Monday, September 30, 2002

Part IV, and the last of the trip out to Seattle. Enjoy!

I've officially been here a year today.

SEPTEMBER 30 - rest stop, Idaho (mileage unknown)

I drove all morning, determined to make it all the way across the panhandle of Idaho before I turn the wheel over to Jon. But nature calls, and high in the mountains I pull over into a rest stop to make use of the facilities.

I say without reservation that western Montana and northern Idaho are some of the most beautiful territory it's ever been my privilege to pass through. But it's also completely isolated. Those snow gates that can be dropped across the interstate ("Road blocked ahead. Go back to Missoula.") are there for a reason, and you'd have to be pretty hardy to live out here. The price of beauty, I suppose. We'll see if I can't afford it.

Coming out of the bathroom I see that a man walking his dog is wearing a baseball cap with Bucky Badger embroidered on it. We talk for a minute and it turns out he's from Madison, out here visiting relatives. Strange to find a piece of home about as far away from it as you can get.

SEPTEMBER 30 -- Couer D'Lane, Idaho (1,705 miles)

A quick stop for lunch in the late afternoon. Jon's cel phone is finally back in range of the system, and he checks his messages while I try to call home and wish my mom a happy birthday on a nearby payphone. Couer D'Lane is the Wisconsin Dells of Idaho, with a population that seems fifty percent tourist and a waterslide on every block. It also increases the number of people we've seen in Idaho by about a bazillion percent, unless you count the other moving trucks. Maybe its just because we're traveling in a U-Haul, but everyone and their brother seems to be moving-usually in the opposite direction, but that's probably because anyone behind us can't catch up to us and we can't catch anyone ahead. As the days have passed I've found a strange feeling of brotherhood with these other travelers; if our horn worked I would beep it when I saw them, but have to settle for a jaunty wave they probably never see. Oh well.

For all the 'friends', we've also found our nemesis. First spotted in South Dakota, a couple times each day we've been passed by what I've named the Luxury RV, a glossy black bus-like RV pulling a high-priced black SUV, like Puff Daddy going on walkabout. Ostentatious, faster than us-the reasons to be annoyed go on and on. But though I've been watching, the LRV's shiny prow has yet to glide past our port windows. I decide to remain vigilant as Jon takes the wheel.

SEPTEMBER 30 - MOFN, Washington (1,786 miles)

I gave this town its name, as it is in the middle of nowhere and didn't even have the dignity to give itself a name for its highway exit. Though we didn't have time to stop in Spokane and see my grandparents (although we did see a giant inflatable gorilla, prompting Jon to properly bemoan the trip's lack of monkeys), we had to stop here for gas-and that's nearly all this place has to offer. That, an RV park (despite the "Don't park RV signs here" signs that seem to be tacked to every post), a collection of construction equipment working and otherwise, and a concrete pipe capped with a metal plate jutting out of the ground. My theory is that it's the entrance to a secret underground government base, but that woman back in Montana probably didn't shoot anyone, either.

SEPTEMBER 30 - Roslyn, Washington (1,932 miles)

We're almost there, but fannish interest (you can take the geeks out of Wisconsin, know the rest) made us get off the interstate and make our way up a county highway to Roslyn, where they filmed the exteriors for the TV series Northern Exposure. All the shops are closed this late on a Sunday evening, so no T-shirts for us. But the KBHR radio station is still there and we get to peek into the now-dusty interior. We also see Roslyn's Café, the building that was supposed to be Dr. Fleischman's office, and the Brick, where we stop to grab dinner.

While waiting for dinner, I wander back across the street and finally get ahold of my mom. While eating dinner, I watch a gorgeous nearby woman, who eventually notices me and subtly flashes her wedding ring. As of this writing, the jury is still out on whether I'm happy or sad to have been caught being potentially prurient.

Then it's back to the road, with only Snoqualimie Pass between us and Seattle.

