Thursday, April 28, 2011

Day 25

Thursday April 28th 2011
Orlando, Florida

What a day, when I said it was hot yesterday I should probably have waited until today had happened.  It was gross hot today, my shirt was soaked and the steering wheel hurt to hold.  But as we looked at the forecast for the rest of the trip we noticed that the rest of the East Coast was being hammered, which wasn't good news.   We were supposed to be joined today by two fantastic people, 11 am rolled around the time they were supposed to be on the ground in Orland, still in New York.  1:15, still in NY stuck with weather.  2:30 yup, no flight with that kind of storm.  4:40 boom, no flight at all as the delay turned into a cancellation.   So now we are missing our navigator and systems engineer for the launch tomorrow.

Speaking of which, I read the news and the rough estimate of how many people will be there is still growing, the heat and the weather isn't turning anybody away.  We are getting up super early and hitting the road in an attempt to get to Titusville with at least 5 hours to kill, way better than trying to do it with 10 minutes.   As we stood in a massive line to check in to the hotel tonight, everybody was talking launch related talk.  This is a huge event for many people, I am too young to really get a grasp on the whole space program, the shuttle program itself is almost 9 years older than I am.  But to think that in those 30 years of active duty, the shuttles have been to space 133 times, orbited earth 20,710 times and docked with the ISS 34 times amazes me.  

I was thinking today of what it must be like sitting strapped in to the seats, listening as the final systems checks are going on.  You are sitting on over 1.6 million pounds of fuel, waiting to push you with 7 million pounds of thrust straight up into the sky.  Think of how scary/ amazing that would feel!  5.... Oh my goodness what have I signed up 4... I think I might get out, the can fly these with just 3...nope, missed my chance to get out whats that peaceful song by U2.... Okay heart is exploding it is beating so fast I think i need a new 1... and there is it.  

We just went for dinner in Celebration, FL.  If you don't know about this town let me just say it is both awesome and very strange.  It is almost too perfect.  The streets are spotless, the people friendly as can be, the houses are perfect in every way.  But after being on the road for a month, you realize that isn't what places look like.   Still it was amazing to sit out on the patio of the Tavern enjoy a Labatt Blue and watch people go wandering about.

I'm pretty excited about tomorrow, so I am off!

Song of the day - Black River Killer-   Blitzen Trapper

Wednesday, April 27, 2011

Day 24.

Wednesday April 27th 2011
Savannah, GA

Well today was hot.. So very hot In fact we tried to make our own DIY A/C unit for the car. It didn't work well because the heat was just so hot. We left lovely Washington DC this morning and decided that the best course was the coast, down through the Carolinas to north western Georgia.

After numerous stops to sit in the shade, rest and try and get our body temperature down we ended up in Rowland North Carolina for some gas. It was like something out of a movie, trees sprawled out across the streets, houses pinned by massive branches and limbs. The town was hit by a tornado last weekend with winds up to 100mph. I have seen a few little storms here and there that leave a few branches and a small path of destruction, but this was amazing. I don't think I want to live in a tornado area.

We finished a long day (1000km) of driving in Savannah, which is a really cool place. Cool in the design and general feel of the town, not the temperature. We wandered around very briefly before finding Vinny Van Go Gos, a little pizza place with a very cool feel to it. It was very tasty, and I had no problem at all devouring half a pizza.

Tomorrow is off to Orlando to pick up the last 2 passengers before joining the reported 500,000 other people in Cape Canaveral for the 2nd last launch of the space shuttle. Pretty darn excited.

Beer is waiting so is bed. Cheers

Song of the day. At Or With Me - Jack Johnson.

Day 23 - A new beginning

CAPITOL  BUILDING
Tuesday April 26th 2011
Washington, DC

Okay so instead of making you read about how I spent 3 hours at Dufferin Mall, watched Tron and did a general lot of nothing this weekend. So I took a break, a breather, and now I am back it.

Today I left Toronto and headed south, but not alone this time.  My good friend Anna was crazy enough to join my whirlwind adventure and deal with my terrible car singing.  It was a great day of driving, and you know what?  The border guard was fantastic, he was confused as to why I had just moved to Toronto on Friday and was leaving today, but thats okay.  Confusion is better than anger/ accusation and fear that they usually convey.   So on the way to Cleveland today I turned and said to Anna "Have you ever been to Pittsburgh?"  She hadn't, and knowing that Cleveland at this time of year wouldn't blow my mind, I turned and headed to Penguin town.  Very cool city, it has lots of big buildings and bridges which I really enjoy.  Plus it had this tunnel when you leave that felt like you were just falling straight down.  

Then from Pittsburgh we were going to head to Charlestown, WV but it didn't look like much happened there, so again I asked "Anna, Have you ever been to DC?"  Long story short, 20$ in toll booths later we were here.  Well we are here.  Late night wandering around looking for food in DC is almost completely useless, amazing that a city that does all its work during the day doesn't have food at night.  NOT.  We were walking to the Washington Monument and right next to the Department of Defence when we heard "HEY YOU CAN NOT GO THERE, STOP! COME HERE"  ahh!!!!  We were going to get shot, and for what crime you ask?  We crossed the invisible line that makes walking towards a building look like you are going to do something dangerous.   

