Vehicle is the theme at PhotoFriday this week. A couple years my friends laughed at me when I told them another friend was giving me his car. Not just any car, but a 1989 Toyota Camry. A car old enough, I could have been driving it when I got my license. Some were even betting that I would not make it across the state of California, let alone all the way back to Illinois. Well, over two years later, and many many miles down the road it still keeps on cruising. I recently had to replace the front tires after one blew, but such is life. While many would recommend never buying a car from a friend or relative, I would highly encourage accepting free cars. At least it has worked out well for me.
On my long drive home, I decided to take a break in Metropolis, Illinois. Metropolis bills itself as the hometown of Superman, and have built a giant statue of him in the town square. At two hundred feet tall, it actually is an impressive piece of Americana. I spent a little time taking photos of the statue, and some of the other Superman related items in the area, before heading back out to the highway. Before I got there, I was sidelined by a historical marker pointing towards Fort Massac State Park. Not too excited about the next five hours of driving, I decided to do some wandering around.
As I entered the fort, I encountered four youth throwing rocks at the wall of the fort. I advised them that they might not want to be doing that, which they told me they were trying to knock a wasp nest down. Because of that information, I stressed even more the importance of not throwing rocks in that area. I then continued on wandering around the park and taking photos.
Upon walking back through the fort, my spidey-senses were set off. I noticed several of the glass windows had been shattered. I then recalled that one of the kids appeared to be using his shirt to carry a bunch of rocks. They were in one of the rooms of the fort and didn't hear me, as I passed by. I quickly looked in a couple of the other rooms, and noticed that there was glass on the floor near the broken windows, showing that they had been recently shattered.
Not having my phone, I approached a few adults in the area. I informed them that there might be some youth up to no good in the fort. I explained what I saw, and suggested that they might want to contact the local authorities. Before I could finish explaining, one of the adults got up and headed over to take care of business. I was informed that he was part of the local authorities, and would be able to handle it.
As I headed back to my car, I laughed a little, as I knew that I had helped stop some vandalism in Metropolis. Sure, Superman could have done it, but he was too busy posing for photos downtown. I guess some heroes wear their underwear under their pants. I drove off into the sunset feeling a bit like Reno Raines. Who knows where me and my crime fighting ways will end up next?
I love the open road. Heck, I guess I enjoy just about any form of travel to be honest, but today the open road is what I'm loving. A couple days ago, I hopped in my 1989 Toyota Camry wagon and headed south. My destination was Winston-Salem, North Carolina, where two of my friends will be wed later today. So this gave me a excuse to load up the iPod, toss a bag of sunflower seeds in the seat next to me, and head out.
When I travel alone, I control the speed, where and when I stop for food, and most importantly the tunes. For the most part I keep the iPod on shuffle, and just skip the songs I don't feel like. Plus an episode of Car Talk is usually required for the longer trips. Occasionally, as song or artist is required for certain spots on the road. Yesterday, for example, as I entered West Virginia, I felt it was necessary to play John Denver's Take Me Home, Country Roads. As I had been behind the wheel for six hours, I thought it would also be a good idea to put the three versions of the song I had on a loop. For over thirty miles, it was a Country Road Sing-a-long in my car. When I hit the Hurricane, I decided it was time for a change. On a side note, who names a town Hurricane, especially when it is near enough for one to be of threat? It isn't like there is Tornado, Illinois, Wild Fire, Washington, or Epicenter, California.
As I had a specific destination and time of arrival, I didn't get to wander too far off the road too much. I did see Larry Bird's Bust in French Lick, Indiana. I was hoping to see the grave of Chang and Eng Bunker, but completely missed the exit. But I am hoping to do some wandering on the way back. Because a really good road trip, like life, is not about the destination, but the journey.
Ah, Labor Day. Nothing like a holiday to make you really appreciate the fact you have not worked a day in the last two months. Just remember, the unemployed do not get days off. Luckily for me, I was able to make myself handy these last few days, as one of my friends from my Germany days needed someone to ride along to California. I told her to pick the route, and I would provide driving assistance, musical entertainment, as well as find a few places along the way to make the trip memorable.
