North American Tour 2011 (in order)

Hello!

This is about what I am going to do in July. I’m planning a car trip around Canada and the US.

There are a few reasons for this trip with the first being curiosity, I’ve always wanted to see the rest of Canada and really want to check out the west coast of the US and the desert. There are lots of photos, videos and writings about all of the destinations on my plan but there is something to be said for seeing the sights in person, breathing the air and feeling the heat (or cold) of the environment.

The second reason for this trip is that people always ask when I am taking a road trip if I think my car will make it. The simple answer is yes. I maintain my car and have great faith in his ability to achieve whatever we set out to do. We have seen a lot of road together and I plan to see a lot more before we part ways. I am a firm believer in the “recycle” triangle. Those being the components of reduce, reuse and recycle in that order. Part of my time on this trip and the reason for blogging and promoting this trip publicly is to raise awareness and encourage people to reduce production of new products by encouraging life extension through proper maintenance and the purchase of quality products.  Obviously the visible component will be automotive but the reduction and reuse extends to computers, televisions, cell phones, PDA and many electronic and electrical devices that we consume and throw away while they still have life left as a useful item. Economics weigh in here with the need to produce, purchase and exchange but that is where the reuse comes into play with those who can’t afford or don’t have the desire to possess the latest technology.

The third reason is that it will be fun and a good way to meet up with old friends and meet new friends along the way. I will be planning the route through cities where friends have relocated to and cities where photographers and others in the business work and live with the hope of meeting those who have helped to motivate me to follow my own dreams.

If I had unlimited resources I would spend many months doing this and tour every province, territory and state thoroughly. I do not have unlimited resources and I need to return to work so this will be a one month, 18,000km journey across Canada to Victoria followed by a trip around the outer edges of the United States. I will begin with Canada Day in Montreal and Ottawa followed by a run through Toronto, Brampton, Waterloo and London. Then it is on to Winnipeg, Regina, Calgary, Vancouver and Victoria. After that I’ll be heading to Seattle and beyond with highlights being the Bonneville Salt Flats, Las Vegas, LA, Dallas, New Orleans, various parts of Florida, Atlanta, Washington DC, Philadelphia, Boston and the coastal areas of New England.

As of now I have it scheduled for twenty six days of travelling with a five day buffer for side trips and/or emergency repair situations. This does not indicate a lack of faith in my car but I will be driving as many kilometres as the average Canadian does in a year…but I will be doing it in a month. So there will be a lot of strain on my car and even though I have maintained him well most vehicles experience some sort of breakage in a year. The optimist in me is hoping that because my “year” of mileage won’t include a winter season there will be less strain than during an actual year with cold temperatures and salt on the roads.

I will be blogging about my preparations for the trip as well as daily posts from the road. I will of course be taking pictures and posting some of these as I travel around the continent. Once the trip is finished I plan to put together all of my favourite pictures and writings into a book for everyone to enjoy.

Follow along as I dig into this adventure. There is a lot to do before I go and some adventures to be had on the trip. Enjoy.

Lost and Found

Time for an update, actually probably a little past due. I got the paperwork in order to get my passport but the savings took a hit today when I had to cough up $600 to get the exhaust fixed on my car. According to the passport Canada web site there is only a 10 day wait for processing so I can hold off for another couple weeks and still have my passport in plenty of time.

Now that that’s out of the way the really important part of this update. A good friend and a great guy passed this weekend. I am really happy that I got to know him and can’t think of anyone else I know that had the happiness and positive outlook that he had. I’m not saying that the rest of my friends are grumpy, they are really quite a happy group but everyone has their off days.

I know it may be a little cliché to be reflective and think about your own mortality when someone close to you dies but I have actually been thinking about it a lot for the last few years. I’m not in good shape at all and like everyone I am getting older every year. Something I didn’t come right out and say in my introduction is that I want to do this trip before health or age becomes a limiting factor and I’m hoping that the planning will motivate me to get more exercise to be in better shape on launch day. I’m also hoping that the 31 days of routine change will help to break my current habits and foster the growth of new, better habits. Part of the plan is to wake up each day and take a walk for at least half an hour to get the blood flowing before I get on the road and when I start to feel groggy to find a nice place to nap and/or take another walk to get refreshed.

Dietary changes will also be a component of this trip. I usually don’t eat much when I’m driving but I like to enjoy the dining when I get to my destination so each day I will be getting to a destination but I will have been driving all day so this will be something to be determined.

So in summary, despite the budgetary setback I am more determined than ever to take this trip.

Andre, I will remember you for the rest of my life and try my best to live my life with the joy that you did.

Getting Closer…and Stressed

Ruh-Roh. Six weeks left. So much to do.

Went to my insurance agent’s office today for another reason and thought I should check on coverage for my car and gear. Apparently I am covered for all of North America. YAY ME! But here is all of the other stuff that I have left to do.

First is passport. That will happen next week. As a photographer the question is do I do my own picture or do I just go get it done somewhere? I’ve got everything I would need, the white background, lights, camera and all of the measurements/requirements for the photo.  On the downside if the pic is rejected I have to go home, set everything up again, take the shot, go get it printed, cut it to size and go back. If I get it done all I have to do is go back to the studio and have them fire off another one and take it to the office. If I have it done at Harvey’s the store is only half a block from the passport office. Worth the fifteen or twenty dollars I think.

Next is to contact all of the people on my list that I want to visit during my trip. Hopefully most of you are reading this. Most of the list is friends and family that live far away, the rest of the list is photographers and others in the business that have inspired or educated me in some way. Hopefully their schedules will fit into mine. 🙂

After that I need to firm up the schedule and route that I will be sticking to, well as much as possible anyway. There will of course have to be some flexibility for delays and whatnot…you know I’ll get sidetracked somewhere…maybe even spend an extra day or two on the beach.

The final step before I take off is to get the car ready. Gonna do some heavy modifications to the interior. Removing the back seat and storage box that are back there and replace them with a lower profile storage box behind the driver’s seat that will allow me to fold down the seatbacks for access to the trunk. Also removing the front passenger’s seat and putting in a platform on that side so I can inflate my air mattress and have an actual flat bed. Measured it up the other day and there is six and a half feet from the rear seatback to the footwell under the dash. I’m 5’11”ish so that should work.

Oh yeah, somewhere in there I would like to have a fundraiser. I’m thinking a portrait day where I invite my friends to come and have their portraits done and they make a donation that they can afford. Also a BBQ either the same day or at the same time as the yard sale. Oh yeah, gotta fit a yard sale in there for two reasons; way too much stuff in my apartment and I could use the cash for the trip.

Annnnd I still have to get my work done for work so I can take a whole month off.

Gonna be a busy six weeks but with a little help from my peeps hopefully I’ll be all set for launch day July 1st.

Progress

Less than four weeks to go. Starting to get nervous/excited.

