THE FINALE (08.20.2005)|
Greetings to all friends, family, acquaintences, strangers, that joined us on our wild excursion through the lower 48 United States of America.
I thank all of you for your for your participation, support, well-wishes, prayers, and good-lucks the past month. For me, it has truly been an experience that will be forever stowed away in mind and heart.
Some people have asked me if our four weeks had gone by as fast as it did for them. I believe if it was a 2-week roadtrip, it would have gone by in a split second. But when you double the time to a month, it feels like 7 split seconds.
Now that the trip is over, it did feel like it had gone by relatively quickly. During the trip itself, however, some days on the road felt like they'd never end. Sometimes that was a good thing. :)
After 12,537 miles, 27½ days on the road, 14 million bug splats, and almost $1,300 spent in gas, I can evenly summarize our trip up into six parts.
The first part of our journey had a few hiccups, as the overlooked flaws in Steve's car were unfolded and the van's flat tire developed into a massive seek-and-destroy mission. But despite the vehicular problems, we were able to enjoy the sights of Vegas, the wonders of the Grand Canyon, the geekiness of standing in Four Corners, the majestic views of the Colorado Rockies (the mountains, not the team) and the long stretches of the Midwest plains.
The second part began with a welcome reception from my family in Texas. They didn't disappoint, for sure. :) That was followed by a memorable trip down Bourbon Street in New Orleans, where we learned how to sweat a few buckets. A last minute freak decision was made to travel all night for one of the most memorable events in space history, watching the Discovery shuttle launch in Florida. We topped that off with an amazing piece of cholesterolic art called the Hamdog outside Atlanta.
The third part consisted of jaunting through the eastern mountains to our nation's capital of Washington, D.C., where I learned not to drive the streets at midnight. The sights and wonders of Capitol Hill brought back memories of bad Social Science grades but at the same time provided us with a perceptive look into our nation's history. Tom was fortunately able to visit is grandmother in Pennsylvania, and we could all enjoy a pure Philly Cheesesteak for once. New York was extremely overwhelming, with all of its skyscrapers and the endless amount of places to go and things to see. You just can't fit it all in one day. The wonders of Boston and the women of Maine were also notable in this part of the trip.
The fourth part starts with our route to Niagara Falls, and where we also conquered the country of Canada for about 30 minutes. We passed into Michigan to see Tom's other grandma and his family, where we were all treated to a fantastic lightning show at 5:00am. In Chicago, a broken windshield was one of the results of an overnight stay, which prompted us to leave after visiting the Sears Tower, and of course who can forget the the Field of Dreams ball park in Iowa, where "people will come"?
The fifth part took us through the northern plains of the Dakotas and down by Mt. Rushmore, where I have seen far more than my share of Harley motorcycles. After feasting on the famous Runza in Nebraska, we came to Yellowstone, where we unwillingly drove through because of no camping space that evening. Old Faithul and another lightning show were the only things to keep the night memorable. This leg ended with a peaceful ride through Montana, and a great day at the lake with my dear friend Lorna in Idaho.
The last part invited us through Seattle and the iconic Space Needle, where it seems the clouds like to declare a permanent residence. We came down through Oregon with another night of camping, and entered back into our home state, where we saw the wonders of the Redwoods, the fog-drenched bay of San Fransisco, and the business of a typical Saturday night in Los Angeles.
I can also answer the following questions most asked by others.
What were your favorite cities?
It's still a toss up between D.C. and New York. Both are magnificent places, and I definitely want to go back for an extended visit. The highlights may have whetted the 'ol appetite, but the craving to see the rest definitely hounds you.
Hopefully in 2 or 3 years I can come back to these areas. My other favorite spots include the mountain and desert areas in the western half of the country. Despite what my allergies and chapped lips think, they are places of serenity and peace and I should like to visit them again soon.
Would you do all 48 states again?
Most likely not. The physical goal has been accomplished and there's no need to repeat it. But I'm still glad I did it, because I can see where I would like to spend more time.
What was the most memorable?
The top two things would easily be the last-minute detour to the space shuttle launch and the unexpected tour in the Capcom HQ building. Usually the spontaneous things are really what makes a roadtrip flourish.
What was something you'd rather just forget?
The Waffle House in Baton Rouge, Louisiana. Total ghetto.
What's next for you?
I plan on taking a week to finish up the last two states of Hawaii and Alaska next year. I want to travel to Barrow, at the very top of Alaska, because the sun never sets above the Arctic circle in summer time and I'd like to experience the "Midnight Sun." I also want to see some of the major Alaskan cities such as Juneau, Anchorage, and Fairbanks.
I would also like to visit ALL eight islands of Hawaii (yes, including the two small ones) and see the clear water, the huge waves, and experience the sight of two-foot bugs. (Um yeah, kidding on that last one.)
Obviously, I won't be using the road to travel to either of these places.
How much did it finally cost you?
