Tag Archive: Bubba Gump Shrimp Co.


A Tour is Born

#Merica Tour, Stories from the Road, Segment 2
(Click here for Segment 1)

I arrive at Mall of America’s The Bubba Gump Shrimp Co. and find there’s space at the bar for me and my wheeled suitcase, so I settle in as the petite, raspy-voiced bartender tells me she’ll make me an iced tea with some kind of peach vodka in it. I agree to it, and it’s one colossal peachy drink that I’d never order on my own and I love it immediately for that.A Tour is Born

I spend the afternoon eating shrimp cocktail with my peach drink and watching Forrest Gump on the bar TV. It’s amazing not to need to be anywhere and I soak in the feeling of “I’m exactly where I need to be.” I chat a little with the other bar patrons about their work and tell them I’m embarking on a road trip to see Trampled by Turtles in Colorado. They don’t know the band–which is a crime—but they tell me to go see the “giant ball of string,” which everyone adamantly says is in Kansas, Minnesota, and Iowa. Turns out, they’re all pretty much right. [Over the course of the next few days, I find out there’s the world’s largest/second largest ball of string (collected by one man), string (collected by a community), and twine, and they’re in Kansas, Iowa, and Minnesota.] Regardless, knowing my friend and travel companion, Brent, giant string is already on the itinerary along with a lot of other roadside attractions. Yes, with the uncanny and timely release of the newest Vacation movie into theaters, this is about to be a “Holiday Road” kind of trip.

Brent sends a message that he’s done with work and nearing the Mall. I pay my tab and head for the specified parking ramp. We meet up, hug, and finally say hello. It’s the first time in months that we’ve spoken out loud. Even planning this last-minute trip has all been done via message, and that has only added to the mystical nature of travel.

A Tour is BornWe head out to dinner, and he drives to the Surly Brewing Company in St. Paul, which is bustling with people between the main floor beer hall, the grassy courtyard outside, and the upstairs where a private party is going on.

We sidle up to the bar and he points out that one of the taps is labeled #Merica!

We guess that it’s a lager, and it is. We chat with the bartender about coconut porter made at the Church Brew Works in Pittsburgh and never mention our upcoming road trip. I’m wearing a Captain America t-shirt, and the bartender (and everyone else all day) calls me Captain. I feast on a fantastic smoked salmon salad and farro salad with poached egg and wash it down with the Cacao! Bender.

A Tour is BornWhen we finish dinner, Brent and I sit outside on the grassy knolls and watch people come and go with their beer. It’s a mixed crowd of after-office attire and pre-fall hipster layers mingling easily. I like this place.

We stare up at the big Surly sign and I say that we need a tour name. “We can’t just jump in the car without a name for the trip,” I say. Here we are, having cleared our work schedules for the week ahead, Brent from his code-writing job where he tells computers what to do, and me from my writing and waiting tables gigs, though truth be told, the writer brain never shuts off, and here we’ve no name for what we’re doing other than “road trip.” Writers name things. We need a name.

“What kind of name?” Brent asks.

“I don’t know,” I speculate. “The Great West Tour, or Trampled by Turtles or Bust, or…”

Brent smiles, “Or, the #Merica Tour,” he says. Brent has a way of getting right to the heart of things in very few words—he, and Hemingway. It’s too bad about Brent’s computer career thing because he’d be a great writer.

“The #Merica Tour,” I say. “That’s exactly it.”

And so it is.

~
Jody Brown is the author of Upside Down Kingdom, and is a blogger, poet, and traveler.

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Cheating Death

cheating death#Merica Tour, Stories from the Road, Segment 1
When a friend asks you if you want to go on a road trip, you say yes. You say yes, and then you figure out how you’ll get time off and the money for travel and to pay your bills that week. These are mere details that, for me, need to be worked out the same way a person makes a list of what to pack. Say yes, then make it happen.

I’m sitting at my computer in the dining room when my phone twinges with a message:

Road Trip?
Trampled by Turtles is playing in Red Rocks. The concert is on a Saturday. I figure we give ourselves two days’ time on either side of it to drive.

I answer back:
I’ll book a flight.

And thus, it began. I flew from Pittsburgh to Minneapolis on an August Wednesday. Days are easy to remember at the beginning of any trip. From here on out, though, they days blend until they don’t seem to have distinguishing names anymore.

I thought it funny to start out a road trip with a flight. It’s also funny to think that every time I hop on a flight, especially toward somewhere with a time change, I excitedly feel as if I’m cheating death.

light rail cheating deathI arrive in Minneapolis and collect my things from baggage claim. My friend doesn’t get out of work for a few hours, and I knew this when I booked. I’m happy to wait and I review my options. Maybe I’ll take a cab somewhere. Maybe I’ll just sit with a coffee and watch airport people. I receive a text from my friend saying that I can take the Light Rail from the airport to the Mall of America. I’ve just hurtled through the sky on a glorified rocket and a drink sounds good, so I go.

Mall of America cheating deathI find the Light Rail easily enough, and it takes me back to my D.C. days of riding the Metro to and from work. I think about how mass transportation astounds me with its convenience and my ability to get up and go pretty much anywhere for pretty much anything. I also I think about Planes, Trains, and Automobiles and I laugh.

I get to the Mall with one clear agenda on my mind: The Bubba Gump Shrimp Co. I’ve never actually been in there. Today’s the day.

Proving America is amazing, one stop at a time.

~
Jody Brown is the author of Upside Down Kingdom, and is a blogger, poet, and traveler.

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