Did I mention it is like 25 Degrees and humid? awesome.  Did I also mention that we (the collective team blue WE)  destroyed the champs? good bye Chicago.  Did you see how excited we were? I sure did.  Heart beat back to regular for a few days at least.  

Cheers.

Song of the day - Nothing But The Whole Wide World - Jakob Dylan.


Washington Monument.

Friday, April 22, 2011

Day 22

Friday April 22nd 2011.
Toronto, ON

Happy Easter blog world. I got into toronto today and set up a little at my new place and then went for an amazing dinner at Reids place. Awesome food and company as well, thank you s much for that. I didnt really get up to a whole lot more today, it was actually really nice to nt feel the need to do something awesome. I saw some of my favorite people today after a long time not seeing them, and itbis always great to have that happen.

I am sorry my post isn't awesome today, I will be sure tomorrow makes you laugh a bit more


Sng of the day? Weighty ghost - Wintersleep

Cheers

Thursday, April 21, 2011

Day 21 - whiskey for my men.

Monument Valley Hwy

Thursday April 21st 2011
Guelph, ON

I didn't do anything today, I drove maybe 77km (46.2 miles) and had some sushi for lunch.  Then I relaxed and watched youtube videos.

Some diversions from daily life for you.

How many countries do you know? Try this  and post that knowledge.

I am really excited to see the shuttle launch, I have watched this a few times!! Shuttle 

I wouldn't have been able to do this trip without Couch Surfing.  I think you would like it, so check it out and look me up.  Braden Hanna

I also wouldn't have been able to make it this far without some of the awesome food found on Urban Spoon, I love the food!!

I love internets, it is awesome and you can to.

Please accept my apologies for the brevity of this blog, I am tired today and I feel like sleeping!

Song of the day ?  The Great Escape - Patrick Watson.

Wednesday, April 20, 2011

Day 20 - A sort of homecoming

My chariot, the lovely Lola 

Wednesday April 20th 2011
London, ON, Canada.

Well as I pulled into the parking spot at the end of the day, I looked down at the odometer to see what it said.  Wow, 20 days. 15 states, 2 provinces and tomorrow within an hour of starting out I will hit the 10,000km mark.   Now don't go thinking "Darn! his trip is over, he was having so much fun and it ended just so quick"  I am pulling into my new place in Toronto on friday, unloading the car cleaning it, changing the oil and doing some laundry before I take off and head south for a week.  I have had an absolute blast, and I continue to have a blast.

So, today was amazingly uneventful.  I had a great cup of coffee in Chicago at Intelligentsia, really awesome place that puts some art into making a cup of black coffee. I'm a firm believer that if somewhere puts a lot of effort into the simple things, the complicated things must rock!  Then it was a drive across Michigan, a grey and dull drive.

As you may have read in my post about crossing into the states, border guards are scary people who just want to make you miserable.  That is until you cross back into your own country.  What you may or may not know is that I have been traveling with a light fixture in the back of my car, its a 3 foot diameter white sphere with an opening big enough to fit a head in.  The  guard looked at my car and asked about it, I said "its a lighting fixture" at which point he nods and then goes back to the computer, a few seconds later he says "So did you just get married?"  WHAT?!?!? Does the computer say I'm married? oh god what happened while I was in Vegas!  I said "UH, I'm not married, never have been"  to which he replied "then where did you get the Wedding fixture"  ohhh... no sir I said "lighting fixture"  All cleared up we had a few good laughs about getting married in Vegas.

First thing I did upon my triumphant return to Canada?  Tim Hortons of course, large black coffee, sesame seed bagel with cream cheese = home.  The next few days I will try and find some good links to keep you entertained while I do minimal traveling.

Song of the day? Girl Police - The Dudes ( A Canadian band afterall)

Cloud gate,  Chicago

Marina City, Wilco suck it! 

Hotel Sax- I can read!! 

Tuesday, April 19, 2011

Day 19 - Rainy

Tuesday April 19th 2011
Chicago, IL

Today was quite the day for doing nothing and doing everything.  I woke up at a very leisurely pace, walked across the street and grabbed a coffee before deciding that I should figure out some things to do. I looked all around the internet and found that anything that I wanted to do in Chicago was going to cost me an arm and a leg.  Since it is very difficult to drive a car with only one leg and arm, I decided that it would just be a day of wandering around and going from coffee shop to coffee shop staying dry.

I did the standard things that people do for free in Chicago, Millennium Park, Navy Pier, and the Magnificent Mile.  It was very fun, but with the amount of rain that was coming down, it was really hard to enjoy it all.  I had a great lunch at the Fox and Obel, played some angry birds and then wandered to what may have been the highlight of Chicago for me.  The LEGO store!!! It is perfect, a store that is only there for the purpose of selling the blocks of joy!  I started talking to one of the guys who work there, talk about dream job!  He was asking what I have built and was wondering about my love of LEGO, he was pretty jealous when he heard that I have an autographed piece from Adam Tucker (who for those non-nerds is a big lego designer)

Tomorrow is a big day, I cross back into the country for a few days.  After that I am heading back south for the shuttle launch, something that after much planning I feel I need to see.   I am really unhappy to report that tonight has been a very sad day for the Canucks, very similar to a year ago when we fell to them 2-7 tonight we are down 1-7.  The broom seems to be put away for this series at least, but mark my words Chelsea Dagger wont be heard much more this year.