Some people pointed out that I had complained about certain aspects in my blog, such as the cost of everything. Guilty as charged. Sometimes you forget that you're living your dream, and you shouldn't care how much it costs. However, I have been raised to be ultra-conservative, and sometimes I let that get in the way. Yeah, I'm a big baby when it comes to high prices. But I was successfully able to stay under budget and only spend $3,500 total for the trip. That's not too bad when your rental and gas make up $2,300 of that. When you live where I live (South Cali) and you're worried about trying to buy a house in the future, you may understand why I had to watch what I spend.
How about your roadtrip comrades?
Before I go any further I would like to say something. Over the course of the roadtrip, I had blogged anything that I deemed would be funny, interesting, or of course, dramatic. It's what brings people back the next day to find out what transpires.
However, it has been pointed out by a select few individuals that my blogs have been, shall we say, rather harsh about my roadtrip buddies. For those who noticed, they can see I was venting my minor frustrations on the fact that neither Tom nor Steve were disciplined on getting up early. Most people can agree with me that when you're on a trip you should get up as early as you can so you don't have to drive at night.
Unfortunately, we could never get in that early-to-bed/early-to-rise pattern. Tom and I didn't play into this as much because we could switch drivers, but if I made Steve get up early then he would be more tired during the day and possibly not able to drive safely. This could have resulted us staying somewhere far away from our destination and putting us farther and farther behind schedule. Letting him sleep until 10:30 am was my best option, but obviously not my favorite.
Granted, there were several nights we were hurting to stay awake but we had no choice but to move forward to the next destination, especially for the days where we had no margin of error left for getting behind. These days were ripe for getting up late the next morning.
But I digress. There were a few individuals, including Steve himself, that took great offense to my blogs, basically calling it a smearing campaign and making my friends look as bad as possible. For those who know me, you know I would never intentionally write anything slanderous or hurtful. I was spontaneously calling the shots as they were happening. All my comments were meant for entertainment and I assumed anyone who could read between the lines would see that I was making a big joke out of it.
Sure, there were frustrations between all of us, and I made sure to note them, just for that "drama" effect that would bring you back to see what happens next.
But when it all comes down to it, those frustrations were superflouos compared to the entire roadtrip as a whole. Am I glad they came with me? Absolutely. Despite my friends' peculiar idiosyncrasies, they were my best choices to bring on the trip because they all made it immensely fun and it was our way to bond. Would I roadtrip with them again? Probably not. Our discipline of schedules varies too greatly. I pushed them when they didn't want to be pushed.
Anyway, it has put me in the unfortunate position in dealing with a jeapordized friendship because of my insensitivity on the blogs. To me, every word of what I wrote was no big deal, and most everyone else can say the same. Just about everyone had a blast reading our daily adventures, including Tom. But to those with a higher sense of emotions, it did not come easy.
In addition, I have been accused of blatantly leaving Steve out in the 110° desert when he got his flat tire. There were other times we got separated, which somehow turned into accusations from people of losing him on purpose. I also could be seen as disdainful when I laughed at his anger because he saved his appetite for a sit-down restaurant which we did not have time for, when we could have gone anywhere to pick up a quick fast-food and get moving.
On the immediate surface, that can sound like I'm the most horrible friend ever. Anyone can take all these little negative things and immediately sum me up to be the most arrogant a*hole on the face of the earth, and I'm sure that might be the case for some of you out there reading, because in my haste to publish the blogs for the day, I may have failed to be more specific about these certain events and better explain the situation.
Even though I have the ability to explain my reasons for the unfortunate events that happened, I will not bother to defend my actions here on this blog. They are deemed personal issues that don't need to be pointed out, and I will handle them privately.
But I would like to make a public apology, to Steve, Tom, and anyone out there who considered my blogs to be tasteless. In my opinion, it was all in good fun, and if I had thought my comments were truly inappropriate, I wouldn't have posted them. It has not, nor was it ever, an intention to hurt or smear anyone, be it one of my best friends or a stranger, because this is ultimately not me.
I am truly sorry for the hurt I have caused. If my 11-year friendship with Steve is broken, I have no one to blame but myself and my lack of vision.
That being said, Tom and Steve are still two of the greatest guys I could have made friends with. We have share a lot of "geek" things in common and have done a lot together. And I pray that will continue. But I just may very well learn the hard way that friendship can be more important than a schedule.
I'm glad that Tom and I were able to stand each other in the same van as long as we did. I believe we know a little bit more about each other, certain things more than we need to :), but it was good to have someone to share things with and learn to work together with. It was great stuff.
Bad events aside, this was still one of the greatest trips ever, and I'm still glad they came with me.
I have come home and immediately back to the grind of my day job. I brought back kitchen fridge magnets of every state, plus replicas of almost all the structures or attractions I visited. They are small reminders of what each place meant for me. Fifty years from now I can tell my non-existent grandkids about each state, and tell them to go to Maine to find their woman. The next time someone tells me what state they're from, I can almost instantly visualize what kind of lifestyle they must have had. I have come back feeling more experienced and independent, which are good things to have on the path of life. I never thought I would enjoy travel, but there was always a sense of excitement not knowing what was going to happen next. And to share that with your friends, well, that could have been the greatest gift of all.
Thanks for putting up with my rambling. I wish you all well. Hugs.