Wednesday, July 16, 2014

Longer, Wetter and Slippier: Third Annual Slip-N-Slide Party

Longer, wetter and slippier (that's a word, right?). That's what we try to accomplish every year with our Slip-N-Slide party.

We started the shingdig three years ago and we've made improvements every year.

You can read about our first run here.

In our second year, we improved the slide holding mechanism slightly with some metal bars and stakes.

It's just a flesh wound
It held up well, but our friend Nate made the mistake of running across the slide and ended up with this gash. Another friend ran UP the slide and tore a big hole in it. That's what happens when people get a little tipsy!

Setup in 2013 thanks to Trung's help
The time it took to setup the slide was still pretty time consuming, not to mention you die of heat exhaustion while setting it up in the middle of the day. Thankfully we always have some great friends who are at our house EARLY (because they spent the night) to help out.

So, for our third annual party, Micah wanted to improve setup time even more! Since last year's party left the slide with a hole, Micah bought a new slide and he went for the 75ft. one! An extra 15 feet!
Micah also devised a new way to secure the slide: grommets. Genius.

The week before the party, Micah and I spent 5 hours taping the slide with heavy duty a/c duct tape and then punching in grommets every foot. Thankfully the World Cup was on while we were doing this back-breaking work!

On the day of the party, we put down a thin layer of foam padding, the old slide and then the new slide. The new slide was easily secured with landscape pins.

We also put up a bunch of moving blankets and an air mattress as a bumper. Extra insurance was needed since the fence came loose last year. We don't play around (or maybe we play around too much?)!

In years past, we would just put a sprinkler head at the top of the slide -- and while that worked well, it wasn't great. So this year, Micah got this hose.

It actually distributed the water all the way down the slide plus it looked really pretty at dusk!

For food, I had a nacho bar and grilled Mexican corn. The night before the party, I spent a few hours frying 200 fresh tortillas into tortilla chips. I smelled tortillas in my sleep that night, no joke.

This was also our first year of the Slip-N-Slide under the new patio. It was so much better with all the shade and fans. I think everyone appreciated that!

While it's a lot of work to get it all together, we love having this party because it's just grown ass people getting to act like a kid for a day. It's all sorts of awesome. And here is the proof that we're ridic.

Micah loves buying props for the slide. 

It's a bromance y'all.

This is what our lawn looks like after it takes a beating from the party. Thankfully it's supposed to rain this week. Until next year!

Thursday, July 3, 2014

Guten Tag Germany!

After drinking our fill of delicious sour beers, we made our way to the land of smoked beers!

Bamberg, Germany

After several trains and 6 hours, we finally got to Bamberg. When you mention Bamberg, most folks have no idea where it is... unless you're a beer nerd. It's in the Upper Franconia area of Bavaria.

The old medieval town is also an UNESCO World Heritage site.

The old town has the Regnitz River going through the middle of it.

They even have what they call their Little Venice. I hope these homes have flood insurance!

Because the city was left unharmed during World War II, there are some really old buildings in this town. This is the Bamberg Dom Cathedral, which was completed in the 1300s.

Inside the cathedral. I feel like that's all I do in Europe... visit Cathedrals.

There's also this really nice monastery in Bamberg as well. We didn't make it up to the monastery, but I saw the small vineyard they have on site!

What was the first thing we ate at in Bamberg when we arrived at 10 p.m.? Doner kebap, of course! There was a small shop across the street from our apartment and it was perfect for a late night meal.

We stayed in an apartment with Monello Apartments. The place is a 5 minute walk to the main train station and a 10 minute walk to the old section of Bamberg. Very large space for a good price!

Getting Rauched!

Bamberg is known for having smoked beers, Rauchbier (pronounced Rockh-beer).

In the states, you can usually get Schlenkerla. Schlenkerla is right smack in the middle of old town - you can't miss it! I mean, you even see their delivery trucks around town!

They have a great beer garden as well as a really large main dining hall. They only have two beers on the menu: Uecht Schlenkerla Rauchbier - Marzen and a Schlenkerla Rauchweizen (smoked wheat).

Micah would say that these were probably the best smoked beers we had in Bamberg. 

To go with the smoked beers, my sister and I also shared a plate of the pork sausage with sauerkraut and potatoes. The sausages were great! Perfect texture!

And, I accidentally ordered a schnappe. I thought it was cherry beer of some sort. Wrong. It was like a cinnamon cherry shot. It ended up being my belated birthday shot. Yay to turning 32!

We also checked out Brauerie Fassla and Spezial. The two breweries are right across the street from each other. Talk about stiff competition. Fassla had a country-type feel to it and the beers there were mediocre.

But Micah and Linda still chugged that beer like nobody's business.

At Spezial, the brews were definitely better. I mean, they've been making beer since 1536, so they should know wassup.

