Sunday, April 26, 2009

The end/the begining

Fifteen thousand, five hundred, twenty and four tenths; that is the reading on my odometer as Pam sits behind the house in Morgantown, WV.

Asheville, NC proved unexpected in many ways. We found online that there was a swing dance happening on Friday night. So we left Memphis, TN on a mission to get to Ashville in two days. We drove trough Nashville, ate at the coolest Whole Foods that I have ever seen.

-I am not a big fan of the Whole, however, when you eat the way we do and you are travelling, they can be a safe haven of wholesome goodness at the price of selling out, still coconut and blueberry sorbet is awesome.

We filled up on E85 and headed east. Knoxville is nothing more than a footnote, I think might have gotten fuel there.

We got to Asheville, NC in the late afternoon stole some WiFi,found some cool vegan, healthy restaurants and went downtown to get some food. There was a huge drum circle in a park, a guy in a nun outfit riding a really tall bike and a store filled with belt buckles. The food was awesome and the belt buckle store was closed.

We went to the dance, which was at a church. As it turned out, it was a church fund raiser for a rescue mission, and not organized by the swing scene, so no dancers. Great live music and awesome dances with Natalie! We left and slept in a home depot parking lot.

In the morning, we drove to the other side of town to Warren Wilson College. A friend of Nat goes there. Its a cool college where you have to work on campus as part of your education. We got a tour of an awesome garden/farm and got all inspired.

We went with Misha, Nat's friend, to downtown to check out the health food stores and local wares. I was headed for the belt buckle store.

For quite some time, years it feels, I have been wanting a cool belt buckle, but I could never decide on one I liked well enough. A few months back, Natalie got me into BSG(Battlestar Galactica...the reimagined, not the 1978 version) and I discovered that they made some really cool BSG belt buckles back in 1978. I didn't want to get one on Ebay, 'cause thats lame. So I have been searching for one since.

We go in this belt buckle store, which is actually a custom sandal store($400 custom sandals). They also sell handmade belts and vintage buckles. Wouldn't you know it, on the sale table a vintage 1978 BSG belt buckle, waiting for me. Natalie, being a BSG fan longer than me was jealous, but behold, two vintage, 1978 BSG belt buckles. So we scoops them up. Awesome.

Excited over BSG belt buckles and organic farming and on a bit of a sugar rush from some kick ass chocolate (from a chocolate shop in downtown Asheville) we bid farewell to Misha, got some E85 and headed North. We powered through Virginia and southern West Virginia. Into the night we drove and got to Morgantown. Coincidentally, we arrived the night before my cousin's baby shower. So the house was full of family.

My 3 year old nephew, Parker, woke us up nice and early. We had buckwheat groats for breakfast and helped with the shower. It was nice, but we crashed for about an hour and half at the end, sleeping through everyone leaving. Now the real adventure begins. Mowing, tilling, planting, bridge building. But first....unpacking the truck.

Thoughts on cross country driving:
When we do this again....
-We will have living space IE a camper
-We will get better mileage
-We will stay more than a day in most places
-We will not be moving at the same time!!

For the mathematicians out there, 4958.8 miles total.

Thursday, April 23, 2009

When I'm walking in memphis

We decided to bounce from KC without dancing. We headed south to Arkasas. Getting too tired to keep driving, we pulled off and searched for a place to sleep in Neosho, MO. We found a precarious strip mall and parked there.

We got up every early, no need to be sleeping when the business opened. Springdale, AK was our next destination, if only for e85, but we pulled off at a gas station to cook. Some of the best juevos rancheros I've ever had.

$1.49 a gallon is what we paid for E85 in Springdale, I wish we hadn't filled up so recently.

One of Natalie's best friend's father lives in Hot Springs Arkansas, so we thought we would pay a visit. We ate at an Ecuadorian restaurant, heard about the book he is writing and slept on a pull out with a grandmother clock that chimed every 15 minutes. Interesting night of sleeping. Our hosts where getting ready to travel the next morning so we headed out early to let them pack.