So she picked a southern route with three overnight stops in Amarillo, Grand Canyon Village, and Las Vegas. Day one was basically a haul of a drive with little stopping. We did stop to see the second largest cross in the Western Hemisphere. Sadly we could not stay long due to the hundreds of mosquitoes that attacked us. A little later we found ourselves at the Big Texan, home of the famous 72 ounce steak. I could barely finish my twenty-one ounce steak, so I could not imagine attempting to down the ole 72.
Day two found the spray paint mentioned in the last post to find use as we visited the Cadillac Ranch. We left our marks, and then left the remaining spray paint for some Germans who were there checking out the place.
Later that day as we neared Flagstaff there was a stop I need to make. I wanted to stand on a corner in Winslow, Arizona, just to Take It Easy.
A couple hours later, we stood on the edge of the Grand Canyon to watch the sunset. As we stood there, I overheard one lady say, "I can't wait to get back home and see how this looks on the computer." Dang, what has this world come to? We stand on the edge of a beautiful scene and think about how this will look on our digital picture frame. By the way, doesn't this look great on your computer?
The final night of the trip found us in Vegas. And while many hold to the old adage of "What happens in Vegas, stays in Vegas," I will tell you at least one thing. I not only got to see Penn & Teller, but got my photo with them after the show.
And yes, they have now joined Nelson in the small number of celebrities I have given bunny ears to in photos.
Now I am sitting in Los Angeles for the next week, hanging with some old friends, making some new ones, and enjoying a fine little rental car I got.
"The Machine" is the theme at PhotoFriday this week. Above is the 1989 Toyota Camry that was kindly donated to me this summer. Thanks Dave! I do not know if reasoning was as an easy way to get rid of the car, or because he secretly wanted me to end up broken down along the side of a highway. I was impressed with how well that car performed. It made it all the way from Los Angeles, CA to Marquette, MI without any issues. It did not even take the shortest route, much to the chagrin of a Texan police officer, who told me I should not be driving in his state. That was right before he did a thorough drug search of the car and those riding it in.
Now it sits in storage, awaiting the next big adventure. In fact, last night my dad was asking me if I thought it would make another trip to the west coast and back. Not sure, but I would be game to find out.
I also like this photo of the car, taken by one of my friends who decided to join me for a week of the road trip.
"Old" is the theme of PhotoFriday, not to mention how I feel some days. Here is a photo from my summer adventure. It is of my head and the General Grant Sequoia. The tree's age is estimated at 1650 years old, myself around 34.
"Oddity" is the theme at Photofriday. On my road trip across America, I stopped in Springfield, Missouri to visit a friend. We were hanging out at Steak and Shake around midnight when in walked a young boy. With a lisp, he asked for water. When he received his water, he thanked the waiter and walked out. Oh yeah, he was also dressed like a Roman soldier, complete with sword and shield.
Anne Murray sang, "How I wanna hear the anchor man talk about a county fair." Well, I hope I can help make Anne's dreams come true. Here are a couple commercials that aired last week in Kansas. They were recorded at one of the stops on the road trip.
Unfortunately the fair has past, but the commercials will remain in our hearts, not to mention stuck in our heads.
I ventured off the lake for a little bit of last minute shopping and internet checking. Think I will return there until my departure Sunday. That is unless Northwest cancels my flight. More and more, I wish I did not have to fly on Northwest Airlines. They are like the Best Buy of the airline industry.
Just a reminder to give a listen to 105.9, The Lazer, this week for a special surprise. You can either listen online, or drive to the greater Lawrence, Kansas area to tune in. If you listen in and think you hear what I am talking about, leave a hint in the comments.
The car is still rolling down the highway. It has three more states left to enter before it can get a good rest. I am also looking for some rest too. It would be nice not to have to get into the car, fill the gas tank, or spend hours scanning the FM dial looking for good tunes. But it has been an excellent trip so far. I think the stories will be posted later, as well as more photos and videos.
Here are a few more things I have learned on the road.
1. Everyone loves a parade. 2. Steak and Shake is always a good place to find interesting characters. 3. Slightly inebriated college students have no clue about Swiss geography. 4. Never trust a gas station attendant for directions in Topeka, Kansas. 5. The Douglas County 4-H fair is more than you can imagine. 6. Ratt's "Round and Round" is the most overplayed rock song from the 80s. 7. There is a highway dedicated to submarine veterans in the middle of Kansas. 8. Tim got a new job! (I didn't know he was even looking for one, or who he was to be honest.) 9. A higher woman to man ratio at a concert does not always increase your chances. 10. Once is the best film I have seen in a long time.