Progress has been made. Dropped off my passport application yesterday. Had to pay an extra ten dollars to be able to pick it up. That’s right, free for them to send it to my house but I have to pay extra to be allowed to come in and pick it up. By picking it up I will be guaranteed to have it before launch date. Their site still said ten days but when I went in they said “blah, blah, blah postal strike blah, blah July 5th.” so I paid the extra money and now I’m allowed to go get it June 28th. Picture was done by Harvey’s Studio for twenty dollars (tax included) and was accepted on the first try. There were none of the lines and extra waiting rooms that were the norm when the American gov started to require passports, in fact it took me longer to walk to the office than it did for the whole process.

Ontario peeps have been contacted and the Canadian portion of the trip has been mapped, scheduled and directions printed.

Bought a power box (battery with AC outlets) and tested it with the CPAP machine overnight. Works great so I’ll be able to sleep in the car AND get rested up.

I am going ahead with a fund raiser, portraits in the park. I will hang out at Odell park and do portraits for anyone who wants to make a donation of any amount. Singles, couples, families and pets or any combination of these.

Still have to modify the car and get a database up and running at work but we are making progress. Still not sure if I should be nervous or excited. YAY Me!

Point of No Return

Car modifications are under way. The first two photos are the before of front and back. The third photo is the during so you can see what is under the back seat in a Saturn. The fourth and fifth are the rear seat from both sides showing the travelling configuration and the storage area underneath.  Gonna use the seat back on that side as a “night stand”. Under the seat back will be storage for my tent, tools…whatever else will fit in there and not be needed often. Probably going to install a piece of plywood to close off the trunk again.
Also my passport came in today. Ten business days and one less thing for me to stress out about.
Another happy report is that I’m glad the exchange rate is doing well. I got my US dollars for 1.017 Canadian dollars each.
Not much else to report today, just waiting to see what the weather will be like tomorrow for my second attempt at doing portraits in the park. Also contacted a few people about meeting, waiting to hear back from them. 🙂

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Less Than a Week

So by this time next week the tour will be under way. Getting really anxious to get on the road but still much to do.

Stuff I’ve finished:

  • Got the passport.
  • Got the American dollars.
  • Did some portraits in the park.
  • Pulled the extra seats out of my car. (more pics tonight maybe)

Still left to do:

  • Finish computer work for people.
  • Get edits done and delivered.
  • Shoot wedding. Edit. Deliver CD.
  • Register equipment to speed up declaration process at border so I won’t end up paying duty on camera gear that I took with me.
  • Go to insurance company to provide serial numbers of new items that aren’t listed on the policy yet.
  • Go to bank to transfer some monies.
  • Go to SJ to see my nephew compete in the Provincial Track and Field thing.
  • Finalize maps and directions.

Why is the to do list soooo much longer than the done list?

Four Full Days

Look at all that space. Gonna be so comfy.

Only four full days left between me and my trip. Shot the wedding, had a great time at the wedding, congrats to Mark and Lynn. All remaining computer work will be done before I go to bed tonight, might even get started on the remaining edits.

I’m thinking I might head to Dolan’s Wednesday evening for an informal launch party. I’ll be there from 8:30 to 10:30ish to enjoy a beverage or two and to see those who wish to drop by before I go on tour.

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Oh Work

Why does work get in the way of vacations all the time. So much left to do for carnovations(definition below) and running around to bank, insurance, customs office, buying supplies and sipping beer. Instead of being able to do those things I’ve had a rental cube van for three days while my car has been sitting at the rental office not being worked on. Cube van equals really busy at work with no time to make calls to get things done or make an appointment with my banker types so I’m just going to go to the bank tomorrow and cry until they do what I want. Maybe I’ll leave out the crying part. Maybe not (we’ll see how much sleep I get tonight).
Either way it’s getting closer and I’ll be in Ottawa for Canada Day regardless of what happens the next two days. If that means I have to go with a couple hundred fewer dollars or that I have to wait at the border while they catalogue my camera stuff then so it be.
I’m sooo excited to get on the road, just wish vacations weren’t so much work. 🙂

Carnovations – the act or doing renovations to an automobile that allow it to be used for non-traditional uses. Feel free to use this word (but not you riceboys).

Summary Map

So this is roughly the route I’ll be taking. Gives you an idea of what kind of fun I am looking forward to.

All

KM

Launch tomorrow. YAY!

Now to get some sleep.

Last Post From Home

The bed is done (and Gomar approved as you can see), Oil changed, gear green carded, money pocketed/banked and clothes packed. Just need to put the last few items in the car, get gas, have supper with mom and step-dad then I’ll be on the road. No looking back…until I get home. So happy to be doing this and a huge thank you to all of the friends and family who helped me get ready and to all of those who have offered a place to stay and/or shower. The bed is really comfy but I just couldn’t figure out how to install a shower in the Saturn.

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In Ottawa (area)

Made it to the first stop. Just under 1100 km for the first section. Left after supper and drove ’til I got sleepy and pulled into a rest stop in Quebec. There were some shady looking characters there and the people in the car next to me seemed to be making out (in hindsight maybe they were just trying to get situated as they had two people sleeping in their car) I moved on after a quick stretch to the next rest stop and this one looked safer so I went to sleep. I woke up when it started to get light out…why is it getting light out at 4:30 in the morning? Got on the road and finished up here. You know if I fill up in Edmundston and drive at 115 km/h or less I can make it all the way through Quebec without needing to stop for gas. More later from the capital.

Canada Day in Kanata

Had a great time at the bouncy castles in the park then later we went back for some rides, some Sloan, a huge crowd and some bumper cars. Had an adventure riding the bus while standing up and earlier I got to hold a beer that the bus driver confiscated from an under-age passenger that was too stupid to just wait the 5 minutes to get to the park. Overall it has been a good start to the trip. When I have a bit more time I’ll add one or two more pics from Canada Day. Gotta get on the road.

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Day 2

I packed up and left the Ottawa area. Headed to John’s, not an overly eventful drive but the time on the 401 was fun. I like the 3 or more lane driving dynamic. Nice to be able to pass two cars at the same time.
I did come across this interesting spot. I like to call this the Lewis Black effect. He spoke about being in Texas and walking out of a Starbucks and seeing another Starbucks across the street. In Ottawa I saw two Petro Canada stations across the street from each other. In Brockville I saw three Petro Canada Stations all beside each other. It’s getting a little out of hand Ontario.
Had a good visit with Scott in Waterloo then headed back to John’s for sleep. Now we’re off to the big TO.

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So Proud

So on the third day I got up and headed out to the Toronto Pride Parade with John. Got to ride the subway again and it was very crowded with people heading in to the parade as well as other people just going places. Everything in Toronto is done to a large scale but I was still a little surprised by the size of the crowd and the number of people in the parade. There were lots of fun and interesting things to see and I even had a guy hand me a flier for a bear event/club. If you don’t know what a “bear” is you should look it up. I thought I might mail it to Scott for old times sake. 🙂 I guess this is one of many times on this trip where the pictures I’ve seen won’t live up to the experience of actually being there. I just hope my travels and pictures will help you to decide where you would like to see and experience.
After the parade we went to visit with my aunt, cousin and her son (makes him second cousin I believe). Went to the Keg Mansion. Incredible building and each room has a slightly different décor. The food was plentiful and delicious. Just what I needed after standing on a hot Toronto street corner for four hours.
Gotta get on the road but here is a pic of Jack Layton in the parade. I’ll try to get more parade and Canada Day pics posted to a Facebook album soon.