The only diamond mine in the US is just outside of Mufreesboro, AR. It is the only place in the world where you can pick up diamonds from the ground and keep them. So we thought we give it a go. I should say I thought we would give it a go. About 15 minutes in the hot sun and 45 under a pavilion in the water trough area was all my attention span could take. Nat and I were hungry and overhearing conversations from other diamond hunters about how they have been there all day and were planning to come back the next day was getting depressing. Although I have devised a simple set up that will made for rapid processing of dirt which may contain diamonds. If I ever come back I will build it. Work smart not hard...thats the engineer way.

We left the mine and headed to Little Rock, Whole Foods and e85 was our aim. We got to see a bat which has lost its way while shopping for gluten free products. First live "new" (one I've never seen before) animal I've seen since the antelope in Colorado. Though were are up to 16 dead armadillos.

We had trouble finding the e85 in the Rock so we headed to Carlisle, AR and got some e85 there. Then headed down the highway to a rest area for some shut eye.

The morning brought scrambled eggs and a walk in the prettiest rest area that I have seen in a while. Then back on the road east to Memphis. A short hike at a little state forest gave a break from the road, but soon we were in West Memphis, AR planning our attack. Whole Foods, then dancing at the Rumba Room. Memphis is hot, the dance scene is small, but we had fun. And we got our first dance related, extra bed offer. If it were not so hot here, Jaredan would have trouble getting rid of us. A super comfortable bed and awesome water pressure. That is all that matters when you have been on the road for a while.

We are heading to Ashville, NC next. There might be a stop in Nashville for dancing.

Thoughts on the bible belt:
Jesus saves...for his retirement
- John 4:01k

Thoughts on the Mississippi:
Its not as big as I thought I would be

Sunday, April 19, 2009

There are two Kansas Cities

The Oz museum was a bit of a let down. They didn't have all that many movie props, but they did have a lot of Oz paraphernalia from the years. We cooked some groats in the parking lot of an IGA and headed off to Topeka.

In the state capitol, which has seen more happening times, we found a cool whole-in-the-wall food coop and went to an Old Prairie Town. The tulips where in bloom and we got some "Tulip Time". We left Topeka and headed to Kansas City. Kansas City, KS...not to be confused with Kansas City, MO.(Kansas City is on the border that divides Kansas from Missouri. You could consider there to be one KC with half on the Kansas side and half on the Missouri side.)

It rained the past few nights, and rain drops on fiberglass do not make for pleasant sleeping. Several nights of limited sleep and fitting illness prompted us to go see a movie. We saw "I love you man". Pretty funny. We parked in a side street of a neighbor and packed it in for the night. Another rainy night. The rain subsided in the wee hours of the morning and this allowed for some late sleeping.

Finding the glory that is the Kansas City Whole Foods was a great way to greet the morning/early afternoon. We are now left with a dilemma, stay and dance tonight or head to Arkansas for some diamond hunting. (Its raining in Arkansas now, so I vote dancing, despite our collective under-the-weather-ness)

Thoughts on Kansas:
It is entirely underrated as far as scenery. The flat areas have awesome skies and the eastern part of the state has some cool hills. My dad says that everyone should be required to drive across the country at least once, I think Kansas is a must for any cross country drive.

Friday, April 17, 2009

I got a google map going

We are in Wamego, KS. The home of the Wizard of Oz Museum. Nat is sleeping and does not feel well. My stomach has been better. Tomorrow we hope to feel better, go to the Oz Museum and enjoy the Wamego Tulip Festival.

In the mean time check out my map.,-96.292419&spn=0.127224,0.219727&z=12&iwloc=000467ca08ce0ed7cbeb4

Wes, this on is for you

We got up in the morning, ate some allergen free granola and headed back out on the road.
Kansas is windy. We had been running from a lightning storm the night before which could not keep up with us and, while it made for some pretty skies the night before, dissipated before too long.

