gas + oil change
    • $350 on 6 days in hotels
    • $800 on food and drinks

Week 1

I left Rochester with my roommate Luke to drop him off in Cincinnati, so he could buy a truck from his uncle. We stopped off in Pittsburgh overnight, to grab some sleep and see my mom.

We left early Monday morning and wound up in Cincinnati sometime around noon. Ohio is a boring state to drive through, cornfields and flat everywhere. His uncle is a priest at a convent, so I had lunch with a bunch of priests that day! I left Luke there and headed off toward Kentucky to try and visit some distilleries. I made it down to Frankfort, KY by around 4PM and started driving the Bourbon Trail https://www.kybourbontrail.com/ I found the Buffalo Trace distillery after a bit, but since their last tour was at 3PM, I was too late and just took some pictures and enjoyed the smell of bourbon in the air. It was the best smell in the world, you could practically taste it on your tongue. I kept driving south into the Daniel Boone National Forest, which is where I planned to camp that night. I drove into the Bee Rock campground before the sun set and checked out the area. I was immediately surprised by the amount of bugs in the air, bugs so large that they sounded like birds when they flew by me. The bugs really kept me from exploring and being relaxed that night. I setup a small fire, baked some beans, and had a few drinks to calm my nerves from the bugs.


It was a short and restless night for me, again, due to the bugs and random things that kept bumping around. I was up at 6AM to drive 3 hours to the other side of Kentucky, to go spelunking at Mammoth Caves! There was a great fiery sunrise that morning, I was glad to be awake for that. I showed up Mammoth Caves around 8 because I completely forgot about crossing the EST/CST time barrier, so I slept in my car for another hour, before my first tour at 9AM. I signed up for 2 tours that day, a walking lantern tour of the caves and a get down and dirty spelunking tour. The lantern tour was pretty laid back, the tour guide was a very interesting and eccentric old man who knew the caves well. The spelunking tour started around 2PM and was an amazing time. I had to wear ankle rise boots, long pants, and I was given a helmet with a mounted light. I was with about 15 people wandering around underground for 3 hours and loved every minute of it. Definitely something I want to try again! I got out the caves by 6PM and didn’t have any other plans, so I headed off toward Dallas! I drove until I was dead, sometime past midnight. I checked into the closest motel and slept for 8 hours.


I woke up on Wednesday, took a shower, and then hit the road again. I kept driving for the rest of the day. I stopped off to eat at random southern restaurants that I didn’t have up north when I could. I stopped off at Hope, Arkansas, the birthplace of Bill Clinton, on a friend’s suggestion and it was a terrible town. I couldn’t find a single non-chain restaurant! I had a deadline that day, I was supposed to pickup up a friend in the Dallas airport at 7PM and I was going to meet that deadline. I showed up at maybe 7:30PM after driving past the airport 3 times because Dallas has terrible traffic patterns. Quakecon had begun!

The next few days, from Thursday through Sunday were pretty much a blur. Playing games, checking out exhibits, finding stuff todo in Dallas, and a bit of drinking. It was a great time to meet many of my friends from the internet, that I have only known online. I went to John Carmack’s keynote speech and was amazed by everything that was going on in his head. It was a great event!


Sunday morning, Quakecon was over and I hung around helping clean up tables and chairs from the event. Later in the afternoon, I met up with some friends and we went to grab Ethiopian food somewhere. It was really tasty, more people should try Ethiopian food! After this, I took off toward Austin with my buddy Josh, who was coming along with me for the next week! He had arranged some time off from work and was traveling with me to split gas/hotel costs. We had another mutual friend, Shane, in Austin who was letting us stay at his house for the next 2 nights. We arrived in Austin and then headed out! Grabbed some pizza and hit up 6th St. for the rest of the night. Austin nightlife is quite crazy!


Week 2

We woke Monday morning up around 10am and played XBOX 360 for a bit. Shane had to work, so Josh and I headed to the Alamo Drafthouse to see District 9. The drafthouse is a movie theater that serves food and beer while you watch the movie. Amazing experience hands down, great food, great beer, and great movie! We went back to Shane’s house and then met up with some of his friends and to go hangout at another house for awhile. We spent the rest of the grilling outside, playing more XBOX, and hanging out.

Alamo Drafthouse

Tuesday morning, we slept in again. I had been taking Vitamin C pills by this point to try and stay healthy, the long days and nights driving were wearing me down. We went to Freebirds World Burritos for lunch with Shane and it was pretty good. Similar to Chipotle but different. Josh and I left for Houston around 4PM, to another friend’s house, Keith. Keith and his wife made awesome potstickers for dinner! Some more friends showed up for dinner and then we left to hit up the Houston nightlife afterwards. Houston is a very different place from what I am used to., but not that bad.

Friends in Houston

We woke up around noon on Wednesday and took off to New Orleans. It was a boring drive, but it was a new drive and not that bad overall. It took like 7 hours with traffic. We checked into the hotel and then headed to Bourbon St. for dinner. We had some gumbo, jambalaya, catfish, bbq shrimp, and rice for dinner and it was fantastic! I definitely fell in love with the cooking on New Orleans at that point. We were back by 11PM and went to sleep.

Thursday was a wandering day. We went to Cafe du Monde for excellent coffee and donuts. Went to random shops and looked at antiques. Got lost and stuff. We got headed to Snug Harbor around 7PM for dinner and some live jazz afterward. Seeing jazz in New Orleans was definitely one of the more memorable experiences of the trip. After that, Josh and I had a wild night out on the town that I won’t soon forget.