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4th of July

Little slow getting on the road today. Left at about 10:30 to head to Cambridge for a lunch visit with my step sister. I arrived about half an hour early so I straightened out the mess in my car, not so much cleaned as organized a little better.
I started out this morning at about 125 km/h weaving through traffic on the 401 heading west away from Toronto/Brampton and I just finished the day cruisin’ at 105 km/h(65 mph) thinking about stuff and enjoying the slightly different atmosphere. It looks pretty much like all of the places that I have been so far but I’m starting to notice some different looking trees. The biggest thing I’ve noticed is a great abundance of Big Boy restaurants, a place that I’ve wanted to try since I saw the first Austin Powers movie (cross that off the bucket list). I didn’t go all out for a meal because I really don’t feel hungry after driving all day but I did want to try it so I got a burger and it was delicious. Kind of like a home made Big Mac. There are Tim Hortons in Michigan too so I’ll have to see if they have the same recipe.
Crossing the border was a bit of a challenge though. First I got to the bridge in Sarnia and got stopped in the line of traffic for about 40 minutes and had to turn the heat on to keep my car from overheating. Did I mention that Carl likes to run free, when we have to set in traffic or in a drive through line for too long he gets cranky and starts to spit rad fluid out on the ground. When I finally got to the US Customs and Immigration they decided I looked like a shady character so I had to pull into the search area and go inside to answer questions. Then the guy went outside to check through my car. The only thing they disturbed was that they took my film camera out of the trunk and put it in the back seat area so it wouldn’t get broken. Every thing else was looked through but pretty much left where it was (hope they weren’t too afraid of my dirty undies). Once I got into Michigan it was pretty uneventful but I got the first collector shot glass of this trip.

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Day 5 and 250,000

First off I’d like to thank Anchor in Naubinway for a delicious breakfast and free WIFI access so I could post yesterday’s post.

After a very restful but warm sleep in my car at a rest stop near Gaylord Michigan http://bit.ly/pfJH0L  I awoke and got on my way. There was a beautiful sunrise and a couple of showers during the day but they were very quick showers or they were moving in the opposite direction. Long story short it was a beautiful day for travelling and that is what I did. 1100+ kms of it. More than 700 miles for the US audience. I still took the time to enjoy the scenery. I drove at or just slightly over the speed limit, stopped at random spots to take pictures and enjoyed a delicious pulled pork sandwich (as well as the earlier mentioned breakfast) at a sit down meal. I got to leave Michigan twice, if you look at US-2 it dips into Wisconsin then back to Michigan. They seem to not like deer, of the six that I saw there only 3 were moving.

Zipped through Wisconsin and into Minnesota for a drive through the snow of mosquitoes and for Carl to hit the 250,000 km mark in the Chippewa National Forest. After so much driving and getting back on schedule I decided to treat myself to a hotel with shower, Internet and free breakfast.

In honour of this milestone all of the pictures for this post will include Carl.

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Bonus Time

Whenever I stay in a hotel/motel with Internet access you will get a bonus post. Here are a couple more shots from Michigan, Wisconsin and Minnesota.

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Manitoba

Yesterday I finished up with Minnesota, through North Dakota and into Manitoba for a visit with the folks at CFS in Winnipeg (thanks for the tour and info). Then it was on to as far west as I could get before dark. Turns out it was almost to Saskatchewan.
First without getting into politics I heard an ad on the radio about how the Governor of Minnesota had pretty much shut down non-essential services to save money. This became rather apparent to me as I drove by closed rest stops one after another. There were NO open rest stops along US2 in Minnesota which is apparently why I got a hotel room for the night in Bemidji MN. Hampton Inn on the lake, beautiful scenery, nice new building and very pleasant staff.
The thing they are doing right in MN is that the farmers hay the median. The pictures below may look like hay bales that fell off a truck but they are actually there in the process of being collected. Brilliant use of otherwise wasted land. Good job Minnesotans!
The border crossing was a little faster this time. He just asked me a bunch of questions, like nobody has ever taken a vacation before. When he asked if I bought anything I said just food, gas and an atlas. He asked why a computer guy doesn’t use GPS. I told him not to trust computers for information.
Another early morning, it was getting light at 4:30 so I woke up and the sunrise was at 4:50AM. Now I’m sitting under a tree in Wolseley SK getting the WIFI from the visitor info hut. On the road in a few minutes, gotta get to Calgary today so I can be trampled in a stampede trying to see the prince. 🙂
PS: I tried panning with the train pics, can’t really tell how they turned out sitting here in the sun but I hope the one posted is OK. Enjoy.

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Alberta

I should note that even though the title of the post is Alberta some of these were shot yesterday in Saskatchewan.

Canada, why you so big? Lot of driving this week but that has put me ahead of schedule as far as my average km/day. I’m at just over 5,000 km, leaving about 13,000 km to go.

So apparently they hay the ditches and medians in Saskatchewan and Alberta also. A lot of driving through a lot of farm country has left me with limited WIFI access. After a visit to the Stampede I’m going to move on into the mountains, hopefully the tourist areas will be more WIFI loose.

Saw some prairie dogs this morning.

Update: WP or IE is being a d**k and not attaching the pictures. I’ll try the Mac later when I get on-line again. Sorry all.

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Calgary to BC

So the Rockies completely made up for the prairies. The prairies were nice for the first couple hours but then there was more. Love the mountains and the funny coloured water.
Made it to Calgary yesterday and went to the Stampede with Laralee and Al. He insisted that I be in some pictures so there are a couple here. We tried the pull and got the record so far, 705.4 lbs. We won some cowbells and a card with our pull score. For those of you who have never been to the Stampede it is much more than a rodeo. There is the parade, the rides, games and exhibits from livestock to western themed art. There were even dancing trees. It started to get really windy on the way out of Calgary and I shot some video in the mountains, if I get a chance to sit down and trim the video I’ll post it here so you can enjoy the mountains and hear the wind. It was strong enough to move my car when I was parked shooting the video.
I spent the night in Field BC so I could check out Emerald Lake in the morning. Thanks for the tip Aletha, it was beautiful but I didn’t walk around the trail as it was about 8 degrees and starting to rain (I didn’t pack a jacket)
In Kamloops now on my way to Vancouver.
Enjoy the pics and I’ll be back soon.

I will definitely be coming back to the mountains when I can spend more time exploring. 🙂

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Vancouver

Finished the Rockies with a wonderful drive down the BC5 highway, rather steep and fast. The sign that said “Critical Accidents next 20 KM” kind of made me nervous.
Arrived in Surrey and after a delicious supper Mary-Em and son took me for a tour of Stanley Park and the downtown area.
The bad news is that I have a slight exhaust leak so Carl is getting a little noisy but not going to worry about it until it gets worse or I get home, whatever comes first.
The good news is that we made it from coast to coast. 🙂
Sunny day on the west coast. YAY!