Im off to go play Zelda, drink beer and listen to some country music.  What else can a guy do to cheer him up from a loss like this.

Song of the day?  End Of Our Days - Howie Day

Chicago morning post.

Well I woke up this ,morning to a sound I know to well. The sound of rain on a window. Yes that staple sound that anybody who has spent a winter in Vancouver knows pretty well. The downside of the rain is that instead of wandering around in chicago and getting soaked I am staying inside for the morning at least. Some NHL highlights keeping me company.

But the main reason I posted was to see if anybody had any good indoor Chicago activities to do? Send a message if you do. Also if you can think of free things that would be better!

Cheers.

Currently listening to Carl Sagan talk about the Pale Blue Dot

Monday, April 18, 2011

Day 18

Chicago- A prison to the left and tracks
Monday April 18th 2011.
Chicago

Well today was great morning to wake up.  I say that not because the weather was nice, it wasn't and not because I had amazing plans today, I didn't.   No today was great to wake up because it meant that I could leave the dive of a hotel that I was in.  Last night there was a bit of a mix up and I didn't realize my potential host wasn't going to be in until past midnight.  So at 10:30 after not hearing from him I just started driving and decided I would find a place along the way, Motel 6 was the first place I saw.  Let me say this, I have stayed at some amazing Motel 6s ( Page Arizona, so clean, new, friendly and central)  This was not one of them, this was a dive.  I opened the door and the smell of cleaning product wafted out, I looked in and saw the dated room I was to sleep in.  Now don't get me wrong I don't have any problem sleeping on floor, ground or what ever, in fact I realize that there are many people who would be happy to have had this room.  But the sheets were stained, the bed was stained, the walls and floor were stained, the pillows were like paper and there was just a layer of filth everywhere.  I went back to my car, pulled out sleeping bag and pillows and went back and made myself comfortable.  For the sake of your minds I wont go into the bathroom situation there.

Today was just a hop skip and a jump before I ended up in Chicago, what an awesome city!  And its great to know people here too, it makes it much more fun.  It really wasn't much of an afternoon, which was actually perfect.  I grabbed a shower and then a bite to eat at Millers Pub before wandering around a little bit.  I am staying here tomorrow so I didn't bother bringing my camera with me tonight, it was just a nice day to wander.  Chicago is a very different city than any of the other places that I have been to this trip.  After spending 90% of the time in little towns, small natural areas and camping outdoors; Chicago is loud, in your face and busy.  Yes Vegas was huge and in your face, but as a tourist attraction, it is in your face intentionally.  Chicago is in your face in the sense that there is the L train over head, sparking and making a heck of a noise, there are car horns going everywhere and sirens filling the background.  I think tonight is just going to be a quiet night of reading and sending a few final post cards ( even though the price just jumped from 28c per stamp to 29c I think I can still afford to send you some if you want.

Song of the day today was a good one, something that provoked me to do some research.
Keep Me In Your Heart - Warren Zevon

Warren Zevon was fantastic, he worked with almost every person imaginable and was a great singer/ songwriter.  In 2002 was feeling a little under the weather and was told he had terminal cancer, with a very short timeline.  He went straight to work on a new album that included Keep Me In Your Heart.  Cool guy and when he was asked his thoughts on dying he said "Enjoy every sandwich"  Which is a good way to live.

Cheers guys!

Sunday, April 17, 2011

Day 17 the underground version

Ranger Steve,  awesome.

Sunday April 17th 2011
Cincinnati, Ohio

Today was a beautiful day, the type of day you just want to take a cooler of beer and sit around doing nothing.  But the real beauty of days like this is that you also have the ability to do anything else!  After a  short drive this morning I ended up in Mammoth Cave National Park, just north of Bowling Green Kentucky.   PARK FACTS!!  It is the longest cave system in the world, with over 1000 miles discovered so far, and more being found.  It has 11 miles of path that is easily explorable, and people have been going to it for over 4000 years.  It also holds the the claim to the fact that the native people went deeper into this cave than any other in the world, 6 miles with only torches.

It is awesome,very vast.  At one point when we were far from the entrance and in the middle of a huge room, they turned the lights out and got us to remain extremely quiet.  With no sounds, no light, no smell and really other than ground nothing else to feel you are completely lost.  They told us that this caused many people to go crazy in the past because their brains would start creating stimulants, making sounds that weren't there and giving a sense of vertigo inside.  I wouldn't do well in that situation, thankfully they turned the lights back on.

After sitting in the car for another 2 hours I ended up at the Jim Beam distillery, which is beautiful....but its in a dry county and that means that on sunday they can't sell, taste or sample the alcohol.  Stupid.  So after giving up on my attempt at free booze I sped of towards Louisville, home of the slugger !  (Interesting because I saw really tiny bats in the cave, and the largest bat in the world in Louisville)  I parked and realized I was next to a Science museum, and I love them.  So I wandered around and made a bridge out of K'Nex, I tested my strength, hosted a weather report and stood inside a bubble.  With all those things at a science centre, what's not to like?!

