Skimming Deep

Searching, traveling, talking, reflecting, and exploring. Read along with me as I continue on my journey through life.

Tag: road trip

On the Road Again

It’s that time of year again: vacation!

We’re taking a road trip through the Pacific Northwest, end goal – Vancouver. So far, it’s been quite nice, despite the varying weather – hot, cloudy, rainy, cool…

Our first day involved a lot of driving – about 660 miles straight from home in the Bay Area to Portland, OR. We got a decent start in the morning, didn’t hit too much traffic, and just rode I-5 all the way up for almost 12 hours, stopping only for restroom breaks, a picnic lunch, and gas.

The most noteworthy aspect of the drive was passing Lake Shasta which is almost half its normal volume because of the drought of the past four years. It was breathtaking to see how low the water level was – we could see the starkness of bare land below the tree line.

Then once we hit Oregon, we were engulfed in forest fire haze.

We listened to some podcasts to pass the time, and we were lucky to hit on some good ones:

  • From 99% Invisible: The Sunshine Hotel – a fascinating story told by a Nathan Smith, manager of this men’s flop house. He’s an amazing and captivating storyteller with the voice of a man who’s lived a rough life and yet remains positive and hopeful even in the midst of squalor, vice, and despair in New York’s Bowery.
  • From On Being with Krista Tippett: Simone Campbell – How to Be Spiritually Bold – an interview with Sister Campbell of Nuns on the Bus. As a “recovering” Catholic, I struggle to see the good in the Catholic Church with its rigid, sexist, and old-fashioned rhetoric and ideology. But listening to Sister Campbell on this interview was incredibly inspirational and moving. Here are just a few quotes from her interview:
    • “…for me, this journey is about continuing to walk willing towards the hope, the vision, the perspective, the opportunities that are given.”
    • “Just do one thing. That’s all we have to do. But the guilt of the — or the curse of the progressive, the liberal, the whatever is that we think we have to do it all. And then we get overwhelmed. And I get all those solicitations in the mail. And I can’t do everything. And so I don’t do anything. But that’s the mistake. Community is about just doing my part.”

We got to our first AirBnB in time for a late dinner. It was a cute place, an attic room in a craftsman home on the edge of the Alberta Arts District which is in northeast Portland. A nice neighborhood to stay in.

Funny Photo Tidbits

These were some photos of some funny signs that I saw on my road trip across the U.S. We don't have so many of these funny signs in the Northeast, I don't think.

Such a funny one. Aren't boats usually named a woman's name or something nice? We were cracking up when we saw this one.

This one just got me chuckling because it was so vehement. This was in Missouri. It amazes me how many people really seem to dislike, no, even hate, President Obama! But then I wasn't exactly fond of his predecessor...

I really liked this one. The sign in front of this one says, Slow Down, and then you come upon this one that is really insistent. This was at a rest stop in upstate New York.

Loved this one the best. You see these all along the highway in New Mexico. The UFOs are painted on. So someone(s) went through and painted these on all the cow crossing signs. My mom asked someone who said it's because cows have been allegedly abducted by aliens. So driver, beware!

Such creativity in these signs. So do sign makers think about bringing a smile to drivers' faces when they make their signs? Wouldn't driving be more enjoyable if you had these unpredictable jabs of humor sprinkled along the long stretch of highway? Kind of like the unexpectedly chipper subway driver who makes jokes and issues cheery greetings on a particularly gloomy Monday commute. Or the airplane pilot who cracks jokes as part of his standard greeting before the plane takes off. Or the three year old reciting knock knock jokes to an attentive audience of adults who crack up uncontrollably, much to the child's delight. All things that have brought a smile to my face and even giggles and chuckles when least expected this past year.

What brings us those unexpected smiles and chuckles?


Final Day of the Road Trip

We decided to make this the final day of the road trip. One of the ideas had been to drive down from Santa Fe through Albuquerque down to White Sands National Monument, but that would have put an extra several hundred miles and an extra day into our travels. And I was really starting to feel the bone-weariness of being in a car, driving for hundreds of miles each day. So we decided to head to Globe, where my parents live. Just a day's drive.

Itinerary: Santa Fe, NM to Globe, AZ by way of Albuquerque, NM
Miles driven: ~400 miles, which at this point feels like a breeze. “What, just 400 miles? That's just 7-8 hours away by car!
Food eaten: some treats from the farmers' market, breakfast in Albuquerque, and finished with a meal of greens, rice, and kimchee at home. The best way to end a long trip.

Before heading out on our journey, my friend and her husband took us to the Santa Fe Farmers' Market which was beautiful! We ended up spending about an hour there with my mom buying things left and right to take home and cook. I love farmers' markets.

Roasting Hatch peppers-- a common sight in the Southwest

The sights, sounds, smells, and tastes of this farmers' market were breathtaking. I really wanted to buy up everything I saw, too. But I restrained myself. Fresh produce and me are good friends.

Beautiful purple flowers of the artichoke plant

Who knew there were different colored cauliflower?!