I really did like their Weissbier. Cheers!

While we were sitting there, we saw a nearby table order a huge chunk of meat. My sister and I had to have it, so we ordered our first schweinshaxe (pork knuckle) at Spezial. It was served in a pool of brown gravy along with this dumpling. The pork was great but the dumpling was not tasty at all. It reminds me of a tapioca ball but with zero flavor.

We snacked a lot in Bamberg (and by snack, I mean that big pork knuckle up there), so I don't have that many food pictures.

But we did have a nice breakfast at this place. It was kind of hard ordering in German, not going to lie.

My sister got this hash type dish after she saw a man eating it when we walked in.

I asked the waitress for the traditional German breakfast and this is what I got. A boiled egg, cold cuts and some cheese. It was actually just the right amount of food!

We also bought some fruit at the market that was held near the town square. I also thought these white asparagus looked AMAZING. I mean, so fat and white!

And how amazing do these linzer cookies look? I didn't get to eat one though! I fail at life.

And this is what happens when you drink too much beer in Bamberg. You grow Fu Manchu moustaches. I would say that beer in Germany is much more boring than beers in Belgium. They stick to the usual Reinheitsgebot rule -- which means beer can only be brewed with water, barley and hops (I guess they forgot the yeast part). So no added flavors, spices, etc. If you love German beers then this great, but for me, I prefer Belgian beers, for sure.

Last stop: Munchen!

You know what's cool about traveling on trains in Europe? You can bring along your own beverage! Beer for the road? I'm down with that.

Most people know Munich as the home of Oktoberfest! I can't even imagine coming to this city during Oktoberfest. That would be INSANE. Can't handle it. We did however, stay at Pension Westfalia, which is located right across the street from the festival fairgrounds. That I'm ok with.

When we got into town, we walked around Marienplatz, which to me is just a lot of high-end shops. I can get that anywhere!

We did stop off at the oh-so-popular Hofbrauhaus. We ordered a couple of steins but their beers were definitely not memorable. Pretty generic, really.

On our first night, my sis had an itch to check out an EDM fest going on on the outskirts of Munich, so she left us old folks to fend for ourselves!

We ended up having a rotisserie chicken dinner at Gaststätte Lindwurmstüberl. It's actually a an Augustiner beer restaurant.

I also had a great spatzle there! It paired well with the chicken and the side of gravy was a perfect accompaniment. Micah also had Augustiner's maibock - which he really liked. Funny enough, when he tried to order the Maiboch the following day at the Augustiner brewpub, they wouldn't serve it because it was June! They're strict about their beers in Germany!

On our last full day, we decided to rent some bikes at Frankie's Bike Rentals and cruise the city. The City is super bike friendly, so it's no problem riding around.

We decided to ride through Englischer Garten, much to Micah's allergies dismay. But we had too! During the spring and summer, some folks like to go topless or sans bottom. We only saw naked dudes on our ride. The craziest guy we saw was one the locals dub "Robo Cock." He apparently always has some weird silver contraption on his dangle. It's cray. I didn't get too close, but I saw enough.

We saw these crazy kids surfing in the Eisbach. Brrrr. I'm pretty sure this is where Schlitterbahn gets there surfenburg ideas.

We also made a pit stop at the Chinese Tower for some pretzels, beer and more schweinshaxe!

This one was extra crispy and sans gravy! Gotta get some salad to balance out all that fat.

When we dropped off our bikes, we also came across the owner of the shop, Frankie and his interesting group of friends. 

Frankie was moving his business to a new location so he basically invited us to some beers, then shots and somehow an impromptu jam session happened. It was hilariously crazy but awesome. We ended up spending 4 hours at his shop.

I even make a vocal appearance in the jam session above! There's also a special appearance by Paul Walker. Did you see him? Ha!

After that, Frankie went with us to dinner at his favorite Vietnamese restaurant, An Nam. That food was just what I needed. While I enjoyed German food in all its starch and pork glory, I needed some sweet, sour and spice in my life!

I ordered the tofu vermicelli bowl and it was actually one of the best bun bowls I've had anywhere. I think it was because of the different textures in the bowl that aren't usually there: sweet potatoes and mango. The veggie eggroll was also perfect!

The owner of the restaurant and our waitress were both very inquisitive about Viet-Americans visiting Munich. At least we have a common language in Vietnamese! Because my German was not so great.

How did we end our last night in Munich and the trip? Ordering some beers at Paulaner. It's a great way to end our whirlwind European vacation! On a side note, can you tell Micah is high on allergy meds in this pic? Poor fella.

While I enjoyed Germany, if and when we go back, I will definitely fit in more castles. I would also like to catch a legit futbol game over there. Bayern Munchen had just ended their season a few weeks before we got there. Next time! Until then... Auf Wiedersehen!