I am sitting in Starbucks, this is the 14th Starbucks I have been to in the last 17 days, some of them have been return trips.  But to be able to get coffee, power and free internet that is reliable has been awesome.  Aside from this though I have done really well at eating locally, trying new things and avoiding the fast food ( Subway once, Wendys once and Dennys once)

Tomorrow is to Chicago, Canucks Jersey is ready. We will overcome.

Song of the Day - Dog Problems - The Format.
You could park a 737 in here, it would be a good trick to see

Self portrait fail...

Slugger 

Saturday, April 16, 2011

Day 16- Southern comfort

video
Saturday April 16th 2011
Nashville, Tennessee

Well I can't even begin to explain today properly, but let me give this a shot!  And the video is just from when I pulled over in the storm.

I woke up today to the sound of a James Bond style alarm, Ben needed to be taken to the airport and his alarm is really loud and really scary.  I dropped him off at 7:15 and was on my way to Memphis to have a coffee, a much needed coffee at that early hour in the day.  Last night before I went to sleep I decided to do a quick little search into Apple stores along my route home.  Memphis happened to have one, and I figured out that I would be there just as it was about to open, which makes getting to the front of the service queue.  After 30 minutes my trusty laptop has got its legs back and is working again.  Let me just put in a quick plug for Apple, I walked in to a store over 5000km from home with no appointment and walked out 30 minutes later free of charge with a problem solved.

Nashville how I love you, it is just such a great place!! Country music, Nashville Predators, T-swift (one day I will take her to dinner mark my words!) and souther hospitality.  I started out my Nashville afternoon by wandering around Centennial Park and going to the Parthenon, which is a life size model of the original Parthenon only in Nashville and not destroyed.  After that I decided I should check in and see if anybody had replied to my postings looking for a bed to call mine tonight.  Nothing, so slightly discouraged I hit UrbanSpoon up and started figuring out the most important thing, finding a place to eat.  I was just around the corner from a place called Rotier's Restaurant, and by every single review I read I was sure I needed to go there.  As I walked up and saw the line going out the door my instinct told me this place must be good, so in I went and put my name down on the long list, I was number 18 at the time.

As I waited an older gentleman looked at me and asked where I was from, we got to talking and he asked why somebody from Vancouver was at Rotier's.  After I explained that it had amazing reviews and that I loved finding places like that he started telling everybody in his party about me and why I was there.  Conversation died and his table was ready, just as he was walking away he turned and said "well you are joining us now you know"  Long story short I had one of the most amazing dinners I have ever had, Mr. Johnson is a Dairy Farmer, and I am sorry I didn't get all the names, but there was a Principal, an architect, two former bankers, a bailiff and a woman who to my understanding sells...implants.  2 hours passed and we were walking up to the front to settle up when he leans over and says that there is no way I'm being allowed to pay.  I met the owner of the restaurant and it was the most unbelievable hospitality I have ever experience from complete strangers.   So thank you so much!

Also on the note of thanking people, Ben posted my blog on his site today.  12 hours later I have had over 1,000 hits.  I know that is nothing in the world of blogs, but cool!  So thanks Ben.

Song of the day - California Stars - Billy Bragg and Wilco.

Joshua Tree!

Friday, April 15, 2011

Day 15 A recap edition

Little Rock, with Ben Lee Ann ( Canucks game in behind)

Friday April 15th 2011.
Little Rock, Arkansas

Well, with the exception of the weather providing entertainment yesterday, these last two days have really just been about traveling and getting from point A to point B.  Which is how the road is sometimes, and don't get me wrong, I am a firm believer in the journey being more important than the destination.   I am in Little Rock tonight, visiting with Ben.  For those of you who don't know Ben he is worth knowing.  So I figured today I would post more as a look back at 2 weeks on the road, the longest road trip I have done as of yet.


States Visited- 10 (Washington, Oregon, California, Nevada, Arizona, Utah, Colorado, Kansas, Missouri and Arkansas)
National Parks -6 +1  (Redwood, Joshua Tree, Zion, Grand Canyon, Arches, Great Sand Dune) (Monument valley is a Tribal Park)
Distance Traveled - have to leave something to the imagination
Couches surfed - 6
Nights Camped - 2
Juice Boxes drank -36
Granola bars consumed daily - 3-5
Playcount on "Friday" - 6 (it is catchy after all)
And my favorite stat after 2 weeks of blogging I have cleared 1,100 views of the blog, all thanks to the daily viewing of my awesome friends, family, and followers.  Couldn't have done it without you.

The thing I wish I could find a way to get across in the blog the most?  Smell.  I wish there was a way to make smell visible in a blog.  Two days ago as I was driving north from Great Sand Dunes, the rain was just a small sprinkle on the great plains.  But there it was, with the window down just a crack the smell of summer rain filled the car.  If there were a way to have captured that and sent it to all of you I would have.  A few of the other noteworthy smells from the trip include the smell of fire, slash piles being burned as spring comes to an end fills the car with that warm smell of fire.   And because not all smells can take us to good places, yesterday I was trying to get to the highway out of Pueblo and I ended up on a dirt road next to a cattle auction.  A couple thousand cows in small spaces can really produce quite the smell.  And lets not forget, I smell like Canadian Bacon apparently, I'm not sure if that is a good thing or not.