SEPTEMBER 30 - Bellevue, Washington (2,015 miles)

It's not Seattle, but it's close enough. We make our way through the dark streets and eventually find the house Jon will be staying at. We have some problems finding the key that supposed to be hidden outside, but luckily one of the other roomers is home-and turns out to also be a WizKids employee named Dave. Dave shows us Jon's (surprisingly tiny!) room, and we unload what we can from the truck. It's almost ten, and too late to find a storage space; Jon will have to do that tomorrow after I leave. Dave does help us move the U-Haul and trailer to the WizKids parking lot (including taking the wheel for the particularly tricky job of turning the truck around in the narrow parking lot), and takes us over to the nearby mall and an all-night grocery store so I can get some cash for the trip back.

Then bedtime and up in time to run to the airport in the morning.
There's the whole tale. I hope you've had as much fun reading it as Seth and I did driving it.

Sunday, September 29, 2002

Part III, and day three of the move out to Seattle. But first, I picked up some new CDs today and the new Best Buy (have I mentioned how much I like having that store here?). I picked up The Best of Grandmaster Flash, Melle Mel & The Furious Five, damn they're fun. And the soundtracks to The Royal Tannenbaums and High Fidelity. Good stuff.

SEPTEMBER 29 - Sundance, Wyoming (911 miles)

Another gas stop, this time in the town where the Sundance Kid got his name. A pretty small place, and my stay is marked mainly by the three guys in the gas station buying hunting licenses-and swearing that the rifle on the wall being raffled off is the same one that was there last year. They're putting together the pieces of the conspiracy as I wander back out to the truck.

SEPTEMBER 29 - Sheridan, Wyoming (1058 miles)

We've made it over the thousand-mile mark, so we celebrate by stopping for food and gas. Again. Jon also needs to pick up a new address book, so we make our way downtown and find a Wal-Mart Plus-a Wal-Mart with a grocery store. Jon quickly finds the address book and we make our way across the parking lot for a quick lunch at Taco Bell. (For those keeping score at home--number of days on the road: 3; stops at a Taco Bell: 3. Make your investments appropriately.)

Our quick lunch turns out to be anything but. It takes ten minutes to even order, and when we sit down to wait we realize that the dining room is full not of people eating but of people waiting. Oh yeah, and they're out of chicken. The situation is so absurd that Jon and I begin making fun of the restaurant and its employees-apparently in an increasingly vocal manner, as Jon later reports that a cute girl ten feet away was laughing. (Sadly, she was probably of high-school age, so no missed opportunity there, faithful reader. But thank you for thinking of Jon and I.)

SEPTEMBER 29 - Big Timber, Montana (1,273 miles)

After a morning of climbing the foothills of the Rockies and blasting through Billings (a competitor with Toledo for Ugliest City in America), the Little U-Haul That Could has to pull off in western Montana for gas. As we come out from paying, there's a woman hanging around near the corner of the building smoking and leaving one hand suspiciously inside her purse. Our schedule demands that we get back on the road, but let's pretend that she was waiting to shoot someone, okay?

SEPTEMBER 29 - Missoula, Montana (1,541 miles)

Jon handles late night driving up into the mountains and across the Continental Divide, and around 11:30 we pull into Missoula. Less prepared than previous days, we haven't picked out a specific hotel from the AAA guidebook. But I see a billboard for one I remember. Unfortunately, I direct Jon off the highway an exit too early and we wander through town a bit before getting to the right area.

Of further surprise is that the hotel we stop at is full. Not just that, but so are the next two. Luckily, we find a Best Western with a room and crash. Our wake-up call comes right on time, and we make our way downstairs just in time to enjoy the continental breakfast-which actually _is_ pretty continental, reminding me of the breakfast buffet at the hotel I stayed at in London (which itself is _not_ Continental, but you get my Ugly American point, right?)

Then it's time to gas up, and get back on the road.

Join us next time for more traveling fun!

