Left Arm Suntan
aka A Flipse Odyssey
aka Left Coast Extravangza
aka The Continuing Adventures of Dylan Flipse, On The Road Again
aka Didn't I Already Save The Damn Princess? Tour 2003
The following statements were true, c. June 10th, 2003.
I have made the text below this bold and slightly larger than average text because I believe that it is important.
- John Morgan has been hassling me for weeks. Las Vegas, his cousin's wedding, hotel room paid for by his parents, rolled up aces over kings, check-raising stupid tourists, stacks of checks we can't see over...and so on.
- Rose Linnell has been saying that she'd really like some visitors this summer, at home in New Mexico. Plans for people (Sam, Liz, Tom, etc) to make the trip by land or by air never really developed.
- Emma Somers is in Berkeley, CA taking a class. Some of my last words to her, as we dropped her off at the airport, were - "Maybe I'll drive to California, we can hang out for a while. I'm not doing much."
- I'm not doing much.
- I haven't seen my good friend Charlie Miller, living near Atlanta, GA, in about two years.
- I haven't seen my good friend Molly West, living in Wilson, NC, in nearly four years.
- It is unlikely that I'll be 21 years old again, during any future summer.
- I have very recently had a conversation with Rocky and his friend Avi, over chicken wings, in which we discussed unreasonable roadtrips, including a hypothetical solo shot from central PA to the west coast, that I believe could be completed in under 48 hours, if properly motivated (As in Cryptonomicon, perhaps).
- I own a car that gets very good gas mileage. It is equipped with an XM radio, and what I consider to be a fantastic CD collection.
The above collection of facts is the best explaination I can give for deciding to make this trip.
Obviously, I can't tell you everything that happened. I'm going to mention some (but not all) of the stuff that happened, especially the things that I can illustrate with digital photographs. Other stories, perhaps, are best left to the oral tradition, with funny faces and lots of waving my arms around, and these stories may just be mentioned, or perhaps left out of this entirely.
8:15 in the morning, June 24th, on about four hours of sleep, I hit the road. This is me slightly before I hit the road, as you can see. Reset the trip meter, and we're off...
Two hours later, I made an unscheduled stop in Punxsutawney, just to drive through town (pictured), see the second house my dad built (pictured), and see my dad and the people at the hospital (not pictured). Stopping there is a blast, the nurses all love him, and by extension, they love me. It's fun.
A few short hours of ESPN radio later, I showed up in Cleveland. I gave Tom his new campaign sign. I think he looks almost...(dare I say it?)...presidential, here with Ally. Hijinx ensued. We yanked Rich out of work and ate a bunch of wings. Funny jokes were made about getting me a Michelob Ultra, to keep me awake on the road.
A bit after I left Cleveland, I picked up John, who was hitch-hiking along I-80 headed west. It's important to have goals, even if they're weird goals, and one of mine has always been to pick up a hitch-hiker. A very nice guy, traveling around the country trying to stay away from very hot or cold weather, taking work where he can get it. Didn't get any pictures with him, but there is a short bit of video. I took him to Fort Wayne, my stopping place for the night.
Like I said, Fort Wayne, Indiana. Stopped and spent the night at Rich Hosler's apartment (Plenty of Good Floor Space still available). We played Super Nintendo, a bit of NHL '94 and some Super Mario World. (Pay attention, this will be a theme, and there will be a quiz later.)
A few exciting things happened the next day. Lunch in a chinese place I found in the Middle of Nowhere, Iowa. Wasn't bad. Then a huge, huge storm. The same storm had caused tornados and such the day before, and it rained so hard that almost everyone pulled off to the side of I-80. Just impossible to see. I spent 17 hours on the road (including stops) and covered 1022 miles. Spent the night sleeping in the trunk of my car at a rest stop in western Nebraska.
If you ever make it to Cheyenne, Wyoming, I cannot stress strongly enough that you need to stop at the Diamond Horseshoe Cafe. It's just off I-80, won't take you long, and it'll be worth your time and the few dollars you spend.
Utah. Salty, and sometimes very flat. Sometimes not.
Invading Russia in winter=bad. Driving west across the flat parts of the country at dusk=bad. Unless you can display a little creativity, then you'll be fine. I'd still avoid the Russia thing, if I were you. I spent about fifteen hours on the road this day, covering 1034 miles on this, the third day of the trip. Spent the night, once again in the trunk of my car, at a truck stop just east of Reno, Nevada.
Woke up, drove a bit, got to California, saw some more mountains.
A few hours later, I made it to San Francisco, where I saw things that aren't mountains. Here we have the pretty nifty two layer Bay Bridge and an outside shot of the absolute gem that is Pacific Bell Park. Emma was still in class, so I went down to the park, where I discovered a line to get into a ticket lottery. I waited around, met some nice people, and got lucky enough in the lottery to buy two pretty nice seats. Of course, I stupidly didn't bring my camera to the actual game a few hours later, after I'd found Emma's place in Berkeley, and we took the BART back across the Bay. So I didn't get a picture of Jose Cruz Jr.'s catch in right field, or Barry Bonds's homer into the water. I'm so lame.
We went out the next day to hit up many of the touristy parts of town. Drove over the Golden Gate Bridge, hung out at a scenic bay/bridge overlook spot, drove down Lombard Street, ate chocolate and real food in Ghirardelli Square and walked down by the water. The fact that no one coined the nickname Emma "Eyes Closed" Somers before me, quite frankly, baffles me.