 Song of the day - Man Of Constant Sorrow - The Soggy Bottom Boys

Lastly- Can we take a moment to cheer for the Canucks?  The boys in blue gave the Blackhawk a good fight tonight taking the series to a 2-0 lead.  GO CANUCKS GO

Thursday, April 14, 2011

Day 14

Thursday April 14th 2011
Kansas City,KS or MO

Well please accept the appology at this time. My trusty laptop may have bit the final bullet today which will make my blog post quite a bit shorter and less picturized.

Today was a very challenging day, let me just start off by saying that I am safe and sound in Kansas City. I feel that is important to state because of the weather I encountered today. Leaving pueblo was fine for about an hour, then it started to snow which really didnt bother me at all. But then it started to accumulate and the road started to get a little ugly. Speed dropped anD it was just a case of leaving lots of distance and driving carefully. An hour of that went by in no time and I was out of the worst of it.

As I was standing in Burlington, Colorado filling the car there was a little but if snow on the ground but not much. I noticed the interstate to my left was a little empty but just blamed the weather. With the tank full I was just about to go when all of the sudden there it was... Aside from the abandon ship warning I have heard before this was the second most horrifying thing I have heard. The whine of a siren, not just a regular police siren that we hear day to day, the type of siren used to alert the whole town of something bad. When you are on the great plains, there is really only one thing it could be...a tornado siren. I froze, I have not been trained to deal with this is all I could think, so I went inside. The woman working told me not to worry as it was just a test scheduled for today... Wow thanks for the heart attack.

After setting out onto the road again the sky cleared up and it got warm just long enough to forget the events from earlier. And then it changed again, the sky got dark, like the kind of dark usually reserved for nightfall. The wind picked up and the rain started, followed by the lightning. None of that was that bad, but then without warning it got bad. Cars pulled over left and right, the lightning was right above us, the hail was the size of quarters. I pulled over but was still being rocked by the weather, so I pulled forward and hid in the wind shadow of a semi. ( thank you truckers). As the night continued I had the radio going and it seemed where I was, was where the storm was worst. Tornado warnings, severe thunderstorms and hail for 3 hours is tiring. Kenny Rodgers sang " you got to know when to hold'em, know when to fold'em". I was pretty close to folding them and finding a place to wait out the storm.

But I didn't, and thank goodness I didn't or I never would have made it to "Oklahoma Joes BBQ" I'm KC. Most amazing meal I have ever eaten and I will leave it at that.

Okay, so longer than I expected but it needed to be told the right way.

Song of the day. Either the entire Pink Floyd Collection or Colder Weather by Zac Brown Band.

Cheers.

Wednesday, April 13, 2011

Day 13

Jon and Braden do Pikes Peak.
Wednesday April 13th 2011
Pueblo, Colorado

Today I got high, very very high.  14,110 feet above sea level!  I was at Pikes Peak just outside of Colorado Springs, Colorado.  For those of you who aren't part of the in crowd (Until today, I wasn't) Pikes Peak Highway is a 19 mile highway with some paved and some unpaved, you gain 7,400feet of vertical in that time. It is the furthest east of the states 51 peaks over 14,000 feet.   At the base today the man at the kiosk said that it was only open until the 18th mile.   A little bummed out that I wouldn't get to summit, I pushed on and got to mile 18 in what seemed like no time.  Stopped in front of me were two GM test cars covered in sensors and antena, I started talking and found out that Pikes Peak is where most of the American car companies test the braking ability of their new cars there.  15 minutes later the peak was open and I completed my drive.  Amazing.  The air was cold, and dry and at 14,000ft it was much thinner.   Great drive down, Jon had fun.

After a quick drive south I found myself at the gates to Great Sand Dune National Park, middle of nowhere Colorado.  I bet you are thinking "what happens at Great Sand Dunes?"  well ready for a mind trip?  There are giant sand dunes!! 55 sq miles of dunes, the tallest one being 700 feet tall.  Well you know what I had to do, I had to climb that.   Sand is not easy to walk on, picture the worst beach you have ever walked on, then make it 700 feet tall, then make the wind blow so hard that particles of sand sting any exposed skin.   At the top I was really impressed with the fact I survived, I then reached into my pocket to check the time, realizing I didn't bring a watch/ phone was actually good because as I reached into that pocket I felt nothing but sand.   After being sand blasted for an hour I was just covered in sand, you couldn't open your eyes at the summit, breathing through your mouth was out of the question.

Well now I am in Pueblo, and I worry that all of the amazing things that I wanted to do on my trip have been done.  As far as amazing scenery goes in the States, I hope to find some more people to surf with because  the last to nights in hotels have been boring.  So if you read this and know of anybody in Kansas City or Nashville who wants to host me, well let me know!

Cheers
Song of the day - Little Wing - Stevie Ray Vaughan and Double Trouble.

I was on the lookout, but no dice.

Tuesday, April 12, 2011

Day 12 - A very Suess Day

Pinhole Joshua Tree
Tuesday April 12th 2011
Colorado Springs, Colorado

Please excuse the rest of this post.  I made a promise to post in Dr. Suess format at least once... so here it goes.

