Category Jon

City of Sun and Sin

The desert oasis awaits!

My next stop was the Hoover Dam and that glittering jewel of Nevada, Vegas!

The first stop was the Hoover Dam itself.  Coming from the North, Janelle and I drove right through the city to reach the dam, but it was well worth the effort.  The Hoover Dam really is an engineering triumph.  New construction techniques were developed for the dam that are still being used today, and the power generated by it has more than paid for construction.

But the dam wasn’t actually built to provide hydroelectric power.  It was made first and foremost to control the Colorado river, which often flooded, and to create reliable agricultural for the entire Southwest...

Read More

Sleepless [To Go To] Seattle: That Canyon is Grand

Welcome to Arizona!

Next stop – The Grand Canyon.  Or it was, after a brief detour in Utah to visit the Arches and Canyonlands national parks.

Leaving Steamboat, and not forgetting my sister (who will be joining my journey until I drop her off at my Aunt and Uncle’s in Twentynine Palms, CA), I headed out for one of the longest legs of my cross-country drive: an 11 hour sprint punctuated by a stop in Moab almost exactly halfway to the Grand Canyon.

If you ever happen to be in Utah, Moab is definitely worth a visit.  Like many of my stops, I quickly wished I had a bit more time to enjoy the surroundings.  And although our stay was brief, my sister and I were amazed by the natural beauty of the Arches National park:


Don’t breathe…

The park is the result of evaporating seas that left behind...

Read More

Sleepless [To Go To] Seattle: The Slopes in Summer

My next stop on my cross-country journey was in the mountains of Colorado, in the town of Steamboat Springs.

I’ve actually been to Steamboat many times in the past to visit my Aunt and Uncle.  And to go skiing.  Of course, visiting my family is the most important thing. : )

But I’ve never actually been to Steamboat in the summer, and it’s equally as beautiful when the mountains are green instead of white.


The slopes in summer.

And this occasion was made extra special by the presence of many cousins, aunts, uncles, second cousins, and more!  Many relatives from my Mom’s family journeyed from all over the country for a great family reunion.

Good-natured fun abounded, especially in our loving, family-friendly competitions to assert dominance and humiliate our weaker kin in games like horse...

Read More

Sleepless [To Go To] Seattle: To enjoy it, you really need to rush less…

Welcome to South Dakota!

I have to be honest, I wasn’t really sure what to expect when I decided to visit Mount Rushmore.  For some reason, I always thought that South Dakota was mostly a dust bowl.  Just sort of rocky and dusty.  I’m not sure why, but I did.

Boy, was I surprised.  The first thing I saw when crossing the state line was a beautiful expanse of rolling green hills.  South Dakota (SD from here on) is actually incredibly green in places, and provides great vistas around every curve of the highway (especially at sunset).  I was blown away at how peaceful and lush everything looked.

Not to say there aren’t some dusty areas!  Ron Wilkoc (my friend back in PA), had informed that I was going to pass right by the Badlands National Park, so I made it a point to stop and check it...

Read More

Sleepless [To Go To] Seattle: O-Hi-O!

The next stop on my cross-country tour was Columbus, Ohio – home of the Buckeyes, and other useless nuts:

Case in point.

Case in point.

I actually came to Columbus to see this guy – Wes – a good buddy of mine from my BayCare days.  Wes is a great guy who just got a job in Columbus last October, and he was kind enough to show me around the city while I was in town.

We didn’t have a formal schedule, but there was plenty going on around Columbus, so we decided to just wing it:

Our first stop was the local County Fair.  We didn’t know what to expect, and we quickly learned a valuable lesson: Don’t go to the County Fair.

Or more specifically, don’t go before noon – possibly later.  Nothing was open.  No rides. No food.  Well, there might have been an ice cream stand open, but it was 10 in the morning!


Read More

Sleepless [To Go To] Seattle: In The Poconos

Well, I had my first detour folks!  I was originally supposed to go to Boston next, but that didn’t work out unfortunately, so I headed straight to see some good friends of mine in the Poconos, Barb and Ron Wilkoc.

Barb and Ron

Barb and Ron

Barb is one of my Mom’s oldest friends, and she and her husband, Ron, have been great supporters of our family for many years.  They spend their summers in the Pocono mountains.  If you’ve ever been to Camelback mountain in Pennsylvania, you’ll know the area.  The lodge is visible from their house.

Barb and Ron were extremely welcoming, and made me feel right at home.  Although I visited the Poconos when I was very young, I don’t remember it at all.  It’s a beautiful area...

Read More

Sleepless [To Go To] Seattle: A Capitol Time!

From the cool mountains of North Carolina, I made a beeline to the hot streets of our nation’s capitol.  Fortunately, I have both family and friends in D.C., so it was an action-packed few days.

First stop was to see my Aunt Cheryl, Uncle Jon (who may just happen to be my namesake), and cousins Kristin and Katie.  As an unexpected bonus, my Aunt Janet was visiting as well!

VA Sourbeers (in hats!)

VA Sourbeers (in hats!)
Aunt Cheryl, Kristin, Katie, and Uncle Jon

Why are we wearing hats, you ask?  I think the question you should be asking yourself is, ‘why don’t I wear a hat in all my pictures?’

Actually, we had great fun discussing our little family idiosyncrasies, and came upon a story in which a friend of another Sourbeer (my uncle Emory) instantly recognized my Uncle Jon as a relative based upon his bearing ...

Read More

Sleepless [To Go To] Seattle: Rain in the Wood

Funny enough, as I make my meandering way towards Seattle, I have yet to see a day without torrential rain.  The showers have been brief, but regular, and my time in the Appalachians was no exception.

I’ve been visiting my grandparents at their property near Boone, affectionately known as ‘Sourwood’.


It is quite possibly the most beautiful house I’ve ever been in.  It’s a big house, but not massive.  It sits upon a wooded slope that descends to a stream that constantly gurgles and roars.  The woods are lush, but not dense – perfect for exploration.  Beyond the stream, a pond filled with trout waits for a fisherman and his grandchildren to while the day away.


And everything in the house, and about the house, feels like it belongs there...

Read More

Sleepless [To Go To] Seattle: Hot Pots and Hot Yoga

I’ve been in South Carolina visiting my cousin Nikole for the past couple days, and she’s been kind enough to show me some old-fashioned Southern hospitality!

Me and my cuz!

Me and my cuz!

And after driving all the way up to see her, what was the first thing she did?  Gave me a chance to stretch my legs, and everything else, with some hot yoga!  Now, if you’ve ever done yoga before, you know it can be challenging and intense.  Hot yoga is that cranked up to 11.

It destroyed me.

Seriously, the guy who was teaching us was insane.  10 minutes into the hour and a half long class, my arms were hurting more than they have in years.  I have no idea what the temperature was in the room, but it was difficult to breathe.  I was dripping in sweat within 15 minutes – and that’s pretty much holding static poses...

Read More

Sleepless [to go to] Seattle: The First Leg

It’s been a hectic last few days – from finishing my packing on Monday, to publishing the book, time has been at a premium.  Throw in the fact that I would actually like to spend some time with the people I’m visiting, and I’m just now publishing the first blog about my trip.

The last few days in Gainesville have been great for remembering old stories from college, from funny events – usually involving injury to my college roommate Conor – to old habits.  It’s been a good reminder of how things change, usually for the better!  I’ve been staying at my old buddy Eric’s house while in Gainesville, and it’s amazing to see how he and his place have changed over the years.  The house looks pretty much the same from the outside, but inside, it’s very different...

Read More