Saturday, April 19, 2008

On Spam

Yes, the electronic kind. Or, I suppose, there's always this kind, but I doubt I can improve on this salient commentary.

Not that this is going to have any effect whatsoever, but seriously, if any more "people" leave comments reading "See Please Here," where "Here" is a link to a reputable site such as I like comments as much as anyone, but I prefer that actual humans post them. Or, at the very least, if they have to be computer-generated, they should be entertaining, like the ones that come to my email account. I've had extremely good luck with my email spam over the past several weeks.

It will, of course, be very ironic if I get a comment on this post that says nothing but "See Please Here." Should that happen, I will naturally leave it up (I've been deleting them).

Friday, April 18, 2008

One Final Road Trip Thought

Remember Oregon Trail? Of course you do. All those hours spent in your sixth grade computer class, watching your characters rapidly die of fever, starvation, drowning, etc., etc. At any rate, as I got into Idaho and Oregon, I began to see signs for the actual Oregon Trail, which I was loosely following for a while. If I squinted, the white 18-wheelers looked vaguely reminiscent of Conestoga wagons, and I began to expect that little black box to pop up in front of me informing me that I had lost a wheel, fallen into a river, had all my food stolen, or any of the other myriad things that could befall one. (On the other hand, I never made it nearly that far when I played Oregon Trail, so it was a particularly new experience.)

Thursday, April 17, 2008

Day Seven: Pendleton to Lake Stevens, WA

Made it. The roads looked like this:

Monday, April 14, 2008

Day Six: Springville to Pendleton, OR

Sort of a slow day. Actually, a very slow day. About all I have to say is that New England drivers get a bad rap--Utah drivers are much, much worse. It's just that there's usually more room to avoid their idiocy than there is in Rhode Island or Massachusetts. Once I got about 100 miles from Salt Lake City, though, traffic disappeared, and it was back to the pleasant, nearly empty interstate I have come to know and love over the past week. About the only excitement was the snowfall near Baker City, OR. It's up in the mountains, and there was fairly heavy snow for about 10 minutes. There was also quite a bit of snow still on the ground, as you can see.

Sunday, April 13, 2008

Day Five: Cameron to Springville, UT

Long day. I messed up planning my route, and it cost me a couple hours, leaving me 51 miles short of Salt Lake City, which was where I wanted to be tonight. After 12 hours on the road, though, I didn't feel like continuing on. On the other hand, the hotel here is probably the nicest of the places I've stayed on this trip, and not the most expensive. Also, I hiked for about an hour at the Grand Canyon, so how much can I really complain?

Once again, the pictures don't quite capture the vastness (not that I didn't keep trying--that's why digital cameras are so great).

That's all I've got tonight.

Saturday, April 12, 2008

Day Four: Moriarty to Cameron, AZ

Today was supposed to be my leisurely day of sightseeing, and I did indeed stop and see the sights. It was more tiring than anything else, though.

First stop was the Continental Divide somewhere in New Mexico. It qualifies as a sort of roadside attraction; Continental Divide items were offered for sale from a "real Navajo hogan." (It was closed.) Nonetheless, I stopped and took a picture.

Next, I stopped at the rest area in Lupton, AZ, just across the state line. It was fairly scenic, but I was disappointed that, despite signs promising poisonous snakes and insects, I saw no wildlife of any kind.

After that, I went to Petrified Forest National Park, and took the short loop through the Painted Desert. It was quite impressive, and as you might imagine, the pictures I took don't quite capture it. This one comes the closest. The park fauna was more satisfactory; while walking the short trail near one of the scenic overlooks, I saw five lizards and a jackrabbit.

A few miles past the park was Stewart's Petrified Wood, a roadside attraction offering a free (tiny) piece of petrified wood, and highly expensive larger pieces for sale. More impressive than the petrified wood, however, was the large dinosaur visible from the road. It's hard to tell from the picture, but that's a caveman in its mouth....