Fantastic fantastic, today I took flight,
I slamwoozled my car to a great new height,
Over hills and great tunnels,
past Mamoozlers great funnels,
By ski hills and small towns,
by tall trees and sad clowns.

The places i journeyed proved great wonder
but my lack of good bedding was a blunder
I sat and pondered got down to brass tacks
So i gave up and saw a great IMAX
the museum was empty without a soul in sight,
I got in the car and drove off into the night,

I sat on the patio watching the bustle,
people were moving with such a hustle.
there were men of all heights,
and women with black tights.
I sat with a man from town,
he made sure i didn't frown.

Some towns had wingwuzzlers,
others had clingfuzlers,
But no town had the worst of all
things either big, or small
not things that could fly,
no not things you can buy,
the things i couldnt seem to find,
the friends i had stuck in mind.

So what ever road you travel today,
what ever you see along the way
there is one thing you can't miss out,
one thing traveling needs no doubt,
the people of the road are the great,
as are the friends at home in wait.

Okay, so that was awful.  I am not Dr. Suess, but to be fair he isn't really a Doctor.   Recap of the day incase my poem didnt make it clear.

I didn't do anything today really awesome.  I went to a bar that has the most beer on tap anywhere in the world. I went to an IMAX narrated by Morgan Freeman, which was awesome.  I spent most of the day just enjoying being around where I was.  But at the end of the day, I started to miss family and friends, and then I realized i had nowhere to stay tonight.  So I am staying at a less than awesome hotel, but really it isn't bad.

Song of the day - Pump It Up - Elvis Costello
Zion pinhole

Zion Pinhole from above.  That turn is where the other photos is from.

Monday, April 11, 2011

Day 11

Monument Valley, Utah
Monday April 11th, 2011
Grand Junction, Colorado

HOLYSMOKES!!!! This morning was one of the most amazing mornings of my life.  But sometimes to get the good we have to pay the price, and last night was the price.  It was a combination of terrible factors; wild dogs roaming around my tent, I was close to the road so people kept driving by, wild horses were making the most haunting noise ever, and it was cold again last night.

But it was all for the best, waking up at 6am and driving for 20 minutes allowed me to see one of the best views I have ever seen.  I stood completely alone on this cliff point watching the sun rise behind massive buttes.  As the sun got higher and higher the scale of these humungous formations of rock just got more and more intimidating.  After spending the better part of an hour being amazed by nature I headed back, packed up my tent and set out.

The drive from Monument Valley to Grand Junctions is actually pretty dull, with the exception of Arches National Park, just outside of Moab.  It is this huge national park made up of a combination of buttes, and natural arches that are formed from erosion of different types of sandstone.  It is pretty amazing, standing under a bridge of rock that is 30 meters across ( I have decided that because Canada is Metric, I will try giving up Imperial measures for a while) and just hoping that it doesn't decide to collapse today.

After a drive that tested the limits of my gas tank I pulled into Grand Junction and am just about to grab a good night sleep I hope.

Song of the day ?   Toadies - Possum Kingdom

Mr. Lambshead I hope you are happy.

Horseshoe Bend, Arizona

Monument Valley, Utah

Jon does Arches Nat'l park, notice hula hooper sign.

Sunday, April 10, 2011

Day 10nt

Sunday April 10th 2011
Monument Valley, Utah.

Well me just start today off by saying that last night was an awesome time with my hosts, I ended up being employed as a door man at the local bar collection cover for the show!  It was an absolute blast and they were quite the talented musicians.  As far as hosts go I have lucked out huge.

After a very late start and lots of bacon, today was awesome day of adventure.  Lots of sites to see, and lots of breathtaking views.  I started out in Zion (be careful to pronounce it like lion, not ion)  it is an amazing national park just outside of Hurricane, Utah ( be careful to pronounce it like Hurri-can).  The big wonder of the park is this valley that is just amazing, it has so much beauty words cant explain, great day to be hiking to.  After a little Mormon girl walked by me and said "Dad that man has girls hair" I figured it was time for me to head out!

Horseshoe Bend, wow!! I can't believe that I have been to the Grand Canyon before and managed to bypass this site.  It is where the river takes a big ben (guess what??  its shaped like a horseshoe!) and it is just at the north east end of the Canyon.   There are no guard rails, no steps, no safety at all.  Just about 1500 feet to the river below.  As I lay sprawled out across this one point of rock, I started to think of what if the wind picked up? What if there were an earthquake?  What if that guy over there is having a terrible day and just comes up and pulls a "This is SPARTA!!!!" and kicks me to the river below.  I left after that.

The day started to wind down after a quick Walmart stop, and a 2 hour drive to my resting place for tonight.  I am just about 2 miles away from Monument Valley Tribal Park.   Driving in was the kind of drive I just wish everybody could do.  You do one final turn and BANG there are these buttes that tower over head with nothing around them.  It was too dark to really capture with any success so tomorrow is a sunrise photo-op.  

Thats it for today, battery is dead and so am I. Photos will come tomorrow.

Song of the day--- January Wedding - The Avett Brothers. 

Saturday, April 9, 2011

Day 9

Hoover Dam, Arizona side.
Saturday April 9th 2011
St. George Utah.

I was refreshed and relaxed after a great sleep at the Monte Carlo last night, The city doesn't ever sleep though.  Even when I woke up at 8 and headed out for a stroll there were people going at it!