Love all the colors of the rainbow you can see in a farmers' market in peak season

So after tearing ourselves away from the farmer's market with considerably less money in my mom's wallet, we drove to Albuquerque, about an hour away, to meet up for breakfast with another old friend from Boston. It was great to see him and also good to hear that he might be moving back to Boston!

Other than those exciting moments, we took the rest of the drive back to Globe, meandering through the mountainous roads and ending up here:

Strangely, it was cool, almost cold, in New Mexico and in Globe, too. Rainy, cloudy, cold. Not like the Southwest I often hear about. And the summer is just finishing up. But no complaints here.

So final tallies:

  • Total miles driven: ~3000 miles plus some extra for driving around when I got lost
  • Total driving companions: two– my friend S from Boston and my mom
  • Total great meals: too many to count. Highlights would have to be Zingerman's Reuben in Ann Arbor, egg sandwich at M. Henry in Chicago, ribs at Pappy's Smokehouse in St. Louis, and that bag of Hot Fries that I consumed somewhere between Chicago and Centennial, CO.
  • Final reflections: I did it! No small feat. And thanks so much to all those along the way who helped make it so enjoyable with the mini-reunions and tips on delicious eats. Thanks, especially, to my amazing car that held up through it all. Honda Accord 2000. Do they still make them as good as they used to?

So now time to rest up, pack, buy the last things I need for my “REAL” trip and figure out really how this blogging thing works for real on my iPad.

Side note: Part of why I started blogging before my trip was because I wanted to get used to this medium of journalling. It's public and requires some consistency if I want to maintain readership. More on that issue for another post. But if you've been reading along, you may notice that my formatting has been kind of wonky. I finally read up on blogging with my iPad and found Blogsy, what a great app to help me blog more easily! Blogsy + Picasa + wireless connection + a wireless keyboard + photo-taking on my iPhone + Instagram (for photo editing) make the winning combination! So enjoy, hopefully with more consistent formatting as I get used to using my iPad and not my laptop for the rest of my journey!


Road Trip, Day Two

Made it to Chicago in one piece.  Today was our long driving day.

Itinerary: Niagara Falls, Ontario to Chicago, IL by way of Detroit and Ann Arbor, MI
Miles driven: ~525 miles.  That’s a lot of miles!!!!
Driving conditions: downpours of rain and lots of clouds in Canada.  Finally got some sun once we got into Michigan.
Food eaten: Tim Horton’s coffee and donut holes, Snyder’s honey mustard pretzel bites, baby carrots, amazing Reuben and salad at Zingerman’s in Ann Arbor, MI, and deep dish pizza at Lou Malnati’s in Chicago.

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We’ve really had lots of good food on our trip.  I would highly recommend all of those places if you ever visit those towns.  Look it up on yelp!  Thanks to friends for recommending Zingerman’s and Lou Malnati’s.

Thank goodness for this device that a friend lent me.  You plug it into your cigarette lighter and then plug the other end into the headphones hole of the iPhone.  Then you set your radio station to a station that doesn’t have music already and set the device to the same station and voila, you have your iPhone music playing over your car speakers!  This is for me who only has a CD player in my car and no bluetooth or USB outlet because my car is over 10 years old.

I really wonder what life would be like without music.  I need to have music playing in the background all the time.  S made a 497-song mix for the trip and we’ve been singing (or at least humming for me because I don’t know lyrics– I just know melodies and harmonies) all along the way.  Good tunes are key for a good road trip.  Besides the mix made by S, I also got a set of CD mixes from one of my co-workers– another great mix of lots of great songs.

It’s been hard figuring out what I want to post on Facebook, what I want to post on this blog, and what I want to just keep to myself about this journey.  Adding photos makes it more challenging because I take a ton of photos each day.  And I don’t just want a slew of photos on each blog entry.  Also, I’m trying to get used to updating the blog on my iPad, which is definitely not as easy as updating the blog with my laptop.

Things are getting closer to the day I leave for New Zealand!  Can’t believe how quickly the days are passing.

Road Trip, Day One

We had a smooth ride for day one. No traffic, no crazy weather, good company and good music.

Itinerary: Boston (Medford and Cambridge) to Niagara Falls, Ontario, by way of Buffalo
Miles driven: ~470
Number of gas fill-ups: 2. One near Little Falls, NY, and one in Buffalo, NY
Food eaten: Whopper, Jr and fries; buffalo wings from Anchorbar in Buffalo (the originator, supposedly, of the buffalo wing); grapes from the Shaw’s in Porter Square; cookies baked by a friend; and Blizzards from the DQ in Niagara Falls.

Driving cross country, you realize how big the U.S. is. At the same time, I was amazed at how quickly we were able to get to a totally new part of the country, just with a car and some gas.
We got to Canada by early evening and saw the Falls at night. They are beautiful and impressive, but it was hard to not get a little turned off by all the tourist traps all around– neon lights, casino towers, hotels, souvenir shops, big restaurants. It almost felt like a mini Times Square. It reminds me that we are in a culture that values and requires, almost, people to make money off of ANYTHING, like the splendor of nature. Is it possible for something like Niagara Falls to remain pristine and pure but still have people come to admire it? Does human contact necessarily result in the creation of tourist “profanity”?

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