The last stop of the day was at the meteor crater outside Winslow, AZ. I squeaked in about half an hour before closing time and was delighted to discover that my military ID got me in for free, saving me $15. The crater was enormous; the people in the picture give some idea of the scale.

Day Three: Checotah to Moriarty, NM

This was a long day, so long that I'm writing it on Day Four. I'll see if I can remember the salient details.

I remember noting that a good title for this post might be Oklahoma and Texas: The Flatness. It was quite flat, and remained so until I got into New Mexico. The weather was fine until I got to the mountains. Around Santa Rosa, I noticed dark clouds looming ahead, and a few minutes later, started seeing lightning. It looked as if the storm was off to the north, but of course the road curved, and it began to rain. Suddenly the two 18-wheelers ahead of me slowed down to about 40 mph, and although I couldn't immediately see why, I had a feeling that nothing good was happening up ahead. Then hailstones approximately the siz of aquarium gravel began pelting my windshield, first hitting with soft splats, then growing louder as the air grew colder and the hail harder. Most other drivers had the good sense to pull over, but I followed the truck ahead of me, which you can see in the picture. (I took the picture after the worst of the storm passed; safety conscious as always, I wanted to concentrate on my driving, Mom and Dad, if you're reading this.)

After the hail stopped, I started to notice a little difficulty in acceleration, which was due to the combination of increasing altitude and the desperate need for an oil change. I stopped in Moriarty, shelled out the big bucks for a room at the Holiday Inn Express (so I'm now qualified to perform surgery, etc., if their commercials are to be believed. I suppose I have to do it now, because I won't be able to say I stayed at a Holiday Inn Express last night for much longer).

Historic Route 66 runs through Moriarty, so I took this picture this morning as I headed out.

Day Two: Crossville to Checotah, OK

I got an early start this morning and headed back out to I-40 west. I was a little worried about the severe thunderstorms I kept hearing about, but as it turned out, there was only a little bad weather, when it rained so hard I considered pulling over. I just followed the dark shape of the 18-wheeler ahead of me, and kept going.

Between Crossville and Checotah, of course, is Memphis, and Graceland. I stopped there for a quick tour of the mansion.

After that, I crossed the Mississippi River into flooded Arkansas. It was interesting how as soon as I crossed the river, the land got flat. The picture isn't very good, but you can see the tops of the trees sticking out above the water.

I'm spending tonight in Checotah, OK, home of Carrie Underwood. It would be snide of me to remark that upon driving through Checotah, her motivation to win American Idol becomes crystal clear, so I will refrain from such commentary. This is the view from my motel room; what you cannot tell from the picture is that there are train tracks just across the street. I don't mind trains, though, and even that close to my room, it's quieter than the fighter jets that flew over my Virginia Beach apartment.

Wednesday, April 09, 2008

Day One: Virginia Beach to Crossville, TN

I finally got on the road around 8:30, having taken a detour to stop at Dunkin Donuts (one of two in Virginia Beach). Traffic was a little heavy heading into Norfolk, but it thinned out quickly. The weather was ideal for driving, and the stretch from Norfolk to Richmond was particularly scenic, with a light misting rain, and a pale green mist of new leaves on the trees lining the road, interspersed with flowering purple trees, and at one point, a massive lilac bush.

I stopped at a rest area just east of Lexington, VA for lunch, and climbed up a hill past the "official use only" signs to take a picture.

Traffic was very light everywhere except Knoxville, which I can (barely) forgive because it was rush hour. I almost ran out of gas in Knoxville, but managed to avert that crisis, although it was a narrow thing, especially when the first gas station I saw was out of commission, with all the pumps wrapped in yellow caution tape.

Some statistics from today's trip:
605 miles
Two states
Two time zones
Zero accidents
One roadside attraction - Foamhenge, in Natural Bridge, VA. It's like Stonehenge, only foam. I don't have a picture because I didn't get out of the car.