I headed to Hoover Dam for a morning of entertainment, and what a structure that is!  considering when it was built ( over 75 years ago) it is massive, and just the scale of everything is outrageous.  There is a whole lot of concrete there.  I spent about an hour and a half at the dam itself, then headed up to the bridge that just opened in the fall above it.  WOW it is also pretty amazing, 880ft to the river below, and it is a little terrifying standing there and looking down.  

My day today was a fairly relaxed drive after the dam, just 2 hours up to St. George where I am staying with another Couch host, he is in a band and the schedule for tonight looks like we are going to a concert of his! Can you say Awesome.  I am pretty excited, after all music is excellent.  I just overheard that this is the terrible weather for April in Utah... Camping could suck tomorrow, stay tuned!

Music of the day - hmm tough one today, lets say New Slang - The shins.

Arizona Time on the Dam

Nevada Time also on the Dam

The new bridge, huge right? 

Dam... Hoover Dam

Friday, April 8, 2011

Dias Ocho

Joshua Tree meets Jon + Braden 2011
Friday April 8th 2011

A lovely day in so many ways!  Last night and this morning were amazing, Francine and Carl were just an absolute treat to stay with, I got a little care package for the road today from them.   After leaving and heading south east I made it to Joshua Tree National Park just after lunch, and by lunch I mean the time that people usually eat lunch because I havent eaten lunch much lately.  Cut the costs that can be cut and the spend like mad!

The park itself is awesome, Joshua trees are so strange in the sense that no two looked alike, some are tall and just one set of leaves, while others are short and covered with so many different branches its amazing.   They are in this setting surrounded by huge rock formations that are so distinct and unlike anywhere else I have seen in the states before.   It was crazy windy while I was in the park and that meant shorts were a terrible choice, but a mistake I dont mind making.

Today was a big day for US budget related issues, and one of the issues was that if the budget didn't pass the National Parks would close.  And anybody camping in them would be evicted from their camp sites at midnight.  That meant my plan to camp in Joshua Tree was gone, so what does one do when their plan fails?

VIVA LAS VEGAS!!! Tonight I ended up in Vegas, and wow.  I feel like I could write for weeks on the subject.  People watching is amazing, the sheer excess is terrifying.  I was at one bar and the couple in front of me got one drink each....125$ total 12 shots in each drink 1/2 a yard long.  I wandered around and went to the fountains at the Bellagio, which are sooo amazing (fountains? amazing? I know but just wow!)  I also went to Toby Keith's "I Love This Bar & Grill"  where I drank beer from a mason jar, then a cougar made me dance with her... awkward.   Anyways, Vegas is crazy.  After a few hours of wandering around I had seen all there is to see without losing all my money so thats it for me tonight.  Cheers

Song of the day  - Where the Streets Have No Name - U2 from the Joshua Tree

Lola and the open road.

Fountains of awesome.

This one is for Ben, Mickey Mouse in Vegas.

We like to drink our beer out of Mason Jars.

Thursday, April 7, 2011

7th Day

At school we learned to balance flash & daylight.  but you cant teach good looks like that.

Thursday April 7th 2011
Bakersfield California

Good day friends.  Today had so many things to talk about, but I feel like not boring you with most of them, so here are some things worth boring you with.  Golden Gate Bridge was awesome.... I mean awesome I pulled up at the viewpoint and just then a fighter plane did a barrel roll just above the bridge!  I was just enjoying the view when all of the sudden it got super windy so I moved to another location. BUT THEN!!

Sasquatch 
I ran into a Sasquatch wearing big sunglasses.  Really awesome, talked to him for a bit and then took his photo...  I then proceded to drive along the coast of California from San Fran - Monterey where I went and watched the Sealions play, and listened as the barked at me.

Today was a bit of a plan changer, the shuttle launch has been pushed back, so now the question becomes where do I go after Arkansas?

Combine that with the weather taking a turn for terrible (crazy hail, wind that pushed me all over the road) and feeling a little tired today, I was really glad to get to my couch tonight.   Amazing hosts, in the last 2 years they think they have hosted a couple hundred people.  And from reading the journal, they all agree with me that Francine and Carl are amazing.  So fun to be around!

Enjoy the photos!

Music of the day - Anything by the Tragically Hip.

Golden Gate, Alcatra and San Fran

He wrote this I swear.

Day 6 - Addition

Well since I posted my last entry the day has been even more excellent.  I figured I couldn't let this be missed!   So here is just a small tidbit more.

I picked up the key from a coworker of the girl I am couch surfing with, and went to her house to wait and figure out the plan.  She arrived home from school at about 10pm and asked if I wanted to go celebrate the big project she just finished.  Not being a party pooper I tagged along to the same place I had dinner. (Bistro Sabor).  Turns out it is own by the first Mexican family to start a Vineyard in Napa and an amazing family at that.

It was one of the family members birthdays today, so I got invited to the party!! It involved a long table with multiple free shots of Tequila, and amazing wine from their vineyard (Ceja).  So after spending a night eating cake, drinking amazing wine and celebrating with some new friends I figured why not post!

Cheers
Braden

Wednesday, April 6, 2011

Day 6

I'm no good at self portraits
Wednesday April 6th 2011
Napa, California

Today the theme was big.  Big trees, big statues, big drives and big appetite.

