Many of you know the story by now. The summer of 2005, after my first year of med school, I packed up my 2001 Civic and drove (essentially) as far west as you can drive, before driving as far north as you can drive, and then just for fun, west some more. I have a big album from that trip but never got the chance to sit down and *Write* anything. Once you read this, hopefully you'll understand exactly why writing about it one year later is so darn appropriate. These pages will include some (but not all) of the pictures from thta album, whatever I manage to write, and maybe even some additional downloads, all going up roughly one year after they really happened.
I'll be writing in 2006 (HA! and now 2007), but to make things easiest for me, all these entries will be dated for 2005 and probably most will be written as I would've written them then. You know, if I hadn't been driving the whole time.
2005/06/03-It's Friday afternoon and I'm scrambling BIGTIME. I took my last exam for the year (!!!) this morning, hit up the end of the year picnic with the med school folks and the rain, now I'm throwing things together for the trip. I need to leave Philadelphia tonight, though I'll go to my cousin Jen's wedding tomorrow in Harrisburg.
Oh, and here's the graphic I threw together this afternoon for the top of the main page. Like I said, I've been scrambling.
2005/06/06-Boy, this date will be creepy next year. It's Monday morning, and I woke up in Cleveland today. Backtracking, I had a rough departure from Philly on Friday night. The packing was a mess and took forever, but then it was really hard to leave Surabhi while she has to study for her boards. I realize now that every bit of support you can get during that period is vitally important, and I'm sorry I wasn't there to help her out. Also, she REALLY helped me out a few huge ways. First, after I'd gone, she chased me over two blocks while wearing flip-flops to give me my blue (waterproof, windproof, amazing) jacket, without which I probably would've caught my death of cold(wind, rain) during the trip. Second, she put in a good word with me with her mom. I stopped in Canonsburg yesterday morning and Mrs. Gaur loaded me up with more home-made Indian food than I could possibly eat. But I've got coolers, I can get ice, and I've got my camp stove, so I'm going to do my best. After the food pickup, Dr. Gaur gave me some traveling advice and then I met up with (Betas!) Chris Bowley, Doug Blank, and Doug's girlfriend for a Braves-Pirates game at PNC Park. Finished the day by driving up to Cleveland, and spent the night at Doug, Alex Svilar, and Nick Lunn's apartment.
From the baseball game - a nice view of Pittsburgh and a Rob Mackowiak home run.
The view from Doug/Alex/Nick's apartment ths morning, as Doug Headed off to work and I got ready to keep moving west.
677 miles in
I've got a fancy new Excel spreadsheet I'll upload here sometime, keeping track of my miles, gas consumption and all that jazz. I didn't drive at all today, but I put some pretty good miles down on Sunday and Monday, and according to the spreadsheet, I'm done with 6.23% of the trip.
Long way to go.
After leaving Cleveland, I got the Civic headed straight to Chicago. Got myself to Frank Groshek's house in the early afternoon, grilled up some brats with Frank and Jonas Redmond (my med school classmates) and got my food reserves into the freezer. We took the CTA down to Wrigleyville. Haggled for a while with some dude who wanted to rip us off for bleacher seats, deciding that the tickets Frank got us were most excellent, met up with Marshall Roupp, drank beers in Wrigleyville, watched the Blue Jays-Cubs game (Interleague play in Wrigley, under the light? Say it ain't so, Bud, say it ain't so).
The highlight of the first part of today was waking up to find Frank and Jonas transfixed by one of those drawn-out live high-speed chases on TV. You know how it goes. Once you start, you can't stop till the guy crashes. You *know* he's gonna crash and you don't want to miss it. Not after you've put all that time in, anyway. We spent a few hours on that, got ourselves some SuperDogs, took Jonas to the airport for his roadtrip to/summer in Belize. Frank and I met up with my college friend Sapna (Shortie) B, had a few drinks and played some NTN trivia before calling it a night. Tomorrow, I head to Milwakee for Miller High Life and cheese.
Watching the game Wrigley.
Our trip to Superdog. I'll always remember today as the day I fell in love with relish.