I would be extremely remiss if I didn't mention my very nice accomodations while in San Francisco. I stayed with my cousin's wife's cousin Sujal. He has a one bedroom sublet right behind Ghirardelli Square (notice the back of the sign in the left of the picture), which includes a great view of the bay (hard to see in the compressed for the web picture, but just to the right of the clock tower, you can see Alcatraz).
Then I decided to go camping. I picked two sites pretty randoming from Emma's dorm room. First, one night in the mountains sort of near Monterey, CA, at a place called Fremont Peak State Park. Here's two nice shots of the scenery from up there.
I got the tent set up all by myself.
After the tent, it was time to make some food. I made foil packets with ground beef, onion, potato, salt, pepper, and some of the juice from a can of baked beans. I got a fire started with a single match (Very important), put the foil packets near the fire, rotated them, waited, and eventually had what might not look like much, but I assure you, is a very hearty meal for a tired traveler. (You can see the Dave Eggers book A Heartbreaking Work of Staggering Genius in this picture. I didn't include that in an effort to look hip, that's what I was reading during any downtime on the first half of the trip.)
The next day, I packed up and hit the road once more. This time, my destination was Quaking Aspen, a campground in the Sierras in central California. Again, I knew very little about this place, having picked it pretty randomly from a camping reservation website. It's hard for me to overstate how very far out and up in the mountains this place is. Rest assured, it's way, way the hell out and up there, with many very, very tall trees. After setting up and building another fire, I spent my time there eating smores, reading, sitting around the fire, eating smores, and singing a little bit of karaoke.
After another long day's drive, I made it to Vegas. This is something of a sidenote, but this is as good a time to mention it as any. I had a lot of days where I was on the road 10, 12, 14 hours or whatever. I'd maybe stop for one meal during those drives. Otherwise, it was mostly just handfulls of Frosted Flakes, Wheat Thins, or whatever else I had on hand. Good way to travel.
They're much more reasonable about taking pictures on the casino floor in Las Vegas than they are in Canada.
JP was tired for a while, but he perked up.
We never did figure out what this "Surrender Available" sign meant, but judging by the effect of the poker tables on our wallets, we should've looked into it.
I left Las Vegas around midnight, after taking JP to the airport. We'd been out till about 7AM the previous night, and out of our room before noon, so the 13ish hour drive to my next destination didn't work out as well as I'd hoped it might. I ended up sleeping somewhere in Arizona, on the floor of the back seat of my car, parked on a highway offramp.
Next stop was Roswell, New Mexico. Luckily, I was there at the same time as Marshall Roupp, who flew in for about a week. We played a good bit of Super Mario World, and also enjoyed a rousing game of minigolf, in order, that's Rose Linnell, Marshall Roupp, me, Zerek, and Bob.
Plenty of other fun stuff happened in New Mexico, like a flat tire on the Civic, and some really unreasonable fireworks.
I got pulled over going 81 in a 75mph zone on I-10 in western Texas. What the hell is that?
Reed Mattingly, one of my fraternity brothers, lives in Houston, TX, next up on my fantastic voyage. In my two nights there, we watched How To Lose a Guy in 10 Days, I had one of the best steaks I've ever eaten, saw the Astros whup up on the Reds, and hung out a bit with his friends. Don't worry, the young ladies and gentlemen pictured here are all 21 or More Years of Age. Oh, and we went swimming. One of Reed's friends explained to me that they just don't like imports in western Texas.
After an exceedingly long drive (Lousiana+Interstates=Very Sad Face) I showed up in Atlanta. Charlie Miller and I played Super Mario World, saw The Pirates of the Caribbean, and found a Geocache, all while discussing the finer points of Atlanta's alternative rock music scene.
The next day, Charlie, thoughtfully if not skillfully, made me breakfast and sent me on my way.
My final overnight stop was Wilson, North Carolina, at the home of Molly West, Williamsport Area High School Class of 1997. There I discovered orangeaid, we discussed up and coming baseball prospects (Rich Harden is can't miss, and cute, says Molly), visited a playground as part of our city tour, I had another tire go flat, and we cheered for the Wilson Tobs in a tough ninth inning loss.
Finally, the last day of the trip, and I stopped for lunch with Steve Glassbrenner and friends. At last, I can honestly say, "Hey baby, I'm down with BigDuluth." And don't let anyone ever tell you that hippies can't make a fine, fine pizza pie.
The last stop of the trip, just minutes before I got home, is a time-honored tradition.
By The Numbers
- 2 - flat tires
- 7484 - miles
- 8 - people/places I visited
- 21 - Nights
- 3 - in the car, three different places
- 3 - in the tent, two different places
- 7 - in three different beds
- 5 - on three different floors
- 2 - on a couch
- 126 - approximate hours on the road
- 208 - approximate gallons of gas consumed
- 36 - approximate miles per gallon
- 10 - days where no traveling occured (slept in the same place I woke up)
- 11 - days where traveling occured
- 11.5 - approximate average hours spent on the road in a traveling day
- 680 - approximate average miles covered in a traveling day
- 1034 - maximum miles covered in a day
- 131 - minimum miles covered in a traveling day, from San Francisco to Fremont Peak State Park
- 12 - approximate smores consumed
By Dylan Flipse,