Still we had a whole lot of Kansas ahead. Hays, KS was the next big "city" on our map, and it made for some fun thrift shopping. Nat got a shirt and I got a sweet three piece suit and a cool jacket. We also went to a museum of natural history with a lot of fossils and such. One of the most photographed fossils, the fish-in-a-fish fossil is in Hays. Did you know that Kansas was once under water?

One common thing that people ask you if you are driving around the country is if you are going to see the worlds largest ball of twine. My brother Wes was very excited about this aspect, and while it was not in our plans, a map of Kansas pointed out that said famous ball was only an hour or so out of our way. Cawker City here was come.

Cawker City does not have much, especially at 6pm. But the twine was....worth seeing? They have a yearly Twine-a-thon where you can go and add twine to the ball.

Leaving sleepy Cawker City and heading back to the main highway brought E85, dinner time, night fall and Salina, KS. We cooked and set up shop in a city park, which we later found out to be a frisby golf course.

Morning brought rice cereal with rice milk and poor Nat apparently with the same aliment that hit Mom, Wes, Ali and a few others in Colorado. Good thing it only lasted one day for the rest.

We are heading out towards Tulsa and perhaps the Wizard Of Oz museum.

Thoughts on Kansas:
What the Sunflower State lacks in topography, it makes up for in awesome clouds.

Good times in Colorado Springs

There is a whole branch of my family that lives in Colorado Springs, CO. Basically, my Mom's cousin, Patty, and her kids, and her grandkids. They are always trying to get family to come to see them. Well I have been saying I would visit for probably ten years, and for at least five lamely making plans and having them not happen. Well I made good on my word. And if we did not have plans in WV, Natalie and I thought about just setting up shop.

Thanks to Lisa and Stewert for putting us up for almost a week and for letting us use your kitchen and shower. Also for playing tour guide.

My soon-to-be sister in law also lives in the Spring and since it was Easter my brother and mother and soon to be in laws all flew in for some family time. I got to see my new nephew. We made some awesome vegan-esce food and didn't do a lot of thing.

We didn't drive through the garden of the gods, sorry for jinxing your car Lisa. We didn't got to the top of Pikes peak, hope Mom and Wes are feeling better. We didn't have gluten free pizza; why did they run out of gluten free dough? We didn't give Lisa a second how-to-make-pasta-from-scratch lesson, maybe next time.

But we did do a lot. We walked around the garden of the gods (on the second attempt). We tasted crazy spring water in Manitou (while Wes was getting sick) and we made gluten free pizelles (a little messy, but good). We also went dancing in Denver (the Mercury Cafe:natural food and great lindy hop).

Thanks to all of the CO family; Patty, Lisa, Julie, Buzz, Stewert, Ali, Robert, Morgan, Jim and Gieda( i hope I spelled that right). We hope to see you in July.

We headed out of the Spring on Wednesday and went East. We drove on the flattest ground we have seen since Barstow. Eastern Colorado looks like you would think Kansas would. Not much to tell. We cooked at a rest area just pasted the Kansas border and slept a few rest stops later.

Thursday, April 9, 2009

Lessons in serendipity

You can call fate, coincidence, kismet...I prefer serendipity.

A series of events lead to us learning some valuable pieces of information.

While looking for an autoparts store based off of a google search, we were inspired to pull off in a shopping center plaza and park. The reason being a vintage vespa with a sidecar at a neighboring scooter shop. (if you do not know, I am a scooteristand love vintage scooters) As it turned out, the vintage vespa siren responsible for our detour was actually a Stella (a modern reproduction of a vintage vespa) but very cool anyway. In the shop, the shop girl noticed the quote on the back of my shirt. "Dance first, think later, its the natural order" And commented that she danced. I mentioned that we were Lindy Hoppers and she got all excited. Apparently there are swing dancers in Santa Fe and one of them owns a scooter shop.
The owner came out and chatted a bit (as scooter shop owners tend to do). They let us know that we missed the Monday night dancing in Santa Fe, but should not miss dancing in Albuquerque an hour south.