We (the car and I) did just a few hours of driving today. An hour and a half from Frank's to the Miller Brewery in Milwaukee, then less than 45 minutes after the baseball game to find myself in Oconowomoc. This is a town featured as the birthplace of protagonist/fictional/war hero/crazy guy/Marine Raider Bobby Shaftoe in Cryptonomicon. I'm going to spend tonight in the parking lot of a local hotel before checking out the town and getting back on the road tomorrow. The trip up till now has been very social, as I've been staying with people, visiting friends, talking to people during baseball games, but from here on out that should be changing quite a bit.
Today was all about beer and baseball.
It was a dud of an interleague game, big blowout by the Yankees. Alex Rodriguez did hit his 339th and 400th career home runs, which was at least an interesting sidenote. The big scoreboard disparity did allow me to slide down to some much, much better seats than the ones I'd paid for. I watched the last inning or so from just above field level, behind the 3rd base dugout.
I had a rough morning. For my first night sleeping "on the road" I went with the usual plan - find a quiet parking lot, move some of the gear in the car around, and sleep in the trunk. All was well with that until this morning, when the sun started to come up. I got a bit claustrophobic when the car started to heat up and panicked a little until I got out of the trunk. The rest of the day was an improvement, though.
I got on the phone with Rachel, asking her to find the name of the parking in St. Paul, MN with all the Peanuts statues. That's right, I get my vacation destinations from The Daily Show. It's a very cool park.
I then visited the other Twin City, just to scope out the Metrodome and the Southdale Mall. Why the mall? Well, I needed a haircut. Furthermore, Southdale was the first enclosed shopping mall in the country, and who could pass up that piece of history?
That's a soon-to-be sunset over an interstate exit ramp, probably in Minnesota somewhere.
Last night was much more comfortable than the previous one. I spent the night in a hotel parking lot in Sioux Falls, just over the border into South Dakota from Minnesota. I slept in the shotgun seat, which as it turns out is a ton more comfortable than waking up more or less trapped in the trunk. I felt more exposed to harassment/police attention, but we'll just wait and see if that becomes a problem.
There's actually a slightly better reason than the Corn Palace to drive through South Dakota, and that's Badlands National Park. Created over many, many thousands of years of rain, rocks, blah, blah, wind.
I did my first camping of the trip at Sage Creek, the "rougher" of the two camping areas in the park. The buffalo were both large and quite close, but seemed mostly content to graze away and ignore me. I set up the camp stove and had one of the many great meals of the food Mrs. Gaur provided. The puris didn't last as long as the rest of it, though. After that, I was pretty much content to kick my feet up and read a book (I think that's Slaughterhouse-Five in the picture there) before it got dark and I slept out under the stars.
Luckily, today was a Saturday. I needed a weekend for a day like today. I woke up, packed up the car and left the Badlands. It was short jaunt to Wall, SD for the obligatory trip to Wall Drug. Get your cup of ice water, look around a bit, move right along. Then there was the matter of a detour to see Mount Rushmore. As advertised, there are four large stone faces carved into a cliff. Worthwhile if you're in the neighborhood. I then drove through a hellacious thunderstorm before arriving at the punchline of an old, old joke and eating at a place called "Purple Cow." More driving through the rain was followed by a dubious decision that ended up quite literally paying off. I'd driven quite a lot and was into Montana at this point. I needed a place to sleep, the weather seemed to be clearing. For some reason, I decided to break out the AAA book and find a campsite. There was a place about 30 miles off an exit, past Laurel, MT, and that seemed like a good idea. I was driving out that way, potentially quite lost when I happened to pass a bar advertising a Saturday night poker game. Unable to pass that up, I found a friendly, very sloppy, fun game with a bunch of local guys. Fast forward a few hours and I'm up eighty bucks, one guy has been drunkenly thrown out of the place, the game is over and I'm happily sleeping the the passenger seat of the Civic.
Like I said, faces on a cliff, worth a quick look.
Again, you probably just have to be there. I mostly blame Nancy.
Nice place for a game, right? I was on my way to a campsite far from the highway, for some reason, when I saw this place and the sign advertising Texas Hold 'Em. Stopped here instead, had a few drinks, won a little money and slept in this parking lot.