Here's Part II of the cross-country trip from last year. I tried to post this yesterday, but ran out of time because I met someone for dinner at Cafe Bizarro and then went to see a very late movie. I had a good time, though. It was fun to get out and relax.

SEPTEMBER 28 - Blue Earth, Minnesota (333 miles)

I'd like to say that it was the fifty-foot tall statue of the Jolly Green Giant that made us get off the highway, but we just decided to stop for gas and snacks.

The gas station used to have a Taco Bell Express, but it has gone out of business-recently, apparently. As I stand waiting to get into the restroom, two couples who are part of Tom Brokaw's Greatest Generation enter. The woman in the lead walks up to the darkened corner and says, "What? No tacos?" For some reason it strikes me as odd; I guess I'm just accustomed to the preteens overrunning the Taco Bells in Madison.

SEPTEMBER 28 - Mitchell, South Dakota (521 miles)

Stopping for gas again, we also stop for lunch, grabbing sandwiches at Subway and then making our way through a maze of surface-street construction to the world famous Mitchell Corn Palace. The last time I was here was a quarter-century ago, and while the Palace is pretty neat, my picture-augmented memory held it up as much neater. I don't remember it being in the middle of downtown, for one thing; I guess I always thought it was a building out in the middle of the fields. And the colors are much more subdued-the pictures I've seen were taken in 1976, and I guess they fancied it up for the Bicentennial. This year's themes are pretty straight-forward nature themes done in straight-forward corn colors. Jon and I do find a display across the street showing how the decoration is done, and I do have to respect the process. It seems like an awful lot of work, beginning with laying out the design on the building and cutting a whole hell of a lot of corn cobs in half in preparation for mounting them.

Though downtown Mitchell seems to get a lot of its income from tourists, most of the other tourist shops are closed down for the season and there's not much else to see. So after a quick picture of Jon in front of the Corn Palace, and a seemingly interminable wait at a train crossing, we're back on I-90 and headed west.

SEPTEMBER 28 - Kadoka, South Dakota (705 miles)

Only two things are amusing about our stop in Kadoka. One: Jon makes a series of funny jokes about people who were too dumb to spell the name of their own state right, and end up naming their town Kadoka. Two: At the gas station, I wait in line to buy my Diet Coke behind a group of guys loudly planning that evening's visit to a strip club. I'm not quite certain they ever caught on that I was laughing at them and not with them. (Okay, now that time has passed, I'm not certain that either of those items are amusing in retrospect. But then, we were back on the road within fifteen minutes-it didn't leave much time to be amused, and I have to take my amusement where I can get it.)

SEPTEMBER 28 - Wall, South Dakota (758 miles)

Sadly, we arrive in Wall too late to partake of the joys of Wall Drug. But we settle for eating dinner across the street in the Cactus Café, the very restaurant where I had dinner with folks from work on the way back from E3 in May. If you had told me then that I would be eating in that restaurant again just four months later, I don't think I would have believed you. But there we are. The menu isn't quite as cosmopolitan as Burlington's famous White Fox Den, but it goes a little bit beyond bar food, so I enjoy a good French Dip sandwich and a bowl of clam chowder.

On the way out of town, we stop at a gas station-not for gas, but so that I can prove after much frustration at lunch that Sobe Wisdom is unavailable in the state of South Dakota. Like many things in life, I am quickly proven utterly incorrect and come out with a Sobe and a box of Whoppers. Jon is laughing when I come back and points out a truck-driving future redneck who has hung up his truck on the concrete and steel base of an enormous sign, hooking his bumper over the five-inch lug nuts that hold the whole thing upright. We're tempted to stay and watch, but we're behind schedule... so we press on.

SEPTEMBER 28 - Spearfish, South Dakota (856 miles)

With 700 miles under our belt for the day, we stop just short of the Wyoming border. Happily, the hotel we stay at has a pool, so while Jon deals with some unfinished paperwork I go for a swim and read in the hot tub for a while. I have some weird flashes back to a family trip 25 years ago (the same one that took me to Mitchell) and wonder if we stayed here.