We left the scooter shop headed to the Local Community Rec center for a shower, thanks to the directions given by the scooter folks. Stopping for a gas cap at a Napa first, we then headed to the nicest rec center that I have seen. We were inspired to go for a run at the indoor track and took showers. Feeling energized and excited we headed to Albuquerque.

In Albuquerque, we realized that neither one of us had payed close enough attention to the instructions from the scooter folks and did not know where we were going. Ending up at the Albuquerque convention center, which rang a bell for both of us prove we had bad memories. Some advice from local guys on fixed gear bikes, looking through the local paper, and finally stealing some WiFi from a pizza place, we found our location. The Heights Community Center. Some driving, missed turns and turning around and we arrived at our destination. Dancing proved fun, though lindy hoppers were scarce and the music was funky. Natalie danced with a guy and mentioned that we were on our way to the Denver Area. He inquired if we were going to the Mile High Blue Festival in Denver this weekend. We looked into it months ago, but forgot about it.

We slept on the street outside the Community Center, got up early and hit the road for Colorado Springs. I have family there and good Denver dancing is on Thursdays and Thursday dancing the day before a dance event is going to be great.

We powered through eight hours of driving. Stopping for E85 and a walk around Toas, NM. We arrived at cousin Lisa's house in the dark, stayed up late catching up and slept in a real bed. Thank you Lisa. Now we are chilling, doing laundry, planning a dancing trip tonight and figuring the semantics of visiting family. My mom is in town, my future sister-in-law is too with my new nephew along with other cousins. Looks like we might stay in Colorado Springs for a few days, my brother is coming in tonight and Easter is Sunday.

Yeah for showers, beds, and Family!

Tuesday, April 7, 2009

Santa Fe, hippies but no swingers

Defeated by Treasure Mountain and unable to take the Wolf Creek Pass{which in Pam's defense is at 10,000 ft: I looked it up} we retreated down the mountain, changed carbs and powered through the night to Santa Fe, NM.  Entering Santa Fe, little 84 turned into the largest road we have seen since the Grape Vine, ten days ago.  We muddled around in the dark on the out skirts of town trying to find a place to sleep.  Pam picked a place for us and stalled. We slept.

The morning brought a welcome warmth, compared to the icy windows of the previous days.  Morning also brought a little carb work to get Pam started.  My gas carb has been sitting in an extra-parts bag for a few months and needed some fidgeting.  Starting up we headed into Santa Fe for a natural food store.  Typical wrong turnage by yours truly did not stop us from finding Wild Oats, which as it would turn out is a Whole Foods in disguise.  

I am writing this from a neighboring coffee shop which does not have WiFi, but I will have to copy and paste at a later time.  Off to find WiFi, E85 and an auto parts store (I lost the gas cap on Treasure Mountain).  Followed by a carb swap and then some turon stuff in Santa Fe, most likely.  We were hoping to find some lindy hop in a big city like Santa Fe, but also, only country western.

Note on travelling and internet:  Public Libraries are a good place to find free WiFi.

Another Note: There was snow on Treasure Mountain.

Monday, April 6, 2009

Double Dose

Wow, this requires a second post for the day.

We left Cortez, headed east for La Jara to get e85. Conclusion:
Altitude + Uphill + gas in e85 carb = go no further. 2 miles up an 8 mile climb that started at 7000 feet. Pam said no more. We were forced to turn around. On the way back down, I pulled over at a scenic over look to check things out. While trying to do a 23 point turn with a trailer, Pam stalled and wouldn't start. Since I was blocking the parking lot, I had to unhitch the trailer, move it by hand, then push Pam out of the way an rehitch the trailer.

Some carb tinkering led to nothing, so like most carb issues ten minutes and she fire up.

