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.

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NY n 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.

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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

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Day 26

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

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.

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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.

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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.


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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.

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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.

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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)

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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.

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