Monday, May 30, 2005

Amtrack, Schmamtrack

Charleston, South Carolina, USA

The good news is that we made it to Charleston yesterday. The driving portion of our trip is done. It was tiring, annoying, sweaty, long, expensive and stressful. But, I'm glad we did it. I got to see some cool parts of the country and say goodbye to people I won't be seeing in a while. Well, goodbye and hello. I got to meet Hana's new 3-week-old baby boy, and say hi to my old roommate Thornwell, who IO hadn't seen for almost 10 years.

Charleston is a nice place, and Mike's got a cool family. It's hard to not like a place that doles out hearty spoonfuls of kindness and BBQ. Poker has been played, food has been eaten, beer has been drunk, and money has been lost. Good times.

The bad news is that it looks like we won't be able to get our train tickets to DC, since we waited until the last minute, and they're all sold out. We'll probably end up buying $200 plane tickets. We'll still be able to take the Chicken to NYC, but I have a feeling that it won't be the same. Oh, well.

On The Road Again - Part IV

We left Chicago at around 11 AM. Shortly thereafter, I missed an exit and we lost some time trying to get back on track. It's amazing how annoyed you get when a journey of 800 miles becomes a journey of 820 miles because you misread a sign. The error was forgotten soon enough as we cruised happily through such cosmopolitan hot spots as Indianapolis, Cincinatti, and Knoxville. We stopped in Asheville around 11:30 PM to dine with Calder S at the Waffle House - a last minute (but most welcome) addition to the itinerary. We made it to Columbia at 3 AM and crashed on my brother's floor. I had a quick chat with Billy in the morning before he split for work, then we had brunch with Thornwell S before hitting the road for Charleston.

We started in LA at 8:15 AM on Wednesday and finished up on James Island at 3 PM on Sunday. There are about 3000 more miles on the Volvo. Jason and I agree that thet trip went more quickly than expected, was totally worth it, and is not something we are keen to do again soon.

Saturday, May 28, 2005

On The Road Again - Part III

We arrived in Chicago around 18:00 Central Time. Jason 's step sister is putting us up in some very comfortable digs in The Ukranian Village. I went into town to meet Kelly B and Allan E while Jason went out for some sort of Chicagoan delicacy that involved a massive chunk of beef. We all met up later at a posh club on the Chicago River for a bit of the drinky drinky. In a somewhat unexpected turn, I ran into a friend from high school - Avis W. There were only 50 people in my graduating class and I happend to come across one of them in a bar in Chi Town. Go figure. I'm a bit drunk, but I've got a comfortable couch here and we will likely get out the door at a decent hour in the morn. Carolina here I come, right back where I started from. And damn happy to be there I will be.

Friday, May 27, 2005

Goodbye, Los Angeles - The Heartwarming Finale

Here's the pictures.

On The Road Again - Part II

Made it to Omaha at 3 AM. Slept until 8 AM in a little motel that just so happened to be bathed in the healing light of 802.11b. Is there anywhere that doesn't have free wireless these days? I feel mostly refreshed and ready to do another 500 miles to reach Chicago this evening. We will deliver Jason to his family and new nephew and I am looking to find my friend Kelly B that I met last summer in London. Tomorrow we do the final leg with a long haul all the way to Charleston or Columbia. The exact SC target is to be determined by my brother's whereabouts at the time and Thornwell's availability.

It's Pronounced Broo-Lay

Where: Brule, Nebraska, USA

This is my first entry from the road. Mike and I are knee-deep in our road trip across the US. We just stopped off for gas in the middle of Nebraska. The trip is going well. Earlier today, we were hanging out in Denver, having stayed there last night thanks to the hospitality provided by Mike's Uncle Jay and Aunt Betty. We left with some free homemade jam and little baby bottles of water.

I also got to surprise Tiffany while Mike was hanging out with his Gramma. It was nice to see her one last time before I r-u-n-n-o-f-t to see the whole world. She may be joining us for sailing in Greece.

We are currently on our way to Chicago by way of Omaha, where we will probably stay the night. There may be strippers involved. When we get to Chicago, we'll hopefully crash with Hana and see the new baby.

Thursday, May 26, 2005

On The Road Again

We left Pasadena at 08:15 CA time and arrived in Evergreen, CO at 01:50 CO time. Not bad. My uncle very graciously put us up for the night. I am just back from visiting my grandmother and am about to set off to meet Jason in Denver proper where he has been trying to track down and surprise a friend. We are gonna meet up with my cousin Jason for a quickie "hello" and then get on the road for Chicago. The plan is to sleep in Omaha and be in Chi Town by Friday night.

Monday, May 23, 2005

Goodbye, Los Angeles - Part III

I'm sitting here at the smog-testing facilities in lovely Pasadena, CA. I'm sitting on a wooden bench, plugged into somebody elses completely open wireless network, waiting for my truck to pass it's smog check for the last time. Then, Christina gets it.

And I'm thinking about the LA Bon Voyage party.

It was a good one. Lots of friends, lots of booze, and a little bit of drama. The Karaoke was a success, and it seemed like everyone had a good time. Oh... the guy's signalling me... I'll update later...