We coasted down the mountain and turned south.

We are on our way to Santa Fe, NM to get some ethanol and miss the Rockies...hopefully. After 60 miles of struggling up and down hills, we pulled over in Chama, NM for some free WiFi and a road side picnic table to eat dinner. Two hours to Santa Fe so we plan on powering it out and sleep when we get there.


Where was I?

Oh yes I was telling you about this past Thursday when they were going to bulldoze my house and then my friend told me he was an alien just before they blew up my planet and....

Oh no wait that's not me. Thats the book we are reading.

Right, Prescott....

After teaching Carrie's swing dance club some lindy hop I have decided that I only want to teach dance to engineers, physics, and other science-minded people. Not only did they laugh at all of my physics/Newton jokes, they complete understand words like linear, momentum, instantaneous, and vector. I makes teaching dance sooooo much easier.

We slept in Carrie's dorm room, having more than 18 inches of free space between you and the ceiling while you sleep is a luxury that I am sure most people take for granted.

Prescott actually has an E85 station, which is the first time one of our destinations has also been a refill site. About half an hour of "misguided" driving around down town Prescott has us stumbling upon that station. Being lost and finding it proved much easier than that directions I figured out. A short fill up of E85 and then back to Carrie's. I forgot my camera. But it all worked out, we got to say good bye (we where sleeping when Carrie went to class) and IM with Betsy, Carrie's Mom. Off to Sedona.

158 turns in 12 miles is what a t-shirt in the turon town of Jerome. What they left off of the shirt was 4000 ft of climbing too. Jerome is an old mining town between Prescott and Sedona, up a large windy road which was an artist town, but now is a tourist trap. We got, gave Pam a brake and walked around. Back in Pam and quite a bit of coasting on the back side brings us into Sedona.

Very pretty, but all we can think about is the New Frontier, a health food store {hippie grocer}, in Sedona. We did a little shopping, ate some hummus, which if you know us well is a staple in our diet but has been missing from this trip, and hung out in a coffee shop for a while. Which is funny, because neither one of us drinks coffee. We found on the internet that a Jazz band was playing. Having a dance fever brought on by last night's dancing in Prescott we decided to do some Lindy-bombing {it when you go swing dance at a place that usually is not a swing dance venue}. A bit of mis-direction and we finally find ourselves at the bistro, but alas it is closed for the season. Oh, well, off to the closest National forest to park and sleep.

Morning brings a nice run, much needed for the lack of exercise is building, and some groats with gogi berries.

Our travel plans have changed, seeing how adverse weather conditions exist throughout most of our path. We nix UT, WY, and MT and instead head to CO. This route change causes several problems.

Missing the Hoover Dam
Missing the Grand Canyon
Missing Zion
Missing dancing in Salt Lake City
Missing Glacier National Park
Missing the Grand Tetons

But most importantly and extra 150 miles between e85 stations. The solution...dilution of course. Since I would rather run on 50% E85 than 100% gas, this new route forces us to get some gas and blend with our ethanol. Which is already 15% gas, but who's counting.

We left Sedona and saw some awesome rock formations just outside of sedona and then drove through Oak Creek Canyon, quite awesome. Stopping at a view point, we met a Native American who was educating on the counterfeit "Indian" Jewelry market and told us what to ask.

Through Flagstaff and north west to four corners. Not far from the Flagstaff we see a sign indicating the close proximity of the Grand Canyon, which we thought we were going to miss. A short detour to see a giant hole in the ground.

I thought the GC was in the middle of the flat desert, but apparently its in a mountain range that has a lot of bushes and rolling hills. We went and took pictures then drove a few miles out of the park and into national forest for quinoa pasta, Hitchhiker's Guide and sleep.

Did anyone know that the GC was cold?? Very cold. Frost on the windows, and frozen water in our dirty dishes. We arose and drove back into the park to see the canyon in the morning light and go up in a watch tower which was closed the previous evening. I also washed dishes in the bathroom. We took some more pictures and ate some cereal and headed to the Four Corners.