Lee Circle, NOCafe du MondeRandom bus!Canal StreetSnug Harbor

Friday was a bit of a wash, waking up around noon and heading out with Josh to go meet some girl that he wanted to take photographs of. Josh is a fashion photographer and knew a model in the area that he wanted to shoot with. I just tagged along for the ride and passed out most of the day. By 7-8PM, we headed across Lake Pontchartrain to grab dinner with some friends and hangout. We took it pretty easy Friday night and were grateful to be able to do that!

I was up early on Saturday to drop Josh off at the airport, for his flight home. After that, I checked out of the hotel, and started driving toward Memphis, TN! I arrived later that night, just in time for dinner plans with some friends in the area at Rendezvous, a famous ribhouse in Memphis that I had never heard of! They serve dry ribs, which are very different from what I am used to. I had to put sauce on them, made them “muddy” ribs. After that, plenty of drinking and good times on the town in Memphis. Quite a vibrant and interesting city!


Week 3

I woke up Sunday morning on my friend’s couch and took off pretty early. 6 hour drive to Hardon, IL, a quiet farming town an hour outside of St. Louis where my father was born, raised, and now buried. My aunt still lives there as a teacher and mayor of a neighboring town. I grabbed diner with her and another aunt and then got some much needed sleep.

Monday morning, I took off to Palatine, Chicago to visit more relatives. Most of this week was spent lounging around and not drinking. The previous 2 weeks had been heavy drinking every night for 14 days in a row, it was taking its toll on me. I met up with a bunch of cousins I hadn’t seen like 4-5 years. My aunt took me out to lunch at Gene and Georgetti’s steakhouse, that was a fantastic meal. I saw the big shiny bean in Grant Park and I went to the new walkout sky outlook thing at the SEARS tower. That was pretty awesome. Chicago is a cool town.

Mississippi River!Bean in Grant ParkSears tower was cloudy that dayView from the Sears towerLooking down from the Skydeck, top of the Sears TowerMy cousin on the Skydeck outlookMore sears towerDeep dish style pizza, the best!Up north from Chicago

After a week of downtime, Saturday morning I took off to Cleveland, OH to meetup with a good friend, Disco, who I knew from my time in Pittsburgh. He’s been finishing up his law degree there and Cleveland is a good mid-way stopping point going back to Rochester. We went down the warehouse district, grabbed dinner, a few drinks, and had a good time catching up.

Sunday morning, I took off toward Rochester and home, very glad to get home after 3 weeks away. Always good to come home after a long trip away!

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Bourbon Roadtrip

As the summer comes to a close, I have one more roadtrip planned. The main cause for this roadtrip is a gaming convention called Quakecon that is taking place in Dallas, TX next week, but I’m making a wide swing from New Orleans to Chicago, visiting a few friends and relatives along the way. As the title indicates, I am calling this my “Bourbon Roadtrip” because I am going to be spending 2 days in Kentucky, the home of some of the best bourbons in the US and I’m planning on visiting as many distilleries as I have time for! I have 3 weeks planned for this trip and will be trying to post as many stories as I can on here, through my newly installed iPhone WordPress app!

The current itinerary includes:

  • Leave today for Pittsburgh with a roommate along for the ride until Cincinnati. Dinner with my family that night.
  • Monday the 10th, drop off my friend in Cincinnati, hit up the bourbon trail in Kentucky, and then wind up in Daniel Boone National Park to camp out for the night! I have no reservations for the park, I’m just going to drive into the woods and pitch my tent somewhere.
  • Tuesday the 11th, wake up with the sun and show up at Mammoth Caves for 6 hours of tours inside the camp, including the “Introduction to Caving” and “Violet City Lantern” tours! This is going to be a great time, I already know.
  • Wednesday, I spend 12 hours driving to Dallas!
  • 12th-15th in Dallas, TX at Quakecon.
  • 16-17th Austin, TX staying with a friend
  • 18th Houston, TX for a day! No clue where I am staying or what I am doing.
  • 19-21th in New Orleans at the hotel Le Cirque. Plenty of bars and restaurants that have been suggested to try out! I cannot wait to sample all the cajun food!
  • 22nd driving to Memphis, TN and having some great ribs.
  • 23rd Saint Louis to visit my aunt.
  • 24-28th visiting my cousins in Chicago.
  • 29th in Columbus, OH, staying with another friend, I hope!
  • Home by the 30th.

Here is the map of my route, starting and ending in Rochester:

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I imagine that I am going get into a bunch of trouble, spend way too much money, eat too much, and totally love the entire experience! Traveling is something I have come to cherish and I cannot wait to hit the road for this adventure. If anyone has suggestions for things to do or see along the route, please leave a comment!

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Summer Living

I headed out to the Adirondacks this weekend, taking care of some chores at a friend’s log cabin, involving mowing the grass, burning a bunch of random stuff, and repairing random things. “Chores” out in the woods are always fun!

The Lake

This summer has been a bit of a new experience for me so far, involving more free time than previous summers. I’m taking 7 credits at school, half my normal amount, and working part-time doing coding with a small company. This has given me quite an amount of freedom that I am trying to make the best of. Currently, my solutions involve reading as much as I can, but once I get some books knocked out, I’m planning to finish atleast 1 or 2 major projects this summer. I’m interested to see how far I can push myself when I set my own schedule.

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