Our 8:30 AM wakeup call never comes, and we wake up just past 9:00. Still, even with a trip to a nearby grocery store for water, fruit and road snacks we manage to get back on I-90 by ten, and I pop yet another CD into the Rio as we turn west.
End Part II.

Friday, September 27, 2002

Here, as promised, is the post of the happenings of a year ago today. Thanks to Seth for writing it up lo these many months ago.

Here's the cross-country trip!

SEPTEMBER 27 - Madison, Wisconsin (0 miles)

We haven't left town yet, and we're already running late. It's nobody's fault, really: packing up the truck took a bit longer than planned, but we still could have made it out of town with time for plenty of progress...until it came time to go back to U-Haul to hook up a trailer for Jon's car.

"Looks kinda heavy," says the guy at the shop, and suggests we go across the street to the recycling center and use the truck scale. Driving the 17-foot truck directly across four busy lanes of traffic is a bit daunting, but I brave the task while Jon starts to deal with the trailer.

Pulling up onto the truck scale just as the recycling center just as they prepare to close the gates, I jump out and read the label on the side of truck: 'LIMIT 11,000 LBS. GROSS'. Then I look over at the digital readout on the side of the building: 14568.

I take the truck back across the street and deliver the bad news. The garage is closing, so there's no time to come back for the trailer. Instead we hook up the car and trailer, then return to Jon's house and spend a couple hours unloading two tons of books and comics that will have to go down to Jon's parents in Burlington for storage.

SEPTEMBER 27 - La Crosse, Wisconsin (161 miles)

We made a quick stop at a gas station and a Taco Bell in Tomah, but it's here that we decide to stop for the night. It's 11:30, and there's no point in burning ourselves out on the first leg of the trip. The AAA guidebook lists a Hampton Inn that offers a discount, so that's where we crash. Uh, sleep.

We're up by 8:30, pack up, partake of the free breakfast, stop by a nearby Woodman's grocery store so I can mail off a birthday card to my mom, and then we hit the road.

Hopefully I'll be in for a bit tomorrow to post that day's activities.

Today at work I've gotten very little done. Arrived to work, checked email, 11:00 haricut, lunch at a nearby BBQ place, back to work for an hour?, then a meeting across the street at Chili's, back for half hour and we have an office celebration because we passed our sales goal for the month (actually, we more than doubled it), now this, soon I go to our game store to pick up some stuff. Today was a waste, but the rest of the week was very productive, so I don't mind.

Thursday, September 26, 2002

In a way I feel like a slacker and in a way I feel like I've had a very productive week. Actually, I've been damn productive this week. I finished off a lot of things at work and met a couple of pressing deadlines with very little overtime. I have, however, skipped out on going to the gym all week for various reasons. Monday I had to babysit and do some writing, Tuesday I had a game to run (it went very, very well actually), Wednesday I set up a dinner and movie night with a bunch of people from work, and tonight I playtested at work, then went to see another movie -- this time with my boss and a co-worker.

Wednesday was fun. We went to Chili's (yippee) for dinner, then it was too late to go to the planned movie, so everyone took off. I and a couple others went back to work (the restaurant was right across from work and we'd walked over) and then decided to go see One-Hour Photo. It was very good, I recommend it. It resolves in a way I really hadn't expected and the acting was very good, particularly Robin Williams. The female lead was a cutie, too.

Tonight we went to see Ballistic: Ecks vs. Sever. Blah, blah, blah. It was a movie. It has nothing to recommend. The story was weak and confused, some of the directing was weak (though I'm not sure what to expect from a director named 'Kaos'), the characters were cardboard, the action was flat, and it really didn't serve to engage the watcher. Oh, and it didn't even have a sense of humor about itself. All that being said, it was...okay. Just this side of bad.