Jason Edit
: I'm back. As I was saying, the party went well. Way more people showed up to send us off into the world then to warm our house. And, as promised, the party went until the break-a-dawn. I've got a bunch of pictures, but I haven't had time to upload/organize them. Soon, my pets.

Mike Edit: I agree that the party was a smashing success. In keeping with tradition, I passed out drunk well before the party was over and can barely remember big pieces of it. There is video to help me along, though. You can look forward to grainy, dark, out-of-focus karaoke shots and lots of drunken testimonial in the near future. We learned that even though our trusty camera has craapy low-light performance, it has the essential ability to record the mood, and that is what really counts.

Friday, May 20, 2005

So Many Details

So many things going on at once:
  • Malaria - Jason is handling the bulk of the anti-malarial technology. A one-week pill costs $13. It looks like we are going to be in and out of malarial areas from China all the way to Turkey. I had no idea this disease is so prevalent. In the movies, it seems that the worst effects are sweating and rolling around in a cot. At this price, that doesn't seem >so<>
  • Packing - I've separated everything I own into three piles: 1) take with me, 2) send to SC to store, and 3) give away. The third pile is by far the biggest. I hope that the Salvation Army likes dotcom t-shirts and old Linux PCs, because that is what they are getting.
  • Road Trip - We are planning to leave LA on Wednesday morning and drive to SC via Denver so I can see my grandmother, 2 uncles, and 2 aunts. We will stop over in Columbia to see my brother's family (I have a cute gift for my nephew) and Jason's high school roomate Thornwell. From there it's a short skip to Charleston to check in with my sister, her husband, and me parents. We'll stay long enough to put the Volvo up on blocks and then we hop the overnight train up to New York - arriving around noon on June 2nd. I'm thinking about counting the moment we leave LA as the official start point of the trip.
  • Insurance - Travel insurance is bought, and my HR rep says that I can get COBRA coverage that will retroactively cover the time between the end of my current coverage and the time we leave the country (and travel insurance kicks in).
  • Administravia - Bills must be cancelled or redirected. Mail must be forwarded.
  • LA Leaving Party - This is now a triple do - Matt G birthday / Steve M birthday / Going Away Party. Hopefully the multiplicity of themes will ensure high attendance.
  • Clothes - I >still<>
Despite all the stress, I'm yet to panic. It will be a busy couple of days, but I feel that things will all work out in the end. As Sham pointed out recently, all you really need for travel is your passport and some condoms.

Wednesday, May 18, 2005

Goodbye, Los Angeles - Part II

We've now got two things to celebrate:
  1. Mike and Jason are leaving LA
  2. Matthew Gregori is having a birthday

The party is on Sat May 21st at Atchison, starts at 2, and goes until late.

Important Note - This is a Backpacker Party. You must arrive with abackpack full of booze or food and leave with a backpack full of stuff from the house. No one will be admitted without a backpack or a written excuse from their parent or guardian and will not be allowed to leave unless they are carrying more than they arrived with.


The trip is getting perilously close, and I'm still not nervous. People keep asking me if I'm excited, or anxious, etc. But, I'm not. It's wierd. I think it's because I still have so much shit to do before the trip actually starts. A house to pack up, visas to finish, medications to get, parties to plan... Plus, I'm trying to spend that hard-to-reach quality time with people I'm not going to be seeing again for at least a year-and-a-half. I'm going to getting a little respite tonight (relaxing art jammy-jam), but the next five days are going to ridiculously packed, and probably a little bit drunken.

I don't think it's going to hit me until Monday.

Thursday, May 12, 2005

NYC Bon Voyage II

What: A bon voyage party.

When: June 4th, 2005. Starting at 8pm.

Where: New York, New York.
Specifically, at the Fuelray Lounge (68 W. 3rd St.).

Who: E'r'one. Just tell the lovely people at the door that you're there for Jason & Mike's Bon Voyage Party.

Why: Because we can.

How: With much aplomb.

Tuesday, May 10, 2005

The Extra 'B' is for Extra Bargain

Not to allow Jason to completey fund the American medical industry, I have decided to have some work done as well. Today was my first physical in about 5 years. I am as fit as a fiddle and a svelt 216 pounds. Results of blood and urine work come back in 2 weeks. Also, that thing on my back isn't cancer and it doesn't appreciate you insinuating that it is.

Next up - another session with Jabby McJab (a few more immunizations to go) and a stop off at my friendly neighborhood dentist for a cleaning (also first in 5 years). I might even go so far as to update my eyeglass prescription. It just wouldn't do to see the world in a literal blur - the figurative sort is much more to my liking.

Saturday, May 07, 2005

Goodbye, Los Angeles.

We are going to be having an L.A. Bon Voyage party on Saturday, the 21st of May, at our house (Snatchison). The plan is to start the shenanigans at 2pm with a BBQ, and end it sometime late Sunday morning with embarrasing goodbyes. There may be Karaoke somewhere in the middle. Feel free to stop by whenever you feel it's appropriate.
Because we are white (-ish, in my case) college graduates, we have collected a lot of useless consumer crap, most of which we can't take with us on the trip. So, all guests are encouraged to take something with them when they leave the party. This can be anything from a fork to a washing machine. First come, first serve.