We drove through the Navajo Nation got half a tank of gas on top of our half tank of E85 and saw some cool desert.

Arriving at the Four Corner 9 minutes after is closed, along with a dozen other people, was quite frustrating, but funny and quite apropos. Taking a wrong turn out of the Monument takes us back in to AZ then we turned around and went into NM and shortly entered CO. The next hour or so of driving had the sole purpose to take us out of the Ute Reservation. Both of us had no qualms sleeping in a Walmart parking lot or pulling off the side of the road on federal lands, but pulling off in Reservation just felt wrong. The first town we came to was Cortez, CO. We ate dinner in the parking lot of a laundromat and drove out of town to a state park to sleep next to a "No overnight camping" sign.

Yesterday was a driving day for sure.

Today we found a Natural Food store for the best dried mango I have ever eaten and a library for some free internet.

We do not know what is next for our plan, save the fact that we are 180 miles from the closest E85 station and have 120 miles worth of fuel. Looks like we need a little more gas.

Thoughts on cold weather:
Always have an extra down comforter.
Don't dump your pasta water. Put it in bottles to keep you warm at night.
There is snow on the ground here!!!!!

Sunday, April 5, 2009


Just a quickie... In SW CO. Sedona, Grand Canyon, Four Corners(kind of). Cortez. More detail later. didn't want you to think somethjing bad happened.

Thursday, April 2, 2009

Arizona has its own time zone!

Being that the Mojave National Preserve and the adjoining Mitchell Caverns State Natural Preserve do not have any semblance of Wifi, no posts were made from said awesome natural wonders.

We stayed in the campsite just outside of Mitchell Caverns, which has the cheapest cavern tour in the country. Very cool!

The surrounding desert was awe inspiring. Nothing manmade to the horizon but a road and a few stone buildings at the campsite where the Rangers live.

After the tour, we departed and got the chance to cash in on the potential energy we stored on the drive to the caverns. I pulled out of the parking lot, put the truck in neutral, turned off the key and we coasted for 16 miles.

After a quick stop to adjust the brakes and investigate some fluid leaking (Apparently the yahoo mechanic in Barstow did not put in a new oil seal on my axle. Gonna have to do that some time soon. Probably when we get to CO in cousin Lisa's driveway :) we headed east on 40 again for a little way until we reached the turn off for Lake Havasu.

Did you know that someone bought and moved the London Bridge and it is now in Lake Havasu, AZ? Well I kind of knew that, and no that is not why we where there. Lake Havasu has an E85 station. Neither Nat nor I where all that interested in the Bridge, we didn't even take a picture. But we did learn that in AZ it is legal to ride a four wheeler on a main road with out a helmet. A cop was even behind her and turned a different direction.

From Lake Havasu we drove up hill....literally...for 200 miles, with maybe 20 miles of intermittent flat here and there.

A quick stop in Seligman to use the lights at a closed gas station so I could see what I was doing while filling my tank from the fuel cans and we were back on the road to Prescott, AZ.

Prescott is home to a small aeronautical university that is attended by a friend of ours. She is one of a rare species at this Uni...a girl. 80% male, so ladies, if you like those odds and have the math ability to calculate them check out Prescott.

Showers are a wonderful, wonderful thing!!! Other than the Barstow rec center(best $3 I've spent in a while), the showers in Carrie's dorm have been the only bathing.

Poor Nat is still fighting hives, but luckily we have made absolutely no headway discovering the cause and/or cure.

Tonight we are helping Carrie teach at her swing dance club. Then off to Sedona tomorrow. I can't decide which is better, sleeping in the very close quarters of the truck or crashing on the extra beds in the dorm.

Thoughts on the Southwest:
Based on my scientifically insignificant data set. The only industry in the Southwest is gas stations and tire stores.