The only thing I have planned for the weekend is catching up on the gym-going and playing in the bi-weekly Champions game. Should be fun.

The more I write here, the more hits I get for weird combinations of words. 'Vin Deisel' and 'workout' seem popular choices. As are 'boobs'. Almost any movie title catches hits every now and again. Other than that it's random things. It's funny and kind of cool that this is the first site to pop up if you search for "nothing good" or even "nothing good can come of this." I guess it pays to be first.

Tomorrow I'll start a srting of posts in remembrance of the trip out here a year ago.

Join me, won't you?

Tuesday, September 24, 2002

Well, I haven't stayed at work and actually worked on work stuff until this late in a looong time. I had to babysit for about and hour tonight and after Clementine's dad came to pick her up I decided to go back to work. I have a deadline that I really want to get out from under for some new rules and I think I've wrapped them up tonight. Or, at least as wrapped as they're going to get in my state of mind. (I'm sure this seems fairly well written, but lemme tell ya, it's slow going.)

Anyway, work is good and busy. I'm be happy when this project is done and we can all start tearing it apart so I can reconstruct it again.

I went to the gym this weekend and had some good workouts. Actually had sore triceps and sore legs at the same time. Saturday night I went out with a new woman at work. I had to pick her up at her parents' house (about 45 minutes away), which was a little odd. I kind of felt like it was a date, but it wasn't. I haven't had to meet someone's parents in a long time. They were very nice. Anyway, we went out to dinner and met up with a friend of hers who I've been trying to meet up with again since my birthday dinner when she showed up. I don't know if anything will happen, but I swear to God I'm going to ask her out. Enough lazing about for me. Time to be active, not passive. We had a good time. They're both from the area, so they gave me the nickel tour of their home town (their homes, high school, grade school, the old crappy part of town where the hookers used to hang out, and Sheepie -- the sheep that's kept in a fenced area near their homes. Weird.) It was fun, though.

Sunday was spent at the gym and at work. Oh, I picking up comics with one of the guys from work and his daughter (Clementine, mentioned above.)

I'd write more, but I'm tired. I'm going to bed.

Thursday, September 19, 2002

Another funny thing: Tired of being limited to only a few dozen subgenres of electronica? Check this out.

I want my own not-so-secret underground base! (Scroll down.)

Monday, September 16, 2002

Weekend update: I went to the gym every day this weekend, played a Champs game on Saturday afternoon, and went out to dinner with a bunch of people from work. It was a good time and I had some very good Thai food.

Sunday picked up comics, came to work for a bit, then went to see My Big Fat Greek Wedding because my mom and sister liked it so well. It's been doing amazingly well apparently (I'm so out of touch with entertainment news since I'm cable T.V.less) and reached the $100 million-dollar mark this weekend. That's great. I liked the movie and really enjoyed seeing John Corbett again. I really like him (he's the male lead, in case you don't know actors by name).

I've been really good about eating lately because I've been frustrated by some weight gain lately. It's time to get serious and behave. I'll let you know how it goes.

Now I'm going home.

Thursday, September 12, 2002

I went Tuesday afternoon and registered my car with the state of Washington and picked up new plates. This morning I went out and took the old ones off and put the new ones on. So, I guess I'm actually here.

Tuesday night I ran the first session of "The Power Game" using the Silver Age Sentinels game system. It went well and things fell into place nicely. Wednesday I was invited to the birthday party of one of the women that used to work in our sculpting department. Her husband invited a number of people over and we had a very good time. Tonight I'm spending most of the evening finishing an article for the next issue of Campaign and doing some editing on articles by others.

I'm gonna go get started.

Tuesday, September 10, 2002

This poor Chineses guy was really, REALLY interested in boobs.

Oh, man, I think that's funny. I mean why search for boobs and then go through 40 other listings to click on this site and a mention of the boob-tube?