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Ferry Ride

I said my goodbyes to the mainland 😦 for now 🙂 and headed to the ferry terminal so I could get to Vancouver Island (like PEI but on the west coast and no red sand). I arrived at the right time and only had to wait about 10 minutes for the loading to begin. The whole process only took about two hours. There was lots to see and do on the ship, they even announced when there was a pod of killer whales on the starboard side. Molly, the Coastal Naturalist, translated and pointed us to the proper side of the ship. She presented lots of information on the wildlife and history of the area as well as information about BC Ferries and the different ships.
I met some interesting people from Victoria, England and Melbourne, Australia. Not sure how many kilometers the ferry ride added to the trip but without that part we are sitting at just over 6,300 km so far.
When we landed I headed into Victoria, did a little driving around and got my BC shot glass. Then i decided for another hotel room so I could get some edits done for peeps back home. Wedding and roller derby pics are on the menu for tonight.
Here are a couple of shots from the ferry, sorry no whale shots. I had the short lens on at the time and by the time I would have gotten it changed they would have been too far away.
Remember to please enjoy responsibly.

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Victoria to Seattle

Got up this morning to meet my tour guide, Jodi. We went to see some tall trees and other flora (a little fauna too). Then we went to see the really tall totem pole and Terry Fox statue. Question for you, did he start his run in Victoria or Vancouver? We figured Victoria somewhere near the statue. Then we hit Chinatown for a look, had some lunch and off I went to the US ferry. Didn’t have a reservation but they let me on anyway. It really seems to throw them off when you cross the border from anywhere that isn’t your home province. Almost like I’m the first to ever do something like this.

(Just got kicked out of Starbucks. They were closing, wasn’t me being rowdy).

Not a challenge at the border this time, just confused looks and many questions. In Washington but I’m gonna camp out before I go into Seattle. Get a fresh start and go in all bright eyed.

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Seattle

Got up this morning and hit the road at 5:30, around 6:30 Carl’s grumble became a growl. Around 7:30 I found a town that had a garage that could fix it…when the welder got there…at 8:45. It was a quick and inexpensive fix. Thanks Cary’s Tire! They replaced a little peice of rusted pipe.
After that we made it into Seattle for a tour of the waterfront and Pike Place Market. Didn’t see it all but I saw enough to get the feel for it, you know how I like crowded marketplaces. I saw the flying fish (a little dark for pics) and a couple of guys that were really good at the ragtimey music. Also hung out with the big seagulls and homeless dudes. Good times.
Gonna see how far south I can get before dark. Got my Yukon Blend and half a tank o’ gas. Lets go!
Enjoy the pics.

I love that they label it as "Interceptor". What is this going to catch other than pedestrians or slow cyclists.

I love that they label it as “Interceptor”. What is this going to catch other than pedestrians or slow cyclists.

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Day 12 Update

Made my way to the coast this morning through the mountains. There was nowhere to pull over for pics of the trees over the road. I did shoot some video again and will hopefully get it on here for you.
I dipped my toes in the Pacific for the first time ever! The drive along the coast has been great so far. Beautiful views, lots of wildlife, quiet little tourist towns and twisty roads. Awesome! I will definitely by coming back to the coast and mountains. I liked my city visits but nothing compares to the great outdoors for vacation time. So relaxing. Even sitting at the laundromat is making me feel all calm like. Oh yeah, I finally had to break down and do laundry. Maybe more later today, if not I’ll be back tomorrow.

Oregon

Made my way to the coast this morning through the mountains. There was nowhere to pull over for pics of the trees over the road. I did shoot some video again and will hopefully get it on here for you.
I dipped my toes in the Pacific for the first time ever! The drive along the coast has been great so far. Beautiful views, lots of wildlife, quiet little tourist towns and twisty roads. Awesome! I will definitely by coming back to the coast and mountains. I liked my city visits but nothing compares to the great outdoors for vacation time. So relaxing. Even sitting at the laundromat is making me feel all calm like. Oh yeah, I finally had to break down and do laundry. Maybe more later today, if not I’ll be back tomorrow.

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Newport

Newport

This was the best I could do. Clouds blocking the view and the visitor center was closed so I couldn't even take a picture of a picture (like I had planned).

This was the best I could do. Clouds blocking the view and the visitor center was closed so I couldn’t even take a picture of a picture (like I had planned).

Into California

Today’s theme is “silly”. The dune and sunset pics are from yesterday.

Today we stopped to check out some dinosaurs.

Then we went into the redwood forest for a little drive. I pulled over for a shot of Carl then decided I should add some perspective. Nobody has ever called me a “tree hugger”, at least not to my face. Now you may if you wish. Your assignment for today is to thank at least one tree for all of the fresh air you breath.

Then I was feeling frisky so I drove through a tree. Didn’t stop to look for Bigfoot though.

Keepin it short cause I want to get through San Fran before dark.

Enjoy!

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Yosemite and Aliens

Sorry for the delay getting this post up but I got really high today. According to the sign it was 9965 ft above sea level. 🙂 Before I get ahead of myself yesterday I made it to San Francisco and got a shot of the Golden Gate bridge from the lookout just before you get to the bridge. Then I headed east across the sexiest bridge I’ve ever been on, away from the city to find a place to sleep.

When I got up I continued east towards Yosemite and Nevada. I knew there were mountains in the park but I was hoping that the road used the passes instead of going over the top of them. Boy was I wrong. Before I actually got to the national park I had breakfast and got a tip on some waterfalls from a great waitress, we were having a rough morning with cutlery but it was a delicious meal and the smiles were a good way to start the day. Then I met the first stranger to be included in the blog. I forget her name but she looked so peaceful sitting there so I just had to go interrupt. 🙂

I hit the waterfalls and some other sites in the park. You guys can make up whatever story you want to about the abandoned flip-flops.

I had a little episode coming down from 10,000 ft. Carl’s brakes got hot and mooshy and when I pulled over they were smoking. Then when they cooled off and I pulled out to finish the rest of the hill(came down 3000 ft in about 6 miles, 8% grade) there was a lot of blue smoke coming out the back. I freaked! So I pulled over to check the oil, clean but a little low so I filled it up. Then I remembered that when he idles there is a little leak by on the valves which then burns out of the cylinders when I press on the pedal. We had just rolled down a six mile hill where my foot didn’t touch the gas once so when the build up burned out of the cylinders everything was back to normal.

So we continued into the desert… and more mountains in search of aliens. Below you will see a picture of the first town I came to. This is where I want to film my movie.

Apparently cows are allowed to roam free in Nevada, sometimes they get off the road, sometimes no. I saw two that had been hit and killed.

Then I got to the A’LE’INN and got my souvenir shot glasses, had a chat with the guy working there and wandered around the yard. Then off to the main goal for today. If you don’t know what I’m looking at in that picture, shame on you and go rent “Paul”.

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Vegas Baby!