Jon and I met Paul Bunyan and Babe the blue ox.  That was in the middle of one of the most amazing things I have ever.  Redwood National Park, a completely free national park.  Following these roads that twist and turn amongst giants, and when I say giants I mean trees that are 1200 years old, 300+ feet tall.  I could drive Lola inside most of them.  Nobody around for miles, just Jon and I walking through the old growth forest.

After leaving Redwood at about 1, we headed south and for the first 2 hours it was a gorgeous drive, following the coast, darting in and out of more old growth forest.  Then it got a little dull, today for the first time yet I was sitting there bored of my music, kind of uncomfortable and ready to be where I was going, and tired of eating out of a cooler of boring food.

AND THEN!!! (AHH suspense AHHH)  I got of the 199 Redwood Highway, and headed towards Napa.  Instant change, rolling hills stretch from horizon to horizon covered in vines.  Cows grazing in the fields that separate the vineyards.  Amazing winery buildings designed to showcase the wine, mansions with views that only get better as you get closer.

Napa is gorgeous, the town itself is very much a tourist town.  Everything is spotless, the streets are wide and the sidewalks wider (now you are picturing this town that just seems poorly designed, aren't you?)  I was told that I should go to Bistro Sabor, a little place with good food.  BAM! SHUT MY MOUTH SLAP YOUR GRANDMA!!!  One of my top 10 restaurants, latin street food style paired with local Napa wines.  And to top it off... they had hockey on the TV!!

Today, I felt like a king.  I wish you could join me, who ever you are.   The road just isn't the same alone!

Music of the day???  Dark Side Of The Moon - Pink Floyd.

Massive redwoods

Jon at the beach

The California Coast

I tried photographing this tree, but it just couldn't do justice.

Tuesday, April 5, 2011

Day Cinq

Sunset, Crescent City, California.
Tuesday April 5th 2011
Crescent City, California

WOW!!!  Okay so today started off fairly non interesting, Neil and I went for breakfast, I got in the car and drove.  But then what a day it turned out to be!!   To keep it easier to read I will do some bullet points today.


  • Portland Oregon
    • Powell's Book Store, over a million books covering like 5 stories (that is a lot of books for the same 5 stories) The photo section was so overwhelming that after an hour I couldn't choose! 
    • The city itself is amazing, like Vancouver but smaller and a bit more interesting... a lot more.
  • The drive
    • Jon and I listened to some quality music as the weather went from rain to shine
  • Grants Pass - Crescent City
    • Well thats where my life got amazing!  The Redwood highway is about 80 miles long, and starts off  up in the mountains, before joining the river and dumping you out at the ocean.  
    • One corner I came around all of the sudden opens up into super old growth trees, we're talking wider than a car
  • Crescent City
    • I set up my tent at the KOA and then made a direct line for the ocean.  I pulled up and ran to the edge of the shore, nobody around, the sun just saying goodnight.  Like any epic movie scene I walked to the edge of this cliff and just yelled at the top of my lungs!!
Well I am settling in for what looks to be a very cold night of camping, Walmart stop for blankets today will be greatly appreciated!   Speaking of which, Val the cashier at Walmart was about the nicest person you could meet.  (She told me my hair was the most beautiful hair she had ever seen on a man)

Musical Choice of the day?  Suspicious Minds - Elvis Presley 

Cheers! 

Couch host number 1 - Neil Branson

Dashboard surfing

River along the Redwood Highway

Crescent Beach 

Braden and Jon do Cali!!! 

Redwood Highway!! 

Monday, April 4, 2011

Day Quattro

Jon Bear does Haystack Rock, Cannon Beach, Oregon
Monday April 4th, 2011
Seaside, Astoria, Cannon Beach

For those of you not in the loop, Jon is my polar bear co-pilot.  He has been on all of my road trips, and he is pretty wonderful ( if not a little dirty...both mind and body)  But really what he does is fill the void when there is nothing to talk about, and when you are driving alone there is almost never anything to talk about, or to talk to.  Enter Jon.

Today was rainy and wet, but so enjoyable.  Jon and I went for a nice long walk along Cannon beach, a truly amazing beach and I have to believe that on a nice day in the summer it is like a zoo!  (side note, are zoos typically really busy?)  But today the rain was coming down so hard, and the wind was blowing so strong that I was alone on the beach.  And after an hour of walking I was soaked to the bone.

After coming back into seaside, doing some groceries and warming up again it was off to go find the Columbia River Maritime Museum (A building that is designed to look like the waves that the area is so well known for)  Can we say VALUE! 10 dollars for one of the most enjoyable little museums I have had the pleasure of seeing! Golly!  Followed by a wander up to the Blue Scorcher Bakery, awesome little place that is a must for all your trips to Astoria.

I took my fantastic host Neils' advice and went for Mexican at The Stand, excellent food!! I think I am going to be bigger than my car by the time I pull into Toronto.

Song of the day  Gasoline - The Silent Comedy


Nuclear Submarine and escort-  Port Angeles Washington

Haystack Rock, Cannon Beach, Oregon

Astoria Bridge (PINHOLE VERSION) 

Seaside, Oregon