I am chuckling.

Courtesy of Seth's link I know I'm only 36% Geek. Personally I would have rated myself higher, but I think they're going for a more academic sort of geek than I am.

You are 36% geek
You are a geek liaison, which means you go both ways. You can hang out with normal people or you can hang out with geeks which means you often have geeks as friends and/or have a job where you have to mediate between geeks and normal people. This is an important role and one of which you should be proud. In fact, you can make a good deal of money as a translator.

Normal: Tell our geek we need him to work this weekend.

You [to Geek]: We need more than that, Scotty. You'll have to stay until you can squeeze more outta them engines!

Geek [to You]: I'm givin' her all she's got, Captain, but we need more dilithium crystals!

You [to Normal]: He wants to know if he gets overtime.

Take the Polygeek Quiz at

Sunday, September 08, 2002

I'm tired, so I'm not going to write too much and what I do write will be an overview.

I went to the eye doctor Saturday morning and he seemed to think everything was fine with my eyes. He thought I may have had something wrong, but they seemed fine now -- contacts fit correctly, eyes weren't bloodshot or weird -- so it's all good. He gave me a new perscription for my contacts (my left eye is a little worse, ugh.) and I should have those in a few days.

After the eye doctor's I went and bought the Simpsons Season II DVD Set as well as a copy of The Limey and Ghost Dog. They'll be fun to watch and I used the rest of my birthday money for them, so I'm happy I didn't overspend! Thanks for the presents!

Went to the gym. Gotta be careful about what I'm eating, though.

Sunday I wrote from late afternoon until now (9:45) for the next issue of the magazine. I'm not done with the article, but I made a big dent, so I'm going to go home and watch some movies.

Thursday, September 05, 2002

My eyes have been bothering me for the last couple of days. Especially when I have to take my contacts out at night. My left eye actually hurts when I take my contact out. So today I decided to give my eyes a rest and wear my glasses. First, I hate glasses. They suck. Second, I have a headache from wearing glasses all day. Third, my eyes have continued to be red and painful all day. Some one suggested it might be conjunctivitus a.k.a. pink eye, but I don't have the telltale symptoms. All I know is that my eyes hurt. Hopefully they'll feel better tomorrow, but even so, I've been planning on finding an eye doctor soon, maybe this will get me off my butt.

Work is going well. I'm still running behind, but not for lack of effort. Instead, my boss decided to shuffle a couple projects around so I have to work on a new thing that was running late before I got it. Fun!

Tomorrow I'm going to a dinner party a friend from work and his girlfriend are having. She's from NYC and everytime she goes home she brings back a cooler full of authentic Italian fixin's so she can make an authentic Italian dinner. It should be fun.

Yes, I'm still at work, but I think I'm gonna mess with my own stuff for a bit and then go home.

Oh, I finally watched Amelie and Seth was right; it's excellent. There aren't very many people I wouldn't recommend it to. Thanks, Seth!

Wednesday, September 04, 2002

Free Willy?

No, no, no.

Kill Willy!

I'm sure the fact that I can see the dark humor in this makes me a very bad person.

Monday, September 02, 2002

I had a good three-day weekend. I went to Bumbershoot with a couple of people from work and their friends. It was particularly cool because they wanted to see all the bands that I wanted to see, so there weren't any awkward moments or confusion about splitting up and getting back together. We went to see Ani Difranco and Concrete Blonde in the afternoon and then later in the evening caught part of Zuco 103 (a foreign band that I'll have to find out more about) and Lou Reed. We were all in the mood to leave, so we only saw a couple minutes of him.

When I walked into Seattle Center I saw one of the women that used to work with us and her husband. That was pretty weird. It was literally within two minutes of walking in the place. All these thousands of people and there's two people I know.

The rest of the weekend was spent going to the gym, watching the cats, watching movies, or doing work. Oh, I also worked on a game I have to run Tuesday.

That's all for now.