Parental/Kid warning: Not a good day so I’ll delete the bad words and replace them with a star (*). Parents, you can insert whatever word you want in there. Kids, when you see a star yell out “He Swore!” as loud as you can.
So I got up this morning not loving the desert overly much but determined to push through and see Las Vegas. Drove for a while and saw an IN-N-OUT Burger sign so in I went and came out with a pretty good burger and home-style fries. Man it was crowded. I think everybody from LA was fearing the freeway closure so they went to Vegas for the weekend. Because of the crowds there I was debating if I should go to the strip and battle more crowds or just keep on trucking. (Hold on, we’re getting to the good part.) I finished my food and took a few shots around the parking lot and of the crowd inside, refilled my drink for the road and went out to get a couple shots of the building on the other side of the freeway. Took my first and only shot of the buildings and my * * camera died of heat stroke. The * mirror locked up and would not come down. That answered that * question. Guess I’m hitting the road to get some wind blowing to cool down the camera and me.
When the camera cooled down a little it turned on but the mirror kept opening and closing. I had remembered it doing that once before but I didn’t remember if I did something or if it just stopped.
Got checked into my motel in Ontario (California not Canada) and started to download the pics and find a firmware update to see if that helped. While I was unloading the pics the mirror continued to flip up and down.
To do the firmware update I had to copy a file to the CF card using a card reader. When I took the card out and put a different card in the mirror stopped flipping. Did the firmware update anyway since I had 1.0.2 and the new one was 1.0.8. Camera seems to be OK again and the point of this story is I don’t like the desert and I’m glad I had a backup camera. The Rebel isn’t quite as good as the 50D but he has saved my * a few times, plus he was my first digital SLR so I’ll always love him. He took the blurry(not his fault, I zoomed way in on a wider pic) shark shot and the alien shot from Baker.
In LA now getting rested up for my birthday on the beach tomorrow. When I’m done at the beach I’ll be heading out of town on the way east. No more west on this trip unless it’s slightly north-west to get to a stop.
Forgot to mention yesterday was the half way mark in both days and kilometers. Day 15 and just over 9,000 kms. Tomorrow we will hit the 10,000 km milestone and I’ll take a picture for y’all. Two days of worrying, let’s hope the rest of the trip is all good eventfulness.

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I should have put the wider lens on. Where the guy in the white shirt is on the right is where the line loops around to.

I should have put the wider lens on. Where the guy in the white shirt is on the right is where the line loops around to.

Notice it's on a Saturn. Took this for Robyn, she loves a good bumper fish.

Notice it’s on a Saturn. Took this for Robyn, she loves a good bumper fish.

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More Relaxed

I do a lot of thinking when I’m driving and today was no exception. As I was going through the Nevada desert, before the camera problems, I was thinking about all of the dating sites (not to mention friends and family that try to match you up). I think a significant other is a friend that you want to spend time with and even live with. There is lots of pressure (and money to be made) to get people together in a romantic relationship.
Yet there is no pressure or web site for when you are down a friend for whatever reason. Maybe they moved or you grew apart, or had a big fight over the last toaster pastry. The point is you move on with your life and if somebody comes along to fill the void left by the absent friend you accept them. If nobody comes along you fill the time with other friends or hobbies. No pressure, just life.

So to all of my friends past, present and future, I’m glad I got to know you and we didn’t have to meet through a web site.

Now that I’ve been all deep here is a picture of my multi-coloured driving arm.

The really dark spots are where it hasn't peeled yet. The white spots on my knuckles and elbow are the dry spots that are always there.

The really dark spots are where it hasn’t peeled yet. The white spots on my knuckles and elbow are the dry spots that are always there.

Happy Birthday?

You bet it was! Not really sure if I can say best birthday ever. I’ve had some pretty good birthdays what with Royfest being a real event and all. Hard to top the first Royfest with the spontaneity of it all, the great friends and acoustic Damhnait Doyle performance. But this was on par with that. I headed for Venice Beach and the first area I pulled into was the Santa Monica Pier… way too crowded for this cowboy. So I went south and missed the street for the parking lot I had meant to park at but found another even further south. Got the cameras out and headed for the sand. Walked south for a while then headed north again because I needed some breakfast. Had a sammich and Gatorade in the shade of a palm tree as cyclists and roller bladers zoomed by. Then I continued north to the big lifeguard headquarters and designated surfing area. The waves weren’t big but they seemed to be beginners so that was probably a good thing. Started south again to the pier for a little visit then I figured I should get out of the sun and on the road.
Hit another In-N-Out Burgers for lunch on the way out of the LA area and now sittin’ at a Starbucks in Barstow. The I-15 going into LA was pretty much packed to a crawl when I pulled in here but traffic out of LA was moving smoothly. I think my theory about Los Angelinos going to Vegas for the I-405 closure may have been correct. Or this is a weekly thing. Either way the I-405 was opened by lunch time today. The only traffic I ran into was right by the shore with people trying to find parking. Overall a pleasant LA experience and a great birthday!
Even though I passed the halfway point two days ago it is just now that I feel like I’m starting towards home.
As a birthday present for you there are lots of pics today.

Peir Gaurding Keep 'Em Seperated

The couple that owned these were nearby tanning. There were some great bikes all over the place.

The couple that owned these were nearby tanning. There were some great bikes all over the place.

These ones were geese.

These ones were geese.

Bike Trail South of the Peir Bike Basket

The main street into the parking area. Surrounded by restaurants and gift shops.It was hard to get a shot without a bike or bikini, this shot has both.

The main street into the parking area. Surrounded by restaurants and gift shops.It was hard to get a shot without a bike or bikini, this shot has both.

World's Smallest Front Yard Yeah! No Dumping!

Yes, you can live right on the beach. Don't think I'd want to see the price tag though.

Yes, you can live right on the beach. Don’t think I’d want to see the price tag though.

Desert Rain

Yes please. In Arizona about to go to the Grand Canyon. No pics yet today but figured I should post in case I have trouble finding WIFI later. I never thought I would be so happy to see clouds. It was still really hot but the lack of direct sun helped a lot. As I gained altitude and neared Grand Canyon Park the clouds got thicker and the rain showers got longer. The first shower was about 15 seconds. Now they are lasting a whole minute. There is lots of lightning activity in the distance, cross those fingers that I’ll get a Canyon and lightning shot.
When I was planning this trip I tried to find Route 66 on the maps and couldn’t so I gave up. Today I discovered that it runs almost parallel to I-40. I thought about getting off the Interstate and heading along the 66 but then I started thinking that I should keep this as my adventure and not follow the path of those generations that came before me and traveled Route 66 when that was the only/best way to travel. I’m part of the Divided Highway Generation, we drive at the speed we want and don’t watch for oncoming traffic. We are awesome! All of the Route 66 travelers have my respect and thanks for giving me something to emulate but not copy.
Might be pictures later.

Canyon

As I suspected the WIFI was hard to find last night. I got to the Grand Canyon and toured around. It was mostly cloudy and hazy so the long shots weren’t what I had hoped they would be. I found I spent as much time shooting wildlife and flowers/trees as I did the canyon. The squirrel pictured below actually ran right between my feet. The squirrel I saw earlier was much more timid. There were condors, ravens and even some elk along the road.

It got dark very early here, it was fully dark by 9:00 and I was asleep by 9:30. Up at 2:30 but I went back to sleep until 4:30. Heading into New Mexico today. More later.