This could be my last post before Korea. If so, let me encourage you to listen to the Lazer between June 29th and August 3rd. I am not going to say why, but just know you might get a good laugh. (It might have something to do with #5 above.)
Just wanted to drop a quick update on the road trip. I'm currently in College Station, Texas. The wagon is about to start heading north on the highways and back roads of America. So far all is going well with the trip and the car.
Here are a few things I've learned so far along the way:
1. Abraham Lincoln was very fascinated with the process of embalming. 2. Phoenix is way too hot in the summer time for my liking. 3. The Alamo does not have a basement. 4. Astro fans hate Carlos Beltran. 5. Tumbleweeds and fireworks are just a couple hazards you need to watch for when driving on Texan highways. 6. Baseball games that go to seventeen innings have two seventh inning stretches. 7. Everybody claims their child "never usually acts this way." 8. Always double check the team's schedule to see if it is an away game. 9. The greatest product of space exploration is freeze dried ice cream sandwiches. 10. Avril Lavigne does not like my new girlfriend.
I guess that is all for now. I hope to see more of you soon on the road.
Good thing I did not have a case of the Mondays, because yesterday was the longest day I have ever had. On June 25th, I left my Korean apartment at five in the morning. Thirty four hours later, I was going to bed in California, around eleven the evening on June 25th. Fortunately, a good part of the time was spent travelling. Unfortunately, it was with Northwest Airlines.
Now I am trying to get adjusted to life in America. Yesterday, I spent some time wandering the grocery isles checking out all the varieties of foods I have missed out on. Today, I am spending some time catching up on my legal television. Currently it is the honorable Judge Mathis lawing down the verdicts. Wow, I am amazed how many studid people suing other stupid people there are.
Here is a shot of the auto that will soon be crossing America. I need to get Xzibit to stop by and pimp it. It could use a kicking sound system and a couple X-boxes in the back to help with the road trip.
I am looking for a cool name for it. If you have any ideas, leave them in the comments.
I might not have had the best paying jobs in my life, but the vacation time has not been bad. I have been fortunate to have jobs that have allowed some good travel time during the summer months. The only downside is that my wanderlust is always wanting crazy adventures, fancy destinations, and epic journeys. Last year I was able to take a train from Beijing To Moscow with two good friends, and then spend a few weeks in Europe visiting friends. The question is how does one top that adventure?
I've decided the answer is a great American road trip. In the spirit of the The Muppet Movie, National Lampoon's Vacation, Pee-wee's Big Adventure, and Long Way Round, I am hoping for some crazy adventures while seeing the country. The journey will be from Los Angeles, California to Marquette, Michigan, only stopping to visit friends and random road side attractions. Thanks to a good friend, I will be adding about four thousand miles to the odometer of a 1989 Toyota Camry wagon. There are no guarantees that the car will even make it, but my return flight to Korea departs from Marquette. That alone adds to the adventure that is ahead.
June 25 - Arrive in Los Angeles, CA June 30 - San Louis Obispo, CA July 1 - Hume Lake, CA July 3 - Fly to Ontario, CA and begin the drive east. July 5 - Austin or College Station, TX July 9 - Dallas, TX July 11 - Siloam Springs, AR July 14 - Springfield, MO July 16 - Newton, KS July 18 - Kansas City, KS or MO - still debating July 21 - St. Louis, MO July 22 - Morton, IL July 24 - Janesville, WI July 25 - Republic, MI July 27 - Marquette, MI
So why should you care? A large part of this trip to reconnect with some friends. And since most of the people who read this blog are friends, that probably means you. If you are in or between any of these cities, drop me a comment or email and hopefully we can meet up. If you are on Facebook, there is a group dedicated to this trip, where you can be kept up to date. Speaking of date, if you are a single gal on the route, perhaps you can get a free meal out of the deal by filling out this application. Oh, and if anyone wants to go along for part of the trip, let me know. There is room in the wagon.
Well, I looking forward to seeing some of you out there on the open highway. Stories will be told, good times will be had, and memories will be made.