Funny Lookin' Mooses Big Bird Little Bird Tree Munchin' Crazy People More View Goodbye To The West River View Rainbows for All Checkin' It Out

New Mexico

Got into New Mexico today, so far a little more to my liking than Arizona and Nevada. I like the red rocks and sheer cliffs along the highway. Don’t get me wrong, Arizona was nice but New Mexico is more my style.
Little story from yesterday. I saw a car with a sign that had the triangle and Recycle Rite on it. I carried on and went to fill my water bottle from the spring tap. On the way back to my car there was a woman opening the car. Turns out the Recycle Rite company is her son’s because their community doesn’t have curbside recycling. He wanted to provide the service and help to make sure things were recycled properly. Here is the link to his site if you want to check it out. http://www.recycleritecf.com/index.html
Back to today, I didn’t sleep well last night for some reason so I was really tired and decided I better stop in Albuquerque so I didn’t fall asleep driving. No way to sleep in the car during the day in the desert so into a motel I went. Still got 400 kms in today and more than 800 yesterday. I’ll make it into Texas tomorrow, Enjoy today’s pics.

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So this is Texas?

The northern part anyway.
I have a couple of “Bite Me”s to pass out. The first is to whoever said it gets cold in the desert at night. IT DO NOT! It might cool down but there is no way you can call 20C (68F) cold.
The second is for the guy at Canadian Tire in winter of 2003/04 that told me I needed a new battery immediately or I would find myself stranded. I finally decided to replace it today (7.5 years later for those of you who don’t like math). I thought about replacing it last fall but it was still doing what it was supposed to just a little slow on the cold days. The last week or so the heat has been really hard on it and one of the cells quit taking a charge so it was only throwing 10.5V. Still worked and probably could have finished the trip but I figured I should change it to save the rest of the electrical system. So at noon when it was 38C (101F) in Albuquerque I changed Carl’s battery in the parking lot of a parts store. Oh, and it was the original battery installed at the factory in 1997.
Back to adventures. Got into Texas today and the first thing I noticed (other than the stifling heat) was the wind farms. I read an article that said Texas was a leader in “alternative energy” and having seen so many wind powered generator so early I believe it.
Also I finally stopped in for my Hooter’s wings. I know most of you won’t believe me but the primary purpose was the food. The waitresses were just a bonus. They have lemon & pepper as an option for sauce/flavor. It is AWESOME! You hear that Fredericton eateries, the first of you to come up with a delicious lemon & pepper coating for wings wins. What do you win? My undying love and patronage. That should be enough motivation. The thing I forgot was how big their wings were, probably compounded by the fact that I’m in Texas where everything is bigger. To shorten this I ordered way more than I should have and had to force them in (no doggy bags possible on this trip unless I’m out with a friend who can take the leftovers). But they were delicious.
Pulled into a rest stop and the first thing I see is the sign pictured below warning to watch for rattle snakes. Didn’t notice the UFOs in the pic til I unloaded the camera.
Off to sleep, enjoy the pics.

Watch For What?!

Watch For What?!

Hooters Ladies

Hooters Ladies

Old and New

Old and New

So This is Texas

So This is Texas

More Texas

Hard to sleep in the car when the low temp overnight is above 25C. I did it anyway and kept one eye open for rattlesnakes. Woke up and finished the drive to Wichita Falls area to visit with Don-Don. We had a good hang out and lunch at Leal’s. Then it was back on the road for Louisiana with the ultimate goal being Nawlins. Got as far a Shreveport and had to get a hotel room with the AC. At 10:30 it was still 32C, again not car sleeping weather. It is hard to take a picture of hot but I tried to find a safe place to pull over when I saw the cows just standing in a pond up to their shoulders. Alas there was no safe place on that stretch of road.
Today I finished with Texas, hit a little Arkansas then into Louisiana. Tomorrow Nawlins, day after that Florida then it is north to Caraquet along the east coast. Hey Atlantic Ocean, could you cool things down a little for me? Not a lot, just enough so I can sleep in my carmper (yes, another word coined by me)

Big Bull Makes Big....(See even he wasn't happy with the heat)

Big Bull Makes Big….(See even he wasn’t happy with the heat)

Don-Don and I

Don-Don and I

Rest Stop/Museum. The rest stop had lots of displays, WIFI and kiosks to find travel info. Good job Texas DOT.

Rest Stop/Museum. The rest stop had lots of displays, WIFI and kiosks to find travel info. Good job Texas DOT.

Louisiana

Today was all about trying new eateries, car organizing/maintenance and getting the miles gone.
Started with some Popeye’s Chicken. They had a poster claiming that they beat KFC in a blind taste test and I can see how that would happen. Very good chicken, similar to some that I’ve had before but I can’t place it right now, and not as greasy as KFC or Dixie Lee.
The next new eatery was Chick-fil-A. I ate at the one in Lafayette on Louisiana Ave. I mention the location because the service was excellent, very friendly and helpful. I like the way the chicken is prepared, a very light coating, not quite a breading. Kind of in between the crunchy and the grilled chicken you get at most places. Will have to hit another one of those before I get back to Canada.
Did a little reorganizing today in the back of the car. Also polished the headlights because I drove for a little while after dark yesterday and the high beams have not been very useful. I’d heard that you can use tooth paste on your old headlights when the plastic gets milky. I figured I might as well give it a try as the kits to fix them up run anywhere from $10 to $20. I used regular Colgate out of my suitcase. Put it on a cloth and spread it on the headlight the same as you would a wax, then buffed and rinsed with water. Took 3 or 4 minutes per light. Below are two pics, in the first only the one on the right is finished. The second picture has both finished. The difference is most noticeable if you look at the orange signal on the right of the pictures. I don’t know if it was mainly removing road film or if it is actually polishing the plastic but I could see a noticeable difference just looking at them. I haven’t driven at night since I did it so I don’t know for sure if it makes a difference in the brightness of the light.
Other than that it was a lot of highway time. Drove across the causeway(s) first between Lafayette and Baton Rouge then to New Orleans. There was no place to pull over for a picture so i shot some more video and a few shots with the 50D through the window. The best shot is below. Haven’t looked at the video yet.

Half Done

Half Done

All Done

All Done

Missibamida

Got through the rest of Louisiana, Mississippi, Alabama and into Florida today. Little bit of a miracle that I got this far considering the traffic. In Mississippi and Alabama the longest I went without hitting a jam caused by an accident was about 40 miles, the shortest was about 5 miles. Crossing the two states was roughly 225 km but it took 5 hours to cover that distance. This was the first delay due to accidents on this whole trip so overall it is not bad but to have them all in one day was a little stressful.
I thought the rest areas in Texas were really nice then I got to Mississippi. For the “Welcome Center” they have big brick buildings styled after the plantation houses with the big columns in front. The inside was really nice too (pic below). Bama’s buildings weren’t quite as nice but their rest stops were in treed areas so there was lots of shade. Florida has OK buildings with security over night.
The Mississippi welcome center was also where the NASA tour bus loaded. I was tempted but they didn’t allow backpacks and I didn’t really want to leave my camera stuff in my car for a few hours in the heat. I took a picture of the lunar lander they had by the parking lot. Oh yeah, it rained until about 12:30 local time. That is what the spots are in the picture.
The traffic shot is of the buildings in Mobile…or maybe you pronounce it Mobile.
Tired so bed time and I’m not sure what time zone I’m in so I’ll see you tomorrow.

There's grass here?

There’s grass here?

Immobile in Mobile

Immobile in Mobile

Mississippi Welcome Center

Mississippi Welcome Center

More Space Stuff

More Space Stuff

Causeway

Causeway

The Sunshine State

Got up to another hot, sunny day. Got on the road to Largo for a visit with the last of the friends before I get back to NB where there will be a big welcoming party for me. OK maybe it is for someone else but I’ll be there too.
Pretty good driving day weather and traffic wise. One little problem was that I heard the O2 sensor wire dragging. When I had the exhaust work done in Washington he left the wire dangling. I had gone under the car to tuck it up a couple days ago but it fell down again so I figured I better get under there and tie it up before it either wore through or caught some debris on the highway (there is a lot of it). So I had to take everything out of the trunk to get at my jack, OK because it made me realize I’ve gotta do some shirt-laundry. This heat has been hard on the t-shirt supply. Got Carl up and tied the wire up so it wouldn’t be dragging. Good thing I did because in the couple days since I tucked it up the rubber coating had worn through the outer layer. Another few hundred kms and it could have worn through the inner layer and I would have been without an O2 sensor. For those of you playing the home game this would be the O2 sensor that was installed in April after not working for five or six years with absolutely no ill effect on Carl’s performance.
Got a little off track when I got to Largo and ended up having to realign. It was OK cause it made me miss the supper rush and I got to see a little of the city. Also there was a flock of birds just wandering around the lawns, Lyn wasn’t sure what they were so the pic is below. First one to tell me wins a prize to be named later, it may be similar to the prize for developing a lemon & pepper wing coating.
After my great meal and visit I headed east. Had to stop to try my hand at lightning photography for the first time. Wasn’t as dramatic as some shots you see but it was heat lightning happening mostly inside the clouds. It was a good exercise to practice the timing and settings so the next time I get a shot at some clear lightning I’ll be ready…and hopefully not get hit.

Mileage update: about 15,000 km done, 3,000(ish) to go. Five or six days…No problem.

Enjoy.

Lightning 2

Lightning 2

Lightning 1

Lightning 1

Lyn and I

Lyn and I

Funny Looking Seagulls

Funny Looking Seagulls

Old Shed. This was beside another boarded up business. There have been a lot of them in the small towns. Probably in the cities too but not as noticable.

Old Shed. This was beside another boarded up business. There have been a lot of them in the small towns. Probably in the cities too but not as noticable.

Daytona

Got to the east coast of Florida today and heading North now. Just stopped to do today’s update in case I can’t find the WIFI later. Cooled down after the mini hurricane I drove through. Rain was coming in sideways from the passenger side and hitting me in the face. Very hard to see. Even the truckers slowed down to 35 mph. I just followed the tail lights on one. I figured he would clear whatever he hit out of the way for me.
Before that I spent a lovely afternoon in Daytona. Went for a drive on the beach and found a fairly deserted spot so I could drop my camera bag if I decided to go further into the water. I didn’t, but I did go in far enough to get my shorts wet. There are two Carl pics today since it was a big day for him, got to drive on a beach and not get stuck. He wanted to play dune buggy but the speed limit was 10 mph.
I’m glad I chose a relatively empty part of the beach because there were all kinds of birds there, not just seagulls. The splash on landing looks rather unpleasant but they all do it so it must be OK for them.
My camera did the mirror flipping thing again so I decided it was time to get inside with some AC and have lunch while it cooled down. Went to Ken’s Wing House. They have a delicious spicy raspberry sauce for the wings (another challenge for Fredericton eateries). I of course included a pic of the servers to be fair. Wouldn’t want to appear to be favoring the owl place.
After lunch I toured around a bit and got my souvenir shot glass. Hit the highway and found the mini hurricane. I decided I could use a coffee so I pulled off the highway where there were outlet stores figuring there must be a Starbucks close to there. Nope, but there was a Casual Male XL. Damn you clothes that fit! Spent way more than I should have but I just had to have the Angry Birds shirt, can’t find anything big enough in Canada with pop-culture prints.
Enjoy and see you tomorrow. More road then sleep, hopefully in the carmper if it stays cool.

Wing House

Wing House

Enjoying The View

Enjoying The View

Splashdown

Splashdown

Buzzing The Tower

Buzzing The Tower

Lonely Carl

Lonely Carl

Daytona Beach North

Daytona Beach North

Daytona Beach South

Daytona Beach South

Day 26

Missed posting yesterday so here it is.
First we’ll start with this pic so I can tell you about it.

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I came out of the store and thought I had left my window down and a small dog had climbed into my car (there was a small dog laying in the back window) then I noticed my car was the next one. Pretty rare that I see another blue Saturn the same style as mine especially parked right beside me.
What the h*** is that blue thing?

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Oh, now I remember. Haven’t seen one since California. Good job North Carolina.
I did a lot of driving yesterday but I took some time out to go into Savannah to tour around the waterfront and get my Georgia shot glass. Apparently Savannah is all about the pirates…or maybe that was just the gift shop I went into. And they had a life sized Miley Cyrus cardboard cutout that said “no pictures inside the store.”
Got through South Carolina and most of the way through North Carolina. Slept in the car last night despite the heat and humidity. Need coffee now. Enjoy the pics and see you soon.

Power Poles

Power Poles

River East

River East

River West

River West

River St

River St

Savannah Street

Savannah Street

South Carolina Welcome Center

South Carolina Welcome Center

DC

Made it to Washington DC just after lunch time. Still in the clutches of the heat wave. Drove by the Pentagon and a security guy waved at me to turn around, there were also signs everywhere saying no photos. Off to see some monuments and stuff. I was all set to say that they had signs so you could find stuff but that would be a lie. I just found things as I was looking for other things. Drove around the National Mall but didn’t stop anywhere because all of the street parking was full and you had to show ID to get into the parking lots. I have ID but it seemed like a lot of work to walk around in the heat. The crowds of tourists reminded me of the pedestrians heading for Parliament Hill to see the prince and his wife on Canada Day. Managed to get a shot of the Washington Monument from the car as I drove by though.
So to summarize DC, if you are an American you should check it out. If you are a Canadian who would kind of like to see this stuff go in armed with a map and well planned routes. Also avoid the summer and go when you are on your way to Florida in December or March. Come on, you know your going to Disney some time. 🙂 Don’t get me wrong, it was nice but leave the summer for the American tourists, you take the “off season”.

Pointy Thing

Pointy Thing

NY and Stuff

Today was all about getting past New York City and White Castle. It would be very easy to go negative here but I’m going to focus on the positive. Next time I’m drunk I’ll rant about the rest.
First off, yesterday I forgot to mention the Maryland Welcome Center. It was a very well designed and clean rest area and info spot with very knowledgeable staff. And they have the WIFI flapping around the yard. The downside was I didn’t have any cash and the vending machine didn’t like the Canadian Visa, but there were water fountains so I could still hydrate.
So today when I got to Jersey I wanted to hit the White Castle in New Brunswick. I wasn’t expecting to get to New Jersey quite as soon as I did and didn’t have good directions to the place. Luckily I found Rutgers University and their info center. The staff there were quite helpful and turns out I was fairly close but never would have found it on my own. Thanks guys!
Got to the Castle and had a delicious feed of sliders and chicken rings…yes they have chicken rings. It was delicious and I can see how it could become an addiction that would cause the type of adventure from that movie. You know the one I’m talking about. I got four of their anniversary drinking glasses. Pictures below to make you jealous and to start the cravings in you.
I got through NYC pretty easily but it is taking hours to get through Connecticut. So far I’ve been averaging about 20 mph on I95. But they are building another bridge in New Haven so that might help.

White Castle

I didn't want to order 30 like Harold and Kumar, figured 4 would be enough.

I didn’t want to order 30 like Harold and Kumar, figured 4 would be enough.

RI, MA, NH and ME

So today got off to a late start due to a wake up call misunderstanding. Got on the road and headed for Bangor (destination for the day) with some stops along the way. Rhode Island is evil but it smells good. They have signs on the side of the road saying there is a Tim Horton’s at this exit…so I take this exit…two different times/exits. Neither resulted in a Tim Horton’s coffee. One time I found the location and it looked like it had been deserted for years, at the other exit I drove for about five miles through the town with no sign of the coffee. That is the evil part. The smells good is that it smells like a woodworking shop for most of the state. I love the smell of freshly cut wood.
Massachusetts needs to work on their traveler friendliness. Not that the people aren’t nice, just really hard to find souvenirs of your visit. I ended up in Salisbury Beach to get my shot glass.
And thanks to the guy that told me where to get a custom t-shirt done. I forget the name of the town and business but you get three good karma points. I don’t know how many points you have to redeem for the good stuff but I figure three is better than one.
I got the shirt done at a kiosk in the Northshore Mall in Peabody MA (I just made the connection, Northshore Mall…north shore of NB for survivor. I guess that’s why I couldn’t find anywhere else on the east coast to get it done.). Nate was very helpful and thanked me for my patience and for waiting while he did about eight shirts for a woman with five kids running amok. The shirt turned out exactly as I envisioned it and I can’t wait to wear it as I roll onto the beach tomorrow. The design was all Andre, I just trimmed some extra yellow off and the faded look is a result of using a grey t-shirt. Any other colour would have looked very different.
The machine on the trailer, I don’t know what it does but I know I would really like to drive it down the street.
Tomorrow I cross the border back into Canada. The trip will be almost over in that I won’t be driving again until Monday when I head home from da nort shore. I’ll still post tomorrow and maybe even share some of the beauty that is northern NB with you over the weekend. I’m sure Tony will share the WIFI.

VROOM!

VROOM!

Sand Sculpture

Sand Sculpture

I think Andre and Nate would have been instant friends.

I think Andre and Nate would have been instant friends.

Bleue

Made it back to Canada! Little over 18,000 kms with a few hundred left to get back to my home base. Feels like home here in the Anse Bleue. The border crossing at Houlton was fairly quick despite the line up. I told the guy what I had and he gave me advice for my next trip and sent me on my way. Keepin’ this short cause the beach is calling me.
Enjoy, see ya soon with a summary of the trip.

IMG_8436 IMG_8427 IMG_8407

Home

After two lovely days on the north shore I had to admit it was over and head for home. It was hard to get in the car and I even considered calling in sick for a few more days but I figured I should get home and see what’s been happening at work. Thirty two days of not checking the work email account, scary stuff.
Now some numbers.
30 is the number of states that I drove through, 7 provinces.
18,596 km in 29 days of driving, there were 3 days without driving. An average of 641 km per day.
$1,250.24 is the dollar amount spent on gas. works out to roughly 7 cents per km or 11 cents per mile. This number isn’t completely accurate as Visa has been applying the exchange rate but it is the total of the amounts that I read from the gas pumps. I had budgeted $1500 for gas so yay me and Carl for coming in under budget.
14 nights of sleeping in the car. The rest of the nights were in friend’s homes or hotels.
2 is the number of minor car repairs.
1 is the number of people who had the best vacation ever.
I had some moments of stress and frustration due to traffic or weather but this has been one of the greatest experiences of my life and to be able to finish it with a weekend shared with some of the best people I know (dogs too, so you better start liking me Monty) was a wonderful treat. I’m also pleased to have been able to share this experience with all of you whether you have been following along as I went or if you’ve discovered this after the trip was done and read it all at once.
The main message I wanted to get through here is that you don’t have to have a brand new car to take a little road trip, just maintain what you have and be prepared for emergencies. The same goes for computers, TVs, phones… if it works and does what you need it to, keep using it. If you need something new for whatever reason pass the old one on to someone who can use it either through sale or donation.
The other thing is that I’ve always wanted to take the cross Canada trip but there was always a reason not to. Granted this trip was the “cross Canada plus” trip but if you want something just say “F*** it” to all the excuses and go out and do it. Whether it’s going back to school, taking a trip, asking someone out, applying for the dream job, having a baby…so many things people don’t do out of fear of the unknown. The worst that can happen is that you fail, the best that can happen is that you get everything you want. It might involve some speed bumps along the way but go for it.
This site will continue to be updated with information on Carl and as I look through the pics on a larger screen I may see something that I like and I’ll post it. Also I’m planning to put together a book of pics from the trip. Some you’ve seen here and others that I’ve held back.
Live happy people, I’m planning on it.Everybody's Gone(Almost) Enjoying the Fireside Snacks Looking for Love Campfire

Al "helping" me take a sunset picture.

Al “helping” me take a sunset picture.

The Survivor Gang The Beach at Anse Bleue

The End of Our Journey

It has been a pretty emotional day for me. Lots of excitement and a little bit of sadness.
There were a lot of reasons why I did this trip and shared it with all of you. One of those reasons was that I knew no amount of maintenance can reasonably keep a car running forever. Eventually things start to break too frequently and it gets more expensive to keep them going than to let them slip quietly away. Carl was getting to that age but I knew he had the guts left to take the trip of a lifetime with me. That being said, the trip was done just in time. Maybe the trip accelerated the symptoms but we had a great time together. Wheel bearings are gone, engine is burning oil, electrical system is failing, transmission has always been sticky from day one but it is getting close to needing replacement again. To summarize it was time to let him go…that was the sad part of today. We took our last real drive together. There may be a short drive to whoever wants to buy him for organ donation but they may pick him up.
Today I got my new (to me) car, that was the exciting part of the day. It’s a Suzuki SX4 (no name yet), easy on the gas bill so we will take lots of trips together and I’m hoping that I will enjoy this car as much as I did my time with Carl. Time will tell.
I seem to have stayed with my S named companies and cars with letters and numbers for their model (Carl is a Saturn SL1 for those of you who don’t know).
Today I also received a part in the mail that I was waiting for to fix a point and shoot camera so I tried it out in the parking lot. Works fine.
So to recap, new car = happy, Carl ending = sad and fixing camera = happy.
Gonna miss you buddy. 😦

This was the first full body shot of Carl on our trip to PEI August 2008.

This was the first full body shot of Carl on our trip to PEI August 2008.

New Car in the Yard

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